Wednesday, September 30, 2009

2010 Topps design ... look familiar?

Many of you have probably already seen the Topps flagship design for 2010, which was released today. But if not, I present it to you here now.

Ladies and gentlemen, the 2010 Topps design, the most modern, cutting edge, futuristic design that we know:

What? That's not it? You say that's the design for a 2002 card? The 2002 Post set? An oddball set?

You say THIS is the design for 2010?

Hmmmm. Could have fooled me.

(I actually like the 2010 design. A Topps set that looks like an oddball set is cool with me).

It's all good

I try not to get into the vintage vs. high-end debate. I admit, my allegiance lies with vintage, and I do wince when I hear the astronomical amount someone paid for a pack of five high-end cards. But I prefer not to get into the reasons why I have the feelings that I do. It leads to messiness, and really, I turn to cards to get away from messy.

Truthfully, I can appreciate cards from all ends of the spectrum. Old cards. Shiny cards. Kid-oriented cards, 8-inch thick cards. I want them all equally.

I also find that collectors who don't deal exclusively in vintage or modern/high-end, collectors who can find beauty in all of it, are the collectors that interest me the most. I can relate to those folks the best.

One of those folks is the Wicked Ortega down in Florida. He seems to deal in all kinds of cards. I see vintage cards on his blog, My Past Time ... I Love It, and I see super intense fancy ones, too. He also seems to enjoy both the old-timers and the current players, judging by his crazy TTM success. And that is a man I can understand -- one who respects history but does not condemn the present.

Wicked has been going on some shopping sprees lately, and he actually tracked down some cards he thought I might want and sent them off to me! Awesome!

These cards are across the board as you'll see. All equally great. So, let's see some of them:

Modern: First, a 2009 Topps Chrome Xfractor of Russell Martin. My scanner didn't pick up the Xfractor design very well, but it's there. I'm thinking this might be my first '09 Xfractor Dodger.

Modern: I sort of salivated over this card when Wicked posted it. Since Jim Thome is a Dodger, I really want some new cards of his. The problem is that I'm never interested in Dodger players if they're depicted in a different team's uniform. But I make an exception for a) striped jersey relics; b) Allen & Ginter.

Vintage: What a great team card this is. The crazy yellow background almost overwhelms the photo on the card. And I love how the whole team is looking off to the right. 1967 Topps is probably my favorite set of the decade, but I doubt I'll ever try to collect the whole set. The high numbers are insane to track down.

Modern: The first of three Hideo Nomo cards that were sent. This is from '04 Playoff Prestige. Nomo looks lost in the Mets uniform. The back says Nomo made his first career relief appearance with the Mets. That's all you need to know.

Modern: This 2003 Studio is the first translucent card I have ever owned. It's another card I had to show my daughter just to get a reaction (it was a positive one). This is what the political types would call a "transparently clear" card.

Modern: Is 1995 still modern? It sure looks modern. It's about as shiny as it gets. Even the "sample" stamped across it is shiny. This might be one of my favorite Nomo cards.

Super Mega-Modern: You don't get more modern than a fat Prime Cuts jersey card from 2008. I saw this card on I Am Joe Collector, I believe, and thought how cool it would be to have it. And now I do. That's wicked, Wicked! By the way, Sutton is doing one, weird tongue thing in this photo.

Vintage: The BEST Vintage that there is, in fact. And this is the first 1975 Topps autographed card I have ever owned. If you know how I feel about 1975 Topps, then you know what a great job Wicked did with sending this card.

You also know that I owe him some Marlins! Great stuff, man.

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Tilt

I hate to get all grandpa on you, but it's on my mind, so you're going to read it.

I was looking at this fine Upper Deck card sent to me by madding of Cards on Cards, tilting the card this way and that to figure out what the heck was written on it, when it occurred to me:

I'm SICK of TILTING cards!

Now, tilting to see a second or third image on a Sportflic item, or tilting to see the rainbowosity of a refractor is one thing. As much as I'd like to absorb everything on a card with a single glance while it's lying flat, I do see the point of truly playing with your cards. It makes the hobby more fun.

