Sunday, October 28, 2012

More 2012 Triple Threads. Again.

I am going to make this a quick post.  I picked up a few more Triple Threads cards this past week in a trade.  I was really interested in trying to find a Lance Lynn autograph from the set and managed to locate one for trade.  However, sometimes you start trading and you take on a few extras to balance everything out along the way.  So, I actually ended up with a total of five cards.

2012 Topps Triple Threads Lance Lynn Jersey/Auto

I picked up one other Cardinals card with a nice Lance Berkman jersey and the rest were just gravy.  My haul ended up including a Tommy Hanson autograph, a Yovani Gallardo jersey, and a Cory Kuebke jersey/autograph.  Overall, a pretty nice set of cards.  

2012 Topps Triple Threads Lance Berkman Jersey

2012 Topps Triple Threads Cory Luebke Jersey/Autograph

2012 Topps Triple Threads Tommy Hanson Jersey/Autograph

2012 Topps Triple Threads Yovani Gallardo Jersey

30 Year Top 50: 1998 Skybox EX-2001

#39-I fully appreciate vintage baseball cards and have plenty of cards that predate 1983.  The next set on my countdown of cool sets is the antithesis of vintage baseball cards.  I know many vintage collectors who look at some of the modern cards and cringe especially sets like the 1998 Skybox EX-2001.

Before I get rolling on this set: If this were a set name list, this card set would be in the bottom ten.  Easily.  The name is ridiculous and was a follow up to the 1997 Skybox EX-2000 set.  Also a terrible name.  The set line continued through 2003 with equally troubling and ridiculous names.

1998 Skybox EX-2001 Mark McGwire

There were several other plastic like cards issued sometime in the late 90s and early 2000s, but this set was always the best of them in my opinion.  One argument against plastic cards is the fact that you can have any imperfections with plastic cards.  Very true of card sets such as Topps Tek were the picture and design were printed directly onto the card surface.  However, the Skybox EX cards always had a raised surface around the player picture that make it subject to the same imperfections as other cards.  In fact, take a quick scan of secondary sales sites and you will see that there are graded cards from this set there are clearly imperfect.

The set itself was a 100 card set with an exchange card of Kerry Wood available for a total of 101 base cards.  The Wood card might be the best card in this set.  Since it was an exchange card and short printed there are obviously fewer cards available, but it also seems to be one of those cards that was an early release of a player, not a true rookie card, that people treat the same as a rookie card issue.  The set and base cards can be difficult to locate and the boxes that are stilling floating around are often not cheap.

1998 Skybox EX-2001 Kerry Wood Exchange

The Skybox EX-2001 set did have insert sets and even some autographs.  However, the real chase cards in this set were the Essential Credentials cards.  I have had a few write ups about these cards in the past featured in a highlight about my Ray Lankford collection.  The Essential Credentials were a double parallel set.  The Essential Credentials Now and Essential Credentials Futures sets were serial numbered to different numbers with one set having an ascending run with the card numbers and one have a descending run with the card numbers.  Complicated I know.  There are several up on Ebay write now for triple digits, or close.  The last completed sale was a Larry Walker out of 22 for more than $200.

1998 Skybox EX-2001 Craig Biggio Essential Credentials Now

Overall, this set was among the first plastic card sets out on the market and the best of the bunch in my opinion.  The fad surrounding these cards has faded and there hasn't been a similar card release in a very long time.  Since the set is fairly small it is not very difficult to assemble in a short time.  It's a fun set build too.

Like the 1998 Skybox EX-2001 set?  Not in my Top 50 for the past 30 years is the 1999 Skybox EX-Century set.  I had thought long and hard about putting the 2003 Skybox EX set here, but I think the 1999 model edges it out.  The 1999 issue of the Skybox EX set featured a similar design as the 1998 set, but I feel like Skybox did a good job of cleaning up the design a little bit. 

1999 Skybox EX-Century Barry Larkin

Mainly, I like how the player name is written going down the side of the card and the team logo has been incorporated into the side of the card.  Also similar to the 1998 set, the 1999 set was really about the chase for the Essential Credentials cards.  The parallel sets were again set up the same way with the dual sets with varying numbers.

1999 Skybox EX-Century Essential Credentials

The other factor that made the 1999 Skybox EX issue was the insert sets.  The earlier sets featured inserts, but they didn't fit the overall feel of the set at times.  Later sets started to dabble with autographs and jersey pieces.  The 1999 inserts I felt fit the feel of the set very well and were still in the mode of cool 90s inserts too.  One of my favorite inserts was the Favorites for Fenway set which somehow tried to predict the All-Star teams for 1999.  I guess they missed with J.D. Drew.  

