Friday, September 11, 2020

Tough fishin'

I have definitely been more active in one of my other hobbies lately - fishing. The Salmon are tantalizingly close in to shore where I live right now.

There are plenty of baseball carding activities I could be doing. But the one I like best - ripping open brand new packs of baseball cards - is barely available to me this year.

I have one final question to answer in my little home town about this situation. There is a brand new Comics/Gaming/Cards store that opened this summer that I haven't visited yet. I am hoping they might have some penny sleeves for sale. I am also kind of worried they will have a whole bunch of retail baseball card packages for sale. This further makes me a little worried that I will never be able to enjoy the delightful thought of having at least a few shelves of products for one of my favorite indoor hobbies, right downtown, just minutes away.

We shall see. I have read on this here Internet dealio that some Local Card Shops are buying in all the retail product they can get, for re-sale at a mark-up. I will not be participating in such schemes, I can tell you that.

2020 Stadium Club reached my town last Friday. I know this because I discovered the standard 2020 baseball card sight on Tuesday or so - an empty display box of the product. I had been lulled into sleep that Normalcy had returned to baseball cards at last, with the previous Topps product on the new baseball card schedule, Archives.

Archives had arrived here, and then the next Friday the little two row box for it became a little mountain of blasters and whatever it is we should call "packs" that aren't blasters, but aren't quite a classic "pack" of cards, 'neither. Finally, I could just buy a couple baseball cards any time of the week, like every summer I can remember since ... I first recognized baseball cards on a shelf when I was 8 years old, a wee bit of time ago now.

Instead, my town is back to 2020's normal. Hit the Big Box store late on Friday afternoon, or forget buying any new baseball cards that week. 2020 Archives is now just a distant memory. The way 2019 Archives sat around on my shelves deep into 2020 had lulled me to sleep.

Today, I made sure to stop by during the tail end of a long work day, and I caught the fish I have been looking for: Stadium Club.

I found a whole 4 packs. These are definitely simple packs - 12 cards. I would have preferred to try a blaster, but finding any new cards at all in the year 2020 is something to celebrate. 

I forgot to even look at the price, though I know Stadium Club is never cheap, in my opinion. I will never be collecting this one via buying packs, that is for sure. I bought a full base set (surprise) the first year of the "re-boot" some - 6? - years ago now, and I quite enjoy flipping through that binder on occasion. But I can't collect every set, so with Stadium Club I have shifted to a simpler, cheaper strategy: fill a binder page with 9 cards I really like.

I stuck to my usual decision when there are just a few packs of cards available - I picked up some (2) for myself, and left a few (2) for others. That worked out tremendously on my finds of Series Two and when I finally found some Chrome on the 4th try in that little bit of time on Friday afternoon when the fish are biting.

Normally I like ripping some new cards and selecting the most interesting to post. With these 2 packs and the incredible difficulty everyone probably has in finding brand new baseball cards, I will simply scan every card in the 2 packs and live-blog my rip I guess. Batting Lead Off:
Very nice.

The main thing about this baseball card is: the baseball player. That is how it largely should be, on the originating product of what we all call "full bleed." I like how gwynn is too busy to acknowledge us: he is studying his teammate's current live At Bat out on the field of play.

i like the minimalist design quite a bit. i often write this way in lotsa electronic formats. no one ever minds, though it would be kinda weird for me to write long form. like this. for very long.

The only other element available to comment on is the team name. "SD" on this first card, if you squint a little, pehaps. What are the colors supplying a graphic base for that? I have no idea. Let's check the back -
A standard Stadium Club back. I kind of like how these stay consistent over the years lately, are also minimalist though functional, and make for a very easy decision on how many of these cards to put in a binder page: 18. See how easy that was?

This card shows off another thing I like about Stadium Club these days: brand new baseball photos. This is a 2020 photograph, not a PhotoShop job. ryu is wearing the Jays' Spring Training cap, and the Swoosh™ on the uniform, new this year in MLB, also informs us on the date of the photograph. I like this trend on Topps baseball cards released a little later in the baseball season. See how easy this was, Topps?

It was a touch subtle on the back of the gwynn card as the Padres are just straight weak on their iconography, but on the back of the ryu card it is more clear that the back does include the team's every day cap logo for at least a little bit of graphic action on these cards. But we will be absorbing the fronts of these cards:
This particular fielding image doesn't always serve the particular baseball player well on a baseball card. But this one does, because we can clearly see that muncy is focused on the opposing runner coming down the line to First Base. Or maybe his eyes are on his Pitcher running over to cover as he makes a bit of a 'shovel pass' while he is also on the run.

Wait, wait. What team is that? DET? Did I just pull a Detroit Tigers card? Is Topps sure they are still playing in Major League Baseball? I mean, it has been quite a while (2 whole new baseball card products) since I have seen a brand new Detroit Tigers baseball card.

This is another Spring Training photo, evidenced by the orange olde english d on the jersey; I think this might be my first Tigers card showing this jersey. I don't know what to tell you about that mess on the ball cap though. I heard some rumblings about that early this year; I will have to be on the look-out for that cap I guess, for better or worse. But since I largely rely on Topps baseball cards to show me what the game of Baseball currently looks like, it might be a while before I can dial in this puzzling bit of Tigers iconography, as they are routinely finishing around the bottom of the checklist standings.

