Wednesday, July 31, 2013

Now Playing: The 1987 Topps Set


Let's turn back the clock...

Over at Top of the Topps we take a look back 26 years at the contents of the 1987 Topps set, which in turn turns back the clock again at five year intervals. Wait, where are we? I'm starting to get scared. Are we gonna be able to get back to 2013? Is this the land of the lost?

No Pictures for You!

One of the main reasons I started this blog was that I was excited about the prospect of holding contests to give away some of my cards. I didn't think it would be so hard to do. Not the contest part. The giving away cards part.

I know this blog has only been around for a month, and I know I only have a few readers so far. But unless the web bots I keep hearing about are more prevalent than I thought, the stats show me that there are more than two of you out there reading. Maybe you're just looking at the pretty pictures. Can't blame you for that. But I want you to read this so you know that you've been missing out on an opportunity for...


See that neat little graphic over on the right? If you click on that, you'll be taken to the post that you should have read in the first place if you're the type of person who enjoys receiving free baseball cards in the mail. I can only assume that (unless you're my wife, who's forced to read this occasionally) you're interested in baseball cards if you're coming to this blog.

I know the question in this contest is a bit esoteric. But, as a baseball fan, I think it's kind of a fun little exercise. Nick of Dime Boxes and Bo of Baseball Cards Come to Life thought it was worth a shot. In fact, Bo was the only person to respond to my offer of a no-stings-attached PWE earlier. It took ten days for anyone to respond to that one. Weird.

Like I said, I plan to keep having contests. They will get more interesting. Perhaps involving a little less work on your part. The bottom line is that they will be opportunities for free cards. But it's only gonna happen if people actually show some interest. So click on the Surreal Seven graphic over there on the right (or the subtle link I just provided for you) and make your guesses before midnight on Friday. If you're reading this, I'm talking to you.

We will return you to your regularly scheduled pictures shortly. Thanks for reading.

Tuesday, July 30, 2013

Feeding the Habit: 7/21/2013

Had a rare, of late, full three-night Card Night weekend last week. By which I mean about a week and a half ago, now. Little behind. All work and no play this week, I'm afraid. Time is short. So, while we can, let's play...

Continued to bust '13 Topps series two. Got another WBC card. Giancarlo Stanton this time. From the good ol' USA. I have purposely avoided looking at the checklist for this subset that I'm excited about collecting, and I'm beginning to be afraid that it's gonna be nothing but MLB players, mostly from Team USA. I love my country, and all. But I'm hoping for a diverse checklist here. Not sure I'm gonna get it. All I can say is that there'd better be a Shinnosuke Abe card in there somewhere. (But don't tell me if there is, cuz I wanna be surprised. That's just the way I am.)

Moving on to things I can show you, I busted another pack of '05 Topps Total from my vacation blaster.

2005 Topps Total Jose Lime KCR #248
2005 Topps Total Tim Hudson ATL #410

I love the old-school card stock. But I'm not thrilled by the design. I didn't really notice how awkward the Topps Total logo was until it was Lima Time. It's the first card I've seen so far from the set that effectively uses the entire height of the photo area. It's next to impossible to fit anything in up there with the logo taking up so much space. I also dug this Tim Hudson card, featuring a cart full o' balls. But the whole pack got dragged down by the appearance of a shiny Barry Bonds "Total Award Winner." Bonds is a total something, all right, but he ain't getting any awards from me...

Moving in a more positive direction, from a pack of '11 Lineage, it's a Cardinal fan's delight... heck, a baseball fan's delight...

2011 Topps Lineage Albert Pujols STL #178
2011 Topps Lineage Stan Musial STL #40

Much better. Another pack to bust: '05 UD First Pitch.

2005 Upper Deck First Pitch Livan Hernandez WSN #122

Livan from the transition year from Expos to Nationals. This card got me thinking about how completely, at least in my mind, the break has been made between these two phases of this franchise's history. I don't tend to think about the Expos anymore when the Nats come to mind. And that's just a function of the franchise having changed the team's name when they moved. On the other hand, for example, I certainly do think about Boston and Milwaukee when the history of the Atlanta Braves is brought up. Just because they kept the team name. In both cases it's a single franchise that moves from one city to another, taking its players and staff along. The only difference is the decision whether to change the name or not. Interesting, no?

