Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Beguiling Binder Page #7

Collecting baseball cards is always idiosyncratic. That is, it's uniquely personal. This page of my 2013 All-Parallel collecting project illustrated that to me well, as this was a key page that led me to decide on the color 'rules' for this project as I discussed in the last post in this series, #5.

Why is this post #7? Because of idiosyncrasies. It was time to match up the post # with the page #s I have completed, as the stars and moon weren't aligned on those any more; i.e. the #s didn't match.

May I present Beguiling Binder Page #7:

As always, don't forget you can click on an image on a Blogger blog page for a bigger view of the pretty colors.

I had to re-acquire two cards on this page to conform to those color rules - the David Murphy, and the Torii Hunter, which became the 'keystone' card on this page. When I first started picking up the wonderful "Blue Sparkle" parallels Topps produced last year, I knew I would want Murhpy's edition in that style to see how the scoreboard backdrop looked. And it was (and is) a cool card for the potential Legend of Cardboard. But it was a blue Sea Turtle on a blue parallel - broken color rule. Start over.

I had a worse problem with the Torii Hunter card - it was the only one on this page included in the Opening Day set and available as a "Blue Foil" parallel. Even worse, there were 6 blue Sea Turtles on this page. Really start over.

Fortunately, the Jason Marquis card decided itself as I automatically went for the Camo-Camo combo on any Padres card I could. (I still need the Ian Kennedy Camo from Update). It is also fortunate that I really like the Cubs on Purple even though that is a little similar to their blue Turtle diamond. And I like Pink for the Blue Jays as they are both easy to acquire from Americans who have a hard time shipping singles to Canada, and it works out well with their solid-blue alternate home uniforms as on the Adam Lind card there. I'm also happy to assign Nate Eovaldi to Sparkly world as I generally like his cards. Finally a month or so ago on a rare, short visit home I was able to surf eBay a little and pick up a hobby-only Black border copy of Hunter and the page was complete.

My project is a long way from complete in terms of pages, though many pages are at 8 cards. But it will still be a long project, I know, especially as I am about to enter another baseball card slowdown. I am moving tomorrow and some family is coming to visit my town for a week. I'll be playing with some cards, but they will be Magic:The Gathering cards as my nephews are little wizards at that game. Not my thing, but they were pretty stoked when I showed them binder pages last summer, so I know they are bringing their decks this summer. So the blog will go back to it's now usual slow pace for a bit, sigh. I have a lot of fun things lined up to bloggle about, as soon as I can.

In other blog news, I had to correct an error in my last post about the Junichi Tazawa cards, so I just used the Update function to sort all that out. I spent 20~30 minutes with Google and various websites researching that one, but that didn't quite get-er-done, as I discovered while wandering card blogs the next day.

Ahh well, you win some, you blog some, you lose some. See y'all again soon.

Monday, July 21, 2014

Phoning It In #3

…and we're back. So nice to have a full slate of games to listen to once again. I've been cleaning up my mess of baseball cards and trying to refrain from babbling about them, so I can figure out which ones I can babble about.

Mostly that has been slogging through putting Series One in a binder, though I have too many other projects going on simultaneously. I hadn't planned to post for a few more days yet, but I just found these:

I like the '13 Update card quite a bit, it seems to be a night game in a dome perhaps. I like cards with the outfield grass all lit up like that. And I like the live action necklace on both cards. The '14 edition is an example of how as the zoom/crop moves in, the viewer is left with little but facial expression to remember the card by.

The black armband must be part of the memorial for the victims of the Boston Marathon bombing … except it isn't. The black armband was worn late in the 2012 season as a memorial for Johnny Pesky.

Which means Topps couldn't be bothered to pick up a 2013 picture of Tazawa for the 2014 set. Not all that surprising, even though Tazawa was one of the best set-up men in the game last year, though still basically lame on the part of Topps. But really the only reason an 8th inning specialist is in Series One was the Red Sox' World Series run, during which Tazawa was outstanding.

