Friday, February 14, 2020


OK, 1st: I am very Pro-Collecting.

But some of my smaller collections are not compiled, often ever so slowly, because I love the cards involved. Sometimes, I want a baseball card that I can attach to some facet of the history of the game — & sometimes, that can be a facet I definitely don't like.

Recently, a few cards that arrived in a package from the Night Owl fit this profile. He didn't know this when he sent them; he picked them out because he knew I collected certain cards, not that some of those certain cards would fit in one of my few "Anti" collections. I was very glad to receive them.

I almost titled this one "A Disturbance in the Force" because the cards were probably sent a day or so before I posted for the first time in quite a long while, seeking trading partners for the 2019 Archives set. They then arrived a day or two later, with a nice little pile of 2019 Archives cards included, several of which made my Tigers Best-of-2019 post a few days ago. They also came at a great time to be absorbing new cards as work things were kind of like the ole Sid Vicious quote from when someone asked him why he liked to bang his head against a brick wall for seemingly no reason: "Because it feels so good when I stop."

So, yeah, lately my 3.5 x 2.5 cardboard heroes have been an extra handy refuge from the ridiculousness of contracting for a government agency full of, well, nothing to do with baseball cards.

Maybe there would be a more deft way to work gov't employee misadventures into the subject of this first card if I pondered it long enough, but let's get on with the show. I like Manager cards:
Now today would be perhaps a better day to illustrate this collection with an AJ Hinch card, something I still want to acquire to go with this one, rather than the other random Manager cards I stumble across.

For my Managers collection, I don't really care what card it is - a real Manager card the likes of which haven't been created by Topps in several years now, or any card from their playing days, or even a prospect card, like this one. I don't think I have ever had a Manager's prospect card, because until just recently, prospect cards for crusty old baseball Managers weren't an old enough concept. Nowadays, we have shifty young baseball Managers.

I had not thought to assemble a special page of Houston Asterisks cards, though I guess if an AJ Hinch card turns up, and I have a few random Carlos Beltran cards that don't fit anywhere, and I have this Alex Cora card now ... maybe I will assemble such a page now that I think about it. I have been routinely dumping any random Alex Bregman minor 'pulls' I pull for a while now but he still falls out of my packs all the time anyway; I also have some nifty shiny stuff from 2011 Update for Jose Altuve that has probably totally crashed in value now. So, maybe some of those cards will need a home too I guess.

As for my thoughts on the whole scandal, they are incomplete. The big press event today at the opening of Spring Training was rather anti-climactic, in my opinion. I think like many controversial things in baseball, only time will tell. A lot more of the real story will come in the future, though probably a little faster in the everyone's-a-publisher Social Media Age than it would have in the 20th Century, when we wouldn't hear much about it all until a few key people retired and maybe wrote a book. 

I think the rather wooden and trite things coming from the mouths of the Houston stars still trace back to the "everybody else was doing it" defense that Beltran has pointed back to some. That is a slippery slope in human affairs; it is far easier to do something wrong when you first convince yourself that other people are doing it too. The next thought is "They made me do it." 

What all was happening around the League at the time perhaps remains to be seen. The report on what the Red Sox (and the guy pictured above) were up to in the 2018 season is still in the breathless media @BoringSpringTraining future. I figure that might crash the value of my randomly (packs, man, all the Trout packs I could find) assembled stash of JD Martinez Rookie Cards, including some more shiny goodness.

All that be as it may, or all that as may it be, I now have a baseball card to connect me to Alex Cora, a person who is now far more permanently a part of baseball history than he was six months ago.

Now Night Owl's package had the seeds of another Anti-Collection in it too, but these aren't the funnest of topics so let's check out the fun cards he sent, like this one:
From way downtown!

I haven't blogged about my totally random Octavio Dotel collection in many years. It is not one I go out and work on all that purposely. I discussed it once in a post called Bring Me The Arm of Octavio Dotel, cuz sometimes I think you could carefully photoshop his right arm onto an Andre Dawson card and it might kinda fit. The above card certainly gives that impression. I also wanted his cards because he held the record for playing for the most teams in MLB:
Maybe I should just build a collection of his cards from around the AL Central. But then if I do that, I would probably have to do the same for Joakim Soria, and he always just looked shifty to me. I like Octavio quite a bit better, even though his record has been broken by Edwin Jackson now. I will probably collect his cards right along with Dotel's, but with a simple focus for each: I want a binder page of one player, in 9 different uniforms. 

Jackson even appeared seemingly out of nowhere in Detroit (for a 2nd stint as a Tiger, or 3rd, I forget) starting last August, and kind of refuses to announce his retirement right now despite putting up an ERA > 9 with the Tigers for the 2 months. Not surprisingly, no baseball cards resulted. Also not surprisingly, Topps actually did manage to create a few cards for him over the last two years, but since one was a limited Topps Now card and the other was a fairly rare insert in 2019 Big League (I pulled the Ohtani card instead, which is both more valuable, but wanted less, by me at least), Jackson's final 2 cards are hella expensive, from my perspective, considering that very very few people actually want them to celebrate the career of Edwin Jackson. So it goes in this crazy hobby.