1999 Skybox EX-Century J.D. Drew Favorites for Fenway

Thursday, October 25, 2012

2008 Donruss Elite Sean Doolittle Collegiate Patches Autograph

Living in central North Carolina allows me the chance to see plenty of ACC sports.  Besides basketball, the conference also has an excellent reputation on the diamond.  I try to see a few games a year at either NC State, UNC, or Duke.  More recently, the ACC has added Durham to its rotation on the baseball conference championship tournament.  It has already played at the Durham Bulls Athletic Park twice and will reappear again this spring.  

Of course, just like minor league games, one of the best parts of college baseball is watching players before they reach the major leagues.  One of the first players I followed with regularity was Andrew Miller at UNC.  The left-handed starter was considered the best pitcher in the country during the 2006 season and was drafted by the Detroit Tigers with the sixth pick of the draft.  

Miller was later traded to the Marlins, along with a few other young players, for Miguel Cabrera.  He would never quite live up to the hype and has bounced around since.  

My newest card comes from a much hyped player from another ACC school.  Sean Doolittle was a pitcher and first baseman for the Virginia Cavaliers.  While he was slightly overshadowed by Ryan Zimmerman during his time at UVA, Doolittle was still an excellent college player who left the school as the all-time wins leader and one of the best offensive players too.  The Oakland A's would select Doolittle in the first round of the 2007 draft as a first baseman.  

2008 Donruss Threads Sean Doolittle Bat Card

After Doolittle was drafted I added one of his cards to my collection immediately since I had seen him play in person.  After a few injuries in the minors Doolittle disappeared for awhile and apparently went back to pitching.  I was watching an Angels/A's game late one night this summer, mainly to root against Pujols, and saw the name flash on the screen.  I was a little surprised to see him in a game as a pitcher and actually had to go look him up to make sure it was the same Sean Doolittle.

Sure enough it was and I tried to keep an eye on him during the season.  He actually pitched quite well during his first season in the bigs holding hitters to a WHIP of 1.07 with more than a strikeout per inning.  Doolittle had a little bit of a rough time during the postseason, but I still thought enough of him to run out and pick up an autograph.

2008 Donruss Elite Collegiate Patches Sean Doolittle Autograph

I love the Donruss College patch cards and saw this card and picked up for a small sum.  Doolittle does not have any certified autographs as a A's player, but has quiet a few Donruss products as a minor leaguer and college player.  Sean Doolittle also played for USA Baseball and appears as a signer in some of the mid 2000s Upper Deck issues.  Most of his autographs can be had for under $10 and would be an excellent addition to your collection.  


Wednesday, October 24, 2012

30 Year Top 50: 2002 Topps Total

#40-The 2002 Topps Total set was the largest release Topps had ever put out when it was released it the middle of the summer in 2002.  It was the set builders dream with a large checklist and a very cheap sticker price.  The boxes of Topps Total came with 36 packs and each pack contained 10 cards.  I clearly remember to this day the two boxes of Total I busted that summer.

Back in those days I worked at a traditional calendar school and had all summer to open, sort, trade, buy, and sell cards.  I picked up my two boxes from a card store in South Saint Louis county, made a run to Imo's for a pie, and popped in a movie.  Usually I am not very meticulous about sorting out cards into a set while I am opening them, but I was determined with the Topps Total set.  The cards had a pretty ho hum design, but the 900 card set was a huge challenge that I was determined to meet.

2002 Topps Total Mike Matheny

Besides the challenge of putting together a large set, at the time of release, many collectors were also excited about the prospects that were included in the set.  Of course every team had it's veteran players, but there were also many younger players too.  The best of the rookie cards in the set is the Joe Mauer.  There is also a David Wright rookie, not his best, and a Chone Figgins.

2002 Topps Total Joe Mauer  

After two slow box openings and lots of collation I decided that I was probably going to have to open at least four boxes of cards in order to complete the set.  I made a checklist and slowly added to the set throughout the summer.  A few years later, I found this box of cards and my list and cheaply completed the set.  I still own the set today and enjoy looking at the players.  I also consider the completion of this set an accomplishment because of it's enormous size.  

The largest set every distinction did not last very long for this set, but the fact that it allowed collectors a small slice of the days when the Topps sets were large, poorly collated within packs, and close to 800 (792) cards, made this set a great part of the hobby.  

