Sunday, June 30, 2019

It only took 8 years

That is my Mike Trout rookie card. Most days it sits under lock-and-key because I just know there are thieves lurking in the bushes so they can steal it from me.

Even when I pull it out for blog occasions like this one, I don't like scanning it outside of its top-loader. I'd do it if I had to -- I don't care about it that much -- but all it will take is one trip to ebay to see how much it is selling for and I suddenly feel like hiring armed guards.

My goal is to sell this card someday and I probably would have sold it already, but I've held on to it because I wasn't done with the 2011 Topps Update set yet.

No, I haven't completed the 2011 Update set -- no plans to do that -- but there was one card from that set that I wanted above any other one and it took ages for me to get it.

The Matt Kemp Toppstown card from that set lounged on my Nebulous 9 list longer than any other card that I've placed on there. But if you look over at the Nebulous 9 now, you'll notice that it's not there anymore.

Because, finally, it's mine.

I received it from Gavin of Baseball Card Breakdown. He went out of his way to track down a copy of it because -- in his words -- he "got sick of seeing this card on your Nebulous 9 forever."

I hear ya, Gavin. Imagine how I felt!

For the record, the Kemp Toppstown card didn't sit on the list forever. It's been up there for around 2 1/2 years. I went to the Wayback Machine and noted that the Kemp card was not on my Nebulous 9 in April of 2016:

(If you want to feel good about your collection, find a past want list like this and note that all of the cards are now in your possession!)

Another trip to the Wayback Machine revealed that the Kemp card was appearing on the Nebulous 9 list by December of 2017.

The reason such a ridiculous card (the Toppstown site doesn't exist anymore) eluded me for so long is partly because I didn't feel like chasing down a dumb Toppstown card, but mostly it's because it wasn't available because everyone in the world is hoarding 2011 Topps Update cards.

It's interesting to me to see the development of 2011 Topps Update from a run-of-the-mill set to the most coveted Update set of the last decade. I remember buying Topps Update in 2011 -- you can read about it on this blog -- and I had no difficulty pulling the Trout card or any of the many rookie notables in the set, Altuve, Freeman, Blackmon, Hosmer, Rizzo, Goldschmidt, Sale, J.D. Martinez, etc. The cards were plentiful on the shelves and I accumulated a little more than half the set.

I never even bothered to show the Trout rookie card when I pulled it because I'm sure I didn't know who he was.

But slowly, as Trout's rise to Baseball God became complete, the 2011 Update set became less and less available and prices for any card in the set, even a stupid Toppstown card (albeit a card of the rightful 2011 NL MVP), rose.

This phenomenon has interested me because 2011 Update was never difficult to find. It's not like 1984 Fleer Update or any set that was known to be released in fewer quantities or in exclusive fashion (such as factory set only). Yet, you will pay if you want to own it.

And even if you want one lousy Toppstown card from it, you will be inconvenienced. I pulled the other Dodger in the Toppstown set in Update, Chad Billingsley, back in 2011. Finally -- eight years later -- Matt Kemp has joined him. In that time, Billingsley's career ended and Kemp went to the Padres, then the Braves, then back to the Dodgers, then the Reds.

Also, Toppstown cards scan like crap, so here is a photo of the card to take in its shininess.

But now I am done with the 2011 Update set. There are no other cards I want from that set.

That's good. Because if I do decide I want any, I might have to fund them by selling my Mike Trout rookie.

Friday, June 28, 2019

More fun (and not so much fun) with Stadium Club

Yesterday, my wife told me that there were binders of baseball cards at a thrift store in a plaza nearby.

The only thing I knew about this thrift store in the past is it is filled with women's clothes and, like, nothing else. So there was no reason for me to go there. I couldn't believe that suddenly there were baseball cards.

Per usual, I was suspicious. But that didn't stop me from heading out there almost instantly to see what was up. It turns out there were about a dozen-or-so one-inch ring binders, each containing sets from the early '90s. Stuff like 1991 Upper Deck and 1992 and 1993 Ultra. They weren't complete sets and they were 11 bucks a binder.

Although I was momentarily interested in the binder of 1992 Pinnacle, I passed ... and headed down the street to blow some cash on Stadium Club!

I sometimes feel like I need to apologize for buying modern cards, but for me this is the peak of the current-card season. Both Stadium Club and Allen & Ginter are released during the summer and they are consistently my favorite sets.

