Friday, May 27, 2016

A Package of Whack

Even though my first exposure to Topps Wacky Packages came just a couple months ago, this product first hit the market way back in 1967. In case you are unfamiliar, they are parody cards in sticker format, and they poke quite a bit of fun at the baseball world. Best I can describe it is if Mad Magazine got into the card business. Topps (wisely) inserted a few of them in 2016 Baseball packs, which is how I finally learned of their existence. I got a couple from Ain't Nobody Got Time for Cardboard, but earlier this month, my girlfriend stopped by Target and bought two packs for me.

2016 Wacky Packages MLB #16 Cubs Honey
This set is filled to the brim with puns, and certainly puts a smile on my face. This squeeze bottle of honey with a Cubs logo (get it?) is great for helping "get your pitchers out of sticky situations". While this is of course a parody, it has more than a grain of truth to it, as pitchers have used all sorts of foreign substances to help get a better grip on the ball for nearly as long as baseball has been a sport. Sunscreen is a favorite these days, especially since it has legitimate uses on the field, unlike, say, a squeeze bear of honey.

2016 Wacky Packages MLB #7 Blue Jays Bird Bath Sports Drink
If you want to achieve "Beak" Performance, be sure to try out this flavor of Gatorade. Yes, we all know that's supposed to be a Gatorade bottle. I'm pretty good with logos and trademarks. I can almost always discern the make and model of a car, or even something like a computer monitor, when they blur out or cover up the logos on various reality TV shows. Personally, I've never had blue Gatorade (or Gatorade at all, for that matter), but we sold a lot of it at the Conoco station where I worked when I was 16.

Of course, I never saw a bottle with an actual bird inside.

2016 Wacky Packages MLB #10 Braves Cutlery Set
It's a bit of a crude method of food preparation, but if you ever need to chop a baseball in half or "carve up the competition", why use a cleaver when you can instead use an official Braves tomahawk? Millions of Braves fans have the motion down perfectly, though I can't say whether the annoying chant would improve your results.

This reminds me a bit of the Samurai Delicatessen, one of the John Belushi's great skits from the early days of Saturday Night Live.

2016 Wacky Packages MLB #20 Dodgers Sushi
Speaking of Japanese cuisine, what better than a little 9-piece serving of sushi? Because that's how the Dodgers "California Roll".

Yeah, some of these puns are better than others.

I'm not sure if I'd go for ballpark sushi, but getting little baseball bats as chopsticks might seal the deal. I'd just have to forgo a beer or two, because when a sixty-cent hot dog goes for six bucks, I can easily see ballpark prices for something like this being well into the $20 range.

2016 Wacky Packages MLB #22 Giants Magic Beans
Using honey is obviously breaking the rules, but climbing a sturdy plant to field a ball is much more vague. The rules say that a fielder must have "one or both feet on or over the playing surface" to legally make a catch, but if these magic beans grow quickly enough and can germinate in the outfield grass, then such a catch may not truly be illegal. After all, they're magic! And according to the fairy tale, there are real giants at the top of that beanstalk!

There's a bit of truth to this one too, as groundskeepers once discovered hundreds of marijuana plants growing in the outfield at Anaheim Stadium following a concert by The Who in 1976. Apparently, fans with on-field seating scattered seeds all over the outfield, and no one noticed anything was amiss until just before the season began.

Thanks, Reddit!

2016 Wacky Packages MLB Red Seam #83 Nacho High Cheese
I personally prefer the term "chin music" for a high and tight fastball, or simply "high heat", but apparently "High Cheese" also describes such a pitch. I'd never heard that phrase before, but if it can give us another food pun, then I have no problem with it.

These Red Seam parallels don't seem to be on the sell sheet or checklist, but here they are nonetheless. The base cards just have a white background, but we can always count on Topps to make a bunch of parallels, even ones that aren't advertised.

Longtime fans of David Letterman may vaguely remember a baseball joke they used to do many years ago called "Ball, Get Out Of My Nachos!" Biff Henderson, the stage assistant they brought on the air once in a while, was shown sitting in a crowd eating nachos, when a baseball suddenly landed on his plate. Rather than keep the souvenir, he'd shout, "Ball, get out of my nachos!" and fling the ball back on the field.

Can you tell I'm a fan of late-night comedy shows?

Nachos also happen to be my girlfriend's favorite ballpark snack, so the fact that this card dropped out of a pack she bought me is quite appropriate. And the use of high cheese one card after a marijuana reference was a complete accident. Though in Colorado, you never know. Next time you visit friends in this state, double check with the host before you munch on a brownie.

2016 Wacky Packages MLB Red Seam #75 Charlotte Stone Crabs Cakes
A few minor league teams made it into this set, including the Charlotte Stone Crabs and Asheville Tourists, though the Yard Goats were left out. The Stone Crabs are an affiliate of the Tampa Bay Rays, so there is definitely some sea creature lineage in that organization. I'd probably avoid cellophane-wrapped crab cakes even more so than ballpark sushi, although these seem to be a pair of actual crabs stuffed inside the package, with a little Hostess Cupcakes icing on top.

