Monday, November 24, 2014

Texting It In #4

I didn't really want to resurrect this particular series of posts, particularly after the cavalcade of research errors I made last time I used this title. But with Topps baseball cards, I know there will be ever more of these posts to come. I switched up the series title a little but I have reasons for that, with this post.

I was (and am) quite contented to have finished assembling this 50 card set from 2013 Archives. I'm not going to bother finishing the 50 cards of the other three retro styles used. I collect only baseball cards I truly want to visually enjoy again in the future. The 82s and 85s appeal to me, but not quite enough. I'll look at the 85s in more detail in my next post.

Let's take a look at what I found when I corralled these new psychedelic tombstones into the cemetery, starting with the first card:
I like this card a lot. I wish I would have pulled some extra copies of it to put in some other binder pages that I haven't even themed up yet. I like the bright colors, I like leading off the set with Babe Ruth. Classy. I suspect this card might have come from a black&white photo colorized with modern technology, though I can't be certain, but I like the idea of doing that. However, -1 point for slicing off two of the Babe's fingers.

Card #2?
More Classy. How can anyone not like a Gary Carter card? Me though, I can like a card and still nit-pick it. Though I like red-white&blue on my baseball cards and I excoriate 1990 Topps for pointlessly adding colors to the design, for some reason I am OK with any color combo Topps wants to swirl in front of me in 1972. At first I thought the cropping could have given us a much cleaner look at the classic Expos logo on Gary's left breast (and it does get credit for keeping his bat intact), but then I found this card:
Which is a card I do not like, all over-done with too much foil, and really is just a card designed to serve as a bed for the "real" card these days, the auto/gu version. But the cropping is much nicer with the blue sleeves and the piping on the jersey making for a nicely balanced image that would have looked really nice on the 1972 card, particularly with Gary's uniform # on the bat barrel there. Ahh, what could have been. Minus half point for slicing off the edge of Gary's elbow for no reason.

Let's see who will reside to Gary's left on this page:
Hey, just like the Gary Carter card, a nice blue sky Spring Training shot, with a classic baseball player pose you don't see too much any more. And really, you don't see completely on this card, with the cropping cutting off most of Carlos' left arm. When I worked in media, I only supplied flippant text to my editors; it was their job to attach photos to my musings, but I don't think they had much control over the contents of those photos the way imagery editors do today with modern software. Be that as it may, I'm pretty sure it would be considered bad form by anyone in the field of photographic endeavors to just randomly leave a thumb sticking out of the side of the frame.

I do like that Topps went with a near-Powder Blue for these Cards (Faux Powder Blue? I'll just call them Powder Blues for my own fun). A pity they couldn't have used images from a 21st Century go at wearing throwback Powder Blues, which the Cardinals did show off for at least one game in 2012. Anyhow, let's check out another one:
Hey, a photo from a real baseball game like the Babe Ruth card. Looks like the outfielder is going to catch that one. And once again the photo editor doesn't worry about arbitrarily slicing ballplayer parts out of the frame. Instead, the key concern is to make the player as big as possible, but not have their head peek over the top of the tombstone and disrupt that groovy lettering. That is the one rule about cropping all 50 of these cards follow precisely.

I had thought to maybe download some images from cutting-edge-as-I-type Topps sets such as the new Dynasty, Tek, or Finest releases, which are basically insert sets blown out to full checklists, but I'll save myself the trouble and you the boredom. Or I could have used any of the hundreds of thousands of autograph cards that have been released this century. On all other baseball cards beyond these lowly "base" cards, which are so base in appeal I guess, there is no room for background context of the live game of baseball. Once a card has to have room for the autograph and the $/x stamping of it's serial number and some graphical design elements, there is no longer room to see the game of baseball on a card. If an auto card included a player's legs, he would like tiny indeed off in the distance behind his looming sharpie scrawl in the foreground.

That's just the way it is, and apparently that is what collectors want. And for collectors that enjoy autograph cards and overloaded graphic design full of pink hearts, yellow moons, orange stars, and green clovers, err, uhhh, hold on, these tombstones are giving me a flashback to a cereal commercial from my youth…. at least we haven't had a baseball card with three wolves, a full moon, diving eagles, and lightning bolts on it yet. Or have we?

Anyhow, for collectors that enjoy context-less idol-worshipping baseball cards, have at it. It just wears me down to see that design philosophy pulled into the cheap baseball cards I want to collect all the time, particularly when the source image was from a live action baseball game, which could have delivered so much more to the card, and the basic frame design is so enjoyable to start with.

But Allen Craig had done scrolled off the screen there, so let's check out something else - the backs of these cards:
A nice, '72 authentic card back, with the correct orange-on-grey tints to what looks and feels like cardboard card stock, minus quite a bit of heft as compared to real 1972 cards. I must note that it is my scanner that gives these backs the greenish, lit-up tint there, sorry. 