There is a nice bit on the back of the Agrazal card. The ACQUIRED: section states "Purchased from Pirates 11-25-19" which is a touch more detail on such transactions than Topps usually notes. As for who this player is, I still don't know, really. Here is Topps handing me a Tigers Rookie Card and it remains an open question if this player will ever actually play for Detroit. Baseball Reference currently, ominously, lists a "Career" stat line as Agrazal is on one of the really long terms of the Injured List. If he never returns to Major League Baseball, he could end up with an MLB baseball card but without one that ever shows any MLB stats, as this one only shows his minor league stats, like all official RC© cards, even though he appeared in 15 games with the Pirates last year. Such are the mysteries of baseball cards. 

Oooohh I like horizontal cards.

But the thing about them is - I want a full 9 of them to display together on a binder page. This seems a little unlikely when I will probably only ever have 24 Stadium Club cards to pick from, and I am sure to hit an insert eventually.
Or not. It appears that these are probably produced in the same way as other Topps baseball cards - with the horizontal cards together on a printing sheet, so they always appear together in the packs.

I rarely like a card that doesn't show a player's face no matter how dramatic. But this is a World Series card, which always have a bit of cachet. And I thought it was a rule that a Pitcher's foot has to remain on the rubber? Can't say I have ever been able to ponder that particular baseball rule on a baseball card before. This face-less card might grow on me.

This one won't - it is already 'binder worthy'. Where it will look much better than this scan. The more times I try scanning this one, the 'snowier' it gets.

This card is more likely to end up with my other aroldis chapman cards; in fact this card suddenly makes me realize that what I really want is a binder page of 9 horizontal chapman cards as I believe his Rookie Card is a sweet horizontal, too.

This next card appeared after the chapman card with the back of the card showing rather than the front. Something is up.
Sepia parallel. Zzzzz.

The next card also appeared with the back up:
Cool. Did Topps hook me up with a frank thomas photo variation in 2 Stadium Clubs in a row?

Nope. The hader card was the Designated Hit card in the pack, so adding a photo variation probably wouldn't happen. But I checked anyway. And maybe I will be able to make it to 9 horizontal cards I like from this 2 pack purchase.
Or not. Maybe it is a good thing for abraham toro that Stadium Club Rookie Card cards are never the 'Go To' Rookie Card card when the inevitable question appears, routinely: "But which Rookie Card card is his True Rookie Card?"

The best thing to do with Astros cards lately is to shuffle onwards, quickly -
Now we are cooking with gas. Classic Stadium Club.

And that ends our first pack on a high note. I always like a baseball card of a smiling baseball player.

Let's rip another one -
And that is a nice start. Will I pull more horizontals from this set than verticals? Hmmm.

But who is Hoskins waving at here? A little too much mystery for me on this one.

Oooh I like that.

Have I ever pulled a card where the team colors, such as they are on this design, are supported by the dirt on the baseball field? Such is life for San Diego Padres baseball cards.

It rarely fails to pull a rare parallel and then also pull the base card example. This is much better. I see a binder page coming together here.

Yes! yaz!

This is how to baseball card. This is why I try to remember to go to the grocery store every Friday evening.

Now if this photo had been taken this year, we might have our first 4 Swoosh™ baseball card. This is probably the first card that actually has the team colors work out nicely in those little color rectangles.  Usually, they look too much like color swatches they offer you at the carpet store, for the Pastel carpets. Who likes Pastel carpets?

More broos-dar! 

I always like the Flamethrowers and wish them well, in hopes I get to see them pitch on TV before they almost inevitably run out of gas / elbow juice. Another nice brand new baseball card 2020 photo.

I really think a 9 card page will be coming together - from just 2 packs. Lotsa horizontals in this set. That's a good thing.

These Reds throwback uniforms always make me wonder - did the Reds win that day? The baseball cards certainly did.

The next card is showing backwards in the pack again...what's up?
More Sepia. Yawn.

The next card is again backwards, too.......
I have a small moncada collection going, even though he plays for a division rival. More because he gets interesting baseball cards than anything, really. This card is actually a super duper special card too - a red lettering parallel. It probably has some special name in the Stadium Club checklist, but really this parallel is too boring to care about, in this ee cummings like baseball card design. The thomas card in the previous pack was also a red lettering parallel, and I missed that until I pulled this card. Goes to show how exciting these are.

Is this a baseball card? 

Let's have more of these Topps. This card has A Lot Going On. Legs. Smoke. Rookie of the Year - who is not playing a single inning the next year. Has that ever happened before? Team color rectangles again kicking it sweetly on this par-tay baseball card. I guess since yordan alvarez appeared after the Trash Can days in Houston, I can like him well enough, when he plays baseball again, and this card is pretty darn binder worthy, even in a year where I just kinda don't want Astros Rookie Card cards in my packs. And yeah, Houston, it probably won't hurt if you throw lots and lots of cheerleaders out on the field, going forward. Even though it appears the idea was launched before you got busted.

I can't say I am the biggest fan of willson contreras. But I am a definite fan of this baseball card.

And now here we are at the end of the pack, once again. A bittersweet feeling, in the short-on-games, short-on-packs crazy time year of 2020. But here just several days after the 25th anniversary of the Iron Man game, I have a brand new baseball picture card commemorating that.

Well done, Topps, well done.