Sunday, November 30, 2008

338 reasons to love '86 Topps

Some of you may have gathered by this post that I don't exactly care for 1986 Topps. I'm sorry for any misunderstanding. I actually quite enjoy '86 Topps. If I didn't like it, I wouldn't be collecting it. But, like I said, part of my reason for collecting it is it's kind of a misfit among the other fine Topps offerings of the 1980s. Blurry photos, odd poses, etc.

Anyway, Matt of Heartbreaking Cards either read my post or saw my huge '86 Topps want list and got the gist of what I was saying: I collect these babies. Then, he did something wonderful: he asked if I wanted a whole mess of 1986 Topps that he had purchased long ago and had barely touched. And he said he'd send them to me without hope for anything in return.

Wow, Matt, merry Christmas to you, too.

The 338 cards off my want list (take a look at the '86 want list now. It's gone on a diet) arrived when I was out of town. I'm kind of going out of order in terms of when the card packages arrived at my door last week, but I wanted to post this to let everyone know how cool Matt and Heartbreaking Cards is.

That many cards is a lot to sift through, but I pulled a bunch that caught my attention. It's interesting to look at cards that you've seen for the first time, after originally collecting the series 22 years ago. Back then, if I saw the '86 Gary Carter all-star card up top, I'd say, "nice, Gary Carter." Now, I'd note his 'fro or his practice jersey or something else that seems "so '80s."

I've broken the cards down into various categories. Hope you like '86 Topps, because there's a lot here:

1. TOO BAD MY WAYBACK MACHINE IS IN THE SHOP

I could've won a trip for 4 to the 1987 Spring Training Camp of the team of my choice (no purchase necessary)! Oh, well, no Vero Beach for me.

2. PHOTO ISSUES

The Mets seemed to suffer the most from the '86 photos. A lot of hazy shots like on the Sid Fernandez and George Foster cards. Too bad, since '86 was kind of a banner year for the Mets.

I think you can make it out on the scan, but there's a halo effect around Saberhagen's head. I'm no photo expert, but I don't think that should be happening. Also, a bunch of the '86 photos, such as the Saberhagen, look dark. It could've been a picture-perfect afternoon at Yankee Stadium that day, but you can't tell.

There seems to be a highlight around Dan Petry's entire body on this card. Maybe the photographer was into auras and that other paranormal stuff that freaked me out in junior high.

No real photo issue here, but something about the photo angle on this makes it look like Clear has the tiniest glove ever. I don't know, maybe Clear did play with a super small glove.

This may be just a registration or ink issue or some other photo issue, or maybe Roger Maris really did have one green eye and one brown eye.

1986 Topps didn't have a lot of consistency in its photo choices either. A lot of times, sets will have a general photo theme, a lot of action shots, or a lot of portraits, or a reasonable mix of both. 1986 Topps had shots like the Hough one here, a full-body type photo, and then would throw in a shot like this ...

... where they could barely get Lynn's head in the frame. But that's what made '86 Topps quirky. I like it in an oddball sort of way.

3. OTHER INTERESTING PHOTOS

I know a ballcap doesn't offer much protection when you're pitching in a sideline bullpen, but you don't see a lot of relievers warming up without their caps.

Bruce Benedict looks like he's about to break out into song.

Not the best action shot, but something kind of different, and that's OK with me.

4. I FORGOT THEY PLAYED FOR THAT TEAM

Tommy John an A?

Tom Paciorek a Met? (And he apparently did something worth a congratulatory elbow bash, too).

Al Bumbry a Padre?

Burt Hooton a Ranger? (I do remember Hooton's Ranger days, but it's just wrong seeing Hooton in anything other than a Dodger uniform, even for a Texas boy like Burt).

5. I NEVER HEARD OF THEM UNTIL I SAW THEIR CARD

This subject is also a future post idea, but for now enjoy these nobodies (to me, at least). And especially enjoy Romero's very cool lavender-blue glove (yes, I just made lavender-blue a color).

Who? (Nice shot, though).

Who?

Who? (Lots of Indians in this batch).




Who? Who? Who? Who?

Here's someone I knew all too well after the 1985 season:

Ugh. I'll get you back, Clark. Later in this post.

6. GOTCHA PHOTOS

Apparently, they were looking for candid shots in 1986. Maddox seems vaguely annoyed, but also unsure if the camera is pointed at him.

