Monday, December 5, 2016

No reason to hang on to this card

I apologize if I'm writing about my confusion over and over again, but sometimes it takes a couple of posts for me to get it.

Yesterday, I was digging up some cards for a handful of card packages that went out this afternoon. Most of it was set-collecting stuff, so I was whipping through the backs of cards staring at number after number, barely looking at the fronts. It's time-consuming, but I don't mind at all.

As I shuffled through some 2015 Topps doubles down in the basement, I came up with a few needs for others and I brought them upstairs and put them on the desk.

It was only then that I realized a particular card that I had in the tiny stack.

OMG, it's the young king of the World Champions! The third base talent who (*gasp*) smiled as he prepared to record the final out of the World Series!

This is Kris Bryant's base card from 2015 Topps, Series 2. I was a little surprised the person whose want list I was looking at didn't have the card already, given circumstances I won't reveal so the person receiving it is at least slightly surprised by its arrival.

The fact that he didn't have it set off my curiosity, and since I don't sell cards, I decided to look up the going rate for this card.

Limiting my ebay search to single, ungraded versions of Bryant's card #616, no minis, gold parallels, foil parallels, variation photos, pinks, blah, blah, blah, here are the BIN prices:

$9.99, $12.50, $15.00, $17,00, $19.99, $19.99, $50.00.

Or you can buy eight of them for 100 bucks.

Heading over to COMC, here are the prices:

$11.47, $13.25, $14.25, $14.64, $15.00, $15.20, $15.93, $17.25, $17.64, $20.22, $22.25, $49.92, $50.00.


And one trip to Sportlots:

$15.00, $15.99, $18.00, $22.50, $25.00.

I admit I was kind of stunned. I didn't know such a frenzy was going on under my nose in the hobby. This is a base card, right?

The Series 2 cards immediately before and after Bryant in the set, #615, Carlos Sanchez and #617, Terrance Gore, go for 54 cents to $1.75 and 38 cents to $2.75, respectively, on COMC, so there's no rarity of Series 2 cards.

This can only be one thing. It is sellers capitalizing on the demand for a young World Series champion on a team that hadn't won a title in a century, even though this card has got to be as plentiful as any other card in the set. That is one thing that still blows my mind about card purchasers -- how a price can skyrocket for a card that was made in equal numbers to every other card, a card just as plentiful as any other. And yet people must buy it. I get everything about "supply and demand" but this always seemed weird to me.

I don't know how I ended up with my version of Bryant's #616 card, but I'm glad it landed in my collection before the 2016 World Series.

I have sympathy for those who are still looking for it to complete their 2015 set. It shouldn't be that difficult. They shouldn't have to pay $12 for a regular base card.

So I took the card of Bryant, put it in the stack with all the other cards I was sending, and shipped it off, treating it as nothing more special than any other card in the package. Because really, it isn't.

I had a #616 card of Kris Bryant. There is no reason to hang on to another one.

If I needed the cash, sure, I'd give selling a try. But I'd feel a little weird doing it. In my brain I'd be thinking "this card can't be more than a dollar!"

But that's the hobby sometimes. It's strange and weird and wonderful.

Sunday, December 4, 2016

C.A.: the review 4 (part 2)

The past week, while you were voting for the first card to advance in the fourth version of Cardboard Appreciation The Review, I was enduring some rough times at the night owl nest.

I got sick with a disturbing ailment that fortunately should be temporary. My daughter found out she's losing her job. The head honchos at my place of employment became even more unhinged than I thought they were. It's as if everything that people were complaining about the year 2016 came to roost right here all in one week.

But this is a new week, and we're rolling with the punches, and we have the first winner of our Cardboard Appreciation vote-off! Things are looking up!

Let's get a good look at the winner:

Got an eyeful of those ears?

The legendary Don Mossi, of course, advances to the next round.

Here are the vote totals for Part 1:

1. 1956 Topps Don Mossi, 16 votes
2. 1981 Topps John Pacella, 12 votes
3. 1952 Topps Andy Pafko, 8 votes
4. 1982 Fleer Darrell Jackson, 7 votes
5. 1981 Fleer John Wathan, 6 votes
6. 1977 Topps Dennis Eckersley, 4 votes
7. 1981 Fleer Rodney Craig, 4 votes
8. 2008 Wacky Packages Flashback 2 Screech Tape sticker, 0 votes

That's the power of Don Mossi, knocking down a personal favorite like the '81 John Pacella and an iconic card like the '52 Topps Andy Pafko.

So who's it going to be in round 2? I have to say that I think this one will be a rout and potentially all the way to the final. But that's way too early for that kind of talk. That's why they play the game, right? Or feed the penciled-in circles into the computer that looks like a video arcade game from the '80s after you vote, anyway.

Here are the next eight candidates:

1. 1977 Topps Bill Buckner: I think of Bill Buckner as a young, speedy, hairy-chested Dodger, not as a Cub or broken-down Red Sox first baseman. If you think the same, maybe you want to place your vote with this card.

2. 2003 Topps Hideo Nomo: This card, featuring Hideo Nomo at the height of his spectacular wind-up, was displayed as a tribute to my dupes box and stacks. I couldn't find this card in my very orderly binders, so I went to the dupes box/stacks, which produced this card ... and then produced this card again.

