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Sunday, January 22, 2023

Pujols Post - 2022 Bowman Platinum

I took an excursion to do some shopping at the local big box stores this afternoon. I really should have taken a picture of the card aisles. They were completely trashed and picked over. There have been so many pictures posted to social media recently of big box store card aisles that are fully stocked and pristine. It's headline news after 2020 when there were grown men risking assualt charges over a box of Topps cards that cost $19.99.   


Maybe I expecting a lot out of my local stores considering the Target next to my house had a snake roaming the canned food aisle last year. 


I pulled an autograph of Matheu Nelson, former ACC Player of the Year at Free Seafood University. 



He went to Florida State, my bad.  


The seafood may or may not be free.  

Anyway, recent retiree Albert Pujols also made an appearance in my packs of Bowman Platinum.  


I like Albert and I hope he has saved up. He's on a fixed income now.  



This is a nice action shot of Albert waiting to hit. It would be nice to see the background, but it's Bowman Platinum. It's one of those sets where the background is swirls and lines, or whatever pattern Topps throws on the card for the year.  This one looks like it was based on the reverse card from an UNO card deck. 


Just kind of broke the post here. Sorry, I couldn't find another headline to fit with the pattern on the background of the card. Should have made the whole thing about UNO instead.  



Love that the write-up on the back gives his numbers against left-handed pitching. Let's face it, Albert was terrible on the Angels because they were running him out there for 600 at-bats a year. Righties and lefties. Meanwhile, the Dodgers and Cardinals ran him out there against lefties and he put together two good years.  

Albert Pujols versus left-handed pitching not only has news headlines, it has YouTube videos with key moments.  


UNO.

Wednesday, January 4, 2023

Random Ray - 1997 Donruss Preferred

Donruss Preferred were the cards that came in commemorative tins. It was all part of the late 1990s phase where card companies tried to one up each other through stupid packaging. The tins were better than the cards that came in the cans, Pinnalce Inside. Those had horrible packaging and mediocre cards. Donruss Preferred was at least a very nice product.  

Here is a picture of a Donruss Preferred tin. It's not mine, just a picture I found on the internet.  


Here is the 1997 Donruss Preferred Ray Lankford card.  


This a card did not scan very well, so I am going to put up a second picture. 


Such a great looking card with the gold foil card. Not sure this needs a lot of explanation, just a great looking card. The name plate, team names, and brand name are all small with the player picture taking center stage inside the gold frame. Why can't we have cards like this now?  

Back of the card. 


Simple stat line and the color photo are nice. The small write-up is quality, nut the biographical information on the right-hand side seems a little out of place. It's a small thing though.  This is a really nice card. 

Thursday, December 22, 2022

The Baseball Card Room, Take 1

I am going to write about my baseball card room in 2023. 

This is my last post of 2022, so I am going to be talking a lot about the baseball card room for the next 365 days. It's not going to be the subject of all my 2023 posts, just most of them.  

Thank you to everyone who has stopped by during the past year to read my blog.  

Now, about the card room.  



I have this really wonderful space. I write about my baseball cards for the past decade, but have never written much about the baseball card room. I recently was gifted a really nice leather sofa from my parents. My wife (and daughter too) repainted it and bought a new arm chair, coffee table, and side tables while I was at work on day. There is much more to the baseball card room than just a sofa, chair, and tables, but we have a whole year to talk about the subject.  

It's going to be really interesting.  

My baseball card room has become a bit of a disaster over the years. One of the few posts on my blog during the past decade about me reorganizing my collection from being sorted by teams to being sorted by sets. My collection was immaculate and I wanted to make it even better.  

This was the closet of the baseball card room back in the day.  



Within the boxes that were sorted by teams, the cards were sorted by year, by set, and then by card number. It seemed like transitioning my cards from teams to sets was going to be a really easy move. They were largely sorted and just needed some transitioning to get into sets. 

I only wished my closet looked that good at the moment.   

Some new boxes, new labels, and this was going to be quick, right?  

The card room was originally painted red. Kind of abrasive to look at the old pictures of the room.  


That paint was jarring, but things started out so well with sort my cards into sets.  

Not to spoil the ending, but the problems started with the advent of "The Doubles Table".  

The Doubles Table could be several of posts, but it was a large desk that I pushed into the baseball card room to hold all the single cards that were doubles or did not belong to a set. Picture shown below.  



