Thursday, September 18, 2014

The Cards Never Stop

Well hello there. Figured I should stop by the ole watering hole and make sure the bartenders still remember my face well enough to get that extra twist of the wrist when they pour my drink.

Err, wait. Wrong hobby? No, if I haven't had time to blog about baseball cards I surely haven't had time to stop by a bar. Ahh well. Work is good…except sometimes when you have too much of it.

I have been enjoying the game of baseball, and my baseball cards when I can, but I've been trying to make myself catch up on card projects _before_ blogging, rather than rambling on about cards with y'all and then never bothering to deal with all those little stacks of cards.

And I've been working on my main collecting project a fair bit in my limited card time. I realized that with the Sea Turtles now being marked down to their lowest possible prices, people have been ripping them again. And yeah, well, I've picked up a few of those 40% off deals too. And it seems my careful eBay feed for the various 2013 cards I want has been pretty active. I also think I should probably get going on the cards I need, now, instead of 3 years from now when I'm sure the "2013 Topps parallel" feed will be purty slow.

And and and oh let's see a card already:
Yay! A smiling card! I smile when I play with my baseball cards. I hope you do to. This was my first card of Heritage last spring, I figured it was a good omen. My team, and a Smiling Card. No, I'm not thinking to binder up all my Smiling Cards, although now that I type that up...
Hey, he's not smiling. But I do wonder if these might be two of the largest "Floating Head" cards ever made. I think you would need a pair of medical calipers to figure it out though. 

I scanned the Heritage base card selections that caught my eye way back there in Spring Training. You know, back when it was thought the Rays might battle the Red Sox for a certain position in the AL East. Last? I've had these scans just sitting on the laptop all these months, waiting till you got bored with Series 2, so I could put a little color back in your baseball card life. 

I used my little mobile scanner that leaves that line on the side of each scan. I'll probably go back to cell phone pictures for road blogging in the future, when I don't have the home scanner advantage. Just pretend you are looking at gem mint fresh pack pulled cards. Use your imagination. I do.

I always like it when Spring Training sneaks on to baseball cards these days. Of course, most of this set is shot in Spring Training, a part of baseball cards for a very long time. Now though teams frequently have special uniform pieces in Spring Training, like this one:
I Google Imaged "Mariners Baseball Cards" and the first several hundred didn't have this cap. Neither did the first 100 or so on COMC. This one will go in my "Look Ma, I'm Wearing That Special Cap" collection with the cards with the Maple Leaf caps the Jays wear, and all those single bird caps the Cardinals wear on Sunday. I think I will make it to 9 cards soon, and a binder page you will see.

Now before I get too deep into showing you the baseball cards that I put into my own strange little collections and you fall asleep this late at night, I'll catch you up on the rest of my baseball card news, which is two items.

I started another 2013 collection: the Topps Chrome XFractors. I am at 45% to start, and I'll try and have some fun with scanning them sometime and post a list, etc. Maybe. Another big work project starts in a few days. So before you give away that neglected pile of cards from that one blaster of Topps Chrome you bought last year, and especially not from that just one more blaster you bought that yielded up 3 Xfractors instead of 2, hit me up.

I also wrote a long letter to Topps. I kind of want to share it with you fine folks, but it wasn't a long screed of complaints. Just a few complaints. Mostly I told them all the obvious ways they could get more of my money. I don't know how that works, and I doubt I will ever hear from them. I'll just say that if you see a baseball card with that sweet blue bus the Brooklyn Dodgers were tooling around in back in Jackie Robinson's day, as seen in the movie "42", well, you can thank me then.

The Blue Bus … is calling us … back to the cards:
But I already shot the bolt on Dodgers cards for this post, I think. This might be the blue-est card left in the scans though. And another one for my New Respect set, which is my working title for a set of cards where you can see a player wearing the Cross. Cross Cards just doesn't seem to have the proper amount of, well, respect. I am still impressed with these cards, an image I can't remember seeing on cards from the 70s and 80s, though I suspect they were there, once in a while.

Of course, every era of baseball cards since the 60s has had Official® Rookie Cards, made more official these days by the official RC logo. Except in Heritage, where perhaps these Rookie Cards aren't of official rookies:
Maybe this is because these players aren't even official Rookies this year, as recent September call-ups I think they won't use up their Official Rookie status until next year. And really, one has to wonder how Topps picks Rookies in Heritage. Every Bowman-addicted collector is right now screaming Springer! Singleton! Appel! Correa! Buxton! Bryant! Ok, well, Bowman addicts probably don't read this blog, and well, I'm not sure they even care which team a prospect plays for, as long as they sign with New York or the Cubs some day.

