2012 Topps Top Ten (so far)

14 03 2012

Okay, so it’s probably a bit early for this one since I’m still a Disney set of  dalmatians away from completion. So while I feel pretty good about my #1 and think my #2 will stay in the top three, it’s possible that by the time I finish this set my top ten will be completely different.  But, as wise people are known to say, you cannot worry about the future and let it stop you from doing things today.   Or something like that.

So, if it makes you feel better, we’ll call this the first group of nominees for the 2012 Topps base set hall of fame.  How’s that?

#10 – J.P. Arencibia

Why this card?  Not only is this a great action shot, but it’s also an easy to remember visual for remembering  dominance of the Blue Jay over the Oriole in the animal kingdom.  You’ll thank me when you study that in science class.

Do I have a bias?   I hate to admit it, but I’ve wanted this guy in my fantasy keeper league since last year.  His current owner is obsessed with one Joey Votto, which means a deal will probably never happen.  Instead, I’ll gaze longingly at this card and dream what might have been.

What 80’s set could this card fit in:  1988 Score

#9 –  Alcides Escobar

Why this card?  I absolutely love the color contrast on this card, and that blue is simply fantastic.   This should become the standard for the color “Royal Blue.”  Crayola should release a box of 64 crayons that are just this color blue.  The sky should be dyed to match this color blue.  All other blues should be outlawed.

Do I have a bias?  Again, fantasy baseball comes into play.  He’s been my backup SS since he entered the league, and is the reason I chose to hang onto Todd Frazier instead of Zack Cozart.  That may end up being a mistake,   but even without that connection, it’s still a brilliant photo.  That and I love blue.

What 80’s set could this card fit in: 1989 Upper Deck

#8 – Rick Porcello

Why this card?  Hey kids, ever want to see how to hold what I assume is a circle change?  Rick Porcello has you covered!  Sometimes it is the little things like this that makes a card standout for me.

Do I have a bias?  None that I can think of.

What 80’s set could this card fit in: 1984 Fleer

#7 – Michael McKenry

Why this card?  It’s the Black Swan of baseball cards. And he’s got a name (Michael McKenry) that’s made for 80’s pop music. Yet this is only my seventh favorite card.  How is that possible?

Do I have a bias?  I think after years of failure, it’s hard not to feel bad for the Pirates on some level, even if they are in the same division as the Reds .  It’s not like they are challenging them for anything…  yet.

What 80’s set could this card fit in:  None, but I think it’d look good on a ’84 Topps design.

#6 – Jhoulys Chacin

Why this card?  I’ve seen mixed opinions about cards like this.  I’ve seen people complain that if the focus of the card is Jhoulys Chacin, that he shouldn’t be stuck in the background like that.  That 2/3rds of his card shouldn’t be taken up by a nameless Padre (I think).

I’m on team  depth  here.  I like the layers of action that are present and my eyes still know to focus on Chacin (thanks, golden spiral!).  Sure, I’d like to see Chacin a little larger on the card and it’s one reason this card falls down to #6 on the list.

Do I have a bias?  Not that I can think of.  I have a friend who is a big Denver area sports fan, and while I really don’t like the Avalanche (I even rooted for the <gasp> Red Wings to beat them in the playoffs one year), I have no real qualms against the Rockies.

What 80’s set could this card fit in:  1982 Topps In Action

Five more to come later this week.


First thoughts on 2012 Topps Finest

10 03 2012

I like it when Topps (or anyone for that matter) designs a set that looks so bad I feel no desire at all to put it together.

Here’s the base card design of that hot rookie, Troy Tulowitzkilss.  I’m sure the RC logo is just an oversight and will be removed before printing.  The choice to put the player name and position together like that with only a vertical line to separate them is a bad one, though.  Even just a bold dot would be better.

Looking over the inserts, it’s what I would expect from Finest.  There are some die cut inserts that are okay looking, and I suppose it’s just a matter of time before we see a full die cut release from Topps if we haven’t already.

From Brett Pill to The Jam

7 03 2012

I almost included this guy in my “more firsts” posts, but I didn’t want to alienate any Dodger fans with three Giants in a row.  And I thought it was a bit of a stretch to get from this card to where I wanted to go in just a sentence or two.

That’s Brett Pill there, for those who aren’t familiar with his face.  My scanner doesn’t like the combination of silver foil on a black background.  I’m sure I can tweak that somehow, but I also enjoy challenging your knowledge of baseball players names, so I’m probably going to leave it alone.