But tilting every which way in order to READ what the heck is on the front of the card is getting way old. I'm not 65 years old. I don't need bifocals. I have excellent eyesight. Stop making me feel like I play bingo every Monday.

Gold and silver foil is cool in moderation, but I don't think it needs to go on lettering anymore. As much as I liked this year's Topps flagship set, the foil lettering nagged at me in the back of my mind.

You can sort of read Asdrubal Cabrera's name here, but it's tricky. And at first glance, when I'm looking at my 2009 set in my binder, it just looks like a collection of wordless photos, because you can't see the type. It looks like something got left off the card.

If you're going to foil-up the lettering, make the letters nice and big, like on 2007 Topps:

That is a lot more legible, like Mike Lowell's signature.

Don't get me wrong, I love shiny. Chrome is my friend, shiny cards are my posse. Cards can shine on for the rest of time. But give it a break on the letters. My aging eyes can't take it. And you know what us old people do when we get angry don't you? We start writing letters. Don't make me do that. You're already making me feel older than I am.

So, enough with the tilting. I don't have to tilt a book, I don't have to tilt a magazine or a newspaper. I don't have to tilt my computer (built-in advantage: it's back-lit). I don't have to tilt appliance instructions or recipe cards or bank forms. Cards are for reading, too. I would like to read my cards without constant adjustments.

So, get it fixed. Once you do that, we'll address black card numbers on dark backgrounds.

(For all you fellow geezers out there, the top card reads "Return of the Ace" on the top and "Kevin Brown" on the bottom).

Cardboard appreciation: cards 11-15

(Final week of baseball's regular season. Where did it all go? This was the fastest regular season I have ever experienced. I have a feeling future ones will go even faster. So, it's time to slow it down for a minute or two. Take a moment for Cardboard Appreciation):

Poor Herb Score. He lost the second Cardboard Appreciation vote-off by a single vote. Isn't that just like a Cleveland Indian? So much pain in that uniform.

Anyway, I'm sad for Score, but happy another for Herb -- Herb Washington -- who captured the second spot as one of the 10 Cardboard Appreciation finalists. The votes have been tabulated and here is how the second vote-off went down:

1. Herb Washington (1975 Topps): 13 votes
2. Herb Score (1956 Topps): 12 votes
3. Marcus Thames (2006 Upper Deck): 5 votes
4. Jim Kaat (1983 Fleer): 4 votes
5. Marquis Grissom (1993 Stadium Club): 1 vote

This means the third vote-off is officially under way. And it's a tough one. It involves not one, but two, Carlton Fisk cards. And they're both great ones. So, here are the next five up for selection. Please take a moment to vote in the poll at right.

1982 Donruss Phil Garner: You can't have one '82 Donruss Garner without the other '82 Donruss Garner -- the reverse negative version. A vote for one is a vote for both.

1991 Topps Carlton Fisk: A card that sums up the greatness of 1991 Topps. We didn't know what we had back in 1991.

2003 Topps Rickey Henderson: Rickey in a rare reflective moment. Cool.

2008 Stadium Club Russell Martin: The man cannot take a bad picture when it's going on a baseball card. Case in point.

1977 Topps Carlton Fisk: A very unusual photo for its time, which is why us young'uns loved it so much.

As usual, the links take you back to the original Cardboard Appreciation posts. (The '77 Fisk post is a particular favorite of mine).

And, I'm happy to note that I actually found two more Cardboard Appreciation subjects for when this whole vote-off thing is over. And I even scanned one of them. How about that? Incremental progress!

Now vote!

Monday, September 28, 2009

Kershaw kwest kontinues

My plea for Clayton Kershaw autograph cards has turned out quite nicely. Since the original post, I have added three Kershaw autographs to my collection.

The two most recent ones have come from Kerry at Cards on Cards and Marck at The Collective Troll. The one here is from Kerry. It's on-card and it's a 2008 Heritage card, so this is one tremendous card.

The only drawback is Kershaw's jersey is obviously airbrushed or whatever the heck they did to it. It's an awful job. It looks like Kershaw is wearing a blue blouse. Or men's pajamas from the '60s. Just terrible.

