April 21, 2014

Imagination Reclamation

We take our custom cards seriously around here. At one point we had a whole separate page of this blog dedicated to custom cards from around the Web. And while that page went the way of much on the Internet, our love of customs remains. Here are a few of our favorites we've created over the years, and don't forget to check out our new page presenting the 1978 Topps "Traded" set all in one place...

















March 19, 2014

Score one for America

When two things as American as baseball and America combine forces to honor our armed forces, the result is something so glorious it exceeds the combined sum of their American parts.





This is the American flag. But it is also a baseball card. You can tell it’s a baseball card because of all the America on it, not because of the baseball, which is invisible.

Score, the company that created this American flag card—this Ameriflard—was not going to stand idly by and let the flag speak for itself. Nor would it utilize the back of this card to list the statistics of the most American baseball player (this guy, obvs) or of America herself (DID YOU KNOW? America was signed by scout John Hancock after posting a perfect WAR in 1776). No. Score was going to play an active part in the effort.


1991 Score



Score’s mom: Score? Are you asleep in there, honey?


Score: (dressed in pajamas and night cap, kneeling by bed, which is covered in bald eagle sheets) Not yet, Mommy! Just praying for world peace.

Score’s mom: Good boy. I’ll bring up some milk in a minute.

Score: WARM IT UP FIRST THIS TIME, DANG.

Guys, let me make something clear: I love America. Truly I am blessed to have been born here—I doubt I’d be able to have a non-job contributing to a baseball card-based blog in, say, Micronesia—and I revere our armed forces. This is the truth. But also: what is this card?

I had originally written a more serious post attempting to explore this topic—paying homage to our troops in ridiculous, self-serving ways—and ran it past Ben, who shed some light on the history of baseball card companies’ military complex. The dialogue made me feel as though I shouldn’t curtail my first instinct at viewing this card again, which was: make fun of this.

As Ben pointed out, Score could have put some real effort into this, and made cards for soldiers, generals, or anyone on the front lines who could have become an identifiable face of the war effort for young kids. Instead they stuck a flag on the front and, on the back, claimed that they, Score, a subsidiary of Pinnacle Brands, was praying.

I can’t decide if this card is a Veteran’s Day mattress blowout sale—a marketing scheme masked as dignified patriotism (and, in this case, devout spiritualism)—or a moderately genuine but completely lackluster attempt to give a nod to our troops. Either way it sucks. That is all.

March 15, 2014

Notes on 2014 Topps Heritage

I opened three boxes of Heritage yesterday, and here are my thoughts:

• The card stock is so much better this year than last year. A major improvement. They feel like real baseball cards, not like promotional post cards you get in the mail (see Heritage, 2013).

• A (probably) uncorrected error: There are two cards numbered 137, World Series Game 6 and Anthony Gose. From what I've found, there is no card numbered 138, though it should be Gose.

• Many packs I opened didn't have an insert or a high number or variation, but nine base cards. I like that. It puts emphasis on building the base set, rather than ripping for hits.

• There are supposed to be one relic or autographed card per box. In my three boxes I found three Clubhouse Collection jersey relics (Jose Altuve, Howie Kendrick, Fred McGriff) and one autograph (Chipper Jones). Not sure why that is.

• Box toppers: two advertising panels (which I will soon chop up and put in my set) and one original 1965 buyback (Jack Lamabe)

• I am really confused by the Photoshopped backgrounds for some of the recently traded players. What, the lasers backdrop wasn't available?

• The "1st Draft" insert set is lousy. Of the four cards in the set, two of them are of Johnny Bench. So far I've found only one of the two Benches, and Graig Nettles. Nothing against these players, but I've found three of each. No Ryans, and no other Benches.

• Going in, my thinking had been that all the variations (logo, action, uniform) would be dumb, and get in the way of collecting the base set. Not true. They're nice additions.

• I've completed about 90% of the base set, with 26 high-number SPs.

• It's interesting that Curtis Granderson is a Yankee in the Chrome insert set and a Met in the regular set. Maybe the Chrome cards went to print earlier?

• Last thing: This year's Heritage has got me thinking back to 2003's Upper Deck Vintage set, also in the 1965 Topps design. Which set is better? It's a toss-up.

March 10, 2014

Possible "Errors" in 2014 Topps Heritage

So it's been reported that 2014 Topps Heritage will pay tribute to the various errors and uncorrected errors found in the 1965 Topps set. Perhaps the most well known uncorrected error is the misspelling of Jim Kaat's name on the front of his card (Jim Katt). 