I like it when I get the complete career stats from the stars of the past. This card now makes me want to find a card with Babe Ruth's Major League Pitching Record to complement it. That would be cool.

I like that the trivia question is included, though knowing the MVP of the 2002 World Series, is well, trivia, whether I am interested in that one or not. But the next card has a great question that bodes well for the small set:
Another perfectly executed card back from rookie call-up to sunset season back where it all began. And of course, for a long career like Ruth's or Carter's, small type is needed for such completeness. 

So what will happen when I flip over Allen Craig's card, who has had a relatively short contemporary career so far?
And this is where the Topps card-back writer was probably just texting his or her buddies all day about that new MLB .gif file that was making the rounds on social media that day.

Topps card back writers have long been inconsistent on when to include a player's MLB stats, and when to print their minor league stats along with those. Can't come up with two pithy sentences about another random Major Leaguer for the 59th time that day? Simply print his minor league stats, fill up the card back, and call it done.

And that is perfectly fine. I don't really need those two pithy sentences that are usually totally forgettable. But I might take an interest in a player's minor league stats. Is he just newly a power hitter as he has reached his late 20s, or did he show power on the way up? Speed on the bases? Strikes out too much? (Actually, collectors weren't privy to that particular info in the mid-70s).

But one thing I am not going to do is squint to read tiny type all spaced out on the card for no real reason. I suspect two different card-back writers slaved away in the card-back mines underneath, which really should make card-back authoring a piece of cake, these days. Why do I think two different individuals were involved here? Some of the other cards:
Now there is much more of an effort. Intelligent observations about the player, and stats you can actually read, in bold font and of a legible size that matches the space available. This card-back writer was doing the job the right way, not texting LOLs back and forth while simultaneously "working."

But wait, what is that trivia question there. Who was the World Series MVP in 2002? Haven't I seen that one somewhere before?


I was really looking forward to competing this set and reading all 50 trivia questions. I was going to rank the dumbest and most clever and try and have a little fun with my baseball memorabilia while I lovingly put it on display, sort of, for all eternity. I thought with those cool trivia questions in the 1972 set, these cards would be so binder-worthy each 9 of them would get their own page, so I could read the backs again some day.

Instead I will just double them up like other grade D card-back efforts, like 2011's Lineage. The repeats actually start immediately in the set, with the same exact question on card #2, and card #3, though a different little drawing to go with. Topps puts their laziness on display right away.

This BS also flows from the hit-centric and self-absorbed nature of collecting today. Topps can just copy/paste repeat material on the card backs because they know more people will be glad to have the 709th Gary Carter card in their collection than will actually assemble and peruse a whole set of these. There is no need for craftsmanship any more; baseball cards are just a chase item for grown-up guys with truly disposable income, and the cards aren't moving bubble gum any more either of course. But I really don't think Topps managers in the decades not being copied would ever have cheesed the product out this way, even in the decades when they held a monopolistic license from MLB as they once again do today.

That's one theory, along with the idea of straight laziness by those flunkies down in the cubicles of the card-back department. It all reminds me of how Lily Tomlin explained monolithic monopolies back in the 70s:
Let's hope we don't lose Peoria. But actually, Topps lost Peoria long ago, to video games, Magic, and adults constantly chasing "hits" and telling children their cheap baseball cards were laughably worthless.

So, yeah, you've read all this before probably. I didn't really expect to end up here assembling retro style cards. I wanted to enjoy a trip down memory lane with baseball trivia.

I did assemble all of the trivia questions for you, as I wanted to see just how much effort they did  put into writing for a 50 card set.

The answer is, 12:

Who was World Series MVP when the Angels won it all in 2002?

Troy Glaus.

Which team has had the most Hall of Famers?

Giants, 55

Which pitcher won a record 59 games in 1884?

Old Hoss Radbourn

How many World Series titles did Yogi Berra win?

10, a record

Who's been the only catcher since 1976 drafted #1 overall?

Joe Mauer

Which is the only team that's had 2,000 different players?

St Louis Cardinals

Who threw 8 consecutive complete games in World Series competition?

Bob Gibson

Who K'd a batter in a record first 349 career games?

Dwight Gooden

Who hit the first walk-off homer in a World Series game?

Tommy Henrich, 1949 Yankees

Who was the career pitching strikeouts leader prior to Nolan Ryan?

Steve Carlton, until 1984

Who was the first DH in a World Series game?

Dan Driessen, 1976

At what bases is a runner said to be in scoring position?

2nd and 3rd

That last one is pretty much as bad as the one I discovered on a 1989 Classic card the other day about Umpires, and goes to show just how lackadaisical this effort was, and really holds up poorly next to some great questions.

