Thursday, September 12, 2013

5 Cards challenge

Well hello there, I sure have missed y'all. I'll just say that self-employment and blogging can be very mutually exclusive at times. I love to write, which you may have noticed, but I would write quite a bit more if I had a nice regularly scheduled work week.

I do have quite a number of posts figured out, but I also have a long stretch in nearly-no-baseball-access land coming up too. I am hoping Bob Uecker's broadcasts will come in at least, I think they might, and there is a cheap casino just down the road a piece. But I won't be around all that much until Update comes out, then I should be at home some, I hope.

In other blog news, I wish to note that I love it when I find out I am wrong about a baseball card. A part of the reasons I write about any card is an attempt to find out if I am really seeing what I think I am seeing on that card, or if the goofiness is taking over again. So you might want to check out how my previous blog post over a week ago actually turned out.

For tonight though I have plenty on the to-do list (such as packaging one trade and typing out details on another, hang in there), so I'm going with a trick I will probably try more often going forward. The first time I tried this it eventually led to a very long post on photo composition. Oops.

The idea is to pick the smallest possible pack of cards, and blog about one of the contents. How small do packs of the Topps Base Set get? This small:

Yep, that really says "5" there in the crinkle. Where does a 5 card pack come from? The Dollar Store, it turns out. So the cherished image of little Johnny saving his nickels dimes and quarters for taking old Mrs. Smith's garbage cans out to the curb and back and saving up for a pack of baseball cards is still alive, I guess.

I'm actually somewhat seriously considering buying my set this way next year. I was stupid enough to look at the sell sheet for 2014 Topps, a set I already know I will call the "Half Bowman," and I'm just not that excited about it. The inserts just don't appeal to me that much, and I don't see enough color synergy possibilities in the design to get very excited about the parallels. There is some sort of big Rookie theme across the whole if we don't have enough baseball cards of kids not old enough to legally drink yet. That's not a clown comment, bro, that's an all too sober reality. So it might likely be pretty much a Heritage year for me next year.

But I can't really pass on a Base Set of Topps cards. Heritage will never have enough random baseball photos of random utility players to feed my jones. So the question becomes ... how to get those base cards? I like ripping packs, so perhaps a whole bunch of these 5-cards-for-a-buck packs are in my future. But the actual wholesale price of your Topps base showcase, contestant, is actually just 4¢ a card. That's right. If you go out to purchase base cards on the secondary market they run just about 4 shiny Lincolns each when purchased in bulk. That ripping jones is actually pretty expensive.

But all that's next year. It's just silly to know what next year's baseball cards will look like before the playoffs even start, fer-cryin'-out-loud. I'm going to try much harder to never peek at future sell sheets.

I do hope the 2014 wrapper is at least as good as this year's wrapper. I like that the Sea Turtle appears on most of the packaging this year. And I am a sucker for that classic MLB logo on anything. I do sometimes wonder which came first, MLB or the similar one for the NBA? Dunno.

And I have to wonder what is the deal with the Eye Black on the young stars; they sure seem to lay it on a bit thick. But now I'm wandering off into a future topic, and I've already blown the time budget for tonight. And aren't baseball card blogs supposed to be about looking at baseball cards?

So the winner of tonight's 5 card challenge is....Alexei Ramirez:

Tell Alexei what he wins there, Bob. Well Base Set, Alexei didn't manage to escape his fate at either the the traditional no-waiver Trade Deadline or the clear-waivers Playoff Roster deadline, so he seems doomed to be a solid middle infielder on a rebuilding team with a young manager for however long it takes for his contract to run out with hopes the eventual post-Jeter circus might still be in swing, so he wins absolutely nothing. He can have a big pile of duplicate Topps base cards if he would like I guess.

At least Topps handed him a good card this year. Though he is a very good top-of-the-order batter, Topps shows him fielding, in line with their themes for each position. As if they are saying, nope, we don't need to put the player's position on the front of the card, we'll demonstrate it for you in the picture and show slugger Clint Barmes batting instead.

And a good picture it is. I almost always like a horizontal card. There is one in Series 2 that is just stupid, but I didn't pull it in this pack so you'll have to find that one on your own time.

It seems the 5 card challenge does lead to a card with great lines. I'm already looking forward to ripping my next pack. I think I'll take it on the road with me and do a little mobile blogging. The idea of way over-paying for base cards with these dollar packs might be growing on me....

Here we have several examples of lines going from bottom right to top left, from the pinstripes on Ramirez' uniform to Joe Mauer's fingers. They are nicely complemented by just a small amount of not-quite-opposite, more-vertical lines. But the predominant flow of the lines lead straight to a baseball. On a baseball card. I always like seeing a baseball on my baseball card. Nice pick, Topps.

I also like Alexei's 21st century shades, and that little smirk on his face as if he is sayin' yep, All-American pretty-boy perfect baseball player Joe Mauer, you be Out! Not gloating, just a sly little smirk.  And now I'm gonna throw out that slow Willingham dude too! Ha!

The only downfall to this card is the same problem the White Sox always have, save when they bust out some special colorful uniform on special uniform day: monochrome. The Sox are the one team that just don't fare too well in the base Sea Turtle design. (They do pop very, very well in any parallel you wish however). You probably can't see it in the scan, but this card suffers even more as the Topps printer shorted the turtle of the right amount of ink and the Turtle's racing stripes are kinda washed out. Like how most Chicago fans are probably feeling by now.

What else did I pull? Not much to write out to the blogosphere about. 3 more torso cards (zzzzz), one of them Photoshopped (Torii Hunter - that certain shinyness to the cut/pasted uni from some night dome game they use every time always gives it away). Yet more proof that however much I admire the various set blogs and the 2013 Sea Turtle set, I just don't think I could ever pull off writing about all 990 of them with 600 torso shots along the way. Colorful turtles and logos can only get me so far.

Also another turning-two card, of Brandon Phillips and a camouflaged Padre. A nice enough card with Phillips' hat looking like it is a beer can that needs to be opened. I would be too tempted to crack that head open in a blog post, so I'll leave that one be.

So there you have it, another baseball card for another night in the 2013 baseball season. The teams keep on setting lines like a heartbeat on one of those heart machines at the hospital as they win and lose and race towards playoff eligibility. While they do it, I just hope to find the time to follow the lines on their baseball cards.

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