Sometimes though Topps does get the Heritage Rookies right:
Back in Spring Training, that was a power packed Rookie Card, though still no RC logo, so this will never be their official Rookie Card I guess. Their Series One cards did have the logo. Oh, the mysteries of Topps. Perhaps some day in a tight AL East pennant race this time of year, this card will be remembered fondly by someone who will give me a dime for it, instead of only a nickel.

This year in Heritage, I found one more notable Rookie Card:
Double Cloud Card! Sunset Cloud Card. Me likey. Fortunately, I know Topps won't let their precious Spring Training posed shot go to waste, so these will get repeated in some other set of cards somewhere soon.

What else did I find in my baseball cards this spring? A flashback card. Several of them:
Hey that's not a Flashback card! For me it is. That is what I would call a Tautological Card, or a card which is tautological. Another new baseball card archetype, for me at least, I think. It gives me a flashback to a University class called Theory of Algebra, which finally and permanently ended my enjoyment of mathematics, and is where I learned what the word "Tautological" means, though not very much else. It was a math class with only three numbers involved - 0 (if that is actually a number, which this class put into doubt), 1, and -1. And lots of the infinity symbol and Greek letters. I can still vividly recall reviving with too much Vivarin, pulling a true, watch-the-sun-come-up-before-the-8am-Final all-nighter trying to learn the mysteries of Algebraic Theory, which seemed in the final analysis to be that the world develops a very interesting vibration when you chase too many caffeine pills with an open tap of Mountain Dew.

Now I have that to deal with when I open a pack of baseball cards:
So what the heck is a Tautological baseball card, as in, just what is it? I'll just say you don't want to end up in a number-less math class, and that I enjoyed the second part of the definition I refreshed my memories with, which mentions it being considered "a fault of style." I didn't know math had a style, but you don't generally expect to use adjectives with math then either. Maybe the peeps at Topps have had too much math also, so they gave up one last Tautology:
Though my road scanner certainly doesn't help you find the logic on that one. But it does feature Cool Gear. I like distinct baseball gear on my baseball cards, like this one:
Blue laces! Cool. Almost as cool as this guy's glove:
Except, wait, "Louisville" should be on the bats I thought, and this shot of his Cool Blue glove doesn't have the magic words some of his other cards do. You'll have to look for those on your homework assignment on your own card sorting time, though my flashbacks tell me that is a worthwhile pursuit.

And Heritage does have actual Flashback cards, and flashbacks in baseball cards can sometimes be magnificent:
Boo-Yah! Scanners and pictures probably can't do this card justice, and is the reason we buy the cards to hold in our hands rather than just look at them digitally, though I hear money was actually made on digital cards from Topps Bunt this year. Real money, for electronic baseball cards.

Those certainly don't blow my mind the way I suspect the above card would have had it been issued in 1965. I think it would possibly be one of the icons of the hobby, seeing a horizontal action card a full six years before the Thurman Munson card changed everything. It's just intense, and spooky, like this one:
I also enjoy daydreaming about what it would have been like to see this come out of a pack of baseball cards in 1965. Mommy, can we leave the light on tonight at bed-time? I think that Russian satellite is flying over us again tonight.

I might have to discover what else is in this little set, because Topps is on a roll so far:
First 'baseball' card with someone's tongue sticking out? Probably not, I would imagine some upstart young card company probably did that back in the 90s, when they had to dream up something, anything to put on all those damn baseball cards made back then.

But Topps never lets me down with their always brilliant insert sets as I'm sure you know:
That's certainly the visual image I have of Beatlemania at Shea Stadium. Not. So maybe I won't chase the rest of these, though I do still need that Rolling Stones Flashback, hint hint. Rolling Stones Flashbacks are always interesting, trust me.

So now we've wandered off into football and pictures of records (records? really?) though I thought I just heard him say Shea Stadium. Baseball was played there, I believe, and, why here's a baseball player in, I believe, Shea Stadium now:

And though this guy plays for the team that played there, I have to wonder if he was born before it was torn down:
I sometimes suspect that pitchers in particular might appreciate their Heritage cards more than their recent Flaship cards which generally show their not-so-flattering Pitcher Face:
Or, perhaps not:

Dunno what happened there Jeremy, and maybe neither does Topps. It could be that I've been out in the sun too long. Not like you.