Update: I received a FAIL when I turned in my homework assignment on this post. I did not check this key resource:

or this one:

The Red Sox _did_ wear a black armband on the road all of last season as a memorial to the victims of the Boston Marathon bombing, and the 2014 Tazawa card is probably a 2013 photo.

Be careful how you word your Google searches, I guess...

But even though I could post near identical baseball card pictures of baseball picture cards from lots of players this year (and might, just to see), the front of these two cards did not generate this post. The backs did:

I know writing the card backs is a chore. Reading the "Rookie Fact" on each file folder this year is one helluva chore. I have found a couple 'neat' ones so far, but nothing all that entertaining nor illuminating at all. Fairly pointless overall, and that is the hardest kind of work there is.

Thursday, July 17, 2014

You would think I would really want this card

You would be wrong.

This is one of the stupidest "collectible" items I have ever seen, and I have seen plenty of idiotic things businesses have dreamed up to separate fools from their money:

I saw this on another blog and I have to comment on this. I've kind of been waiting for the "card" of Van Gogh's Cafe Terrace at Night, which came out in 2013, to appear to write about this topic.

I use Cafe@Night as my avatar over there to your right. So I would love to have the 1/1 Goodwin Champions card of it, right? Hell no.

These items somewhat make me laugh, as I have always had somewhat of an admiration for "artists" who can get money from stupid people, like Marilyn Manson or Thomas Kinkade. But I would never ever spend a dime on such manufactured artifice.

These Art of the Ages cards from Upper Deck are even worse. They are not reproductions of an original masterpiece of art. They are "new versions," freshly painted by some recent poor young art school graduate.

But of course …. they are 1 of 1s. So, basically, they are 100% ego gratification products, and are the ultimate example of how silly the card collecting world has become.

I totally can not understand why anyone would spend a cent on one of these. For far less than this "card" will eventually sell for - I expect it will go in the low four figures, yep more than One Thousand Dollars - you could buy a very nice reproduction of the original painting, have it professionally framed very elegantly, and hang it on the wall in your living room for everyone to enjoy.

Or you could spend a truly crazy, as in mentally ill, more amount of money and buy an imitation of an art masterpiece that is only THREE POINT FIVE INCHES BY TWO POINT FIVE INCHES in size. And then you could keep it safely tucked away in your choice of hard plastic shells in some box or drawer somewhere, so your heart of darkness can draw satisfaction from the fact that you own such a stupid item, and absolutely no one else in the world does.

And what would someone do with such an item? Put it on the mantle and squint at it from across the room? Would they pull it out on special occasions and show it to people? On that latter one, probably not, because any rational person would just laugh at such ridiculousness, I would hope (and thus this post).

I mean think about this in terms of music, and record collectors. Say a record label hired some talented enough wedding reception band to re-record "Stairway to Heaven" and they managed to do it well enough to be pleasantly listenable at least. Then the record label pressed exactly one copy of this onto a 45. And only one forever through all eternity. Absolutely no one would want to own such a thing.

But in the world of card collecting, someone somewhere is getting ready to spend more than One Thousand Dollars to do exactly that. It boggles my mind.

One of the most memorable experiences of my life was visiting the Van Gogh Museum in Amsterdam. I liked it so much I returned the next day for another couple hours. On a nice slow weekday in late winter, I could stand in front of this one for 15 minutes at a time:

It gave me chills. It is intense and vibrant in person. In three dimensional real life. Part of that flows from knowing Van Gogh's biography fairly well, and knowing at what point in that biography he painted this one.

I spent more than One Thousand Dollars on that experience, though it was just one of many reasons I visited Amsterdam, where one of my best friends in the entire world lives.

