Tuesday, September 2, 2014

The anti-blob


A few years ago, I introduced you to the concept of "the blob," which is merely the player to make the last out in a ballgame. By extension, "the ultimate blob" is the player to make the final out in the World Series. And I hope to keep that particular list going for as long as this blog exists.

But the other day, while working on a post on another blog, I began to think about "the anti-blob". The "anti" to the blob, of course, would be someone who ended a game with a hit. The always celebrated "walk-off". And the ultimate anti-blob would be someone who did that in the World Series. Bill Mazeroski, Joe Carter, Edgar Renteria, etc.

But actually, strictly speaking, the "anti-blob" would not merely be the "walk-off" variety of hit. It would be anyone who got the last hit in a game. And the ultimate anti-blob would be anyone who got the last hit in a World Series. It doesn't matter whether it ended a game. Just that it was the last hit. "Blob" = last out. "Anti-blob" = last hit.

And with that, the research began.

Who was the last person to get a hit in each World Series?

Presenting, "the anti-blob" for each World Series:

2013: Stephen Drew, Red Sox (W), 7th inning, single
2012: Marco Scutaro, Giants (W), 10th inning, game-winning RBI single
2011: Yadier Molina, Cardinals (W), 7th inning, RBI single
2010: Buster Posey, Giants (W), 8th inning, single

2009: Derek Jeter, Yankees (W), 8th inning single

2008: Dioner Navarro, Rays (L), 9th inning, single
2007: Garrett Atkins, Rockies (L), 8th inning, two-run home run
2006: Sean Casey, Tigers (L), 9th inning, double
2005: Jason Lane, Astros (L), 9th inning, single
2004: Albert Pujols, Cardinals (L), 9th inning, single

2003: Alfonso Soriano, Yankees (L), 8th inning, single
2002: J.T. Snow, Giants (L), 9th inning, single
2001: Luis Gonzalez, Diamondbacks (W), 9th inning, walk-off RBI single
2000: Luis Sojo, Yankees (W), 9th inning, game-winning two-run single

1999: Jorge Posada, Yankees (W), 8th inning, double
1998: Chuck Knoblauch, Yankees (W), 9th inning, single
1997: Edgar Renteria, Marlins (W), 11th inning, walk-off RBI single
1996: Marquis Grissom, Braves (L), 9th inning, RBI single
1995: Marquis Grissom, Braves (W), 7th inning, single
1994: (sob)
1993: Joe Carter, Blue Jays (W), walk-off three-run home run
1992: Jeff Blauser, Braves (L), 11th inning, single
1991: Gene Larkin, Twins (W), 10th inning, walk-off RBI single
1990: Herm Winningham, Reds (W), 8th inning, single

1989: Carney Lansford, A's (W), 8th inning, single
1988: Carney Lansford, A's (L), 9th inning, single
1987: Dan Gladden, Twins (L), 8th inning, RBI single
1986: Jesse Orosco, Mets (W), 8th inning, RBI single
1985: Terry Pendleton, Cardinals (L), 7th inning, single
1984: Bruce Bochy, Padres (L), 9th inning, single
1983: Eddie Murray, Orioles (W), 9th inning, single
1982: Steve Braun, Cardinals (W), 8th inning, RBI single
1981: Aurelio Rodriguez, Yankees (L), 8th inning, single
1980: Jose Cardenal, Royals (L), 9th inning, single

1979: Tim Foli, Pirates (W), 9th inning, single
1978: Thurman Munson, Yankees (W), 9th inning, single
1977: Vic Davalillo, Dodgers (L), 9th inning, bunt single
1976: Dave Concepcion, Reds (W), 9th inning, RBI double
1975: Joe Morgan, Reds (W), 9th inning, game-winning RBI single
1974: Bert Campaneris, A's (W), 8th inning, bunt single
1973: Don Hahn, Mets (L), 9th inning, single
1972: Bert Campaneris, A's (W), ninth inning, single
1971: Manny Sanguillen, Pirates (W), 9th inning, single
1970: Davey Johnson, Orioles (W), 8th inning, RBI single