Right now I'm focusing on Stadium Club. I mentioned yesterday I bought a blaster of it, too. Here are the contents of that blaster:

Pack 1

#117 - Brian Anderson, Marlins

#211 - Jack Flaherty, Cardinals

#PZ-1 - Shohei Ohtani, Angels, Power Zone insert

#182 - Robin Yount, Brewers

#55 - Cole Hamels, Cubs

I like the Cole Hamels card because, even though I know it's the rosin bag, it appears that he has just vaporized a baseball with his own fist.

I'd also like to mention that the Ohtani insert was the only Ohtani card I pulled in the blaster. This is one of the things I like about Stadium Club. It may cost a little more, but you're not inundated with nonsense, stuff like 8 different cards of one guy or manupatch doo-dads.

Stadium Club deals in the best-of-the-best, classy photos and autographs. It also has inserts, which I wish it didn't because they seem unneeded, but that's about it.

Pack 2

#70 - Jackie Robinson, Dodgers

#71 - Kris Bryant, Cubs

#226 - Manny Machado, Padres

#200 - Chris Taylor, Dodgers, red parallel

#236 - Honus Wagner, Pirates

I mentioned on Twitter that I will not pull a better collection of cards in any other pack I open this year. From the subjects, to the photo selection, to two Dodgers in one pack, to the parallel being a Dodger, I won all the way through.

The Robinson card may look familiar to you. That's because it's a few clicks of the camera away from this Stadium Club card:

Back in 2014 I praised that card as the best there was that year. The 2019 version provides a different perspective, and of course it's been colorized. I like both of them and I can appreciate the different treatment if essentially the same photo. There is another example later that I do not appreciate.

Pack 3

#161 - Clayton Kershaw, Dodgers

#225 - Juan Marichal, Giants

#256 - Roger Maris, Yankees

#139 - Darryl Strawberry, Mets

#155 - Rhys Hoskins, Phillies

That Kershaw card is phenomenal and crazy all at the same time. Never have I ever thought that I needed Clydsdales on a baseball card. Stadium Club gives me what I didn't know I needed.

Pack 4

#146 - Cody Bellinger, Dodgers

#21 - Charlie Blackmon, Rockies

#144 - Josh Hader, Brewers

#137 - Gary Sanchez, Yankees, red parallel

#28 - Eddie Murray, Orioles

The Murray photo appears to be from a postseason game, although I can't narrow it down between 1979 or 1983 as his mutton-chops look was strong each year.

The Cody Bellinger shot is from last year's NLCS against the Brewers. I wish I could see more sad Brewers fans because Bellinger is obviously celebrating something big for the Dodgers.

Finally, I agree with those who have said the font makes this year's Stadium Club either the "Lord of the Rings" set or the "Game of Thrones" set. I think the font may match the LOTR better but seeing those red parallels, Game of Thrones may work more because those parallels are so bloody.

Pack 5

#20 - Eugenio Suarez, Reds

#78 - Chipper Jones, Braves

#WS-1 - Ronald Acuna Jr., Braves, Warp Speed insert

#202 - Wil Myers, Padres

#84 - Andrelton Simmons, Angels

Dullest pack of the bunch.

Pack 6

#136 - Ryan Braun, Brewers

#98 - Dale Murphy, Braves

#286 - Todd Helton, Rockies

#24 - Frank Thomas, White Sox, red parallel

#3 - Touki Toussaint, Braves

Lots of Braves action the last two packs. But the Braves are at the center of what I consider a big-time Stadium Club gaffe.

This photo should look familiar to anyone who has been collecting for five straight years because ...



I know why this happens. Topps has only so many licenses for retired players, but there are only so many photos of those players available, and I'm also guessing the same people aren't working on Stadium Club that were in 2015, but this photo is so memorable how could anyone miss that it's been used already?????

Just leave Dale Murphy out of the set if you're not sure if you have any other photos of him. Why people like Murphy and Hideki Matsui and Luis Gonzalez need to be in more than one Stadium Club set I have no idea.

This just looks dopey. Kinda cool. But dopey.