And do you think they put the Joe Mauer question on the Gary Carter card, or the Giants HoFers question on the Marco Scutaro or Angel Pagan card, or the Troy Glaus question on the Albert Pujols card, or the Yogi Berra question on the Derek Jeter card, or the 2,000 Cardinals in history question or the Bob Gibson question on any of the Cards' cards? Or even the Dwight Gooden question on the actual Dwight Gooden card?

Of course not. That wud b, lk, wrk, dood. 

Sigh. I recently learned what TL;DR means. If you don't know, you'll laugh at me when you Google it. But I am definitely off in that territory once again. I think, though, that Topps can definitely show signs of living in the TL;DR world sometimes.

So let's go back to looking at baseball cards, that's always pleasant. May I present, the 2013 Archives 1972 style Baseball Cards in all their glory:
And the Cardinals win the page with a diagonal FTW, fittingly, after taking the Series the previous October, even after the Powder Blues started off with an errant Ryan Braun there in the corner.

Favorite Card? I have to pick between Gary Carter and The Babe? We'll call it a draw.

And the Powder Blue team goes for the clinching win with a dominating diagonal, and straight-across double victory!

It almost looks like Hanley there is going to punch the photographer and has the bandage to prove his experience with the idea, until you realize it is a game action shot forced to match the Spring Training portraits. And Topps can just never decide if Mr. Morse is Mike, or Michael.

Favorite Card? I'll go thumbs up with Yoenis there in the dug-out.

Finally Sunshine Yellow ends the Powder Blue reign while stopping Neon Green's Go.

That black leather back-drop on all the Orioles cards all the time is just straight horrible. Manny also seems a little upset that he doesn't get a bat too. Tough luck, Rookie.

Favorite Card? The Zobrist is a work of art there. Great lighting and shadows and classical colors against a 51-Bowman-esque sky. Rays drawn with rays…if only we could get the right hand on to the card we'd have another all-time classic Rays card. The Topps photog always sets up that team this way, and it works.

Sunshine Yellow and Neon Green both try to get a win in this Series but just can't quite get there.

I don't know who pissed on Corey Hart's bubble-gum that day, but that card will earn itself another appearance in my binders, also quite near an amusing Wade Boggs card I'll share with you eventually. And is that a night card there in the primetime center slot? I thought Topps was determined to get rid of those cards. Is Adam Dunn trying to compensate for all the frumpiness everywhere else on this page?

Favorite Card? Still the Wade Miley. You can hear the wind in the cemetery on that one.

Pastel Orange goes for gold but our second hat-less baseball player shows it how to shine. As a member of the no-hair on middle-aged-men club, I still approve of Mariano's card there. A winning smile still wins over any crowd. And Powder Blue, it just got confused by which part was the design and which part was the image, or it could have taken another page, but it did manage to stop Sunshine Yellow there at the top. Who let the word Pastel into this set anyway? I get it Topps, I get it, especially when you hit me over the head with two cards from the same team sequentially in the checklist. Tigers are orange, yes. Not Tan. 

At this point I have to note that some might think perhaps this is an effort by Topps to match the style of the original set they are re-using, as they generally do with Heritage releases. The very-very-rare-these-days over the head pitcher's delivery pose on the Fister card might indicate that, though too much white on a baseball card is always a little frightening, and the no cap touching the frame rule just did not work out there at all. Especially at the center of this page like a white-bread vortex. Just, no. But I don't really think the editor of this set considered the actual images in the 1972 set, which had a bit more variety than torso, torso, torso.

Favorite Card? Though I think the Chris Davis card might have fallen out of a copy of Teen Beat magazine, the Starling Marte card is far more delightful. It gives me hope that I can still enjoy the game of baseball, and baseball cards, like a kid again.

On this last effort in the top of the 9th, Powder Blue sends it Sky Blue to pinch-hit but with results nowhere near as good as on the Marte card.

Miggy jogging to first base, again, wins this page all day, every day.

Well there you have it. 1972 baseball cards, manufactured in 2013. I still need a half-dozen such cards form the minis in Series 2 last year, as well as 3 of the '72 Chromes in Chrome. I'll share those Complete Sets here with you, someday.

I'm not sure we'll see any more '72 stylee cards for a while; I just hope that when a full set of them appear in 2021 Heritage, Topps puts in quite a bit more effort than they did here.

Saturday, November 22, 2014

The Siren calls, gives up Mojo

So last night I had to stop at my local K-Mart for a new winter hat to help me through the monochromatic white Autumn we are having up here. Yeah, that's the ticket. (I drove through my first snowstorm on Halloween, actually).

Anyhow the original Blue Light store is one of only two outlets for Topps products in my town; Dollar Tree being the other one. Lately the big K has been rather erratic at stocking new baseball cards, but I had that urge to rip just a sample pack of Update. Yeah, just one. No, really.

