2014 Topps Series 1 was released earlier this month. I love a new set to check out each year…and the flagship Topps product continues to bring a lot of parallel chasing and questionable autographs peppered with manufactured relics and inserts out the wazoo.
My first thoughts are that I do not like the design much…my least favorite in the past few years for sure. The side cut with the team name just drives me crazy. I never understood having to waste space with both a team name and a team logo…it seems to me that one or the other would suffice. I’d like the cards so much better if the image didn’t get the weird side cut for the vertical team name tab. That being said the photography continues to be top notch but I am a little disappointed in the lack of variety in some of the cropping…as some other Dodger blog pointed out a few weeks back the number of “knees to elbows” framed cards is pretty substantial.
I was able to get in a group break through one of the big case breakers on eBay, rkcollectibles, where I finally landed the Dodgers so I sat one Sunday night glued to my laptop while six cases of Jumbo 2014 Topps were busted. We were actually shorted one auto in the six box sealed case, but rkcollectibles decided to random another to make up for it and gave the winner their choice of several nice cards they had on eBay (which I’m sure were all better than a Ricky Nolasco or Chris Archer trajectory auto that seem to come in EVERY case).
My hits were nice though, and although my hopes for a Pedro Martinez Before They Were Great Auto Relic redemption came up short I did do very well all things considered:
Some base parallels. I think I am going to see a ton of Onelki Garcia this year…
Just a few of the inserts. I am very hit or miss on inserts, but these all are pretty cool. I like the die cut 1989 min’s. It was my second year collecting cards and is the subject of my 1988 World Series Team TTM project.
Some cool SP variations. I didn’t get two of the Puig in this one break, however…one of them I pulled in a Walmart hanger pack the week before. I love the return of future stars. I just wish they didn’t SP so many freaking Dodgers. Second Puig is for trade, if anyone out there needs one. Looking for parallels and the other Dodger SP’s in recent years.
First, a Zach Greinke silk card numbered to 50! Pretty neat, I don’t think I have any previously existing silk cards (this break resulted in a ton of them actually which is apparently not the norm). I like the window so you can “feel” the silk. Also received the Buckner auto which I don’t mind. One of these days I am going to rant about how lame a Ricky Nolasco autograph is and it seems about as common as this one…however, the “rarity” of certain autographs is only part of my rant about Nolasco. This Buckner however, is alright. I think it MIGHT be a tad more suited for Topps Archives Fan Favorites but at least it’s not a current year player who isn’t a Dodger anymore, re: Nolasco.
These manufactured rookie class cards are pretty nice. I feel like if Topps is going to manufacture “relics” to put in product this kind is the way to go. They are really nice cards, look better in person, and feel like you are getting something a little more cool than a manufactured patch or relic normally feels like. They are thick and sweet. I was so happy to see both Sandy and Jackie pulled from the break. I think my package also contained a full six sets of base Dodgers so that was cool albeit expected. Overall I feel good about the break. A nice variety of Dodger hits, SPs, inserts, etc.
After reviewing the 2014 Topps offering I have a few thoughts.
This product is essentially issued in three series these days, correct? Series 1, Series 2, and Updates and Highlights. I like being able to open cards so early in the year. I understand that this time line that we enjoy also presents certain logistical issues with players appearing on old teams, before winter transactions might have even begun, etc. But why can’t they plan who are going to be in these sets a little better? A late trade or spring signing always happens but it should be the exception…not the norm…to have players showing up in outdated uniforms. I know that current year cards are sometimes seen as a tribute to the previous season…but at the same time if they are going to continue using the Series 1/2/Update formula then why can’t they put forth a little more effort?
Here’s what I mean…of the eleven regular issue Dodger cards in the set, three of them will not be appearing in a Dodger uniform to begin 2014. I haven’t checked the ratio of other teams or anything so maybe some teams are better or worse but 27% of the Dodger team pictured on cardboard in Series 1 isn’t going to be on this team. Again, I understand if a late trade suddenly placed Mark Ellis on a different team or if Ricky Nolasco suddenly was cut…but these guys were basically not in the forecast for a while now…there’s no sense in seeing them in Dodger blue to begin 2014. Especially since, my next point, SO many prominent Dodgers were left out of a regular issue Series 1 card in 2014! Clayton Kershaw, Kenley Jansen, A.J. Ellis, and many more could’ve “more safely” filled the slots occupied by Nolasco and Ellis and therefore would’ve freed up a spot in Series 2 or Update for another new rookie or late offseason/early season transaction or call up. Matt Kemp, Andre Ethier, and Carl Crawford are all nowhere to be found in Series 1…which makes sense as there were quite a few trade rumors and what not swirling around the Dodgers OF’s as recently as the winter meetings. I get that. This makes sense. Mark Ellis and Ricky Nolasco do not.
