Thursday, June 10, 2010

Reclaiming No. 661

All right, Topps has been a naughty boy and attached a hard-to-obtain card of a super-hyped-pitcher to the end of its 2010 base set. It callously manipulated its Million Card Giveaway site so it would spit out the periodic Stephen Strasburg card. It just announced the addition of a different Strasburg card, also numbered 661, to its factory set.

Believe it or not, I refuse to get myself worked up over this. It's obvious that Topps has decided that doing things like this is a successful business scheme -- that there are enough idiots out there who will sacrifice common sense for the chance to own something that might be worth bragging about for 3 weeks -- that it can make crates of money off of it.

As a set-collector, that's supposed to irk me. And it has in the past. Very recently, in fact (see: 2006 Alex Gordon, etc). But not anymore. As of now, I'm done with that.

No, I'm not dropping Topps. I will continue to collect Series 2, and when I receive all of the cards between and including 331 and 660, I will be done. My set will be finished and there will be no agonizing here or even in my angst-ridden brain over the "missing" No. 661. Topps 2010 is a base set that features cards No. 1 through 660. Period. End of story. No epilogue. No sequel. No man behind the curtain.

If  you let it bother you, it will. And in that case, I suggest going all vintage, because there is no use in venting at a modern corporation. Have you seen what passes for business ethics today? There is no hope for these people.

Meanwhile, this is just another example of focusing on what you have instead of what you don't have. This kind of thinking is still a work in progress for me. But I'm really trying.

And along those lines, I dug out some No. 661 cards that I DO have, back when ol' 661 was a cooperative, card-carrying member of the base set. I know you have some of these. Take a look at a few. Maybe it'll help quiet the screaming voices.

#661 - Chris Hammond, 1993 Upper Deck. OK, I know Upper Deck is not part of this particular issue (I wonder what they would do with this Strasburg fellow), but I just wanted to show all of the teal. Isn't it soothing? Remember when people wore it because it was fashionable? Remember "Whoomp! There It Is?" OK, sorry, not soothing anymore.

#661 - Bob Zupcic, 1994 Topps. Bob ZUPCIC! Listed fifth from the bottom among all major league players! Zupcic! ZUP-sick! Say it! It's FUN. Zupcic! Breathe out the nasty Strasburg 661 Topps thoughts. Breathe in the Zupcic!

#661 - Orioles team, 1981 Topps. Look, they're all smiling even though they lost to the Pirates in the '79 World Series. There's some positivity for you. Also, the sight of the Orioles' trainer (guy standing on the right in the front) makes me smile. I don't know his name, but I would always see him in games during the late '70s and early '80s.

#661 - Dave Concepcion, 1982 Topps: What's more fun than an In Action card and a name that travels all the way under your armpit? Nothing! No. 661 can be fun!

#661 - Grant Jackson, 1978 Topps. This card has already been on the blog. Look at the jacket. Still angry? Then you might need professional help.

#661 - Lou Whitaker, 1987 Topps. Sweet Lou! Late 1980s awesomeness! ... No, no, now don't start with the "should be in the Hall of Fame talk." I can see your face twisting up. No crankiness here. I won't allow it. Go to your happy place.

#661 - Orioles Future Stars, 1980 Topps. Ooh, here's a cautionary card for young Strasburg collectors. This is what passed for Future Stars in 1980. Krenchicki was the most successful of the three, I believe. None of his cards are going for $16,000.

#661 - Bill Russell, 1983 Topps. Bill Russell spent his entire 18-year playing career with the Dodgers. He then became the Dodgers' manager and what did he get for his years of service? He was FIRED after not even two full seasons. I suppose I could draw a parallel between loyal Topps collectors and Topps' underhanded stealth gimmick ways. But I'm not going to do that. ... or maybe I just did. OK, I'm going to my happy place now.

#661 - Chuck Tanner, 1971 Topps. Perfect. A happy-go-lucky manager to chase away the crankiness.

#661 - Dwight Gooden, TBTC, 1989 Topps: Uh-oh. Stephen, don't look. Doc received a lot of hype right from the beginning and he seemed to be the real deal. He had several decent seasons from the outset. Then ... well, you know what happened. Gooden is still dealing with "too much too fast." I hope #661 doesn't mean the same thing for you.

#661 - Roger Clemens, 1986 Topps. Here is another one. A certain Hall of Famer if not for certain questions about his, um, "workout regiment" later in his career. Now I'm starting to get concerned about this 661 number.

#661 - Nolan Ryan, TBTC, 1988 Topps. OK, this is much better. Here's a role model. Sure he struggled early on, but maybe that's the way to go. Nobody told him how great he was during those early years. And by the end no one would STOP talking about how great he was. Plus, he beat the hell out of someone on the mound in mid-game. That's who you want to be, Stephen.

So those are some more pleasant 661 cards, back when Topps wasn't so sneaky. Hopefully it helps.

Or, do what you like. Fume if you want. Fuming is good -- if it leads to change. I don't see Topps changing. Not at all.

Personally, I'm going to ignore. I'll collect what I like and be happy about it.

If you see this blog turn to all vintage all the time, then you'll know that I've walked away from the hobby forever and become a cranky, bitter, old collector.

All of my posts will include a discussion of how high the snow was that I had to walk through on the way to school when I was a kid. And I'll start calling everyone "buster."


  1. I have a #661 Topps 2007 Barry Bonds card. I'm guessing it was also a "gimmick" though I have no idea what the gimmick was, but Beckett lists it at $10.00 on the high side of things.

  2. I always thing Chuck Tanner looks like Frank Sinatra and I have to do a double take.

  3. People love gimmicks, I'm not buying into it. I'm going to redeem my codes into the Transmogrifier and if I get a Strasburg, Great! If not that's ok too. As far as I'm concerned, the card is not by definition a true rookie card. From my understanding is that it has to be readily available to the public in the original release. That is why we had all those XRC's in the 80's. For me is "Real, True Blue" Rookie card will be in 2010 Allen and Ginter (assuming Topps doesn't screw this up and actually includes the card in packs with the other cards).

  4. Will you also sit on your rocking chair on your front porch and yell and shake your cane at those young whipper-snappers who drive too fast and listen to their music too loud and wear their hair too long?

    You should...

  5. I had the same reaction. The base set as far as I'm concerned is 1-660, and I won't lose any sleep over 661. If a Strasburg happens to fall in my lap, literally or figuratively, then great. Otherwise, oh well.

    Besides, does anyone really think he's not going to have a card in the Updates and Highlights set? Such as #UH1, perhaps?

    Word verification: swebots

  6. Thanks for saving me the time it would have taken to get this exact view across. I'm more mad at Topps for not getting the entire Series 2 out of my jumbo box.

  7. "Ooh, here's a cautionary card for young Strasburg collectors. This is what passed for Future Stars in 1980. Krenchicki was the most successful of the three, I believe. None of his cards are going for $16,000."

    What's a David "Can't Miss" Clyde rookie card going for these days?

  8. Firstngoal,

    "...those young whipper-snappers who drive too fast and listen to their music too loud and wear their hair too long?"

    This reminds me of the King of Queens episode where Arthur (Jerry Stiller) chastises young whipper-snappers in the mall "with their long hair and Dave Clark Five music!"

  9. The rotund, white-clad Orioles trainer was Ralphie Salvon. I wrote about him last year.