I also had this odd feeling that maybe their card-distributor-rack-jobber-must-be-a-kinda-sweet-job-to-have person might have brought over some discounted blasters from some other store where neglected baseball cards just sat around not enticing the disinterested customers for too long.

And there it was:

Is there anything that catches the eye of today's baseball card consumer better than that red sticker? Once the blaster gets that cheap … My name is Brian, and I am … all about baseball cards sometimes.

Oh sure, I can get on my high horse and explain my pure wisdom of not ripping new product any more. But old product doesn't count. So why was I hoping to find a little Update? Samples don't count either. 

This was on a blaster of 2013 Archives. I had some pretty good Mojo with those when they were hot off the presses, and I wrote up one of my longest blog stories connecting it to that Mojo. Not coincidentally I had just been pondering 1985 Topps due to selecting a card from it as the lead-off card for a repack purchase. (Just hit Older Post down at the bottom if you missed that one, my previous post). 

Also, I needed just one of the '72 style cards to Complete the Set after some good trades, and there are two Short Prints I desire just because of the base design used - 1975, and a few others just because of the image, like the Tom Brunansky. I had my baseball-cards-on-sale-Mojo working before I even walked in the store thinking "cheap blaster," so, yeah, I pulled the $12 trigger.

Let's rip the first pack:
The last card I needed to Complete That Set! Basically-cheap card Mojo is still Mojo. If I had purchased loose packs, I could have just taken the rest back to the store right then and there. But you can't take back blaster packs, fortunately.

Don't you hate it, though, when at any point in the last 2 years, the last card you needed for a full set or an insert set was the Jeter? I have pulled his memorabilia items from every random baseball memorabilia package I purchase, but can never get his cards in the sets I actually complete. (Anyone want his Qubi stamper? A deckle-edge? Several different blaster manu-patches (eww, I hate that word), a Chip?).

I like Derek Jeter and I usually like his cards. But I suspect this won't be the last time I need a DJ to get it done.

That left 7 & 7/8 packs to go through. There should be some more cards I like in there somewhere:
1985 Mojo! Of course, there was a 25% chance that each card had 1985 Mojo, but that didn't slow me down. I was happy to see this card when I first pulled it and set it aside to share with y'all. But as today has gone by I've grown very disenchanted with this card. I realized I was just reacting to the sharp yellow-on-blue ROYALS design, I like that. But this blaster has me putting 2013 Archives away finally, with cards going into binders and dupes going into the ever-heavier goodbye box that I have to figure out what to do with. Which all means I will have two more blog posts on this set to wrap it all up.

And though I needed few of the cards as I opened the packs, I also enjoy and want doubles of some of the cards:
This is one of my favorite Miggy cards. It's just a plain torso crop-down from a game action shot, but it's a happy card. It will look nice on the Miguel Cabrera binder pages with the other Miggys, and in the 1972 binder pages from this set.

Most of this set used images from the Topps photographer's annual visit to Spring Training, so many of the images can be repeats from Heritage or Series One/Series Two or all the other Topps products. But many of those Spring Training photos bring back fond memories of vintage baseball cards of my youth, because of the ever-photogenic sky in the background. So I was also happy to pull this duplicate for a certain binder page:
The ultimate Sunset Card? Well, a contender at least. I'm not totally convinced that isn't a lurking Eye of Sauron down there in the corner though.

Typing of nice cloud shots and Spring Training, I'll note you'll see a few more nice ones from the '72~2013 set when I take a look at the whole thing in an upcoming blog post, but in the meantime I'll scan a card I pulled previously that I have been waiting to work into a post:
That card pretty much hits all my Spring Training buttons - Clouds, Palm Trees, and a Light-Tower that could even be called a Lurking Light-Tower. 

I did pull a new card here and there:
Ahhh, no, I won't be collecting these. This card is as bad as the David Ortiz card I posted the first time I bought blasters from this product. I do like the 1990 design; I just hate the execution.  And I must admit that for some reason the scanner made this card look much worse than in-hand, but in-hand it is still a mess of pointlessly assembled colors.

I will say this about the 1990 cards - a stack of them is pleasingly colorful on the edge. But my life is a little too cluttered already to keep a stack of baseball cards just because I like how the edge looks.

Topps used the same border for each card from the same team in this 50 card portion of the checklist, and there are a few they did a decent job on:
That just leaves the Hockey Sticks. I pulled a double I did enjoy the first time, but didn't post:
If I were to put together a binder page of Cheshire Cat cards, this would make that page, but I can't think of another card with such a sly grin on it. I don't think it would all fit with baseball. If you like the idea of Cheshire Cat imagery, I can tell you I recently discovered the early 20th century work of Louis Wain; that would make for some fun art cards.

Joe Morgan is about as popular these days as Kirk Gibson, but I do like his baseball cards. Baseball cards don't say anything.