3. 1976 Topps Jim Burton: Do you know the first card your brother pulled of his favorite team in 1976? I do. It was Jim Burton here. Who's Jim Burton? We asked ourselves that question all of 1976.

4. 1981 Topps Ken Landreaux: This card is notable not only because Landreaux would later become a Dodger, but because Keith Olbermann says that's his pant leg and jacket sneaking into the frame.

5. 1982 Topps Denny Lewallyn: This card kicked off my One-and-Done series, which later became my One-Card Wonder series. This is where I determine which cards in a set feature a player who received only that card among major sets issued (I need to do another one of these soon). In the 1982 Topps set, Denny Lewallyn is the only player who appears just in that set.

5. 1973 Topps Pat Corrales: All right, readers, should I call the contest now? Is this our winner? It feels that way to me. This, despite all of the running-lane "plays at the plate" we have these days, is how much collectors enjoy home plate collisions.

7. 2008 Topps Stadium Club Ichiro Suzuki: I featured this card while wondering whether Topps was really resurrecting the Stadium Club brand in 2014. It turns out they were. And it has remained, as an unqualified hit, easily the best-looking set produced today. But Ichiro could have told you that.

8. 1961 Topps Jim Golden: You may have never heard of Jim Golden, but you cannot dispute that he boasts one of the most bad-ass rookie cards of all-time. He looks positively unhittable.

Those are the 8 for group 2. There is a poll ready to go on the sidebar. I welcome your vote. I welcome your thoughts as the night owl gang digs out from last week's mess. But we're a hardy bunch, we'll be fine. Just as long as I still get to write about baseball cards.

Saturday, December 3, 2016

Another relic card I don't need

I've talked about paring down my collection of Dodger relics for years now. I've done some trimming, holding a couple of giveaways. But I'm almost to the point where I want to keep what I have, at least for now.

Every once in awhile, though, a relic card emerges from the walk-in safe downtown where I keep my relics (What? You don't do the same?), and I think, "why the heck do I have this thing?"

In fact, it happened several weeks ago with one of them.

But it took me coming across another card first. It was this card:

This is a gold-bordered parallel from 2001 Topps Archives, which is a retro-reprint set. The Archives card is paying tribute to Shawn Green's initial Topps appearance in a base set, which happened in 1992.

The card is replicating this card:

Green appeared in the Draft Picks subset in 1992 as the Blue Jays' No. 1 pick in 1991. So this is a Blue Jays card.

But I don't own Green's '92 card (the above is filched scan) and was only vaguely aware of it. And that bit of unfamiliarity allowed me to keep the following card in my Dodgers' relic collection:

This is from 2003 Topps Gallery. It's a "painted" rendition of Green's Draft Picks card with a relic swatch included.

Green was an established Dodger in 2003, one of the stars of the game at that point. Both the Dodgers and Blue Jays wear blue caps, and, silly me, I just thought it was issued in 2003, so it's a Dodger card.

However, nowhere on this card is there mention of a team affiliation. And there is no date attribution for the relic either. It could be a Dodger relic or a Blue Jays relic. Who knows? They both wear white jerseys! Yay! Topps bringing you closer to the game as vaguely as possible!

So with almost no knowledge to go on, I must go with my own ranking determination system, which I just made up right now on the spot. I must return to the front of the card.

The picture on this card is taken from a Blue Jays card. I can make no determination about the relic because Topps didn't tell me anything about it. And there's nothing mentioned about a team on this entire piece of cardboard. Therefore, it's a Blue Jays card.

It doesn't belong with a Dodger fan. It belongs with a Blue Jays fan. And it will end up with a Jays fan.

I probably should look at the accuracy of some of my other Dodger relics now. I'll likely be down to 5 cards after that.

Friday, December 2, 2016

Cutting corners and other childhood collecting predictive behaviors

It doesn't take more than a couple of minutes of online searching to find a study on how childhood personality and tendencies can predict adult behavior.

First you have to weed out the links that pop up immediately that make you fear for our society -- is your child a sex abuser/serial killer? Then you come to the inevitable scientific and scholarly studies.

But what about children and cardboard? What does their physical treatment of cardboard say about their behavior as adults? Well, sadly, I believe there is no study on that. So I'll have to invent my own observations and conclusions based on absolutely nothing.

Take this 1972 Jim York card with the corners cut off. What does that say about the kid's future adult self? I looked up the genesis of the "cutting corners" phrase, and it refers to any kind of traveling -- taking a quicker, potentially more peril-filled diagonal path rather than following the lines and turning the corner.

So did this York corner-cutter grow up to drive wildly on the roads, or -- as the phrase has come to mean -- take shortcuts in his job or personal life?

I say, "no". Because the corner-cutting above doesn't have to do with any shortcut that I can figure out, unless he wanted to see what a card looked like without putting it into one of those photo albums with the corner tabs.

Who knows why corner-cutter did this? Probably grew up to be a psycho.

Let's consider this card.

It's a fabulous 1933 Goudey card of Dodgers pitcher Owen Carroll, who won 13 games one year at the tail end of his career for Brooklyn. It was sent to me by Nick of Dime Boxes. He got a deal on it because the border is missing. Someone removed it.

