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Monday, May 31, 2021

Set Appreciation Post #12 - 2000 Topps

It's the 2000 Topps set, but I am still hoping for a good post.  

Did that giveaway the ranking? 

I like making these posts, so a short checklist and boring design are not going to stop me from finding fun and interesting things to talk about.  

If you're a big fan of the 2000 Topps set, be a good sport or go to another blog.  

Base Set

The basic design is a boring gray frame with some sort of oddly shaped player name box at the bottom of the card.  If you squint your eyes you can see that there is also a player position just above the player name on the right side of the card.  



The photography in the set is the opposite of the Upper Deck and Stadium Club sets from this era.  It's a mix of boring portrait photographs, drab action photographs, and other pictures which have aged poorly.  I hated the McGwire "Gut Punch" celebration that was in vogue with the Cardinals in the late 1990s.  Did Jose Canseco own the rights to the forearm bash?  



After watching the unauthorized biography of the Bash Brothers on Netflix, I am guessing that the answer to this question is yes.  

I asked my 10-year-old son about what he thought was happening on the front of this card.  I stared at the front of it for a minute and told me the photo on the back of the card was better.  When I redirected him to the photo on the front, his responses were, "You tell me" and "Looking dumb".  

There you have it. 

Back of the card. 



This feels boring and uninspired too.  

Did some designer at Topps forget he/she was supposed to finish up the design for the 2000 Topps set and create it at the last moment possible?  I don't want to know the answer, just in case, this was actually seen as good at the time.  

The small checklist is also problematic for me.  I can always count on the Topps base set to give me a good 20-25 Cardinals players.  The 2000 Topps set gives me roughly a dozen.  The 1999 Cardinals were pretty bad, especially the pitching, but some name players got left off the checklist. Who are some of the 1999 Cardinals players that got cut out?  

It was Willie McGee's final season in the Majors. Yes, he was the fourth outfielder, but he did not get a card in the set.  It was Placido Polanco's first season in the Majors.  No rookie card.  Shawon Dunston was a key bench player who did not get a card.  The pitchers on the team are worse.  Jose Jimenez started almost 30 games, threw a no-hitter, and did not get a base card.  Kent Bottenfield won 18 games, no card.  Darren Oliver started 30 games, no base card.  Rickey Bottalico appeared in almost 70 games and lead the team in saves.  You know, no base card.  

Where Was Dwight Gooden in 1999?  

One of the most enjoyable parts of flipping through old baseball card sets is finding baseball players in weird uniforms.  Places where you may or may not remember them playing, or you are just trying to forget about them appearing there.  

There are some good ones in the 2000 set.  

First up, we've got Hideo Nomo on the Brewers.  


Yes, I remember him as a Brewer, but I try to block it out.  Hideo had some rough years and bounced around more than I care to remember during his career.  Always a Dodger in my mind.  

Next up, Tim Raines on the A's.  


Definitely a little odd.  He was only on the A's for 58 games in 1999.  Raines was a long-time Expo and White Sox.  I always think about the end of his career being as a bench player on the late 1990s Joe Torre Yankees teams, but he played for 4 different teams between 1999 and 2001, including a return to the Expos.  

Next.  


Yes, I remember Rickey Henderson on the Mets.  Rickey Henderson was seemingly on every Major League team between the mid-1990s and the early 2000s.  There were about three different times he was on the A's, two or three times he was on the Padres, the Angels, Red Sox, Dodgers, and Mariners.  Not in the correct order and I probably left out a team.  

This brings us to Dwight Gooden.  

What the hell is this all about?  

I remember Dwight Gooden on the Indians.  He had an ERA of 6.  He was in his mid-30s, it happens.  

The Astros?

He pitched one game for the Astros.

One game.  

Did I mention that Willie McGee was a pinch-hitter for the Cardinals in 1999 and did not get a single card in this set?  

