Monday, June 24, 2019


I have a love-hate relationship with the use of yellow on baseball cards.

I realize that it is necessary. There's nothing brighter than yellow, so when you want to alert a card collector -- HEY! BUY THIS CARD! -- yellow helps. Oh, Yeah, it sure does help.

But there are other times, some vary obvious glaring times -- you know how much glare yellow creates -- when it's too much. There were other colors that could have been selected, other choices that would be a little less offensive, or at least something that could be turned down a notch. (FYI: I wrote about yellow on cards a couple years ago, mentioning some of these same ideas and even doing a countdown. You run out of ideas after 10 plus years).

I find yellow not all that attractive given the choices. So when the 1959 Topps set selected yellow for many of the Dodgers cards ...

... yeah, it bothered me. There are so many fun colors in the 1959 set. Seafoam green and pink-house pink and sky blue and orangey orange and jet black. I don't really find anything fun in a yellow border.

So aggravating. That's how I find yellow. The year before, Topps had the audacity to put every last Dodger player in a yellow border.

Don't go looking for another color for the Dodgers this year. You won't find any. Besides you'll be blinded by a single view of the team set. (Other teams are similarly afflicted, but they do get one or two colors mixed in with all that yellow).

That's how it goes with yellow and cards for me, and I haven't even reached the biggest laughingstock in yellow ever created.

1991 Fleer created an entire set robed in yellow. No other color. Just yellow. I'll admit, it accomplished the buzz it sought. Collectors still talk about this set, mostly in derisive tones, which then causes a few misguided souls to profess their undying love for a set colored with a few thousand egg yolks.

(I am just noticing that the '91 Fleer design scheme is very similar to the Yello 45 sleeve at the top of the post and now I am quite conflicted).

Yet, there are times when yellow simply works on cards.

Yellow is a time-honored tradition for food-issue cards, which makes sense as yellow is a traditional color used in restaurant advertising (particularly fast-food) and food packaging. None of the above designs bother me in the slightest because I expect it. I expect no logos and the brightest possible design treatment.

I've even enjoyed yellow in Topps flagship issues, discounting those late '50s examples.

For example, I adore the yellow-bordered cards in the 1972 Topps set, most especially the Astros cards. This Cesar Cedeno card was featured in my blog header several years ago just because I've enjoyed it ever since I was a kid. The yellow backdrop works perfectly with the blue-and-orange of the team name and the Astros' uniform colors from that time brings the entire card together.

Would the 1975 Topps all-star cards (my favorite all-star cards) have the same impact if the top half of the border wasn't yellow? I think not.

As much as this now makes me envision the greatness of a blue-red '75 All-Star card, nothing ANNOUNCES a presence like yellow. And that's what you need with an all-star card.

So that little history lesson brings me to what caused me to write all this (again):

A few weeks ago, the Twitter world went into a frenzy (shocker, I know) about yellow parallels discovered in Topps Series 1 packs found at Walgreen's.

Everywhere, it seemed, collectors were scoping out area Walgreen's and announcing whether they found the yellow parallels or not. Some scolded their Walgreen's for failing to stock Topps Series 1. Meanwhile I thought I was fortunate that my Walgreen's regularly stocked repack boxes. I didn't even know Walgreen's stocked current Topps cards.

So I didn't find any yellow parallels myself. The above card was sent to me by Matt from The Summer of '74 blog (and more frequently, of Twitter).

It's ... weird.

It reminds me of -- and I'm going to go very old-school here -- the View Master projectors and reels. There was a feature (I think it was View Master anyway) where you could filter the image you saw by a color, red, blue, etc. That's what this looks like, the image viewed through a yellow filter.

It's pretty pointless. I don't mind pointless, if it looks nice or cool. This looks like, eh. Which is fitting, because "eh" describes any visit to Walgreen's.

A few years ago I'd be in a panic because this would be another parallel I would have to chase for all of the Dodgers and where am I going to find those? But I don't bother with that stuff anymore.

Instead, I gladly accept the cards that people send me. Matt added a few other needs with the yellow-themed Jansen.

A non-licensed version -- and how about this filter? -- of your starting NL All-Star outfielder.

The best of the Dodgers' 47 catching prospects.

I am a winner ... of one of the last '92 Winner Dodgers that I still needed (It may be the last one, I have so many other completion tasks to track before this one).

A couple of Bowman Chrome "needs" of a former Dodger prospect and one that is still working his way through the L.A. ranks.

Here's a bit of embarrassment. Matt threw a few Piazza cards at me in an image and allowed me to select which ones I needed. I picked these two.

