Tuesday, December 29, 2015

The Trading Post #52: A Cracked Bat

It's been barely a week since my last post about a trade from A Cracked Bat. That post was for a couple Eight Men Out cards that came along with the great Michigan-themed Christmas card I saw on a few other blogs out there. Clearly Julie has been up to her usual practice of spreading holiday cheer around the Cardsphere.

But I mentioned then that I was doing her trade posts out of order. That's because I received another stack from her around Thanksgiving, and there were quite a few more cards in it.

1997 Pinnacle #105 Rey Ordonez
When I put together my larger trade packages, I like to take the time to look for player cameos and the occasional alternate team logos that appear in backgrounds. I'll even check those tiny rookie card pictures on the backs of 1991-1993 Stadium Club. Some appreciate it, others don't. But Julie clearly knows I like player cameos. Why else would she include one of Dante Bichette?

Yes, that Pinnacle card isn't Bichette's at all. It's Rey Ordonez', a shortstop who spent most of his career with the Mets. This doesn't look like a double play card; rather it's probably a stolen base attempt.

Pinnacle went pretty overboard with gold foil, as did pretty much everyone in the late '90s, but they did do an interesting thing with this set. The area in the gold foil has various...nouns related to the team's home city. On this card alone, I can make out Sinatra, LaGuardia Airport, Statue of Liberty, Shea Stadium, Nolan Ryan, and Big Apple, along with cut-off segments of what I assume are Miracle Mets, David Letterman, and World Trade Center. It's a bit like the city skylines you'll find on the back of 1993 Leaf.

And I really need to get a magnifying glass.

1995 Pinnacle #336 Dante Bichette
1995 Pinnacle was about as bold with the gold foil as '97, going with the always-trusty baseball stitch design. But this shot of Bichette (actually his card this time) shows the luxury suites at Mile High Stadium better than I've ever seen on a card.

I saw three Rockies games at Mile High Stadium, along with two or three Denver Zephyrs games when I was a wee lad, although never a Broncos game. I don't remember much about those minor-league games, other than a fan in the stands leading a chant, "Gimme a Z! Gimme an E!" and so on for another letter or two until he realized he misspelled an admittedly difficult team name. Only a couple years later, Major League Baseball would arrive in Denver with a more chant-friendly team name.

1994 Collector's Choice Silver Signature #62 Daryl Boston
Daryl Boston was one of the faces of that inaugural team, certainly appearing in Mile High Stadium on this 1994 Collector's Choice card. I have that complete base set, but only a few dozen of these Silver Signature parallels. Like Topps Gold, they came one-per-pack, so they're fairly plentiful. There was also a Gold Signature parallel, one-per-box if I recall correctly. I never pulled one from a pack, but I've run into a few in dime boxes in recent years.

2015 Immaculate Collection #86 Nolan Arenado /99
Gold foil is still a thing twenty years later, but cards this thick were not. Immaculate Collection (isn't that a Madonna album?) looks to be a competitor to Topps Triple Threads or Museum Collection, and it has the price tag to match. At least when you buy it new. I don't know how well it sells, but I suppose autograph and relic collectors don't care as much about official MLB logos as us lower-end fans do.

One minor critique I have about this card is that the serial number is in silver foil, not gold. It's a little jarring to see silver among those thin gold lines. But that's just nitpicking. I really like this card! The purple areas remind me of 1995 Select; as they have a similar marble look, though it's much fainter here.

1996 Metal Universe Platinum #155 Vinny Castilla
And now we move from the elegance of Immaculate Collection to the incomprehensible weirdness of 1996 Metal Universe. Yes, that is a giant bee imprinted in the foil.

My girlfriend was quite baffled by this card. She kept asking,"Why is there a bee on this card? Why would they put a bee on a baseball card?"

Which is a fair question.

All I could come up with was, "it was the '90s."

According to BaseballCardPedia, Fleer was a subsidiary of Marvel at the time, and they were going for a sort of comic book theme, but it just comes out looking like the goofiest thing imaginable. And this set was so crazy, it was featured on a post from SB Nation's awesome Sports Cards For Insane People series. Others found in that series are the wacky art of Fleer Pro-Visions, the Mad Libs-esque 1995 Emotion set, and the racially insensitive Topps Big, which would cause a firestorm of epic proportions on social media if it were released today.

2015 Topps Chrome Prism Refractor #58 Justin Morneau
And all that makes this extra-shiny Chrome card seem positively tame. This doesn't have an obvious colored border, so based on all the tiny facets on the foil, I'm guessing this is the Prism Refractor. It took a few trips through this stack to notice the special finish, and only then it was under bright light.

