Friday, May 31, 2013

Daps!: 2005 Topps Flagship and Opening Day

In my collection: 1 regular, 6 Opening Day, 3 Highlights, 1 Hit Parade RBI5

Griffey looks: friendly on the front, diabolical on the back

Is this a good Griffey card? Yes.  Heavily designed but still a good-looking card.  Plus he's giving daps.  How cool is that?

The set:  The flagship base card has a whole lot going on design-wise.  Huge surname on top in foil, name again printed vertically on the left, huge logo-based team name on the bottom, team again printed vertically on the right, the set year in foil (love this), a border made of team colors that criss-cross above and below the picture, and the Topps logo. 

Oh, and for the Opening Day set, add a big, honking Opening Day logo, too.

Now, I'm a firm believer in the idea of less is more.  That may be hard to believe from all the words I tend to put into blog posts, but trust me - while I tend to ramble I also do a lot of editing.  Each paragraph is about a third longer before I go back and edit out the fluff.

So you might expect me to deride 2005 Topps for trying to overdesign this set, for adding and adding until the picture is only a small fraction of the card.  By the way, roughly 52.6%.  Just barely over half the card front is picture.  Let's nerd:

picture width = 1 15/16 = 1.9375", picture height = 2 3/8 = 2.375"
1.9375" x 2.375" = 4.602 sq. in., (4.602/8.750) x 100 = 52.6%
See?  Crazy, right?
And yet the design of this set  It doesn't come off as cluttery; in fact, it's aesthetically quite pleasing despite the numerous elements that went into it's design.  It looks like a baseball card.

Griffey time:

Griffey looks super friendly giving somebody daps.  Whoever that dude is, I'm jealous of him. 

You have to keep in mind that this is before Barack and Michelle Obama brought daps to the forefront of public awareness.  Remember when those two did it and suddenly daps (often called "fist-bumps" by dap-noobs) were all over the damn place?  Well here's Junior way back in '05 dapping it up all nastyballz in your pathetic face.  Griffey is so much better than Obama....

The back of this card also calls for another look:

Is it just me or is that the most diabolical-looking Junior ever to grace cardboard?  He's got a real everything-that-has-transpired-here-has-done-so-according-to-my-design expression.  I'm creeped out.

This is a great subset and an iconic image among Griffey fans.  The dropped bat, the crowd beginning to stir, the catcher angling his head up, Junior's graceful form and heroic expression.  This card gives me goosebumps.

Plus that is an excellent blurb written by the very talented sports reporter Topps Scout.

This flashy beast is the Hit Parade insert.  It features a dynamic blend of holographic patterns and primary colors known to cause seizures if looked at for more than a few moments.

This insert is divided into three categories: hits, homeruns, and RBIs.  Barry Bonds is at the top of the HR and RBI lists and second on the hits list to Palmeiro.  Amazing, right?!  Don't get me wrong - Sammy Sosa was doing pretty well, too!  What wonderful natural talent we have on these hallowed lists!

You just can't type sarcasm.

Griffey makes an appearance on the RBI and HR sections of this insert.  I only have the RBI card for now.....

There are no parallels, subsets, or inserts from 2005 Topps Opening Day to be had - just the base card which is nearly identical to the flagship base card, hence it's being lumped in with this post.  The only differences between them are the blue foil in lieu of gold, an Opening Day logo, and the number on the back. 

The double-dap.

Here are all the cards from 2005 Topps Flagship I don't have:

#335 Highlights Gold #/2005
#335 Highlights Black #/54
#440 Gold #/2005
#440 Black #/54
HR4 Hit Parade
HM19 Hobby Masters

If I ever meet Griffey, I am certain we will mismatch our attempts at a greeting resulting in what I call a dap-slap, that being one person goes to shake hands and the other goes to bump and the two meet in an awkward communion of fingers and palms that looks just terrible.  I'll try and get video if it ever happens.

Nick Sends Quality Over Quantity: a Trade Post

If you read his blog (and if you read baseball card bloggery, it's more than likely you've read his) you probably know Dime Box Nick has a lot of collections.  It tends to be very easy to find cards for him.  I am always building stacks for various trading partners, and Nick's always tends to grow the fastest.  In that sense I tend to send Nick large quanities of cards that meet his collecting criteria.

In fact, everybody sends the guy so many cards I often think they are more of a hindrance, impeding his ability to collect efficiently.  Then I remember that this guy has more love for cardboard than pretty much anyone else I've ever come across and I'm like "Psh.  Whatever.  He loves it."

Anyway, Nick sent me a mix of cards recently that, while they wouldn't completely fill a Priority Mail box, are all quality additions to several of my own varying collections.  I'll start with my favorite card of the lot:

This was personal.