Rather unappealing to my palate, but the "Pinch Hitters" pun might be the best in the whole pack.

2016 Wacky Packages MLB #76 Toledo Mud Hens Hen Sanitizer
Surely it hasn't escaped your notice that everything I've shown so far is in some way related to food. That's true for most of the set overall, and might have continued on for the whole post if not for this one. The Toledo Mud Hens, the AAA affiliate of the Detroit Tigers, happened to be my team name for my second (and final) year of little league. If I stayed in one more season I'd have been old enough to get on a team with a Major League name, but even in my little league days, I didn't make it out of the minors.

Interestingly, I finally decided to look up what a mud hen is, and it turns out it's a duck-like bird called a Coot. And with this handy hen sanitizer, the birds can be cleaned up regularly, although a true pitcher would look at this and just see another foreign substance to experiment with.

2016 Wacky Packages MLB #87 Salty Pretzel
This last one was my favorite, and yes, it's food-themed. A soft pretzel with a bit of mustard sauce is an excellent snack (my mouth is watering as I write this), and another great option for ballpark food. This "salty" pretzel looks to be quite unhappy, with angry eyes and everything. He even has "a chip of salt on his shoulder".

I'm no expert in slang, but I've heard "salty" quite frequently in the past year or so to describe someone who is upset or agitated. Really, go look at Twitter. I'd say it's 50/50 whether someone is describing actual food with it. And for Topps to tie both meanings together shows a fair bit of genius, I'd say.

As an aside, if you enjoy salted pretzels, or salty snacks in general, you ought to go find a salt bagel. They can be a bit tough to come by, and are typically firmer than soft pretzels, but are well worth trying. It's like the salt equivalent of sugar crystals on a cookie.

Thanks for reading! Now I need to go find something to eat.

Saturday, May 21, 2016

The Trading Post #68: Tribe Cards

Although Denver is billed as one of the best sports towns in America, and our teams have brought home three Lombardi Trophies and two Stanley Cups (all of which have occurred in my lifetime), the Rockies aren't the favorite team around here. Well, they're mine, but there's a lot of Bronco Orange in this state. So being a Rockies fan in a community of baseball card bloggers means I'm one of just a few people doing this, the others being Cards From The Quarry and Condition Sensitive, although Frankie at My Life in the Sportscard Hobby has become quite the fan of Nolan Arenado. And there are a few Ben Petrick collectors out there.

Anyway, what I'm trying to say is that it's not too tough for me to end up with the Rockies in this community when opportunities present themselves. That goes for group breaks, the Supertraders group, and David's Pack-A-Daily Circus at Tribe Cards. It's been going on for quite some time, and while it used to be a lot more player-focused (like a Fantasy roster), David simplified it quite a bit this year and just had team slots. Basically, he opens a pack of cards each day, and each team's "owner" gets the cards for that team. There's also a draft process for unclaimed or non-sports cards.

Naturally, I'm shut out of anything pre-1993, but I've still earned the "wahoo!!" next to my name on several cards so far, starting with 2016 Gypsy Queen.

2016 Topps Gypsy Queen #244 Tom Murphy (RC)
I don't like this year's GQ design nearly as much as last year's. It'll probably go into the general Gypsy Queen knowledge bank, knowing that it's a GQ card but having no idea which year it's from. The bold red lettering does stand out a bit, but they're using the same contrasty, painted, HDR whatever it's called on the photos as in past years.

Tom Murphy, a catcher, remains one of the promising players in the Rockies' farm system. He even got called up for a couple weeks at the end of 2015 when rosters expanded. He gets the Rookie Card logo on this one, and while he remains in the minors, has lots of promise and could be called up if Nick Hundley continues to have injury problems.

2016 Topps Gypsy Queen Glove Stories #GS-2 Nolan Arenado
Though the base cards rarely wow me, I do have a fondness for the inserts. Sliding Stars is always a favorite, and these Glove Stories cards are also nice, especially when they use the actual photo from the event referenced on the back.

Diving into the first row like this is always a bit dangerous, though it's sure to make the highlight reel. Derek Jeter famously did it in the 2001 playoffs, the first time I can recall it happening. Todd Frazier tried it the other day and ended up needing stitches on his lip. It's become somewhat expected for those on the left side of the infield, though somehow first and second basemen seem to have avoided this.

1993 O-Pee-Chee Premier #58 Andres Galarraga
I used to see these O-Pee-Chee cards a lot more frequently when I first started collecting. Of course, for the longest time, they just repurposed the annual Topps design until the last few years of their existence. From 1991-1993, they also released a Premier set, though it's on pretty thin card stock to have a name like that. This brand is a reminder of when Canada had more than one team, and seeing a tiny bit of French on the card is always novel.