1969: Ron Swobada, Mets (W), 8th inning, game-winning RBI double
1968: Mike Shannon, Cardinals (L), 9th inning, home run
1967: Carl Yastrzemski, Red Sox (L), 9th inning, single
1966: Al Ferrara, Dodgers (L), 9th inning, single
1965: Harmon Killebrew, Twins (L), 9th inning, single
1964: Phil Linz, Yankees (L), 9th inning, home run
1963: Bobby Richardson, Yankees (L), 9th inning, single
1962: Willie Mays, Giants (L), 9th inning, double
1961: Clete Boyer, Yankees (W), 8th inning, single
1960: Bill Mazeroski, Pirates (W), 9th inning, walk-off home run

1959: Chuck Essegian, Dodgers (W), 9th inning, home run
1958: Joe Adcock, Braves (L), 9th inning, single
1957: Tommy Byrne, Yankees (W), 9th inning, single
1956: Duke Snider, Dodgers (L), 9th inning, single
1955: Don Hoak, Dodgers (W), 9th inning, single
1954: Alvin Dark, Giants (W), 9th inning, single
1953: Billy Martin, Yankees (W), 9th inning, game-winning single
1952: Gil McDougald, Yankees (W), 9th inning, single
1951: Whitey Lockman, Giants (L), 9th inning, single
1950: Mike Goliat, Phillies (L), 9th inning, single

1949: Joe Coleman, Yankees (W), 9th inning, double
1948: Phil Masi, Braves (L), 8th inning, RBI double
1947: Eddie Miksis, Dodgers (L), 9th inning, single
1946: Bobby Doerr, Red Sox (L), 9th inning, single
1945: Roy Hughes, Cubs (L), 9th inning, single
1944: Walker Cooper, Cardinals (W), 7th inning, single
1943: Danny Litwhiler, Cardinals (L), 9th inning, single
1942: Johnny Beazley, Yankees (L), 9th inning, single
1941: Joe DiMaggio, Yankees (W), 8th inning, single
1940: Mike McCormick, Reds (W), 8th inning, bunt single

1939: Frank McCormick, Reds (L), 10th inning, single
1938: Billy Jurges, Cubs (L), 9th inning, single
1937: Hank Leiber, Giants (L), 8th inning, single
1936: Joe DiMaggio, Yankees (W), 9th inning, single
1935: Goose Goslin, Tigers (W), 9th inning, walk-off single
1934: Charlie Gehringer, Tigers (L), 9th inning, single
1933: Joe Cronin, Senators (L), 10th inning, single
1932: Babe Herman, Cubs (L), 9th inning, single
1931: Doc Cramer, A's (L), 9th inning, RBI single
1930: Chick Hafey, Cardinals (L), 9th inning, RBI double

1929: Bing Miller, A's (W), 9th inning, walk-off double
1928: Andy High, Cardinals (L), 9th inning, single
1927: Mark Koenig, Yankees (W), 9th inning, bunt single
1926: Chick Hafey, Cardinals (W), 8th inning, single
1925: Kiki Cuyler, Pirates (W), 8th inning, 2-RBI game-winning double
1924: Earl McNeely, Senators (W), 9th inning, walk-off double
1923: Ross Youngs, Giants (L), 8th inning, single
1922: Lee King, Giants (W), 8th inning, RBI single
1921: Waite Hoyt, Yankees (L), 7th inning, single
1920: Zach Wheat, Dodgers (L), 9th inning, single

1919: Eddie Collins, White Sox (L), 9th inning, single
1918: Amos Strunk, Red Sox (W), 7th inning, single
1917: Nemo Leibold, White Sox (W), 9th inning, RBI single
1916: Casey Stengel, Dodgers (L), 9th inning, single
1915: Harry Hooper, Red Sox (W), 9th inning, game-winning home run
1914: Butch Schmidt, Braves (W), 6th inning, single
1913: Christy Mathewson, Giants (L), 6th inning, single
1912: Tris Speaker, Red Sox (W), 10th inning, single
1911: Buck Herzog, Giants (L), 9th inning, single
1910: Jimmy Archer, Cubs (L), 9th inning, single

1909: Jim Delahanty, Tigers (L), 9th inning, double
1908: Joe Tinker, Cubs (W), 9th inning, single
1907: Claude Rossman, Tigers (L), 9th inning, single
1906: Solly Hofman, Cubs (L), 9th inning, RBI single
1905: Roger Bresnahan, Giants (W), 8th inning, double
1904: no series
1903: Lou Criger, Red Sox (W), 6th inning, single

 Those are all of your ultimate anti-blobs.

