Sunday, July 17, 2016

The Trading Post #71: garvey cey russell lopes

Regular baseball games have gotten back underway following the All-Star Break, and the Rockies have already won their first series in the second half. Last night they completed their first win while trailing after seven innings this year, thanks to lots of heads-up baserunning by Trevor Story, and even more defensive blunders by the worst-record-in-baseball Braves.

Perhaps not an incredible accomplishment, but still, these are games the Rockies should be winning. They dropped Sunday afternoon's contest 1-0, but still won the series.

2000 Fleer Tradition Update #U7 Brent Mayne SH
Of course, those 1-0 games have a high potential to go to extra innings, especially when the lone run comes on a walkoff hit. Brent Mayne, a catcher, once found himself called upon to pitch in an extra-innings game, and even earned the win, thus getting a place in this Fleer Tradition Season Highlights subset. The game is still talked about in Rockies fan circles, and is occasionally aired in condensed form on the Rockies' cable channel.

It goes to show how low the bar is to be remembered on the mound for the Rockies. Jamie Moyer and Brent Mayne are among the more famous Rockies pitchers, the former being the oldest pitcher to earn a win in baseball history, the latter not even being a pitcher.

Anyway, this was from a stack of cards sent by garvey cey russell lopes (gcrl), the well-known Dodger blog titled and written in the broken-shift-key style of e.e. cummings. He sent over a nice variety of cards earlier this year, and not just Rockies, as you'll see later.

2016 Bowman Prospects #BP121 Jeff Hoffman
With all this talk of Troy Tulowitzki, it's only right that I examine the other side of the trade a bit more. I've talked plenty about Jose Reyes, who is now back with the Mets. But the Rockies also got a few pitching prospects, the most promising being Jeff Hoffman, pictured on this 2016 Bowman card. Hoffman is still in the minors, but appeared in the All Star Futures game last week and performed well.

2016 Bowman #31 Charlie Blackmon
Bowman's still keeping the same practice of making the base and prospect cards just a bit different. That's part of why I almost never know what year of Bowman I'm looking at—there are basically twice as many sets as there are years. Still, Bowman Prospects is technically an insert set, so I guess it sort of makes sense in that twisted form of Bowman logic.

At least it doesn't have a random "Chrome" logo like David Dahl's card did last year. What it does have is center fielder Charlie Blackmon underneath a fly ball in left-center at Coors, the deepest part of the ballpark. The design of this card looks a lot like a graphic you'd see on MLB Network or ESPN, so if that's what they were going for, I'd say they nailed it.

1998 Pacific Omega #80 Ellis Burks
Pacific, that rascally sort-of-oddball company, was definitely going for a baseball theme here. There are supposed to be three photos, but I wonder if this card may have been misprinted a bit, since the foil area on the right has very little detail, at least when you look at it. It's hard to say, though, since the few other cards I have from this set look about the same. It's just that the scan shows more detail, and we all know how hard it is to scan shiny cards.

2002 UD Piece of History #89 Todd Helton
A bit more horizontal goodness, this time from Upper Deck. 2016 is the third season since Todd Helton's retirement, and his cards are starting to become fewer and further between as newer product hits the market. There are lots of exciting young players to carry the torch, but Helton is still missed, as is his prodigious production of doubles. At least I can get a Helton Burger at his eponymous burger stand behind the left field bleachers.

In a few years, we'll start to hear some Hall of Fame talk around Helton. His 592 career doubles, good for 18th all time, should help his case. With very few exceptions, virtually everyone above him is in the Hall of Fame, save for a couple active players, Luis Gonzalez, and the obvious snubs of Pete Rose and Barry Bonds.

The Rockies have yet to send someone to the Hall, or even sign someone who ended up going. Whether they used steroids or not, both Larry Walker and Todd Helton are linked to rumors of steroid use, though nothing definitive like Bonds and McGwire. Plus they have the "Coors Field effect" to contend with, even though Walker played nearly half of his career elsewhere. With the deliberate exclusion of known and even rumored PED users from Cooperstown, it may still be a while before a Rockie gets in, though Mike Piazza's nearing induction is a promising step in the right direction.

2007 Donruss Elite Extra Edition Signature Turn of the Century #9 Brian Rike /500
Of course, for every Hall-of-Famer, there are countless players who never make it to the big leagues. Lots of them can be found in sets like Bowman and Donruss Elite, sometimes even with an autograph attached. That's the case for Brian Rike, a Rockies draft pick that didn't progress past Double-A. He went in the 2007 draft, just a few spots above a guy named Giancarlo Stanton. If that name sounds familiar, it's because he just hit a Roger Maris worth of home runs on his way to winning Monday's Home Run Derby.