Here are a few players I'd like to see as candidates:

Jake Peevy
Matt Holiday
Anthony Goose
Justin Smoke
Jarrod Saltalamacchiado
Ryan Dumpster
Zach Mozart
Adam Laloosh
Yu Dervish
Jacoby Smellsbury
Eva Longoria 
Robinson Camo 

and, of course, 
Shin-Soo Choo Choo Coleman


Some lesser-known uncorrected errors that probably won't be in the new set: 

• Cleveland Indians' manager Birdie Tebbetts' last name misspelled on the back of his card (Tebbets). Terry Francoa, anyone?

• Kansas City A's rookie Jim Hunter's first name misspelled on the back of his card (Tim). Maybe Baddy Boshers (LA Angels rookie, card #194)?

• Cincinnati Reds listed on back of Reds team card as foe during 1964 season (instead of Chicago Cubs). This one definitely won't be reprised in this year's Heritage set since team cards weren't included.

March 08, 2014

Ben's First 5 Thoughts on the 2014 Topps Heritage Checklist

In anticipation of the release of 2014 Topps Heritage (now since delayed to March 14th), Topps made the set's checklist available on their website. Because I enjoy deconstructing checklists in my free time, here are my first five thoughts:

1. It's weird to me that Topps didn't follow their own checklist from the original 1965 set. In the original, the reigning NL MVP (Ken Boyer of the Cardinals) was put on card #100, and the reigning AL MVP (Brooks Robinson of the Orioles) was put on #150. Instead, the Heritage checklister went the straight team-to-team route, assigning #100 to Cardinal pitcher Adam Wainwright and #150 to the Orioles' current third baseman, Manny Machado. If they had followed the script of the original, reigning NL MVP Andrew McCutchen of the Pirates would be #100 and Miguel Cabrera of the Tigers would be on #150.

By deviating from the original, the meaning of the set changes. It's no longer a retelling of the original 1965 set, but rather an ode to the idea of the 1965 set. This is especially weird considering...

2. Topps has hinted that there will be base-set errors and variations in the spirit of the original set. What's especially odd about that is that two of the most well known variations in the original are on checklist cards themselves. Checklist cards aren't even assigned checklist numbers in the Heritage base set, so I'm guessing that these variations won't be included in the new set.

3. There are no team cards, and only 17 managers are represented. Also, teams are not represented equally. The Cardinals clock in with 19 individual cards (18 players plus manager Mike Matheny). On the other side of the spectrum, the Astros have 10 players and no manager. The highest-numbered Astro is Dexter Fowler at #394, which means there are no Astros in nearly a quarter of the set, including the desirable on-checklist chase SPs.

4. The high-numbered on-checklist SPs (#426–#500) are all big-name players, including Miguel Cabrera, David Ortiz, Derek Jeter, and Yasiel Puig. As far as Topps went to deviate from the original 1965 set, they went even further away from the spirit of previous Heritage sets with this move. Honestly, I'd be surprised if future Heritage sets don't go the full Allen & Ginter rip-card route for the final 75 cards.

5. Finally, when did the idea of the "Real One" autograph subjects list change to include retired players not represented in the original set? Around 10 years ago, when the Heritage brand was a fresh idea, the autograph checklist was made up of players from the original set from that year, with only two or three current players. But guys like Bo Jackson? Bret Saberhagen? Rafael Palmeiro? Dave Concepcion? Isn't this why Topps rebooted Topps Archives? These players should not be all together in a Heritage set until the year 2036, for Topps Heritage '87. (I almost forgot: not one but two different Keith Olbermanns.... Sheesh.)

March 07, 2014

School lesson: wins



Fleer cameraman: Okay Mikey baby, take a deep breath, and just relax.

Mike Schooler: OKAY HOW’S THIS
 

Fleer cameraman: Kinda looks like you’re holding in a fart. Exhale, okay?

Mike Schooler: HOW ‘BOUT THIS ONE


Fleer cameraman: I just … why are you wearing a batting glove?

Mike Schooler: WAS TAKING BP WITH THE FELLAS WHEN YOU SAID IT WAS MY TURN, HIT TWO OUT OF THE INFIELD TODAY, NEW RECORD

Fleer cameraman: (gives up, takes picture)

Mike Schooler: I NEED 10 WALLET-SIZE FOR NANA

Mike Schooler looks like a gym teacher. He should change his name to Jim Schooler LOL.