Anyhow, he was going to be the “First Bad Pun Card” in that post, with the line “this card was hard to swallow,” a somewhat obvious reference I suppose to the phrase “the bitterest pill.”  Clever, I know.

I cannot think of that phrase without hearing this song in my head:

Sadly, that’s not the actual video, but it’s all I can find on YouTube for now.  It’s the perfect midpoint between the Jam’s earlier work and what would be Paul Weller’s next band, The Style Council.

While watching that video, I realized my knowledge of the Jam is limited to their more well-known songs, including “That’s Entertainment” and “This is the Modern World.”  Outside the EP and the songs I would hear on the local alternative station, I never gave much of a chance to the rest of their work.  One grooveshark.com later, I was immersed in their six CD box set  Direction, Reaction, Creation.  Holy cow, they’re good.  What in the heck took me so long?

So now, thanks to Topps and Brett Pill,  I’m now a much bigger fan of the Jam, and toying with the idea of getting that box set sometime soon.

All of this gives me yet another reason to appreciate the 2012 Topps release.

Or is that leap too hard to swallow?

That 1981 Topps Brett card I mentioned

4 03 2012

I didn’t mean to publish that last post without scanning this card and putting it in the appropriate place.  Then I hit publish anyway by mistake.  Oh well.  I contemplated editing it into the post after the fact and letting it go, but then I realized the appropriate place for this card is its own post since it’s awesome on its own.

My memory of this card was just a touch different then the reality you see above.  In my mind I’d rewound the swing and made the bat more parallel to the ground.  And I’d totally forgotten about the dugout in the lower third of the card, choosing instead to change the viewing angle to include more of the Royal Stadium faithful.

My mistake about the swing would be a definite improvement I think, but I’ve spoken with my mind about the second change it made.  The players watching Brett’s swing adds some depth, and it appears this photo was taken the moment before anyone could react to Brett’s contact since their focus remains on the hitter and the plate.  Unless Brett actually swung and missed.

And I’d like to think that he did.

Looking at older cards and seeing something new is one of the joys of the hobby.  It’s the reason that a lot of collectors keep cards in binders as opposed to the long boxes that I choose to use.  It’s much easier to pull a book off the shelf and look through it then it is to pull out a stack of cards and do the same, especially if you are concerned about damage.  So even though this is one of my favorites from the 1981 Topps release, it’s been years since I’d actually held this card in my hands.

So why do I want to think that Brett came up empty here?  Well, for the first time today I noticed that, extending from Rick Cerone’s catcher gloved hand on the right there is a white puffy line, akin to a smoke trail.  And the six-year-old kid in me did backflips thinking that that’s exactly what it was – a pitch blown by Brett and moving so fast it singed the air as it went by.  I realize those are more than likely towels on the top shelf of the dugout, but the collector in me prefers the six-year old’s version over the more likely reality.

Oh, and any card that features the phrase “sweep Yankees” is going to be a winner in my book.

And if 2012 Topps is going to make me explore my collection more, then I like it even more than I already do.

More firsts from my 2012 Topps with some second thoughts

3 03 2012

Here’s some other firsts from my first packs of 2012 Topps.

First fantasy player:

I’ve made reference to my keeper league before here, so I won’t go into it again.  McCarthy had somehow ended up in the free agent pool last year, so I picked him up before his return from the DL.  Now he’s the #1 guy in Oakland this year.  So my number one tip when it comes to fantasy is to know who’s in the FA pool.  And know when to get in.

First Pitcher Face:

I had no idea a knuckleball took so much force to throw.  Seeing a small scan doesn’t do this face justice, either.  This is one of my early favorites just for his face alone.

First Card I Dislike:

For obvious reasons, I think.  Sadly, my set isn’t complete without it, so my impulse to woodchip it must be quelled.

First in Flight:

I still think Kung Fu Panda is a dumb nickname.  And that guy is totally out.

First Flashback to 2010 Topps:

If you Google search Buster Posey’s 2010 Topps card, it’s like the anti-version of this card.  Which makes sense, since Eli Whiteside’s offense is almost the exact opposite of Buster Posey’s.

First Guy I’d Never Heard Of:

I wrote down his name while I sorted cards.  Then I pulled out his card again, scanned the card, saved it as a file using his last name and added it to this post.  Then I went to lunch.  I cannot for the life of me think of Jared’s last name.  Maybe he’ll get some work with A.J. Burnett out for a month and a half.

