Thursday, January 31, 2013

The golden age of all-star cards countdown: 20-16


I have determined that it is almost impossible to rank the all-star cards from 1975-81 -- what I call the "Golden Age of All-Star Cards" -- with any kind of objectivity.

I'm really trying, because objectivity has been pounded into my head as a valuable thing to possess. But I basically threw up my hands after a few minutes of the whole business. I can't do it.

Once you slap that all-star star or badge or banner on a card, it immediately becomes special. How can I eliminate any of the cards from the countdown if all of them are special?

But press on I must. Because I do it for you. I give and give and give ...

Anyway.

The point is there are a lot of cards that you probably think should be in this Top 20 countdown, that I think should probably be in this Top 20 countdown, that aren't in the countdown. For example the 1975 Topps Pete Rose card, a card that I looked at as a tiny cardboard god when I was a kid, is not in the countdown.

I don't even know if I can explain why it's not in the countdown. Or why the the '78 Reggie Jackson is not in the countdown. Or why the '75 Rod Carew is not in the countdown. But they're not there.

I tried to pick the cards that meant the most to me at the time and mixed that with what means the most to me now. So you see? There's no objectivity in this exercise at all.

But I promise it won't be all Dodgers.

So, to recap, I'm celebrating these cards from 1975-81 because I think they're the best of any All-Star cards. Yes, they happened to come out during my early days of collecting, so I'm biased in that way. But I like the fact that an individual's card was honored in a special way, instead of just issuing an extra card of the player. It elevated that card above other cards in the set.

So, here we are, my top 20 from this period, broken down into four tidy posts for easy manageability.


20. Dave Kingman, 1977

During this time period, the Mets weren't all that good. It was exciting to have a player like Kingman who could become an all-star. I was a closet Mets fan at the time, so this card was particularly cool, and much coveted in my sixth grade class of collectors. You can tell Kingman is admiring a titanic blast. Or a long foul.


19. George Brett, 1978

An All-Star logo excuses all kinds of otherwise distasteful card photo behavior. I HATED cap-less ballplayers on my cards and I'm still not crazy about it. But slap an All-Star logo on it and everything is OK. Think 1981 Paul Molitor or 1976 Ron Cey. It's almost as if they didn't need a cap because they were so special. And, look, Brett doesn't even have to spit out his chaw. He's that impressive.


18. Toby Harrah, 1977

Why did Harrah shave off his mustache? Why did he cut his hair? I don't care how old Harrah is now, but he should STILL have a mustache and long hair. Harrah never made a finer baseball card than this card. A Texas Ranger? You don't have to write it across the top of the card to convince me.


16. Dave Concepcion, 1976

It was difficult growing up a Dodger fan during the 1970s because the Reds were so good and they had all-star cards everywhere. I ended up with a grudging respect for most of their players just because they were so good. Concepcion wasn't one of those -- I was never a fan. But this card is fantastic. And I'm convinced that if there was no yellow star there, Concepcion's card would be a head shot.


15. Nolan Ryan, 1980

Even in 1980, you never knew what you were going to get with a baseball card. An action photo was not guaranteed. But when you saw an action photo WITH an all-star logo, well, it was the most terrific card ever. It's also possible that this is a night card. I know the darkness of the background certainly was one of the things that appealed to me about this card.


And those are the first five cards.

But they could easily be the last five cards.

They're all great. What can I say?

Deluge


This is the time of the year when the card collecting world is at its craziest. If I was a player collector, I'd never survive. All of those brand new 1/1 of listings and other rare cards of your favorite player suddenly popping up everywhere would drain my will to live.

I'm already exhausted as it is and I have plenty of collecting outlets -- new cards, old cards, Dodgers, every player under the sun, and under the moon. Sets, subsets, inserts sets, you name it. My collecting success isn't decided by a single guy.

But I'm truly swamped right now. Buying a blaster of 2013 Topps might not have been the smartest idea, because I've created like 8 more trades for myself, and I should have known that was going to happen.

So this is more for me than is for you. This is the itinerary for my card packaging. I'll try to stick to it.


This weekend

Pack and mail cards to: David (Pirates fan), mr. haverkamp, 2 by 3 Heroes, Phungo, Plain Gray Swatch and Twitter trader @wrudart.


Next week

Pack and mail cards to: Mark's Ephemera (hope I can find more than one card!), ARPSmith's Sportscard Obsession, Jaybarkerfan's Junk, Cardboard Junkie, Napkin Doon, Twitter traders @grogg and @KevinBassStache (trade transacting still in progress!), and Dime Boxes.

I know I won't get to all of those, so ...