2015 Topps Chrome Pink Refractor #11 Carlos Gonzalez
This one is easy, obviously the Pink Refractor. No serial number on either of these, but after the base version I got in Brad's pre-move giveaway, I'm already on my way to a CarGo rainbow without even buying a pack.

2015 Stadium Club Gold #175 Drew Stubbs
I purchased a box or two of 2014 Stadium Club, but only a pack and some assorted trades of 2015 Stadium Club, despite it being equally awesome. But Julie went and found a gold parallel of Drew Stubbs' Powerade shower, likely after his walkoff home run on August 17th, 2014, one of two walkoff hits Stubbs had that year, both of which the back of this card alludes to.

2014 Stadium Club Members Only #31 Todd Helton
Finally, a card I didn't think I'd ever own - A 2014 Stadium Club Members Only parallel! Julie put a note on the back of this penny sleeve saying she found it in a dime box, and that it only had a tiny ding in the corner. No problems there, as this is one of my favorite cards from one of my favorite sets. Members Only parallels aren't serial numbered, though they're estimated to be quite rare. They're a one-per-case parallel, which likely equates to less than ten copies printed based on the print run. 2015 Members Only cards were announced to have a print run of 7, so 2014 was probably about the same.

There was so much thought put into this trade package. Some awesome ones I never knew existed, some others that sent me down memory lane, a Mets card that sort of wasn't, and one that I never expected to see in my collection.

I'll give them a good home.

Saturday, December 26, 2015

The Trading Post #51: Cards My Mother Didn't Throw Out

Another Christmas has come and gone, and I hope everyone's was wonderful. With both my parents out of town, the usual Christmas traditions didn't take place as they normally do, but that left plenty of time to forge a few new ones.

Shortly before Christmas, reader Jared reached out to me inquiring about a trade, seeing if I had some Diamondbacks to swap. Daniel at It's Like Having My Own Card Shop has ended up with most of what I had available over the past year or so, but I was able to find enough in the extras box to fill a 9-pocket page for a PWE.

Jared has been so impressed with our little community that he decided to start up his own blog, Cards My Mother Didn't Throw Out. I have the honor of being the subject of his inaugural post, which went up today! Go check his blog out and welcome him to the Cardsphere! If anyone out there has Diamondbacks to trade, Jared's on the lookout, specifically for their purple and teal uniforms, and of course that 2001 World Series team.

Jared and I happen to be located in the same state, so swapping PWEs had a pretty quick turnaround, and he put together a pretty nice one to kick off his blogging career.

1998 Stadium Club #209 Neifi Perez
The Raised Baseball set (aka 1998 Stadium Club) makes another appearance on this blog, with a fantastic action shot of Rockies infielder Neifi Perez diving back to first to avoid a pickoff. That's quite the cloud of dust, so he must have been taking a huge lead here. That is a road jersey, though, and the color of the turf in the background looks artificial to me. So maybe the infield dirt just doesn't really get watered in those stadiums. Probably why it always seemed to pile up at the base of the pitcher's mound and along the basepaths.

1995 Leaf #296 Bruce Ruffin
That's definitely natural grass on Ruffin's card, in fact the grass at Mile High Stadium. You can spot a couple orange seats behind the outfield wall, and this 1995 Leaf card uses a shot from the 1994 season, the Rockies' second and last at Mile High before they moved to Coors Field.

Leaf is another one of my favorite sets from 1995. Both that giant team name and the headshot on the left have a rainbow foil finish, along with fairly readable gold script lettering for the name. The stats on the back are a little sparse (to say nothing of the strike shortened season), but there are no fewer than four photographs of the player on this card, including the back.

1995 Leaf #286 Bruce Ruffin (Reverse)
It also has one of the larger card numbers that I can recall, made even bigger by the huge silver seal surrounding it. Leaf used the baseball stadium shape prolifically in this design, as it made up the Leaf logo, the headshot frame, and the central design focus of the card back, with the player's vital statistics cleverly forming the foul lines.

2002 Fleer Ultra #153 Alex Ochoa
Fleer was still a going concern in 2002, and they were still going with the borderless look that pretty much everyone but Topps had adopted on all but the retro sets.

Alex Ochoa, only a Rockie for about half a season, is riding the cushioned pine in a very blue dugout. That is definitely not Coors Field; as they use a dark green. I'm thinking this might be Shea Stadium. That, or the Rockies were playing an exhibition game against the Smurfs.