Now if this was a kid who cut it off, who did he grow up to be? I say he became one of those company penny-pinchers. "We don't need this border! It's just a bunch of white space. How much is that costing us?! Get rid of it!! And all the people we employ to put borders on things. Out on the street of all of you!!!"

Sure the card is collectible. Almost as much as with the original border. I refuse to complain because I wouldn't have the card if it had a border. But I may quest for a bordered one in the future, because I don't want to see those border employees on the streets during the Christmas holiday.

Let's see some more cards that Nick sent.

Hmmm. That's a little interesting. I didn't know these Upper Deck Textbook inserts had parallels, but of course they did. The scalloped edge is pretty pointless to me, but it was probably constructed by someone who was a corner-cutter as kid. Only now it's known more professionally as "die-cutting." What a relief. Corner-Cutter didn't grow up to be a psycho. He's a perfectly respectable Die-Cutter.

Buybacks. What kind of kid collector was the adult who invented buybacks?

Maybe it was the kid who scribbled out "2b" on his Jim Davenport card because he never saw Davenport play second base. And then, years later, somewhere in his cynical adult mind, he thought, "hey that's a NEW version of that card. Hey, Gold Foil Stamp Guy, let's stamp all these old cards and turn them into NEW cards." And buybacks were born.

And people collect them. Even I collect them. But for ironic reasons only. That '75 Sonny Siebert buyback is headed to my inevitably disappointing quest to complete a full 1975 buyback set.

OK, the rest of the cards you'll see from Nick haven't been altered -- much.

1997 Ultra Gold Medallion Brett Butler.

2015 Stadium Club gold parallel Kenley Jansen.

2013 Chrome purple parallel Matt Magill.

Two modern inventions that I wish would go away in one card. It's a foil parallel of a guy in a host-team themed jersey.


Two 2016 Update team needs. One card to go.

2016 Bowman International Ink insert of Oneal Cruz. No idea. But happy to have it.

Yay! A 1976 Kellogg's Don Sutton. The cracks are much more evident on the scan. This card will go toward my completion quest for this set. Expect to see a want list next year.

And what does this card say about the collector's adult behavior?

As you can see this 1962 Post Charlie Neal was cut off the cereal box in a rather careful way. But that's deceiving. Judging by the ragged edges and wrinkles, they probably either didn't wait for the cereal to be emptied from the box, or didn't flatten the box before cutting. THEY JUST WANTED THE CARD, MAN!

And that means that this person grew up to be just about every card collector I know.

Wednesday, November 30, 2016

My attention span isn't what it used to be

When I first started collecting, there was one set to collect each year and that was it.

When I first returned to collecting, there was one set to collect and that was it, too, because that's what I knew. I returned to the hobby by attempting to complete the first card set of my youth, the 1975 Topps set. I had no interest in any other cards (nor really the knowledge of what was out there). I was focused.

Slowly, that focus faded and I collected more and varied cards. Then I started a blog, and that blew the doors down. I tried to remain steadfast to a few key missions: whatever '70s or '80s set I was trying to complete and Dodgers. But as the years passed, more and more interesting cards arrived. The collection expanded. Let's face it: I've been doing this a long time, and knowledge can be a dangerous thing when it comes to wanting cards.

So it is that we come to my latest COMC order. It's the annual order I place before the Christmas season hits, before I have to cut myself off from my cash.

This order of cards is all over the place, hitting at least nine different collecting missions, and you probably could break it down even more.

Let's see the variety right now:

Pedros. These are a direct result from my Pedro post from a few weeks ago. I suddenly found myself on COMC looking for Pedro Guerreros I didn't have and was stunned by the number still missing. I selected these four as must-haves. I also added the Stadium Club Firebrand card up top. Those were a big deal a couple of years ago. I waited until they weren't. Still a big deal to me though.

Just one card from the Pedro named Martinez, but what a card. The 1993 Score Boys Of Summer insert set is pretty popular and I can see why.

Let's get these out of the way. While people are buying these same cards with giant snowflakes on them, I'VE COMPLETED THE SERIES 2 DODGERS, YOU GUYS!

As usual when I complete the Dodgers from a set I don't like, let's never speak of these again.

I was watching the World Series and it was one of those times when Carlos Santana came to the plate. Every Dodger fan who sees Carlos Santana thinks the same thing. No, not "Oye Como Va," it's Casey Blake.

The next thought was "I don't think I own any Santana Dodger cards." This was a major gaffe in my collection. Santana's Dodger days are now chronicled.

When I came back to collecting, the first modern set I collected within the year it was issued was 2006 Topps, along with Opening Day and Upper Deck. I'm still a sucker for the red parallels from Opening Day. Don't think about them much, but when I do -- gimme.

I'll take a bit of a break from the Dodgers for a moment. This card turned up when I was searching for something else. I don't remember what that something else was because Rick Reuschel chewed it up and put it in his face!

I am a sucker for chaw cards. And Hostess cards, of course. And I promise you the Best 1970s Cards Countdown is coming. I did some more listing just last week. We shall see if Reuschel shows up.

Three lovely ladies for the Allen & Ginter mini frankenset binder. The dudes are dominating the thing and I needed to do something about that. Each of these has a spot reserved in the binder. I checked before I ordered them. Like anyone in their spot had a chance.