The Michael Young Conundrum
Michael Young is the third player featured as a Dodger who will not be back with the team, or with anyone in MLB it turns out, after his retirement was announced weeks ago. I am somewhat more forgiving for this type of situation, since there was a shot he would be back with the Dodgers and there wasn’t any certainty about his retirement or signing with somebody else, etc. My issue with this is that the lasting legacy of Michael Young is going to be as a Dodger in one of the worst eyes closed throwing pictures I have ever seen. Ugh. I like the final card for retired players…but man even though his WAR as a Dodger was -0.2 (and -1.3 for the 2013 season) he deserves better than this. Similar to the god awful diving Kemp picture from a couple years ago, I can only speculate that somebody at Topps is a Giants fan.
Have a week!
Robert over at $30 a Week Habit recently posted some 2014 Topps Series 1 results and I was able to stake a claim for a 2014 red sparkly parallel Puig card…which is a rare feat in my experience blogging since there are seemingly hundreds of Dodger bloggers and most are usually quicker on the draw than myself. However, this time I won the race and Robert and I quickly worked out a trade for some Blue Jay parallels and a few days later this beauty arrived in the mail:
Uh oh. It’s every traders worst nightmare. The mangled plain white envelope. I’m glad the USPS took the time to write on the envelope that it arrived at my zip code in this condition…in a related story, this man is wanted for questioning:
The good news is that no cookies were contained in the package therefore these cards arrived unmolested:
Thanks so much for the trade Robert…I was looking over your serial project and I think maybe I can help out there too!
In other news I finally got into a 2014 Topps group break. This one was provided by rkcollectibles via their eBay business and although it was more than I ideally wanted to spend, I made out pretty nicely. How nicely? Stay tuned for that update, it will be wordy and feature lots of pictures of cards that will likely only impress me…but hey if you can’t have a little self-indulgence in a blog then exactly what is a blog good for anyway? =)
Enjoy your burrito,
Thomas aka Dodgers88
It’s been a while.
Days turn into weeks, weeks turn into months, and months turn into a half year hiatus. I do that from time to time. Life is constantly evolving.
In the time since we last spoke, a lot has happened. Some good. Some evil. But always changing.
I was looking for Puig cards, hardcore last time I blogged. I have finally managed to get a few, almost entirely due to the kindness of my brother who is for some reason a Red Sox fan. Some of his side of the family moved up to Maine in the early 1990’s and the guy has been confused ever since. He might even have been a Sox fan before that time…I just don’t know with this guy he’s clearly a little off but he has a good heart and when I received a call asking me to come meet him a couple weeks before my birthday last August I was a little worried. What was up? Family issues? Work trouble? Did he need a kidney?
Nope. He was heading up to Maine to visit and wanted to drop this off before he was gone:
I never expected him to scoop up one of these for me, as I know he didn’t go to the National convention or wherever it was distributed. He knew a guy who knows a guy kind of thing, I believe. Anyway, my first ever Puig card and it’s pretty cool and safe to assume I’d never own one normally as I don’t spend a lot of singles and usually avoid Gypsy Queen like the plague. What a way to start off August!
Here’s what happened next:
Then the Dodgers made the playoffs, Yes! The Dodgers beat the Braves 3-1 and looked unstoppable, Yes!
Then they ran into the freaking Cardinals. Ugh. What a series…said nobody ever.
Mattingly was finally extended. Kershaw was right behind him. Kemp was dangled.
In the end, the team is going to remain largely intact from 2013 with a few key additions and subtractions with my thoughts…use a Bert Healey voice when reading the bold headlines:
Dodgers sign Dangerous Danny Haren! I feel like this is a pretty good signing with Billingsley and Beckett very unknown quantities heading into spring training.
Ricky Nolasco Bolts for the Twin cities! Good. I don’t think he was worth going four years and he pitched well for us but eh…I just felt like we could’ve found another starter much cheaper.
Belisario non-tendered. Lands in the windy city! I was a little shocked by this one, with as much as Ned seems to stock up on bullpen arms. However, I’d rather see him go now before his arm falls off in May or June…he’s been workhorse but I had the feeling he was pitching hurt and certainly didn’t look as good as previous years.
Brian Wilson re-signs with Dodgers! This shocked me as well since I thought he’d certainly leave for a multi-year deal to close somewhere else after his performance for us in 2013. Very happy to see this. Still surprised.
Jerry Hairston hangs up his cleats! Another shocker…usually guys hang on as long as they can, especially when they have that utility role where they can play for years and years…Jamey Carroll anyone? I was always surprised when I would read that he was reluctant to play third base since everyone seemed to think that 1. he could handle it and 2. he’d have a decent shot at starting full time after the 2012 wasteland that was Juan Uribe and company.