Manny Trillo seems both sure that the camera is pointed at him and also annoyed that it is. "Is that dude with the camera still sneaking around?"

I like this photo a lot. Tony looks like someone just said, "Tony, look up here!" Gee, give Tony a few more things to do right now. He's signing a ball, carrying all his equipment, headed out to practice. Let's get him to pose for a photo, too.

7. OTHER '86 CARDS I REALLY LIKE

Earl Weaver looks really young in this photo. He was about 56 when the picture was taken. When we were kids, we thought Weaver was ancient, but the gray hair just threw us off. Weaver, of course, is still ticking.

The colors just seem to go together on this card.

I can't think of Terry Forster without remembering David Letterman's bit that went on for weeks in which he called Forster "a fat tub of goo." The cards I had didn't seem to reflect Letterman's statement, but this one does. If I remember correctly, Forster took it all in stride.


The Record Breaker cards were extra colorful this year. I received five record breaker cards from Matt. I decided to feature two of the old-timers.

Kevin Gross surveys the situation. Not a pose you see often. I like it.

And, finally, because Matt's team is the Royals, and because I told Jack Clark I'd get him back, and because there is no card of Don Denkinger, a card of 1985 World Series hero Buddy Biancalana.

Many, many, thanks, Matt, in giving me a major boost in completing the '86 set. I will be sending you something in return, eventually.

Night owl is night owl

Long before there was "Manny being Manny," there was "Rickey is Rickey." Except Rickey Henderson actually uttered "Rickey is Rickey" before it became a catch phrase. Or so the legend goes.

Not only was Rickey Henderson one of the most talented players ever, he was one of the most entertaining, just from a quotebook standpoint. There are web sites devoted to Henderson's quotes, and there have been some wonderful articles written about him. If you haven't read Tom Verducci's Sports Illustrated article "What Is Rickey Henderson Doing in Newark?" from about five years back, and you want to be entertained, head to SI's archives and give it a read.

The reason I bring all of this up is Man of Steal from Rickey Henderson Collectibles and I arranged a team trade. And since Man of Steal is Man of Steal and Night Owl is Night Owl, that means a trade of A's for Dodgers. I'm glad Brad wasn't looking for Henderson cards from me because I'm pretty certain he's got every single one I have. You don't put the man's name in your blog title without having a few of his cards.

I received Man of Steal's cards a few days ago, and am just getting around to posting them after my Thanksgiving road trip. I can tell he put quite a bit of thought into these Dodgers as a lot of them aren't your average cards. He expressed the universal collector's concern, hoping that I need most of them. Not to worry, Brad. Out of the 65 you sent, I needed 50. Good deal.

Just some of the highlights:

Brett Butler, 1992 Pinnacle, The Technician subset. This card arrived a few days after I was doing research for my new gig as a contributor to Things Done to Cards. It just so happened that I came upon this post, which detailed this subset to my complete satisfaction. So now I know all about it, and don't have to broadcast my cluelessness (don't worry, I'll be doing that later in the post).

I like the first sentence on the back of Butler's card: "Bunting is an essential part of a hitter's repertoire." Yup, Ryan Howard's bunting ALL the time.

Darryl Strawberry, 1993 Stadium Club. Look at the veins in Strawberry's left arm!

Kevin Gross, 1995 Topps, cyberstats variation. Did they have cyber variations for every player? The reason I ask is I thought the season projections on the back (in light of the 1994 strike) were kind of cool, but was anybody really curious to see if Gross would end up with that 13-11 record for the year? I understand projections for Frank Thomas or Will Clark, but Gross?

Brett Butler, 1992 Donruss Cracker Jack. This card, at 1 1/4-by-1 3/4 inches is officially the smallest card I have. It's even smaller than those micro cards they put out in the early 1990s. (EDIT: It's smaller than some of the mini cards of early '90s, but not smaller than the micros). I guess these were found in individual boxes of Cracker Jacks?

Two modern-day cards depicting the Brooklyn Dodgers of the 1950s. That's a trend I like.

Dodgers checklist, 2001 Upper Deck Vintage. UD Vintage stealing all kinds of Topps ideas with this card. The Vintage series of that year "borrowed" from the 1963 Topps design, and the disembodied heads look appeared on the Cubs and White Sox checklists periodically through the 1960s and 1970s as well as on some league leaders cards.

Note that Karros is the only one without a cap.

Greg Gagne, 1998 Score. I'm just featuring this to show the great sliding technique of this unknown Montreal Expo. And he is sooooo out.