Pack 7

#85 - Xander Bogaerts, Red Sox

#294 - Evan Longoria, Giants

#EZ-4 - Masahiro Tanaka, Yankees, Emperors of the Zone

#SCA-CB - Corbin Burns, Brewers, autograph

#87 - Christian Yelich, Brewers

Hey! It's my first autograph pull of the year!!

I have no idea who Corbin Burnes is!!

(*Looks up his stats*)

His ERA is 8.85!!

OK, back to the box break!!

Pack 8

#141 - Derek Jeter, Yankees

#60 - Mike Trout, Angels

#174 - Dennis Eckersley, Athletics, orange parallel??

#210 - Franmil Reyes, Padres

#259 - Babe Ruth, Yankees

I have a feeling some collectors would spontaneously combust if they didn't have a new Derek Jeter card to collect every year. So I suppose Topps needs to keep them alive. Otherwise I don't need to see him in a set every year.

I'm stumped by the Dennis Eckersley card. It looks like one of those nifty orange parallels that Stadium Club had the first few years of the reboot that I could never get my hands on. I hope it is because that would be my first.

So that was my blaster. I am quite happy with it. The Kershaw card, three Dodgers total, an autograph, and a whole bunch of neat pictures.

Sure I could've bought a binder of 1990 Fleer for 11 bucks. But you get what you pay for.

Thursday, June 27, 2019

A picture is worth a thousand fonts

"A picture is worth a thousand words."

I've always taken offense to that expression.

Sure, it's fine if you're a photographer or a painter, but way to marginalize an entire profession. I make my living with words. I happen to think words are beautiful. A picture can't possibly tell an entire story. But words can.

Anyway, I'm not here to downgrade photographs. In fact, I'm here to praise them. I've heard a little grousing about the font in this year's Stadium Club. Yes, the font ... that thing that people notice for a second on Stadium Club before the photo takes over everything.

The font is incidental to Stadium Club. The only thing it's good for is differentiating between years of Stadium Club. If Stadium Club had an actual design -- borders and graphics, etc. -- then I could see it detracting from the wonderful Stadium Club photos. But it doesn't, and a little ol' font isn't going to prevent me from accumulating those glorious photos. A picture is definitely worth a thousand fonts.

So, I stopped by Target and 2019 Stadium Club was there in full force. It looks glorious as usual. I'll show you the contents of this rack pack here, which was $5.99, so, you know, 50 cents a card.

They better be good.

#91 - Yu Darvish, Cubs

That's what they look like this year. The usual full-bleed action.

I don't mind the font. It looks like Topps went to calligraphy class. Let's call it the "Ye olde font."

#50 - Mike Foltynewicz, Braves

#196 - Travis Shaw, Brewers

I seem to pull the last two players out of every pack.

#34 - Trevor Bauer, Indians

Twitter's favorite player.

OK, so the pack's not very exciting so far. This is the corner Stadium Club paints itself into. With so much action photography, it kind of blends together. We're waiting for something a little more interesting.

Hang on.

#116 - Walker Buehler, Dodgers

There we go!!!! Yeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeaaahhhh!!!!!!

Let's look at the back:

The back continues the rustic, olden days theme of the front font. Long, wooden tables in a darkened lodge. Moose heads hanging on the wall and swarthy men and women knocking back grog.

#290 - Stan Musial, Cardinals

I. Love. It.

Why are we buying any other kind of cards when stuff like this is in Stadium Club?

#256 - Roger Maris, Yankees

The largest bat barrel on a card ever.

#286 - Todd Helton, Rockies, red parallel

The tradition continues of me pulling parallels from teams that I can't possibly trade: Rockies, Marlins, Nationals, Angels, Rays, Mariners, etc.

#WS-15 - Byron Buxton, Twins, Warp Speed insert

I love the title for this insert. It should have been an insert title a long time ago. (Has it? I'm not well-versed in '90s Stadium Club inserts).

#170 - Jose Altuve, Astros

#238 - Steven Duggar, Giants

How about that? Eleven whole cards before I saw the rookie card logo. That has to be a modern-day record.

#138 - Miguel Cabrera, Tigers

Phenomenal. And like only my fourth favorite card in the pack.

I also bought a blaster of the stuff but I have no time to scan it all now.

I'll show it tomorrow, if I see anything interesting, and chances are I will.

Stadium Club has done it again.

And it's because of the photos.

Not some lousy words.

Or fonts.

And this is a writer saying this.