The stats on the back are quite minimal, offering only previous-season and career stats for Average, Hits, Home Runs, and RBIs.

I have a few 1992 OPC Premier cards, but I think this is my first from 1993. This is likely from one of their first spring training games, and I think that may be Don Zimmer in the background, who was part of the Rockies' inaugural coaching staff.

2015 USA Baseball Stars and Stripes Crusade Blue #95 Trey Killian
I've been seeing quite a few of these Team USA cards lately, though I haven't heard of Trey Killian. Looks like he's at the Single-A level for now, so we're still a few years off from seeing him in the big leagues. This Crusade card is another of the countless parallels found in 2015 Stars & Stripes. Since there is no serial number, it must be the Blue variety. It looks and feels a lot like a Topps Finest card.

I have a feeling that I'll be seeing a lot of these Team USA cards and will have to look them up each time. But in five years, there could be plenty of collectors going after this set.

It remains to be seen what else my team slot earns in the Pack-A-Daily Circus, but I'm sure to land quite a few more "Wahoo!!"s before the circus leaves town.

Wednesday, May 18, 2016

The Trading Post #67: Tim Wallach - An attempt to collect them all

Like most of us, anytime I run across a Tim Wallach duplicate, it goes in a very specific pile for trade to a particular lawyer down in New Mexico. He's probably the most famous of all of us, having been written up in Sports Illustrated and the Los Angeles Times for his collection of Tim Wallach cards. He's not just a supercollector, going after one of every card of that player. He's a super-super collector, going after every copy of every card.

While I'm sure he's aware of the futility of that mission, he's still racked up close to 17,000 cards thanks to us readers (and a few eBay purchases). My initial shipment put Colorado on his map for the first time, and I sent four more cards down a few months ago. Yes, I've done my part twice, and in return, Stack22, the writer of that world-famous Tim Wallach blog, returned the favor recently with a few Rockies cards.

2011 Topps ToppsTown #TT-44 Ubaldo Jimenez
Like Pacific Online cards, the website on ToppsTown cards no longer resolves. The URL on those Pacific cards at least has a redirect to the MLBPA, but just serves up a basic 404 page. The code on this card expired in early 2012 anyway, but I don't recall ever seeing the live site, or what you could really do there. Topps' digital efforts have since shifted to the BUNT app, but it would be nice to at least have an idea of what went on there. I haven't opened much 2016 product yet, but I hear that there are BUNT codes to be found in physical packs these days. Hopefully the app sticks around long enough not to make those cards obsolete in a few years.

ToppsTown cards are pretty easy to come by. They still turn up in discount boxes quite regularly, and though they look a bit plain except for the bright blue background, I have the complete 50-card insert set found in 2011 Topps Series 1 packs. In fact, Tulowitzki's card was an Eight Men Out card that was filled by two separate traders. Series 2 and Update each got their own 50-card sets that year, but I've only run across one or two from those later series. For some reason the Series 1 stuff seems to be everywhere.

1994 Topps Gold #135 David Nied
Also in this envelope was a ToppsGold parallel of David Nied, who remains the first player selected in the Expansion Draft. Though his career didn't pan out, he'll always have that fact to throw around.

One-per-pack inserts, like ToppsGold, were a fairly common fixture in the hobby by 1994, and that was also long before gold foil was played out. Even though it was the first factory set I ever owned, I still opened packs once in a while just to get these gold cards. And I wouldn't be opposed to doing that even today, although 1994 Topps is rather scarce in unopened form, quite unlike Stadium Club, Upper Deck, Leaf, and Fleer Ultra from just a year or two prior.

I'd know 1994 Topps in my sleep. I don't remember dreams that well, so for all I know, I literally have known it in my sleep. But I'll need some help identifying these next cards.

2015 <unknown> #NNO Corey Dickerson
I know Corey Dickerson was one of the members of the stacked Rockies outfield. I also know that he's on the Rays now. He's even on my Fantasy team, though I've benched him in recent weeks. But I don't recognize this card, nor is there really any way to identify it. No card numbers, no logo, no copyright. Just perforations on all sides, leading me to believe it is some sort of promotion or giveaway, and a small symbol in the lower left that looks vaguely like the Coors logo crossed with a stock chart.

2015 <unknown> #NNO Charlie Blackmon
Here's one of Charlie Blackmon, a current member of that strong outfield, in front of the right field scoreboard. Same logo, but no other identifying marks, but this scan shows the perforations better. Oddballs have always sort of been lost on me, and when I can't even identify them or figure out where they came from, I just end up puzzled.

Ideas, anyone?

Sunday, May 15, 2016

One Man In

My Eight Men Out list has been working while I sleep. Blog reader Brent stumbled across it, and spotted the only card missing from my 1993 Leaf Series 2 set. As luck would have it, he had an unopened box of that exact product that he was about to open, and promised to send one my way if there was an extra in the box.