The following week

Send cards off to those I missed the previous week and package and mail cards to Nachos Grande, The Chronicles of Fuji, Heartbreaking Cards, 30-Year-Old Cardboard, Funner Here, and Card Anathema.


The week after that

Hopefully complete trades and package cards for Scott Crawford on Cards, Hot Corner Cards, and possibly some people who mentioned on the last post that they wanted to trade (yeah, sorry the wait is that long. Other people that I can physically touch demand that I spend time with them).

Oh, and if I forgot to mention anyone here ... just remind me. But be polite about it. Don't start lecturing me in the comments, please. I don't respond well to that.

Oh, yeah, and I also have a 500,000 pageviews prize to mail out somewhere in there, too. In the next couple of days I'll announce a winner.

And while I'm on things I need to do, I should mention that you could win a jumbo box of 2013 Topps by making a simple $5 donation to a very worthy charity. Help out Crackin' Wax if you can.

One more thing: The cards I just showed came from Plain Gray Swatch. One of the guys who is due a card package.

See? I'm thinking about you guys. Really.

And now, I think I'll get some sleep.

This wonderful, exhilarating, always fascinating hobby is wearing me out.

Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Card show buzzes don't last as long as they once did


Remember when I said a couple of days ago about being glad to have a card show to go to so I wouldn't have to scurry all over town in a fruitless attempt to find 2013 Topps?

Remember when I said a card show meant I didn't care that 2013 Topps was released this week?

Funny how things can change with two days to play with and a Twitter account.

I didn't expect to look for any 2013 Topps until Friday. Card show buzzes last at least a few days. I haven't even had a chance to organize the stuff I got from there. Plenty of time to wait out all of the crazy "look at the INSANE PATCH I pulled" chatter in the coming days.

But then I started noticing something. The people finding 2013 Topps -- a day or two or three before today's release date -- were from everywhere. It wasn't just a pocket of collectors in New Jersey here and in California there. It was everywhere. A collector in Arkansas. Someone in Arizona. Another person in New York. Another person in Illinois. Texas. Kansas. Ohio. Wisconsin. And New Jersey and California, too. And then Nearly Mint returned to blogging because of 2013 Topps. The fever had hit!

It made me think "hey, maybe the cards really are way up here in the middle-of-nowhere-Northern New York."

It couldn't hurt to look anyway. I get off of work around 2 a.m. most days. The Walmart is open 24 hours and is glorious to shop at that hour. Might as well take a peek.

Glad I peeked.

There were loose packs, rack packs, hanger packs and blasters. Nothing was touched. I think they might have put it out like an hour beforehand. I could have grabbed it all and made a killing on ebay. (But the scanning would have finished me off).

So, instead, I just grabbed a single loose pack and a blaster.

Now, I know what I'm going to get:

"I thought you weren't collecting it. I thought you were going vintage. I thought Topps was bullshit."

It's all-or-nothing with you guys, isn't it?

I like testing out new cards. It's a tradition around here that goes back to when I was 9 years old. Even during the years when I barely cared about cards, I'd buy a pack at the start of the year. It's what you do at this time of the year. It's part of spring fever. You buy some new cards.

A blaster helps me get a good sample of exactly what's available. I can show it off here, I can trade some of it, I can keep some of it if I really like it.

That doesn't mean I'll be buying another blaster. Or collecting the set. I'm not collecting it. And you will see lots more vintage in the months to come.

But let's see some new stuff today, shall we?


I'll open the loose pack first.


Here are your odds of finding the zillion parallels that Topps has created. Pink, Emerald Foil, Desert Camo Foil are all new this year. Go crazy.

And the first card of the 2013 season is ...


#236 - Joe Nathan, Rangers

You have a place of honor, Joe.

#308 - Desmond Jennings, Rays
#43 - R.A. Dickey, Mets
#149 - Yovani Gallardo, Brewers (this card is pock-marked on the back. You wouldn't be able to tell by the scan, but it looks like it was poked with a pin all over the place).


#282 - Russell Martin, Yankees

More evidence of how annoying Martin became when he joined the Yankees.

#183 - Drew Hutchison, Blue Jays
#197 - Tyler Cloyd, Phillies


#TM-29 - CC Sabathia, Yankees, '72 mini insert

I keep hearing that I'm collecting these. I'm not collecting these. They're nice. The cardboard stock makes them nice. But there was no such thing as 1972 minis, so I don't care about them.

#248 - Colby Lewis, Rangers
#192 - Javier Lopez, Giants
#18 - Mitch Moreland, Rangers
#53 - Alex Cobb, Rays

Three Rangers! It's a Rangers hot pack! Moooooooooojooooooooooooooooooo!!!!!!!