Eric Gagne, 2000 Victory. Not the picture you conjure up when someone says Eric Gagne, eh? When Gagne was first starting out, broadcasters would call him Eric GAG-nee, like Greg GAG-nee. Of course, Eric is French-Canadian and anyone who follows hockey knows how Canadians pronounce Gagne. Just ask a Flyers fan.

Shawn Green, 2002 Topps Total. Topps, please, you are not the ruler of all. You shouldn't be allowed to determine which players are most deserving of receiving cards and which ones aren't. Include everyone. I don't need ridiculous combo cards. (I don't care how many of them feature Russell Martin). Bring back Topps Total!

Adrian Beltre, 2002 Fleer E-X. This is a funky-looking card. Too gimicky for my taste. The silver part (it scans silver, but is actually gold) is see-thru. Once again, this is all new to me.

Jeff Kent, 2007 Upper Deck, but I don't know what Upper Deck set it is. Help, anyone? It's card 37 of 60, but there's nothing that says anything else about the set. An MLB Players Association issue perhaps?

Finally, a goody from when the Dodgers and A's were both king. A 1975 Hostess Twinkie Jimmy Wynn. When I saw this card I could feel the smile move across my face. Hostess Twinkie cards remind me of sitting in a booth at the corner kitchen table at my grandmother's. She always had Twinkies for us. Me and my brother would open the Twinkies by the light of the overhead lantern and find a way to split up the cards that were pictured on the stained, bottom piece of cardboard.

Wynn was a bit before my time, but I always thought he was cool, and wished he had spent more time with the Dodgers and not as much time with the Astros.

Brad, thanks a bunch for the cards. Night Owl being Night Owl, I've got some catching up to do, but your cards will be in the mail very soon.

Saturday, November 29, 2008

Digging out and catching up

It's good to be back.

Don't get me wrong, it's nice to get away. I enjoyed the food (absolutely love my mother's turkey stuffing), the family (my three-year-old niece is destined to have her name in lights), and staying as far away from shopping malls as possible (I was scarred for life as a department store worker many years ago, and I'll never join the crowd on Black Friday). But my hobby and my blog suffered over the last few days.

Without stores to go to or a fairly usable computer (the one that was available allowed me only to comment on a blog here or there), my card-viewing abilities were limited. And, much to my surprise, quite a few bloggers were updating their sites over the holiday, so I'm scrambling to keep up on what I missed since early Wednesday.

I'm sure readers of this blog have seen many of the following posts, but in case they haven't, here's what drew my interest during a manic hour-plus of catching up on the card blogging universe:

Dinged Corners stumped me with a card I own (above) and have viewed many, many, many times during the most recent edition of Is This Anything? I am now both determined to be the first to answer the next one of these questions correctly and hopelessly resigned to the fact that I am incapable of figuring any of these out.

Also, my favorite Thanksgiving post came from DC. Who knew that Thanksgiving and PunkRockPaint could combine for a very insightful post?

Here's another one I liked from Hand Collated. And another one that made me laugh. There were a few other nice ones, too, but like I said, I'm scrambling to keep up.

A couple of bloggers received the cards I sent and were nice enough to write something about them here and here. John even threw in a compliment on the look of my blog, which, considering my lack of knowledge about things of that nature, means quite a bit to me. Thanks!

I really like to see other collectors enjoying cards. That those cards are cards that I sent, I admit, is an ego boost. But really the main reason I send them is because that's the name of the game here. We're all collectors, we all know what it feels like to receive cards, and we want others to feel the same way.

Since this post rather resembles a Cardboard Junkie "links of the week" post, I would be remiss if I didn't mention that dayf is giving away cards. Wow, imagine if I was away from my computer for a few more days. I might've totally missed this! And, if you never knew that a recipe for creamed onions could lead to an autographed card of Nick Blackburn, then you haven't read Auto-matic for the People lately. Quite entertaining.

Meanwhile, in the last few days, I have received cards from Brad of Rickey Henderson Collectibles, Dan of Saints of the Cheap Seats, Jim of gcrl, Rod of Padrographs, and Matt of Heartbreaking Cards, and I haven't posted on ANY of them yet. That means two things: lots of "Look What I Got" posts (but I'll try to make them damn interesting), and I owe some people some cards (I'll try to make those cards damn interesting, too).

Lots of digging out and catching up to do. But don't worry, because it begins now ...