Thursday, June 19, 2014

Those Major League Cards and Why They INFURIATE ME

Man, that is a sweet card, and look at the size of this wax pack:

It's a 5x7 wax pack, guys.  Huge.  Surreal to hold, it's colorful, beautifully printed, soft to the touch, and peels open with ease and with minimal damage to the pack.  It's like a hipster maker art project.  Amazing.

The cards are huge but solid.  I would like to be able to pull these from a pack, but I haven't seen any Archives for sale.  Not once.  Why?  Because this insert is so cool and original that everybody is snapping up boxes as they arrive at my LCS.  See that, Topps?  Make something cool and original and people buy it.

Anyway it's jumbos for me, but that's not why I'm so angry over this set.

I'm a little surprised Ms. Phelps got a card over the hilarious and perfectly-cast coach played by James Gammon.  He's definitely my favorite character.  Cerrano and Hayes would have been nice to see, too.  What I really would have liked is a card of that standee with the removeable clothes.  Ahem.

Still not why I'm angry.

Some might think that this is the best card in the set, but we know they're wrong.  Jobu is the obvious star of this show even though he's only available in jumbo form.  Here's the back of Jobu's card:

"Take fear from bats?"  That's freaking hilarious.  Who the hell did this??

OK, look - I'm utterly impressed by this insert.  I can't believe someone at Topps even made it happen.  It's just so original and....I mean, who works at Topps that did this?  When did they start?  Originality at Topps.  Topps: you know, the guys who recycle the same photos over and over?  I just....I can't.  I can't even.  I just can't.  Frankly, I'm pissed.

Here's why: when I was in high school I got a 29 on my ACT's.  This is not me bragging - I'm making a point.  29 is pretty good, so you would think my parents would be pleased.  My Dad almost killed me.  He said "If you're this smart, why are your grades so bad?"  He had me there.  Laziness.  There was no other excuse.

This insert is bloody genius.  It has people who haven't bought a pack since childhood or that never even collected cards busting $5 packs.  I can't even find packs to buy, and I collect baseball card actively.  So why don't we see great stuff like this ALL THE TIME?!?  I look at these and all I feel is frustrated - maybe even a little bit cheated.

Don't get me wrong, I've seen some neat stuff from Topps in the last few years, but the fact that these cards exist...I just....I thought it was a rumor, you know?  I thought, "Yeah, right, somebody photoshopped a few Major League cards and are trying to pass them off as genuine Topps cards.  They would never do something this cool  Psh, not fallin' for it."  I shouldn't be thinking that.  I should be thinking, "Of course, another fresh, brilliant card idea from the exclusive Major League license-holder.  They did it again."  I never think that.  Not ever.

So do I get my hopes up now?  Is everything going to change?  I don't know what to think.

Shame on you, Topps, for showing us how awesome you can be.

Wednesday, June 18, 2014


I sent a package to Will Clark, and today I got it back.

A few weeks ago my wife informed me quite nonchalantly and in a single breath that she works with a guy who hangs out with Will Clark, and if I get a few cards together she would pass them on to this fellow who would get Will to sign them.  My response was, "Wait, what?!?"

So I scrambled through my collection, trying to figure out which cards to send.  Should it be all rookies?  Should every team from his time in the majors be represented?  When I was done I had 34.  She told me that maybe I should whittle the pile down to ten, and I begrudgingly agreed.

So I chose the best ten from that stack of 34 and put them into a snap case secured by rubber band.  I put that case into a small white card box along with a sharpie, a business card for my blog, and a note.

I'll admit that thenote was a little fan-boyish, letting him know things like the fact that we went to the same high school, and my uncle who is a teacher there taught him English, and I'd written a blog post once about the major leaguers of the school's alumni that he could check out if he wanted.  I also invited him to inscribe the autographs however he wished.

I didn't tell him that my cousin was a huge fan who also went to the same school only a year behind me, and that my cousin had even met Will once after a morning assembly in the late 90's.  I left out that my cousin kept in his bedroom a framed picture they had taken at that meeting that I still look at whenever I visit my cousin's house.  I didn't tell him that my Will Clark collection is really a tribute to this cousin who left us seven years ago.  Maybe I'll tell him someday.

So Will didn't know what a gesture this was to me.  I like to think that were my cousin around today I would share these cards with him.  Maybe I'd tell him to put together a box of his own.  The way I see it, they're kind of his, anyway.  I always liked Will Clark, but he was undoubtedly my cousin's baseball hero, probably in part because his Dad taught Will English.