Moving on to the repack goodies...

1985 Topps Glossy Send-Ins Tom Brunansky MIN #39
1991 Pacific Texas Express Nolan Ryan "The Fast Ball Grip" HOU #41

I have fewer of these glossy send-ins than I would have thought. Despite collecting heavily in the '80s, I was apparently too lazy to drop a few wrappers in the mail. I really dig this Bruno card, with his powder blue road uni matched by the card's border. Sweet. The Nolan Ryan card was a cool pull. I'm ambivalent about sets like this because they tend to feel gimmicky and wading through a full set can cause subject fatigue. But getting this single card was fun, even if Pacific doesn't seem to understand that fastball is one word.

1995 Fleer Emotion Mike Piazza LAD #145
1995 Fleer Emotion Greg Maddux ATL #106

These Emotion cards were, frankly, kinda lame. It caused Fleer (or SkyBox, if they were actually different people... it all got so confusing in the '90s) to have to come up with a different word for each player. The result at times was, like I said, lame. Okay, Maddux was dominating. But "practiced?" That's the best they could do for Piazza? Of course he's "practiced," he's a big league ballplayer. Yup, lame.

I managed to do pretty well at filling some set-building needs on this night, particularly by nabbing more than a handful of '96 Circa. But my favorite, by far, was this excellent addition to my nascent '94 Select collection.

1994 Score Select Dennis Martinez CLE #346

One of the main reasons I like this set so much is that I think pitchers tend to look particularly good on this design. And El Presidente was one of those guys who almost always managed to look good on cards. So you've got the perfect sweet cardboard storm here, my friends. Can ya dig it?

I dug into the small box of random junk that I bought from a random dude on my random vacation, and I pulled out some junk wax and a couple of ratty-lookin' '71s.

1971 Topps Cards Rookie Stars: Reggie Cleveland/Luis Melendez #216
1971 Topps Hal McRae CIN #177

Ratty or not, these are fun to have. But I wanted to see something nice, so I ended my night by digging out one of the individual cards that I bought from that card shop. I chose this one for a reason. I was hoping that I had picked up the '71 Dick Allen card, featuring him as a Dodger. I remembered considering it, but not being sure whether I had it yet or not. I'd seen the thing a buncha times on the ol' internet box. Apparently enough times to think I already had it. I don't. Which sucks. And the '71 Dodger I picked up turned out to be...

1971 Topps Don Sutton LAD #361

Okay. No complaints. A pitcher. A Dodger. A Hall-of-Famer. A dude wearing a sweet turtleneck on the flip side. It's all good.

But I still don't have the Dick Allen for my PWMD Set. Oh well, something to aspire to, I guess.

Monday, July 29, 2013

Early Bird's Night Owl Haul: Pack #8

What's this? Find out here.

Ho Hum. Just another stack of '70s Topps awesomeness from the Night Owl's days as an owlet. Let's play...

1977 Topps Steve Luebber MIN #457
1977 Topps Rogelio Moret ATL #292

Topps did the "peering in for a sign" pose a lot. But it wasn't often that you got a full-body side view like this. And Rogelio is really selling it, isn't he? Never mind that the catcher appears to have gone into his squat somewhere out in short center field. By the way, the Braves should bring back those feather designs on the sleeves. Those were sweet!

1977 Topps Mike Hargrove TEX #275

Before the Topps photographer could take this picture, he had to wait for "The Human Rain Delay" to step out of the imaginary batter's box, adjust his cap as though it were a helmet, adjust his batting glove to make sure it was tight, pull each uniform sleeve up about an inch, wipe each hand on his pants, reach back to adjust his rear pockets, knock the dirt from both of his cleats with his bat, flex his shoulders, adjust the glove again, wipe his nose, rub his tummy, call home to make sure the stove was off, tug on his ear as a greeting to his dead dog, wink suggestively at the umpire, brush his teeth, and repeat the sequence eight times before he was good to go.

1977 Topps Glenn Borgmann MIN #87
1977 Topps Rookie P: Chris Batton/Rick Camp/Scott McGregor/Manny Sarmiento #475

Somebody should tell Scott McGregor that it would be a good idea to grow a mustache...