Some observations:

1. It's hard to keep a good offense down. The earliest a last hit occurred in a clinching World Series game was the sixth inning and that happened only three times (and no earlier than 1914).

2. The walk-off last hits in a World Series are the most memorable performances by an anti-blob. They include Luis Gonzalez (2001), Edgar Renteria (1997), Joe Carter (1993), Gene Larkin (1991), Bill Mazeroski (1960), Goose Goslin (1935) and Earl McNeely (1924).

3. Some other last hits -- the game-winning variety that didn't end a game -- are not as well known but no less impressive: Marco Scutaro (2010), Luis Sojo (2000), Joe Morgan (1975), Ron Swoboda (1969), Billy Martin (1953), Kiki Cuyler (1925) and Harry Hooper (1915). (I need to recheck my research here and make sure I didn't miss anything).

4. The following anti-blobs provided a home run for the last hit of the World Series: Garrett Atkins (2007), Joe Carter (1993), Mike Shannon (1968), Phil Linz (1964), Bill Mazeroski (1960), Chuck Essegian (1959), Harry Hooper (1915).

5. Five players have been the ultimate anti-blob twice: Chick Hafey (1926, 1930), Joe DiMaggio (1936, 1941), Bert Campaneris (1972, 1974), Carney Lansford (1988, 1989) and Marquis Grissom (1995, 1996). Only two have done it back-to-back (Lansford and Grissom) and only two have done it for teams that only won the World Series (DiMaggio and Campaneris).

6. Glad to see some pitchers ended up the ultimate anti-blob: Jesse Orosco, Waite Hoyt, Christy Mathewson. May pitchers forever be allowed to hit!

7. Finally, the greatest bit of useless trivia ever: Six players in history have been both the ultimate blob and ultimate anti-blob in their careers. Here they are:


Goose Goslin  (blob: 1925, anti-blob: 1935)
Davey Johnson (blob: 1969, anti-blob: 1970)
Carl Yastrzemski (blob: 1975, anti-blob: 1967)
Carney Lansford (blob: 1990, anti-blob: 1988, 1989)
Jorge Posada (blob: 2003, anti-blob: 1999)
Edgar Renteria (blob: 2004, anti-blob: 1997)

Now THAT is truly knowing the peak and the valley of a career.


(P.S.: I know this post is devoid of pictures. I've run out of time and will add some appropriate cards when I do have time, probably in the wee hours tonight).



Sunday, August 31, 2014

Loose ends


I have a lot of items to tie together today. And it's a holiday weekend, so I'll try to make this brief.

First, gaze your eyes upon this beauty (like you can turn away, I scanned this mega size so you wouldn't miss it). I received this from Matthew, who found it at the National. It's a Nu-Card Baseball Hi-Lites card from 1960, meaning it's not your average size. It's 3 1/4-by-5 3/8 large. (The 1961 cards are standard size).

It's also the "black-letter" variation as most of the cards feature headlines with red type. The first 18 cards are printed with red type or entirely in black, like this one. You can read the write-up on the bottom if you like. Only a sports editor like me would cringe over the way it's written.

As you know, I love newspaper-themed cards and any new version that I get makes me want to set up a display of newspaper-style cards. But don't start sending me more. I'd have to clear any grand display with other people in the house first.

OK, on to other matters:


1. THE BEST HAL MC RAE CARD OF THE 1970s

The voting for the best Hal McRae Topps card of the '70s wrapped up a couple of days ago and this is how it went down:


Third place, 1973: 6 votes

My guess is Reds fans voted for this one. Or maybe it's Shea Stadium fans. Or '73 Topps fans. Or batting helmet fans. Or tarp fans. Or flag fans. So many ways to go here.



