Tuesday, September 30, 2014

The Purge Part 2: All Sales Final

This is the fifth in a series of posts about one massive box of Griffey cards.  Here is Part 1, Part 2, Part 3, and Part 4,

That’s it. The Kenner Lot is sold and shipped. In the end someone ended up using the Buy It Now option for $520.00 plus free shipping, and just like that I was officially 4,204 Griffeys poorer.

It’s OK, though. This was the plan all along. Let’s not get upset.

The buyer is Justin who lives in Georgia.  Justin ended up paying 12.37 cents per Griffey by using the BIN option, but once you factor in the free shipping and eBay and Paypal fees I’m going to pay here, I'm really ending up with just over 9.7 cents per card. That’s about right for eBay Griffey lots.

The fun part of all this was the packing and shipping of so many cards while also keeping them safe and damage-free. Here’s a look at how I made this happen:

1. Pack ‘em tight

There was barely enough space in the box for all the Griffeys. This was actually a blessing as restricting movement is the key to getting these cards to their destination safely. I used as many top loaders as I could fit and lined each of the rows with even more top loaders. On top I threw a sheet of large-bubble wrap as well as a little note for Mr. Justin with a few bonus cards.

Oh, and I decorated it a little.

2. Wrap it up

I taped all the edges closed then wrapped the whole shebang in many horizontal and vertical layers of plastic wrap. This way I can be sure that rain and/or moisture will not be a problem.

3. "Box"

There is no perfect box for this thing, so I simply wrapped many more layers of super-thick craft paper around the whole thing and sliced the ends so they could be folded in. A little more tape (a whole lot, really - I essentially laminated the box with tape) and we were good to go.

"Let it go."

4. The End

Here is where I physically brought the box to the Post Office for mailing. It was my last opportunity to change my mind. And what did I do?

I mailed the damn thing, of course.

So that’s it. All those lovely cards are gone for good, but I feel comforted by an eBay message from Justin that they will be in good hands.  Good on you, Justin.  Enjoy the cards...

Monday, September 29, 2014

2 x 3 = 6: a Trade Post

Six awesome cards, that is.  Specifically in a PWE from Jeff of 2x3 Heroes.  Homie sends Griffeys my way with uncanny regularity, and he never disappoints.

The first two Griffeys shown here are both new collection needs.  There's an Upper Deck Heroes parallel #/399 and a Fleer insert I'd never even seen before pulling it out of the envelope.  

The rest are dupes, but they're excellent dupes.  Only three players had the honor of appearing on that sweet chromium refractor design, so I'm all about filling pages with 'em.  

The same is true about the mini-stickers.  I miss the childhood days of immediately peeling and sticking them wherever I could.  Maybe when I get a few more of these I'll do just that.  

And overproduced as it was, the '91 Fleer card is a fantastic photo.  It certainly has a home here.

One of my newest PC's, I hit the ground running by picking up a bunch of cheapies on COMC, but not this one.  It's all-new to me.  Vida had a very photogenic wind-up, didn't he?  It must be an A's thing because Eckersley had it, too.  Cool card.

Thanks, Jeff!  Great envelope as always!!

The Felix Hernandez Hits Keep Coming

I'm not a team collector, a Mariners collector, nor a Felix Hernandez collector; but sometimes the Universe insists you collect somebody.  A guy's cards keep finding their way into your hands, and it's only a matter of time before you just have to lay back and let it happen.  That guy for me is Felix Hernandez.

It started with this card.  As a Griffey collector I always take the Mariners in a group break.  This here was one of the big hits of that particular box.  Ultra-thick and heavy as hell, this huge, manu-tastic mini-box of a card is shiny and colorful on a level that says, "Seriously, bro?  You don't plan on keeping me?"  I must admit I was waiting for a King Felix fan to come claim it from me.  Not anymore.