But I will never forget it. Somehow I expect whoever purchases the 1/1 Goodwin Champions Art of the Ages version of Starry Night has never been to the Museum of Modern Art in New York City to see that painting in person. I haven't yet, though I very much look forward to a trip to do that some day. But I really doubt anyone who would enjoy original paintings in person would ever spend that much money for a tiny knock-off version of a masterpiece, though I could be wrong. 

The world is a strange and completely surreal place, full of a people I do not understand.

Wednesday, July 16, 2014

All's well that rips well

Well working season finally ended. It took another month in the nearly no-baseball zone of Michigan's Upper Peninsula, but I can finally start fiddling with baseball cards again. Working, camping, camping while working, trout fishing, living without internet service or even baseball broadcasts — none of these things are very helpful for enjoying baseball cards. And I must note it is just rather sad and pitiful how generally useless AM radio stations are these days. I don't expect they will be around much longer.

Things got so far removed from the game of baseball that I bought some baseball cards … and didn't even open them! Horrors!

But I made it back to a civilized locale with an actual working television set on time to see the All-Star Game at least. Though I have to move in a few days and then can finally really get down to the serious business of sorting out stacks of baseball cards (and hopefully being able to blog about the results), I figured it was the right time to rip some packs while watching the game. Let's see what I found:
Yawn. Some nice vivid green and yellow, the necklace is In Action, but it seems like every King Felix card I have is of him in this exact same spot in his delivery. Next.
An All-Star card. On All-Star Game day. I like these cards well enough, but with basically no back they are such empty calories. I might peruse the checklist of these Archives inserts for any Tigers or beloved older players, eventually. I kind of wonder if there might be 9 for each League. 

As for this particular card, the Mets always look good on baseball cards, and this one is no exception, I love the orange stripe on the outfield wall - though Topps loves to issue New York Mets cards, they never seem to take as many photos at Citi Field as they used to; perhaps a presumption on my part. Now lots of their cards are shot in Detroit, which I like of course, but I could enjoy Mets colors on the cards, the uniforms, _and_ the outfield wall.

Though I like that Harvey card, I know I have the same image on a sticker and I think one other baseball card. The more I see the same images on multiple cards, the less cards I buy, in packs at least. Are you listening Topps? I am buying less cards this year.

But I like these Archives cards...
…and I like it when Topps puts the contents of their archives to use, as this appears to be a standard posed Shea Stadium shot. They used an In Action shot of Marichal for his '73 card, so they likely had this image filed away from Baseball Card Picture Day that year.

And I like this card. The intense Marichal appears to even be in a good mood. I love cards showing the third deck, and I always like the MLB Logo patch on a card. I don't need 1/1 Logo Man cards, I can enjoy this one just fine. I also like the back of this card:
Or most of the back of this card anyway. I like to imagine some younger fan learning about what has been called "The Greatest Game Ever Pitched" there on the top of the card. Topps perhaps could have mentioned that the losing pitcher (Warren Spahn), also pitched a 16 inning Complete Game. 

I also kind of like the card back writer using newer statistics to illustrate how great a pitcher Marichal was in the 1960s. Though an interesting option would have been to tie in the text with the cartoon scrip and note that Marichal finished his career with one more Complete Game than Wins. A pity that Complete Game wasn't added to the pitcher stat line on the card backs until several years after 1973, and now of course has been removed again, because it's a nearly irrelevant stat in today's game. 244 Complete Games. Unreal.

I never watched Marichal pitch, as he retired after two games for the Dodgers in 1975, the first year of my life that I can remember watching baseball. But then Topps doesn't mention that year either, because they didn't want to run out of room for another iteration of their own name there on the back. As if we would forget who supplies with us with our baseball card fix after purchasing thousands upon thousands of these things. And of course only some years of baseball card backs featured complete career stats - but I expect such on an Archives card.