Juan Uribe gets multi-year deal to continue being Juan Uribe! This was my first “dammit Ned” moment of the off season. I am happy he performed decently last year and bounced back to help the team…but at the same time I can’t understand for the life of me giving him two years and fifteen million dollars.
Mark Ellis scampers to the NL Champs! I was a little disappointed to see Ellis leave, I think he would’ve been great insurance in case Alex Guerrero needs some seasoning in the minors…which I think he most certainly will.
J.P. Howell loves L.A. and elects to re-sign! This is a Ned move that I totally expected…but again I thought he’d do the same with Bellisario! Instead…
Dodgers sign smoking Chris Perez! OK now it all makes sense…Ned wasn’t done with bullpen arms…he just preferred funding horticulturist pet lovin’ Chris Perez!
Dodgers sign host of insurance arms and bats including Figgins, Olivo, Maholm, and Wright! I’d prefer we kept Capuano. He was a great swing man in the past couple years and I really think he would’ve been fine. His performance against the Braves in the playoffs alone should have warranted a pick up on his option…instead he gets banished! Ned’s tough love!
So here we are. Pitchers and catchers reported over the weekend due to the Australia games.
Here’s some other cool Puig cards my brother is also responsible for…this time for Christmas I had a blaster box of update with the chrome bonus cards in it:
So yeah in short…it’s been a long, cold winter. My brother is the best. The Dodgers new dynasty began over the weekend in spring training. I’m optimistic and hopeful of pulling some good Dodgers if I can ever manage to get them in a group break here and there this year.
Community Gum is running a pretty sweet group box break…three 1996 boxes and a box of 2004 Clubhouse Collection! Check it out if you are interested…seems like a pretty good deal…especially if you check the list of relic hits that are in Clubhouse Collection…here’s hoping for a Jackie Robinson or Duke Snider relic!
In other news, still looking for a Puig. Argh. The Inception prices are CRAZY right now and still no luck with various attempts at Bowman mini or parallel or top 100 insert. In the meantime if you did pull one from any of these and you didn’t get any hits or prospects from your team, drop me a comment and maybe we can work something out if you can part with a Puig.
Thomas aka Dodgers88
I worked out a deal last week with Colbey over at Cardboard Collections who pulled a few Dodgers needs from 2013 Topps Series 2 that I pounced on…including my first short print from this series…only 5,235 more Dodger SP’s to go, right Topps?!? =)
Here’s the Adrian Gonzalez SP from Series 2:
And then this beautiful 09/10 numbered Beckett silver:
Thanks again for the great trade Colbey! I’m always looking for more Dodgers SP, Inserts, hits, etc. so if anyone out there has any to spare after trading with everyone else, let me know!
Yasiel Puig has swept the nation. We all knew it in spring training. You all know it now. He’s sparked life in what was an otherwise lifeless offense and inspired play with his own unsustainable offensive assault and the resultant hot streaks of guys like Hanley Ramirez. It’s been a fun couple of weeks after a pretty dismal first couple of months. We will see where it goes. In the meantime, I consulted with some fellow Dodger collectors on twitter and found out that Puig had some inserts in Bowman 2013. So the pursuit began…
But first…some series 2 to share. Picked up a Jumbo Hobby Box hoping to score something amazing, or maybe one of the seven hundred Dodgers super short prints that Topps decided to curse me with…
Not as many Dodgers in Series 2 but some nice cards. I really like the Ryu rookies I’ve found in the flaghship set and Archives so far…and this is a pretty sweet shot of Hanley throwing the bat after a bomb. I did pull some pretty cool inserts and parallels, including a few Dodgers like this:
My hits were nothing spectacular in the Jumbo unfortunately, but there was this which made it pretty cool:
My second ever 1/1…but it’s a person I’ve never heard of…however even guys I’ve never heard of seem to be doing OK on eBay so maybe I will do OK there and raise some funds.
Finally, back to my original pursuit of Puig. I’ve bought more Bowman than I care to remember and pulled quite a few nice cards but nothing from Yasiel. Not at Top 100 insert. Not a Bowman Chrome Mini or parallel of any sort, and certainly not a Red Hot Redemption which seems like about the same odds of pulling as winning the Powerball. However, I did get a Dodger hit which is always a nice treat:
A sticker auto but a sticker auto of a Dodger who actually is STILL a Dodger is always nice. In fact, it might be my only “current Dodger” autograph as I don’t have any others I can immediately recall.
Until next time, the pursuit continues. Oh yeah, no 2013 Series 2 Short Prints that I’ve found either…but I guess the 1/1 more than makes up for that! I also have a trade in the works for a SP Adrian Gonzalez so I am confident it will all work out in the end.