Nick called this a "cameo" card.  That is a much better word for it as I have been calling a "surprise" card.  Cameo makes a lot more sense. 

This card and I have a history.  When I was in high school I was in the baseball card club, and everyone seemed to know I was the Griffey guy (probably because I would trade at a loss to get Griffeys).  Kids would all bring their Juniors to me for trading, and one day a guy brought me this Jody Reed Stadium Club card featuring Griffey going down at second in the midst of a double-play.  He also had a few other Griffeys I ended up trading for (I remember one was a '94 Stadium Club Electric Parallel). 

I immediately dismissed the Jody Reed.  Little did I know that several times over the next many years (and more fequently over the past few months) I would think back to this card and wish I'd snagged it when I had the chance.  I could no longer remember the player or even the set it had come from.  That is, until Nick included it in this trade package.  When i saw it I knew immediately that this is the one I had passed on over 15 years ago.  Hence, this is definitely my favorite card in the bunch.

A close second is this guy:

No, I did not have a stroke.  This was in a penny sleeve that read "turn over" in Sharpie.  Lo and behold:

A totally amazing error card!  The error back is printed upside-down, so that's not a blogger error you're seeing.  It's like a double error and a parallel to boot.  Great surprise.

This one is from the Barry Colla Photography collection which you may have come across if you've collected modern-age cards for long enough.  From what I can tell this is a sports photographer who formed his own company and started making individual player sets.  This particular card is touted as a bookmark. 

I used to consider Colla cards oddballs, but over the last few months I've seen enough of them pop up that they could be more legit than I thought.

Nick hit every baseball player collection I have - even the oft-overlooked Rusty Staub.  That Staub, the Chuck Silver Sig.  That '88 Score Kittle is a great picture, but it also kinda looks like he's giving birth to the on-deck guy.

I've never officially designated The Big Unit as a player collection of mine.  Then again, I am always excited to pull his cards, I keep nearly every single one of of them I get, and I seem to have more of his cards than all but five or six other players; so I'm starting to think that maybe he is a player collection of mine.  That '94 Stadium Club is awesome.

This Biggio ellicited an audible "wow" when I saw it just because the subject matter is so bizarre - what a wacky record to hold and make a card to commemorate.  That Fernando card ellicited another "wow" because they tried to rhyme Schwarzenegger.  Skybox, I frickin' LOVE/HATE/LOVE you so much.

Buhner is definitely another unsung PC of mine, as well as Chipper Jones who makes a cameo in this great Brian Jordan card.

I've always held on to Vlad cards, too, though I still don't really consider him a PC as much as some of the other guys mentioned in this post.  This one here is a card I've seen on Nick's blog in the past that I've drooled over: colorful, perfectly balanced, fun and full of character, a well-put-together card in every way.  Maybe lose the gold border, but everything else is solid.

Here we have pitcher at the plate Jim Abbott who for some reason turns up on Griffey cards all the time - don't ask me why.  Tekulve's glasses are legendary among those of us who collect bad pictures, and Warren Spahn is apparently super flexible.

Players blowing bubbles, another small collection of mine.

And finally a nice bunch of Griffeys.  That Royal Rookies checklist is new to me, and I've always been a big fan of '93 Stadium Club.

Nick has one of the best blogs out there and a love for the hobby that borders the unhealthy.  Plus it's a great read - check it out......

Thursday, May 30, 2013

One Wild Repack and a Bunch of Randomness

I've collected a few random bits of information and knowledge I've been looking to drop strategically in various blog posts, but instead I'm going to tack them on all at once to this here repack box post.  In other words, this post is going to be all over the place.

Being a Griffey collector, it is not in my best interest to break packs and repacks in search of my guy's cards.  As I've stated before my strategy should be to stick to COMC, eBay, card shows and trades.

But I am also a hopeless pack breaker; so in a trip to Walmart for little travel-sized shampoos and beef jerky for our recent cruise, I broke down and grabbed a repack box.  It turned out to be different from any I'd encountered before.  Was it worth it?  You be the judge:

These were the best of a rack pack of Heritage that was also included.

This is not the first pack of these I've gotten in a repack.  The Votto has deckled edges on the top and bottom which I can only assume is a parallel.

There was also a rack pack of 2009 Upper Deck.  Sadly there were no Ken Griffey Jr #855 SP's in there.  Still, not a bad haul.

And I've never been gaga about GQ, but these are some nice cards.

Before we get to the nice surprise from this box, here is what the obligatory metric ton of Topps packs yielded:

I have like 50 of that Matt Holliday card now.  And that's a sweet Nolan Ryan.
Heck, I even like that Josh Reddick non-rookie.  Great picture.

Big Hurt, Linceum and B Wilson on the same card, and Jeff Hamilton in Texas.