Anyhow I was happy to discover that Archives card backs are worth investigating. I've been looking at too many retro repro cards in the mini format, which I refuse to read on the back. I discovered a few other things on the backs of those Archives cards, but I'll save that for another night. Let's pull another card:
Hey, that's not an All-Star. Though it does have a star on the card. No, not the Mariners logo star. Just one of the more classic true sunset cards I've ever found. Featuring our beloved local star - The Sun. The one and only. Sweet cloud card too, that one will make the cut for an All-Time All-Cloud binder page.

I like the 1980 cards so I am just fine that Topps is repeating their use in Archives. I will go for a set of them, somehow. I started with two rack packs and got hardly any 1980s…in this rack pack I got 4 of them, which is still a half card short, somehow. It might be hard for me to ever do this one the old fashioned way via ripping and trading - have you noticed you can only get these cards at Target? When a Topps product is not available at Wal•Mart, they become quite a bit more difficult for me to acquire. Archives cards are not in the midwest Big Box chain called Meijer's either. I have seen online speculation about big production cuts for Topps this year; I figure Wal•Mart cutting their order was probably the main reason, and that probably hurt Topps. I live far from Target, and far from any card shop. Yeah, yeah, I know, I can just buy them online. That will take me longer. I spend my online time chatting up y'all. And looking at baseball cards:
Another non-All-Star, though there is All-Star iconography present on the card if you look hard. I like cards with the special "Los Mets" uniform. Though once again Topps kind of buries the special uni details; I think this is the third such card I have.

And I wouldn't count on Topps to help you figure out the Mets infield situation, not that anyone else can either I think. Why would the Mets bring up a new 3rd Baseman when they have a sometimes All-Star anchoring the position (and every Topps set of course)? The answer is that Flores plays at short for the Mets, when he is in the bigs. He will soon have to stay up there and prove he can hit MLB pitching, or no more baseball cards. But off to the Los Mets binder page this card goes.

Now let's get back to actual All-Stars, like this one:
Who doesn't like a Catfish Hunter card? Especially now that Topps is using the name Catfish right there on the front of the card. Such a cool baseball player…I hope one of his retro cards might already or might someday mention the Bob Dylan song about him.

But this card sure looked familiar to me, so I asked the Google, Images Department, what was up with that. Another blog has already sorted that out for me.

The reason I like the 1980 design is the hint of a pennant in the design, the curved solid-color border for the image, and especially the setting of some of the text on an angle. All that works great on this card of an All-Star:
I like how Duke signs his real name, which reminds me of another thing I like about the 1980 style Archives cards - the allegiance to the original card style means the players of today have to supply a signature as well. And then the old fart players always come out looking classy.

I also like the advertising on the Snider card. Flying A Deal! On something. Reminds me that advertising has been a part of large scale public sporting events ever since large scale public sporting events began, and shows it is not some conspiracy on the part of Topps to pick up some of their own ad revenue when an advertising image makes it on a card today.

Ahh well, another nice pack of Archives. I hope I get the chance to buy a few more, but that might be a minute. What else did I find at the big Red Bullseye?
My perpetual weakness for the Opening Day cards. I always like cards with a railing in the background, they help set up the lines of the image tremendously, and this card has great lines. A pity the railing isn't a little more in focus. But then I also like Blurry People cards too.

Adam Jones is like the stealth All-Star each year. He puts up tremendously solid numbers but just never seems to get truly famous. Which is slowly becoming less so for this guy:
An OK card, but nearly identical to his card last year. Even the Blurry People are ho-hum on this one.

I actually bought the last 2 packs of Opening Day in the gravity feed box, though I was hoping for one more blaster. Did you notice that Opening Day was also only available at Target this year? It may have had the blister packs in Toys-R-Us, the perfect store for the set, kinda; but it was not at Wal•Mart.

I never did score a 'Between Innings' insert from those packs this year, though I bought more than the requisite 36 packs suggested on the back. I know, I know, I can just go online. I had hoped to find some other fun inserts to share, but that will have to wait for the day I sort the few blasters of it I did pick up earlier this year. There are a couple neat things waiting for you in those stacks.

