Saturday, March 26, 2016

OD-8

I'm really not the type to go out and bust packs of products right when they hit the shelves. I usually buy the Topps factory set in July or so (or wait until Christmas), and I pretty much entirely ignore Update and Bowman at retail. For things like Heritage, A&G, Gypsy Queen, Archives, etc... I'll wait until they start showing up via trades. And I won't touch ultra-expensive stuff like Finest, Triple Threads, or Museum Collection until I see them at card shows in half-off toploaders. Even for sets I really like, such as Stadium Club or Chrome, I might just buy a pack or two at the store. Sometimes Topps Series 1 when it's been a long winter and I'm itching for some baseball.

But the one thing I do get pretty near its release date is Topps Opening Day. By then, most of spring training has elapsed, and even a few players are preparing to start the year on the disabled list. My fantasy baseball draft is usually just days away. Add in the low $10 price at Target, and you've got yourself a sale!

2016 Topps Opening Day Superstar Celebrations #SC-20 Justin Bour
That also means that the Cardsphere has usually moved on by the time I get around to writing about something. It's rare that I lend my voice to the new release cycle, which also means it's pretty rare for me to be pulling the same cards as everyone else at the same time. But with a release date about ten days ago, it keeps popping up in the cardsphere, often with some of the same cards in this post.

Part of what keeps me coming back to Opening Day are the inserts. The Justin Bour Superstar Celebrations insert card was actually right behind Bour's base card in one of the middle packs, which I featured in my previous post. Didn't really know much about him before, but I won't forget his name now! And I doubt he'll forget getting doused in Gatorade by fellow Marlin Dee Gordon, who will make another appearance in this post.

2016 Topps Opening Day Superstar Celebrations #SC-8 Justin Bour
Bryant must have done something extra special to drive the Cubs to empty two Gatorade containers on him. You'd think these guys were multi-millionaires or something. That's gotta be, like, fifty bucks worth of Gatorade in there. And whatever's coming out of the clear one looks a lot more like a small iceberg than just some chilled liquid.

Even though Topps is fully paid up with MLB (and Getty Images, I'd assume), they still refer to the Gatorade shower as a "sports drink bath". Careful not to use trademarks! And Topps breaks the "no foil" rule on these insert cards by adding it to the Topps logo.

I could go on, but between these two and Johnny Giavotella, I'll stop depicting all that Gatorade carnage.

2016 Topps Opening Day Alternate Reality #AR-6 Kris Bryant
This is a new insert set called Alternate Reality, showing players in their secondary uniforms. Kris Bryant, the darling of baseball card prospectors everywhere, is showing off lots of Cubbie Blue right down to his elbow guard and batting gloves. Other bloggers have suggested that this would be a great set to examine some actual alternate histories, like if Jackie Robinson was called out at the plate in 1955, just like Yogi Berra insisted all those years. Or if Jose Tabata didn't stick his elbow out while facing Max Scherzer last year. Or if the Rangers got Just One More Strike back in 2011. Or any number of blown calls that have affected games and records over the years.

What might be more entertaining is if they show players who suit up in the wrong uniform. Not sure how often that happens, but Junior Lake did that once in a road game a few years back. With all the alternates and throwbacks they use these days, it's bound to happen once in a while.

That's two Kris Bryant inserts, in addition to his base card. This has been a great blaster so far.

2016 Topps Opening Day Foil #OD-1 Mike Trout
And for one of the foil parallels, I pulled Mr. Card #1 himself, Mike Trout. This, of course, is from when Trout scaled the center field wall to rob Jesus Montero of a 3-run home run. Between this and the Bat Flip card, Topps picked some great photos from last season! Like Opening Day parallels in years past, this one lists the actual date that (most) games begin—there are a few games on April 3rd.

But all indications suggest that this is supposed to have a serial number. The print run is claimed at 2016, but unlike in past years, the serial number is nowhere to be found, front or back. Beckett, Topps, and even the fine print on the pack wrapper say it should be there, but they must have dropped it for 2016. Come to think of it, I think Topps did the same thing in 2015. Which is fine; it's their product. But they ought to double check the sell sheets. At least they put the date back.