1977 Topps Tom Poquette KCR #93
1977 Topps Darrel Chaney ATL #384
1977 Topps Rick Sawyer SDP #268
1977 Topps Luis Tiant BOS #258

I already had this particular gem, but upon receiving another I noticed something interesting for the first time. Tiant's autograph extends beyond the border of the photo's frame. Was Topps being cool, or did they make a mistake here? I'm now on the lookout for other examples of this, but so far no dice. Mistake or not, I dig it. It's a daring example of coloring outside of the lines, which isn't something Topps is known for doing.

1977 Topps Cleveland Indians/Frank Robinson MG #18

This is sweet. Frank Robinson pictured with his team in his final season as a player/manager. That makes this card a favorite. Let's flip it over...

I can only assume that these markings come from Greg, himself. Usually, when you get an old checklist card that's been marked you have no idea who did it. It's kinda neat to know the lineage of the markings. It looks like he was missing Eck, though I doubt he lost much sleep over it at the time. I'm guessing that the lines on the left meant duplicates. If so, it appears that Greg traded a spare Charlie Spikes at some point, probably to someone who thought his name was cool. Wonder what he got in return...

Another "pack" of Night Owl's kiddie cards comes to completion with the customary cartoon (courtesy of Rogelio Moret):

This made me do a double take when I first learned of it a few years back. Kinda puts an odd new slant on the 1993 World Series match-up.

Sunday, July 28, 2013

Playing With My Dodgers: Rick Auerbach

Rick Auerbach likes to tell people that the Dodgers retired his uniform number, 1, which is true...

Except that it was retired for another Dodgers shortstop named Pee Wee Reese.

Actually, 300 is a better number to associate with Auerbach. That's because he hit well over .300 in his first year as a Dodger in 1974 (.342, to be exact). That said, he was only a .220 lifetime hitter over the course of his eleven-year career.

The better reason to associate Auerbach with the number 300 is the fact that he's best known today as an excellent bowler in his hometown of Woodland Hills, CA, where the 63 year old has bowled upwards of ten 300 games.

Also, Rick Auerbach is not Red Auerbach, which is not something I could keep straight as a kid. Turns out Red Auerbach was a basketball coach. I'm such a one-sport guy that I had to look that up, which probably has a few of you shaking your heads.

1976 Topps Rick Auerbach LAD #622

The Dodgers looked great on these red and blue '76 Topps cards, with their cool clip-art icons for each position. Plus Auerbach is sporting a fabulous '70s "I just rolled out of bed and it's been three months since my last haircut" look. Welcome to the PWMD Set, Red... I mean, Rick.

Saturday, July 27, 2013

Feeding the Habit: 7/20/2013

Last Saturday's Card Night was a long affair, in tandem with the Dodgers four-hour, ten-inning win in D.C. So, grab a cold beverage and pull up a chair. Let's play...

My wife, Cathy, reads this blog sporadically (mainly when I remind her that it's a contractual obligation to humor me). I don't plan to remind her to read every post, though. Case in point, this post, in which I reveal that I recently bought a couple of 5000-card boxes full of junk wax treasure from a dude I found on Craigslist. It was a good deal. I mean, I've seen those green, paper thin things with pictures of presidents on them tons of times. They don't compare to baseball cards. For example...

1993 Bowman Mike Mussina BAL #633
1993 Bowman Mike Piazza LAD #646

There was a small stack (maybe about 50-60 cards) of '93 Bowman in there. I had very few of these cards already, so gems like the Moose and Mike above are exactly what the Card Night doctor ordered. (He also ordered some other stuff from eBay, but that's for a later post. Don't tell my wife!) By the way, isn't Moose & Mike the name of some sports talk show? It's gotta be, somewhere, right?

1993 Bowman Alex Gonzalez TOR #603

I'm not usually a fan of this specific photo cropping choice, but in the context of this card design, I give Alex Gonzalez the MAP Award (most aesthetically pleasing) from this bunch o' Bowmans.