And I couldn't pass a trip to visit the pretty young things all over a Target store without picking up some special Target cards:
Another guy that just always seems to get good baseball cards. Of course I always like a Smiling Card. But careful there Chris, I hope that devastating slider the card back describes for me isn't creating a claw hand there. That pitch shortens all too many careers….. but let's get back to some more All-Stars while we rip some more Heritage:
Well that's a baseball card. You could put it on Wikipedia to serve as an example definition almost. It's got red, white, and blue, and two different Phillies icons. But it's not all that much to write a blog about. I still enjoy ripping and sorting Heritage. Just the tactile experience is enjoyable. And I like the color of the '65 style. But I don't think I will be putting that one in binder pages for future perusal, just a few special pages of the highlights, like one that you are supposed to write home about, I guess -
Boom! All-Star Game Day retail hit Mojo. Though hits aren't my thing, I kinda like this one more than most. No extra busy design, and the GU part doesn't make the player image superfluous. And it's a different image than any other Chris Sale baseball memorabilia product I own. His cards always look good so I think this one will go in with the rest.

Like Archives, Heritage is a set shot in the spring time. And thus always in the same places:
There's that mountain again. First there is a mountain, then there is no mountain, then there is. It all depends on which player it is, on the Angels or the A's, which is so weird because I wouldn't expect division rivals to share a Spring Training camp. I think I'll probably assemble all my Mountain Cards to see if the players have worn a permanent spot to stand on when Topps poses them for their new baseball card. I've seen this mountain so many times I might have to start seeing if I can figure out the geology of south-central Arizona using baseball cards.

Fortunately for every Mountain Card there are two Cloud Cards, and sunny Florida might have a few clouds once in a while, but never a mountain:
OK, so Zobrist was only technically an All-Star last year, though he did get one All-Star At Bat a few years ago now.

Just another base baseball card that I like. I'm not that into Bat Barrel cards, I just love that Ray patch. This one looks like it has had to show off it's vertical skills getting out of the way of that swing. So off to the binder page it goes, that I will certainly enjoy the next time I flip that binder open. That's why I buy all those Baseball Cards.

Saturday, June 14, 2014

Pulling tonight's Starting Pitcher

as in pulling his baseball card from a pack.

That's what I did today when I picked up my first Series 2 cards. I always like opening a pack of baseball cards on the day of a baseball game.

The top card was tonight's starter for the Tigers, Drew Smyly, and a very good baseball card it is:

This is probably the best "pitching grip" card I have ever seen. That is because it is a live-action image, so that is a real, game-used grip on display there. The card has plenty of imminent motion built into it, as your brain connects the dots on what Smyly's arms are about to do next. I think the foil wave (has anyone named this set yet?) of the design works especially well with the lines set up by the right forearm, and the line of his eyes focusing on the plate.

All those nice composition elements working together on yet another zoomed-in torso card - sometimes this approach to making a baseball card does work out very nicely.

I thought it was also serendipitous that I pulled Drew's card on his birthday today. Unfortunately the Topps Voodoo was not strong enough to make a happy ending to this post with a W for Smyly and the Tigers, as Drew took the loss despite giving up just a single Home Run and 3 other hits over 6 innings.

I pulled a more traditional "grip" card in my other baseball card purchase today. The tradition with these cards, going back to the 1950s, is to include the grip on a posed shot, like this one:

I'd have to say I'm about as excited about that card as Jarrod appears to be. Though I do like black borders on cards so I can be amused by all the whining about the terrible chipping. I also like Oakland's elephant appearing on cards, and I also like mysterious trees on baseball cards. Probably this card will grow on me over time.

It took me quite awhile to ever find any Archives for sale this year. I have been traveling for work waaaaaaaay too much with no time to stop at an LCS, and 2 of the 3 Big Box stores that I frequent for my plastic-y foil ripping fix don't seem to be carrying Archives at all this year. Only Target seems to have them - and I have also only found Opening Day cards at Target this year as well. Topps seems to have probably lost a few truckloads worth of sales to Wally World, I think.