But that bit of ugliness hasn't deterred me in my quest to collect Kershaw cards. Even though my player collecting comes third behind my set- and team-collecting quests, I have decided to start a page that lists my favorite Dodger players. On the page, I have a list of the cards that I own from each of those players. If you find a card that isn't on that list, and the player is still with the Dodgers (for example, I have zero interest in Ron Cey cards with the Cubs), then I am officially intrigued.

The page features only five players right now: Ron Cey, Sandy Koufax, Orel Hershiser, Hideo Nomo and Clayton Kershaw. And it's incomplete -- I haven't gotten to the monstrosity that is my Hideo Nomo cards. (EDIT: Yes, I have). But I'll be adding to it as I go along. Also, the cards are in a bit of jumbled order. I'm not the most organized fellow.

I've also linked the page under the sidebar title of "My Favorite Dodgers to Collect." I don't expect to become A Player Collector. So, there will always be cards of those five that I need. But that's totally cool with me.

Meanwhile, both Cards on Cards and The Collective Troll were nice enough to send other cards besides the Kershaws. I'll show Kerry's cards first, since his Kershaw started it off, and I can supply the big finish with one of Marck's cards.

The first of the non-Kershaw cards from Kerry that I'm showing is a 2005 Upper Deck Steve Schmoll. Schmoll was one of those gimmick pitchers with the underhand delivery. Doesn't it seem like these guys are cheating? It seems to open the door for able-bodied pitchers to throw with their feet, or something else odd.

Gil Hodges swinging for the fences on a Ted Williams Card Company card. Hodges looks colorized on this card. I wonder how many colorized cards there are. A nice write-up on Hodges' four-homer game on the back.

One of the cards I needed from Fleer's greatest set of the 1990s. They really broke out of their early '90s doldrums with 1994 Fleer.

Here is crazy Pinnacle with its gold fetish and crazy 1996 with its Karim Garcia fetish. It all goes together for this over-the-top Zenith card.

Eric Karros, 2000 Skybox Metal. This is about as subdued as Metal got.

Two more Hideo Nomos for the incomplete Nomo player collection list. Kerry sent several 2002 Upper Deck Dodgers. I've always found the white grid design at the bottom odd. But at least it sets it apart from other UD sets, which is a constant UD problem.

Thanks again, Kerry! Your cards should be arriving any day now.

That bring me to The Collective Troll. You might remember I had that Carl Crawford Exquisite autographed card that I was shopping around in an attempt to get a Kershaw. Well, after many miles added to the odometer, Troll came through and acquired the Crawford card for this:
It's my earliest Kershaw card, from 2005, back when Kershaw was a member of the U.S. junior national team.

Normally, I'm looking for Kershaw wearing his Dodger uniform, but this card's awesomeness breaks the rules. What a great-looking, patriotic card that is. Clayton got a little sloppy with the signature, but the stars and stripes balance it out.

But that's not all that Marck sent.
He sent some Dodgers from 1995 and 1996 Score. If you're looking for Dodgers I need, mid-1990s Score is a real good place to start.

And here's a 1991 O-Pee-Chee Premier card that I didn't have yet. Voltigeur Butler!

And this card represents the last Allen & Ginter National Pride card that I needed to complete the insert set.

My base card quest continues. Still looking for #30 Howard and #339 Schaefer.

Finally, I landed this card from The Troll. A Park-Ishii jersey swatch card, and also a very patriotic-looking card! Also quite thick. Not as thick as the Crawford card that Marck is so pleased to receive, but believe me, I'm much happier with this than the Exquisite card.

So, thanks guys for the Kershaws. I'm always in the market for any other Kershaw cards. And hopefully, I'll have the player collection page updated with all of my favorite Dodgers eventually. But the top five is a good place to start.

Sunday, September 27, 2009

Goodwin, you're not so bad

Goodwin Champions finally made an appearance in my neighborhood this weekend. Blasters and rack packs and a stuffed gravity feeder.

I wanted the opportunity to give Goodwin a fair evaluation. I was intrigued enough to want to see them in hand, even though my gut feeling was that it was a copy-cat set (tobacco-era retro set that includes mini cards, with black border variations. Sound familiar?), and the artwork didn't impress me much.