2016 Topps Opening Day Heavy Hitters #HH-12 Paul Goldschmidt
Moving on from that slight disappointment, here's another fresh insert set, Heavy Hitters. As you might imagine, this is filled with power hitters that can mash a baseball into the waiting glove of a fan in the cheap seats. Jose Bautista is in that 15-card set, as is Nolan Arenado. But I pulled this one of Paul Goldschmidt. While I'm far from a Diamondbacks fan, I'm pretty sure this is a Coors Field card, judging from the purple banner at the top of the dugout, and the purple-shirted spectator in the upper right, who is probably an usher. That banner helps me pick out plenty of cards shot in Denver, and the Diamondbacks and other NL West teams are prime candidates to end up on one.

2016 Topps Opening Day Striking Distance #SD-14 Mark Teixeira
Teixeira, whose surname is even harder to spell than LeMahieu, is just six homers shy of 400. He's easily within "Striking Distance" of that milestone, as yet one more novel insert set tells us. 400 is quite a mark, but as the back points out, he'd be up there with Mickey Mantle, Eddie Murray, and Chipper Jones as the only switch hitters to eclipse that number. Ichiro's in the set too (twice, actually), though of course not for home runs. He's nearing 3,000 MLB hits (not even counting the thousand-plus he racked up in Japan), as well as 500 steals.

I really like the concept of this insert set; it helps focus your attention around the league as the season progresses and each of these players makes their run at the milestone. And with services like MLB.TV, it's as easy as ever (and $20 cheaper this year!) to keep an eye on them.

I didn't get paid to say that.

Even with all these new insert sets, there's still room for some of the old classics. The Gatorade-heavy Superstar Celebrations set is an Opening Day veteran, as is everyone's favorite.

2016 Topps Opening Day Mascots #M-4 Wally the Green Monster
Mascots!

I didn't unearth Dinger this year (pun shamelessly intended), but I did get this very Muppet-like mascot of the Boston Red Sox. The Green Monster...get it? I can't quite tell if that orange stuff is supposed to be his hair or his eyebrows, but with the left field wall they have in Fenway (and visible on this card, no less), how could they have any other mascot than this?

One classic insert set I didn't pull anything from was Opening Day Stars, but Topps ditched the lenticular surface this year, which marks the end of an era. Even though they don't appear to move the same way that Sportflics cards do, they're still fun to run your fingernail across. I know that's not great for their condition, but I can't help it.

So far this has been a pretty awesome blaster. Lots of postgame celebrations, pretty darn good photography, inserts and parallels of some of the game's hottest young players, and that legendary bat flip.

How could I top all that?

Well, remember I mentioned Dee Gordon would be making another appearance?

2016 Topps Opening Day Printing Plates Black #OD-129 Dee Gordon /1
That, dear readers, is a printing plate.

Out of a $10 blaster of Opening Day.

Yes, I was pretty shocked. On average, I'd need to open over 3,000 of these 7-card blaster packs to pull one. I guess that one must have been the bonus pack.

I've had good luck with Opening Day before, including that David Wright autograph, but this is definitely above and beyond. It's only the second one I've ever found, and the first was in the already-scarce 2014 Topps Mini. My jaw definitely dropped. I'm sure supercollectors run across these all the time, but this sort of stuff doesn't find its way into my collection very often. Seeing one gives you a whole new appreciation for the detail and design work that goes into these, and it is pretty cool to know that every copy of Dee Gordon's card came from this.

Well, indirectly. They use offset printing, which is why the image isn't reversed. But still. I like it even more than a true 1/1. While it is a unique collectible itself, it's one that had a hand in creating all the rest of them. And even then, you still need three other colors to get the whole picture. It has to have some help from others to get the job done.

That may be a bit too sappy and philosophical for a hobby blog, but it's good to take a step back once in a while and look at the bigger picture to see all the interconnectedness in something as simple as a little rectangular baseball card.

Friday, March 25, 2016

OD-10

Though that is Felix Hernandez's card number in 2016 Topps Opening Day, more importantly it's NASA-speak for the number of days remaining to MLB's opening day! A few games start up on Sunday, April 3rd, though most teams begin play the following day, which is what the foil parallels have listed.

Now that we survived our seemingly annual giant March blizzard in Denver, we can start digging out, waiting for a foot and a half of snow to melt and drain from our roofs, backyards, and baseball diamonds. But "snow series" have become more common in Denver, so we're not out of the woods yet.

