Friday, March 1, 2019

Sure, I'll Scratch One

Interesting baseball card day today, as you can see. I have no plans to assemble much 2019 Heritage, but I wanted to try my luck at pulling the fun new Pat Neshek card, and maybe some NLCS cards, and, yeah, I would like to flip through one of those 1970 Topps Player Story Booklets.

I have been wondering which exact kinds of "packs" they would be in, as Topps promo materials promised. My first thought would be classic 'loose' packs, that are a bit of a tough retail find for Heritage, usually seen only at Target. But those would probably make for incredibly obvious packs to purchase.

So today on the shelf I found the above "hanger box" of 35 cards for $11. And it promised I could "look for" one of those Story Booklets. The $22 blaster box did not.

The $6 "rack pack" also promised to possibly include the Story Booklets. But I quickly discerned that every one of those on the peg had the front cards oddly pushed up quite high into the packaging - someone else had already searched for one with a Booklet. It seems even in my little burg of 8,000 souls, there is one pack searcher at least.

And thus I set aside my original plan of picking up just one $6 pack to try my luck at hitting one of the Story Booklets in an un-searchable hanger box. Turns out, the odds on that were 1-in-297.

I have had a pair of moderately good minor hits in Series One, so I can't complain that the hanger box I selected was one of the 296 without a Story Booklet.

But it did have 35 other brand new 2019 Topps Heritage cards. Let's take a look:
First card, best card? No, not really. I like this card well enough. I like how some of the netting at the spring training complex there make it almost seems like there is a mountain off in the Florida distance.

And this is a classic baseball card pose. I just wish all the details on the baseball could have been in focus, too.

One thing I don't understand about 1970 cards is when there will be a | horizontal line between the player name and the position, and when there won't be...
This card really intrigues me. I now wish I had some Blue Jays Heritage cards to compare it to, as on Photo Day 2018, Josh Donaldson would have had his official Topps portrait taken at Toronto's spring complex.

But this does look a heck of a lot like it was taken in the same spot as the Biddle card. Let me see if I can get them to display side-by-side. Blogger is not always as agreeable as it might look, later on -
Sometimes, neither is my scanner, which knocked Donaldson off-kilter a little, it appears. Sorry, Josh.

But that sure looks like the exact same vantage point for the photographer, to me.

The reason this particularly intrigues me has to do with Josh Donaldson himself - he is a big fan of baseball cards, and has been on Topps / MLB Network webcasts / cable programming, hanging out in that weird glass on-the-street studio bubble MLB Network had for a while in NYC somewhere, ripping packs of Topps and talking cards. I haven't watched one of those all the way through, but now I sure want to.

Donaldson signed with the Braves on November 27, 2018 - and he is from Florida. Was he enough "in to" the creation of this card that he hoofed it on down to the Braves spring training facility to pose for an authentic baseball card picture in an authentic Braves uniform, taken from the authentic Atlanta Braves™ Photo Day Baseball Card Vantage Point, to be used on all authentic Topps Baseball cards? All in time for Topps to use the photo in these brand new Heritage baseball cards?

It is possible.

Or, Topps could also now be photoshopping both new uniforms _and_ matching backgrounds onto the cards, so all the players on a team can be seen standing in the exact same spot on their Heritage baseball card, season after season after season - even the players who weren't able to stand on that exact same spot on Photo Day the previous season, because they were on another team at that time.

Be that as it may, I did not find any other Braves cards to compare - but I have seen my share of such cards in Heritage and Archives throughout this entire decade, so I am pretty darn familiar with that particular vantage point already, anyway.

Let's see a card from a brand new vantage point:
I have some pleasant memories of watching the NLCS last fall. In Wisconsin. So, this was not one of them. Pretty classic Topps construction though.

I learned the other day that the 1969 season was the first with a League Championship Series. I probably should have known my baseball history a little better there I guess, but that is a big reason I collect baseball cards.

So the 1970 set is the first to feature coverage of the LCS results on the baseball cards. I have to wonder how many more sets have a card for each game of an LCS. I guess I will learn in coming years via Heritage cards, perhaps.

Some other day on the blog I will type out a long story about the sometimes goofy concept of "manifestation" that involves a moose, and no baseball cards at all. But that card was a good example of the same results as that long story. I wanted to manifest the appearance of an NLCS card in my new Heritage cards, and I did. Just not the one I actually wanted the most.

Oh well, 50¢ of COMC credit will sate all my desires on that point eventually, easily enough. Let's see what else I can find in this 'pack'
That's much better. A Brewers card, as I was hoping to see. The more Freddy Peralta cards I acquire, the easier it will be to keep him straight from former Brewers pitcher Wily Peralta. And a nice, young Brewer, who is quite happy to see the Topps photographer. This always seems more likely to me with the younger players than the older players. And though I had hopes to also find a Tigers card in this pack, I have my doubts many smiles would be found amongst that team set.

I also like the background on the Peralta card. It says "Baseball" of course, but I would worry about what might happen if I found too many other Brewers cards. 

I wonder what other backgrounds can be found in this set...
Sweet! I hit an "Action" card! Those are tough pulls, worth a lot of money!

Oh, wait. Always check the back.
Nope. Just a regular card. The glorious blue-on-yellow bright 1970 card backs. Perhaps the last ones I will ever read, really, really, easily, in a Topps baseball card product, 'cept for maybe those really boring ones on Stadium Club cards.

This year, you don't need the eyes of an optometrist to read the little production codes on the cards to figure out the valuable artificial scarcity cards - your non-winning lottery ticket is revealed instantly by looking at the card #, which will print the appropriate winning term in the card # circle - no scratching required!