Like the 2002 Topps Total Set?  Not on my countdown of Top sets of the past 30 years are the 2002 Upper Deck 40 Man Set.  The concept of the set was identical to the Topps Total set.  Large set, featuring many players, and a great chase for set builders.  In fact, Upper Deck went a little bit pass Topps.  Upper Deck literally included ever player on every teams 40 man roster minus the players who were signed off of replacement player rosters during the 1995 spring training.  No Damien Miller.

2002 Upper Deck 40 Man Francisco Rodriguez

Upper Deck 40 Man had two major flaws.  First, the price of the packs was around $3 with only 24 packs in a box and 10 cards per pack.  Collation of cards was okay, but the cost of buying the boxes and assembling the set was far greater than value of the set.  Further, unlike the Topps Total set, this set has no important rookie cards.  None.  There aren't many completed 40 Man sets floating around, so it would be fun to put together....or not.  

Saturday, October 20, 2012

30 Year Top 50: 1988 Topps Traded

#41-There cannot be any ties on my Top 50 countdown of the past 30 years, but this was by far the set I tossed over in my mind the longest.  Mainly because I am trying not to duplicate sets on the countdown.  So, if you read this write up for this set and like the set below, the 1988 Score Rookie/Traded, better I understand.  A similar thing happened back on #46 with the 2004 and 2005 Bowman Heritage set.  With those two sets I gave the nod to the 2004 set because of style.  Today, I am going with content.  No style involved in this post.

In my opinion the most important rookie card in the 1988 Topps Traded set is the Roberto Alomar.  Despite spitting in the face of an umpire, Alomar is one of the best second baseman of the modern era and was a part of two World Championships in Toronto and a good run of playoff teams in Cleveland. Alomar probably stuck around a few too many years at the end of his career, but still had a great overall career.

1988 Topps Traded Roberto Alomar

Besides the Alomar, there were a few other solid rookies cards in this set that are worth the time and expense to add to your collection.  Especially given that, like other late 80's wax, this set was overproduced and is easy to find on the cheap.  If you pay more than $10 you've probably spent too much.  It also means that if you are a single card collector, these cards are all easy to find and inexpensive.

Now, Alomar is the only Hall of Fame rookie in this set, but the other important rookies in this set were solid Major League players.  Perhaps one of them played a long time for one of your favorite teams.  First up is Tino Martinez.  As a Cardinals fan my memories of Tino are not good, but I also understand that he was apart of a good run of Yankees teams that won multiple championships.  Not a Hall of Famer, but a good player and certainly a favorite target of many collectors.

1988 Topps Traded Tino Martinez

My sleeper card in this set belongs to the current White Sox manager Robin Ventura.  At the time this card was printed Ventura was a pretty hot commodity coming off a great college career at Oklahoma State which included the 1988 Golden Spikes Award for the top college player.  

1988 Topps Traded Robin Ventura

Ventura is another player who is short of Hall of Fame credentials as a player, but certainly had some great moments in his career.  Most famously, his walk off Grand Slam while playing for Mets which was later ruled a single after the Mets players mobbed him and did not allow him to circle the bases.  He also charged the mound against Nolan Ryan.  Turned out poorly.  I put Ventura in my sleeper category because of his potential as a manager.  This year was Ventura's first year in the dugout and most would have to agree that he far exceeded expectations.  Worth watching.

There are a few other solid rookies in the set beyond the three pictured above including: Andy Benes, Charles Nagy, Jim Abbott, and Brady Anderson.  

Like the 1988 Topps Traded set?  Not in my Top 50 countdown in the 1988 Score Rookie Traded set.  This set is similar to the Topps Traded set in many ways, but each set has some unique features.  First, the Topps Traded set has more rookie cards.  Ventura, Martinez, and most of my other key rookies from the list above on the 1988 Topps Traded set are not included in this set.  However, there is still a Roberto Alomar rookie card.

1988 Score Rookie Traded Roberto Alomar

I have seen some collectors put a premium on the Score Alomar rookie, but both the Topps and this card generally sell for the same price currently.  The other attraction to the Score Rookie set is the addition of Craig Biggio to the set who is not included in the 1988 Topps Traded set.

1988 Score Rookie Traded Craig Biggio 

Biggio should get into the Hall of Fame at some point considering he played several seasons as a catcher, a second baseman, and an outfielder.  I believe he was one of a handful of players to make an All-Star team at different positions.  Biggio was also able to reach 3000 hits during his final season in the Majors.  All spent as an Astro.  