This is an insert card that Topps made of him because he had a Topps All-Rookie Team card.  It's always easy to criticize a baseball card that was made 20 years ago, but considering where he was in his career, this was a terrible decision.  Find an old Mets photograph, put it on the same card design, and it's a really popular card.  That's the way we all remember Dwight Gooden, right?  He was a Met?  

Best Cardinals Card(s) 

The obvious answer is the Fernando Tatis highlight card from his two grand slam inning against the Dodgers, which is why I am not going to choose it.  I am actually going to pick two of them. Scanned side by side, so let me explain my choices.  


If you remember Joe McEwing, chances are that you would probably remember him best as a utility player for the Cardinals and Mets.  However, he had a great half a season with the Cardinals in 1999 where he the starting second baseman. During the first half of that season, he had a slash line of .305/.355/.418 with 4 home runs and 19 doubles.  In the second half of the year his slash line .223/.303/.362 with 5 home runs and 9 doubles.  He was a great story for half a season before he was a utility player for the better part of a decade.  

Jose Jimenez pitched a no-hitter for the Cardinals against the Diamondbacks in 2000.  Bud Smith would pitch one the next year, making him the last Cardinals pitcher to do so, but the Jimenez no-no was much more memorable.  



First, he out-pitched Randy Johnson winning a 1-0 game.  Second, he ended up starting against the Diamondbacks a week later and pitched a two-hitter.  The Diamondbacks did not get a hit until the fifth inning.  

This is the only Jose Jimenez card in the set.  

Best Durham Bulls Card 

Shout out to Javy Lopez for this photo looking pained running to first base.  



If I were Javy Lopez, I would never speak to anyone at Topps again after they made this card.  

The best Durham Bulls card in the 2000 Topps set belongs to former pitching coach Kyle Snyder.  



He went to one of the blue North Carolina colleges (powder blue), so that's a negative.  He also used to give my son baseballs every time we went to a Durham Bulls game, so that's a positive.  No, seriously he is a really good coach who did great work with the Bulls and is doing the same thing with the Rays.  

Year 2000 Set, 1990s Style

Peroxide was really popular in the late 1990s.  It's an inexpensive way to make yourself blonde.  There were people who looked good with blonde hair, then there was Todd Jones.....





A closer look at Todd Jones with blonde hair.  



This was not a good idea and I am certain that Todd Jones is not the real Slim Shady.  



Although I could see him being at Burger King circling the parking lot, something about onion rings.  Go look up the song lyrics.  

I was also on the lookout for Turn Ahead the Clock uniforms, but I could only find one card.  It's not even a very good picture.  Really disappointed. 

The Turn Ahead The Clock uniform appears on the Gary DiSarcina card.    



If you are not familiar with the Turn Ahead The Clock promotion in Major League Baseball during the 1999 season, I suggest you use the Google Image search to find pictures of some truly terrible uniforms.  Short sleeves, large logos, and odd color schemes.  


 
Apparently, the Mets are moving to Mercury. 

Best Non-Cardinal Card(s) 

Topps does so many reprints these days, along with borrowed designs from past sets to make current year cards.  If I created a list of grievances of modern baseball cards, like the last 10 years, that would definitely be on the list.  

Topps did do a pretty good job with reprints in their late 1990s base set releases.  Typically they choose one great player from the 1950s, 60s, or 70s and reprinted their entire run of Topps cards both on regular card stock and Chrome card stock.  If I recall correctly, they used Mickey Mantle, Willie Mays, Roberto Clemente, Nolan Ryan, and Hank Aaron.  

Aaron was the last player to get this treatment, as 2001 was the start of both Topps Heritage and Archives.  

Here is one of the cards.....
 



Here is why I liked these cards.  I appreciate Hank Aaron and recognize the fact that he is one of the all-time greats of the game.  Would I like to own some more Hank Aaron cards?  Yes.  Am I going to spend the money to buy a bunch of 1950s and 1960s Aaron cards?  No.  I still love looking at his cards though and can do that by looking through my 2000 Topps set.  It might be the only reason I have looked through this box of cards during the past 10 years.  

How Does It Compare?

