Sunday, December 19, 2021

The Trading Post #166: Card Hemorrhage (Part 1: Rockies)

Trading volume is down quite a bit. Intuitively I knew that, but in preparing to write this post, I was surprised to see that I hadn't added anything new to The Trading Post page in nearly eleven months. Not that I've done much from my end either. Perish the thought of setting foot inside a post office unless absolutely necessary. But I have sent a few PWEs out, or at least I think I have. It's pretty much all a blur these days.

One blogger who's keeping that flame lit is Jay at Card Hemorrhage, winner of the most-difficult-to-spell blog superlative, stealing the crown from Highly Subjective and Completely Arbitrary. He's sent a couple stuffed PWEs my way in the past couple months, full of a wide range of familiar Rockies and unknown oddballs. We'll start things off with a familiar face from the Rockies, the player who joined Dinger in the making of this year's official team video holiday card.

1994 Topps Gold #163 Vinny Castilla

Vinny Castilla was the cameo player in my previous post, but here he gets a parallel all his own. It's from 1994, the same year as my Hanukkah gift, and it's the Topps set I can most easily recognize at a glance. Longtime readers will know that 1994 Topps was the first factory set I ever bought, and a $50 expenditure at the young age of 10 is one that is seared into your memory for all time.

Even better, this is the Topps Gold variety, a one-per-pack parallel that felt like holding the actual metal in my hands back then. It hasn't really lost its luster after a quarter-century. Someday I might consider putting the whole 792-card set together, and I'm already about a third of the way there.

1996 Topps Profiles #NL-11 Dante Bichette

A couple years later and a lot shinier, Topps featured some of Castilla's teammates from the Blake Street Bombers squad in the Profiles insert set. Twenty players from each league were gathered for the set, and then Topps sought opinions about each National League player from Tony Gwynn. Kirby Puckett provided the commentary for AL players. Sadly, both of those Hall of Famers passed away far too young, but their keen insight on their fellow players (and likely fellow All-Stars more than a few times), is documented for all to see on this shiny Topps set.

In particular, Gwynn says about Bichette, 

"[I]t looks like confidence has made all the difference to him...Dante can put it out of any stadium...If he gets big numbers, they say it's because of [Coors] Field. If he doesn't, they say he can't hit. Well, he can hit, Period."

Tony Gwynn, arguably the greatest contact hitter in the expansion era, is certainly in a position to know. And that came a bit before we all really understood what a launching pad pre-humidor Coors was. He knew. But he also knew a great hitter when he saw one, regardless of the park. Hall of Fame voters are just now coming around to understand that, with Larry Walker finally entering the Hall of Fame and Todd Helton gaining some steam.

2017 Topps Chrome Update #HMT100 David Dahl RD

Shinier still was 2017 Topps Chrome Update, a Target exclusive. The card number has an "HMT" prefix, something I've seen before but still don't know what it stands for. Dahl, who will be reuniting with Jon Gray on the Texas Rangers next season (I'm hesitant to call it the 2022 season at this point, given the state of the current labor dispute), is pictured here running the bases as a Rockie. His card has both the Rookie Card logo and the specific date of his MLB debut, July 25th, 2016. The Rockies lost that one in extras, but as the card back tells us, it was the beginning of a record-tying 17-game hitting streak for Dahl.

2012 Bowman #218 Wilin Rosario (RC)

2012 Bowman popped up again as it does from time to time. This one is another Rookie Card, picturing catcher Wilin Rosario behind the plate. A little over two years ago, the autographed black-bordered version of this card made an appearance here, and now I have the regular base card to go along with it.

Wilin Rosario was the everyday Rockies catcher for four seasons or so, and he was on a whole slew of cards at the time, but seemed to disappear rather rapidly. He wasn't a great hitter, but fans of cards showing catchers in defensive mode might find a few to their liking.