Second place, 1977: 8 votes

Great-looking card that I found myself secretly rooting to win. It makes me want to go down to Florida right now. Except that wouldn't be good because it's probably a blast furnace there now.



First place, 1976: 14 votes

OK, I take back what I said about the 1977 McRae. Anyone who didn't vote for this card hates laughter and puppies and excellent dental grooming.

How could you not vote for this card?

Not only is it the best Hal McRae card of the '70s, but I assure you that it will make an appearance in the Top 100 cards of the '70s countdown.

Speaking of which ...


2. HOW'S THAT COUNTDOWN COMING????

Very slowly. I'm so lax in everything.

I've started compiling a list of candidates, but I still have about two-thirds of the decade to go. I've also started going through the three '70s Topps sets for which I don't have all the cards -- 1970, 1972 and 1973. I'm going back and forth over whether I should start this countdown before I've acquired all of the cards that will be in the countdown.


For instance, I'm reasonably certain this card has a good shot at making the top 100. But I don't own it, and who wants to see an advertisement for somebody in a countdown show?

So I'll think about it for a little bit. If there aren't too many cards to obtain, I might wait until I obtain them all before I start the show.

Yeah, yeah, making you wait again.

Speaking of which ...


3. THE CARD PACKAGE EMBARGO IS ALMOST OVER

For you observant types, you probably knew this already. After all, if I have money to buy a jumbo pack of Chrome then I must be swimming in cash, right?

Well, no. But I can see a time when packages might start heading out the door again. Within the next week or so.

Because of this, I have started packaging up cards in preparation.

Here's a snippet:


The lucky folks are the ones with addresses on the envelopes or boxes.

The slightly less lucky folks are the ones who have cards stacks in their name (there are some stacks buried by packages). I'll be getting to those (and adding to them) after the other packages head to their destinations.

I appreciate everyone's patience and their willingness to send me cards when I couldn't send them. Everyone's been great as usual.


4. ONE LAST THING

This isn't related to any of the above, but if you are a fan of the 1970s, and haven't already watched the documentary "The Battered Bastards Of Baseball," get on Netflix and save it for viewing.

The documentary, which is about the independent Portland Mavericks that existed from 1973-77, is one of the best sports documentaries I've ever seen. It blows away any of those 30-for-30 ESPN things. It was fascinating. It's basically the Moneyball story, except without complicated mathematical formulas. And much brighter uniforms.

The best part might be the color game footage that's featured throughout the movie. If you never experienced baseball in the '70s, let me tell you it was something like this:


That's the Mavericks, playing in what they called "streetwalker red" uniforms.

They played on artificial turf, with lines drawn on the "grass" for other sports, in a stadium that looked like it was leftover from the 1930s.

The '70s was a true clash of old world vs. new world, which is what made it both great and awkward at the same time.

More evidence:


Anyway, I enjoyed the documentary a lot.

And I hope you enjoy the rest of your holiday. Watch some baseball while you're at it.

Saturday, August 30, 2014

I am particular


I love this card so much that I bumped it up in the received card package rotation -- setting off all of my OCD bells and alarms in the process -- to feature it here.

It arrived from the Junior Junkie, get a good look because I probably won't feature the rest of his cards until your favorite NFL team's season is left for dead (sorry, it's the ROTATION, man). As you can see, it is a rookie card of Eric Karros -- presented by a sausage company.

I have plenty of food issue cards. Hell, I have food issue cards from sausage companies. I adore them all.

But this one struck a chord in a way that it has never been struck before. Sure, I've often wondered why I give these particular non-licensed cards a pass while I practically spit on Panini's non-licensed offerings. But this time I thought "what the hell is wrong with me? Why do I love these so much and hate Panini's so much? Am I THAT particular? Am I THAT fickle?"

And I determined rather quickly that: "Yes. I am."