2016 Topps Opening Day #OD-92 Jean Segura
Digging into my annual blaster of Topps Opening Day from my local SuperTarget, there's your first look at a 2016 card on Infield Fly Rule. Jean Segura is laying down a bunt with pretty good form. And like them or not, 2016 Topps finally got rid of borders for the base set for the first time, well, ever. There is that cloudy area behind the player, which does serve to frame the photo, but it's quite a departure from what we've seen since the 1950s.

But there's plenty more you can do with a bat than just bunt.

Like, oh, I don't know. Maybe belt an epic go-ahead home run with it in a deciding playoff game, then fling the thing one-handed right at the visitor's dugout and into the history books.

That would make a great baseball card.

2016 Topps Opening Day #OD-187 Jose Bautista
Yep.

This was the second card from the second pack in the blaster, and though I haven't seen one from 2016 Topps base, this is just about the same thing, though zoomed in a little bit. Along with that Dinger mascot card from 2014, these $10 Opening Day blasters tend to give me just what I'm after.

2016 Topps Opening Day #OD-17 Kris Bryant
Kris Bryant is one of the most promising young prospects in baseball, and he's certainly the most sought-after player in baseball cards these days. I'm sure I could flip this lowly base card on eBay for a buck or two. But I'd rather hang on to it, and I'm interested to see what he and the Cubbies will do this year. It's always hit or miss with "Future Stars" cards, but I think this one's a pretty safe bet.

2016 Topps Opening Day #OD-181 Justin Bour
Justin Bour maybe less so. Although he finished fifth in Rookie of the Year voting behind the winning Kris Bryant, he still mashed 23 home runs last season. Yet he's far from a household name (maybe because he's a Marlin), but that could change at any moment.

I haven't said much about the design yet, and I do like this 2016 set. The banner in the corner reminds me of a blown-up 1993 Topps, and the layout is effective. No vertical names or distracting cluster of information. The team logo is pretty large, though not quite as imposing as 2010, but I'm not so sure I like how it's partially obscured behind the banner. The banner can slant either left or right, and it's pretty much dependent on the team logo which way looks best. The actual Marlin in the logo is almost entirely obscured here, but the Diamondbacks, Brewers, and Mets look pretty good with this banner orientation. The White Sox, Rockies, Cubs, and most others look better the other way.

This is also kind of a busy card, even without foil. The key elements are pretty clean, but add in the Opening Day seal, the Future Stars lettering, and the Topps Rookie Cup, it starts to look pretty cluttered.

2016 Topps Opening Day #OD-123 Johnny Giavotella
You might think this is one of the Superstar Celebration insert cards that Opening Day is known for. But no, just a base card. Baseball players have taken the Gatorate shower way further than the NFL, who still pretty much reserves that for clinching a playoff spot. In baseball, pretty much any game-winning hit can earn it. I've noticed that camera crews are getting pretty good at stepping out of the way in time. The photographer also used a really fast shutter speed here, as the water droplets are frozen in midair, cascading around Giavotella's neck.

You need a fast lens to do that, especially at the end of a night game. That means a wide aperture to grab enough light in the slightest fraction of a second. Which equals a shallow depth of field, thus causing all those blurry backgrounds people have been noticing in this year's set. That's been the case for quite some time, but there just must be something about this design that makes it more noticeable. Maybe the edge fading they're using instead of a true border. Regardless, I'll take some blurry backgrounds to get shots like this. Do we really want to return to all those posed shots Topps gave us in the late '60s where the left field facade of Yankee Stadium was clearly visible on almost every card? In my opinion, all these pin-sharp photos are just fine with me. These horizontal ones especially are like holding tiny HDTVs.

And we haven't seen one straining pitcher's face yet. But don't worry, that's coming.

2016 Topps Opening Day #OD-188 Troy Tulowitzki
No big deal here, just a Rockies franchise player batting for the Blue Jays.

As a Rockies fan, this is just weird. It's taking a long time to get used to this trade. I'm sure this is old hat to all you Dodgers and Tigers and Yankees fans who trade and sign and release players of this caliber on a regular basis. But our transactions are more along the lines of Daniel Descalso, Brandon Barnes, Brett Anderson, etc.... Yes, once in a while there's a Holliday-for-Gonzalez type of trade, and Jose Reyes did come over in the Tulo trade with all the pitching prospects, but more often than not, a casual fan has no idea who's coming or going.