Next up I continued to dig through the '93 Fleer Final Edition set. Bottom line, you usually get a pretty boring photo on the front, and then flip over to the back to enjoy the candy-colored treat. There are a few sets where the backs are better than the fronts, and they're mostly sets that I ignored back in the day for that reason. But, just because the back is better, don't mean it ain't a good thing. Enough words. Lots of pictures. See you in a bit...

1993 Fleer Final Edition Gary Sheffield FLA #F-71
1993 Fleer Final Edition Joe Girardi COL #F-31
1993 Fleer Final Edition Kirk Gibson DET #F-209
1993 Fleer Final Edition Norm Charlton SEA #F-266

Meh. Now the backs.

See what I mean? Or is it just me.

I found two packs of '12 Bowman Platinum on the clearance shelf at Rite-Aid, I I figured it was okay to spend three bucks for eight shiny cards. But, as usual, they left me confused.

2012 Bowman Platinum Prospects Oscar Taveras STL #BPP51
2012 Bowman Platinum Joe Mauer MIN #2

These two cards looked exactly the same to me when I was holding them in my hand. I still don't know if they're actually different types of cards, or if the light from the scanner was just hitting them at different angles. Is one a refractor, or something? Those things have been around for, what, about twenty years? And I still have no idea what a refractor is or how to identify one. I was heartened to read recently that Greg, the Night Owl, had initially misdiagnosed the shiny malady afflicting some of his Dodgers cards. So I don't feel so bad. Can anyone help me identify what I'm looking at here?

2008 Upper Deck Baseball Heroes Reggie Jackson NYY #122
2008 Upper Deck Baseball Heroes Black Stan Musial STL #162

Per usual, it was the retired players who highlighted the experience of opening a pack of '08 UD Heroes. And another Cardinal great graced the repack portion of this night's habit food.

1992 Action Packed All-Star Gallery Curt Flood STL #72
1988 Fleer Glossy Lou Whitaker DET #75

What is that look on Sweet Lou Whitaker's face? Is he thinking, "I'll bet you're gonna put this picture on a really crappy looking card, aren't you, Fleer?" Yes, Lou. They did.

And now, a Playing With My Cards dilemma...

1994 Upper Deck Fun Pack Foldouts Ken Griffey Jr. SEA #224
1994 Upper Deck Fun Pack Foldouts Barry Bonds SFG #225

Now, if I were gonna be true to my name, I'd bust these things open and play with 'em. But I'm a wuss. It's not an investment thing (obviously, since they aren't worth anything). It's an aesthetics thing. I just want them to be able to stay flat. It's a real conundrum. Anybody think I should open 'em up?

Let's wrap this up with some minor league fun, starting with a repack find.

1990 Best Amalio Carreno Reading Phillies #140

A couple of weeks ago we had a chance to enjoy Joe Carter's sweet blue and white striped tutleneck, which coordinated nicely with his Blue Jays uniform. What do we think of Amalio Carreno's choice of a pink turtleneck under his maroon uniform? It works in this context. It's bush league.

I got a taste of minor league goofiness, so I wanted more. I opened a pack of '92 UD Minors and I got a couple of nice-looking cards of pitchers.

1992 Upper Deck Minors Mo Sanford Nashville Sounds #253

1992 Upper Deck Minors Jose Martinez Binghamton Mets #242

I usually don't like backgrounds that are busy with other people. But I really like the way the umpire is framed by Martinez's pitching arm, while the shortstop stands comfortably in the angle formed by his push-off leg. I have no idea who Jose Martinez is. Digging into photo composition my way of appreciating this card.

But it's goofiness we're really looking for in minor league cards. Let's see what we've got...

1992 Upper Deck Minors Mark Anthony Charleston Rainbows #125

He's playing for the Rainbows, so that's always a good start. We see Anthony busting out of the box and sucking in air on the front. Then we get to see the results of his sprint to first on the back. Probably more cool than goofy. Let's try again.

1992 Upper Deck Minors Luis Ortiz Lynchburg Red Sox #114

Ah, that's better. Outside of the 1976 White Sox, you don't see a lot of baseball players in shorts. This qualifies as goofy. A grown man in shorts... Wait a minute, I wear shorts to work every day. Might have to rethink that.

Thanks for playing.