Both the Alomar and Biggio are inexpensive rookie cards and, like the 1988 Topps Traded set, the 1988 Score Rookie Traded set is an easy find and shouldn't cost anymore than $10.  The style of the Score cards leaves a lot to be desired, but I was never a big fan of the 1988 Topps set either.  Still, both sets are great additions to any collection.  

Thursday, October 18, 2012

Dodger Bobble Trade

I haven't done a good thorough trade post in awhile, but had a one last week with Dodger Bobble.  I have made several other trades with Dodger Bobble in the past and can always find a good home for the Dodgers cards that wonder into my house.  We started off with a few small cards, but ended up with a bigger trade after I threw in a 2009 Upper Deck Signature Stars Trio Autograph of Matt Kemp, Chad Billingsley, and James McDonald.  I added a 2012 Triple Threads Matt Kemp card too.  You can read more about the Dodgers cards here.

I am trying to round out my 2012 sets by adding a few autographs and also picked up some pretty sweet Cardinals cards in the process along with a couple other odds and ends.  So, without further delay here are the autographs:

2012 Topps Tier One Mike Morse Autograph 

2012 Topps Tier One Danny Espinosa Autograph

2012 Topps Tier One Joel Hanrahan Autograph

2012 Topps Tier One Jason Motte Autograph

2012 Topps Tier One Jose Valverde Autograph

2012 Topps Museum Collection Elvis Andrus Autograph

2011 Topps Finest Aaron Crow Autograph

2010 Topps Chrome Jon Jay Autograph

2012 Topps Heritage Cardinals Team Card Signed by Marc Rzepcynski

The Rzepcynski autograph was a throw in from Dodger Bobble and I was really happy to get this card.   I try to get certified autographs of as many Cardinals players as I can possibly get, but there are a few that have none.  Rzepcynski is one of them.  

I also picked up a Triple Threads card of Hall of Fame pitcher Steve Carlton with some sweet powder blue jersey swatches:

2008 Topps Triple Threads Steve Carlton Triple Jersey

I also picked up a few nice serial numbered Cardinals cards and a few base cards from the 2012 Topps Museum Collection set.  

2012 Topps Museum Collection Cardinals Cards

2011 Topps Triple Threads Bob Gibson

2012 Topps Tier One Black Matt Holliday

2012 Bowman Blue Adam Wainwright

Monday, October 15, 2012

30 Year Top 50: 1986 Donruss

#42- The 1986 Donruss set was an incredible set at the time of it's release and a few years in the early to mid 90s.  The set featured one of the hottest rookie cards of the 1980's and several other rookie cards that were above average.  For awhile, the Jose Canseco rookie in the set could sell or trade for upwards of $100.  However, with the demise of Jose Canseco the value of his rookie cards also crashed hurting the overall value of this set.

1986 Donruss Rated Rookie Jose Canseco

I am not going to rehash the whole Jose Canseco saga, but he was incredible at the height of his career and fell really hard.  At the time of this set's release, the Donruss Jose Canseco rookie card was one of the most sought after cards.  Often a rookie card makes or breaks a set and in this case the fate of this set followed the Canseco card.  In the late 80's when the Canseco rookie was at it's height, the card also brought up the values of several other rookie cards in the set including Fred McGriff, Paul O'Neill, and Andres Galarraga.  

1986 Donruss Rated Rookie Paul O'Neill

1986 Donruss Rated Rookie Andres Galarraga

1986 Donruss Rate Rookie Fred McGriff

In the end, the "other rookies" in the Donruss set ended up being almost as important as the Jose Canseco.  All three players had careers that were probably better than Canseco's, especially Paul O'Neill who was a key player on four World Championship teams.  None of the four players are Hall of Famers and that has brought down the value of this set to around $20.  It's not the 1988 Donruss set, but it's also not nearly as good as the 1987 set.  

My reason for including this set in my countdown is the simple fact that for a few years in the late 80s this was a great set.  In 1989, Jose Canseco hit 42 home runs to lead the American League while stealing 40 bases and driving in more than 100 runs.  That same season, Fred McGriff enjoyed his second thirty plus home run season, when 30 home runs was a big deal, and draws comparisons on that season with Mark McGwire on Baseball Reference.  O'Neill and Galarraga enjoyed solid seasons, but would have more impact later in their careers.  