2016 Topps Opening Day #OD-155 Jake Odorizzi
Jake Odorizzi, a guy who's been on my Fantasy squad once or twice, led off three straight Rays starting pitchers at the tail end of one pack. I think Odorizzi's been in the league a little too long to be labeled a Future Star. He'll be hitting that all-important 27th birthday in about a year, and I really don't see this guy becoming a late bloomer like Randy Johnson, who took a long time to develop control.

But even a middle-of-the-rotation guy like Odorizzi could be a game changer if he somehow ended up on the Rockies.

2016 Topps Opening Day #OD-113 Alex Cobb
The Rays have a pretty good rotation, though with Alex Cobb out until late in the season rehabilitating from Tommy John surgery, their success in the always-tough AL East is far from certain. Though if they do manage to win the division, it will be the first time in the Wild Card era that five different teams win their division in five consecutive years.

Thanks, reddit.

2016 Topps Opening Day #OD-49 Erasmo Ramirez
With Cobb Out, Erasmo Ramirez will have a more solid spot in the Rays rotation. He looks dwarfed by the pitcher's mound from this high angle, and it may be a Shadow Shots candidate for Johnny's Trading Post, even with the banner and the fade-out in the way.

I'm really not kidding that I pulled these three cards in a row. Three Rays righties, all with straining mid-pitch faces.

2016 Topps Opening Day #OD-39 DJ LeMahieu
Finally, it just wouldn't be right to leave out the Rockies. This is a great double-play shot of second baseman DJ LeMahieu, continuing the great tradition of Rockies middle infielders with difficult-to-spell last names. Looks like this is from Chase Field, as Jake Lamb is wearing a throwback Diamondbacks jersey, their original pinstriped design with purple and teal. Also don't forget that Pepsi ad on the outfield wall.

Speaking of Pepsi, the last time I had one was in 2009 at Angel Stadium with my dad. Not the last time at a ballgame, the last time period. Soda just isn't my thing.

Potato chips, on the other hand? Well, let's just say that the expiration date on a bag of chips is one of the most useless pieces of information in my day-to-day life.

I'll wrap up the base cards here, but I'll have another entire post devoted just to inserts and parallels. You already know I love Opening Day inserts, and this blaster was a pretty lucky one in the parallel department.

Stop by as the countdown continues!

Sunday, March 20, 2016

The Trading Post #58: Mark Hoyle

Nowhere in the #SuperTraders rulebook does it say you have to write a blog. Mark Hoyle, easily the most active non-blogger in this community has the Red Sox slot, and he's obviously a regular at his local post office. This is the first time Mark and I have swapped cards, and he didn't waste any time getting to the good stuff.

2007 Topps Opening Day #33 Willy Taveras
2007 Opening Day was about as different as that brand ever got from Topps base. Of course, the Filmstrip Set had black borders that year, along with silver foil. This is at least the fourth time it's shown up on Infield Fly Rule, clearly indicating my preference for its design, though I did show a 2007 Topps Chrome once before.

2016 Opening Day has hit the shelves by now, and it's become a bit of a tradition for me to pick up a blaster at my local SuperTarget. Perhaps this week I'll have a few moments to pop over. Though I already know it's almost as similar to the base set as possible, meaning I'm more after those awesome insert cards that continue to hang on in Opening Day.

1999 Topps #52 Todd Helton
Unlike 2007 OD (might as well start calling it that, since "OD" is in the card numbers for 2016), 1999 Topps is a rare bird around here. It was a pretty small set, as Topps Base got pretty tiny in the years following the strike. It seems they'd whittle it down another 80 cards every year until a giant 790-card set returned in 2001 for their 50th Anniversary.

Anyway, this Helton card shows up in trade packages and dime boxes fairly frequently, and it's a great candidate for all the collectors with mini collections. A dugout shot, baseball equipment, a hatless player, the Topps Rookie Cup, a rain delay; this card has it all. Even an inverted wheelbarrow.

Seems to me he could take about three steps to his right and stay nice and dry, as pro ballplayers tend to get fancy shmancy luxuries like roofs on the dugouts. But then this card wouldn't be a hidden gem in a fairly underwhelming set.

1995 Upper Deck #176 Marvin Freeman
Another one you don't see too often around here is 1995 Upper Deck. Which is a shame, since it's awesome! Marvin Freeman signed with the Rockies at the end of the 1993 season, long before it was known that pitchers have a pretty rough time in the Mile High City. There was definitely a Wile E. Coyote effect in 1994, as he went an impressive 10-2 in the strike-shortened season. However, things didn't go as well the next two seasons, as the realities of pre-humidor Colorado baseball started to become clear. He owns the dubious distinction of committing the first-ever balk at Coors Field, and he was out of baseball by 1996.