2008 Stadium Club #56 Garrett Atkins
I've seen this card before, but can't remember whether I posted about it. Horizontal cards usually contain an interesting photograph, and this one is no different. You can just see the ball coming into the frame in the lower right, and the photographer used a fast enough shutter speed to even freeze the rapidly spinning laces. This one looks like it's about knee-high, but you know how balls like that can dive out of the strike zone. Hopefully Atkins laid off this one.

I am not terribly familiar with 2008 Stadium Club. It's a far cry from the awesomeness they've put out the last two years running. But I feel like Topps got the color scheme wrong here. Not the first time I've seen that in a color-coded set, but powder blue has never been a Rockies color. This set has appeared on Infield Fly Rule twice before, and both of those had a proper purple and gray.

Somehow it seems that Atkins got the Tampa Bay Rays treatment, at least on the front. The card back does have the correct color scheme.

2008 Stadium Club First Day Issue Unnumbered #129a Elliot Johnson (RC)
See what I mean?

That's a fantastic action shot, by the way. I hardly know a thing about Elliot Johnson, and even less about whoever he's smacking into at the plate, but I guess 2008 Stadium Club wasn't all that bad. Like Panini Prizm, it's another generally disliked set that doesn't really bother me.

2015 Bowman Chrome Prospects Blue Wave Refractors #BCP187 Kyle Freeland
As is usual for recent Bowman sets, or any Bowman Prospect set for that matter, I have never heard of Kyle Freeland. The Rockies drafted him in 2014, and he's been inching his way up the farm system for a couple seasons. Turns out he's a local kid, having attended Thomas Jefferson High School in southern Denver. And he wasn't even born when the Rockies played their first few games. He was a first-round pick, so he's indicative of the Rockies' new focus on developing young pitchers. Hopefully he, Jon Gray, and the guys they traded Tulowitzki for pan out.

This is a delightfully shiny card, and surprisingly thick. The rainbow lines catch the light from a few different directions. and obviously it has a blue border, one of only two bordered cards Jared included in the whole envelope.

After checking Beckett, I don't think it's the Blue Refractor, as it lacks a serial number. Nor is it the Blue Twitter Refractor, because what even is that? That leaves the Blue Wave Refractor, an un-serialed parallel that matches the shape of the rainbow lines on the front.

2015 Topps Triple Threads Unity Relics #UJR-CDN Corey Dickerson /36 (MEM)
Jared said that he recently picked up a "sweet" Rockies card which he promised to send to me. That must be this one, which contains by far the largest relic I've ever seen. I do know they have those jumbo swatches, but I've never run across one. So this double-tall bat relic from 2015 Topps Triple Threads, numbered to just 36 copies (double chai for us Hanukkah celebrators), takes the crown for Largest Relic In My Collection. Pretty cool.

Thanks Jared, and welcome to the community! Hopefully you can strike up a trading relationship with a few more of us.

Thursday, December 24, 2015

The Trading Post #50: Brad's Blog

Prior to his recent move, Brad from the eponymous Brad's Blog ran a giveaway so he could schlep a little less cardboard to his new place. He's all moved in now, and I'm glad I could help take a few Rockies cards off his hands to smooth that process just a little.

1995 Fleer #529 John Vander Wal
When the lead card is from the nutty 1995 Fleer, you know there will be plenty of variety. It's just such a strange and disjointed set, but I can't help but love it. At least it's not shy. I purchased this product when it was new, but this John Vander Wal card is new to me.

Vander Wal was a pretty solid utility player and pinch hitter. He put together a good year at the plate in 1995, and I always enjoyed seeing him come to bat, especially when he hit a home run in the Rockies epic 16-15 win over the Dodgers on June 30th, 1996, a legendary game in Rockies history.

The NL West design of 1995 Fleer forced the player's vital stats (height, weight, age, etc...) onto the front of the card, a very unusual spot. That still didn't clear much room off the back of the card, as most of Vander Wal's minor league clubs are abbreviated as "W. Palm B.", "Indianap." and "Jacksonv."

It might go down as the busiest card design in history.

But I still like it.

1994 Topps #49 Armando Reynoso
I also like 1994 Topps, which was the first factory set I ever purchased. I thought I knew the set pretty well, but this card seemed a bit unfamiliar. It's not from the Traded set, just the regular 792-card base set. I'm just surprised I didn't recognize it, as I handled those cards a lot when I was ten.

