Saturday, January 3, 2015

The Trading Post #13: Brad's Blog

Let me kick off the new year with the first of several trade posts.

Much of the blog community has been posting various countdowns, years-in-review, and collecting goals for 2015. None of that here (primarily because I am not the most focused collector you'll meet), just a good, old-fashioned trade post. With lots of newfangled shiny Rockies cards.

Shortly before Christmas, a package arrived from Brad at the Phillies-focused Brad's Blog. Brad put up a post about our trade a week or so before Christmas, and he found lots of assorted Phillies (and a few Frank Thomases) in the box I sent him. Based on what Brad sent in return, it's obvious that he has been opening a lot of Topps Chrome.

2012 Topps Chrome Rookie Autographs #161 Jordan Pacheco (AU)
The card you see above isn't from Brad. I think it came from Christian, one of my local dealers who runs the monthly 5280 card show. The one Brad sent (below) is so similar as to momentarily trick me into thinking it was a duplicate. That's surprising, as my autograph collection is quite small. But then I noticed that Pacheco's autograph was noticeably different between the two cards. And the card itself was just a bit shinier.

2012 Topps Chrome Rookie Autographs Refractors #161 Jordan Pacheco (AU) /499
It's a Refractor parallel, numbered to 499! Now that I've been truly exposed to the wide variety of parallels in Topps' products these days (more on that later), I am finally learning to flip cards over to check for serial numbers or other special differences. Pacheco, who is now a Diamondback, clearly got a bit fatigued signing all these cards, and his Sharpie looks like it was nearing the end of its useful life. This is #41 of 499, so Pacheco had quite a way to go before Topps had what they needed from him.

There was lots more Topps Chrome in this shipment, including from the quite recent 2014 set. I bought a complete base set on eBay a couple months ago, but I haven't run across too many of the inserts or parallels other than what I've obtained via trade.

2014 Topps Chrome Blue Refractors #157 Michael Cuddyer /199
Michael Cuddyer spent three seasons as a Rockie, winning the NL batting title in 2013, and memorably hitting for the cycle in late 2014 after returning from the disabled list. The second ex-Rockie to appear in this post, Cuddy is headed for the Mets in 2015. That leaves the Rockies with only one former Twins star in Justin Morneau. Can Joe Mauer be far behind?

We'll see what the front office does, but for now I'll enjoy this serial-numbered blue refractor, one of eleven Refractor varieties in 2014 Chrome. Four of those are not serial numbered, and there are six other serial-numbered varieties scarcer than blue. Perhaps I'm beating a dead horse, but there are far too many colored parallels on the market these days. Anyone who has played with a prism knows that Topps is taking the concept of a "rainbow" pretty literally.

Like the 1972 inserts we saw in 2013, Topps again resurrected an old design for a Topps Chrome insert set, this time using 1989. We've seen that 1989 design already this year (recall the 1989 Die-Cut minis), but this is in the good old 2.5" x 3.5" standard format.

2014 Topps Chrome '89 Chrome Refractors #89TC-TT Troy Tulowitzki
I must admit, seeing expansion team names on these old, familiar designs is a bit strange. It's almost as though the font is just a hair too thin. Brad also threw in Carlos Gonzalez's card from this 25-card insert set, which completes the Rockies team set in one fell swoop.

As Tulo and CarGo are usually the only Rockies to appear in smaller sets, Brad also completed my Rockies team set from 2014 Chrome Connections, or as I like to call it, "The Game of Thrones" insert set.

2014 Topps Chrome Chrome Connections Die Cuts #CC-TT Troy Tulowitzki
I had the CarGo already, so in the unlikely event that I exclusively become a Rockies team collector, this one is done!

There isn't much I can do about the proliferation of colored parallels in Topps products, so I guess the best thing to do is develop an appreciation for cards that perfectly match the team colors.

2012 Bowman Platinum Prospects Purple Refractors #BPP5 Chad Bettis
If I were running Topps, I'd just color-code the parallels for each team. I'm sure the green ones look fantastic on A's cards, for example. Simply pick the best one for each team and leave it at that. In fact, I like this 2012 card even more than its counterpart in 2013 Bowman Platinum. But at least Chad Bettis has appeared in the Majors, which is more than can be said for many of the players in Bowman sets.

On to the older stuff, starting with my third card and first Rockie from a very innovative mid-1990s insert set, Leaf Preferred Steel.

1996 Leaf Preferred Steel #37 Larry Walker
And yes, it really is actual steel. But don't take my word for it. If you have one of these, grab a magnet and check! One odd thing I noticed (besides that it's, well, metal) is that the card is numbered "37 of seventy-seven". Seeing the two numbering styles side by side is a bit strange and I can't think of any other card set that does it that way.

Brad didn't limit the shiny Topps stuff to recent Chrome sets. He included four cards from 1994 Topps Finest, which comes in a great shade of green.

1994 Finest #35 Andres Galarraga
I obtained a "Preproduction" example of this Galarraga card in the first factory set I ever purchased, 1994 Topps. I called every card shop in the Denver area (and there were many, many more then than there are now) and located one for $45, a huge chunk of savings from a ten-year old's allowance. That card had "preproduction" lettering in red on the back, but this one is from the standard base set. I know this card pretty well, but I didn't remember that it had the 125th Anniversary logo on the back.

Taking a page from Topps Gold, which came one-per-pack, Score developed a competing product called Gold Rush for 1994 and 1995.

1995 Score Gold Rush #370 Ellis Burks
The foil on these cards is quite fragile. I have a few from this parallel set that are peeling straight off the card stock, but this one is perfectly intact. I don't really follow cards outside baseball, but hockey collectors may be interested to know that Panini resurrected the Score brand and its Gold Rush parallel set for a recent hockey release.

Brad also included about a half-dozen cards from Score's 1994 base set, most of which I hadn't seen before.

1994 Score #170 Steve Reed
Steve Reed was one of my favorite Rockies pitchers as a young fan. I knew that his submarine delivery was something unusual even then. I'll have to see if I have an extra copy for Nick at Dime Boxes. He loves these snapshots of players signing autographs.

As the snow continues to fall in the Denver area, Coors Field is still a few months away from hosting a sporting event, though there is talk of an outdoor NHL game for the Colorado Avalanche in the not-too-distant future.

2010 Upper Deck #549 Colorado Rockies BP
Appropriately, the final card of this post shows a dusting of snow atop the statue that stands outside Coors Field's Home Plate entrance at 20th and Blake. Normally, I'd have expected Upper Deck to have included a summertime shot of Coors Field, but they rushed this final 2010 set to market amid legal squabbles over their MLB license.

The more I trade, the tougher it gets to pick just a handful of cards from a great trade package. Thanks to Brad for sending over lots of shiny objects, both cardboard and metal!

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