It's not in last place on my list, but it's just really hard to get past the fact that the set is boring.  The 2000 set is not the worst Topps base set during my lifetime, but it's definitely in the bottom 5.  There just is not a lot here to love.  

The last time I did one of these was two months ago with the 1988 Donruss set.  It's not as good as that set, so my ranking decision came down to this set and the 2000 UD Ionix set.  Sad to say this about a Topps base set, but I am putting it below that Upper Deck release. 




The bottom two are going to be really hard to knock out of those places.  

Saturday, May 22, 2021

Procrastination Post

I am supposed to be creating a portfolio of everything that I did this year as a virtual and hybrid (50% in-person and 50% online simultaneously), but I am finding it hard to get started.  I have a large stack of cards on my desk at the moment since my blogging is down to almost nothing.  So many to choose from, but I decided to go with some random old 1960s, 70s, and 80s cards of former Durham Bulls players.  

When summer hits, I am going to work on putting together the Durham Bulls cards from the 1960s or 1970s set, similar to what I did last year with the 1975 Topps Mini set.  In the meantime, it's fun to just find some of these old cards for cheap.  This group of cards cost me more than $10 after shipping, so roughly a dollar per card.  Hard to pass up.  

Here's what I found, in sequential order by year.  
 
  

 
First up is a 1960 Topps of long-time Major League catcher Clint Courtney.  His claim to fame was starting several fights with the Yankees during the 1960s.   I believe he was a Yankees farmhand at some point and held a grudge against them.  Clint Courtney ended up on the Bulls at the end of his career.  He was the old guy on a Carolina League team.  


 
 
This is a 1974 Topps Rusty Staub card from the World Series Highlights subset.  The Mets did not win, but Rusty hit .429 during the 7 game series against the Oakland A's.  Always good to find a Rusty Staub card.   Easily one of my favorite Durham Bulls players from the early 1960s.  


 
Next up is a 1976 Topps Ken Singleton.  This set has really grown on me over the years.  I have already found a few of the other Durham Bulls players in this set, plus I have a bunch of the Cardinals too.  I have never put together a full 1970s baseball card set as a project on here.   This would be fun.  Great looking Singleton card with the cartoon Oriole bird uniform.  
  

 

Another 1976 Topps card, only this is from the Traded set, which is famous for the Oscar Gamble card.  That airbrushed Tigers logo is terrible, but I still like the card.  This near the end of Rusty's career as an everyday player, also his last year making an All-Star team.  
 
 
 
 
Last Rusty Staub of the post.  He was everywhere at the end of his career, including the Rangers for the 1980 season.  He ended up going back to the Mets as a free agent after this year where he played out his career as a bench player.  I remember getting a few of his cards as a kid.  He was the token old guy on the team.  

The last two cards are from the same set.  
 
 
 








 These are both from the 1981 Topps Scratch-Off set.  I have one or two of these hanging around somewhere, but not many.  There have been a few other bloggers who have posted some of these cards over the last few months.  Seemed like a fun pair of cards to add to the collection.  

 

Monday, May 10, 2021

A Giant Project: Update #5

I am behind on the updates for my 1964 Topps Giants set.  I need to catch up a bit over the next few weeks.  For tonight, I am just going to post one of the cards from the set that I have added to my collection in the two months since I last updated this project.  

It's a pretty important card.  



Needless to say, I was pretty excited about adding the Mickey Mantle card from the set.  There are 60 cards in the Topps Giants set and a handful of the cards are going to take up the majority of time and money to track down.  This Mantle was one of those cards.  




There are so many Topps Giants cards that talk about players' Minor League careers on the back of the card.  Even the players who had been around for a while in 1964.  Mantle just gets a long write-up about all his Postseason accomplishments.  Wish a few more of the card backs in this set had followed this formula.  Pick something the player did well and talk about it on the card.  

I did alright here.  

Now, about that Koufax.  

Updated checklist.  22 out of the 60 cards.  