Fortunately, unopened product from the overproduction era is easy as pie to come by, so thanks to Brent, I can now cross off another card.

1993 Leaf #380 Randy Johnson
The Big Unit has eluded me all this time, and while my own box of 1993 Leaf Series 2 yielded a near-complete set, there were a few missing. Julie from A Cracked Bat helped out around Christmastime with well-known Rockies slayer Eric Karros, and now Randy Johnson, card #380, finishes up Series 2.

This arrived in a simple PWE, well-protected with a penny sleeve and top loader. Its entombment in that Leaf pack for close to twenty-five years protected it well, and there don't seem to be any signs of damage to the surface, as sometimes occurs when these older, glossy cards are pressed together all that time then abruptly peeled apart.

No horizontal cards exist in 1993 Leaf, which is just as well, since Johnson, a towering 6'10", deserves the vertical treatment. There are plenty of tall pitchers out there, like Chris Young of the Royals, along with now-retired Jon Rauch, who stood an inch taller than both Johnson and Young at 6'11".

Though basketball is more synonymous with tall athletes, flip over your baseball cards once in a while and check the vital stats (especially the pitchers). You might be surprised at some of the names you'll find.

Thanks to Brent for finishing this set off, and if you don't have a short wantlist like this on your blog, I strongly encourage you to make one.

Sunday, May 8, 2016

The Trading Post #66: Jaybarkerfan's Junk

The first time I attended a card show after my exit from the hobby in about 1996 came when I was in college. It was probably 2003 or 2004, at the now defunct Westminster Mall north of Denver. Alfonso Soriano was one of the hot tickets back then, and Todd Helton was solidly cemented as the Rockies' franchise player.

I learned a lot that day; that card prices had fallen quite a bit, overproduction cards were available for next to nothing, there were neat little relics of uniforms and bats, there wasn't much left in the way of Score or Donruss, and cards had gotten pretty shiny.

But the thing that stood out the most were serial numbers. Right there on the card was very official-looking proof of a card's scarcity. I came away with a nice stack of numbered refractors from 2003 Topps Chrome, just amazed that I had one of only 199 copies of each of the Black Refractors I purchased, like the below.

2003 Topps Chrome Black Refractors #327 Jose Hernandez /199
I found a few other numbered refractors of the slightly more common colors, like the /449 Golds and /699 Blues. I even snagged a few XFractor box toppers numbered to a mere 57, complete with the Topps Uncirculated slab. I was hooked, and they remain one of my favorite types of cards. This is partially why I was a bit annoyed that Topps removed the serial numbers from Opening Day blue parallels the past couple years.

But that affinity for documented scarcity made a particular trade package from #Supertrader head honcho Jaybarkerfan's Junk pretty amazing. I had a really hard time narrowing down cards to scan for this post, because pretty much all of them had this:

2002 Upper Deck Ballpark Idols #239 Rene Reyes /1750 (RC)
Yup, serial numbers. I don't recall much about Rene Reyes, but I vaguely remember him as a utility guy in the early 2000s. There was a lot in this package I'd never seen before, primarily because these types of cards (and this era) don't often show up in discount boxes. Plus the number of sets being printed up in the late 1990s and early 2000s was absolutely staggering.

It has all the correct dimensions of a standard card, but only has borders on three sides. The actual photo and the top banner continue right up to the edge, sort of like the Tibetan Flag. UD also uses one of their favorite devices to create a virtual 3D appearance, letting the photo overlap the other boxes, which makes the player appear to pop out of the card.

2002 Diamond Kings #160 Aaron Cook (RC)
Though they only had a few years left, Donruss was still printing in 2002, including their long-running Diamond King set. I wrote a bit about painted cards in my previous post, and Diamond Kings are perhaps the most well-known example of them. Anyone who collected at the height of the industry probably remembers them, though they aren't likely to know Panini still uses the brand today, nor that Topps has a product called Gypsy Queen with a similar look.

Cook's red beard is painted the correct color, but his hair isn't. He has red hair too, but the artist chose to go with a reddish-brown for the canvas background, rather than Cook's hair, which would have been correct. What I do like about these cards is that they have a rather unique surface, a lot like a playing card.

1993 Armando Reynoso The Queen of Spades
In fact, there were a couple of actual playing cards in here. This isn't from a set that Beckett recognizes, and there's no card number other than the Queen of Spades. I'm unsure about the provenance of this one, but I've played enough hearts to know that you don't want the 13 points this card represents (unless you shoot the moon, of course).

1997 Topps Chrome #26 Eric Young
Multiple exposures were quite the trend in the mid-1990s, and they do help create the illusion of action. The dirt spray helps too. I'd love to see a card or two like this in a modern set. Gold foil and glossy coatings were some of the pioneering innovations in the 1990s that stuck around, but multiple exposures and photos on the back are quite rare these days. I wouldn't mind seeing those make a resurgence.