2014 Topps Allen and Ginter #314 Nolan Arenado SP

Jay included a couple 2014 Allen & Ginter cards, and this design is just different enough to make me think that I've never really seen it before. I do have a partially filled page in my 2014 binder, but the only record of it I can find in the blog archives was Anthony Bourdain's card, may he rest in peace.

A visibly younger Nolan Arenado entered the A&G checklist for the first time in '14, and the high card number of #314 puts this into short print territory. It's definitely a generous inclusion into this PWE.

The overall design looks similar to most A&G sets, but the one thing that really jumps out at me is the storybook fairy tale "The" preceding the "Colorado Rockies" team name. It gives it a feel of "Once upon a time in the land of 20th and Blake Street, Nolan Arenado played for The Colorado Rockies and slayed many dragons with his armory full of gold and platinum gloves."

Not all fairy tales have a happy ending, though, as we came to find out. At least not for fans of The Colorado Rockies.

2014 Topps Allen and Ginter #104 Troy Tulowitzki

Don't give me that look, Tulo. Times have been hard.

At least Tulowitzki got his own storybook ending, hitting his final home run in the Major Leagues as a Yankee shortstop, playing right where Derek Jeter played all those years. Tulo idolized Jeter, which is why he wore #2 for almost his entire career.

2019 Topps #74 Chad Bettis

Chad Bettis got a card in the 2019 Topps Series 1 checklist, and it's a very similar photo to this insert from Topps Update. This base card gives us a slightly different angle on a different pitch (his grip is slightly different), and we get a bit of an extra look at the Coors Field forest and advertising banners behind the center field wall. That blue banner is an ad for Bachus & Schanker, a local injury law firm that definitely makes the most of their marketing budget.

Chad Bettis announced his retirement in the summer of 2020, following a seven-season career with the Rockies. He finished with an even 31-31 record, although he had a rough 2019 season. He signed with the Yankees in 2020, but announced his retirement about a month before the pandemic-shortened season got underway. Topps didn't include him in any 2020 product, so this is effectively a sunset card. You'll just have to go online to read his 2019 stat line.

2020 Topps #116 Daniel Murphy

Daniel Murphy fared a bit better. He retired in February, deciding to make the shortened 2020 campaign his last. The fun-loving three-time All-Star was certainly enjoyable to watch during his brief time in Denver, although he put up a -1.0 fWAR during his two seasons here. At least Topps included him in the 2021 set, allowing Murphy fans to add a true sunset card to their collections.

2019 Topps Archives #157 Charlie Blackmon

Charlie Blackmon is pretty much the only well-known Rockies position player left, at least among those who have reached free agency. Topps picked the iconic 1975 design for his card in 2019 Archives. Other than this Robin Roberts card, I completely skipped that set. I can't keep up with them all. 

Speaking of, did they ever release 2021 Big League?

In any case, Topps tried make this card somewhat period-correct, as though it were really released in 1975. I'm sure 1975 Topps superfans can tell me whether this is a legitimate color combination, or at least as close as it can be for the six current franchises that didn't exist then. But what caught my eye was the trivia question and cartoon on the back. The card asks "Which future Hall of Famer won the first Outstanding DH Award?"

First of all, I learned that there's such a thing as the Outstanding DH Award, which is now known as the Edgar Martínez Award. It's not league-official, and especially as a National League fan, I can't remember ever hearing about it. 2021's winner was AL MVP Shohei Ohtani. 

But the way they phrased this made it sound like it was a new thing and that they're referring to an active or recently-retired player destined for the Hall. David Ortiz maybe, or an early and bold prediction on Ohtani. But no, that award has been in place since 1973, the first year of the DH. The recipient of the inaugural DH Award was Orlando Cepeda, who reached the Hall of Fame in 1999. In that sense, Cepeda was a future Hall of Famer when this design hit shelves, but obviously not at any point during Charlie Blackmon's adulthood.

The 1975 design overall will be a good segue into Part 2, which included plenty of vintage. It was a stuffed PWE, believe me.

1 comment:

  1. I didn't like them when they came out, but after all of these years, the early Topps gold parallels have really grown on me (for all sports).