With 1982 Topps, I don't get too concerned about whether the hockey sticks have any relation to the team's colors. And I have my doubts whether Topps would either. Thus, the Mariners get the classic blue-and-orange of the Mets, but the Diamondbacks inexplicably get a nice set of red-and-black sticks. I'll leave those cards for you to ponder from some cheap Archives packs you can find for sale cheap somewhere, some day.

The Hockey Stick cards and the Archives product do make me wish Topps still had a license for Hockey. 'cuz the obvious thing to do now would be to release a set of Hockey cards using the 1982 Topps baseball design.

Well I did mention I am putting the final touches on my collection of this set. Aside from binding up the 72 style set, I decided to keep just 3 examples of the other 3 styles in the binder:

I suspect if any truly modern collectors ever wander into this blog about generally worthless baseball cards, they are starting to get a little itchy by now. They can remind me of some other subculture sometimes, with their fascination with the hits, man, the hits. 'sssst, did you get any hits?

Every blaster of Archives has "hits" in it, though if any word has a flexible definition, it would be that one. And this blaster was no exception:
More the-card-I-was-hoping-for Mojo! 1975!

It's always a treat to pull a 1975 baseball card from a pack. Always. Of course, it will be a good ten years before that glorious day when Topps prints a whole set of 1975 style cards again in Heritage. What a day that will be. Does it really have to be ten years? Of course before then I will get a whole new set of 1972 to enjoy, and a barrel of laughs listening to people complain about black border 1971 style cards, and even a rather enjoyable look at '73 and '74. Do we really have to sit through '67~70 along the way?

Ahh well, if Christmas came every month it would be as boring as all those Bowman sets that come out these days. I sure do love that Lynn card though. Especially since for his fabulous rookie season in 1975, he had the classical Rookie Card shared with other players.

This is actually the second time Topps has made a 1975 style Fred Lynn card all of his own; there is also one in the massively printed K-Mart 20th Anniversary set from 1982, which, come to think of it, I purchased at the very same K-Mart where I picked up this Fred Lynn, though that only cost me a dime - for the whole set! The '82 K-Mart is a neat card in it's own right (I always like Topps' random attempts to make new-old cards before the concept of "retro" sets came along), but that '82 doesn't have a true 1975 style card-back. So I was eagerly anticipating seeing this:
And, FAIL. It's totally white! All wrong. I can get past the thin card-stock of these retro cards. They are just going to be in a binder page for me to enjoy in the long run, though I do much prefer the tactile experience of sorting Heritage cards due to the authentic card stock.

And actually that is a very nice, very faithful card back with a very nice trivia cartoon and a great write-up about Lynn as if it really was 1975 when I pulled this. Quite well done.

The white though - one reason this disappoints so much is that the 1972 cards have accurate grey backs (I'll have some scans of those in a post quite soon, though they have other issues as you'll see); the other 3 retro style card-backs are accurate in that regard as well.

So close, Topps, so close. I made a nice trade last year with Fuji  in which I gave up the Denny McLain on-card autograph I pulled to help Fuji complete that set and I will have to continue my quest for a single Tiger's on-card autograph elsewhere, but then I never did like 1968 cards or Denny McLain. Anyway for that I picked up the Al Hrabosky Fan Favorite Autograph which is also done in the 1975 style, but my own stash of hits seems to be hiding in an undisclosed remote location right now and I can't scan that one for you. Only collectors lose cards. So now I just need the John Mayberry short-print from this set and my 1975 jones will be a little more sated, for a time.

I also hope to find the Tom Brunansky short-print, because it is every bit as great as this awesome Night Card:
Which I have posted before, but it is definitely one of my favorite cards of 2013 that doesn't have a Sea Turtle looking design on the front. So, what the hey, you pull doubles from packs, baseball card blogs can post doubles too.

I did pull one other short-print:
A card I quite like from a set design I quite like. After the debacle of the 1990 style cards, we get an understated design in matching team colors. Well done, Topps. But I can't for the life of me figure out why Keith Miller is a "Fan Favorite." I guess any brief glimmer of hope from a Rookie with a high batting average in a half season's worth of games is enough to get Mets fans excited, and I've always suspected that Topps is chock full of Mets sleeper agents. Which is OK with me, because classic Mets orange-and-blue always makes for nice baseball cards like this one. I think I'll keep it, and keep one less of those goofy 1990 style cards on that page up there.

Of course, there are lots of little insert sets in Archives, and if you consider those cards "hits," I certainly squared-up the bat and connected on this one, in the minds of most collectors today:
Bryce Harper cards make me laugh, because if I had enough free time on my hands and computer software skills to do it, I would use my baseball cards to run a contest to see which baseball player puts the most square centimeters of eye-black on their face. I think I know who will be the odds-on favorite.