The two remaining packs in the box were something I've never encountered before: Upper Deck Team-Exclusive Jumbo packs.  Each contained a large quantity of various previously-manufactured card styles featuring popular players from a single team.  I don't know how many teams Upper Deck made these for, but I got two, one for the Red Sox and one for the Yankees.

Here's the Red Sox pack:

Cy Young, Boggs, Yaz

These are smooth and shiny, leading me to believe they were printed just for these packs.

Lotta this guy.

As you can see, it seems like a simple "best of" that Upper Deck threw together possibly to sidestep their licensing issues.  The textures don't quite match some of the original cards (such as the Masterpieces) so I'm wondering if these are all reprints.  Yet I found nothing on the cards to indicate that fact.

Check out what came in the Yankees pack:

DiMaggio, Gehrig, Ruth, Mattingly

These are just awesome.

Pretty impressive, no?  I want ten more packs like these.  They were a blast to open and finger through.  If anyone comes across a Mariners one, please save it for me.  I'll pay you money.

Last but not least: YES, I pulled a Griffey:

I already have a couple of this one, but a duplicate Griffey is better than no Griffey at all.

Overall, I'm pretty pleased with that repack.  I'll definitely be looking out for another with Team-Specific UD Jumbos, that's for sure.

Moving on, my friends got married on the aforementioned cruise.  They had their rehearsal dinner at the legendary and very spicy Tujagues (pronounced "two jacks") restaurant in the French Quarter.

Now, we're no strangers to celebrity in New Orleans especially with this Hollywood South movement going on (I've already been an extra in a couple of movies myself), but in the private room at Tujagues was a celebrity endorsement I never expected to find:

I toasted The Man with a Canadian Club on the rocks.

Stan was born in Donora, Pennsylvania, the same birth place as both Ken Griffey Sr. and Jr.  This was providence.

Baseball is not popular here unless it is of the high school or college variety.  We are very much a football town even back when the Saints were the 'Aints and we all wore Schwegmann bags on our heads, so you can imagine my surprise when I came across this great signed screen print of Stan the Man.  While I was the only guy at the party who seemed to give a damn, it reminded me that I should always expect the unexpected when I go Downtown.

More randomness: Nachos Grande had a Topps Tribute box break a few weeks ago.  I took the Mariners (and was given the Astros) in the hopes of pulling one of the very few Griffeys in the set.  I ended up with a single card:

While there was no Griffey this time, this base card is a beaut.  Reminds me of a Flair Showcase refractor.  I'm glad (and lucky) I got to see one in person.

Ooh, I got these for a dollar each at Winn-Dixie:

The pic is sideways, and Blogger wouldn't allow it to NOT be sideways, so there ya go.
 Lance Moore is a great young wide receiver with the Saints who tends to produce in clutch moments.  He is also a big fan favorite down here.  You might say he's the Ron Kittle of New Orleans Football.
Last but not least, as promised, I framed that uncut sheet of Mother's Cookies father/son Griffey cards:

This is not archival quality or anything, just a big poster frame I had lying around.  Still it turned out pretty good.  Even my wife likes it which is rare for baseball card stuff.

OK, that's it for now.  Hey, is everybody enjoying the new Arrested Development on Netflix?  We just finished epsiode six.  It seems to be getting better with every show which is good because I was starting to get worried after the first few.  It's never too late for a nu start......

Return of the King B

See also: The King B 1993 and 1994 Cards

In my collection: 1 1990, 1 1996

Griffey looks: satisfied

Is this a good Griffey card? Yes.  A unique, colorful, and fun set of oddballs.

The sets: With very few exceptions, King B had the market cornered when it comes to cards with no corners. 

These are the first and last Griffey cards King B would make.  They were manufactured by Michael Schechter Associates or MSA (who also made round cards for Oscar Mayer) and released with packages of King B Beef Jerky for over a decade. In that time Griffey appeared in the set seven times.

With the addition of these two, I now have four of the seven.

The 1990 card is probably my favorite of them all.  It has a colorful, nostalgic look and a great portrait of the Kid looking satisfied.  The red, white and blue with the stars add a dash of patriotism into the mix.  Plus it's the earliest of the King B sets to feature Junior.

The '96 design is darker and more modern with no more border and nearly full-bleed action photography.  The backs stay roughly the same every year, the only changes being the stats and the omission of the "The Legend of the West" slogan.

Griffey would never be included in another King B set following his devestating wrist injury.

I still need these:

1991 King B #6
1992 King B #8
1995 King B #11
Now that this post has come full-circle, I'll say that I believe these cards are 360 degrees of fun.  I like to think my opinions are fairly well-rounded.  That may seem a bit one-sided, but I think eventually you too will come 'round. 

Sorry.  It's early and I'm feeling punny.