1994 Score #643 Eric Wedge
So far, we've seen sets I collected when they were new. 1994 Score is no different, but I definitely haven't seen this card before. Wedge might be doing some bullpen catching here, but it just looks like a posed shot to me. He's also noted as a Rookie Prospect, though that didn't really pan out. He only played in 9 games as a Rockie, though he has a slew of cards as one. He appeared on the Red Sox briefly over three seasons, but I can't recall ever seeing a card of him in a Boston jersey.

His managerial career was quite a bit more successful, as he won the Manager of the Year award in 2007, though he hasn't really been involved in professional baseball since his stroke in 2013. Fortunately he seems to have recovered well.

1993 Triple Play #22 Darren Holmes
1993 Triple Play was one of the first sets to have Rockies, though this was released too early for Darren Holmes to appear in a Rockies uniform. It even has their original logo that was changed just before they began play. It's the closest thing the young Rockies have to a throwback logo. I'd personally love to see it appear on the field for the first time.

Incidentally, he was the first ballplayer I ever met in person. He did an autograph signing at a local mall, and he signed a couple cards, a ball, and my hat. I remember the day quite vividly, in fact. I'm pretty sure my dad bought a pair of sneakers at that mall anchor store, my sister was there as well, and we saw a white limousine as we left the mall.

Forgive my channeling Rain Man right there. But I can't remember what my lunch plans were on Sunday. Go figure.

1993 Triple Play #237 Joe Girardi
Anyway, back to 1993 Triple Play. Somehow Donruss managed to get Joe Girardi in a real Rockies uniform, with the current Rockies logo, no less, all without changing the team logo on the print layout. I'm sure they had it all ready to go and it was too late to change the design, but getting this official uniform on the card must have been a real accomplishment!

1999 Fleer Tradition #327 Brian Bohanon
Brad had an eagle eye here, spotting the updated team name on Brian Bohanon's 1999 Fleer Tradition card. That script lettering is pretty tough to read, and not to put this one in the Dodger pile took some attention on Brad's part. Granted, it's clearer on the back, and that Free Agent seal is a signal to take a closer look.

Bohanon wrapped up his career in Colorado, coming close to a .500 record over three seasons, though with a rather elevated ERA of close to 6.00. The Rockies didn't have much going on during those years besides the emergence of Todd Helton, but I do remember seeing him pitch a few games on TV (before it went to cable, but that's a whole other story).

2013 Topps Heritage #329 Drew Pomeranz
So far, it's mostly been inaugural-era Rockies, but there were some newer cards as well. Drew Pomeranz, now with Oakland, looks mighty ticked about something. Perhaps it's that 2-9 record he amassed in the previous season. Or that the scratch off area on the back of this Topps Heritage card doesn't scratch off like a true 1964 card.

2015 Topps Allen & Ginter #226 Nolan Arenado
Now, Topps' vintage-style brands like A&G and Gypsy Queen are kind of low on my list of favorites. They're an awful lot like Bowman, in that I can hardly tell the years apart. I can easily differentiate the two sets, but I don't know them well enough to be able to pinpoint the different designs. I don't think Topps would lose much by nixing one of these brands, or maybe alternating years.

2015 Topps Gypsy Queen #116 Nolan Arenado
And recycled images don't help that problem one bit. Topps had to use the same image of the same guy in the same year on more or less the same set? At least this 2015 GQ design is somewhat distinctive, but really? Is Topps stretching themselves too thin with photo licensing fees? Are they even fielding their own photographers anymore? Are they still using 64 MB flash cards or something?

2015 Topps Chrome #11 Carlos Gonzalez
That's a bit more up my alley! Chrome cards still curl, but this one is relatively flat. I do like how the 2015 design looks with the shiny treatment. I hope to keep seeing shiny cards of CarGo, but he and most of the Rockies outfield are starting to come up in trade rumors. The whole league knows the Rockies need pitching, and they do have some outfield depth to draw on there, but Gonzalez, when healthy, is a great contributor.

1995 Topps Cyberstats #57 Charlie Hayes
Here's one you don't see too often - a Topps Cyberstats parallel. The very existence of this card helps explain its rarity, as the simulated stats on the back assume a 1994 season that wasn't shortened by the infamous strike. It was a pretty big nail in the coffin of the overproduction era, just as shiny technology started taking off.

I'm a fan of most of the 1995 brands, and the torn edge look of the border goes well with the type of streaking they use for the background. It's similar to some parts of 1995 Fleer's NL West design. To me, it looks a lot like The Void that Frodo enters when he puts on the ring in Lord of the Rings. But relax, this is only Wrigley Field.

