Saturday, September 21, 2019

The Trading Post #133: Chavez Ravining

Relatively speaking, Alex Markle at Chavez Ravining and I have been trading a lot this year. There have only been a small handful of swaps, but compared to my general level of activity in the hobby and in the Cardsphere this year, it's been a furious pace.

Luck smiled upon me earlier this year, and I won a contest on his blog. We'll get to that later on, but Alex also happens to know that I like green cards. I like green in general, and my next iPhone purchase is likely to be in that color. And what better team to lead off with than that most green of teams, the Oakland Athletics?

2019 Topps '84 Topps Silver Pack Chrome #T84-22 Rickey Henderson
Rickey Henderson played for a ton of teams during his long career, but mostly with Oakland. The inset photo of Rickey on this shiny 1984 design looks like about the right vintage to match the design, but the main photo is that famous 1991 shot of Henderson, when he broke the all-time stolen base record by swiping third and triumphantly lifting it towards the sky.

That photo graced numerous cards throughout the hobby in 1992. I hadn't seen it for a while, so thanks to Topps for digging it out of the archives for another one of their Silver Pack releases. Anyone who has run across a Silver Pack card before will recognize the background refractor pattern.

It doesn't stand out, but sharp-eyed readers will notice a small "35th Anniversary" seal in the upper right. Yes, 2019 marks the 35th anniversary of the 1984 set, which also happens to be my birth year. Along with nearly everyone else my age, it took until 1987 for me to discover card collecting, but Topps missed no opportunity to commemorate an anniversary, and they also mentioned Don Mattingly's rookie card from that set.

2012 Topps Triple Threads Unity Relics Emerald #TTUR-58 Matt Kemp /18 (MEM)
It's fine to call something "green" when it's a normal thing like a Silver Pack card or an iPhone. But when you get into the rarefied air of Triple Threads, throw in a relic, and stamp an /18 serial number, suddenly you find yourself using the term "Emerald".

Speaking of anniversaries, Dodger Stadium opened in 1962, and in 2012, the Dodgers wore a commemorative patch to mark the 50th anniversary. It's rather blurry, but we can see that on Matt Kemp's right sleeve. Of course, the main event is that Dodger Blue relic, outlined in a nearly-accurate home plate shape. Above that, we see that Kemp earned an NL Player of the Week award in mid-April 2012, his third straight time winning that award, dating back to September 2011.

Now, the Rockies often play the Dodgers around the ends and beginnings of seasons. Of course, they're divisional, so they're kind of always playing the Dodgers, including this very weekend. But I checked the game logs, and the Rockies didn't suffer this particular flurry of offense by Matt Kemp. The Padres were not so lucky, though.

2019 Bowman Prospects Camo #BP-143 Brendan Rodgers
While we're still on the topic of green, I will point out that the green-backed 1991 Bowman set is one of very, very few Bowman sets I can correctly pick out out at a glance, and 1989 is only on that list because of its universally-hated non-standard size. Despite the frequent complaint of unmemorable designs, the brand is still going strong in 2019, colored parallels and all. This one of young Rockie Brendan Rodgers is the Camo parallel, the only colored border in the 2019 Bowman Prospects set that doesn't involve a serial number.

The middle infielder got his first look at the big leagues this year, but only appeared in 25 games before needing season-ending shoulder surgery. He has yet to hit his first big-league home run, but did smash a couple extra-base hits before adding his lot to the disappointing season the Rockies had.

On the card back, the "Up Close" section keeps the spirit of Studio alive, telling us that Rodgers is a video game streamer and has a bulldog named Pudge.

2019 Bowman Prospects #BP-145 Roberto Ramos
Roberto Ramos, appearing on the standard-issue Bowman border, has yet to debut in the MLB. Under the old roster rules, we'd probably have seen him in a September call-up by now, but that will have to wait. He hit 30 home runs and hit .309 in Triple-A this year, so it's surely only a matter of time.

I had a pretty good handle on the Rockies' farm system for a while, but they called most of them up this year, leaving behind players I haven't heard of such as Roberto Ramos. He will have to change that uniform number when he makes it, as it's currently worn by starting pitcher Chi Chi Gonzalez, who recently earned his first win since 2015.

2019 Bowman #22 Nolan Arenado
Nolan Arenado cards keep showing up around here, and that's fine with me. He remains my favorite active player, and even if the Rockies are getting blown out, you can count on him for a great defensive play or two anytime he's in the field. He's no slouch at the plate, either. The layer of dirt on his uniform is just a small piece of evidence about what a great player he is. If he keeps it up, he'll be in the company of some truly legendary players.

Which brings us to the main attraction, our contest winnings.

2016 Topps MLB Debut Medallion #MDM-CR Cal Ripken Jr.
And what a beautiful card it is. I've seen manufactured patches from time to time, and even sold one to my favorite dealer at a card show, but these medallions are pretty cool. It's about as thick as cards come, and it features one of my favorite retired stars, Cal Ripken, Jr.

Every Hall-of-Famer, even the Ironman with 2,632 consecutive games played, had to debut sometime. For Ripken, that day was August 10th, 1981. Incidentally, that's not when The Streak began. He wouldn't become an everyday starter until May of 1982, finally deciding to end the streak on his own terms in September, 1998.

When I started sixth grade, one of our regular weekly projects was to cut a current event out of the newspaper and bring it in to class. I was just getting my bearings in middle school, but I clearly remember three or four of my classmates presenting stories of Cal Ripken, Jr. breaking Lou Gehrig's record of consecutive games played. It was in early September, 1995, and I was glad to see that at least a few new kids I shared a classroom with were interested in baseball. I also remember my teacher correcting everyone's pronunciation of Mike Deveraux's surname, which is not "Dever-ox".

Thank you, Alex, for running this contest and giving me a trip down memory lane with one of my favorite all-time players!