1995 Upper Deck #172 Charlie Hayes
A few of Charlie Hayes' 1995 cards feature this odd contraption, mostly from Upper Deck. He is wearing his own batting helmet this time, but in the weeks leading up to the strike, Hayes was struck by a pitch that broke his jaw. He was out for several games before returning with this extra-protective face mask attached to his helmet. I can't blame the guy, as a pitch to the face is pretty much the scariest possible moment in baseball, perhaps second only to a pitcher getting a ball lined off his head.

Those two types of disturbing injuries seem to be happening with greater frequency, so it's good that the sport is at least giving players new options (especially pitchers) in protective headwear.

I got hit on the left elbow with a pitch in little league, and I chose to end my baseball career shortly after that. 11-year old kids tend not to have the best control. Of all the reasons why I never made the major leagues, being afraid of a pitched ball is definitely up there. I don't hold anything against Barry Bonds for all that armor he wore.

2015 Donruss #85 Justin Morneau
Mark is pretty well known for shipping vintage cards around, but since the Rockies don't really have any of those, the inaugural era will do just fine. However, there were a few recent cards, like Justin Morneau's from 2015 Donruss. In comparison to most of the cards so far, this one is just a bit thicker than I expected. I've seen the set before, but my fellow traders are still chipping away at the team set for me. Looking at the back, you could tell from orbit that it's a Donruss card. But the retro Donruss logo in the upper left makes it a bit more interesting than their overproduction sets.

And please allow me to belabor the point that it's not truly a logoless card, as Morneau wears Franklin batting gloves (just like I wore in little league), and a Majestic jersey.

1993 Pinnacle #238 David Nied
We'll turn back the clock a bit, all the way to the first Rockie picked in the expansion draft. The happy partly cloudy weather behind Nied accurately reflects the attitude around Denver when the Rockies first began play. Threatening storm clouds started appearing circa 1997, but in early 1993, Denver was thrilled that our time zone finally had a team!

The #1 overall expansion pick didn't develop into much, but according to Pinnacle, the Marlins had their eye on him too. Pinnacle also stressed the importance of "keeping the ball low" in Colorado, something we're still working on.

1995 Fleer Ultra Gold Medallion #155 Mike Kingery
Sharp-eyed readers will recognize this card, or one just like it. The base card came over in a gigantic box from Bo, but Mark managed to find the Gold Medallion parallel, which has an embossed gold seal in the upper corner. These were a hot ticket in 1995! I remember pulling a Gold Medallion insert card of Manny Ramirez, and I still know exactly where it is.

1995 Fleer Ultra Second Year Standouts Gold Medallion #11 Manny Ramirez
Manny was just a hard-charging newbie at the time, long before he made his millions and decided to spend a large part of his career on all sorts of antics and hijinks. I have no idea whether that helped or hurt this card's one-time $8.00 Beckett Hi value, but they still go for $2 or $3 on eBay.

1994 Select #70 Joe Girardi
Finally, a bunting Joe Girardi appears on a premium card, or rather just "Joe GI" (GI Joe?) due to a problem with the gold foil. The middle section between the two photos should have the outline of his last name spelled in gold foil. There are no other signs of damage to the card, so I am guessing Pinnacle must have run into some production problems. I've never seen this happen on Score Select before, but then again I have a grand total of about five cards from this set, so I have no idea whether this is common.

It was a single team bag, but there were plenty of interesting cards in it, including a reason to pull out some buried treasure from my 1995 Ultra pages. And whether there's a blog on the other end of it or not, thanks, Mark!

Sunday, March 13, 2016

The Trading Post #57: My Best Friend Collects Chipper Jones

There isn't room for everyone in the SuperTraders group, but that hasn't stopped trades from arriving from elsewhere in the Cardsphere. You might call My Best Friend Collects Chipper Jones from Mark a newcomer, but he celebrates his one-year anniversary today! Join me in congratulating Mark on this milestone!