2007 Artifacts MLB Apparel # MLB-AT Garrett Atkins /199 (MEM)
Brad said he'd do his best to include at least one relic or autograph in each giveaway shipment, and this UD card fits the bill. There's a prominent serial number, right below the pinstriped swatch, easily my favorite feature of relic cards. That frame around the relic looks straight out of a Harry Potter movie (you getting an idea of the movies I like?), and if you look extra carefully at the border, you can see that it's an old map of Canada. Winnipeg, of all places, is found on the upper right.

I might need to dig up a magnifying glass to fully appreciate the cards I've been getting lately. Stamp collectors use them; why not us?

Thank you Brad, and enjoy your new home!

Tuesday, December 22, 2015

The Trading Post #49: A Penny Sleeve for your Thoughts

On the same day that Julie's Christmas card arrived, another one showed up from Jon at A Penny Sleeve for your Thoughts.

Jon, a newcomer to the cardsphere, was the winner of my 100th post checklist contest, so I certainly had no expectation of getting anything in return, but he included a nice handwritten note and two shiny, serial-numbered Rockies cards!

1998 Pinnacle Hit It Here #1 Larry Walker S/N 02815
First up is this Pinnacle insert of Larry Walker. The back of this card makes a big deal about Walker's near-Triple Crown 1997 season, and also includes the serial number "02815". This is my first time seeing this insert set from the wacky late-'90s, but Beckett doesn't have anything on the serial-numbered nature of this card.

I had to head over to BaseballCardPedia to find out anything about this card. My eyes do not deceive me, there really is a unique number on there. But the weird thing is that there was never any statement of the print run, but best estimates place it at around 20,000 copies. That's pretty plentiful for a serial numbered card, but there is space here to go all the way to 99,999. So regardless, this copy is pretty early in the print run if that estimate is anywhere close to accurate.

It sure is shiny, though. There are lots of sparkly lines radiating from that "Hit it Here" target. And they definitely captured Walker's power stroke on this card.

1998 Leaf Fractal Foundations #184 Todd Helton GLR /3999
Todd Helton's card, the other one in this envelope, happens to be from the same year as Walker's. More late-90's oddness ensues with this Fractal Foundations parallel, numbered to 3,999.

The Fractal Foundations lettering and the Leaf logo are embossed with rainbow foil (as is the serial number on the back) and though it doesn't come across well in the scan, the foil background is sort of a pale bluish-gray. It's an interesting card, and as Helton had yet to be established in the Majors, most of the card back talks about his performance in AAA and at the University of Tennessee.

Thanks Jon, and to answer your question, I do indeed have an affinity for 1962 Topps, but as far as a needs list, I own a mere four cards from that set. (#s 100, 150, 200, and 505). So let's just say I have a ways to go on that one.

Sunday, December 20, 2015

The Trading Post #48: A Cracked Bat

As the holidays draw ever nearer (or in the case of Hanukkah, slowly recede into the past), several of my fellow bloggers have sent in Christmas cards with a card or two inside. Julie of A Cracked Bat was one of them, sending an awesome Michigan-themed card, appropriate for her new home state.

I'm actually doing some of these trade posts out of order - Julie actually sent me a shipment around Thanksgiving, and I've yet to write it up. But for Christmas, she took an extra-close look at my Eight Men Out list, and inside that holiday card included not one, but two baseball cards from my list!

1993 Leaf #234 Eric Karros
I'll be honest, I am more of a factory set kind of guy. Perhaps it's not in the true spirit of collecting, just bypassing the whole packs/boxes/trading thing and getting the entire set in one fell swoop, but it is much more convenient and certainly cheaper.

That said, there are a handful of sets I've built by hand, starting with a box or two of packs, adding a few from eBay or card shows here and there, then finally nailing down the last few. I built 1993 Fleer this way, as well as Series 2 of 1991 Stadium Club, and 1992 Fleer Ultra Series 1.

That Eric Karros card above puts me a single card away from completing Series 2 of 1993 Leaf, a set that stepped the brand way up from the drab gray sets of the prior two years. I'm not a Dodgers fan, but having grown up a Rockies fan, guys like Karros in the NL West regularly wrought havoc on the poor Rockies.

Karros kicked off the Dodgers' run of five consecutive Rookie of the Year awards starting in 1992, but in doing fact-checking on that, I discovered that they had a run of four in 1979 through 1982, starting with Rick Sutcliffe and ending with Steve Sax.