I'm a card collector. You can't explain what I like. I can't even explain what I like. Once I get past "Dodgers" and "1970s cards" I will have a terribly difficult time convincing you fully why I like the other cards that I do. DON'T DEFINE ME, MAN!

I spent a good 5 minutes in self-reflection (once again, all the time that I have) trying to explain to myself the difference between non-licensed food issue cards and Panini cards and why I am so lenient with one and unforgiving with another.

Here is what I found:

1. Expectations: While food-issue cards are often regional, Panini is issuing cards on a national basis, just like Topps. There is a certain expectation with that, whether it is reasonable or not. For a national company, I expect cards with pleasing designs, well-represented players and teams, devotion to detail, reasonable pricing, and a knowledge of the entire package. Now, I know there are plenty of people who don't like Topps and who don't believe that Topps is fulfilling those obligations AT ALL. But I just can't throw Topps in the dumpster after 40 years. Maybe it's just a logo at this point. But I can't go out and buy a box of Panini Donruss. I'd hate myself.

On the flip side, I don't know if I once thought about "expectations" when I've selected Topps over Panini or favored a food-issue card over Panini. If it's an actual reason, I am not acting on it consciously.

2. Design: People may laugh when I give a Jimmy Dean card a pass on design but not Panini. But the Jimmy Dean card does not bother me the way a current Panini card (excluding Hometown Heroes) does. Panini's designs are ugly. This may because I have a retro taste in designs and generally dislike most mid-to-late '90s arrangements. But again, I don't think about it much. It's like this: I see the card. The brain reacts. A decision is made. It happens that quickly. And I don't want it to take any more time than that.

3. Something extra: Food-issue cards, duh, come with food. In most cases, it's something yummy. Cakes, cookies, candy, gum, potato chips, deep-fried oreos, whatever you got. Panini doesn't come with anything except short-prints and an inflated price for a company printing without logos. Perhaps if Panini were to overhaul the way they packaged cards and started including them with pink-frosted cupcakes they would become the darlings of the cardboard world. But I don't know for sure if that would work.

In fact, I don't know if any or all of the above explains my preference for food-issue cards over Panini.

I do know that there is definitely something to my preference. Because I know I'm not the only one who feels this way. There are plenty of other bloggers and collectors who have said the same thing.

So, maybe there's some more free advice for you Panini. Package your cards with a grease-laden sausage patty and maybe you'll nab another collector.

Or maybe he'll just say, "ewwwwwwwwww there's a grease stain on my card!"

What can I say?

I'm a collector. I'm particular.

You'll never figure us out.

Friday, August 29, 2014

Chrome has intimacy issues


I used to love Chrome. Really, really love it. And if you've read this blog for more than a couple of years, you've seen my drooling posts.

Chrome is very difficult to resist. How else is Topps getting people to buy the same cards that are in the base set for the 19TH YEAR IN A ROW????

Chrome is the intoxicating woman spotted at the night club. You know you shouldn't. You know it will end horribly. But, yet ... you're in. Hopelessly. In.

Fortunately, the last couple of years I've managed to keep my distance. I've limited my pack purchases of Chrome to just a rack pack or two. And after two years, I thought I had become immune to Chrome's siren song.

Until today.

In Walmart, hiding behind the discarded shopping carts (why is the card aisle the place where Walmart employees feel they can dispose of carts full of random goods? There are collectors walkin' here!!!) I heard Chrome speak to me and I instantly grew knock-kneed. I hadn't purchased cards in a month. But $9.98 later -- that's 62 cents a card -- a Chrome "value pack" was coming home with me.

We were in a relationship. Again.

I didn't expect this to end any better than the previous relationships. I expected a lot of oohing and aahing followed by a lot of cursing and yelling.

But for a moment -- for a brief wonderful moment -- I thought Chrome and I were going to become an item.

Here's why:



PACK 1


#98 - Erik Johnson, White Sox

White Sock on the wrapper. White Sock first card out. That's all I've got to say. It's the White Sox.

#195 - Gio Gonzalez, Nationals

I've pulled Nationals regularly in each of the last four years of Chrome. This is one of the big fights I have with Chrome. How do you expect me to get close to you when you keep boring me with your Nationals?