Mike Schooler, 1990 Fleer

DID YOU KNOW? Tied for 3rd in AL in saves (33) and seventh in appearances …

To answer your question, no – I did not know that Mike Schooler ranked seventh among AL relief pitchers in appearances during {year not mentioned}. I hope this newfound information has pushed something less important out of my brain.

Tied for Mariners’ lead in ERA despite 1-7 record …

That’s weird. Wins are typically the best indicator of pitcher performance. Wikipedia, what say you?

On March 22, 1993 he was signed as a free agent by the Texas Rangers but was released on September 11 after going 3-0 with a 5.55 ERA in 17 games.

HE WAS UNDEFEATED! Surely another team picked up Mike Schooler immediately and he helped that team win the World Series, and when he was presented with the World Series MVP trophy by Bob Costas, he raised it high into the air and said into the microphone, “This is for the Texas Rangers, who thought it was cool to release an undefeated pitcher. Guess what? You just got SCHOOLER-ED!”

That’s what happened, right?

He has been a gym teacher at Richardson Middle School, and Calle Mayor Middle School in Torrance California. He is now the gym teacher at Ladera Ranch Middle School in Ladera Ranch, California.

We kid ‘round here, but for reals? Being a big leaguer with a season of 33 saves and a 3.61 SO/BB ratio under the ol’ belt, and then getting a gig teaching Phys Ed to kids all day was pretty much what I wanted to be when I grew up. Instead I am an unpaid blogger. All hail, #JimSchooler.

February 13, 2014

UPDATED 3/12: Which Cards Made the 2014 Topps "Top 50 Rookies" Buyback Checklist?

2014 Topps is here and the past few weeks have seen multiple eBay sales of buyback rookie redemptions. The only thing is, Topps hasn't publicized which rookie cards have been included in their top 50. It begs the question: Which cards should make the "Top 50 Rookies" buyback checklist?

Here's my shortlist. I updated it to include recent eBay sales prices:

eBay Sale $Sold/Unsold?
11952Willie Mays$2,500.00Unsold
21952Mickey Mantle
31952Ed Mathews
41954Al Kaline
51954Ernie Banks
61954Henry Aaron
71955Sandy Koufax
81955Roberto Clemente
91955Harmon Killebrew
101956Luis Aparicio
111957Jim Bunning
121957Brooks Robinson
131957Frank Robinson
141957Don Drysdale
151958Orlando Cepeda
161958Roger Maris
171959Bob Gibson
181960Carl Yastrzemski
191960Willie McCovey
201961Billy Williams
211961Juan Marichal
221962Lou Brock
231962Gaylord Perry
241963Willie Stargell
251963Pete Rose
261964Phil Niekro
271965Steve Carlton
281965Joe Morgan
291965Tony Perez
301965Jim Hunter
311966Ferguson Jenkins
321966Jim Palmer
331967Rod Carew
341967Tom Seaver
351968Johnny Bench
361968Nolan Ryan$899.00Unsold
371969Reggie Jackson
381972Carlton Fisk
391973Mike Schmidt$127.50Sold
401974Dave Winfield
411975Jim Rice$46.98Sold
421975Gary Carter
431975Robin Yount
441975George Brett
451976Dennis Eckersley
461978Eddie Murray$22.49Sold
471979Ozzie Smith
481980Rickey Henderson
491982Cal Ripken Jr.
501983Tony Gwynn
1984Darryl Strawberry$7.50Sold
1984Dwight Gooden$36.01Sold

Update 3/12/14 - Not only is it interesting that Dwight Gooden is considered a top-50 rookie, but that it sold for $36.01! If this is his card from 1984 Topps, we're talking about a $3 card, at best. Why would you pay 12 times that much for the same card? So with Gooden and Strawberry in the top 50, my thinking now is that a couple from the 1960s didn't make the cut.

Update 2/19/14 - It looks like Darryl Strawberry's 1984 Topps rookie made the cut. A redemption card recently sold for $7.50 on eBay (2/17/14). This means that (at least) one of the cards listed above is not included as a buyback.

Bolded entries are cards that have been offered for sale on eBay, confirming they're being offered as part of this buyback insert.


Taking into consideration that these cards are buybacks, that would lead me to believe that they'll all be vintage, and that Topps wouldn't go to great lengths to buy back a 1989 Topps Traded Ken Griffey Jr. card and release it as part of this set, even if you could make a legitimate case that Griffey's rookie is one of the company's top 50.

