Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Let's Trade ... Blue Sparklers?

These are probably the ultimate scanner cards, though I only have a single season of scanning under my belt and I am a long way from making the big $ leagues to scan a "SuperFractor." I'm not sure I would recover from gazing into all those little circles, if I scanned one and checked the results, full-screen, the way I like to look at these cards. One of my next collecting goals is to buy a SuperFractor of some 2000-whenever draft pick who never even made it to AA ball. You can send me yours if you'd like, so you can quit thinking about how much $ you blew on that hot prospecting tip that just couldn't miss.

Fortunately, these cards have a million points of light for the scanner to bounce their laser off, and I just drool over the results like a tourist come morning after being transported to a Colorado ski town over night, i.e. a "gaper."

Here, gape with me now:
This is one of my favorites, though it would be darn near impossible for me to make anything less than a top 50 list of these, all tied for first. I think the aliens are sneaking up on Scott there while he is busy trying to play baseball. Watch out, Scott - The Blob is coming to get ya! You just have to think something bad is going to happen on a Poltergeist card.

I'll tell you right now, the best way to enjoy this post is to click on Mr. Sizemore, and let Blogger take you on a scroll-show of the results of my scanning efforts this evening. If I could find a Complete Set of only the high-quality scans of these cards, I would probably buy one.

Go ahead, mix up a drink, take your tablet over to your extra comfy recliner, and get lost in the stars for a little while. I'll wait.
That's the closest I got to a star card, for now though. Now that you have already scrolled through 'em, lazy side-to-side style, you can scroll along down the screen with me while I babble on about these a little bit. Any card that has both dirt and grass on it turns out fantastic on these. So do all of the New York Mets cards. I like the rosin bag picking up a best supporting prop there on this card, and the Mets' logo on the back of the mound too.
These "Reverse Tatooine" cards that have an all-grass background, of which there are plenty in the zoomed-in 2013 set, turn out very well, making me likely to pick them for use in my parallel project. But this card breaks one of the rules of the project - no blue Sea Turtles on a blue border parallel. So my trade stack of these tends to have a lot of the blue teams in it.
A lot depends on the image though...some grass is better than other grass, and we get to see lots more of those little shiny points of light twinkling at us, and who doesn't like that in their grass? This card was actually set up in a permanent home in my project for a little while, until I picked up a Camo border version of this card in a lot purchase, and this Blue Sparkler got bumped. And there is an even better entry in the weird world of parallels on that page anyhows - a Sparkler Error card that is pretty neat. I think someone at Topps was checking out the grass too much perhaps the night those were printed. There is actually a series of those across several different parallels. Naturally, I'm working on a special binder page of those, for future reference after I cut the grass some evening. Don't worry, I like to share.
Of course as the man sang one time back in the 90s, 'what is from the earth is of the greatest worth.' So the actual Tatooine cards in the set this year make the very best sparkler cards this side of, oh, I don't know, Labrador perhaps. Houston Astro cards always pose an existential question for me though. If you didn't have their players on your baseball cards, would they even exist?
I mean, if I had started this post with a "Quick, name a Houston Astro without looking at your baseball cards!", how long would it take you to do it? 

That card is an example of how the various outfield walls around MLB can appear somewhat randomly on these cards, sometimes knocking the buzz out of these. I always wonder whenever I see this card if that is some sort of mark the Astros put on the outfield wall to help all their AA players trying to hit actual Major League pitching, gently telling them "look out there, aim at the crosshairs."

Other times though, the outfield wall becomes the star of the card:
This card was Designated For Permanent Assignment in the Parallel Project, until the Commissioner came along and starting dreaming up Franken-rules, like the second rule I already mentioned - that the back of the Turtle can't match the color of the card it is swimming through. We wouldn't want the players to get confused about which part is their Turtle-shell home and which part is off the edge of their world when things get bumpy. So the Commissioner had to tell this card it was to be Designated For Assignment, back to the trade pile, which happened to the equally cool Jeff Francouer card that didn't show up on time to be scanned for this post, and this one too:
... even though it didn't break the all-important No Matching Colors Rule #2. The Commissioner had to rule out cards that disrespected the other players enjoying their Cameo on someone else's cards (I know from my Base Card of this one that we see Torii Hunter and Albert Pujols here - quite telling how far apart they are in the dug-out on this 2012 shot, pretty sneaky there Topps - can't lose that in the Project). 