Topps Chrome was only around for two years when this was printed, and already the dreaded curl was starting to show up. This isn't too bad, nothing like some of the 2010s I saw. And they used a mirror finish, rather than the odd dot pattern found in the inaugural 1996 set.

1996 Topps Chrome #122 Craig Biggio
I guess they are actually little diamonds, now that I look more closely. But there are dots around the border. I'm glad they got away from this type of pattern, otherwise I don't see myself liking Topps Chrome as much throughout the years. And I'm even more glad they use colored borders to differentiate parallels, rather than different dot patterns (though I suppose Topps Tek went down that road a bit).

2008 Finest Refractors Black #139 Seth Smith /99 (RC)
You might be a bit curious after those first few paragraphs where I went on and on about serial numbers, as few of the cards so far have them. Don't worry, they're coming. When it rains, it pours. To tide you over, this Finest card of Seth Smith is the rarest in the whole bunch, numbered to just 99 copies. As far as '08 Finest goes, that's middle-of-the-pack in terms of scarcity. And the black border works really well with the Rockies' pinstriped home uniforms. The Rookie Card logo is quite large, but doesn't obstruct anything and fits into this bold design quite well.

2013 Bowman Chrome Mini #137 Corey Dickerson
There was a nice little stack of these Bowman Chrome minis, including this one of Corey Dickerson, a rare look at a consistent major leaguer on a Bowman card. Usually the noise of the prospects drowns out the batch of established players, but they're in there. I guess collectors generally hold on to those types of cards, ditching the prospect cards of players who didn't pan out after a few years.

A couple of top prospects like Jon Gray and Tom Murphy were also included, but Dickerson is the only one to have made a name for himself in the Majors. He's not even on the Rockies anymore; instead he's having a decent season so far down in Tampa Bay.

2016 Topps Heritage #311 Jason Motte
Jason Motte, a reliever who has done quite well for the Cardinals (and a year as a Cub), was picked up by the Rockies in the offseason to add some much-needed depth to their bullpen. Trouble is, he's working through shoulder problems and has yet to throw a pitch in the Majors this season. Hopefully he'll be back by the time the Rockies start slipping down the standings, as is expected once the summer months roll around.

Also, that's my first look at 2016 Topps Heritage. 1967 isn't my favorite vintage set, but I do like the pale green of the card backs.

But Adam, where are all the serial numbers you promised? You've only done three so far, and one of those you already owned!

Fine. Brace yourselves.

2007 Topps Co-Signers Silver Bronze #4a Garrett Atkins w/Jeff Francis /175
I've seen more than a few Topps Co-Signers base cards over the years, but this is one of only a few that have a pair of facsimile signatures. This product only lasted three years, and while it's an interesting concept, the execution fell pretty flat. There are way more colored parallels than I care to count, but its easily in the double digits. Double that number again when you learn that there's an "A" and "B" variety of these parallels, both with a different ghostly teammate in the background. Though Jeff Francis literally gets top billing, this is considered a Garrett Atkins card, as he has the back entirely to himself, along with #022 of 175.

2008 Topps Co-Signers Silver Red #42a Todd Helton /400
Not much changed in 2008 Co-Signers, except the player is his own ghost on the "A" variety, only getting a teammate on the "B" variety. Both edges are a little beat up, but I've asked for red foil before, and there's a nice amount of it here. I assume that the "Silver" part refers to the background color, and the "Red" part to the foil and banners. It's just an odd thing to say, "Silver Red". I've never seen one, but there's also a "Hyper Plaid" foil color, itself with the same six banner colors available on Silver cards.

At least it's not a fractured set. But I can see why it flopped.

2012 Bowman Prospects Blue #BP12 Rafael Ortega /500
Rafael Ortega played two games for the Rockies in 2012, and apparently he's on the 40-man roster for the Angels right now, having appeared in a handful of games for them this year. I can't recall ever hearing of him, but Bowman Blue parallels often (always?) have serial numbers, and this one does. This one in particular is notable, as it's the final one in the print run, 500/500. I don't recall for certain, but I believe this is the only one in my collection like that. It's not any rarer than any of the other 499 copies, but there's something about that final one that is immensely satisfying.

2011 Topps Lineage Diamond Anniversary Platinum Refractors #118 Todd Helton
We'll take a quick breather here for a hyper sparkle Topps Lineage parallel. I am about a dozen cards from completing the base set, but I have a few of these parallels too. It's the same sparkle pattern found on 2011 Topps base cards, and there's a distorted glimpse of the Padres dugout in the background. Condition-wise, it's a bit off-centered, but I can't stop tilting this card under a bright light source to see the light bounce off all those facets.