1 Gary Peters
2 Ken Johnson
3 Sandy Koufax SP
4 Bob Bailey
5 Milt Pappas
6 Ron Hunt
7 Whitey Ford
8 Roy McMillan
9 Rocky Colavito
10 Jim Bunning
11 Roberto Clemente
12 Al Kaline
13 Nellie Fox
14 Tony Gonzalez
15 Jim Gentile
16 Dean Chance
17 Dick Ellsworth
18 Jim Fregosi
19 Dick Groat
20 Chuck Hinton
21 Elston Howard
22 Dick Farrell
23 Albie Pearson
24 Frank Howard
25 Mickey Mantle
26 Joe Torre
27 Ed Brinkman
28 Bob Friend SP
29 Frank Robinson
30 Bill Freehan
31 Warren Spahn
32 Camilo Pascual
33 Pete Ward
34 Jim Maloney
35 Dave Wickersham
36 Johnny Callison
37 Juan Marichal
38 Harmon Killebrew
39 Luis Aparicio
40 Dick Radatz
41 Bob Gibson
42 Dick Stuart SP
43 Tommy Davis
44 Tony Oliva
45 Wayne Causey SP
46 Max Alvis
47 Galen Cisco SP
48 Carl Yastrzemski
49 Hank Aaron
50 Brooks Robinson
51 Willie Mays SP
52 Billy Williams
53 Juan Pizarro
54 Leon Wagner
55 Orlando Cepeda
56 Vada Pinson
57 Ken Boyer
58 Ron Santo
59 Johnny Romano
60 Bill Skowron SP









Sunday, May 9, 2021

Now, More Arenado Cards

Yesterday, I posted my first Nolan Arenado card in a Cardinals uniform.  

What should I do for a follow-up post?  

How about my second Nolan Arenado card in a Cardinals uniform.  

I dabble in the Topps Now cards, but I am not out to buy them all or even all the Cardinals cards.  Every once in a while I see one that I really like, or that marks an occasion that is worth remembering.  Topps put out a card last month for Nolan Arenado's home run in the Cardinals Home Opening Day win.  

It was a cool moment, so I bought the card.  


The Cardinals started the season on the road and Arenado hit a home run during that trip, so this was not his first dinger with the team, but just a nice feel-good moment.  It was worthy of a Topps Now card and I thought it was one that would look nice in my collection.  

Front of the card.  




The back of the card......




A nice little write-up by Topps on the back of the card.  Rather than mentioning that the win gave the team a four-game winning streak, it would have been cool to see Topps connect the dinger to other memorable Cardinals opening day home runs.  There have been some good ones within the last 20-25 years, with the two best being Albert Pujols hitting one on his first Opening Day as a rookie and Mark McGwire's grand slam in 1998.  


Saturday, May 8, 2021

The First Of Many

Not an expensive card or anything rare, but I feel like this card deserves its own post.  As a Cardinals fan, I know that this is going to be the first of many cards that I add to my collection with Nolan Arenado wearing the birds on the bat.  

This is from the Topps Living Set or the set that never ends while flooding the market with even more baseball cards that borrow the design of the 1953 Topps set.  

Front of the card.  




The art on the front of the card is excellent.  I would have been a little worried that this might not have been the best effort given that it seemed to come up quickly after the trade between the Cardinals and Rockies.  

Of course, Topps could have had this card in the works with a Rockies uniform and simply reworked the hat and the color of the undershirt.  Not difficult to change.  

Back of the card.  




The back of the 1953 Topps cards has always felt a little busy for me.  A lot is going on here.  In the write-up, the phrase "and has claimed a defensive award for his stellar glovework in each of his eight big league seasons" is weird.  Couldn't you just say that he's won the National League Gold Glove Award for third baseman?  

Still a great card.  

Sunday, May 2, 2021

Not Just Any Team Set

I have been on a roll with finding some tough Durham Bulls team sets and cards during the past year.  My best find up to this point was the first half of the 1997 BellSouth Bulls to Braves set, which celebrated the team's long-running affiliation with the Atlanta Braves.  The cards have proved nearly impossible to find over the years as single cards, and I had never seen them together in any sort of a set before them last fall.  