Then, I got even more wary after the reviews came out. Some liked them, but a lot of others weren't impressed. They said the scans looked better than the cards. They said the cardboard was flimsy. Not good signs.

But finally on Saturday I found the cards and bought a couple of rack packs. Twelve cards for $4.99. "Super Value," Upper Deck claimed.

I was surprised to find that I actually don't dislike them. They're not bad. Some cards are very nice. The cardboard is just like Goudey, which I don't find flimsy at all. I'm not crazy about some of the non-baseball subjects, and they seem to pop up more often than in Allen & Ginter, the set that you can't help but think of when you look at Goodwin. But the set is definitely worth my time.

I know some of you might be surprised by this opinion. So to set your mind at ease, I'll answer your question: No, Goodwin doesn't even come close to Allen & Ginter. The artwork isn't as appealing, the design isn't as appealing, the card construction isn't as good, and A&G arrived first, which means a lot to me. So, yeah, A&G still kicks ass. Fully and completely. Goodwin is merely a nice effort, kind of like OPC is a nice effort.

As for collecting the set, it's not interesting enough for me to do that. And I have a feeling if I was collecting the set, I'd like it a lot less, what with the collation and the 20th anniversary cards. So, what you see from the retail rack pack break is all trade bait. Except one card, which will be up for trade if I get duplicates.

PACK ONE



1. #48 - Joe Carter, Blue Jays.

Not crazy about the painted likeness. Out of all the cards, it reminds me of Goudey the most.

2. #76 - Joe Mauer, Twins

If Goodwin put cloud backgrounds on all the cards, it would be awesome.

3. #103 - James Shields, Rays
4. #68 - Matt Ryan, non-baseball

Current Falcons QB, but he's in a college uniform, so my interest in this card is, hey, is that a pillow over there? I think I'll take a nap. Zzzzzzzzz.

5. #120 - Stephen Drew, Diamondbacks
6. #118 - Bucky Dent mini, Yankees

My one mini per rack pack. I couldn't have picked a mini I wanted less than the luckiest weak-hitting shortstop in the history of time.


7. #129 - Laird Hamilton, non-baseball
He must be famous because if I've heard of a surfer, it means you've cut through a whole lot of not paying attention/couldn't care less/what, they stand on a board and try not to fall off? It doesn't hurt that he's married to Gabrielle Reece, who would make a much better card subject than him.

8. #18 - Bo Jackson, Royals

The neat, little, leafy logo version.


9. #44 - Barack Obama, non-baseball

We're going to see politicians in card sets for eternity, aren't we?


10. #2221 - Joe Mauer, 20th century retrospective chew toy.

At least he's a ball player.

11. #40 - Phil Niekro, Braves

Nice image, but recycled from Goudey.

12. #90 - Jonathan Toews, non-baseball (hockey)

PACK TWO
1. # 53 - Anderson Silva, non-baseball

Bleah, MMA. I am so far away from the MMA target demographic. It's like A&G when it puts motocross riders in its set. I'm not 16 anymore. I don't care. I wish everyone else didn't care either.

2. #107 - Joe Nathan, Twins

3. #134 - Felix Hernandez, Mariners

Nice card.


4. #16 - Abraham Lincoln, non-baseball

Who painted this thing? Why does he look so evil?

5. #145 - Joey Votto, Reds
6. #42 - Justin Upton, Diamondbacks

This must be the sunset background. It definitely looks better here than in person.


7. #53 - Anderson Silva mini, non-baseball

Oh goody. Two of him. Someone please take this dude off my hands.

8. #69 - Ichiro Suzuki, Mariners

Awesome card. I'm keeping this one.

9. #97 - Johan Santana, Mets

10. #124 - Steve Carlton, Phillies

Cool. I love retired players in sets!


11. #34 - Alexander Ovechkin (non-baseball)

The youtube darling.

12. #83 - Akinori Iwamura, Rays

So, Goodwin will join OPC, Heritage and Topps Chrome among the sets that will get a dollar or two from me when I'm at the store. It's not worthy of collecting the whole set, but it is fairly entertaining.

Oh, and I'm collecting any and all Dodgers.