I picked up some Archives because I like the 1980 design and will probably put together those 50 cards. But of course what you desire and what you pull out of 'packs' of baseball cards are two different things. From 72 cards I should have ended up with 18 of the '80 base design. Instead I got 6 - way off.

At least I got the Cabrera and the Kinsler I wanted; even a double of the sweet Miggy card.

As always I'm looking forward to sharing some more cards with y'all, but I will be back on the road tomorrow. I will be able to get a few trade packages out first, and that will be about it for baseball cards until July. 162 games is a long season, and I admire the baseball players that travel all year to entertain me. After working in 9 different states so far this year, I certainly know parts of what they go through. At least my cards wait patiently in all their little stacks for that nice day when I can finally un-stack them into their binder pages…what a relaxing day that will be, someday.

Thursday, May 29, 2014

Baseball Cards = Art

If I hang it on my wall, that must be true, right?

Last year while working on an ongoing Baseball Card Art project, I picked up an essential item for it direct from the Topps Company, Inc. It will be seen on a future blog post, perhaps when I finish the project.

This year, somewhat out of the blue, Topps sent me a 50% off promo code for up to $100 of merchandise from their website. I knew instantly what I would spend it on, and that wasn't chasing Kris Bryant autos in Bowman Blasters.

Unfortunately, my insta-dream products aren't even here yet, as my purchases have been shipped separately. Topps, always bringing you closer to the mysteries of intelligent product distribution.

Instead the other day I received a brand new product that I didn't know was waiting for me on the current clunky-as-always Topps website, when I finally got it to load all 2000 some images of these things, simultaneously.

A piece of genuine Art. An image I have had permanently seared in my baseball and Baseball Card loving brain since I was 8 years old:

How do I know it is Art? Well I would fight to the Death anyone who would not agree that Art is in the eye of the beholder. If you say something is Art, then it is, simple as that.

But for the more up-tight types in the world who need external validation of their possessions ( /5 RC sparkle-crusted Chrome auto-relic collectors, for example), this piece of 10" x 14" Art comes with genuine Authentication of it's desirability:

Yes Sir, it seems I am only the 12th person smart enough to get in on this Limited Edition action.

Which kind of bums me out actually - as in, I think they should make a lot more than 99 of these babies. Because surely every baseball child of the 70s will want one, won't they?

However that turns out, I am rushing this post into 'print' on the chance that Topps is now shipping copy #89, and I thought all y'all fine folks might be interested in these. There is a whole set of baseball wrapper prints for sale

or were for sale, as I just surfed off to offer you a convenient link to these. eBay is fresh out right now too, for now, though I would imagine they will reappear soon as speculators realize Topps sold out of their stash.

There were also smaller versions (5" x 7") of these that came in 'packs' (irony is so tasty) for each decade, numbered to /49, though I would really scratch my head over anyone who wanted a complete set of art prints of 1980s Topps Baseball Card wrappers on their wall.

So, so sorry to disappoint here. I guess I pulled a hot product from the midst of my work-induced haze…thankfully that 50% off promo code had a strict expiration date or I would have been looking to buy one of these some now sad day in August.

Ahh well, let's return to the Art. This print really surprised me with a new component to one of the primary graphic design images of my life. Dots………….

And here I am 39 years later still learning something from this image. The use of dots like that automatically makes anyone with a little grounding in 20th Century American Art immediately think "Liechtenstein!"

And I guess after all these years I have finally realized his influence on this wrapper. Topps had a long history of being attuned to the Art world, not just the sports world. But upon opening this package, I also noticed the dots are probably part of the image to produce a proper shading effect when the image is shrunk to use as part of a consumer product. Thereby realizing an insight into Roy Liechtenstein's work that I had never considered before.