Anyway, that's one card off the list, with a nice Dodger Stadium commemorative patch on Karros' left sleeve, but the second card really surprised me.

1987 Donruss All-Star Box #PUZ Roberto Clemente (Puzzle Card)
Night Owl did a post about the Donruss puzzle pieces that we've all seen (which make quite a shower of paper bits when you take them out of the perforation), but the Donruss Rookies mini-sets included a complete puzzle as well, totally separate from the main 8.5"x11" puzzle that you find pieces for in standard packs.

I can't recall if I got the 1987 Donruss Rookies puzzle set from a card show or an online vendor, but the 15-piece puzzle was missing from the supposedly complete set. It was one of the earlier additions to the list, and I thought it would be the longest of long shots for this one to turn up, but Julie really came through!

And yes, this card does mention Clemente's 3,000 hits, three thousand right on the nose. It also says that he won 5 Outfield Assist Titles. I never knew there was such a thing.

There's really always something new to find in this hobby, even on a card from 1987.

Thursday, December 10, 2015

The Trading Post #47: Waiting 'til Next Year

Spoiler alert: there are no pitchers in this post.

2003 Topps #97 Todd Zeile
There are, however, plenty of hitters. Like this great horizontal shot of Todd Zeile, a journeyman third baseman who holds the dubious distinction of having played in the most games without ever being selected for an All-Star team. He was off the Rockies by the time this 2003 card was printed, but the Rockies purple works pretty well with the blue borders of Topps 2003, probably my favorite Topps base set of the years I wasn't collecting.

Zeile's was one of the cards I got in trade from Tom at Waiting 'til Next Year. He's one of several bloggers that I've traded with for the first time in the last couple months. It took me a while, but I finally got a return package shipped out Monday.

2004 Bazooka Red Chunks #166 Jay Payton
Jay Payton stealing second leads off a trio of red-bordered cards, this one a surprisingly thick parallel from 2004 Bazooka. Like Zeile, Payton was no longer a Rockie by the time this card was released (they always seem a year behind, don't they?), but that doesn't detract from the awesomeness of this action shot. It seems more like a TV screen capture than most other cards.

And he's not a pitcher. Which I bring up because the Rockies signed a few Relief Pitchers I Have Actually Heard Of, getting Chad Qualls and Jason Motte. You may not have heard of them, but this is big news for the Rockies bullpen. Qualls, incidentally, was on his second stint as an Astro, a team I thought he'd been on all this time. Turns out he's been bouncing all over the league for years.

2006 Topps Turkey Red Red #553 Kazuo Matsui
In fact, the Rockies and Astros have done a fair bit of dealing over the years, as Kaz Matsui went there following the Rockies' World Series appearance in 2007. More recently, Jordan Lyles and Dexter Fowler were dealt between Denver and Houston. But (unrelated) I'm still not really used to the Astros being in the American League, although the 2015 Postseason helped me out quite a bit on that.

Like that Bazooka card, this Turkey Red insert is a red parallel (Turkey Red squared?), but this has that odd faux-vintage textured look, almost like a piece of leather. The back is slightly off-white, and the back uses that 19th-century spelling of "Base Ball" more than once. It's an odd set, and Turkey Red Red reminds me of saying PIN Number or ATM Machine.

2008 Topps Opening Day #35 Garrett Atkins
And this one is from when Opening Day took better efforts to differentiate itself from the Topps base set. All the Opening Day base cards were red that year, and featured lots of gold foil. I've found that they chip pretty easily, but this one seems to be in pretty good shape, even if that Topps logo is intruding on the photo area, a common gripe about the 2008 design.

2015 Bowman Chrome Prospects #BCP12 Emerson Jimenez
That's it for the red cards, so up next is a nice shiny Bowman card of a prospect I've never heard of.  He's still a single-A guy, so it'll be quite some time before we see him in the Majors. But you heard it on Bowman first.

2009 Bowman Prospects #BP58 Wilin Rosario
Every so often, though, a Bowman Prospect stays in the Majors. Like Emerson Jimenez, Rosario hails from the Dominican Republic, a real gold mine of baseball stars. And Rosario has one of the most legible signatures I can recall on one of these cards with a facsimile autograph. He'll be starting his sixth year as a Rockie in 2016, so he's got quite a bit of seniority already.