One Felix hit in a group break is nothing to write home about, but two in a row?  This came from the very next group break I took part in.  It's a really cool relic, too.  Where most jersey relics come with a disclaimer that the jersey is from no particular game, we all know which one this blue relic came from.  It's a unique, great-looking card, but I would have liked to see a picture from the All-Star Game.

Here is the first and only relic I've ever pulled from a pack of Allen & Ginter.  By this point I was not even a little surprised as to who it was.  An attractive design that is simple to its own detriment.

At this point I began storing my Hernandez cards together the way I would if I actually collected the guy.  Would I cross the threshold from simple hit-getter to player collector?

Kinda.  I found this baby on eBay, and for the first time I spent actual money on a Felix Hernandez card.  I just couldn't pass it up.  The dark relic, the amazing picture, the overall beauty of the card - I knew right away it had to be mine.  Oh, and the little relic window reminds me of the massive doorway the ships fly into on the space carriers in the movie Dune.

So I suppose I'm an unofficial King Felix collector now, but only the hits.  If anybody has a King Felix hit and you're not sure what to do with it, consider it Junior Junkie trade fodder.  I'm hoping to get enough relics to sew a proper jersey.  Then stick a giant manu-relic pin on it.

Monday, September 22, 2014

The Purge Part 1: Junkie’s Choice

This is a continuation of a series based on the acquisition of one seriously huge lot of cards. Here is Part 1, Part 2, and Part 3, if you’re so inclined.

Hark! the evening glow gives way to dark’ning sky. As the creatures of the earth nest in their dens to make way for the creeping dark, the night-serpent slithers across the world, casting deathly shadow on the very soul of man.

I’m going to sell Griffeys tonight.

I’ll be honest – I’m only about 60% sure I even want to do this. It’s kind of awesome having so many Griffey cards, but that wasn’t the deal. The deal was to buy the box, take out what I need, put in a whole lot more, and sell it back to the Interwebs from whence it came.

But I can’t keep them all, and now comes the long, difficult Sophie’s Junkie’s Choice moment of choosing which Griffeys will live in the collection….or die (by living in someone else’s collection). 

The Great Griffey Reckoning is upon us.

This is the Griffey Overflow Box in its current state. It includes the bulk of the 2,777 cards from the Adelanto Lot merged with thousands of my own duplicates. 

As you can see the Griffey Overflow Box now has its own overflow box on the left there which I call the Griffey Overflow Box Overflow Box. No worries, though. I expect that I’ll be removing more than enough cards that we can go back to the one-box system lest my emotions or propensity to hoard get the best of me. I am, after all, hella-fragile right now, y’all.

This step will be done “open binder,” meaning I’ll be able to see precisely how many of each card I have before a decision is made. I’m not assigning any hard-and-fast rules, though. I’m just going to feel it. I like to think I’ll know when I have enough of whatever card I’m looking at. I also need to be sure I’m giving the buyer his money’s worth with plenty of fun inserts, oddballs, promos, and parallels.

You know what? Screw it. I’m keeping them all.

The line must be drawn here!  This far, no further!
Ugh. FINE. Let’s do this.


And here's what the Griffey Overflow Box looks like now:

Ouch again.

That done, now it’s time to pick out a nice cross-section of what's in there for the auction photography. This won’t be too hard as there are ton of quality Griffeys here.

The rookies are excellent for this – they look amazing in a group photo. The other cards are a different story. I need variety - lots of different inserts and parallels, oddballs, colors, shiny bits, that sort of thing.

Yeah, that’s the ticket.

Now I’ll add a few neat items from my collection that I don’t necessarily need. This includes a clutch of slabbed and graded numbers, a sealed Front Row Hologram set, and a couple more Griffey cards that I suspect the buyer will enjoy.

The lot is complete. Now we can crunch some final numbers.

The quantity of Griffeys removed was a whopping 4,204, well below my pre-sort estimate of 5,000. We can calculate updated, accurate counts across the board. Fingers crossed…

Official counts: 6,635 total, 3,445 unique, 1.926 duplicate ratio.

