Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Card back countdown: #48 - 1999 Skybox Thunder

There are times on this countdown -- probably too many times for some people's liking -- in which I will throw out all rational rules of grading card backs in order to feature a set that is so bad that it is ever-loving awesome.

This is one such time.

I cannot begin to explain to you why Skybox Thunder did what they did in 1999. I didn't buy a single pack of cards in 1999. I was so far removed from collecting and baseball in general that any attempt to apply my logic to this set would be laughable.

What I will say is that I don't think the text on the back of the card was even cool in 1999. Somebody who knew what was going on in '99, please confirm this for me. Was immitation gangsta text on the back of a baseball card "all that" -- to borrow a phrase from the '90s?

Here we have Raul Mondesi, admiring a blast in front of a curtain, with an inexplicable baseball montage traveling across the top of the card. It's the motiff for '99 Skybox Thunder. Strange, but harmless.

And here is the back. We start off with an extension of the front. The vital stats are staggered and printed in various font sizes. This was quite popular in the 1990s. It's basically what told me that ESPN The Magazine was not for me. Reading those first few issues gave me a headache. But really, by itself, it's not all that shocking.

You have to travel just past halfway down the card to find the shocking. It's right there above last year's stats.

Here, let me highlight it for you in all its glory:

Let me repeat that:

"Y'all better not mess with Raul, 'cause he'll take you to school. Yo, he ain't no punk .. this is his class ... and you're gonna flunk."


I will take a moment to let you shake that out of your system. Some of you may even need to take a shower.

OK, are you back?

What's the worst part? Rhyming "Y'all" with "Raul"? The arbitrary "yo"? The random ellipses? The fake macho bravado that plagues each and every card?

I'm going to go with the rhyming. Rhyming has no place on a baseball card.

But yet Skybox Thunder continued to rhyme:

On the back of Chan Ho Park's card it says:

"You're on the verge of greatness ... ain't no doubt. You're on a roll. First, you were kickin' it in Korea. And now you're starrin' in the States."

OK, that doesn't rhyme. But, ow. My ears.

I hope, I really, really hope, that the folks in charge of writing these lines were in on the joke. Please, tell me that that they were laughing with tears in their eyes as they attempted these painful rhymes.

Look, even the inserts weren't immune. Here is the back of the Beltre insert at the top of the post:

I knew that replacing an "s" with a "z" would come back to haunt people. You can't alter the English language like that without there being repercussions.

By now you're asking why this set is in the card back countdown, if I have so many problems with it.

Well, it's here because it stands out. There are a lot of card backs through the years that are the same, same, same, good god it's the same AGAIN. The 1980s are plagued with card backs like that. Even in the 1960s, Topps stuck with a formula over and over again.

Skybox, bless their gangsta heart, tried something different. I can't help but admire them for it.

I prefer to think that they put out this set tongue in cheek, or whatever the gangsta term is for that. That would make my decision to put this set on the countdown all the more explainable.

But regardless, it's got to be on here. Skybox stuck its neck out, knowing that in 10 years bloggers all over the country would be ripping it to shreds. ... OK, they didn't know that. But they had to know what they were doing was a little "wack."

I leave you with these words of wisdom:

"Ain't no doubt about it, E.Y. ... You can fly. Leavin' catchers speechless when you steal yet another ... and another ... and another ..."

Best of set:

No best of set here because I own so few of these cards. Maybe if I come across one especially embarrassing, I'll add it to this post.

(Previous card back countdown selections):

50. 1978 SSPC Yankees Yearbook
49. 1993 Score


  1. It's funny how the things made to represent "the way it is right now" never seem to look so good a few years later.

    It's like seeing '80s movies where people are wearing parachute pants and gel-fueled spiked hair. Or something from the 1970s where characters are wearing flared bell bottoms and platform shoes. The style detracts somewhat from the message.

    But you're right, give credit to Skybox for having the brass cojones to be different.

  2. "I prefer to think that they put out this set tongue in cheek, or whatever the gangsta term is for that."

    I believe (in my lily white brain) that "they jus clownin' dawg"