2013 Finest #35 Troy Tulowitzki
I'm pretty sure I've seen some variety of this card before (probably the refractor), but it wasn't until now that I noticed the tiny baseball on Tulo's belt. I can't quite tell what it is, a patch or possibly a sticker. Maybe you get a little shiny baseball sticker on your belt after each home run, sort of like an Axis flag you'd find on a P-51 Mustang.

2015 Donruss #82 Corey Dickerson
With Donruss, the logo-less Panini brand, we don't get anywhere that level of detail. Because the Rockies have fairly unique colors, it's not hard to spot them without the "CR" on hats or helmets. I imagine this would be much tougher with one of the red or blue teams, of which there are plenty. Maybe being a Rockies fan means I tend not to find issue with Panini sets that most others despise, like Prizm (or even Donruss, for that matter).

2007 Topps Wal-Mart #WM38 Matt Holliday
A couple posts ago, I mentioned that Matt Holliday cards don't seem to be that common. Tom sent over a couple, including this Topps 205 card (actually part of a Wal-Mart exclusive insert set), whose frame looks an awful lot like this year's Gypsy Queen. Holliday's baby-faced appearance originally made me think this was more like 2004-2005, but it is from the same year that Holliday won NLCS MVP honors, just a couple weeks after misjudging a fly ball in Game 163 against the Padres to send it to extras, then scoring the winning run in that same game.

2005 Topps Opening Day #136 Matt Holliday
Though he was (and remains) a fairly subpar outfielder, his talent at the plate can't be denied. His baserunning is known to be...iffy, but I'd say he's safe at second in Wrigley on this Opening Day card. The blue foil at the top looks striking, but the same color gets lost in the black bar at the bottom, at least in person. Amazingly, the scan picks it up better.

2000 Topps #53 Dante Bichette
Wrigley Field comes across even better in this Dante Bichette card from 2000 Topps. Tom threw in a good number of 2000 Topps, which might even be the whole team set. It was a small set that year.

We've seen Bichette near the ivy before, but this time it looks more like spring than autumn. At least he doesn't need long sleeves. And a couple of Wrigley Field cards from one of the bigger Cubs fans in the cardsphere makes for an extra-appropriate conclusion to his trade post.

And not one pitcher to be found.

Monday, November 30, 2015

Mini Monday #3 (and a winner announced!)

Detroit is stacking their rotation again.

2013 Topps Mini #588 Jordan Zimmermann
In case you haven't seen a notification pop up on your smartphone by now, the Tigers just agreed to sign Jordan Zimmermann to a five year, $110 million contract. I'm sure we'll see plenty more blockbuster deals over the next month or two, but with the rotation Washington already has, they can probably spare him. And I'm sure the Tigers are happy to welcome him, as Justin Verlander has trailed off precipitously in the last year or two.

In other news, Colby Rasmus recently became the first player to ever accept a qualifying offer, agreeing to a $15.8 million one-year contract (and essentially forcing the Astros to offload Jed Lowrie). Thanks to a couple dozen iPhone notifications earlier this month, I learned that there was such a thing as a qualifying offer, and that sometimes you're so good at baseball that $16 million for a year's work is a bad deal.

The more you know.

Finally, my readers have probably been itching to learn who won my 100th post checklist giveaway. I had six entrants. To paraphrase some legalese, few will enter, one will win.

Congratulations to Jon at A Penny Sleeve for your Thoughts, a newcomer to the cardsphere! Jon, I don't believe we've traded before, so please get in touch and let me know your address.

Thanks for stopping by, and enjoy your Mini / Cyber Monday!

Saturday, November 28, 2015

The Trading Post #46: Cardboard Clubhouse

Besides my first packs of 1987 Topps and 1990 Fleer, the 1993 Rockies Team Stadium Club set is one of the longest-tenured pieces of my collection. It's a 30-card team set, with color coding and a large gold foil baseball in the upper right. Ten or so teams got this treatment, including the expansion Rockies and Marlins, along with the Rangers, Yankees, Angels, and a few others.

As you might imagine, most of these cards are in fairly rough shape. Nothing stays pristine in the hands of a nine-year old for long. Even worse, the second law of thermodynamics seems to have dictated that my 30-card set didn't stay whole. Whether it got traded, cast off as a duplicate, or fell into a black hole, Jeff Parrett's card #9 didn't survive into my adulthood, leaving me with a slightly incomplete set of one of my earliest card products.

1993 Rockies Team Stadium Club #9 Jeff Parrett
That is, until Adam from Cardboard Clubhouse came to the rescue, knocking off another Eight Men Out need. Fellow bloggers, if you don't have a short wantlist like that, make one.