See, I told you baseball cards were Art, and all before you even open the wrapper! The things I learn from these things… I so wish I could compare my new insights on this to the one 1975 wrapper I have in my collection, which is unfortunately still stuck in a storage unit while I can barely fit a card desk in my current living quarters. Arg.

Although I have made little progress on my ongoing goal of learning good photography composition techniques as that is just way, way down the always too long To-Do list (luckily babbling to you dear readers is much higher up the list), I am pretty sure a diagonal line is a strong element of an image. So is a flowing curve. So are primary colors like Red and Yellow. So is an image with motion, and an image that invites the viewer to wonder what is going to happen next. This image has all that, and a pack of cards inside. Come to think of it, all of those exact same compositional elements are part of my other purchase directly from my Topps master, which hasn't arrived yet, or else I would be short one future blog post right now.

I'm sure there are other things to learn and realize about this classic (All-Time?) Baseball Card image. I'll leave the Art Theory alone now and get on with some other great things I can gab about this. I failed  my only Art History class when I wrote up a 'review' of an assigned painting by trashing the ridiculously overwrought frame of the piece, loaded with ceramic grapes and fig leaves and gold gilt, just hideous, instead of writing about the painting inside the frame. I was told to write what I saw?

Now last year I was delighted to open a pack of Baseball Cards and find a sweet brand new Baseball Card inside:

This is one of my favorite Sea Turtles, for what should now be an obvious reason. Though I love card images that bring to mind classic wrappers (I've posted two cards that recall the '77 Topps wrapper), I've never posted this one because I kept thinking I could find a better example if I just kept looking at enough of those worthless base cards nobody wants any more.

Perhaps I will someday. Meanwhile as I have been composing this post in my head for the last 36 hours, Gallardo has won two games in two days - and he is in the starting rotation! Tonight he pitched 6 2/3 innings and got a W. I've always though a Pitcher should get an extra W (at least) when he gets a GWRBI. Yep, last night Gallardo, a former Silver Slugger winner, came into the game as a pinch hitter in the bottom of the 10th and delivered a walk-off Double. Topps had better keep it's act together and deliver me a classic Baseball Card of that next year. Or more than one.

At some point last summer that card led me to finally use this Internet deal to look into that image from the 1975 wrapper. I was hoping maybe someone had sleuthed out who drew it up for Topps. Instead, I found this:

Mets Card of the Week: 1975 Hank Webb box

which is a nice succinct write up of this image:

This is not something I could remember from 1975. When I saw those boxes of cards, ole Hank was likely already ripped off the top of the box, or tucked out of the way to make room for some other box of candy that generally surrounded Baseball Cards back then.

So the wrapper image starting out as a real photo never clicked for me until I stumbled across that blog post.

Of course in the 21st Century, Hank Webb's life story is just a few clicks away, and as it turned out 1975 was a very good year for Hank Webb as he cracked the Mets rotation for 15 starts and went 7-6 in the process.

And like the superstars on the wrappers and boxes today, Webb also has a card in the set he fronted for every single other card:

I'm pretty sure I have this card, as I can recall most of the cards of the Big Red Machine that rolled over my various Pittsburgh Pirate rookies, and I always seemed to pull cursed Reds cards.

This was actually his second appearance on a multi-player Rookie Card, which happened in the 60s and 70s but compared to young players today, well, whatever. The Mets360 blog has more on Hank here.

Also on that blog I learned that my Baseball-Card-wrapper-introduction-to-a-lifelong-fascination-with Art has a son.

Do I mean this one?

No, that is a topic of a future blog post some wonderful rainy day when I can finish ripping that box and starting in on collating that neat set of real cardboard Baseball Cards. But that wrapper definitely owes a little something to 1975 Topps. And some to 1977. And 1976.