Look closely and you can see that Will inscribed each auto with his corresponding uniform number.  How cool is that?  You've got to admit, too, he's got his underlining swoosh down.

The last of the bunch is a relic card I was a bit conflicted about sending off, but I'm really glad I did.  If you are a regular reader you probably have seen this before:

That's Will in our high school's baseball uniform.  It had a nice, big field of empty space that was just begging for some ink, and it's finally got it!

If you do read this, thanks a lot, Will.  You've made an even bigger fan out of me.

Tuesday, June 17, 2014

1995 Upper Deck Part 3: The Griffeys

This is the final post in a three-part series all about 1995 Upper Deck.

Check out Part 1: The Set and Part 2: The Box.

At long last, let's look at some Griffeys:

1995 Upper Deck #100

I talk at length about why I love this card in part one.  Suffice it to say, yeah, it's pretty good.

There are two parallels of this card, Electric Diamond Gold (1:35 retail packs) and Silver (1:1 retail packs).  I only have the silver, and here it is:

1995 Upper Deck #100 Electric DIamond Silver

The only difference is the color of the foil and the little home plate Upper Deck logo with the parallel name.  Not much to it, really, so I'm not hurting for the gold version.

1995 Upper Deck #110 90's Midpoint Analysis

I turned this on its side so you can get the full effect.  Our guy is above-average in every category here.  Can I get a "what, what?"

I have both parallels of this one:

1995 Upper Deck #110 90's Midpoint Analysis Electric Diamond Silver
1995 Upper Deck #110 90's Midpoint Analysis Electric Diamond Gold

Electric Diamond was the 1:1 retail parallel.  Let's look at the 1:1 hobby box insert:

1995 Upper Deck Special Edition #270

This has all the qualities of a parallel, but it's not.  It's really just a massive insert.  While I'm not crazy about the unscannable front, I love the back here.  That oversized bat sure has made the rounds on cardboard, hasn't it?

1995 Upper Deck Predictor #R4 Home Run Leader Game Card

Before we talk about this card, let's take another look at the boxes:

These are clearly all taken from the same photo session.  And why not?  It's a great portrait and made for one of my favorite Griffey cards of all time.  A great-looking design with a classy marble border.  These cards look expensive.

I won't sit here and type how the Predictor cards worked.  Suffice it to say there were no winning Griffeys this year.

1995 Upper Deck Predictor #R4 Home Run Leader Redemption Card

This redemption card for the series two first-set Predictor is one of the few that adorn the background of this very blog.  As you can see the design was identical to the game card but with holofoil instead of bronze.  It's also got a proper back instead of game rules.  The blurb is bittersweet.

1995 Upper Deck Predictor #H3 Most Valuable Player Game Card

This is the series one hobby box version Predictor.  It's red instead of green and features an action shot in lieu of a portrait.  Not as iconic as the sharp portrait cards but still very much a looker.

1995 National Packtime Trade Card

I don't count these as Griffeys per se, but I do keep a couple in the binders next to the National Packtime redemption cards.  It's got the Kid's name on it - that's good enough for me.

There was also a Griffey in the Upper Deck Minors set from this year:

1995 Upper Deck Minors Craig Griffey #59

Craig is just a little younger than Junior, but his major league career never really panned out.  We still got a very small number of cards for him including a very nice family portrait card in '92 Upper Deck and this card depicting Craig laying down a savage bunt.  Again, I don't count this in the Griffey totals, but it belongs in the binders.

Here are the Griffeys I need from 1995 Upper Deck:

#100 Electric Diamond Gold
Special Edition #255 Gold
Predictor #H3 Redemption
Predictor #R45 Game
Predictor #R45 Redemption
Predictor #R52 Game
Predictor #R52 Redemption

Those last two Redemption cards listed are going to be tough to pin down as there was only one winning card in that entire half of the Predictor checklist.

So that's everything.  I've got a few more scans of some side-by-side comparisons among parallels for you to enjoy if you're so inclined, but when it comes to 1995 Upper Deck posts, I'm spent.

Have a great week.

Base card Electric Diamond Silver vs. regular

90's Midpoint Analysis Electric Diamond Gold vs. Silver vs. regular
Predictor #R4 vs. Predictor #H3 vs. Predictor Redemption #R4