Saturday, January 17, 2015

Phoning It In #4

I started to like an insert set this year; this surprised me quite a bit.

I mentioned it when I pulled the first card, featuring Gregory Polanco. There was a certain painterly effect to the image on the card.

Everything gets all soft and fuzzy, rather than harshly pixelated. Almost like the card is hand-colored.

I also liked the neat things I found on some of the cards, such as the guy in the crowd on that card, taking a cell-phone picture of the photographer.

Or this card, that I will be keeping in a mini-collection:
I like cards that reveal that the player wears a Cross. I'm not particularly religious in that I don't go to Church, but I remember and use the things I learned there when I was younger, and I like that Topps now uses images that reveal a player's Faith. I think this is about the 5th such card that I have found.

And in general, I just like the total image result:
Even when there isn't a blurry crowd painted in behind the player by the digital effect selected at Topps HQ. The player image is still soft, and somehow more likable and humanizing.

There are 30 of these cards I thought, 3 cards for each of ten players, though not in every case. Leave it to Topps to mess up a simple format and cause OCD itch in their customers (something I always like, actually). And it turns out there are in total 90 of them, as these appeared in Series 1, Series 2, and Update. I think I would have liked them more if each player got one card in each Series, as the year went along.

It wasn't until I bought the Hobby Box of Update and had a bunch of these that I started to appreciate them. I didn't rip a lot of regular Topps in 2014.

I even thought, hmm, inserts from S1/S2/Update are pretty easy to come by. Maybe I'll go for a set of these and enjoy a few binder pages of them in the future.

Then I realized I had the "complete set" of one of the players - Gregory Polanco. I noted how the text on the backs of many of these is so rather pointless when I bought my first pack of Update this year. Err, last year. A big highlight in a single-A game. Really?

But I won't be worrying about the filler type card back texts on these, and that's not because I decided to keep them doubled up in the binder pages, a decision I make on a checklist-by-checklist basis.

Looking at the Polanco cards all together, I started thinking...
...I think I saw that same basic pose before. In this very same checklist even, of this very same player.

At least the third of these cards was different.
And there's one of those nifty Camo logos Topps seems to ever more love to use on their baseball cards. But I started thinking, I've seen another card just recently with the Pirates black uniform and the Camo-block-P:

And out the window went the idea of building 90 of these cards. I'm not sure I've noticed Topps repeating images right inside the same Master Checklist of a single product release before.

Whenever I win the lottery of Free Time to sort all my baseball cards, these inserts will be reduced to my favorite 9 on a single page, rather than 90.

I still like the fronts. It could have been a contender.

Tuesday, January 13, 2015

A One and Done

Well you don't see cards like this one much any more...
Another Topps RC of some player you've never heard of, in the Update set? Yeah, yeah, I know, you see those all the time.

But seriously, unless you are pretty deep into following the Yankees, or possibly the Brewers, I'd be willing to wager you've never heard of Zelous Wheeler.

And that is probably true even if you were a dedicated prospector who has complete sets of every Bowman product line going back to 2007, when Wheeler was drafted in the 19th round by the Brewers.

Because ole 'Zel has never had a baseball card before. But then, hitting a Home Run in your second ever MLB At Bat can probably get you one.

Unfortunately, despite those two truly illustrious accomplishments - I mean really, don't YOU truly wish you had hit a Home Run in the Major Leagues and had your very own authentic Topps baseball card? - Wheeler went on to hit just .193 across 57 At Bats for the Yankees over the second half of the season.

And none of this even makes for all that interesting of a baseball card, I know. Although becoming one of the only 750 people on an MLB 25 man roster on any given day of the season is truly an achievement in life, I'm not that into the Yankees or the trivia answers about their ever more cursed corner position lately to like this card as much as I now do. Though I also like looking at it and thinking the guy straight up looks like a linebacker in football and having the back of the card confirm that to be true for me.

But I like it the most because there will probably never be another Zelous Wheeler baseball card. A true One and Done.

Perhaps one might fall out of a bag of potato chips somewhere in Japan next season, because that's where Wheeler will be playing as his contract was somehow sold by the Yankees to the Japanese team. (I have no idea how that process still works in the game - sounds so 1950s). I wouldn't count that one as a Two and Done though.

I never thought I would find another One and Done card in a pack of Topps baseball cards, when for so many players these days, an actual baseball card of them actually playing Major League Baseball is almost an after-thought for many collectors, and a player generally has quite an oeuvre of cards by the time they see their first day in The Show. Sometimes I wonder if there are collectors who don't even own any true MLB cards and I realize, yes, there probably is.

There is one other very intriguing element to this card though:
I really can't find any reference to the Yankees appearing with a gold logo this year. I would have though UniWatch would be on the case here. Topps got this image from MLB I think, or MLB purchased it from the same photographer or agency that Topps did; here is his MLB bio pic:
Though I had hoped to keep this post all thematically correct with just one image, I had to share this odd NY logo with you.

Along the way of figuring out just who this player is (was), I also ran across this odd fact - did you know that Topps issued a baseball card for Mario Cuomo? That's a link to a blog post on that, if you can't quite see the hyperlink color there.

So there goes the theme again - two subjects in one post. Ahh well, that's what happens when you stare at baseball cards too long.