OK, you want to see the blaster.

I shall oblige.

Eight cards per pack in the blaster, with other assorted trickery, which I shall discuss.

PACK 1


#150 - John Danks, White Sox

First card out of the blaster gets the duty of showing off the card back:


Not a lot to say about it. Clean design, just like the front. The whole chase theme that Topps is advertising this year is taken to ridiculous extremes on the back of every card. This has been pointed out already in other places, but what is the point to comparing Danks' stats to Cy Young?

This happens with base stealers (comparing to Rickey Henderson), strikeout pitchers (comparing to Nolan Ryan), catchers (comparing to Ivan Rodriguez), relievers (comparing to Mariano Rivera). I've never seen anything on a card more pointless.

#143 - Jim Johnson, Orioles


#283 - CC Sabathia, Yankees, ALDS Game 5

If there is a card for every game of the postseason, I like these. But if they are random games, like last year, they're meaningless to me.


#CD-21 - Jarrod Parker, A's, Chasing the Dream insert

One of many inserts riffing off "The Chase" theme. Really no reason for these.


#CC10 - Tim Lincecum, Giants, Calling Card insert

I like these inserts quite a bit. They look nice, and the stock is a little bit cardboardy. Unfortunately I did a terrible job on the subjects. Two calling cards in the blaster, both of players who are as irksome as all get-out.

#267 - Jason Kipnis, Indians, Walmart blue parallel


#9 - Dee Gordon, Dodgers, Walmart blue parallel

That is a very nice-looking card and I'm quite pleased to pull a Dodger blue parallel.

Now for the bad stuff. In every Walmart blaster (and corresponding Target blaster) there are two blue (or red) parallels in every pack. That means one-fourth of the cards out of the blaster are blue parallels. If you're trying to complete the set, I would recommend buying something other than blasters.

#212 - Eric Chavez, Yankees

PACK 2

#225 - Will Venable, Padres


#28 - Prince Fielder, Tigers (notice how the card number matches his uniform number. There are several cards in the set like this, including Dee Gordon's #9, which I just showed).

Cover boy gives me the opportunity to compare the colors as I mentioned previously.

Here is the scan of the Fielder card from way back when Topps first released the design for 2013:


And here is a Tigers card from when Topps was tweeting images a couple weeks ago:


I guess the border outline isn't as light as I was hoping it would be. The actual Fielder card is much closer to the original Fielder released months ago. The color may be slightly lighter, but it's nowhere near the Raburn color.

Oh well.


#TM-4 - Mike Trout, Angels, '72-style mini

This will float somebody's boat somewhere. Maybe I'll trade it for one MILLION dollars.

#142 - Tony Cingrani, Reds (no idea)
#302 - Aaron Hill, Diamondbacks, blue parallel
#200 - Scott Downs, Angels, blue parallel (yes, Topps is ignoring hero numbers this year)


#273 - Dexter Fowler, Rockies

I already had it scanned, so what the hay.

#195 - Chris Heisey, Reds

PACK 3

#155 - Mat Latos, Reds


#113 - Starlin Castro, Cubs

Those of you who have decided to complete this set are lucky people. It will be a nice one in the binder. Very nice photography, like this one. Very clear photos. And the framing of the design really enhances some of the pictures.

#124 - Ricky Romero, Blue Jays


#CC-7 - Mark Teixeira, Yankees, Calling Card

See what I mean? Ugh. I can't wait to get this out of my sight.


Million Dollar Chase advertisement code card thingy.

I've been paying very little attention to what you do with this. It corresponds with the online promotion/giveaway/game/waste of time that Topps is doing this year. It sounds like a lot of time to invest, which I don't have. I'll have to look into it later.


#191 - Chris Capuano, Dodgers, blue parallel

Me so happy.


#227 - Jose Altuve, Astros, blue parallel

Out of all the cards I showed on Twitter earlier today, only one other card got more of a reaction than this one. Topps even retweeted it. This card looks very cool. And there are people lining up to acquire it in a trade. Yeah. There are Astros fans. Who knew?


The card back even mentions the website howmanyaltuves.com, which is very cool.

#291 - Ryan Sweeney, Red Sox

PACK 4

#115 - Tim Hudson, Astros


#331 - Jose Reyes, Blue Jays

Topps doing its photoshopping thing. And notice that it is card No. #331. I don't believe this is a shortprint. There are apparently not the usual 330 cards in Series 1 this year.

#286 - Jurickson Profar, Rangers



#CH-47 - Willie Mays, Giants, Chasing History insert

Another "chasing" insert. And, yes, there are Giants crawling all over this set.

