Saturday, March 2, 2019

The Trading Post #127: Night Owl Cards

It's official.

After tense negotiations, both parties have finally agreed that...

2018 Topps Opening Day At The Ballpark #ODB-COR Colorado Rockies
...Bud Black will remain the Rockies manager through the 2022 season.

A lot of the players in this pre-game anthem photo from 2018 Opening Day either won't be back or have already left, including Greg Holland, Carlos González, and the man standing two down from Black, DJ LeMahieu.

There is a particular player, though, who will be, and he just signed one of the most lucrative contracts in the history of professional sports.

2018 Topps National League Standouts #NL-17 Nolan Arenado
The ink is now drying on Nolan Arenado's contract, an eight-year deal for $260 million, with an opt-out after three years. That will keep him in Colorado for at least a few more years, and hopefully he continues to like it here enough to stick around to the end of it, or even beyond.

I'd actually seen that Bud Black card before; I just liked that lead-in so much I couldn't resist showing it again.

Anyway, these cards were sent by Night Owl Cards, a follow-up shipment to the Don Newcombe card sent as part of his 10th-anniversary giveaway. Sadly, Newk passed away since that card entered my collection.

You might think this is just a garden-variety Topps base card, and it does use the same photo, but it's actually from the National League Standouts Team Set, something that's definitely new to me. The set includes just 17 cards of some of the biggest NL players from various teams, mostly the Nationals, Dodgers, and Rockies. I guess the inclusion of Dodgers is why Night Owl bought it. At first, I thought these were just from the Rockies Team Set, not knowing there was a general NL set at all. I just hadn't considered that it would be weird for him to both A) buy a whole Rockies team set and B) send me three cards from it.

That photo, by the way, shows Nolan at bat in Target Field, home of the Twins. That would date this to May 16th-18th, 2017, the opening Interleague leg of a long road trip. There's nothing on the back to differentiate it from Flagship, other than the card number itself.

2018 Topps National League Standouts #NL-3 Charlie Blackmon
Charlie Blackmon's NL Team Set card is different than in Flagship, but still similar. He has the full white pinstripe uniform on instead of the black top, and he's at an earlier stage of his swing. The card back is also different, telling us some Studio-like tidbits like his chess and juggling hobbies, and that he has a finance degree from Georgia Tech. He got some league leader cards in Flagship, and there is a varying photo selection on them all, but always at the plate.

2018 Topps Chrome Pink Refractors #194 Charlie Blackmon
Chrome is different still, opting to show him on the basepaths on this Pink Refractor. Topps also made the massive design change of moving the Topps logo from the left to the right, and putting some background shapes on the design to make up for the lack of a border. This refractor isn't quite rare enough to warrant a serial number, and the color is in that weird gray area where you can't quite tell if it's pink or purple. I even had "Purple Refractor" written before I checked Beckett.

2018 Topps Rainbow Foil #96 David Dahl
Night Owl knows I like shiny cards, and he found a nice assortment. The final example of 2018's "Waterslide" set is a Rainbow Foil parallel of David Dahl, which shows him approaching third base. I'm not sure which stadium this is, but there's probably enough information on the scoreboard to nail down a date, even though they're both divisional games. Jake Arrieta wore #49 with the Cubs, so let's start there.

Turns out, this photo is from 2016, even though it's a 2018 card. The Cubs beat the St. Louis Cardinals (and #50 Adam Wainwright) by a score of 13-2 on August 12th, 2016. The other matchup lines up too, with Mike Foltynewicz beating Stephen Strasburg 8-5. That would place the Rockies in Philadelphia, on their way to a 10-6 loss. David Dahl only reached base once in this game, on a wild pitch in the first inning. This photo definitely shows him going first-to-third on a Gerardo Parra single. Dahl finished the game 0-4 with no walks and a run scored, not a line you see too often.

The Rio Olympics were in full swing on that date, and rather than watching this game, I was likely watching swimmer Katie Ledecky set a world record in the 800m.

2017 Topps Update Rainbow Foil #US230 DJ LeMahieu
Topps has been producing Rainbow Foil parallels for some time now, and DJ LeMahieu got one in 2017's Update Series. It adds a little pizzazz to the rather unattractive green-colored outfield walls in Miami, which sharply contrasts the orange jersey worn by the All-Star second baseman. The next time he makes an All-Star Game, it will likely be for the American League, as he has a two-year deal with the Yankees about to kick in.

The card back heaped lots of praise on DJ's 2017 first-half performance, including his back-to-back four-hit games in mid-June, leading the league in assists and defensive double plays, and a 1.0 dWAR. At the very bottom of all that, the paragraph wraps up with "Exhibition Performance: Did not play."

Sadly, NL manager Joe Maddon decided to keep DJ on the bench during the extra-inning affair. It was his second All-Star appearance, and he went 0-2 in 2015's Midsummer Classic in Cincinnati.

2018 Topps Big League Gold #121 DJ LeMahieu
DJ LeMahieu's leaping throw gives me my very first look at 2018 Topps Big League. I bought a blaster of this last summer, but I've yet to open it. Maybe you could say I'm aging it like a wine, waiting for it to improve the longer I let it mature.

I know this set didn't earn many fans, but I don't really have a problem with it. It's not too expensive, and it has the look of something like Topps Total, plus maybe a mash-up of the large logo from 2010 Topps and a little 1989 Topps with the curve in a different place. It is quite a nice design for such a bargain-priced product. This is the Gold parallel, but unlike the equivalent in Flagship, there is no serial number. It's not shiny, but I like this shade better than what they selected for 2002 Topps.

One of these days I'll dig into that blaster and see if there are any surprises. I just want to catch up on trade posts first.

2017 Topps Heritage Chrome #THC-685 German Marquez /999
The Cardsphere has been abuzz this week with the release of 2019 Topps Heritage, based on the 1970 design. Pat Neshek's sunglasses card will surely go on a few Card of the Year posts in December. But a couple years ago, we were still on the '68 design. German Marquez got a card in High Number that year, a 225-card set from which just 50 were selected to get the Chrome treatment. Those Chrome cards just have 999 copies each, pretty scarce for a partial parallel set.

Putting together a master set of Heritage seems like it would be an absolute nightmare. Good thing a pack or two here and there along with the usual incoming trades satisfies me.

Maybe Nolan Arenado just really likes Denver, but it's likely that the promising young rotation including Marquez and Kyle Freeland was a factor as well. Couple that with Charlie Blackmon sticking around for a few more years, possibly through his retirement, and you have a team that can really find some lasting success under a proven manager.

Thanks, Night Owl!


  1. Awesome action shot on that Big League LeMahieu.

  2. The other day the Washington Post put out a list of the best remaining free agents after the signings of Harper and Machado. Gonzalez was not on that list. Edwin Jackson as. Has Gonzalez fallen off that much?

    1. He's fallen off a bit, but below Edwin Jackson seems excessive.

  3. Heritage Chrome looks good no matter the design! I've seen a few 2019 Chrome over the past week which make the 1970 design rock.