2014 Topps Archives #177 Carlos Gonzalez
CarGo seems happy about it, as he appears on a Topps Archives card based on the 1989 design. It's definitely no Stadium Club, but this set keeps growing on me year after year. There's just something so distinctive about the feel of Archives' card stock, which really helps differentiate them. Especially when it's an expansion team, it breathes new life into designs we've seen ten million times, and they even seem to use recycled photos less frequently than in other Topps sets.

Not that anyone would think one this is an original 1989 card, but there's not much risk of confusion anyway, unlike with the glossy reprints of very recent cards found in Cards Your Mom Threw Out and 60 Years of Topps sets. Night Owl made a point of how tough it is to tell the originals from the reprints on a series of Mike Piazza cards last week.

2015 Topps Archives #162 Nolan Arenado
Plus, it helps me learn the old designs a bit better. I can pick out the mid-'80s and on quite easily, but many 1970s sets confuse me. Is this Arenado supposed to be based on 1973, 1976, or 1979? '73 and '76 both have a little player outline in the lower corner, but both '76 and '79 have solid-colored bars at the bottom. A quick Google Image search confirms that it's 1976. And all the little pennants in 1974, 1977, and 1980 tend to throw me too.

So Archives is helping educate this collector that came up in the overproduction era, one who had allowance money for packs of 1991 Score and 1993 Fleer, but not for much in the way of vintage.

1995 Stadium Club #618 Larry Walker TA
Another day, another subset from 1995 Stadium Club that I've never seen before. Like the Extreme Corps card that came from Wes, apparently TSC made a Trans Action subset in their High Numbers release that year. News to me. I like the color scheme on this one a bit more than Extreme Corps card.

1994 Upper Deck Electric Diamond #483 Ellis Burks
Ellis Burks, a member of the Blake Street Bombers with Larry Walker, gets an action shot on 1994 Upper Deck, breaking a three-card string of Guys Resting Bats On Their Shoulders. I'm guessing this is a spring training shot, as there's an obvious A's fan in the crowd, and the Rockies didn't wear black jerseys in the regular season until many seasons later.

Cards like this make me miss Upper Deck. The sparkly finish on Electric Diamond cards predated Topps' Sparkle parallels by almost two decades. Topps has always been my favorite manufacturer, but it would be really nice to have some competition in the market.

2015 Stadium Club #32 Nolan Arenado
Still, the return of Stadium Club does help ease UD's passing, as the look of pure joy on Arenado's face puts this card head and shoulders above all the pitchers' straining faces we've seen in Topps Base for like five straight years. The only downside is that the same Arenado photo on the back can be found on at least three Topps cards.

2010 Topps Chrome #143 Troy Tulowitzki
I've been known to buy a pack or two of Topps Chrome. Some years are shinier than others, but in my opinion 2010 was the worst for "the curl". Curling on the horizontal axis isn't so terrible, and we're all pretty much used to it by now, but on the vertical axis it gets kind of weird, and many of the cards from a blaster I once bought of this are pretty much curled from the lower left to the upper right. Even now, I can glance over at my rows of binders and know exactly where my 2010 Topps Chrome cards are, since they don't lay flat and cause the pages to bulge.

2007 Upper Deck Spectrum #62 Todd Helton
They just keep getting shinier from here on out. This is from Upper Deck Spectrum, and it's one heck of a base card. Shiny silver with a hint of rainbow, vertical black borders (sort of like the 2007 UD base set), and a reflective Tron-like surface on the bottom. I'll have to find a way to squeeze this into my 2007 Upper Deck binder pages, which are already filled with what feels like a dozen and a half sets they made that year.

2008 Donruss Elite Extra Edition #17 Charlie Blackmon
Pre-beard Charlie Blackmon gets a card in the shiniest Donruss Elite set I can recall. I'm more familiar with their recent sets, and they used a lot more red in those. I can't quite place his uniform though. None of the Rockies' minor league clubs have cities or names that could match "JACK".

Maybe it means Jackpot, since starting in outfield for the Rockies was pretty close to my childhood idea of winning the lottery.

That, or owning my own jet airplane.

2013 Finest #12 Carlos Gonzalez
Though CarGo's road uniform doesn't look quite as striking as Tulo's purple pinstripes, 2013 Finest fits well with the other shiny silver cards Mark sent my way. The hexagonal theme of 2003 Finest remains one of my top three favorite Finest designs (along with that gorgeous green of 1994). The rows of circles on this design look a little bit like one of those mesh park benches, or a Connect Four game board.