Special "Action" photo variation cards are reserved for the super-stars of MLB of course. Just regular players - it wouldn't be a 21st century set of baseball cards without Fernando Rodney in it - don't make that exclusive checklist, reserved largely for baseball card customers who drop a full $1000 or more on an entire case of Heritage baseball cards, or are lucky enough to get the one lucky Hobby box holding such a card.

Still, it was good to see the Rodney card in a couple ways. I like those durable old veterans. I like how it always seems like Heritage cards are the ones that show off that great left shoulder patch the A's wear. And I like that Topps has no choice but to use images from well beyond Photo Day, for players that changed teams the previous season, like this one:
Another live action image, not part of the special made-up "Action" short-prints. And has Heritage ever had a night card in it before? Did 1970 Topps? I doubt that. But I suspect Heritage probably already has, for these team-changer players.

Wait till you see the extra-specially expensive "Action" RC cards....amazingly, in a pack of 35 cards of 2019 Topps baseball cards, I did not pull an RC card. Or did I?
My first thought on seeing this card was - the 2019 Houston Astros have some Rookies? Why?

A little later it sank in that here is another one of these "Rookie" cards without an RC logo, like the ones in Archives last year. Topps plasters the RC logo on every possible card they can - except these. Weird.

What else is in a Heritage set these days?
Sweet! I hit a "Throwback" card! Those are tough pulls, worth a lot of money!

Oh, wait. Always check the back.

Though Yoan Moncada is sporting some type of sweet powder blue throwback White Sox uniform here, this is just another Heritage card. And even though this card doesn't really show off the throwback uniform all that much, neither do many of the special 'throwback' cards Topps creates, which semi-routinely obscure all the nifty graphic features of the old unis.

Still, I like that Moncada card. He didn't change teams last year, and Topps still ultimately used an image for him not from the the authentic Chicago White Sox® Photo Day Baseball Card Vantage Point, but from an actual MLB dugout, during some sort of actual baseball action, with eye-black and mussed-up hair and everything, like a real baseball card. Perhaps the 1970s are starting to arrive in Heritage after all.

Yet sometimes, the posed, official portrait approach to creating a baseball card works perfectly well:
And back in 1970, this technique was really exploited for some nicely memorable All-Star cards Topps created then, and of course, here again -
Of note on this card is a new ability by Topps to use "The Sporting News" rather than "The Topps News" likely-copyright-shortcut they have been using. Let's hope that between Topps and whatever legal heirs of the old Sporting News publication might remain, well maybe some new agreement is in place, and hey, how about if Topps got access to a probably pretty impressive photo archive over that way. We can dream, right?

But ultimately, a set of Topps Heritage is about baseball players posing for a photog during Spring Training, and largely, though not completely, will be for many years to come. So let's check out a couple more of the bread-and-butter cards in this set:
This guy just never seems to get very exciting cards. But I "collect" cards of the players who use the "Hickory" bats, something easier to see in-hand than in this scan. Baseball cards, particularly Heritage baseball cards, should be about pawing through a stack of them in your real hands, not via digital hands.

At least with the Mariners, I haven't come to memorize their Official Photo Day Baseball Card Vantage Point, like I have with so many other teams now. Which is also true of the Twins:
Now there is a baseball card. All the outfield advertising, seems like a palm tree off way in the distance, a classic baseball card pose, a simple colorful team name, a nice classic script approach to printing the payer's name, a simple frame organizing everything, what's not to like?

Will this 35 card 'pack' of Heritage baseball cards pull me in to collecting this set? I would say the idea does grow on me as I paw through my little stack of these cards.

But ultimately, I remain discouraged by one card I did pull, which I will leave for a future blog post - I did get one Short Print from this set. Not a special 1-in-hundreds-of-packs card, but one of the "high number" cards, of which there are 100 now. Which somewhat calls into question why there is also a "Heritage High Numbers" set too, in my opinion. 

But such is the structure of the Heritage release. This 'hanger box' says I have a 1-in-2 chance of pulling a Short Print from it, but I expect every such box will have one, and the official 1:2 odds are just to cover an occasional collation mistake. In Series 1/2/Update, these $10-$11 hanger boxes always have the exact same common inserts, and some chance at some of the others. Now, I could be wrong, and perhaps only every other hanger box has a Short Print, which would be really bad.

But assume I am right on this hunch, and every 'hanger box' does have one. I don't think that will be the case with the 20 card 'rack packs'. I have read of 'blaster' boxes having 2 Short Prints each, @ $20 or $22 per blaster. And various reports of how many SPs in 24 pack boxes, hobby boxes, etc.

Either way you pick up the cards, I think each of the Short Prints will cost about $6 or $7 to acquire via purchasing retail baseball cards. Each. And there are 100 of them. Yes, you will get the regular 1-400 cards along the way. But it just doesn't look all that possible to assemble the Short Prints via retail really, even via pulling doubles/dups and trading them. 100 cards, 2 per $20 pack, or 1 per $10 pack. Each.

The more I see of the evolution of the Heritage brand, and the more I have been looking forward to a run of set designs I really like, starting next year, well, sadly, now, the less I am actually looking forward to collecting what has now become a "premium" set. As I type tonight, the full 1-500 card set is settling in at a little more than $300 on eBay, a considerable savings available vs. trying to assemble the set yourself.

But if this 100 short-print all-star set structure remains, and I think it will due to the 100 card sheets I believe Topps uses now, I'm not sure an extra set of baseball cards costing 6x what a normal set costs......sigh

1 comment:

  1. The more I age (and my eyesight diminishes) the less enthused I am about buying a product where I have to check the backs.