Can't win them all.

2003 Sweet Spot #230 Clint Barmes SB P2 (RC) /1200
Clint Barmes had a few good seasons with the Rockies, and played for various NL teams until his retirement last year. For his rookie season, he got this manufactured patch relic, serial numbered to 1,200. This is in the running for the thickest card in my collection, and it's got quite a bit of heft to it. Coincidentally, Barmes played in just short of 1,200 career games, and game number 333 would have been right in the middle of the 2008 season. A bit of Baseball Referencing pinpoints his 333rd game to July 29th, 2008 against the Pirates, the team he'd spend the second-longest with after the Rockies.

2001 Topps Gold #761 Colorado Rockies TC /2001
gcrl was kind enough to throw in a Rockies team card from 2001 Topps Gold, back when the serial numbers were gold instead of the black they use now. Commemorating the 2000 season, this card also mentions Brent Mayne's win from the dugout, plus Todd Helton taking a .400 batting average into late August. The team barely squeaked over .500, winning 82 games but still finishing in fourth place.

1993 Topps Gold #825 Mike Walker (UER)
That about does it for the Rockies cards, but the fun doesn't stop there! gcrl took a look at my Eight Men Out list and sent a record-setting three cards from it! Now, I'll be honest. I know pretty much nothing about Mike Walker, other than that he played for the Mariners. He was very briefly in the rotation for Seattle, and in fact didn't play in the Majors beyond 1992. In fact, this card has a slight error on it, as the last row of stats on the back say his time with the Mariners was in 1993, rather than the correct year of 1992.

But what is really interesting about this card is that it only exists as a Topps Gold card. If you happen to recall the size of the 1993 Topps set, it's a huge 825 cards, the largest in Topps Flagship history, except when they numbered the 1981 Traded set sequentially, rather than starting back at 1 and adding a T.

Anyway, I busted a fair bit of 1993 Topps in my younger days, and I always wondered why I never found a Topps Gold checklist. As it turns out, Topps picked six players that didn't make it into that giant set and gave them Gold cards, rather than printing gold-parallel checklists. Mike Walker had one of those cards.

1993 Topps Gold #394 Bernardo Brito
And Bernardo Brito had another. Brito also had a brief time in the Majors, then bounced around the minors and Japanese leagues for a while. Keith Brown of the Reds was yet another checklist substitution, a card I pulled in around 1993, which first made me aware of these non-checklists.  As it turns out, Topps did the same thing in both 1992 and 1994, though I didn't realize it until I saw a '94 card on Wrigley Roster Jenga just a few days ago. Topps printed Gold sets from 1992 through 1994, so I'm not sure why I thought the practice was exclusive to 1993. Current Topps sets don't make these changes; we just have a dozen colored parallels of checklists now, but at least they're also season highlight cards.

Walker and Brito were both on my Eight Men Out list in an effort to snag a few more of these relatively rare cards, but that wasn't the last from gcrl!

1994 Fleer Update #U110 Karl Rhodes
Several years ago, I bought a couple medium-sized Priority Mail boxes on eBay full of assorted cards. I got gobs of duplicates from 2005 Topps Update in one, which is why so many of my trading partners see cards from that set as filler. Another yielded a complete set of 1993 Topps Traded, minus the Helton Rookie, a card I later purchased from my favorite card show dealer. And in one of those boxes came a near-complete set of 1994 Fleer Update, missing only this card of Karl Rhodes, another Eight Men Out need.

The Helton rookie I can understand. In fact, the star rookies are often missing from various Traded and Rookies sets I've purchased as new from various sources. Griffeys, Madduxes, Palmieros have all been missing. But why Karl Rhodes (aka Tuffy) would be the lone card missing is beyond me. Perhaps a young Cubs fan set it aside for an autograph session, or it just got lost in the shuffle somewhere. But that's another complete set I can put on my blog tab, the last thing Fleer would do before they all dropped acid and gave us the 1995 set.

Hey, what else is there to do when there's no World Series?


  1. I guess that Rhodes was a real "Tuffy" huh? Ba dum tiss.

  2. thanks for the trade! i recall dan pasqua being one of the 1994 topps cards available only in gold, which i thought was strange for a more established player at the time.