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I was able to find another really tough team set two weeks ago.  I had been looking for a team-issued Durham Bulls from 2001, but could not even find evidence that such a set existed until 2015 when the set was finally added to the Trading Card Database.  To this day, there are only pictures of a few cards from the set. 

First edit date on Trading Card Database was May of 2015.  


Even though the set first appeared on TCDB in 2015, it has not shown up on Ebay until this year.  

There are always a lot of Major League players who appear in Triple-A baseball card sets, but this set feels like it's above average in terms of quantity.  Here are the cards, starting with the team checklist.  



The front of the card has the team logo.  The back of the card has the team checklist.  



Out of the players with cards in the set, only Norm Hutchins did not appears in the Majors.  The set has a few players with World Series rings, including a World Series MVP.  Also included is a guy who is now a pharmacist, a one-time billionaire who is now bankrupt, a future Durham Bulls manager, and an International League Hall of Famer.  

Here is the basic design of the cards using Brent Abernathy.  



I like that the team put the "Acquired" information on the back of the card.  Feels a little bit like the old Donruss cards.  Plus with Minor Leaguers, you know half of them were traded for Major Leaguers.  Always fun to see some of those names, like Steve Trachsel.  

Here are the rest of the player, coach, and manager cards.  Also Wool E. Bull, the mascot.  

I am not going to talk about every player.  




Two notable names in this group of cards.  

Pat Borders was at the end of his career at this point.  He was nearly 40 years old.  Borders was on the two Blue Jays World Series winners in the early 1990s and won the World Series MVP in 1992 against the Braves.  He played until 2005, retiring at the age of 42.  

Lee Gardner was in Triple-A for 8 years, 5 of those seasons were with the Durham Bulls.  He is in the International League Hall of Fame and I believe he is the Durham Bulls all-time saves leader.  




Two more notable players in this group.  Huff won two World Series with the Giants.  Toby Hall was in the Majors for a few years but was a really good Minor League player.  He was in Durham for roughly 3 years and is considered one of the best catchers to have come through town.  Strictly talking about Minor League numbers with Hall.  




Jared Sandberg is Ryne's nephew and he managed the Bulls for four years.  In his last two years as the manager of the Bulls the team won the International League Championship.  



Now, this is a good group.  

First, we got Jason Tyner.  Jason Tyner was a fan favorite in Tampa.  Scrappy player.  He ended up getting his own bobblehead day with the Rays.  The problem is that he was demoted back down to the Bulls before it was given out.  


Is it too late to get your money back? 

Matt White owned a couple billion dollars worth of Goshen Stone at one point.  Goshen stone is used for swimming pools, kitchen counters, and landscaping.  It currently costs $75 to $150 per ton.  

How did this happen?  

White had an elderly aunt who lived in Massachusetts and needed $50,000 to get into a nursing home.  She sold White some land she owned in a rural part of the state.  White wanted to build a house on the property, but after checking with a builder, the land was too hard.  He called a surveyor who found 24 million tons of Goshen rock on the property.  Rather than settling for part of 2 billion dollars by selling the land to a company that could process the rock, Matt White tried to start his own company.  The company went bankrupt.  He was forced to sell the land for a fraction of its value.  

Ron Wright played in one Major League for the Seattle Mariners in 2005.  He retired and went back to college.  Wright studied pharmacology and now works as a pharmacist in Portacello, Idaho.  

Bill Evers is the second-winningest manager in team history.  For a long time, he held the record but was passed by current Blue Jays manager Charlie Montoyo.  

I have wanted to write about Mako Oliveras for a while.  I have several of his cards, low-key really important player and coach.  




Last group of cards.  

Joe Coleman was a pitching coach forever, including for the Cardinals while Joe Torre was managing the team.  Mickey Callaway was the Mets manager and the pitching coach for the Indians and Angels.  He is currently unemployed for good reason. 

Wool E. Bull.  What would he say about this card?