Another card the Night Owl sent nicely ticked off an entry on my long neglected Want List over to your right. I did just update it. Way back in 2013, I decided to attempt my first "Master Set." I am still attempting it, but I am in no rush. The COMC card cemetery-warehouse will hold the cards I need in it forever and ever, amen, until I get around to rescuing one of the 19 copies of each still available.

I decided to primarily finish off this set in the "foil" versions because I liked seeing all the Hall of Famers on a bit of shiny for a change. I also appreciated that this design didn't waste so much space where the priceless Relic was supposed to go (in that little area where the cap logo can be seen) as on so many other after-thought insert sets. This one scanned particularly nice:
I liked adding this card to my collection so much I figured I should share the back of it with you too, as it has the perfect baseball detail ending:
Now that is a great insert card. It perfectly celebrates a bit of baseball history in a nicely themed insert set.

As I was cracking the right binder open for it, I decided to re-visit the set and see how Topps did with it as a whole, compared to the above gem. I will complete it eventually and enjoy absorbing the best cards in it, like the above. The other week or so I was pissing and moaning about Topps adding Fernando Tatis Jr. to the "Greatest Players" inserts in 2019 Topps Baseball. But that was not some new Rookie Card mania development:
Bundy was a Hot Rookie back in 2013 when these cards were inserted in packs of Topps Baseball. As a recent first round pick, collectors were impatient to get their hands on their newest retirement plan portfolio. Of course back then, the cards weren't so handily identified with the RC logo outside of the base cards, though it was starting to sneak on to some 'other' cards, like the '71 minis in 2013 Update.

But Topps would do whatever it had to do to make more Hot Rookie cards; this Bundy insert would include an autographed version. What did it have to do for an extra young Rookie to Chase History?
Yup in the same set where I learned that Nolan Ryan's 5,000th Strikeout victim was Rickey Henderson, I learned that Dylan Bundy didn't give up a run in his first 30 innings in class A level Minor League play.

It's that type of thing that leads me to collect just 9 cards from a Topps effort sometimes.

Ahh well, that was a detour from the wonderful package of cards in the mail. It also held several of these:
Most of the rest were posted the other day, but I am glad to include this one. Red+Blue makes for a great '75 card, mostly pleasing to look at. But it does remind me of something really dumb I wrote on here when I first discovered these cards: "it seems like Topps skipped using any kind of weird filter to recreate weird old analog photo and printing technology like they have done on some recent retro releases."

That has got to be the Most Wrong thing I have ever written on this blog.

Even on this simplistic, yet incredibly repetitive back-ground for a Tigers card, Topps deployed one of the worst filters I have seen since the "Raccoon Eyes" filter that obliterated card after card in their most recent attempt at re-creating 1960 style cards in 2017 Archives (which now that I think about it, includes a perfectly horrible Alex Bregman card to pair with that Alex Cora card at the top of this post). 

As for the background on the Greene card seen here, that is something Topps has been using for a good 15 years or so. The Tigers players are walked outside to some certain spot at their Spring Training complex in Lakeland (soon to happen again, this year) and asked to stand in front of this lush Florida vegetation, kind of seen behind Greene there. Some years, it kind of looks like a jungle. And the player standing in front of it is a Tiger. Knock me down with a hammer already. Ironically, if they hadn't used the crazy time filter they went with for these in-authentic takes on 1975, it might have been a nice double visual pun to put Greene in front of all that green. Sigh.

Fortunately, not all of the '75s in this year's Archives had that distracting faded background -
Now I hope you were paying attention to the previous card, so all the exciting artificial scarcity of this card gets you so excited you will want to whip out your wallet and buy some. Err, actually, I hope you will forget that silly notion completely.

What is different about this card? It is a parallel. What kind? The purple baseball parallel? Possibly. I have no idea how Topps may have tried to name these. The card also has a black image boundary/frame, rather than a white one. For many collectors, the key detail is actually on the back: 008/175. If it had been 006/175, I probably would have sent it back to Greg, because some nuttier collector than me would want to pay him extra for the super cool Uni # copy of this parallel.

But as it is, I was actually quite happy to receive this card, as I knew there would be parallels of the '75 style cards and really really wanted to see how that turned out. There would of course be a super easy way to make a parallel of a 1975 style Topps baseball card, given the colorful design. It wouldn't be totally historical however, as 1970s Topps didn't fool with such shenanigans.

May as it be, this card will also have a permanent home in my collection, on a binder page still under construction: Parallels Gone Bad.

Here is another one of it's future page-mates, also an All Time Great Face of the Franchise Hall of Famer like good 'ole Al:
Hmmm, what _could_ have been done for this card with a teeny tiny bit of thought and effort?

I think this particular Anti-Collection won't lack for contestants, sadly. Even one of the more iconic Topps parallels of all-time, the /#'d to the current year Golds, will supply a couple cards:
I call that one the Shards of Glass parallel. Looks painful.

And yes, I did just write "a couple", but I am going to wrap this one up and leave you deep in anticipation of all those bad parallels I will show you some day, but I think even for Anti-Collections like that one, the blog can do without re-living the 2018 Urinal Cake Golds more than is absolutely necessary.

I guess sometimes baseball cards results are like baseball results. Pitchers Balk, Hitters collapse on the ground after an epic 3rd Strike, and Fielders drop lazy pop-ups. And those still make the high, err, lowlight reels, just like the cards in my Anti-Collections.

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