But because my eyes repeatedly fail me and I am not familiar with cards from 2000, I wasn't aware that the cards at the left was Piazza as a Met and what the hell am I going to do with that? (Well, I know what to do with it -- trade it).

But it's nice to get that '93 Leaf one finally.

Matt also found a few early '80s Fleer needs for my collection. Look at how chill players were in 1983. Don't you wish they were that relaxed on your cards now? I know I do.

Advancing into the past one more year. There's big boy Al Holland.

And this thing. I love it and cringe at the same time. It's obviously at Dodger Stadium. You can barely see Dickie Thon's face. It looks like a card that is 37 years old. Isn't it great?

Fleer used a lot of yellow in its early sets, too, especially the 1981 "debut," which was nothing but yellow. I wasn't all that crazy about it back in '81 and I know it was because of the yellow. It's quite the polarizing color.

Because there was one more of those yellow parallels that Matt sent that I like quite a bit.

Oh, yeah.

Saturday, June 22, 2019

Midseason pack war

We are quickly approaching the mid-point of the baseball season. Within the next week every team will have played half of their games already.

This season has gone by faster than any I can remember, mostly because I have barely paid attention. My total baseball viewing since Opening Day has probably amounted to a week of the season. I can remember sitting down to watch a ballgame maybe five times so far.

I need to stop slacking and actually view some games and I'm hoping the second half will be more productive than the first half. I'm looking forward to catching up on everything I've missed. I'm sure there are a whole bunch of players running around out there that I have no idea who they are.

To get a head start on the second half, I grabbed a rack pack of Topps Series 2 and a rack pack of Big League. I bought the Series 2 because it's new and the Big League because I still find it interesting.

Each pack was $4.99, which I found interesting because Series 2 contains four more cards in a rack pack than Big League. Half of what I read about Big League is that it is targeting kids and the budget-conscious with a fun, affordable set. Well, that's not accurate in a few ways. First, Big League is more expensive than flagship. Second, there is really nothing in Big League that says "it's for kids," unless you mean that adult collectors can't enjoy interesting designs and photos and fun factoids on the back. Are adults supposed to be sour-puss autograph collectors only?

Anyway, I wanted to pair up the two packs for a comparison, mostly because I thought Big League would blow away the Series 2 pack. That wasn't the case, as you'll see, probably because Series 2 is completely filled with cards I've never seen before.

But let's go through the exercise anyway, starting with the Big League pack. As usual, I'll assign random points to each card based on anything that I like and I'll subtract likewise.


#254 - Yu Darvish, Cubs

Minus 5 points for Game 7 of the 2017 World Series. That will never go away. Cubs fans keep hoping he'll turn things around and I just shake my head and say "Game 7."

#314 - Kendrys Morales, Blue Jays

Plus 5 points for the '70s/'80s throwback but minus 3 points for his current Yankees status.

Overall Total: Plus-2

#376 - Yadier Molina, Cardinals, Award Winners

Plus 10 points for catcher action, plus 3 points for a card for the Roberto Clemente Award, minus 5 points for me not liking the guy regardless and minus 10 points for the neck tattoo. That's a grand total of minus 2 points.

Overall Total: 0

#259 - Sean Newcombe, Braves

Plus 1 point for horizontal action. Plus 1 point for the navy softball tops, which I don't mind. (I'm not scanning all these cards, I barely has time to watch a baseball game on my TV).

Overall Total: Plus-2

#390 - Albert Pujols, Angels, Highlights

Minus-1 point for being an Angel, Minus-1 point for a celebration gesture that makes him look goofy on his card, Plus-1 point for probably not caring he looks goofy on his card, Plus-2 points for a highlight card of Pujols 3,000th hit and 600th home run.

Overall total: Plus-3

#112 - Marcell Ozuna, Cardinals

Minus-10 for the neon green compression sleeve. Visually there is nothing else to see when it comes to Marcell Ozuna. It's what makes him stand out, which I guess works for him. But he chose the color because Yoenis Cespedes wore something similar and I didn't like that one either. Wear something that matches!

Overall total: Minus 7

#359 - Stat Kings, AL Batting Average Leaders

Plus-5 for making the leaders cards look at least a little more interesting than all those leader cards from flagship. But Minus-5 for the backs, which simply list the top three again. Where is the top 10? Why not go the extra mile and put the Top 20 on there? Why is Topps slacking so much on card backs these days?

Overall total: Minus 7

#132 - Yairo Munoz, Cardinals (Minus 2 points because I don't know who he is. I probably should know but I don't).