#192 - Carl Crawford, Dodgers, blue refractor, #78/199

Wow. I think Chrome wants to be more than just friends! I realize these blue borders from the last two years are pathetic diluted versions of the wonderful Chrome blue borders of the past. But I will not complain about suddenly feeling good about shelling out 10 bucks for this.

#62 - Zach Walters, Nationals

Chrome, please. Enough with the Nationals talk. You were doing so well.


PACK 2


#87 - Zack Wheeler, Mets

Automatic trade bait.


#192 - Carl Crawford, Dodgers

Awwwww. Isn't that sweet? Chrome found a regular Crawford to go with my blue border Crawford. Chrome really likes me.

#137 - Ivan Nova, Yankees

Bleah.


#208 - Jason Grilli, Pirates

Not the most exciting pack. But Chrome is still holding my interest.


PACK 3


#100 - Clayton Kershaw, Dodgers

CHROME!!!!!!! I LUVVVVV YOU! YOU REALLY CARE!!!!!!


#CC-RB - Ryan Brawn, Brewers, diecut whatever we're calling these things.

Sigh. This is what Chrome does. It teases me with a Kershaw and then throws one of my least favorite players in my face in a fancy diecut design.

As usual, I will have to get rid of this card as quickly as possible. And now Chrome and I are having a fight.

#180 - Alex Rios, Rangers


#211 - Jurickson, Profar, Rangers

Giving me back-to-back Rangers isn't going to mend things, Chrome. I'm not Play At The Plate.


ORANGE REFRACTOR 3-PACK

OK, this is where the relationship usually ends.

I have terrible luck with orange refractors. I never pull Dodgers. Yet I pull an inordinate number of Cardinals and Reds, or worse, teams I cannot trade like Mariners, Marlins and Nationals. You should see the blow-ups Chrome and I have when I suggest creating orange refractors with no Mariners or Marlins in them.

Usually, the orange refractors result in me storming off and vowing to never buy Chrome again.

Let's see what happens here.


#87 - Zack Wheeler, Mets

Wow. At least Max is getting lucky.



#197 - Andrew Cashner, Padres

Ow. Ow, ow, ow, ow, ow. Cashner faces the Dodgers tonight. He already owns the Dodgers. Based on me pulling this card, Cashner will now throw a no-hitter and hit three grand slams.



#7 - Matt Cain, Giants


THAT'S IT CHROME!!!! I'M OUT OF HERE!!!!!!!!!

YOU COULDN'T LEAVE WELL ENOUGH ALONE! NOOOOOOOOOO!!!! YOU GAVE ME DODGERS AND THEN THREW GIANTS AND PADRES IN MY FACE!!!!!! 

I'M DONE WITH YOU!! DONE!!!!!

(*Slam*)

Welp. I tried.

Again.

Obviously, Chrome has intimacy issues.

(But three Dodgers isn't bad).

Thursday, August 28, 2014

My kind of 1/1


I have just one 1/1 card in my collection. I don't think you can even call it a card. It's this printing plate of Wilson Betemit here.

Although 1/1s are mildly interesting to me, I've never made it a priority to try to find any. I couldn't even tell you what the lowest serial-numbered cards are in my collection without looking them up.

I'd like to find one or two someday, but I don't think I'll ever get to it on my long list of card priorities.

And I think that's because I've experienced plenty of a 1/1s in my card collecting history, although they're only 1/1s by my definition.


This is my kind of 1/1.

This is the only 1978 Topps card of Tim Hosley that you can find. That you will ever find.

There is no gold parallel Tim Hosley
There is no tiffany Tim Hosley
There is no no-numbered Tim Hosley
There is no cracked-ice Tim Hosley
There is no chrome Tim Hosley
There is no black-bordered Tim Hosley
There is no superfractor Tim Hosley
There is no mini Tim Hosley
There is no Polar Bear-backed Tim Hosley
There is no mini, chrome, black-bordered, variation-backed Tim Hosley.