Holy crap. This is it, folks. This right here was the end goal the Adelanto lot was meant to help accomplish. Not just fewer overall duplicates but better duplicates and less clutter. So fresh and so clean, clean. It’s a whole new world today.

Back to the dark task at hand.

OK, price. I’m a little lot torn on what to charge for this thing. A dime per card is fair, but there are just so many - I’m thinking I should start it off with a built-in quantity discount.

Then what about shipping? The original auction charged me $25.00. I’m thinking about doing free shipping and just including the expected cost in the price. It’s much more appealing that way and effective at this price level.

The bidding will begin at $400 with a BIN of $520.  That's just over 9 1/2 cents per card which is a steal with the free shipping (which would otherwise cost the buyer considerably - 4,000 cards weighs a lot).  The BIN would put it just over 12 cents per card.  Ebay requires the BIN to be at least 30% higher than the starting price.

Okay, auction is ready to go up. By clicking “List Item” I agree to the terms and conditions set forth in the eBay user agreement, yada yada yada. Dare I? I should. Nay. I must.


It is done. The Kenner Lot has been born. God Save the Kid.

I’ve listed the auction, but I will not be linking to it here. You should be able to find it pretty easily on the ‘Bay.

One more thing – if a reader of this blog wins the auction, be sure to comment on this post when it’s over. I’ll throw in something Junior Junkiesian as a bonus. Nothing big, but you deserve something for being such a big Griffey fan.

Good luck. To us all.

Saturday, September 20, 2014

The Binge Part 2: If I Had 10,000 Griffeys

Let’s continue where we left off from the Part 1. I promise this post ends with a bang.

Step 7 – Order

Here is where I put all the Griffeys from the box, even those previously eliminated, in order by year and brand. Yes, all 2,777 of them – it took two weeknights. Some may call this step unnecessary, and I kind of agree. I mean, I could just sell them off the way they are, right? But it’s just so much fun playing with all these Griffey cards. It’s also the most Griffeys I’ve ever had at one time. I want to enjoy it.

There are four effects of this step that I use to justify doing it at all. First, I care. Had I received this box in the order it’s going to be in when I ship it out to the next guy, I would not have had to spend so much time manicuring and sorting. It’s not that I didn’t enjoy it, but that 12 hours I spent Sunday probably would have been closer to 8. I want the next guy to receive this be box and be like, “Damn, homie’s got his Griffeys togetha, playa. I bet his collection be off da chiz-ain.” And he would be right.

Second, there are a few cards from that Desired Duplicates list that I know I saw in the initial elimination. This step will help me find them and add them to the keepers. It'll hurt the results numerically, but I’ll never have such unrestricted access to this number of Griffeys again. I must take advantage.

Third, I plan on merging all these Griffeys with my own overflow Griffeys to make one massive Superbox of duplicates, and it’s a lot easier to merge stacks that are in mutual order. This is strictly for my own enjoyment, and it should be quite a sight to behold when it’s done.

Finally, I’m eventually going to have to list this thing on eBay, and that means pictures. I want the box to be as orderly and, therefore, photogenic as possible.

Dividing up eliminated Griffeys by year

Oh, and I should also add that while stacking like cards together I was able to spot two entirely new Griffeys I didn’t spot in the first elimination. Derp!

Step 8 – Account

This is the part where we tally up all the new additions, both unique and duplicate. I’ll go ahead and tell you that from a sorting standpoint the results are not good compared with other sorts comprised of single-card COMC, eBay, and card show purchases. Keep in mind that the benefit here will outweigh the new higher duplicate ratio (which is going to be short-lived, anyway, come the Purge). 

Here we go:

Adelanto Lot Results: 400 total Griffeys added, 31 new unique Griffeys. Duplicate ratio: 12.903.

Yikes. If this were any other kind of sort, I’d call it an epic failure. It’s really not, though, because now we have a higher caliber of duplicate. Keep in mind also that this is an accounting of just those cards that will remain in my collection. In the following step, all hell is going to break loose.