Parrett didn't even play for the Rockies that long, mostly appearing in relief during their inaugural 1993 season. But he still appeared in this fairly scarce set, and I'm glad that I got the chance to right that wrong.

1993 Rockies Team Stadium Club #26 Steve Reed
Even better, Adam just went ahead and included the whole darn team set for good measure. I saw this team set at the antique mall a couple months ago, but it was priced at over $6 per 9-pocket page. I knew I needed that Parrett card, but didn't want to spend that much to get it. Much better to rely on this community, and Adam got to add to his collection, too.

Steve Reed was of my favorite pitchers in the early days of the Rockies. His right-handed submarine delivery was fascinating to watch, and since I was so new to baseball then, I probably assumed that every team had a submariner.

His name came up in a statistic I heard recently. Apparently, he's in the top-ten list of career wins as a Rockie despite never having started a game in his entire MLB career. That means two things. One, the Rockies were completely awesome at come-from-behind wins in their early years. And two, the fact that only nine other guys have surpassed a late-inning reliever with 33 Rockies wins to his credit means they have always had absolutely terrible pitching.

2015 Topps Archives #238 Troy Tulowitzki
But we have had good shortstops. At least, we used to.

Tulo's smiling face appears on this resurrection of the 1983 Topps design as part of this year's Archives set. Though it's not a fan favorite, Archives is growing on me more and more. The semi-glossy finish they use front and back makes these cards a cinch to pick out by feel alone, which I think is a great idea for this type of set. There are way too many reprints out there (like Cards Your Mom Threw Out) that can easily be mistaken for the real thing, especially if you're only glancing at the front. I especially enjoy seeing the treatment Topps gives to expansion teams on these old designs. Sometimes they work uncannily well.

2013 Topps Archives #155 Wilin Rosario
Like this Wilin Rosario card from 2013 Archives. That's based on 1990 Topps, of course, probably my least favorite Topps base issue of the overproduction era. The random colors and tiny dots everywhere give it a jarring look against some pretty boring photography. But put a modern Rockie on that purple background that didn't match any MLB team at the time, and suddenly it looks completely perfect. It's a shame the Rockies and Marlins weren't around back then; they could have made that set make a lot more sense.

2013 Topps Archives #155 Wilin Rosario (Reverse)
But maybe that mustard-colored back and art-deco font was just too much to overcome.

2015 Diamond Kings #136 Troy Tulowitzki
Another recent set with a pretty unique feel is 2015 Diamond Kings. Nachos Grande opened a box of this for a group break earlier this year, and my girlfriend helped me realize that these are meant to feel like a playing card. This Tulowitzki, along with the Charlie Blackmon I got in the group break, means I got both Rockies that appeared in the 200-card base set. Not great representation there, and that's part of the reason why I struck out a bit on his most recent group break. But that had a silver lining, which you'll see in an upcoming post.

2015 Topps Rainbow Foil #34 Charlie Blackmon
Speaking of Charlie Blackmon, Adam also sent this Rainbow Foil parallel from 2015 Topps. I've seen one or two others by now, and while it's no 2013 Topps Emerald, it's a nice-looking card. The background becomes rather muted in this finish, which blends in well with the stucco-like pattern of the upper border.

2015 Topps Allen & Ginter Starting Points #SP-83 Matt Holliday
I haven't seen many Matt Holliday cards recently. He hasn't been a Rockie in many years, and he's done so well as a Cardinal that his time on the Rockies flies under the radar a bit. So I was glad to see this Allen & Ginter card in the package, part of a huge 100-card insert set. Believe it or not, there's a second insert set in A&G this year that's just as large. The base set remains at 350 cards, but Topps' flagship product grew to 350 cards per series this year. Clearly, the card industry isn't exempt from inflation.

2014 Topps Pink #275 Nolan Arenado /50
Last, here is a pretty special colored parallel from 2014 Topps. It's no secret that Nolan Arenado is my favorite current Rockie, and while I'm not wild about the pink border, the serial number is a pleasing 50/50. There are actually quite a few serial numbered cards in my collection, but none other comes to mind with the final number in the print run. It's a satisfying little detail, easily offsetting the clashing colors found on the front.

This was a surprisingly awesome trade package! Adam and I discussed the Parrett card via email, and other than "maybe a few Rockies extras", I wasn't expecting anything like this! Big thanks to Cardboard Clubhouse for keeping the trading ball rolling.