"Rookie" is a tricky word here, though, as Mays's and Mantle's 1952 cards are not technically rookies, as both players' rookies are in the 1951 Bowman set. That said, my list does not include Bowman cards; if we're including Bowman, then Albert Pujols's 2001 Bowman Chrome autographed rookie would definitely be included above.

Another point is whether Topps includes Pete Rose's rookie, or if it opts to go with someone safer, like Don Mattingly or Bert Blyleven. As a collector, you'd hope that they'd include Rose, as it's the right thing to do. But remember how Topps didn't mention Rose by name as the all-time hits leader on the backs of cards in 2013's flagship set? I distinctly remember the company line being that their action was the "right thing to do" (I'm paraphrasing here). So when it comes to Rose, the "right thing to do" has one meaning inside the walls of One Whitehall and a decidedly different meaning in the rest of the world.

It will be interesting to see whose rookies are included in the official checklist, and what sort of hoopla this set will generate.

Another update: What's also interesting about this buyback is how much these cards are reselling for. I think you can chalk the high Rice price up to a newness factor, and that the buyback redemption was pretty much unexplained at the time of the sale. I can't think of any other reason why someone would pay 5x the going rate for a Jim Rice rookie card. (In fact, the Schmidt went for about double the going rate for an ungraded version of this card.) The Ryan has been offered three times with no purchase: $1,499; $999; and $899, though all as a fixed-price "Buy it Now." The Murray, Rice, and Schmidt cards have been offered as straight auctions.

One final thing: It has not been advertised if the cards received will be raw or graded. I'm pretty sure Topps would announce the cards as graded if it were the case, so if the cards received are raw, what condition will they be in? Did someone just pay nearly $47 for a Jim Rice rookie card in very good condition?

February 12, 2014

2014 Topps Heritage Checklist Hypotheses

Updated at 12:30pm Thursday: I spaced out and forgot that there are 32 MLB teams, not 30. Figures have been updated below.

One of my favorite things to do is put together checklists for custom sets. A checklist I've been
trying to figure out—before Topps announces it in the next few weeks—is that of 2014 Topps Heritage.

From on-checklist in-jokes to creative checklisting decisions, Heritage proves interesting on an annual basis. And as I've gotten back into collecting new cards, it's usually my favorite set of the year. 2014's offering is especially fun, as it will undoubtedly celebrate the 2013 Boston Red Sox. Plus, its basis (1965 Topps) is one of the few vintage sets I've completed. Needless to say, I'm ready to complete the master set and pair it with my '65 set.

So as I put together my Heritage checklist, a few questions arise. First and foremost, how many cards will Topps allot to each team? I see this resolving in one of two ways:

• Each team gets 15 cards (including a manager card, a team card, and one doubleheader rookie card)

This option allows for 384 individual player cards, 32 managers, 32 team cards, 32 doubleheader rookie cards, leaving 20 "free" cards, 12 of which are league leaders, at least 6 are World Series, and probably the final 2 are "MLB Rookies" or AL or NL–specific doubleheader rookies.

• The teams original to 1965 Topps (Yankees, Orioles, A's, Angels, Twins, Rangers (Senators), Twins, Red Sox, White Sox, Tigers, Indians, Reds, Cubs, Mets, Dodgers, Giants, Pirates, Phillies, Braves, Astros, and Cardinals) will get more cards than those teams that post-date the original set (Royals, Padres, Nationals, Brewers, Rockies, Marlins, Rays, Mariners, Nationals, Diamondbacks, Blue Jays)

In this second option, only those teams original to 1965 Topps would get team and manager cards, and only a manager card if that team had a manager in the original set.

Either way, I don't see Topps including actual checklist cards on its Heritage checklist, and instead including four different checklists randomly as pack loaders. The checklist space is too limited, and the pack value is too high to waste a card slot on a checklist.

Second: League leaders will be on #1–12. World Series cards will be on #132–138. But which players will be assigned the iconic numbers from the original set? There are only a few guarantees, I think. Here they are:

#100 - Andrew McCutchen (2013 NL MVP)
#140 - Max Scherzer (2013 AL CY)
#150 - Miguel Cabrera (2013 AL MVP)
#300 - Clayton Kershaw (2013 NL CY)
#340 - Wil Myers (2013 AL ROY)
#460 - Jose Fernandez (2013 NL ROY)

It gets murky once you're beyond the award winners. Here are a few more guesses:

#350 - Derek Jeter
#200 - Bryce Harper
#400 - Mike Trout
#500 - David Ortiz

Here are my guesses for the titles of each World Series subset card:

