Sunday, January 18, 2015

The Trading Post #18: Cards on Cards

Another trade package that showed up late in 2014 was from the Cardinals blog Cards on Cards. There was a nice variety of stuff in here, all sorts of Upper Deck and Topps Update, even a relic or two.

He also threw in a card from one of my favorite brands as a child: Sportflix.

1995 SportFlix #96 Andres Galarraga
These cards look great in person, but I've seen lots of bloggers have trouble scanning them, myself included. I really just wanted to give it a try. But there is definitely something lost in translation when you can't see all the visual shifts that happen when you tilt the card back and forth.

One thing that certainly does scan well is one of the oldest ballparks in the game: Wrigley Field.

1996 Bazooka #96 Vinny Castilla
I've never been the biggest fan of the Bazooka brand, a Topps product. The designs don't really wow me, but I'm sure that it's a nostalgic product for plenty of collectors. This posed shot of Vinny Castilla isn't anything special, and it's painfully obvious that the photographer used a flash, but no baseball fan could mistake that iconic center field scoreboard at the Cubs' home park.

I've mentioned before that I think the insert sets found in Opening Day are pretty awesome, from the Mascot series, to Fired Up, and let's not forget Stadium Lights.

2012 Topps Opening Day Elite Skills #ES-23 Carlos Gonzalez
This is from 2012, the only Opening Day set from the last four years that I didn't buy a box of. Thus, I don't know the 2012 inserts too well, but I'm not at all surprised to see great insert sets from that year as well. The one is called "Elite Skills", and each card focuses on an advanced topic of baseball, such as "fielding a grounder", "catching a foul ball", "hitting the cut off" and other skills that a ballplayer of almost any age can use to improve their game.

This one of CarGo "Playing The Ivy" really only applies to those that have already reached the majors. Any little leaguer ought to know how to execute a rundown, but knowing the outfield ground rules at Wrigley is valuable knowledge to just a hundred or so guys. But I see their point; knowing the ground rules or how to play the quirks of a particular field (since only the diamond's dimensions are set in stone) can give you a valuable advantage in any setting.

2008 Stadium Club #4 Todd Helton
Even those who possess elite skills need to practice, practice, practice. Todd Helton, the only Rockie to have his number retired, takes batting practice like any Major Leaguer. I took golf lessons once, and we were told that golf superstar Phil Mickelson won't leave the practice green until he sinks one hundred consecutive three-foot putts.

Cue the putting drill, and a fellow student's comment of "I wish I could make one in a row!"

Back to Helton, that BP card is from 2008 Stadium Club, which didn't earn nearly as much love as the recent 2014 release, but still featured some pretty great photography regardless.

And a guy who practices that much ends up getting rewarded with nice, shiny cards like this:

2004 SP Prospects #35 Todd Helton
Todd Helton was well past the "Prospect" stage by 2004, but that didn't stop Upper Deck from including him in the 2004 SP Prospects set, along with three other Rockies (including Luis A. Gonzalez) that Cards on Cards shipped in this package.

Todd Helton progressed through all the developmental stages of a Major Leaguer with the Rockies, going from a prospect, to a rookie, to a star, to a team legend, who was given a "fond farewell" as he neared retirement.

2014 Topps Update Fond Farewells #FF-TH Todd Helton
One-team guys like Helton and Derek Jeter are a rare breed in today's sports world. People point to many older players like Mickey Mantle, Al Kaline, or even Ted Williams who "remained loyal" to one team throughout their careers, but that's a bit of a misconception. Yes, all those Hall-of-Famers played for only one franchise, but that isn't taking into account the legal situation of the day. Not all that long ago, the Reserve Clause was the law of the land, and the concept of free agency wasn't around to allow even the legends to earn what they were worth.

Not that free agency doesn't have plenty of its own problems ($9 ballpark beers being the least of them), but one has to admit that sports is a much more lucrative business than it used to be once the owners were dragged kicking and screaming into a world with a fair labor market.

Helton chose to stick around even in that labor market, and as the back of the above card points out, he was gifted with a horse shortly after he announced his retirement.

Yes, we still have a bit of the Wild West out here in Colorado. The National Western Stock Show is going on right now, in fact.

One player that will be going to his third team in 2015 is Michael Cuddyer. He got his start as a Twin, then spent three years in Denver. He'll stay in the National League next year as a Met.

2014 Topps Heritage Chrome #THC-33 Michael Cuddyer /999
Next year's Topps Heritage set will feature the 1966 design. They sure didn't have shiny, serial numbered cards like the above in the mid-'60s, although the Gemini space program was wrapping up by then, leading into Apollo shortly thereafter.

Not sure how I feel about that. I think I'd take an inspiring American space program over shiny cardboard with a gold serial number.

Think anyone in Congress would take that trade?

Perhaps not.

In that case, I'll just have to enjoy this Brad Hawpe relic instead.

2008 Topps Allen & Ginter Relics #AGR-BH Brad Hawpe (MEM)
These Allen & Ginter relics have two-piece construction. The inner card, which contains the relic, is the same size as an A&G mini, but is contained within a standard 2.5" x 3.5" outer frame. There's a thin plastic coating on both sides of the frame that holds the inner card in place, and there's even a little window cut out of the front side of the frame so you can feel the relic within. It's quite elaborate; way beyond 1966 technology. And bonus points for the sliver of purple pinstripe.

This was a fun post to write while I had the NFL playoffs turned on in the background. Thanks to Cards on Cards for all the, uh, cards!


  1. Wow, I'll have to see if I can track down a copy of that Castilla. What a beaut.

  2. I'm digging the Carlos Gonzalez.