#51 - Ronald Guzman, Rangers (Minus 2 points. See above).

#345 - Stat Kings, AL Home Run leaders (Minus 1 point simply because I seem to pull 6 of these out of every pack of Big League).

#205 - Matt Boyd, Tigers (Plus 1 point because I know who he is and it's a card I need).

#377 - Edwin Diaz, Mariners (Minus 1 point because it's a dupe).

Overall total: Minus 12.

Here is the parallels-and-inserts portion of the pack.

Minus-8 points for four of these being dupes and minus-5 points for a parallel of Dodgers-fan hater Josh Reddick. Plus-2 points for the Nickname card (Jose Berrios) being something here that I need.

Overall total: Minus-23.

#26 - Kenley Jansen, Dodgers, numbered foil parallel


Plus-25 points for pulling a numbered card of a Dodger in a retail pack (that seldom happens).

Plus 10 points for beating the odds!

Overall total: Plus-12 (This Jansen card is saving this Big League pack's ass).

#188 - Ben Gamel, Brewers (Plus-1 point for a card I need and plus-1 point for Gamel's hair and beard).

#332 - Ian Kinsler, Padres (Plus-1 point for a card I need)

#201 - Isiah Kiner-Falefa, Rangers (Plus-1 point for a card I need, plus-1 point for a George Wright reference on the back)

Overall total: Plus-17

#282 - Justin Turner, Dodgers

Plus-10 points for being a Dodger card I need, minus 2 points for it being a card I don't really need because I think someone sent it to me (the incoming card packages are a bit of a muddle in my brain).

Overall total: Plus-25

#181 - Michael Conforto, Mets

Plus-3 points for being a night card (there are not a lot of night cards in flagship this year, by the way).

Overall total: Plus-28

#37 - Derek Dietrich, Reds (Plus-1 for being a card I need)

#111 - Joey Lucchesi, Padres (Plus-1 for being a card I need)

#299 - Roberto Osuna, Astros (Plus-1 for being a card I need, minus 1 for domestic nastiness).

#302 - Kyle Freeland, Rockies (Plus-1 for being a card I need)

#15 - Ryon Healy, Mariners (Plus-1 for being a card I need)

#101 - Travis Jankowski, Padres (Plus-1 for being a card I need).

Minus-5 points for the last 6 cards being the all-time most uninspiring final 6 cards out of a pack.

I'll throw in an extra 10 bonus points for this pack being very low on dupes, especially considering I've purchased at least three blasters of this stuff.

Grand, grand total: 39 points.

OK, moving on to the Series 2 pack. Obviously, since I haven't opened any Series 2, these will all be cards I need. But I'm not giving the pack any bonus points because the basic expectation of opening cards for the first time is they will all be cards if you need. If you're getting dupes in your first pack then it must be 1995 and you must be opening Upper Deck.


#417 - Noel Cuevas, Rockies
#660 - Dawel Lugo, Tigers
#510 - Patrick Corbin, Nationals

Minus-5 points for the first card out of Series 2 being a player I don't know. Minus-3 points for the second card out of Series 2 being a player I don't know except that he was starting in one of the 5 games I've sat down and watched this year so, yay for personal recognition. And minus-2 points for Patrick Corbin being a Central New York guy who plays only for teams I root against.

Overall total: Minus 10

#685 - Billy McKinney, Blue Jays

Plus-5 points for an interesting photo and plus-5 points for the glorious six years of minor league stats on the back of the card that covers nearly two inches.

Overall total: Zero

#466 - Yairo Munoz, Cardinals

Minus-5 points for this being the only player I pulled out of both rack packs and I still have no idea who he is. I probably should be subtracting points from me for this but we're not evaluating me here. Also, why does this guy not have a rookie card logo, his first year of playing any big league games was 2018 (never mind, I remembered how much Topps loves to feature players with no experience in its current product).

Overall total: Minus-5.

#488 - Dexter Fowler, Cardinals (both rack packs were Cardinals-heavy).

Plus-5 points for an interesting image. Plus-5 points for an interesting image ON THE BASE PATHS. MORE OF THIS.

Overall total: Plus-5

#671 - Alex Verdugo, Dodgers

Plus-10 for it being a Dodger card I need. Plus-15 for all of the 3-D action-flexing going on with this card. I love it!

Overall total: Plus-30

#699 - Felix Hernandez, Mariners (Plus-2 for it being Felix Hernandez. Plus-1 because I love the color scheme used on the back for the Mariners).

Overall total: Plus-33

#624 - Amed Rosario, Mets (Plus-15 for more 3-D action. They should have made the entire set like this).