132Sox Crush Cards to Take Series OpenerWS Game 1
133Wacha Carries Cards to VictoryWS Game 2
134Cards Win in Wild FinishWS Game 3
135Sox Tie Series on Gomes' HRWS Game 4
136Lester Wins Pitchers' DuelWS Game 5
137Victorino Powers Sox to TitleWS Game 6
138The Champs Celebrate at FenwayWS Summary

Another big question will be if Topps will put Yasiel Puig on a base-checklist SP number (somewhere between #426–500) or will have him floating on the regular checklist. He's the hottest name in the hobby going into 2014, and making him a base-checklist SP adds to the chase, though also makes it at least four times less likely that you'll get him in a pack.

Finally, it's a pity that the Japan/MLB posting system had to go through an overhaul prior to Tanaka immigrating to the MLB, because this set probably won't include his Yankee rookie. It would've been something special, as one of the cards the 1965 set is known for is the Masanori Murakami rookie, and I'm sure Topps would've found a way to honor that card. So, without a significant rookie like Tanaka, will Heritage include the new White Sox first baseman, Jose Abreu? I hope so.

February 08, 2014

The Baseball Card Blog Is Alive & Well, Thank You for Asking

Thanks to our intrepid readers, The Baseball Card Blog is back! Not sure what happened there, but you may have seen this in your blogroll today...


I may not have blogged in a while, but no, I didn't up and change the topic of the blog. I'm actually still very interested in sports cards. I'm currently putting together the 1969 Topps set, I'm getting excited about the 2014 Topps Heritage set and will be on the receiving end of a full unopened case (yes, you read that right; it's the first time I've ever got a case). I'm also contemplating buying up unopened boxes of 2013 Topps Update, if just to chase the Boston Strong insert set. I'm also totally intrigued by the Top 50 Rookie Buyback redemption insert in 2014 Topps. 

January 08, 2014

You Lose All, You Win All

Question:




Zero chances. Impossible. No way. I mean 0-6? That is the worst thing I have ever heard. Gritless. Gutless performance. Fire him from the minors. Actually KILL HIM. No coming back from that. Stick a fork in 'em. Done. Chances at major league stardom? PFFTT. Get a clue, jerkwad. Lose minor league games much? Yes, is the answer. Wasn't a rhetorical question, idiot. You're the worst person.


Ordinarily, nil.

Always, nil. A scenario does not exist where the answer is not "nil," so your "ordinarily" is sugar-coating. End of discussion. Let's talk about something else. I am tired of talking about terrible pitchers who are dumb and stupid.

But Chris, who did that in the Triple-A American Association in '90, isn't an ordinary pitcher.

Why, does he pitch from his butt instead of his hand? What does this mean? What am I even reading right now? Who is Chris?

 Chris

Oh. 'Sup.

A tall, lean southpaw with an outstanding curveball,

That is extremely NOT ordinary - some would even say extraordinary. Tall AND lean? I am beginning to reconsider my notion that a pitcher could go 0-6 in the minors and still attain major league stardom. If anyone could do it, Chris could. Prolly not though, still.

he had started the season, only his second in pro ball at Double-A Jacksonville and was promoted to Indianapolis in mid-June.

Don't even tell me he went 0-6 there.

Despite going winless in the AA

If you replace "the" with another "A" and move it next to the other "A"s, then what you've said is accurate and normal. Also, did he die after that happened? I would die of embarrassment.

Chris was brought up to the Expos in mid-August to replace the traded Zane Smith in the starting rotation.

"Yo, we traded the fart face guy. So uh, I dunno ... let's bring up the dude who literally cannot win in the minors. I think it will be good and ensure the stability and location of our franchise." - Expos dudes

Did he ever!

Calm down. Just tell me what happened.

Chris won his first five decisions, giving up only 19 hits in 30 IP. He went 6-0 when he pitched his first major league CG and shutout, beating the Mets

LOL Mets

2-0 on a brilliant one-hitter.

This is cray. It's almost as if the fact that he struck out 44 and walked ONE in AAA was more important than the fact he went 0-6, and that he pitched pretty much the same as he always did - well - when he reached the bigs and had success because wins are stupid and gross.

Who needs to win big in the minors anyway?

Ha, great rhetorical question to end this amazing storybook story of a story! Nobody, silly! Well, at least not Chris Nabholz! Ha, ha! Man, the Mets suck.


 Chris Nabholz, 1991 Score