Step 9 – Super Merge

Here is where we merge all the remaining Griffeys from the Adelanto Lot in with the Griffeys from my own overflow box. This step will be fun and easy thanks to Step 6. It will also make one hell of a photograph. Wanna see?

My God….it’s full of stars (One star: Ken Griffey, Jr. See what I did there?). This picture encapsulates why I don’t want to sell any Griffeys and why I must sell them both at once.

Wait, wait. I got an idea:

The biggest my Griffey collection has ever been

Holy Hell.

This is my entire Griffey collection in one picture. I must admit that I had no idea it would be this big until I started setting everything up. The craziest part is that there’s no way I could possibly show all of it. There are no jerseys, shirts, hats, or posters in this shot; and yet I have lots of all those things.

Also, you may already know that the heart of this collection is in those nine 4” binders on the shelves back there. From here they just look like binders, but that’s over 3,000 unique cards right there. Everything else is just for show. Still, looks pretty rad, amiright?

As you read this, the Griffey count stands at 10,856 total, 3,442 unique, and a 3.154 dup ratio after the merge. How about that? We know that only 400 Griffeys from the lot are going to stay in the collection, but even with everything merged the dup ratio doesn’t skyrocket as much as I thought it might.

Some of these steps took hours of tedious manual labor to complete, but none of them were as difficult as this next one.

Step 10 – Crossroads

And here we are.

This step involves no sorting, no eliminating, no stacking and restacking or putting anything in order whatsoever. This is strictly a decision point.

All those Griffeys sure look nice together, and having 10,856 Griffeys is kind of an awesome feat of epic nerdiness. Then again I have to store the damn things. Plus it would cost me hundreds of dollars (that I would otherwise make from selling them as a lot) to keep them. That’s a big opportunity cost.

So, what kind of collection do I want this to be?

Coming next: The Purge (or is it?).

Now for some gratuitous close-ups of the Griffey collection:

Thursday, September 18, 2014

The Binge Part 1: The Adelanto Lot Has Landed

It's here...

As a reminder, this is a box of roughly (very roughly, it turns out) 3000 Griffeys, all duplicates from another giant Griffey collection. I haven’t bought an eBay lot in a while, but my curiosity got the best of me here.

The package arrived Saturday afternoon minutes before we had to leave for a party. When I finally got home Saturday night I was still tipsy from day-drinking and massive pork intake; but I couldn’t just go to bed. I had to know what was in that box.

The initial run-through revealed pretty much what I expected – nothing mind-blowing, but a nice selection of solid cards to round out my current collection and even more to pass on to the next guy. It included a stack of various rookies (including four ’89 Upper Deck #1’s) plus lots of parallels, numbered cards, box bottoms, promos, and general oddballs. Naturally, the vast majority of the box was made up of base cards, but there were more oddballs than I expected.

Sunday was the big day. I had nothing planned except to watch football and sort through the box, and that’s exactly what I did from 11am ‘til 11pm save for a quick run for the border. I knew from the previous night’s quick peek that it was going to take a lot of planning and prep work to keep the process orderly. In the end it wasn’t unlike how I process other eBay lots, only on a much larger scale. Here’s how it went down:

Step 1 - Manicure

Most of the cards were penny-sleeved with a few hundred loosies mixed in. The rest were in top loaders and a couple of screw cases. To keep things simple I decided to homogenize the group by removing all the cards from their top loaders and penny sleeve everything. I had to dip into my personal penny sleeve stash a little, but this would be more than replenished later on. I left the six cards in screw cases alone for now.

Step 2 - Count

There were 2780 cards in that box.  2,777 of those were Griffeys.  The other three were a Tony Gwynn insert, a Kirby Puckett checklist, and a Griffey, Sr. base card with no Jr. cameo.  Now that we have a solid number to start from, we can begin moving things around a bit.