Back to the Dodgers! When gcrl sent me a bunch of needs from the '01 Legends Of New York set, I knew I would have to finish it off. These were the last three needs. And I can see why it took me so long to land the Duke Snider, judging by how fantastic it is.

Yes, everyone, more 1975 buybacks!!!!!!

I'm still finding these relatively cheaply and think I can make another order or two before I start running into obnoxiously priced ones. These cards, plus one I got in the mail yesterday, puts me at 111 cards from the set total. That means, at most, 549 to go! ... OK, that's a lot.

Whazzis? A card from the 1971 Topps set? Haven't I completed this set already?

Yes, I have. But this card is the last card in the set, the highest of the high numbers, an often tricky item. My previous Drago card has a bit of scribbling on it.

Someone tried to color in the white border until someone said WHAT THE HELL ARE YOU DOING? The card with the pen mark was perfectly satisfactory for my set completion. But I run a blog on the 1971 set! It's a semi-respectable organization.

I wouldn't have even bothered if the new Drago wasn't a little more than a buck and in great shape. That's just nuts.

Here is a set that I am currently trying to complete. Bill Virdon, at card No. 661, leaves me seven toughies to go. I'm sorry, I probably won't complete this set before 2017 hits, which is what I wanted.

If the cards weren't so pricey, I would have focused on this set like I did the '75 set and '74 and a few others. I like focusing on one set. It's calming and I definitely feel less jittery collecting that way.

However, to narrow a focus prevents me from getting cards like this:

I have wanted this card for 37 years.

Sure, I forgot about it for a bunch of years in there, but Rose's 1979 Burger King card is never far away from my conscious. When this card first appeared wherever I was in 1979, I'm sure my mouth dropped. Rose's move from the Reds to the Phillies was major news. And seeing him in anything other than a Reds uniform was stunning. Plus, this was before separate traded sets (excluding '74 and '76). Burger King was it, and, man, was it IT!

I'm sure at a particular point in time, this was the most desirable card in 1979. Nobody even knew who Ozzie Smith was.

So, now, finally, something that I thought was untouchable is now mine.

I couldn't have done it if I still had an attention span.

Tuesday, November 29, 2016

Which Fan Favorites set was the best?

This is the post that I teased to last week when I wrote those back-to-back posts on Fan Favorites. Out of the three Topps All-Time Fan Favorites sets issued between 2003-05, which set was the best?

For me, "best" means that the cards themselves properly reflected the player, the team and the design. That's because it's very apparent that Fan Favorites' attempt was to show each player with a team for which they were popular, a "favorite". It also tried to pick a year, meaning the Topps design it chose, in which the player did particularly well or was noted in some other way (it was their rookie year, for example). It's the reason why I love the set so much ... that, and all of the new photos that were used.

I don't know how you determine accurately which set is the best by looking at every single card in each set. That sounds exhausting. So, what I did instead, is figured out which individuals received a card in 2003, 2004 and 2005. And then determined which card was the best for each individual. Yup, this will be equally as exhausting.

There are 35 individuals that received cards in each of the three sets. Many are the players I mentioned on the "most favorite fan favorites" post from last week. So my guesses about those players were probably right (I also may have missed a couple).

One player, Reggie Jackson above, received four total cards. He got two in the 2004 set for some reason. Too bad, Reggie, that disqualifies you. I can only consider one card per year.

So I'll show the 34 individuals' three cards now with a grading for each players' cards.

Grading is as follows:

10 points for the photo
20 points for whether the photo goes with the year portrayed
10 points for whether proper year was chosen

In most cases, except when a horizontal card is involved, the cards are, from left to right, 2003, 2004, 2005.

Here we go:

1. Harold Baines

2003: 40 points; 2005: 35 points; 2004: 30

The green border of Harold Baines' rookie card is well-known, and so is the uniform that the White Sox wore at that time. The 2003 set gets both right, although Baines was wearing the dark Sox uniform on his rookie card. The 2005 card comes close, but I almost gave negative points for the jarring change in uniform styles between the photo and the inset.

2. Johnny Bench

2005: 35 points; 2004: 30 points; 2003: 30 points

Bench is a weird one for me because the magnitude of his cards from the mid-1970s is such a part of my childhood. 2005 gets a slight edge because it accumulates points in every category, even though the disembodied hands lunging things at him is a bit strange for a photo. The photo on the 1970 card is likely more recent than 1970.

3. Yogi Berra

2005: 40 points; 2003: 35 points; 2004: 5 points

I like the 2003 Fan Favorites Yogi quite a bit, so this is a little disappointing. But by 1958, Berra was starting to decline a little. The 2005 Fan Favorites 1973 card, meanwhile, highlights the manager who took the Mets to the World Series that year. The 2004 card, I don't know what they were thinking. That is not a photo of an active major league catcher.

4. Vida Blue

2005: 25 points; 2004: 20 points; 2003: 20 points

Not the greatest reflection of Vida Blue. Topps gets the design right, featuring Blue during his breakout Cy Young year of 1971, but then uses the same design again. Also, Blue did not have a mustache on his 1971 Topps card. For the Giants card, the 1978 design would have been the better year as he had a better season and started the All-Star Game that year.