While the large desk in this picture is no longer in the baseball card room, it is still there in spirit.  

The current rendition is the room's former coffee table that my wife replaced during her one day remodel.  




Again, not to ruin the plot, the current version of the doubles table is so much more organized than its predecessors. It's my sincere hope that this coffee table will disappear within the next year and will not be replaced with another space.  

This is the starting point for my blog posts for the next year.  

For this post, I am sharing a card from the coffee table. It is my favorite 2022 card.  



I spent a lot of time collecting Wander Franco cards this year. His 2021 Bowman's Best, released in 2022, is easily my favorite. I started a stack for Wander Franco rookies on my card table. I flip through the cards from time to time and this card still stands out. The Wander has a 1990s vibe with the colorful background and the giant Tampa Rays logo in the background. It's a great card.  

I made a quick scan too.  



With the purple on the front, it's too bad that the picture did not use a photo of Wander in one of the Rays throwback uniforms with the purple and green. It would have looked good.  


Here is the back of the card.  

Again, thank you for reading my blog during the past year. Enjoy the holiday season and come back in a week to hear more about the baseball card room.  

Wednesday, November 16, 2022

Random Ray - 1993 Triple Play

Triple Play was for the kids.  

I was a teenager in 1993, but I collected these cards. I have a ton of them thanks to my summer job the following year. I spent my time away from school that year pushing in grocery carts and occasionally bagging. I could also check on Sunday before the liquor aisle opened up at noon. Inside the front door of the store there was a small customer service counter that sold high-end liquor, candy bars, cashed checks, and had a few boxes of neglected baseball cards. 

My parents shopped at the store where I worked when I was a kid and I remember buying baseball cards there all the time. Apparently at some point in between my childhood and high school, buying baseball cards at the grocery store fell out of favor.  Honestly, I had stopped by cards there myself in favor of the Ben Franklin that was a short walk from my parents work.  

The cards were all at least one year off and all were discounted. Triple Play cards were really inexpensive when they were current year, but the grocery store charged forty cents for a pack the summer I worked there. I know they were not that cheap. Triple Play had a small checklist and there were a healthy number of cards in each pack, so I have the whole set.  

Here is the Ray Lankford. 


I really like the black borders with the warm red and orange colors used on the card. The photo is also above average for a "kids product". Given the proximity of Lankford to the stands and dugout, I am guessing he is standing on the on deck circle here. I would venture to say this is in Shea Stadium. The dugouts were blue and had a really thick roof.

Back of the card.  


Love the set up here with the color photo taking up roughly half the back and the stats and write up filling in the other half. The portrait photo is nice. I like how the player uniform number is included in the background behind their name. I was wondering if it was taken at the same time as the picture on the front or if this is a photo day special from Spring Training. Both road uniforms, his batting gloves and bats look used, rather than something staged.  

The stat line is small, but this is geared towards kids so I understand keeping it simple. Nice little fact box for Lankford that is teamcentric. It's better than some of the cards that have quotes on the back.  

Tom Pagnozzi says.......


Yes, stay in school, listen to your teachers, and work hard. No, I do not think Tom Pagnozzi actually said that to anyone who worked on making this set of baseball cards. 

Wednesday, November 9, 2022

Set Appreciation Post #18 - 2001 Donruss

Donruss. 

What is the first thing that comes to mind?

I bet most collectors would go with Rated Rookies......



or Diamond Kings......



Maybe if you're under 30, the answer is unlicensed baseball cards. 

After Pinnacle went bankrupt in 1999, there were no Donruss sets for two years. In 2001, Playoff attempted to revive the brand, plus do some revisionist history and create Donruss sets for both the 1999 and 2000 calendar years. It was interesting to say the least, but ultimately not very satisfying in large part due to the fact that Playoff messed up the two must-haves in any Donruss set. 

See above.   

The 2001 Donruss boxes included a graded card as a box topper. I believe Beckett was launching their grading service and Playoff was relaunching Donruss. The graded cards were largely late 1980s Donruss issues that included the likes of Devon White and B.J. Surhoff. Nothing wrong with either player, but not many collectors want one of their graded rookie cards as a box topper.  

What did I pull?  



 
Gary Sheffield was a good player, but what is the value of a 7.5 grade Gary Sheffield 1989 Donruss? Didn't Beckett originally charge $10 when they first started grading cards?  There is zero chance that this card is worth $10.  