It wasn't long before the Commish was summoned from his post-3-martini-lunch siesta, heard to mumble something about not actually wanting to let that cool slice of grass go to waste, to rule on another multi-player mash-up card:
That decision came quickly though: Ope! Which is baseball-ese for "NO." Not enough sparkly action for the high standards of this project, though the scanner revealed another entry in a new, not-yet-revealed-to-the-collecting-public Frankenset - This Card Is Watching Me, since Topps let a TV cameraman sneak onto the card.

No more multi-player cards allowed. "But what about that Todd Helton card you let in, Commish?", asked the Press Corps that is always bothering the Commissioner wherever he goes. The Commissioner again ruled nimbly on his somewhat wobbly martini and sparkly grass feet - Grandfather Clause. Helton is in. He's beaming out of the League this year anyway. "But that one looks like his teammates are beaming up, not Helton," some wag was quick to point out. Err, Reverse Psychology Grandfather Clause. Helton stays in. "But what about that Baltimore Oriole Wild Card Blue Sparkler card you let in? That one isn't very 'wild'." Would these reporters ever leave the poor Commissioner alone to find some more of those sweet organic grass cards? The Commissioner decided to give the Press Corps something to chew on. Baltimore Oriole Sparkler would be replaced. Page entry to the project revoked. Start over....and that was the first one completed from Series One too. This Commissioner is tough; maybe he should be given more time to look for grass cards.
Ahh, now there is a classic of the genre. The wall and that ever sweet shiny grass combine just exactly perfectly. Why, this card should be a #1 draft pick in the Project. And indeed it is. It seems the Commissioner has short-term memory loss at times, and he drafts the same player twice sometimes. No one can convince him to just give up those grass cards. He needs them when conflicts with Rule #1 arise, like when Reimold's set-neighbor, Zack Greinke, had such potentially potent looking grass on his card. But that type of grass is extra-expensive, so the card scouts looking for a Greinke entry for the project were directed down towards Target, which made them happy, because Target has better customer scenery inside than a bunch of baseball cards.

What? You forgot Rule #1 already? It was only 59 posts back now, you should really try and keep up in class better. Don't let that grass up there distract you so much. Rule #1 in the Parallel Project is that only one border color can be found on each page. Rule #1 and Rule #2 don't get along very well as a result, especially when Rule #1 trumps Rule #2 and an extra, more expensive parallel has to be acquired because Topps put 5 or even 6 blue cards on the same page. Maybe Topps lingers too long with the grass cards too. The Commissioner has heard rumors. How else do you explain Topps .998 batting average on the 89,420 different baseball cards they make every year, making a .002 strike-out rate of switched autograph stickers, letters not die-cut correctly, and the various other incessant complaints from their OCD customer base, who obviously aren't into the grass cards enough.

But it was darn nice of Topps to print these just simply beautiful sparkly cards this year. They even gave them away to their loyal customers, in spite of how much they whine about them.
The shadowy cards = nice.