5. Wade Boggs

2003: 30 points; 2005: 25 points; 2004: 25 points

Personally, I would have gone with the 1983 design (rookie card and a big year) or the 1985 or 1987 design (two of his best years). The 1986 design is in the wheelhouse, but as mentioned in the comments below, the photo is from Boggs' 1993 card. I like the 2003 Fan Favorites card a lot. The 2004 card with Boggs as a Yankee is just wrong, but he did ride on a horse around Yankee Stadium that year.

6. George Brett

2004: 40 points; 2005: 40 points; 2003: 30 points

I picked the 2004 card because I break all ties. And I'm a sucker for a mid-1970s All-Star banner. Although I'm supposed to go gaga over Brett's rookie card look, the 2003 Fan Favorites doesn't do it for me.

7. Lou Brock

2005: 40 points; 2003: 35 points; 2004: 30 points

I didn't see this one coming at all, but the 2004 Fan Favorites commits a cardinal sin (ha!) in showing a uniform on a '75 design that didn't appear until 1976. The 2005 card, although I'm bugged that the banner is not as large as they were on the 1965 cards, gets it right across the board. 1965 was Brock's first full season with the Cardinals after absolutely going nuts for part of a season in '64.

8. Jose Canseco

2005: 40 points; 2003: 40 points; 2004: 35 points

Another tie, and I'm picking rookie cup Canseco. He was the rookie of year the previous season, so good choice with the '87 design. The 1991 design works, too, as Canseco hit a career-high 44 home runs that year, but using it twice is a no-no when his MVP year of 1988 was ignored. Also the 2004 Fan Favorites looks a lot like this card.

9. Rod Carew

2003: 40 points; 2004: 35 points; 2005: 10 points

The 2003 Fan Favorites shows Rod Carew's July 1977 Time magazine cover shot on the 1977 Topps design. Outstanding. I won't mention that you'd never see a photo like that in the '77 set. Meanwhile, the 2005 Fan Favorites card is all wrong. Nice photo, but I don't even know if we had reached the '70s when that photo was taken.

10. Gary Carter

2004: 40 points; 2003: 30 points; 2005: 20 points

The 2003 Fan Favorites card may have won if not for butchering the team name color (Red?). But in the end, I like Carter as an Expo a lot better.

11. Orlando Cepeda

2004: 35 points; 2003: 30 points; 2005: 30 points

The photo used with the 2004 Fan Favorites was also used in the 1968 Topps set, but I'm not going to take off points for that. All of these designs are from years in which Cepeda did very well (or in the case of the '68 design, coming off an MVP season). But apparently they don't have any photos of him wearing a Giants cap.

12. Andre Dawson

2003: 40 points; 2004: 40 points; 2005: 35 points

Although 2003 and 2004 tied, I'm calling 2003 almost a perfect card and selecting that one. Great photo, design from his MVP year, you can't go wrong. As for the 1990 design in 2005, I would have gone with 1983 with Dawson as an Expo. He was terrific that year.

13. Whitey Ford

2003: 35 points; 2004: 30 points; 2005: 30 points

Lot of similarity here with Whitey. The 2003 Ford wins because his 1961 season was bananas. The 2004 card is more pleasing than the others, but his 1954 season didn't particularly stand out.

14. Steve Garvey

2005: 40 points; 2004: 40 points; 2003: 35 points

The cards are out of order because of the horizontal card. The 2005 card is on top with the 2003 card at left and the 2004 at right. I picked 2005 over 2004, because, of course, Garvey is a Dodger first. Nice photo of Garvey signing for misguided Padres fans, though. (P.S.: The 2003 Garvey makes up for Wes Parker hogging Garvey's '73 Topps card).

15. Dwight Gooden

2005: 40 points; 2003: 35 points; 2004: 35 points

It's sad that some people only remember Gooden as the Yankee no-hitter guy. They missed the best part. The other two cards show Gooden on designs when he was at his best and most famous. I prefer the photo on the '86 design.

16. Tony Gwynn

2004: 25 points; 2003: 20 points; 2005: 10 points

Not a good showing by Mr. Gwynn. I don't know why Topps chose the 2000 and 2001 designs -- those were Gywnn's two final years and he didn't play a lot (and why is the 2000 border gold?). The 2004 card, although the winner, shows Gwynn during two different uniform periods. Urg.

17. Keith Hernandez

2005: 35 points; 2004: 30 points; 2003: 30 points

Sometimes I get the feeling Topps ran out of decent photos to use. Neither Mets photo is great. But the 2005 Fan Favorite 1984 design wins as it was Hernandez's arrival with the Mets. The Cardinals card should have featured either the 1979 or 1980 design as he won the MVP in '79.

18. Monte Irvin

2005: 40 points; 2003: 40 points; 2004: 35 points

The 2005 Fan Favorites card edges out the 2003 card because way to get 1951 Topps in there!! It's interesting to me that players like Aaron and Mays received cards in just two of the Fan Favorites sets but Irvin appeared in all three.

19. Bo Jackson

2005 Topps: 40 points; 2004 Topps: 35 points; 2003 Topps 30 points

Jackson's most sensational period was sandwiched within three years with the Royals. I like the 2005 card with the 1988 design a lot, although it's not as good as Jackson's actual 1988 Topps card.

20. Al Kaline

2005: 40 points; 2003: 35 points; 2004: 30 points

(2003 card is on the top) It's difficult for me to gauge whether '50s players have time-appropriate photos according to the design used. Uniforms barely changed then and everyone had the same haircut. But I went with the 2005 Fan Favorite's 59 design because I like that design the best.