This is the only 1978 Tim Hosley you get from Topps (go to O-Pee-Chee if you want variations). This is it. Even though there are probably infinite versions of this exact same card, it is a 1/1 to me because each one of those cards is essentially the same card.

This doesn't exist in collecting anymore.

Virtually every single card is paralleled in a dozen ways or more. And it's been that way for a long time.

Take these cards I received from Ryan of "O" No!!! Another Orioles Blog recently. No reflection on the cards he sent -- I like them all and need them all -- it's just that they're from a certain time period when we weren't content to look at just one card of the same guy.


That's a Clayton Kershaw 2014 Allen & Ginter card. It's the mini version of the Kershaw base card (By the way, in 1978, there was no need to say "base card". It was just "card").



That's a Tom Lasorda 2014 Allen & Ginter card. It's also the mini version of the Lasorda base card.



And both of them are A&G-backed versions of the mini card. A version of a version.



That's a gold-bordered version of the Orlando Hudson Season Highlights card in 2009 Topps Updates & Highlights.


And that's a gold-bordered version of the three-legged Manny Ramirez card from 2009 Bowman.



And there's a gold-borderd version of the 2007 Topps Updates & Highlights all-star card of Brad Penny.



And, of course, each set has multiple versions of different versions. In 2007, we had red-letter backs to go with the very pedestrian white-letter backs.



Chrome has hit the streets. And, of course, Chrome is just one giant-paralleled set. And there's two different versions of it, too. Topps and Bowman.



Here, there is a slight difference in the cropping between these two cards. But that's not enough for me not to consider it the same card. Different border, different crop, same damn photo.



Here is a set known for its parallels and variations. Topps Stars featured one-star cards and two-star cards and three-star cards ... of EACH PLAYER. In 1997 Stars -- which these are all from -- it was a relatively staid foil (front-and-back) parallel card.


Finally, here is a card that I don't think had a parallel. 1998 Pinnacle Plus featured Artist's Proof parallels for only some of the cards in the set, Roger Cedeno not included.

It was also the last set that Pinnacle ever produced. No doubt because people frowned on not being able to find a variation for EVERY CARD.

And that brings up the question:

Would people collect a set that featured no parallels, no variations today? Will they ever again?

I would.

I admit, I love certain kinds of parallels and I'm a sucker for a lot of them. But if they all disappeared tomorrow, I could collect a set with my kind of 1/1s.


Because for the first 10 years or so of my collecting journey, that's exactly what I did.

Wednesday, August 27, 2014

The card after: just one of the guys


All right all you people who look at card blogs only to find out how much your rookie cards are worth -- BOOM! -- it's one of them rookies that actually retained at least a little of its value! You can sell this and not even have enough money to buy a case for your iphone! Yay, inflation! Yay, gadgets! Yay, nobody cares about cardboard anymore!

Anyway, this is the best rookie card of Mike Piazza. It's beautiful. The Fleer Update rookie Piazza may cost more, but it's ugly sherbet green, the photo's scrunched, and Piazza is running out of the box in a painfully awkward way like he's a 10-year-old geeked up on Sprinkle Spangles. Also Update came in a limited box set and we all know real cards are issued in packs, during the season, out in the wild, in the midst of rabid, drooling collectors. There's also the Donruss Rookie Phenoms Piazza, which is both black bordered and shiny, but again you can hear the desperation on this late-breaking card if you hold it up to your ear. Issue your cards of Mike Piazza BEFORE you know who the dude is, like the Home Of The Rookie Card does, gentlemen.

The '92 Bowman Piazza is a pretty, pretty card. And '92 Bowman is a pretty, pretty set. It's the first Bowman set, since its return in 1989, that didn't look like grandpa was its primary target market. Issued for the first time on white card stock, with a sleek, spare design, and bold white-frame borders, this set has kept its value for almost 25 years.

For proof, I still don't own all of the '92 Bowman Dodgers, while I think I finished the 1989-91 Bowman Dodgers in 1977.