Step 3 - Eliminate

I know my collection well enough now to be able to flip through all the cards in one go and immediately remove those I know I don’t need. Luckily for me a lot of like cards were stacked together so searching for variants wasn't too challenging. I was careful to spot things like ’90 and ’91 Donruss border variants (one), Canadian versions (one), Tiffanies (none), gold holograms (none), red numbers (two), and box bottoms (three!). I even found a few parallels from later sets I didn’t even know existed.

I ended up with 411 potential keepers, eliminating 2,366 right off the bat.  Those eliminated would get a second look later (and it's a good thing they did).

Step 4 - Arrange

In order to digest all these cards and figure out which were genuine keepers and which I could pass on to the eventual buyer of this box, I put the PK’s in order by year and brand name. This will simplify the remaining steps.

Step 5 - Document

Thanks to the new arrangement I only had to scroll in one direction as I updated The Beast, the canonical list of all my unique Griffeys. Here is where I really started to get an idea as to just how many new Griffeys I would end up with, but the official numbers would be generated in the coming steps.

Step 6 - Multi-Sort

Here is where I went through the collection binders page by page, physically adding cards from the box to the collection and keeping counts. The whole process was super-intensive and involved coffee tables, TV trays, and binders in the lap and such.

It was more complicated than a standard sort as it included an option to reject certain cards that I felt either a) I already had enough of or b) would detract from the overall value of the box. The plan is to sell this thing, after all.

While I was adding new Griffeys, I was also adding choice duplicates of cards that were already well-represented in the box but not in the binders. This turned out to be a lot (Yes, I said that I added duplicates, completely contrary to the whole point of this project. Don’t get your panties in a twist, though - this will all work out in the end).

I should also add that while keeping track of both new and duplicate Griffeys, I was also making notes on those Griffeys I wanted duplicates of and that I knew I had spotted among those eliminated. I called these “desired duplicates,” and there is a step forthcoming that will put this list to good use.

More to come.  WAY more...

The Overflow Box will never look the same again...

Tuesday, September 9, 2014

Rookie Cup Roundup: The Griffeys of 2014 Topps Series 1

I think someone at Topps reads this blog. Here’s why:

2014 Topps Series 1 Griffeys:

50 Years of the Draft #50YD-8
All Rookie Cup Team #RCT-8
All Rookie Cup Team Rookie Cup Commemorative Relics #TARC-8 #/99
All Rookie Cup Team Rookie Cup Commemorative Relics Vintage #TARC-8 #/25
All Rookie Cup Team Autograph #RCTA-KG
All Rookie Cup Team Autograph Relics #RCTAR-KG
Before They Were Great #BG-6
Before They Were Great Gold #BG-6 #/99
Before They Were Great Relics #BGR-KG #/25
Class Rings #CR-23
Class Rings #CR-23 Gold #/99
Class Rings #CR-23 Gold Gems #/25
Class Rings #CR-23 Gold Gems Autographs #/10
Framed Top 25 Rookie Card Reprints #1989T #/199
Framed Top 25 Rookie Card Reprints #1989T Silver Frame #/99
Framed Top 25 Rookie Card Reprints #1989T Gold Frame #/25
Spring Fever Autographs #CRA-KG
Trajectory Autographs #TA-KG
Upper Class #UC-35

2014 Topps Series 2 Griffeys:

1989 Mini Die-Cuts #TM-51
All-Rookie Cup Manufactured Patches #RCMP-KG
Breakout Moments #BM-24
Framed Gold Label #GL-14 #/99
Future Stars That Never Were #FS-25
Future Stars That Never Were #FS-25 Gold #/99
Future Stars That Never Were Relic #FSR-KG #/25
Strata Signature Relic #SSR-KG
Trajectory Autographs #TA-KG
Trajectory Autographs #TA-KG Gold #/10
Trajectory Jumbo Relic #TJR-KG

Holy Balls. That is a lot of Griffeys, guys - more than any other set I've seen since I started collecting again. Of course this is me lumping Series 1 and 2 together, but apart from that it’s still a pretty impressive list. Perhaps they thought they’d be getting more of my hard-earned moolah by loading the packs with Griffey inserts, and they were right. They did. They really did.