If I keep this card, it will be because of the back:
Collecting cards in Michigan we always suspected Topps did not like the Tigers for some reason, and the Night Owl figured out one source of our suspicion recently. But though McLain has somewhat earned some kidding about choices in life, I am quite amused to see this printed on the back of a baseball card. Imagine the scandal today if some All-Star starter who makes in the high four figures for each pitch he throws in the regular season were to show up late for the All-Star game!

This quickly led me to scramble to my other pulls from this insert set, which led me to this card:
Imagine that - a starter in the All-Star game still playing in the 8th inning. And a Babe Ruth story on a baseball card. I do like the modern All-Star game quite a bit, with something on the line in the game. I can't agree with all the baseball fans who complain about that and just can't understand the criticism. It is a real game between the game's biggest players. Would they rather go back to the year the game was just called a Draw due to general disinterest? I actually would like to see the starters play most of the game, Babe Ruth style, though he was just playing to entertain the fans, but seemingly playing hard.

I should have saved those two cards to post next summer, but they were just too good to wait that long. I briefly considered starting up a chase of this small insert set to find some more Great All•Star Moments, but the other one I pulled yesterday, Giancarlo Stanton, has a ho-hum game write-up (and is the third copy I have pulled from minimal purchases of this product), as does the Jim Rice I pulled. I still want to see the Fred Lynn edition because I will probably start keeping a small Fred Lynn collection, which will be nice and simple because he doesn't get a flood of new cards all the time in modern sets.

The '33 Comiskey story came from the back of a great card, matched to a player who called Comiskey home for a while:
Nice In Action shot of Fisk that still manages to convey action after being zoomed in like all the other nearly all-torso shots in this set. One of the All-Time leaders in getting great baseball cards from Topps.

I wish I could remember which blog I traded for that nice card for a proper shout-out. I am due for a really good trade post to show you some great cards. It might get posted almost on the anniversary of receiving those cards.

The Archives product generally has all sorts of fun inserts, and I pulled several, such as a Jered Weaver Dual Fan Favorites that is just not a favorite of mine. Weaver never gets good baseball cards from Topps, but I'm OK with that. I also got a Dave Stewart "Tall Boy" - yawn. But I did like this insert last year:

And I found this one binder-worthy. I would find it a little odd to put a four-way sticker "card" on a binder page, but that's not where this is going. Willie McCovey there will be gracing the cover of one of my binders. I've always liked his baseball picture products whenever I find them.

I don't have much of an opinion on those other Giants as I know or care very little about their fortunes in the 80s and 90s (fan in the 70s, a topic to share some day), and Buster Posey is great, but, ahh, if you'd like to stick those stickers on something, you can have them, just drop me a note. I doubt very many collectors will want a sticker "card" ruined by sticking one of the stickers on something.

So it's past nighty-night time, but a nice night it was, putting a set of baseball cards to bed.

Monday, November 17, 2014

Wanna Rip Some Packs?

Of course you do. You wouldn't have clicked the link to this if you didn't.

I wanna rip some packs. But I have come to the sad conclusion that I'm just shooting myself straight in the wallet when I do it. Baseball card depreciation is worse than new car depreciation, or electronic gadget depreciation.

And I'm not sad about the _value_ of the cards I rip. I could really care less what the cards I own are worth. Seriously. I enjoy them, or I wouldn't keep them. If a major warehouse find of cards from any set I have collected or am collecting was found which then made the cards I own now worth 10% of what they were the day before, I wouldn't care in the slightest. A lot of collectors, though, would throw up their hands in disgust and quit the hobby completely if that happened to them. And it would be Oh, The Humanity for weeks and weeks on the Internet if that were to happen. I would probably have to retreat to trout fishing, and flipping through binders full of worthless base baseball cards.

The problem with ripping cards today is that you can buy the same card, out of the pack, for 25% or possibly less of the pack price - and without any duplicates as when you rip your way through your cash.

Sadly, ripping just no longer makes any sense. I won't beat the dead horse any more, I think everyone understands all this.

That's why I'm happy I've grown to enjoy ripping re-pack products. Because I still enjoy the anticipation of not knowing what baseball card I'm going to find in that pack. I'm not sure I would have come to enjoy repacks so much, if I hadn't discovered baseball card blogs. I had never considered the idea of collecting the cards based on what's in the picture on the card. Simply collecting Turning Two cards, from any set, any manufacturer, any year? Brilliant. I am so slow sometimes…. thank y'all!

Ok, let's rip a pack:
SUNDAY! SUNDAY! This 4th of July weekend don't miss this one! Special Bar-Bee-Que Twinkie Cook-Off in the Parking lot! It's the world famous Monster Truck Rally you've been waiting for!

errr, wait, that's just what I hear in my head when when I read ULTIMATE Super JUMBO PACK. I love over the top advertising. And no, I didn't make up the part about the B-B-Q Twinkies. You can look that up on the Internet, which is where I looked it up from.