2002 Donruss Production Line #PL-25 Larry Walker SLG /662
Back to our regularly scheduled serial-numbered programming, here's the inspiration for those Stat Line parallels found on current Donruss cards, where a player's statistics determine the print run. Natually, the better players will have more cards, because if they were to do one based off of Bartolo Colon's career HR count, it would be a 1/1. Interestingly, if they based it off his walks, it wouldn't exist yet. He's coming up on the all-time record for most plate appearances without a walk, and this weekend he became the oldest player to hit his first home run. As Night Owl says, that is reason enough to keep the DH out of the National League (or scrapping it entirely).

Incidentally, Night Owl received a pretty similar package, filled to the brim with scarce cards like this. Of course, his were Dodgers, but like that Orlando Hudson card from Colbey, another rogue NL Wester snuck into mine.

2003 Upper Deck Classic Portraits #152 Chris Capuano MP /2003 (RC)
I remember Capuano as a Brewer (in fact that's where he's pitching now, after bouncing around the league since 2011), but he got his start with the Diamondbacks. Though the sentence on the back documents his first MLB win on July 9th, 2003, the stat line claims he has "No MLB Experience". Perhaps that gives us an indication of just how much UD was rushing all these sets to market. The black marble background reminds me of one of the Bowman sets (1999?).

2004 Studio Rally Caps #RC-18 Joe Kennedy /999
Donruss went a little wacky with this insert set, having pitcher Joe Kennedy balance a baseball on the bill of his cap (or at least photoshopped one in). To me, it just looks like he flipped his bill up, rather than a true rally cap where you turn your hat inside out. If I were Joe Kennedy, I'd be happy that there are only 999 copies of this out there.

I remember David Freese's Rally Squirrel card, but I don't know if the Angels' Rally Monkey ever made it onto a card.

Superstitious lot, us baseball fans. I've sported a rally cap at Coors Field more than once.

1996 Donruss Elite #71 Dante Bichette /10,000
Players from the Blake Street Bombers era are a rarity on this type of card, since it was just beginning to be introduced in the early days of Coors Field. This one of Bichette, which reminds me a lot of 1994 Leaf Limited, is numbered to a staggering 10,000 copies. Makes you wonder how many cards were printed in a regular base set, if this special one has ten thousand examples. I spelled that out to match the card number, Seventy-One. Such was the gravitas of a serial-numbered card in 1995.

2013 Bowman Chrome Purple Refractors #36 Troy Tulowitzki /199
We haven't seen Tulowitzki yet, and this purple beauty from 2013 (I got the year right without looking it up!) is #42 of 199. Maybe you could start a Jackie Robinson themed serial-numbered card collection with just #42s. It would be a daunting challenge.

The paragraphs on the card backs of a prospect-heavy set like Bowman can usually be considered a scouting report, but with an established star like Tulo, his talents are well-known, like his "outstanding plate discipline" and that he's a "smooth defender with [a] rifle arm".

2012 Topps Tier One Relics #TSR-TT Troy Tulowitzki /399 (MEM)
The Serial Number parade rolls on (where does he find all these?), and we get a relic, to boot. Tier One is another of Topps' ultra-premium (and ultra-expensive) brands, one I rarely see in discount boxes. Even Triple Threads and Museum Collection end up in there sometimes. As this /399 relic is the least scarce card in 2012 Tier One, it's the closest thing to a base card that exists in that set.

It's hard to tell, but this doesn't look like silver foil to me. Rather, it looks more like a white gold. The color-coding is excellent, and the photograph is crystal clear. They chose an interesting stat for the back, writing about his career .389 average with the bases loaded. I imagine that's dropped a bit since then, but this is an absolutely gorgeous card. I wonder if this particular bat was used on any of those plate appearances.

2015 Bowman's Best Best of '15 Autographs #B15-BR Brendan Rodgers
The final card in this marathon post (you try narrowing this down!) is an on-card autograph of Brendan Rodgers. With Trevor Story making quite a name for himself already, this recently-drafted shortstop might have a tough time breaking into the big leagues, but if he does, and if he turns in a performance anything like Story has so far, this card will surely be a hot item in the Denver area.

Though it doesn't have a serial number like most cards in this post, it's a bold yet simple design, and is evidence of a Rockies farm system that is stronger than I can ever remember it being. Rodgers has lots of promise, Story is absolutely on fire, David Dahl is still coming along, and there are a slew of top pitching prospects to show for the Tulowitzki trade.

This was an amazingly generous trade package, and trust me when I say that the life of a #Supertrader is a good one. We still have openings for the Royals, Marlins, and Indians if you want in on some of this magic!

Monday, May 2, 2016

The Trading Post #65: Cardboard Collections

I've gone on record before as saying I'm not the biggest fan of Gypsy Queen. But after my first trade with Colbey at Cardboard Collections, I may be rethinking that a bit.