To keep this post from being a digital mile long, right now we’re going to focus on just the Griffeys of Series 1.

As you well know by now, gentle collector, this year’s Topps inserts have been all about the rookies. Not the rookies of today – the rookies of yesteryear. Class Rings, framed rookie reprints, All-Rookie Team, Before They Were Great, and rookie cup and trophy manu-relics abound – and that’s just in Series 1.

Let’s start by looking at some sweet base cards:

The base set photography is mostly the run-of-the-mill close-cropped action stuff we’ve come to expect in Topps base sets, but there is also a nice cross-section of fun photos with cool backgrounds. I think you need the former to really appreciate the latter. They can’t all be fun and unique, can they? (Even I can’t tell if that was sarcastic or not.)

I, for one, really like the base set. The design is modern and far from boring, the colored parallels look great, and the photography, while I could see much of it being considered unspectacular, is crystal-clear and impeccably printed.

But who cares? There’s no Griffeys in there. No SP’s or subsets or cameos – none of that. Just…ugh…other dudes.

Here are the real gems of Series 1:

2014 Topps 50 Years of the Draft #50YD-8

A pretty nice design for a common insert, but I'd like to have seen gold foil on the border and in the little home plates in the corners on the front.  They did it for the mediocre Upper Class insert at the end of this post, so why not throw some in here?  It would have made the card.  That said, these have a solid insert logo and one of the better-looking card backs among all the inserts.

2014 Topps All Rookie Cup Team #RCT-8

Probably the easiest pull of all the Griffey inserts, Topps placed a classic M’s logo where a relic might otherwise go. I appreciate that move as I’ve seen far too many non-relic cards that just scream out, “Look! No relic! But if there was, it would go right here!”

The blurb on the back is a little clunky, but the picture is great. Chain all bouncing around. That’s some gangsta hustle right there. Get used to it, too – this picture comes up a lot.

2014 Topps All Rookie Cup Team Rookie Cup Commemorative Relics #TARC-8 #/99

It’s little-known outside of the all but the most prestigious collecting circles that Topps used to issue rookie cards with a little metal rookie cups embedded in the card. Not so far-fetched an idea now, but in the 80’s? I first heard about these on Corey’s Tim Wallach blog and have become fascinated with the idea. I’ve never seen the Griffey as only a handful exist, rendering the card more or less ungettable. Maybe someday, but until that day this will have to do.

When first I laid eyes on this card I knew it had to be in the collection. There were only 99 produced, but a few well-placed bids later it was mine. It’s definitely on the short-list of greatest manu-relics ever produced. Then again…

2014 Topps All Rookie Cup Team Rookie Cup Commemorative Relics Vintage #TARC-8 #/25

So is this. Same card, same concept, super-insane relic. This is the thickest card in the Griffey collection. In fact I think it’s a stretch to even consider this thing a card. It’s more of a shadowbox frame with a really intricate mat. There are only 25 of these, so it took some patience and a nice chunk of change to land it. Worth it? You bet your sweet bippy. I consider this an excellent candidate for Griffey of the year.

The back is identical to the other Rookie Cup relic, but check out the black background in lieu of the sky on the other cup relic.  Neat.  I like the sky better, but neat.

2014 Topps Before They Were Great #BG-6

I’ve always sensed something wrong with this insert, but I could never put my finger on it until now.

Let me say first that everything about the card is great. Team color background, really nice borders, prominent banner, ivy running up the sides, big crown on top – combine all that with the tasteful thickness and high-gloss mixed with just the right amount of foil and you have a nice-looking card.

The blurb is solid, too - it’s different, it’s interesting, it’s even a little funny. One of the best Griffey blurbs of the year, no doubt.

The problem here is that there’s a disconnect between the design and the theme of the insert. It’s about the players as kids and in high school, right? That doesn’t cooperate with this design very well. It’s all fancy-pants and, as we say in the South, high-fallutin’. This card is an expensive candlelit restaurant. The blurb is a peanut-butter and jelly sandwich - tasty, but out of its element.