#70 - Todd Frazier, Reds, blue parallel
#126 - Dan Uggla, Braves, blue parallel


#139 - Bobby Parnell, Mets

Topps is still doing the "players make weird faces" thing. I wish they'd stop it. Topps, I mean. Not the players. They can't help it.

#96 - Edwards Mujica, Cardinals

PACK 5

#61 - Trevor Bauer, Diamondbacks


#316 - Josh Reddick, A's

This image has already been shown all over Twitter. It's one of the best out of the set so far.

#119 - Chris Davis, Orioles

#CD-12 - Casey Kelly, Padres, Chasing the Dream insert

#36 - Jered Weaver, Angels, blue parallel


#123 - Rickie Weeks, Brewers, blue parallel

This won't be the last retro uniform blue parallel that you will see. I pulled at least three of them. I'm sure the retro unis are everywhere.


#73 - Brandon Crawford, Giants

It pains me how well-framed this card is. Giants don't deserve this at all. Topps needs to show all of them with shadows across their faces, like it did in 2009.

#163 - J.A. Happ, Blue Jays

PACK 6

#3 - Hunter Pence, Giants
#50 - Adam Wainwright, Cardinals


#81 - League Leaders, NL Earned Run Average

They're Baaaaack!!!! I wish these would go away. But at least my favorite Dodgers is on it.

#303 - Alex Rodriguez, Yankees, checklist


#TM-22 - Andre Ethier, Dodgers, '72-style mini

There is no blaster regret with this purchase at all. At. All.

#80 - Ryan Zimmerman, Nationals, blue parallel


#11 - Yu Darvish, Rangers, blue parallel

People collect this guy, no? .... I pulled a ton of Rangers.

#244 - Lucas Luetge, Mariners

PACK 7

#1 - Bryce Harper, Nationals

No, I will not show it.

#269 - St. Louis Cardinals, NLDS, Game 5
#231 - Melky Mesa, Yankees


#253 - Adam Greenberg, Marlins

This card might as well be a "hit." Greenberg is the guy who received his much-publicized chance in the majors with an at-bat for the Marlins last October. Topps announced there would be a card of him and everyone was all tingly. This is also the one emerald parallel out of the box.

Pretty good one to have.

Makes me want to sell on ebay again.


#55 - Tim Lincecum, Giants, blue parallel
#33 - Cliff Lee, Phillies, blue parallel

Lots of Giants. Lots. Of. Giants.

#235 - Jake Westbrook, Cardinals


#314 - A.J. Ellis, Dodgers

With special guest! I have a feeling Topps is going to have fun with Ellis' cards for his whole career.

PACK 8

#313 - Maicer Izturis, Angels (night card)
#274 - Miguel Montero, Diamondbacks
#112 - Mark Reynolds, Orioles


#CD-20 - Reggie Jackson, Yankees, Chasing History

#147 - Ivan Nova, Yankees, blue parallel


#320 - Michael Young, Rangers, blue parallel. More retro.

#319 - Brian Bogusevic, Astros
#165 - Ramon Hernandez, Rockies

PACK 9

#223 - Yonder Alonso, Padres


#158 - Chad Billingsley, Dodgers

Nice blaster. Good blaster. Good boy.

#23 - Jemile Weeks, A's
#268 - David Lough, Royals

Million Dollar Chase card thing

#281 - David Hernandez, Diamondbacks, blue parallel


#134 - Jake Arrieta, Orioles, blue parallel

Jake needs to shave that thing off.

#251 - Sean Marshall, Reds

PACK 10

#63 - Justin Masterson, Indians
#100 - Mike Moustakas, Royals
#247 - Luis Perez, Blue Jays


#TM-24 - Giancarlo Stanton, Marlins, 72-style mini

And a night card!


#222 - Jason Heyward, Braves, blue parallel
#118 - Daisuke Matsuzaka, Red Sox, blue parallel (I'm surprised he's in the set)


#299 - Darwin Barney, Cubs

More photoshop wizardry. We all know that Cubs don't hit walk-offs.

#167 - Luke Hochevar, Royals


And those are the 10 packs.

Of course, each blaster comes with a manu-patch thingy.

This year, there are two different kinds. There are commemorative patches, that are sort of what you're used to seeing. And there are silk-style patch replicas of past Topps rookie cards, which most people think are pretty cool.

I'm "most people" in this case.


Pretty cool (it came out blurrier on the scan -- they look a little better in person).

So there's your average representation.

There are a bunch of other things that I didn't pull -- including shortprints of a bunch of players. But I don't care about that, and things like that are basically why I'm looking to vintage this year.

I still like the design. I still like the photos. I still like the set. I'll still buy a pack or two here and there.

Not collecting it.

Period.