First Red:

It took me three days after pulling this one to realize that Travis is no longer a Red.  His eight innings of perfection in Philadelphia will remain a memory for a long time, and I had high hopes for the guy.  Now that he’s a Cub, well…

First Shiny:

My kids love these cards.  Me?  They are much better then those red letter inserts from 2007, or the gold foil parallels of 2008.  Anyone chasing this set like they did the shiny Topps from last year?

First Throwback Jersey:

New Topps parallel idea for short prints:  Throwback uniforms with the throwback logo of the team on the card?  Good idea or great idea?

And now some second thoughts about the set itself:

First off, I’m happy to see the return of a World Series subset.  It instantly took me back to 1981 Topps.  Yellow border, George Brett in full swing.  A beauty of a card.

But the great thing about 1981’s version of the World Series (or more correctly playoff subset) is that they were all together.  Not here.  They are all over the place, and not even in order in which they occurred.  Game one of the World Series is card #329.  Game 7?  Card #53. You don’t put the last chapter in the front of a book, do you?  So don’t do that with this subset, either.

And I like the league leaders cards, too, but I have the same beef.  Put them together.  And while the league leaders are fine, there should not be any “active leader” cards.  Ditch those.  And while I’m on the topic of grouping subsets, make the season highlights cards (like Kimbrel’s saves records) appear together.  And give them a different design so that they stand out a little, too.

And I’ve seen the talk about the 3b/3b stats error, but no one is aggravated (or noticed?) that Topps decided to use W for both wins and walks on the pitcher’s cards?  And shouldn’t it be SLG and not SP for slugging percentage?  I hope Topps changes this in time for Series 2.

I’m actually surprised by how many quibbles I have with the set, but how willing I am to overlook them for the sake of collecting it.  Any other year I probably would have grudgingly put this one together, but there’s some excitement here that I can’t put my finger on.  Maybe it’s the prospect of trading and collecting itself that have tinted my glasses a beautiful shade of rose.

Whatever it may be, wantlists should be together shortly.

My first 2012 Topps card is…

1 03 2012

Yes, I know.  I’m late to the party. But since I didn’t have time to show up for the last six months or so, I’m happy just to be here right now with the time to do this.

After reading other’s opinions of this year’s Topps release, I thought opening a 72 card retail box of the stuff would be like pissing with gonorrhea or a twenty-four hour Real Housewives of anywhere marathon.  Maybe even as bad a Paris Hilton spoken word techno song on endless repeat in a car with no door handles.  You know –  the stuff nightmares are made of.

But after getting the chance to hold them in my hand, my reaction to all that is one of bafflement and disbelief, not unlike the look on Mr. Peralta’s face above.

I have a lot of thoughts swirling around about this set right now, but I’ll try and be brief.

First, Topps isn’t going to reinvent the wheel for flagship Topps.  It’s going to be 330 cards, with somewhat decent photo selection, a bunch of gimmick cards that most of us will never see, and a slew of inserts cards that most of us wish we could ignore altogether.  Well this year I skipped the hobby boxes and that feeling that I need a relic card to feel complete and went with a handful of those seventy-two card retail jumbos or hangar packs.  This gave me sixty-three base cards (sixty-one when I goofed and grabbed one of the WalMart parallel ones) and only nine inserts.  Not overwhelming at all!  It felt like the base set was what mattered again, like it did in the days before parallels and inserts in every pack.  Five or six of these should put me well on the way to a set, at a price similar to a hobby box before shipping.

The inserts in these packs feel like the afterthoughts that Topps made them.  Even the ’87 minis are somewhat disappointing, mostly because them seem bigger than minis in the past, and I’m sure this is the beginning of Topps running this idea into the ground.  The only ones I really like the look of were the Upper Deck-esque “Gold Futures” cards, and it may be the only insert set I actually end up chasing.  It’s still hard to say no to a mini, though.

As a guy who started collecting in the 80’s, I’d never thought I’d see the day when Topps base wasn’t for everyone.  But that’s where the hobby stands, I suppose.

One of the most exciting days in spring is here

1 03 2012

I know as a baseball fan I should get geeked out on pitchers and catchers reporting, but I don’t really start to get excited about the upcoming season until the MLB App is released.

Today is that day.

$15 bucks to listen to any game any day, a free game of the day to watch, and in-game video highlights added while you listen?  Plus selected spring training games to boot?  That’s a steal, my friend.