There is a gold foil version #/99 (that doesn’t look that much better) and a relic version #/25 (that I’m also not stressing over).

2014 Topps Class Rings #CR-23 Gold #/99
2014 Topps Class Rings #CR-23 Silver

Here is yet another manu-relic in the form of a class ring – not the round finger part, just the top – for each player’s rookie year, like a high school ring. The relics themselves are made of metal, either silver or gold, depending on rarity. The golds are #/99.  And they scan real nice, don't they?

I love the idea here, and I’m sure the rarer parallels are amazing (gems and autos!). I only have the regular and first-level parallel. Nothing mind-blowing here, but they’re reasonably cool. I’d rather have seen a Moeller High School ring replica or something personal like that. Maybe next year.

Framed Top 25 Rookie Card Reprints #1989T Silver Frame #/99

Now we’re talkin’. They reprinted rookie cards, framed them in metal, silver, and gold, and slapped them into hobby packs. I freakin’ love these things!

These silvers are #/99 and almost indistinguishable from the regulars apart from a slightly lighter-in-color metal frame and the card numeration.

Framed Top 25 Rookie Card Reprints #1989T

That would be the regular chrome border which is the color of hematite. These are #/199.  There is also a gold frame version #/25 that I want but have no intention of paying retail for.  Those things are priced way too high.

These bad boys are super thick, about as thick as an entire pack. They’re also tastefully glossy, beautifully printed, and a huge pain in the ass to properly store (ultra-thick top loader, extra-big penny sleeve, team bag). It’s funny that most of these sell for more than the actual rookie cards ever will, but that’s not entirely undeserved. Another fantastic insert.  And I suspect you could use them to hammer small nails into drywall.

2014 Topps Upper Class #UC-35

There’s that picture again.

The fronts of these have borders in random colors and photos framed in black and gold foil. It’s not an ugly design, but it’s also nothing to write home about.

The blurbs on these list “Rookie Season Superlatives,” those being neat facts about each player’s rookie season that make them “upper.” I think the blurb outshines the design here.

This wouldn't be a card blog without a few complaints, and despite the treasure trove of Griffeys I do have a couple. I’m going to bring them up now and use this last card for reference, but really they apply to almost every insert in Series 1.

First, there’s a tactic Topps uses on every one of these cards (apart from the rookie reprint) that is kind of an eyesore. It has to do with the photography. They crop out everything but the silhouette of the player and replace it with a field of color or non-color or blurry sky or just freakin' gray as in the case of this last card. I don’t really see what the purpose is, but it makes me a little claustrophobic and cheapens the card. The slight shadow they add after the fact only makes it worse. Please stop this, Topps.  Natural backgrounds, please.

Another issue apart from the relentless recycling of photos is the close-cropping of those same photos. It brings the image quality way down. Take a close look at the last insert there – can you see the grainy, slightly Max Headroom effect? I’m thinking there was some digital retouching following the close-cropping. It looks unnatural, and it's on every single insert in this post except the '89 rookie reprint.  Seriously, go back and look at the pictures.  All of them look rough as can be.

That’s it for my complaints. I’m pretty happy with everything else, including the base set. Please keep the Griffeys flowing, Topps, and we won't have a problem.

Here are the Griffeys I am missing from 2014 Topps Series 1:

All Rookie Cup Team Autograph #RCTA-KG
All Rookie Cup Team Autograph Relics #RCTAR-KG
Before They Were Great Gold #BG-6 #/99
Before They Were Great Relics #BGR-KG #/25
Class Rings #CR-23 Gold Gems #/25
Class Rings #CR-23 Gold Gems Autographs #/10
Framed Top 25 Rookie Card Reprints #1989T Gold Frame #/25
Spring Fever Autographs #CRA-KG
Trajectory Autographs #TA-KG

Coming soon, a look at Series 2. Thanks for reading.