2013 Topps Gypsy Queen Framed White #102 Tyler Colvin
Usually, the contrasty and painted look found in this brand appears a bit odd to my eye, especially with the unusual border colors that tend to appear on Gypsy Queen cards. But when Topps puts a raised white frame around it with a bit of silver foil, it makes the whole card look a lot more like, well, a painting. Even back in the Donruss Diamond King days, painted cards just never did it for me. But when they're treated like an actual painting, they get classed up quite a bit. I can see a framed GQ card like this looking terrific in a 5x7 or 8x10 format.

The appearance of Tyler Colvin at Coors Field is a rarity, as he only spent two seasons as a Rockie, and hasn't played since 2014. In exchange for Ian Stewart and a pitcher that has yet to progress past Double-A, Colvin came over from the Cubs along with DJ LeMahieu. I'd say the Rockies came out ahead on that trade.

But I still can't tell the designs apart that well, other than this next one.

2015 Topps Gypsy Queen Framed White #78 Charlie Blackmon
2015 Gypsy Queen, with that minaret-shaped onion dome thing, is quite distinctive. You've seen it before, but not with another raised white frame. After seeing how these look in person, I'd be completely on board if they just decided to make the framed variety the base card. They'd differentiate it from Allen & Ginter, and massively increase the visual appeal.

Blackmon, who recently returned from the DL, was in the earlier stages of growing out his trademark beard for this photo shoot. Incidentally, Vin Scully spent a good five minutes the other night giving viewers a comprehensive history of The Beard, inspired by Derek Norris. Scully can make you sit on the edge of your seat for even the most mundane topics. Give it a listen, and then be grateful for the sixty-six seasons in which Scully has graced the baseball world.

2013 Topps Gypsy Queen Mini #325 Wilin Rosario
Though it's not of the white-framed variety, this card of Wilin Rosario is a mini, fitting in perfectly with the Mini Monday theme I haven't used since last year. The minis have different dimensions than the full-size cards (obviously), but I mean that it's much taller than it is wide. That works well with the way they cropped this particular photo, and also makes it feel more like an actual tobacco-era card that this brand is meant to replicate.

Still not wild about the border color, though.

2012 Topps Stickers #290 Orlando Hudson
Orlando Hudson spent most of his career in the NL West, though he never suited up for the Rockies. This rogue Padre accompanied another San Diego player in the trade package, and it's kind of refreshing to see another team once in a while. I remember him more as a Diamondback, probably because he faced the Rockies in the 2007 NLCS. The Rockies swept the D-backs that year, and did the same thing this weekend, putting themselves in a three-way tie for first. As of Sunday night, like L.A. and S.F., the Rockies are sitting at .500, meaning that every NL West team had a losing record going into Sunday.

The 18-6 Cubs have at least a little bit to do with that. Plus the fact that Arizona's new "ace" Zack Greinke (my 2nd pick in Fantasy this season) is a mediocre 2-2, a disappointing follow up to his 19-3 record with the Dodgers last year.

You might notice that Hudson's card is actually a sticker, actually from the same set as a Dinger sticker that Nick sent me a while back. When it comes to collectibles, I'm not really a "leave it in the box" type. Whether it's a Hot Wheels car or an action figure, typically I free them from their packaging. And when it comes to peeling the protectors off of late-1990s Topps Finest cards, I can barely contain myself. But I can't remember a time when I actually peeled one of the many stickers found in this hobby over the years. Fleer and UD gave us a lot of team logo stickers in the overproduction days, but almost all of mine are still on their original backing.

I'm just not a sticker guy. But I always appreciated little gold stars and airplanes and such on my elementary school worksheets.

2012 Topps Allen & Ginter What's in a Name #WIN2 Carlos Eduardo Gonzalez
I'm going to call this a partial mini (a meta mini? synthetic mini? virtual mini)? due to the printed example of CarGo's A&G miniature from 2012. I knew this was a 2012 card because Topps put it right on the front twice. I don't know the A&G designs too well either. But this is their take on telling us a player's full name, just like Donruss did on pretty much every card back for a solid decade. Since the demise of Donruss, I've had to go an entire generation with extremely limited knowledge of players' middle names.

Interestingly, this card mentions a rather unusual family arrangement that both Carlos' and my family trees have in common. Apparently, one of Gonzalez' paternal uncles married one of his maternal aunts, making them "step-siblings". Interestingly, my maternal grandmother's brother married my grandfather's sister, which seems like quite a rare thing.

I guess that makes them step-siblings. Or perhaps an extra reinforcement of a sibling-in-law. I have no idea. Genealogy is definitely not my strong suit. I barely knew how to spell it. I got LeMahieu correct and had to look up "Genealogy."

2002 Studio Rookies #273 Aaron Cook /1500 (RC)
Anyway, this has been pretty much nothing but retro cards so far, except for that mischievous Padres sticker. Film was still widely in use in 2002, and Donruss used a little filmstrip graphic in the background. Like their Leaf brand used to do, they used an image specific to the team's home city, picturing the Colorado State Capitol building. Too bad it's not in color, because it has a striking gold-leaf dome, very often shining in the 300 days of sunshine we (allegedly) get in Colorado. But it can still snow in May.