And then perhaps I suspect that Topps still just has it in for some players:

Hey there, hold on a second….that Heritage card isn't a posed shot out back of some Spring Training facility. It's a baseball player … In Action! An Action Image Variation! Score! Valuable Baseball Card, whoop-whoop, I know I'm gonna make it to the bigs some day opening these packs of lottery tickets, err baseball cards.

Except of course it isn't. Only some players get special Action Image sorta-short-prints worth a whole three dollars or so. Other times, Topps just throws an action image in their otherwise all-posed historically accurate set. I guess just because they can. They're Topps. Or perhaps because by the time these cards came out, Topps forgot what team Ricky was on last spring.
Be that as it may, Heritage is also somewhat known for showing us more hat-less images than any other set of baseball cards, as per history and accuracy I guess. Still though, you would think an experienced veteran like Lance Berkman would remember to shave the day Topps comes to Spring Training:
Though perhaps he wasn't completely planning to ride off onto his final, sunset baseball card back in the spring of 2013.

Fortunately I have discovered an excellent trope on Heritage cards:
Heritage is probably the best set to keep tabs on the regular team shoulder patches the players wear, with these close-ups. I will be building a set of them, for the teams that wear them (and thus a strange set for me - no Tigers card), but I might need your help, dear Reader, in the years to come because Topps sure didn't pick up on what was happening in the rest of the country in the colorful second half of the 1960s, and I have few plans to buy much Heritage after this year.

But I gots me some good ones this year:
I think I might hope for a better example of that one on less of a diagonal in other Heritage sets. I've always liked that patch.
Hey, wait, who do these guys play for again? I'm not sure I will be able to remember.

This one will be a memory-maker though:
Snake tongues in a masoleum. Not a combination I expect to celebrate the game of baseball with.
So the players change uniforms before they change Spring Training fields? Huhh, I did not know that.

I do know that Topps really, really needs to instruct their photographers to switch places with the baseball players when they take these photos every spring. I don't care if there is some dumb suburb behind the photog in these shots. Just get us some new backgrounds on these baseball cards already! That's pretty much exactly how I wrote it in that letter to Topps.

I'm particularly tired of this image, though I guess playing an MLB career in front of the New York City media might actually feel like playing in a prison:
And why is this guy in baseball cards this year anyway? If I can't get any more Pete Rose cards again, ever, including never getting the ultimate Superman card that someone should really make, why A-Rod this year? A year's suspension should include baseball cards.

So while we're wandering baseball card archetypes and complaining a bunch, let's move on.

Now there is a famous image from baseball card sets past. Every ace should have one of these in their Topps oeuvre. This one even has a nice really mini image of the MLB logo. I wonder if there is a little white baseball on that baseball? There is another homework assignment for you baseball card nuts, it's getting late here at the Base.

I also like cards that are red, white, and blue. And a black glove? Yes.

I'm OK with several of these cards in a set. They have that sense of heritage. Well, usually.

Ahh, it's just a catcher. Cut off half of his hand and part of the cool Rays patch. No one cares about light-hitting catchers or Tampa Bay Rays or proper photo-cropping techniques or base cards in general. Do they?

There is one card (or probably more, I don't have the set complete yet, nor even the time to type in my want list for you to hook me up with my remaining needs) with an image you would definitely not see on a baseball card in 1965.

It's just a guy posed on a Spring Training ball-field, like the other 498 cards in the set, right? Well, even today you wouldn't see this on Yankees card. I'm sure that if anything, in Oakland Jeff might have grown that mullet even longer.

My favorite part of this card is the back, amongst which I found little else to share with you from this set. No, I Did Not Read All The Backs, this go-round. Heritage backs are generally too terse to hold much interest. But I liked this card-back anyway.
This one has a nifty cartoon, one of the best in the set — I did check out a lot of those; for your third homework assignment I suggest going back 5 cards from this one for another nice illustration of where a Home Run goes. But what I like about this long-hair's card-back is the Hero #, of a sort. It's truly a pity Samardzija wasn't included in the 100 card refractor checklist, which then would have had a # of THC-420. I'll wager right now that Everth Cabrera will get this card # next year.

Now the final standard baseball card set ingredient I could think of to babble about is the World Series cards, I almost always like those. Last year's Series had a couple memorable oddball game-endings, and Topps saluted at least one of them. (I think I still need some of the other WS cards). As you can tell from this post, I like sorting my baseball cards in oddball ways. Now, perhaps, we have the very first baseball card that can be definitively, positively be labelled as one of those well-known Oddball cards:

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