It turns out that actual player on the 1975 wrapper that will eventually hang on my wall has a son that is pitching in the Major Leagues today, currently doing fairly well in the bullpen with Baltimore. And sure enough, I have his baseball card:

Whaddyaknow, it's a post release In Action shot of a right hander complete with leg-kick. Nice! This is a pretty good card, though it suffers from the usual practice of the current Topps Baseball Card set editor, who frequently has no concern for slicing off bits and pieces of the ball player with the card margin - that always looks sloppy to me in an age when any image can be manipulated quite easily.

[And really Topps, out of all the subset / inserts ideas you keep reusing for better or worse, bring back the Father & Son cards already. I think a whole lot of collectors would like that.]

Even so, the 2012 Webb card is another nice piece of Art. Art is more enjoyable with Context, and I have sure discovered a lot of that for 2012 Topps Update #US253. The Art elements I like are the banding of the infield grass and dirt, the sense of paused, just-completed motion, but with imminent activity as the ball reaches the plate, and the blurry empty seats in the background. That latter element is not a standard sign of quality Art, just a photo feature I always like on Baseball Cards.

Because as I mentioned above, that is what matters when it comes to Art and Baseball Cards. They are your Baseball Cards. You decide which ones = Art.

Wednesday, May 28, 2014

Beguiling Binder Page #5

So good to be at home - where I can get baseball cards delivered.

A few came the other day, a small lot of 2013 purple parallels. It filled 2 crucial slots in my ongoing Parallel Project as well as one in a small side project, and included a David Price card that will likely pay for the whole lot when ever I finally find the time to assemble a box to send off to COMC.

How is the project coming along, you ask? This is my 7th page completed for a 990 card set. I have reneged on declaring a Series One page completed due to dislike of the Kevin Millwood card I used for reasons illustrated below. I have a whole lot of other pages waiting for either a single keystone card to complete the page, or one difficult card to appear to release a mishmash of possibilities amongst the retail parallels I could use on the page, especially in Series 2. I know doing the Update set this way will be a years long slog, needing a /25 Sapphire on every page just as a starting point, but I'm not too worried about that with the baseball card buyer's resources of ebay and COMC available to help.

One of those slots filled yesterday (the Ryan Dempster) completed a page, card #s 395 ~ 403:

This page has one of my favorite parallels of my whole project so far, the David Wright card. That edition there is the Opening Day 'blue foil' version, which works just exactly perfectly for the Mets' cards. Well, last year it did at least. This year's cards don't have enough orange on them to keep you awake while perusing the Mets cards, which is a comment on the main 2014 design, not the current Mets team. I like colorful baseball cards, obviously.

It took me a while to decide on some rules / preferences for which parallel to use of which player. The Wright card was a bit of a no-brainer, as that was pack pulled. The black and pink on this page, well, that mostly depends on what shows up available cheaply as part of a lot, which is how I ended up with a really nice teal-on-pink card of a great Mariners pitcher who generally mows down hitters in the shadows of a more famous rotation mate in an obscure corner of baseball country.

It also didn't take me long to realize I didn't want red teams on Target cards, or blue teams on Wal•Mart cards. And the basic combination of red-on-blue looks so nice on the 2013 design that I tend to select it for favorite cards, or favorite players, such as for this example of my general like of Aroldis Chapman 'In Action' cards, even though so many of them are basically the same.

For the wrapper redemption 'Blue Sparkle' cards, obviously I nixed the blue teams, though that leaves plenty of options on this page. Generally I like the cards with a mix of tones to the background, as then you end up with green sparkles in the image contrasting nicely with the blue sparkles of the border. Thus, images with infield dirt or vibrant turf work best; I'm sure the Dempster card or the Aviles card would be very nice as a Blue Sparkler. But sometimes I just have to go with what is on hand in the stacks of cards before they head off to a hopefully friendly not local internet re-seller.

All those selections left just a decision on the mysterious Tom Wilhelmsen, card #402, perhaps a sly bit of dyslexia on the part of the Topps set editor, and a footnote for a future blog post.

But really, for the Ricky Williams of MLB, what other parallel could be used but the green one?