Despite it's loss in value the 1986 Donruss set can teach us two important lessons.  First, the 1980s cards all generally lack the kind of cardboard value that vintage cards enjoy.  No fault of the collector's, but its hard to value a card when there are thousands upon thousands of copies of a card.  For me, these sets are still great to take out and look at.  I love the polyester uniforms and seeing cards of players I loved watching as a kid.  Cardinals cards of Danny Cox and Mike Laga.  Yellow Pirates jerseys.  

Second, there are many in the card industry that try to say that the on field product has little effect on the price of a player's cardboard.  If that statement were true, than the Jose Canseco card would still retain some shred of value instead being able to find raw copies of the card for under $5. 

I had such as conversation with the Editor of Beckett Baseball Card Magazine Chris Olds on Twitter during the Cardinals and Nationals game last week.  Basically, I took the view point that Bryce Harper's regular season and postseason performance would have to greatly improve for him to maintain his current level of card values.  

For example, in the mid 90s collectors went crazy for Andruw Jones cards when he played well, as a teenager, in the 1996 playoffs.  Sixteen years later, Andruw Jones is a role player with a low batting average and no defensive skill.  Not to say that is what Harper is to become, but collector's eyeing a high end rookie should look at the cards of Canseco and Jones to better understand the high risk that comes with adding high end rookie cards to their collections.  

Like the 1986 Donruss set?  Not in my Top 50 is the 1984 Donruss set.  This set is very similar to the 1986 Donruss release.  For years, this set was a highly valuable and high sought after piece of cardboard.  There were three important rookie cards in the set, which like the 1986 Donruss, lost value and popularity with the demise of the players.  Most importantly was the Don Mattingly rookie card. 

1984 Donruss Don Mattingly 

Mattingly had a great start to his career, but it was derailed by injuries.  His cards had trouble maintaining their values over time.  Mattingly has moved on to become a successful manager with the Dodgers and still is popular with Yankees collectors.  The other two key rookie cards were the Joe Carter Rated Rookie card and the Darryl Strawberry rookie.

1984 Donruss Darryl Strawberry

1984 Donruss Joe Carter

Strawberry's career followed a similar path as Jose Canseco.  Again, not going to rehash the entire saga, but he was a really good player who turned out to be very average.  His cards are still sought after, but do not maintain much in terms of value.  Joe Carter was a highly thought of prospect who turned into a nice everyday player.  Above average, but not a Hall of Famer.  More importantly he hit a game winning, series ending home run in the 1993 World Series.  

More 2012 Triple Threads

I continued to work on adding to my Triple Threads collection for 2012 this past week by adding three new cards.  The Triple Threads set has become one of my favorite annual releases by Topps and have enjoyed beginning the process of assembling some cards from this year's release.  My biggest challenge by far this year has been adding Cardinals cards.  They have drifted a little bit high on Ebay, COMC, and other secondary card spots and there aren't a ton of them out in the trade market.

 I always end up with a good group of Cardinals cards, but I feel like they might be high this year because of the team's current playoff run.  For example, Carlos Beltran only has a Unity Relic in this years release which features on small piece of jersey.  The cards sell between $12 and $25 on Ebay and trading...ridiculous.  One trader last week trader last week traded me a Carlos Beltran jersey from the Topps Update set for an Ian Kinler jersey, but wouldn't trade me a Beltran Triple Threads card for a Kinsler patch.  Really wanted the patch, but not for a plain Beltran patch.  Hmm.

Anyway, I was finally able to add an Allen Craig jersey/autograph later in the week.  The card is a Unity Relic Autograph and is numbered out of 99.  This is the second year that Allen Craig has appeared in the Triple Threads set with an autograph.  Honestly, I would rather have one of the portrait style Triple Threads cards with the multiple jersey pieces, but will settle for this one.  The design on this years single jersey piece Triple Threads cards are much better.

2012 Topps Triple Threads Allen Craig Jersey/Auto

My last two pick ups were also trades.  I picked up two other Triple Threads cards in two separate trades.  One added to my Rays collection with a nice David Price piece.  Price actually has several different pieces in year's Triple Threads set, but I like this card the best.  Some of the autographs are nice, but for some reason we are back to sticker autographs on high end cards.  Thanks Topps. 

2012 Topps Triple Threads David Price Jersey

Last card for the day is a sweet Matt Kemp Triple Threads card which I picked up in a trade for some sticker autographs of Giants players and a Joe Rudi.  This is the second consecutive year that Topps has made a Bison card for Kemp, but I still think they are sweet cards.  I have one more really cool Kemp Triple Threads on its way later in the week.  