When I first found more than a few of these cards in the same place, I thought they would make an incredible set of cards to own later on down the grassy road. But then my sometimes stupid let's-kick-it-up-a-notch impulse kicked in and I went for the greater glory of the all-Parallel Project. Then these cards could only be 1/9th, or perhaps 10/99ths of the set, as occasionally other from-the-Topps-factory-only parallels take their place, like the basically boring Silver Slate cards, and the outrageous, in a good way, Hunter Safety cards. Or even the also boring but oh-so-wonderfully-ego-stroking Platinum 1/1 cards, of which I scored the one of only one such card the Commissioner would allow in the project (all parallels must be represented by at least one card, even those extra dull printing plates, which is part of Rule 1, subsection b, as in boring), just the other day, finally.
Overall these cards can have a lot going on, and I sure enjoy them. The idea of building a whole set of them has sailed however, as easy pick-up lots on the ole eBay dried up some time ago, and the resellers here and there will only let you have one for a buck or three, plus shipping. So you could still do it if you really wanted, and you could afford the Bryce Trout editions. Luckily, or unluckily, in my case, there wouldn't be a Puig to chase on these. I really wish these had been manufactured for Update, but Topps has bigger customers to worry about than one goofy blogger with an over-fondness for the ultimate twinkly baseball cards.

The good news for you is that every card I scanned here is up for trade. And really, what player or team rainbow is complete without a boat-load of Blue Sparkles at the end of it? That grass is better than gold sometimes. 

The bad news is that I am quickly approaching Last Call on trading season. An actual, no-Super Bowl-eligibility-for-this-card Trading Deadline. So if you are still reading this far down a blog post and you have been thinking you might have some parallels I need, well, it's time. In a few short weeks I will be leaving home and my beloved baseball cards behind for several months. 

In the world of the Blue Sparklers, I need these cards:

(6 R. Howard or 10 A. Jones), 17 (Choo), 24 (Haren), (59 Rauch or 60 Bauer); 79 (Eaton), 89 (J. Santana checklist), (112 Reynolds or 118 Matsuzaka); (120, 122, 125); 157 (C. Capps), (192, 193, 194-197); (211 Parker or 215 Beckham); 235 (Westbrook), 271 (Familia), 277 (B. Ryan), (287 or 288); 312 (S. Hairston), 326 (Andruw Jones)

(368, 371, 372); 412 (E. Cabrera), (476, 478, 481, 483, 484), 490 (C. Ross), (508 Doubront or 510 McLouth or 511 Brantly); 545 (Presley); (548 Lackey or 555 Hanrahan); 597 (M. Scutaro), 646 (Aumont)

And the Commissioner's free agent negotiations resulted in a slight over-supply of these, all up for trade, though you'll have to know your favorite player's card # to see if I have that one you just have to have, somehow. It's November, you should know your favorite player's card # by now, geez:

Series One: 12, 16, 18, 30, 48, 51, 52, 53, 57, 66, 79, 100, 103, 105, 106, 116, 121, 126, 133, 144, 145, 149, 150, 154, 156, 160, 177, 182, 194, 206, 209, 214, 216, 218, 220, 226, 236, 239, 240, 257, 258, 259, 262, 283, 285, 304, 327, 328

Series Two: 341, 347, 348, 354, 363, 364, 367, 377, 381, 384, 400, 404, 408, 429, 432, 436, 438, 444, 450,  451, 471, 479, 482, 485, 492, 496, 497, 516, 518, 520, 524, 525, 534, 539, 542, 550, 557, 558, 560, 567, 574, 590, 601, 619, 623, 630, 632, 659

The other good news on these is that you don't need an actual Blue Sparkle card to pry one of these away from me, before they all get shipped off to COMC when Base Set's base gets way, way smaller come December. Any contribution to my Parallel Project or my other random set needs would probably work.

Now thinking card #s might lead you eagle-eye types to spot a Hero # card in there, and it's been so much boring old alpha-numerics scrolling along your screen for a while now that I figure I should hook you up with one last hit of that sweet shiny grass before the withdrawal symptoms get any worse.

My scanner just loves these cards, so much so that for this one (when it "automagically" detected the borders of the item I was scanning), for the first time ever it reported the dimensions of said item to be exactly 3.5" x 2.5", even though all I ever do with the machine is scan baseball cards that are all exactly that same size.

That's how perfect this card is:
Kinda puts anything in Topps Chrome to shame, if you ask me. Shiny? I call trump on shiny when I get lost looking at these. 

This card already made the Project. And it's duplicate sitting around gathering dust here at Base Set can be yours. Whaddya got?

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