21. Harmon Killebrew

2005: 40 points; 2004: 30 points; 2003: 15 points

All of these cards feature designs from years in which Killebrew performed very well. But, caught ya, Topps, I believe the photo used on the 1961 design is from 1972 or later (red, white and blue collar is tip-off).

22. Don Mattingly

2004: 35 points; 2003: 35 points; 2005: 30 points

I went with the 2004 '84 design over the 2003 '86 just because of the rookie card angle (yeah, look at me, all about the rookies). But bonus points to 2003 Fan Favorites for using a photo of Mattingly with the black arm band, which I believe is for remembering Roger Maris, which the Yankees wore all during the 1986 season.

23. Dale Murphy

2005: 35 points; 2004: 30 points; 2003: 25 points

A rocky showing for Murph. While I love the photo used for the 2003 Fan Favorites, the Braves ditched those helmets in 1980 and they were nowhere to be found in 1985. Also, granted, Murphy's only decent season with the Phillies was 1991, but him as a Phillie is too weird. How about a card from one of his MVP years in 82 or 83?

24. Stan Musial

2003: 30 points; 2004: 20 points; 2005: 20 points

Topps was a bit stuck with Musial because his best years were before Topps had a contract with him. The design years used -- 1958 and 1961 (twice) -- were particularly notable years for Stan the Man. But the two '61 cards allow me to show this:

Topps noted Musial's military service on one card and left it out on another.

25. Paul O'Neill

2003: 40 points; 2004: 35 points; 2005: 30 points

Oscar Gamble and Steve Carlton get one Fan Favorite card and Paul flipping O'Neill gets three. There is no justice. O'Neill's best card is the 2003 card from the year he helped the Yankees win the World Series (1998). I would've replaced O'Neill's 2005 card with the 2001 design for a 1994 design as he led the league in batting that year.

26. Cal Ripken Jr.

2005: 35 points; 2004: 30 points; 2003: 20 points

Cal on the base paths!!!! ... Like with Gwynn, Topps was obsessed with Ripken's final seasons, I don't know why. The 2005 card of the 2001 design (Ripken's last year) gets the nod only because the inset photo on the 1983 design is from Topps' 1984 all-star card of Ripken and does not compute! Also, a card with a 1995/96 design would have been nice as he broke Lou Gehrig's record in late 1995.

27. Brooks Robinson

2005: 35 points; 2004: 25 points; 2003: 5 points

The 2003 Fan Favorites Robinson card might be the worst card in the set in terms of proper time placement. That's an old Robinson pictured during a set issued during his MVP season (1964) nine years into his career. There has to be 12 years difference between the design and the photo.

28. Frank Robinson

2004: 35 points; 2005: 25 points; 2003: 15 points

The 2003 card with the 1966 design is not right at all. Robinson is older in that photo than he is on the 2005 '71 card. The 2005 card shows Robinson's picture from his 1968 all-star card. So with the O's cards in disarray, the Reds Robinson card steps in for the win.

29. Nolan Ryan

2003: 35 points; 2005: 30 points; 2004: 30 points

I am so over Nolan Ryan as a Ranger and have been since the early '90s. Where is Ryan as a Houston Astro here??? I would have been happy to select the '79 style Ryan, but he had a bunch of 300-strikeout seasons in the '70s and 1979 wasn't one of them.

30. Ron Santo

2004: 40 points; 2003; 35 points; 2005: 25 points

You can't go wrong with the giant rookie trophy. The Santo on the 1965 design looks a little young for that period. Either that or the '66 design Santo look a little old for that period. Good to see the cubby bear is featured in each one.

31. Mike Schmidt

2003: 40 points; 2004: 35 points; 2005: 25 points

Seeing Schmidt without a mustache is odd, so seeing him on 2 of the 3 cards without a mustache is unsettling and basically because we have to be all rookies all the time. Schmidt was still trying to figure things out in those two photos on the right. I prefer the 1980 design, when he was the MVP ... and had a mustache.

32. Tom Seaver

2003: 35 points; 2004: 30 points; 2005: 20 points

I'm fairly certain the 2003 '69 design is just Seaver's 1970 Topps card with a slightly different crop. ... I detest the 2005 '77 card for the same reason I didn't like capless cards when I was a kid. Bleah.

33. Duke Snider

(The 2003 card is on the top with the 2004 card underneath)

2004: 40 points; 2003: 35 points; 2005: 30 points

Anything from the mid-1950s is good for Snider. Right in his peak years. The 2005 '58 card is from Snider's first year in L.A. It's only notable because it's odd to see an actual L.A. cap on a 1958 design instead of the paint jobs on Dodgers' caps that year.

34. Carl Yastrzemski

(Counterclockwise from bottom left: 2003, 2004, 2005)

2004: 35 points; 2005: 20 points; 2003: 15 points

Two of the Yaz cards are all wrong. Let's start with the most painful: the Red Sox's red caps were almost 10 years from being born when the 1967 card set was out. Also, the 2005 card with the 1963 design features a much older Yaz and in '63 the action shot was in the inset! Congrats, 2004 rookie Yaz, you win.

That's all of them. Phew!