2008 SPx #30 Matt Holliday
Die-cut cards seem more appealing every time I run across one, and Upper Deck did a stellar job with this one. The shading seen in each corner really makes this look like it's a two-layer card. Of course, there's a nice rainbow finish and cute little baseballs in each corner, but I am super impressed with this card. Every time I touch the corner I expect to feel another edge, although the visual effect isn't quite as pronounced on the back due to the lack of shininess.

My scanner never feels the same way about die-cuts, as it has enough trouble auto-cropping a perfect rectangle. But I'll appreciate this one for a long time to come.

Finally, I'll be doing a mail run in the next day or two, to recipients both on and off the #Supertraders list. Check the below list for your ZIP/Postal code!

07044
02766
13601
14222
20904
27314
28590
29730
29841
45067
55406
60706
70062
78125
79083
87499
N2H 5M5

Thanks for reading!

Saturday, March 12, 2016

The Trading Post #56: Highly Subjective and Completely Arbitrary

Brian might not have the longest blog name in the Cardsphere, but it easily wins the "Most Likely to Score 800 on the SAT Verbal Test" award. Many of us have simply taken to shortening Highly Subjective and Completely Arbitrary to HSCA, but I keep getting that acronym mixed up with HFCS, so I just spell the whole thing out.

Brian's a fellow #SuperTrader, and a PWE from him landed in my mailbox a few weeks ago, packed with some fairly unusual Rockies cards.

2012 Topps Black #242 Eric Young, Jr. /61
Not much unusual about the 2012 Topps base set, as we've all seen it numerous times. But this is a pretty darn rare border, the black bordered card numbered to /61. That's the rarest variety of this card, save for the /1 printing plates and such. Rather than just a plain black border, this is more of a charcoal gray, and matches nicely with EY Junior's purple.

1998 Fleer Tradition Promising Forecast #PF6 Todd Helton
I was out of collecting in 1998, so this is my first exposure (pun intended) to this weather-themed Fleer insert card. It's from the Promising Forecast insert set, but the weather pattern approaching (or leaving) the Carolinas looks pretty ominous, maybe even the remnants of a hurricane.

Helton was a Major League newbie in 1998, but his forecast turned out to be quite accurate, "fill[ing] the prodigious shoes of...Andres Galarraga." Modern superstars like David Ortiz, Paul Konerko, and Miguel Tejada also appeared in this set, but so did guys I've never heard of, like Brian Rose and Eric Milton. There was a bust or two (i.e. Kerry Wood), and the remainder were guys who went on to have more or less average careers, like Brad Fullmer, A.J. Hinch, and Ben Grieve, a player who particularly liked to beat up on the Rockies in the early days of Interleague play.

2007 SPx Winning Materials Blue #WM-MH Matt Holliday /175 (MEM)
Upper Deck's favorite letter forms the outline of a Matt Holliday relic card, numbered to /175. The S and P letters to the left have a very shiny rainbow finish, stealing some attention from the random black lines on the left. Holliday contributed plenty of "Winning Materials" in 2007, earning NLCS MVP honors that year.

2006 Upper Deck Future Stars #117 Josh Wilson AU (RC)
Brian threw in a couple other UD hits, these from the Future Stars set. Unfortunately, the forecast accuracy has run out, as neither of the players depicted ended up having a "Clear Path to Greatness". Josh Wilson never even suited up for the Rockies in the regular season, and I have to wonder about UD's photography here. The player's outline on this acetate card looks absolutely nothing like the photograph above the sticker autograph.

2006 Upper Deck Future Stars #156 Choo Freeman AU (RC)
Choo Freeman spent only three years in the Majors, and 2006 was his last. At least his picture looks right. Fortunately, the Rockies seem to have little trouble developing outfielders, and Josh Wilson has been a utility player as recently as last season. He's even come on as an emergency pitcher a time or two in his career.

Regardless of how the players turned out, I had no idea that Upper Deck dabbled in acetate cards a decade ago. Always something new to learn in this hobby.

1995 Score Hall of Gold #HG19 Dante Bichette
Like a Topps Stadium Club card sent by our fearless SuperTraders leader, this 1995 Score insert card is new to me, despite the fact that I opened several packs of 1995 Score in 1995. I'm familiar with the one-per-pack Gold Rush parallels, but the Hall of Gold insert cards are apparently something different. It's a huge 110-card insert set, so I'm really surprised I've never seen one of these before.