Let's check out the back for the breakdowns on that 7.5 grade.



I am going to issue a spoiler here and let you know that Playoff went bankrupt too, which is why we have the unlicensed Donruss set produced by Panini. It took four years, but in retrospect it should have been four months.  

Here is the base card design.  



I honestly like the appearance of these cards. The colored borders are nice with the star background fading out from top to bottom. Simple player name bar with the player position and team logo on each side. I even like the 20th Anniversary logo that Playoff stamped on each card. Donruss was not a very expensive set either ($1.99 per pack), getting this across the finish line should have been as simple as Playoff providing a decent ser of Diamond King and Rated Rookie cards.

Here is the back of the card..... 



Again, it's simple, but it does the job for a base Donruss set. If Playoff really wanted to win me over, they would have gone landscape and used the standard 1980s Donruss card back. That's probably asking too much.  This is fine though. Plus, these cards have on-base percentage. We can't replace Barry Bonds if he leaves as a free agent, but we maybe (not) able to recreate him through the aggregate. 

Almost sure Billy Beane said that once.  

One of the things that stands out to me as I flipped through the cards in this set was the number of established, veteran players who were in odd places during 2001. I picked seven that stood out to me and got lazy with the scanning.  

All seven in one scan.....


So, that is Eric Davis on the Giants, Rickey Henderson on the Mariners, Jose Canseco on the Angels, Andres Galarraga on the Rangers, David Cone on the Red Sox, David Wells on the White Sox, and Hideo Nomo on the Red Sox. Nomo actually threw a no-hitter on the Red Sox, so maybe that one is not quite as jarring as the rest.

My favorite Cardinals card is Rick Ankiel.  



This was after his yips had started. His cards dried up by the end of 2001 and did not reappear until he came back as an outfielder. I like that you can see the pitch grip in the picture, which appears to be a change-up. The rest of the Cardinals in this set are the standard from the time, McGwire, Edmonds, Kile, Matt Morris, etc. No Pujols even though it was a 2001 product. 

Favorite former Durham Bulls player is Ryan Klesko, largely because he has the lamb chop sideburns on the back photograph. If you are not going to picture him on a surf board for his baseball card, highlighting his sideburns is the next best move.  




Which brings me to the weirdness of Playoff trying to recreate Donruss sets for both 1999 and 2000. This nonsense had never been tried before the 2001 Donruss set and has not been attempted since either. Well, at least I don't think it has been tried again. We are all lucky that everyone learned their lesson with this set.  

I cannot place my hands on many of my imaginary 2000 Donruss cards, which were sold in retail packs, so I will focus my energy on the 1999s, which were sold in hobby packs.  

Players were shown on their 1999 teams on a design that was not nearly as good as the one Playoff used for the 2001 cards. The 2000 cards are not great either.  Although, these do feel really similar to the set designs that Pinnacle was using for Donruss right before they went bankrupt.  



I personally like the back of the 1999 Donruss Jim Edmonds card. The design is nothing great, but Jimmy Edmonds lost his half-shirt Cardinals windbreaker and reverted to back to "Anaheim Jimmy" complete with frosted hair and designer, colored-lens sunglasses.  




Gripes about Yankees fans going to DisneyLand and then filling up Angel Stadium were not included on the back, which is really too bad. If you are going to make up cards from previous years, you might as well do some pre-trade foreshadowing.  

I am not saying Ray Lankford is going to find his own doctor if his knees ever need to be cleaned up, but he's not using the team doctors....



Finding your own doctor. That's not the type of thing that would cause hurt feelings and a trade, right?

Let's get down to business.

This is a Donruss set and we all want to see the Diamond King cards and the Rated Rookies. For me as a long-time collector, I have a really hard time with the 2001 Donruss set because of these two long running brand staples having huge flaws.  

This is the design for the Diamond Kings set.  



The artwork of Sosa is fine, but the giant border stinks. The Diamond Kings logo at the bottom also stinks. Playoff bought all the brand name and imaging rights for all of Pinnacle's old brands, why not use them? I did not scan the back, but the write-up falls short in comparison to previous Diamond Kings sets.  The checklist is also terrible. 

Traditionally, every team got a Diamond Kings card in every Donruss set regardless of where they finished in the standings. When I was in middle school and the Cardinals were medicore at best, I still got a Diamond Kings card of Felix Jose. For 2001, Playoff only included 20 players, which included multiple Braves and Yankees.  