Now let's total it up and see which set did it best:

2005 FF: 1,035 points
2003 FF: 1,040 points
2004 FF: 1,070 points

2004 Topps Fan Favorites is the winner!

2004 has always been my favorite because it's the set that brought me back to collecting modern cards.

So that kind of proved absolutely nothing, but I thought it was a fun exercise. And for all 2.5 of you who read to the end, here is the list of each Fan Favorite and how many cards they received in the series. After this I think I'm done writing about Fan Favorites for awhile.

1 Aaron, Hank 2
2 Abbott, Jim 2
3 Allen, Richie 1
4 Alou, Jesus 1
5 Alou, Matty 1
6 Anderson, Brady 1
7 Anderson, Sparky 2
8 Andujar, Joaquin 1
9 Armas, Tony 1
10 Aparicio, Luis 2
11 Baines, Harold 3
12 Baker, Dusty 1
13 Balboni, Steve 1
14 Banks, Ernie 2
15 Barfield, Jesse 1
16 Barrett, Marty 1
17 Bauer, Hank 2
18 Beane, Billy 1
19 Bell, Buddy 2
20 Bell, George 1
21 Bench, Johnny 3
22 Berger, Sy 1
23 Berra, Yogi 3
24 Blair, Paul 1
25 Blomberg, Ron 1
26 Blue, Vida 3
27 Blyleven, Bert 1
28 Boddicker, Mike 1
29 Boggs, Wade 3
30 Bonds, Barry 1
31 Bonilla, Bobby 1
32 Boone, Bob 1
33 Boston, Daryl 1
34 Boyer, Clete 1
35 Brantley, Jeff 1
36 Bream, Sid 1
37 Brett, George 3
38 Brock, Lou 3
39 Brosius, Scott 1
40 Brunansky, Tom 1
41 Buck, Joe 1
42 Buckner, Bill 1
43 Buhner, Jay 1
44 Bunning, Jim 1
45 Butler, Brett 2
46 Campaneris, Bert 1
47 Candelaria, John 2
48 Canseco, Jose 3
49 Carew, Rod 3
50 Carlton, Steve 1
51 Carter, Gary 3
52 Carter, Joe 1
53 Cash, Norm 1
54 Cepeda, Orlando 3
55 Cey, Ron 1
56 Clark, Jack 1
57 Clark, Will 1
58 Coleman, Vince 1
59 Concepcion, Dave 2
60 Cone, David 1
61 Cooper, Cecil 1
62 Craig, Roger 1
63 Cruz, Jose 1
64 Cuellar, Mike 2
65 Darling, Ron 1
66 Daulton, Darren 2
67 Davis, Alvin 1
68 Davis, Eric 1
69 Dawson, Andre 3
70 DeCinces, Doug 1
71 Dempsey, Rick 1
72 Dernier, Bob 1
73 Dibble, Rob 1
74 Drabek, Doug 1
75 Dykstra, Len 2
76 Dunston, Shawon 1
77 Eckersley, Dennis 2
78 Elway, John 1
79 Epstein, Theo 1
80 Erskine, Carl 1
81 Evans, Darrell 2
82 Evans, Dwight 1
83 Face, Roy 1
84 Feller, Bob 2
85 Fernandez, Sid 2
86 Fernandez, Tony 1
87 Fidrych, Mark 2
88 Fielder, Cecil 1
89 Fingers, Rollie 2
90 Fisk, Carlton 2
91 Ford, Whitey 3
92 Foster, George 2
93 Freehan, Bill 1
94 Frey, Jim 1
95 Fryman, Travis 1
96 Friend, Bob 1
97 Fuentes, Tito 1
98 Gaetti, Gary 2
99 Gamble, Oscar 1
100 Gant, Ron 1
101 Garner, Phil 1
102 Garvey, Steve 3
103 Geronimo, Cesar 1
104 Gibson, Bob 2
105 Gibson, Kirk 2
106 Giuliani, Rudy 1
107 Gooden, Dwight 3
108 Gossage, Rich 1
109 Grace, Mark 1
110 Gregg, Eric 1
111 Grich, Bob 2
112 Griffey, Ken 1
113 Grote, Jerry 1
114 Gruber, Kelly 1
115 Guerrero, Pedro 1
116 Guidry, Ron 2
117 Gwynn, Tony 3
118 Hammaker, Atlee 1
119 Harwell, Ernie 2
120 Hernandez, Keith 3
121 Hershiser, Orel 1
122 Herzog, Whitey 1
123 Horner, Bob 1
124 Horton, Willie 1
125 Hough, Charlie 2
126 Hrabosky, Al 1
127 Hrbek, Kent 1
128 Hubbard, Glenn 1
129 Incaviglia, Pete 1
130 Irvin, Monte 3
131 Jackson, Bo 3
132 Jackson, Reggie 4
133 Jacoby, Brook 1
134 Jeffries, Gregg 2
135 Jenkins, Fergie 2
136 Jocketty, Walt 1
137 John, Tommy 1
138, Johnson, Dave 1
139 Johnson, Howard 2
140  Jones, Cleon 1
141 Jones, Randy 1
142 Joyner, Wally 1
143 Justice, David 1