Bowman updated its backs, too. Full color photo, full color graphics. And yes, Piazza wasn't drafted No. 62 overall in 1988. That's ROUND 62. Piazza came from ALL the way back. He was a beast.

But, I'm getting too caught up in the rooooooookie card. This is actually about The Card After, too. It's about the Bowman Piazza card that came AFTER the rookie card. This is how the game goes.

So, let's play that game.


THE ICONIC CARD:


Please meet: 1992 Bowman Mike Piazza

Why it's iconic: I addressed some of this up top. But there's more. Still considered one of the top rookie cards of the 1990s, I submit it is far better than any of the many significant rookies in the '92 Bowman set. Mariano Rivera's rookie may sell for  more now, because of course appearing in one inning a game is far superior to squatting behind a plate for nine innings while wearing a couple dozen pounds of equipment, bracing your face for whacks from a wooden weapon and runners who don't know their ass from a running lane. Yeah, one inning of throwing a ball is soooooo draining. But, also, Rivera's card looks like this:


And Manny Ramirez's rookie card -- another valued rookie card in this set -- looks like this:


None of what you've seen on the previous two cards is baseball. But there's a space waiting for them in mom's Sears catalog.

Let's see the Piazza card for a third time:


Not once did I wish that Piazza was wearing a green-striped shirt instead of a Dodger uniform. I can't think of anything more baseball than the picture on this card.

That "nuclear moment": I don't know when exactly Bowman decided to call itself "The Home Of The Rookie Card". If it was in '92 then that's the nuclear moment. Otherwise, it's when Bowman realized that it was the '90s and cards should be printed on glossy white stock. It also foisted foil, in all of its rainbow paralleled glory, on its collectors. 2013 had twerking. 1992 had foil. Foil doesn't seem so bad now, does it?

This card's impact today: It's one of several cards in the '92 Bowman set that combined makes the set one of the most coveted of the '90s. Personally, I'll never collect it. I've seen the Chipper Jones card. But Piazza helps at least alleviate all of that '90s fashion.

Something about this card that I think no one else has ever said: The star on the ankle of the right shin guard means that Piazza apparently broke into the Dallas Cowboys equipment room.

On the 1-25 iconic scale: 22.


THE CARD AFTER:


Please meet: 1993 Bowman Mike Piazza

Why it's not iconic: It's not a rookie card, for one. We all know that rookies cards are the only thing that matters in collecting. But I refuse to call it terrible. 1993 Bowman isn't 1992 Bowman, but it's one of Bowman's better-looking sets. And I appreciate that Piazza is featured in action. Yet, the deflated body language, the look of exasperation on his face, the ball in his hand, the fact that an Astro -- An ASTRO -- appears to be exalting in the background -- does not make this a positive experience for anyone (except for the headless Astro ... or maybe it's a Brewer. I don't know. Brewer. Astro. Either way, neither one knows how to be in the right league).

This is Piazza as a veteran. He's not a rookie anymore. He knows the deal. There are bad times in baseball. And this is one of them. He's just one of the guys.

What Bowman was doing here: Obviously moving on -- to the ROOKIES OF 1993! (*commence parade*) Derek Jeter! Andy Pettitte! Jose Vidro! Derek Jeter! Andy Pettitte! Preston Wilson! Derek Jeter! Andy Pettitte! So Piazza looks sad in his photo because nobody cares. Derek Jeter! Andy Pettitte!

Something I can say about this card to make it interesting: This is one of the few Piazza cards from 1993 in which you can see Piazza's new uniform number, #31. (the '93 SP Platinum Power insert, Topps Finest and the Pinnacle Home Run Club insert are others). Some cards in 1993 still feature him in No. 25.

Does "the card after" deserve to be iconic?: No. It's a dollar card.

On the 1-25 iconic scale: I give it a 4.

Like most cards in the 1990s, the '93 Mike Piazza was lost in a deluge of Piazza cards issued that year. I own around 30 different 1993 Piazzas and I'm sure some Piazza collector just posted something derisive on Twitter about the dude he read about who has only 30 1993 Piazzas.

Sorry. 1993 Piazza. It sucks to be just one of the crowd.