I thought to title this post Window Shopping #3, but I'll save the roll-out of the new web series for the final re-pack product I can share with you some other time.

I do like these Ultimate Super Jumbo Packs. You'll see one of these again some day too, which has one of the most iconic baseball cards of all time, really, no kidding at all - you'll see. It was so cool to see that it will lead me to a whole new collecting project.

Which this pack might as well. Because I window shopped for that sweet red, white, and blue baseball card there on the front, because I always like red, white, and blue baseball cards, perhaps a little bit extra when they feature a team that has only two of those colors on the national flag over the stadium:
Because when I see 1985 Topps cards on blog posts, I start to like them a little bit more each time. I would like to pick up a "vending box" of the things (no ripping with those however, but I was always in awe of the idea of them as a kid). By 1985 though, I was slowing way down on baseball cards, and I have perhaps just a few packs of them, somewhere. I think. Maybe. But now I have at least one more than I did before! Thanks ULTIMATE Super JUMBO PACK.

But Doug Flynn? Dunno, I'm not totally sure that isn't Ian Kinsler shipped back through some sort of 3D Printing Powder Blue Time Machine. I like that Topps went with powder blue ink on this card. The back is a sentimental one as well, wherein Topps informs us that "Doug and his wife were introduced by Pete Rose." Awww, gee, Topps, so sweet.

Let's see what's behind the window card:
And the air starts leaving the balloon quick in this pack. '89 Bowman, whoo-boy.  Maybe these days with the 6 divisions in baseball where you barely know the players in the other 5 divisions any more (one key reason why I still buy new baseball cards), it would be a little interesting to see a player's stats against a division rival. But in 1989? Zzzzzzzzzz.

Once again I like that this particular re-packer puts the cards in the pack backwards sometimes. Because, Yes, I Read the Backs, though I gotta tell ya, I'm taking one for the team sometimes doing that, particularly this year. I never do know what I'll find on the backs, but let's flip this one over:
Well whaddya know, the first 1989 Bowman I wanna keep. I like Kirk Gibson, even if most of the rest of the MLB world does not. I'm from Michigan, and so is Kirk. Kirk plants a lot of trees, and so do I. Kirk is known here in northern Michigan for having a nice hunting spread over in the north-east top corner of the lower peninsula, and he has been on Michigan hunting and fishing TV shows several times as a result. I am sure he is there right now, having a good time with old friends and trying to forget about baseball and how and whether he can somehow return to The Game; it is easy to forget your troubles out at Deer Camp.

I like that Kirk wears #23, which is my birthday. I like On-Deck cards. I like that Pine Tar is featured on this baseball card.

But I will not be collecting 1989 Bowman any time soon, or ever. No matter how many get put into my re-packs, which is usually several, from some re-packers (4 of 30 cards in this one). For the final re-packer we will visit some future evening, those won't fit in their "pack", which is a good thing.

Let's see what else ULTIMATE Super JUMBO PACK has for me:
I'm sure now you are just looking around on the blogroll for something else to click on. But I admire 1992 card backs. Clean. White. Easy to read. Design recalls the front:
And I'm starting to think a few carefully targeted pages of 1992 Topps would look good in a binder. What are these repacks doing to me? I loved 1991 Topps but for whatever reason 1992 didn't grab me when I ripped a sample pack back in that day. At least it will be cheap to indulge in them a little more some day. But this is a dangerous precedent…
GAH! 1987 Topps! Wood paneling invading my computer. What is going on? This repack was loaded with the things actually - 10 of 30 cards were 1987 Topps. And here I had to discover a new strange meme to collect on a 1987 Topps, which would be a top contender on my Least Favorite Sets of All-Time list, were I ever to publish one by being stuck on a desert island with a complete collection of baseball cards and an Internet connection to blog about them all, finally.

And what wacko new meme is that? How many baseball cards feature a baseball bat suspended in mid-air, untouched by human hands? That will be a fun collection to chase, 3.33¢ per lottery ticket in these one dollar repacks. But why did it have to kick off with a 1987 Topps? That card will sure be lonely on a binder page for a long time to come. And it will be a 1987 Topps! Yuck! This hobby really is full of crazy people, isn't it?

At least I'm not being led down the path to collecting these:
I might have started to do that when I was a kid, but my allegiance to Topps was strong, and I hadn't finished 1981 Donruss (stay tuned), and on a kid budget I had to keep my priorities straight. I think before I ever had to worry about what to do with a couple packs of 1982 Donruss, these came along:
This is commented on plenty via blogs I'm sure. But until you see the two designs adjacent to each other, you forget about just how lame this was. My kid instincts were correct, and the repack shows off baseball card history well. Goodbye, Donruss.