144 Kaat, Jim 1
145 Kaline, Al 3
146 Kay, Michael 1
147 Kelly, Tom 1
148 Kessinger, Don 1
149 Key, Jimmy 1
150 Killebrew, Harmon 3
151 Kiner, Ralph 1
152 Kingman, Dave 1
153 Knight, Ray 2
154 Knoblauch, Chuck 1
155 Koosman, Jerry 1
156 Kranepool, Ed 1
157 Kruk, John 2
158 Labine, Clem 1
159 Larsen, Don 2
160 LaRussa, Tony 1
161 Lasorda, Tom 1
162 Law, Vern 1
163 Lemke, Mark 1
164 Lemon, Chet 2
165 Leonard, Jeffrey 1
166 Leyland, Jim 1
167 Leyritz, Jim 1
168 Lonborg, Jim 1
169 Lopes, Dave 1
170 Loria, Jeffrey 1
171 Luzinski, Greg 1
172 Lyons, Barry 1
173 Lyons, Steve 1
174 Lynn, Fred 1
175 Maas, Kevin 1
176 Maddox, Garry 1
177 Madlock, Bill 1
178 Magadan, Dave 1
179 Maldonado, Candy 1
180 Marichal, Juan 2
181 Martinez, Denny 1
182 Martinez, Edgar 1
183 Matthews, Gary 1
184 Mattingly, Don 3
185 Mays, Willie 2
186 Mazeroski, Bill 2
187 McBride, Bake 1
188 McCarver, Tim 2
189 McCovey, Willie 1
190 McDowell, Jack 1
191 McDowell, Sam 1
192 McGee, Willie 2
193 McLain, Dennis 1
194 McRae, Hal 1
195 McReynolds, Kevin 1
196 Mendoza, Mario 1
197 Miller, Marvin 1
198 Molitor, Paul 2
199 Monday, Rick 1
200 Morgan, Joe 2
201 Morris, Jack 1
202 Murphy, Dale 3
203 Musial, Stan 3
204 Newcombe, Don 2
205 Nettles, Graig 1
206 Niedenfuer, Tom 1
207 Niekro, Phil 1
208 Norris, Mike 1
209 Oglive, Ben 1
210 Oliva, Tony 2
211 O’Neil, Buck 1
212 O’Neill, Paul 3
213 Oquendo, Jose 1
214 Orosco, Jesse 1
215 Palmer, Jim 2
216 Parker, Dave 1
217 Parrish, Lance 1
218 Pendleton, Terry 1
219 Pepitone, Joe 2
220 Perez, Tony 1
221 Perry, Gaylord 1
222 Pesky, Johnny 1
223 Piersall, Jim 1
224 Pignatano, Joe 1
225 Podres, Johnny 2
226 Powell, Boog 1
227 Puckett, Kirby 1
228 Raines, Tim 2
229 Reardon, Jeff 1
230 Reynolds, Harold 2
231 Rice, Jim 2
232 Richard, J.R. 2
233 Richardson, Bobby 2
234 Ripken Jr., Cal 3
235 Rivers, Mickey 2
236 Rizzuto, Phil 1
237 Roberts, Robin 1
238 Robinson, Brooks 3
239 Robinson, Frank 3
240 Rudi, Joe 1
241 Ryan, Nolan 3
242 Saberhagen, Bret 2
243 Sabo, Chris 1
244 Sandberg, Ryne 1
245 Sain, Johnny 1
246 Santana, Rafael 1
247 Santo, Ron 3
248 Sax, Steve 1
249 Schmidt, Mike 3
250 Schoendienst, Red 1
251 Score, Herb 1
252 Scott, George 1
253 Scott, Mike 1
254 Seaver, Tom 3
255 Sheppard, Bob 1
256 Skowron, Bill 2
257 Smalley, Roy 1
258 Smith, Lee 1
259 Smith, Lonnie 1
260 Smith, Ozzie 2
261 Smith, Reggie 1
262 Smith, Zane 1
263 Snider, Duke 3
264 Snyder, Cory 1
265 Spahn, Warren 1
266 Steinbach, Terry 1
267 Stieb, Dave 2
268 Stewart, Dave 1
269 Strawberry, Darryl 1
270 Sutcliffe, Rick 1
271 Sutter, Bruce 2
272 Sutton, Don 1
273 Swoboda, Ron 1
274 Tekulve, Kent 1
275 Templeton, Garry 1
276 Thomas, Gorman 1
277 Thomson, Bobby 1
278 Tiant, Luis 1
279 Trammell, Alan 2
280 Tudor, John 1
281 Ueberroth, Peter 1
282 Valentine, Bobby 1
283 Van Slyke, Andy 2
284 Vincent, Fay 1
285 Viola, Frank 1
286 Wallach, Tim 1
287 Walton, Jerome 1
288 Watson, Bob 1
289 Weaver, Earl 2
290 Weiss, Walt 1
291 Welch, Bob 1
292 Wetteland, John 1
293 Whitaker, Lou 2
294 White, Devon 1
295 Williams, Dick 1
296 Williams, Matt 1
297 Williams, Mitch 1
298 Wills, Maury 2
299 Wilson, Mookie 1
300 Wilson, Willie 1
301 Winfield, Dave 1
302 Wood, Wilbur 1
303 Yastrzemski, Carl 3
304 Young, Anthony 1
305 Yount, Robin 2
306 Zimmer, Don 2