This early card of Aaron Cook is numbered an even thousand out of fifteen hundred, likely making this the most "round" serial numbered card I own. Or at least one of the few with an easily reducible fraction. Can't do much with 499.

Over ten seasons, Cook wound up with a slightly winning record and an All-Star appearance, a darn good showing for a pitcher who spent most of his career in the thin air of Coors Field. In fact, only Jorge de la Rosa has more wins as a Rockies pitcher.

2009 Topps Ticket to Stardom #137 Troy Tulowitzki
At first glance, I though this was one of the many insert cards that Topps has printed over the years, but it's actually its own set. Topps didn't get into this game as much as Upper Deck did, mainly keeping their core brands, retro brands, and premium brands. But it's from a 225-card set, and the relics found in it are actual ticket stubs.

While this looks familiar, I've never put it on the blog before. I don't know if that barcode would actually scan as something meaningful, but they did a good job of making it sort of look like a ticket, and they helpfully put the card number on both sides.

2003 Fleer Authentix used a similar theme, even going so far as to slightly score the lower portion of the card as though it were a ticket stub. Check out this card of a batting glove-free Mark Grace:

2003 Fleer Authentix #27 Mark Grace
Though it's the first set that comes to mind which used a theme like this, they missed an opportunity to make each team's card unique. Fleer used some color-coding, and of course the usual team logos, but the back of each card has a seating chart of Yankee Stadium, regardless of the team. Fleer does include the team's home stadium's name, but not a map. I guess one-thirtieth of this set is fully accurate, assuming an even team distribution (which I won't assume for the Yankees).

Longtime fans might recall that before the bank merger that turned it into Chase Field, the Diamondbacks played at Bank One Ballpark, known as "The Bob", which is why they have a bobcat as their mascot.

I wonder whether a set like this could be meaningful even eight years later. Unless you're a season ticket holder, you probably printed your last ticket on a laser printer, or just opened up a barcode on your smartphone. But then again, Topps BUNT sure didn't exist eight years ago. A fully digital baseball fan can now keep ticket stubs and baseball cards on their smartphone.

On a related note, I'm a proponent of the MLB Ballpark app. Some teams will let you keep your actual ticket barcodes in there, and there's a feature where it tracks all the past games you've checked into, as well as your in-person record. Its Journal feature even lets you add games to your history going all the way back to 1903. Mass-produced cars were barely a thing then, let alone smartphones, satellites, TV, and even the Federal Reserve.

In the 58 Major League games I've been to, the home team is 31-27. The poor Pirates are 1-5 when I'm in attendance, something I'll have to keep in mind if they ever come to Denver for an important game.

2011 Bowman Finest Futures #FF11 Troy Tulowitzki
Though that Ticket card of Tulowitzki wasn't an insert, this one definitely is. I open so little Bowman that I didn't even realize they made insert cards. Well, the prospect cards are technically considered "inserts", even though they're numbered concurrently. Don't get me started on that.

As this card suggests, Tulo had bright years ahead of him. Though the overall design is a bit plain, I really like the background of this photo. It's one of the happy Chevron cars on the left field wall in San Francisco, a stadium that Tulo's played plenty of games in. I remember one game the Rockies played there that went to extra innings. The game was still going on, but no one told the hundreds of seagulls that showed up to scavenge the snacks left behind in the outfield seats. They have a pretty good idea of when the game is supposed to end, and are definitely perplexed whenever there are extra frames.

2011 Topps Diamond Anniversary #141 Ubaldo Jimenez
As we saw not long ago, Topps took sparkly cards to new heights in 2011 for their diamond anniversary. In the circle where the team logo usually resides, there's a many-faceted symmetrical design that has texture, a special Topps logo in the upper left, and about a zillion sparkles. The foil even has a bit of a rainbow finish, to top it all off.

Interestingly, this isn't technically a Rockies card. It's a checklist. And though this card number doesn't appear on its own checklist, having a Rockies pitcher on a highlight card is a rare thing indeed.

But with guys like Jimenez, Cook, Jennings, and even De La Rosa, good Rockies pitchers do exist. The trouble is that they can't pitch every day. If this were 1930 and pitchers didn't rely on the bullpen so much, the Rockies would be doing great!

2011 Topps Opening Day Superstar Celebrations #SC-5 Ubaldo Jimenez
Jimenez was so good that he threw the only no-hitter in Rockies history, pictured here on this Opening Day insert card. It's way less sparkly, but it documents a historic moment. Barmes, Helton, and a smiling Troy Tulowitzki are there to congratulate him on a job well done. Perhaps unsurprisingly, this feat was accomplished much closer to sea level, in Atlanta's Turner Field.

Hopefully it's not another 18 years before the next one.