Vern Ruhle though? He will always give me flashbacks to a Topps set a few years previous. By this point in collecting, I earned enough spare change from odd jobs in the neighborhood to really buy up some packs of baseball cards, and knew several other almost-teens who could as well. We could complete sets! But as it was turning out that year, Vern was a tough pull, and one other card was as well (I wish I could remember which). A whole bunch of us needed the same two cards. We could all buy packs, but no one in my town could pull those two cards. Pack buying became pointless. Hmmm, kinda like the intro theme to tonight's post. Anyhow, someone figured out that if you stretched the wax on the back of the pack, you could read the name of the card on top. And then shortly, every box of baseball cards in town was "pack searched" for those two cards. 

Ahh, memories. That is a big part of collecting these worthless baseball cards. Like this one:
What a card! I loved that set. I'll make it through the pile of blog-about cards eventually and reach the pile of blog-about boxes some day.

The runner looks like he absolutely demolished himself, but he's SAFE! I'm a little tempted to use modern research sites to sort out this example of an only occasional baseball card meme shown on Cardboard Junkie, err, Card Junk, the other day - a multi-position player. Topps never does that any more.

Fortunately, Topps never does this anymore either:
Looking back at the sets of my childhood, I hate the blurry cards. And in 1980s baseball cards, there are still plenty of them. And it always seems like there are more in the 1980s than the 1970s. What's up with that? Sometimes I wonder if these tend to have lower populations of high grades from the grading company, as the grader presumes a more focused copy could, or should exist. Some day I'll poke around on that idea.

But that LaRoche card will be going in a binder page slot, because I like cards with interesting trees on them. Particularly the blurriest trees ever, probably.

That card immediately brought to mind one of my Sea Turtles:
And no, I didn't hit a father-son combo in a repack, though that is a definite possibility with these two chips off the same block, as the repackers already use Sea Turtles to bulk up their product, frequently as the marquee card in the window on the top of the pack.

I probably shop via the window card with the hope that there is more of where that came from, and in this pack, there was:
The repack comes through again, reminding why I'm not in a hurry to fiddle around with 85 Topps. Dark-blue-on-powder-blue, with a player in a blue uniform in front of a blue dug-out full of powder blued up baseball players. Not well played, Topps. It could be that the blue just overwhelmed the registration of the red colors on this card and we get a pink Brave instead, and by the time your eyes attempt to reach safety at the bottom of the card, all the blue everywhere seems to have migrated towards purple and away from the probably-supposed-to-match color of the B-R-A-V-E-S lettering. What a mess of a card; not even the red, white & blue belt can save this one. 85 Topps just moved down the To Collect list a little bit.

This repack packer certainly had a lot of Topps at hand that day, with just a few examples from the other manufacturers. Topps wasn't the only one who could punt on good color choices on baseball cards:
And few sets get it more wrong than 1990 Score. Green, Yellow, Blue, White, Phillies 'red' - am I looking at a bowl of Lucky Charms? Nice powder blue touch there on the logo though. 1990 was a bad year for colorful baseball cards. But in another repack I picked up this year, 1990 Score hit a home run with a colorful card. I'll get to that box of repacked baseball cards, some day.

But I'm always interested in the manufacturers I never even bought a pack of baseball cards from, ever:
That's a 1989 Classic, with a handy feature on the back - space for the player to autograph the card. I have to wonder how many 'graph seekers took advantage of that. What a dilemma. To look at your cool autograph that proves a famous baseball player touched this baseball card, you would have to flip it over. Should I deface this valuable baseball card and have him sign the front? But who wants to check out a signature on the back of a card? What do I do here?

Buy some other manufacturer's baseball cards, most likely. Especially when a card-back writer is so hard up for material he includes this as a trivia question: "How many umpires are used in a regular season game?" I think even six year olds would have had their intelligence insulted by that one. You aren't missing much on the front of this one, either.

Nevertheless I frequently do admire non-Topps card backs:
Yes! The obvious question you wonder about when the back of the card says the player reached his new team via trade. For Who? For crying out loud, Topps, hook me up with this already. The new printing presses and their ability to print micro-type full of useless Rookie Facts makes this a no-brainer. Who'd the other guys get for this guy? Do you want me to put down my baseball cards and just ask Baseball Reference or Wikipedia? Siri will answer the question pretty fast these days, Topps.

Donruss had it right all along. Though now I have to wonder if the new un-licensed "Donruss" cards still do this. I'm sure a repack of some sort will answer that question for me soon.

That one had a kind-of cool front, with a nice batting cage shot. I'm just not a fan of posed batting shots with no batting helmet. Details, details.

Which you usually can't see on these never-seen-these-days baseball cards:
Bleeding powder blue on this one. A pity digital zoom technology wasn't available to Topps back then to see this much powder blue in up-close glory.

That's the last card I have for you tonight; I didn't really include it for the not-quite-digging-that-one image on the front. But I was tickled to find this card in my repack, because I could see that 24 years ago, it belonged to a real baseball card collector:

Just like me.