Bichette's record of 6 RBIs in one Rockies game has since been eclipsed—by Matt Holliday, in fact, but that performance and an All-Star selection earned him this shiny insert card. I've always found the foil on these Score cards to be a bit fragile, but this one looks to be in tip-top shape.

It's really quite amazing, getting a PWE that was pretty much brand new to my eyes, except for the 2012 Topps base design. The SuperTraders strike again!


Sunday, March 6, 2016

The Trading Post #55: Sportscards From the Dollar Store

Shipments from my fellow #Supertraders are continuing to roll in, many from traders I've never swapped with before. Second to arrive after Wes' was a small stack all the way from Canada. Sportscards From the Dollar Store opened a box of 2013 Panini Hometown Heroes, although I was pretty much the only one to end up with a hit. He kept a Met for himself, but the other two hits were of the Indians and the World Champion Royals. We're still hoping to fill those two slots, plus the Marlins.

2013 Hometown Heroes #240 Joe Girardi
Of course, it's not all about hits. A half dozen base cards came along with it, This Girardi card doesn't mention anything about his managerial career with the Yankees, or rather with "New York (A)". This is a logoless set, after all. It does mention his career home runs and that close to half of them came in Denver. I remember one he hit to straightaway center at Mile High Stadium one Friday night, and the next day we had a family outing to the Rockies merchandise store in Boulder to get his and Eric Young's autographs. Girardi even said a few words on the radio with Mark Knudsen afterwards.

2013 Hometown Heroes #248 Vinny Castilla
Vinny Castilla often hit more home runs in a season than Girardi did his whole career. He looks more than ready to hit one on this card  And regardless of the lack of an MLB logo on his helmet, it's not truly a logoless card. I can spot Franklin, Rawlings, Russell, and Oakley, not to mention the Hometown heroes logo.

2013 Hometown Heroes #179 Carlos Gonzalez
This is definitely a retro set in the style of Topps Heritage or Fleer Tradition. The solid yellow background reminds me quite a bit of 1958 Topps, and the team in the yellow pennant of 1965 Topps. The little red stars I can't quite place. Maybe an early Fleer set? Anyway, the Rockies' modern purple looks kind of out of place on this card. A Cardinal would look a lot better. And adding to the logo count, there's a nice Nike Swoosh on the batting glove.

2013 Hometown Heroes #152 Andres Galarraga
Like CarGo, Andres Galarraga hails from Venezuela. Between those two and others like Yorvit Torrealba and Jonathan Herrera, South Americans have hit a significant percentage of Rockies' home runs. The Big Cat finished just one short of 400 for his career.

Also, we can add Wilson to the running list of sporting goods manufacturers. Clearly they're not as protective of their intellectual property as MLB.

2013 Hometown Heroes #205 Troy Tulowitzki
Of course, Tulo's future home runs will count for Toronto's stats. The Blue Jays will be visiting Denver in late June, and I am going to try to make it to at least one of those. It will be interesting to see how the fans react to his return. Though he hasn't had good things to say about Rockies' management and ownership since the trade, neither have many of the fans. So we're probably pretty much on the same page. At the very least, it will be nice to hear the "Tulo" chant echo off the right field stands once more.

2013 Hometown Heroes #219 Todd Helton
Helton managed to stay in Denver his whole career, earning the honor of having his uniform number of 17 retired a couple seasons ago. We'll see what his Hall of Fame chances are like in a couple years. Perhaps he'll be the first Rockie in Cooperstown.

On the logo front, Helton has Mizuno batting gloves. Just how many batting glove manufacturers are there, anyway? Seems like a surprisingly fragmented industry.

So just what was the hit I alluded to back in the beginning of this post?

2013 Hometown Heroes Hometown Signatures #HSVC Vinny Castilla (AU)
Vinny Castilla makes his second appearance on this post, and this one has a tiny bit of stadium background in that circle, a bit of an homage to 1959 Topps. And oh yeah, his autograph, complete with big circles over the "i"s. They used the same photo on the back, but this hit has a more pleasing color combination than the base cards.

I do have to hand it to this SuperTraders group. I don't usually go after Panini brands, but being a member of this group, and after 55 trades since 2014, I've been exposed to plenty of cards and even brands I didn't really know about. And they're rolling in faster than I can write them up, so watch this space!