Overall total: Plus-48

#446 - Francisco Mejia, Padres (Another Plus-15 for breaking through the design!)

Overall total: Plus-63

#609 - Kansas City Royals stadium card

Wow, this might be the busiest card ever created.

Minus-5 points for me not knowing where to look. Plus-5 points for showing something other than the familiar water display at Kauffman Stadium, as beautiful as it is. Plus-5 points for getting Royals history on this card. I know everyone will cite George Brett and Bo Jackson, but there's an image of DENNIS LEONARD on there (the starting pitcher in the first game I attended in person).

Overall total: Plus-68

#367 - Ohtani Gets Hot, Angels (checklist)

When I saw this card for the first time, I thought it was a short-print. But the handy fine-print code on the back says it's a regular base card. So Plus-5 points for getting creative in the base set. And I'll add another 5 points when Zippy Zappy tells me what the Japanese writing says.

Overall total: Plus-73 (plus-78 pending)

#521 - Arizona Diamondbacks stadium card (Plus 3 points for not showing the pool).

Overall total: Plus-76

#495 - Cleveland Indians stadium card (Plus-10 for "now that's a stadium-shot card!")

Overall total: Plus-86

#641 - Bryse Wilson, Braves (feeling nothing, zero points)

#FF-16 - Franchise feats, Milwaukee

Welcome to the "how are we going to use our legends license" inserts for Series 2. I appreciate the team focus, although I wonder immediately what the Padres one will say:

  • Spanked in two World Series
  • Tony Gwynn played for them!
  •  Did we mention Tony Gwynn played for them?
Plus-1 for the team connection. Minus-5 for it being a bit contrived

Overall total: Plus-82

#585 - Carlos Santana, Indians, 150th anniversary stamp

Again, I thought this was a short-print because the photo is such an outlier compared with all of the run-of-the-mill action. It's actually a base card but I wish more of the set looked like this. Plus-10 points for a cool image.

Overall total: Plus-92

#ICR-60 - Jackie Robinson, Dodgers, Iconic Card Reprints insert

Plus-10 for being a Dodger card. Plus-5 for being a Jackie Robinson card. Minus-7 for another reprint series. Plus-2 for it at least not being another reprint of Robinson's 1952 or 1956 Topps cards.

Overall total: Plus-102

#365 - Ketel Marte, Diamondbacks (Minus-1 for being a Diamondback)

#549 - Red Sox World Series checklist card (Minus-13 for being an "ugh, I thought we got all of these cards out of the way in Series 1" card).

#574 - Jeff Samardzija, Giants (Minus-2 for being a Giant, Plus-1 for being a pretty lousy Giant).

#500 - Manny Machado, Padres

This is a photoshopped image of Machado in a Dodger uniform when they played the Mariners last Aug. 17. Kind of a cool shot. Wish I could have seen it on a card as a Dodger. (Plus-5 for the photo, minus-10 for fake Padre gear).

Overall total: Plus-82

#674 - Collin McHugh, Astros (Plus-1 for the orange tops)

#551 - Kolten Wong, Cardinals (Plus-5 for another basepaths shot)

#496 - Buck Farmer, Tigers (Plus-2 for being Buck Farmer)

#661 - Zack Greinke, Diamondbacks (Minus-1 for being a Diamondback, minus-2 for those uniforms, plus-15 for breaking through the design)

#676 - Travis Shaw, Brewers (Minus-1 for Brewer playoff things)

#483 - Alex Cobb, Orioles (Plus-1 just because I feel sorry for the Orioles)

#371 - Zach Wheeler, Mets (Plus-1 for the reference to "injury-related potholes" on the back, which I don't know is proper usage but I just like).

#693 - Ryan Brasier, Red Sox (Minus-1 for the Red Sox annoying me last year)

Overall total: Plus-102

Since Series 2 had four more cards in the pack than Big League, I excluded the final four cards for counting in the pack war. These are the final four:

Series 2 is so far it in front of Big League, no worries about excluding these four. Besides, Ryan Braun is worth about minus 30 points so Series 2 dodged a bullet there.

Series 2 crushed Big League 102-39, even with the foil Jansen in Big League's corner.

The thrill of Series 2 will disappear quickly, probably much more quickly than Big League. But I'm happy I was able to find some things I enjoy in the cards on retail hooks.

I hear Stadium Club is due out very soon, which means I'll probably ignore Series 2 even sooner than usual. So it's good that I got in a pack at the mid-season break.

Enjoy the second half of the season everyone!