Some players on the checklist were not even deserving of Diamond Kings card.  



Mark McGwire was oft-injured during the 2000 and 2001, but still ended up with a Diamond Kings card. There were plenty of other good choices on those Cardinals teams with Jim Edmonds, Darryl Kile, Matt Morris, and J.D. Drew.  

The 2001 Diamond Kings are a definite negative when grading this set, but nothing compared to the disappointment I have towards the Rated Rookies. Again, Playoff owned the name and branding rights for all of the Pinnacle brands. 

Rated Rookie cards should have the logo. This is the only acceptable answer.  



This is ugly.  


White border, black name bar, Anniversary logo.  Whatever.  I don't card about any of it, because some designer working for Playoff murdered this card by using some middle school quality Microsoft Word Word Art "Rated Rookie" logo. Worse, beyond using the logo at the bottom of the card in color form, they repeated the logo in the background of the border.

How much better does this card look with the standard Rated Rookie logo?  

So, how does it rank?

This set has been out 21 years and I have not forgotten the fact that Playoff screwed up the Rated Rookies and Diamond Kings.

No mercy.  


Friday, November 4, 2022

Whiteyball, Moneyball, and Matt Adams.

Topps Archives came out a few weeks back.  

The base cards that are in Archives, I don't actually collect them, but I do appreciate the autographs.  

I bought a few. 



First up, the White Rat.  

I was surprised to see his name appear on the checklist and even more surprised that his signature is still this nice at 90 years old. I am half his age, I get paid to write in front of people, and my signature is not this nice.  

I like the black and white photo on the left side of the card.  That's pretty sweet with the satin jacket and sunglasses.  

While we are here, Topps did a really good job with the back of this card. Nice run down on Herzog's career as the Cardinals manager. Definitely better than the standard "CONGRATULATIONS!" 



Although, there is nothing here about Garry Templeton giving the crowd at Busch Stadium the double bird and getting traded to the Padres for Ozzie Smith. That was a definite highlight.  



Very nice addition to collection.  



Next up is Carlos Pena. He is the Rays, or Devil Rays, all-time home run leader. 

I am not sure what has happened to his autograph over the years, but it has really gone down hill.  

You can't play him at first tonight, because he's been traded to Detroit. Carlos Pena had a .346 on-base percentage, but where are the Scott Hatteberg cards?  


I think Scott Hatteberg was actually in Topps Archives in the past year or two.  I'm killing this blog post with reference to baseball movies that aren't Bull Durham.  

Last up is Cardinals rookie Juan Yepez.  




I have high hopes for Yepez in the coming years for the Cardinals. 

The guy can hit.

I also like that he made the Majors after being traded to the Cardinals from the Braves for Matt Adams. At the time of the trade, Yepez was in A-Ball and not considered much of a prospect. Five years later, Yepez is playing in the Majors and Matt Adams is doing something that's not playing baseball.  
 

Monday, October 31, 2022

Random Ray - 1993 Finest

Going big this week with a 1993 Topps Finest Ray Lankford.

Not the refractor, but maybe I will post that card one of these days.  

The 1993 Finest set was a huge deal at the time of its release. Definitely one of the best card sets of the 1990s. At the time, this was super high-end, but within reason and sanity. These cards were $3.99 a pack, which was steep for a pack in the mid 1990s. Compare that to the multiple hundreds of dollars box/pack/guaranteed handful of autographs stuff that Topps sell these days. As I said, within reason and sanity. 

Here is the front of the card.  


Fairly simple design that I have always enjoyed. The banner at the top bothered me back in the 1990s when these cards first came out. Seems like a lot of space for the brand name, but at least it does not limit the size of the player picture. I am going to overlook this one. 

I also love the red nameplate at the bottom with the silver/gray player name. Great color combination with the bright background and light colored writing. The reds are a little different, but they essentially reversed the color scheme for the Topps logo box next to the player name plate. 

The center is its own thing, but I love the circle behind the player. Draws your eye to the picture, which is a nice feature on a card without any sort of playing/stadium background behind the player photograph.  




The back is also really well done.  Same color scheme on the back nameplate. The stats are a little small, but simple. Nice player photograph and clear card number. The team name being in a large font feels a little off, but nothing too bad. I also never quite understood the background with the old-time looking sketches of baseball players. I would have gone solid color, but maybe they were trying to do some sort of old meets new thing with the pictures.