2012 Topps Triple Threads Matt Kemp

Sunday, October 14, 2012

30 year Top 50: 2000 Fleer Tradition Set

#43-Today's set makes my countdown as a pioneer more than the card content within the set.  Look at the card releases issued in 2012 by Topps and you will notice that there are several sets with a vintage theme.  Topps, Fleer, Upper Deck, and even Donruss have tried to add a little bit of old time style and appearance into their sets over the past decade plus.  However, in my opinion the 2000 Fleer Tradition set was the first mainstream base set to flourish and thrive while recalling past years of card collecting.

Fleer had actually started to lean on this concept with it's release of the 1998 Fleer Tradition set.  The packaging that year featured Mickey Mantle.  The set had a Mickey Mantle card with an old color photo of the Commerce Comet in his classic left-handed hitting stance.  The following year Fleer stepped up it's game a little bit further by putting Stan Musial on the packaging, issuing a Musial insert set chronicalling the Cardinal great's career, and then also issuing a set of 1963 Fleer themed cards with modern players and Stan the Man.

In 2000, Fleer committed to issuing a base set that was completely vintage in theme.  More than a decade later it's easy to see that this set has had a lasting impression on the hobby.  A quick scan of the checklist will show that the set has little to offer in the way of important rookies, so collecting this set is just simply about owning a great looking set of cards.  End of story.

2000 Fleer Tradition Cal Ripken Jr.

The basic design of the cards Fleer borrowed from the 1954 Topps set.  I guess since they used the 1963 Fleer set design in the 1999 Fleer set they didn't want to skip and borrow the design of the Fleer's next baseball card issue in 1980.  Hmm.  Well, it's a great looking set to borrow from and Fleer did a great job of recreating the 1954 theme on these cards.  The set was a total of 450 cards and would eventually include an Update set released in factory set form.  My only complaint about this set revolves around some of the insert sets.  Let's look at a few of the designs.  

2000 Fleer Tradition Cal Ripken Halls Well

2000 Fleer Tradition Adam Kennedy Who To Watch

I never quite understood how Fleer created a great set of vintage themed cards, but then issued a handful of modern die-cut, translucent insert cards.  I guess maybe they were trying to appeal to the modern collector, but I am not going to complain too much.  There were several insert sets that shined in this release including one of my favorite relic inserts.  

First off, Fleer did issue autographs in this set and they were actually on card autographs.  Fleer had their autograph cards at the time run throughout all of their card releases and were either issued on the Fresh Ink insert or Autographics.  The Tradition set had the Fresh Ink autographs and included Alex Rodriguez, Cal Ripken, and Pedro Martinez.  I have a Tim Salmon.  

2000 Fleer Tradition Fresh Ink Tim Salmon Autograph

The best insert set from this release was the Club 3000 set which focused on hitters with 3000 hits and pitchers with 3000 strikeouts.  The cards came in a plain insert, which was die cut into the shape of the number 3000.  There were also relic versions which featured pieces of jersey or bat.  The relic version came in three versions with one relic being common, two relics being slightly hard, and three relics being very difficult.  

2000 Fleer Tradition Stan Musial Club 3000 Jersey

Like the 2000 Fleer Tradition Set?  Not in my Top 50 is the 2002 Upper Deck Vintage set.  Just like Fleer, I think Upper Deck had little tradition of it's own to use in creating a set.  The 1989 Upper Deck set is an awesome set it hardly strikes me as vintage.  Instead, Upper Deck used the 1971 Topps design.  

2002 Upper Deck Vintage Ken Griffey Jr.

The 1971 Topps set is one of the all time best designs and highly sought after sets.  Upper Deck did a great job of recreating this set of cards.  The base set was a little shorter than the Fleer Tradition at 300 cards.  The Upper Deck Vintage also did a great job with the inset sets.  The inserts were generally pretty simple in design and followed the design of the base set very well.  

2002 Upper Deck Vintage Sandlot Star Ken Griffey Jr. 

The autograph insets and jersey inserts were very tough pulls.  All of the autographs were dual signature cards with long odds of finding one.  A search on Ebay right now yields zero copies of any of these cards.  Zero.  

2002 Upper Deck Vintage Sammy Sosa Jersey Card

The base jersey cards are a little simpler to come across and still over a clean design similar to the 1971 Topps cards.  There are also many multiple jersey cards in the 2002 vintage set that are also difficult to run across.