Thousands are scouring their local big box retailers today for a hint of early released Topps 2013 Series 1 packs.
Alas, I am not different than those thousands. I wasn’t thrilled about the new design in the previewed cards we’d seen thus far…but I have to admit the cards look nicer than I thought they would and some of the photography is still very nice. I also liked the sprinkling of throwback uniforms here and there on regular (I assume not SP) cards.
I bought four of my standard go to “Box” packs. Not the blasters but the equivalent of retail Jumbo box packs that I had so much success with last year….would the good times continue to roll for our hero?
Yes and no. No big hits but a nice selection of Dodgers and that’s all I really want anyway.
Here are some pictures and thoughts:
To Whom it May Concern:
You’re going to regret not trading R.A. Dickey to the Dodgers. A reported deal was proposed, I assume before the Dodgers signed every pitcher worthwhile on the free agent market, that had the Dodgers sending SP Zach Lee and 2B Dee Gordon to the Mets for the reigning National League Cy Young champ. You’d be crazy not to take this deal; which with recent history it appears the Mets, in fact, are.
Don’t get me wrong…I’m happy you turned nutty Ned’s latest move down. R.A. Dickey is a 38 year old Tom Candiotti. Don’t get me wrong, I love Tom Candiotti…but Dickey’s been bouncing his way around the majors for TEN years now. He’s no spring chicken. I don’t think after then years he suddenly figured it all out. Meanwhile, we don’t even know what we have in Zach Lee and Dee Gordon (eh maybe) yet.
When R.A. Dickey comes back down to earth after his one hit wonder of an albeit amazing season, which I assure you he will, the Mets are going to be kicking themselves for not making a deal like this. Hopefully they can job Texas for even more and they are able to offload him before giving him a ridiculous extension. On a side note, why would Texas even want him back (16-19 over parts of five seasons)? Haven’t they been there and done that already? Anyway, this is the Mets we’re talking about here so I think they will probably end up paying his price and extending him for a number of years equal to those in which they will not contend.
Thank god somebody hijacked Ned’s phone before he could have offered an even sweeter deal.
Previously on Shoebox of Memories – Tommy’s sister gave him a shoebox (and then some) of baseball cards from his youth. This week we’ll take a look at the first few sorted stacks for anything that reminds me of anything, then we’ll see if it reminds you of something as well, and then if it does we’ll share a reminder of something dear to us that’s probably not even closely related.
First stack: 1995 Upper Deck
I distinctly remember taking biking treks to the Rite Aid and People’s News stores on the south side of town nearly every day during the summer(s) of 1994-1996. This was the peak of my collecting days until recent years…money from my parents in my pocket and no rules to abide; we’d scan the Sunday paper every week and see which packs were on sale at which drugstores in town. Sometimes it was 1995 Score jumbos or maybe the occasional 1995 Pinnacle sets, but nearly every week there was a sale in the insert on some sort of baseball product. Oddly enough during these times I don’t recall many sales on Topps baseball cards…usually just Fleer, Donruss, Pinnacle, and Score. But sometimes there’d be a sale on Upper Deck and that’s where these gems came from. I only pulled one card from this stack to discuss…Mark Grace.
Mark Grace was never one of my favorite players, first and foremost because he was a Cub. However, for whatever reason my memories of Mark Grace are that he was a “scrappy” player. Growing up I was drawn to average hitting, white, middle infielders with a little speed and warning track power…probably because I was a scrawny white kid who only once hit a home run in our backyard home run derby in years of playing. I don’t know what it was about players like Grace that made me think “scrappy” but that’s the term I still use today for all the players in this category. I apply this to players like Jody Reed, Mike Lansing, Spike Owen, this list goes on and on of 1980’s and early 1990’s professional hitters that were good for ten or so homers a year and a decent batting average. This is what I always wanted to grow up to be until I realized how much cooler pitchers were. OK, Mark Grace has a lot more talent than the guys mentioned and probably doesn’t deserve to be grouped in with them…but his cards just scream to me “scrappy”. Sacrificing the body to break-up or turn a double play? Scrappy. Taking an inside pitch for the team? Scrappy. Eyeblack? Pure scrappalicious goodness.
Next up: 1995 Donruss
Same memories, different week. Donruss was on sale? I’ll blow my allowance on 6 packs. I chose a couple of cards from this stack…first I want to thank this man for the Dodgers most recent acquisition:
I want to extend a sincere and appreciative thank you to Mr. Ozzie Guillen for basically throwing Hanley Ramirez under the bus and making the situation in Miami so bad that he was traded (along with Randy Choate) to the Dodgers last night for Nathan Eovaldi and a minor leaguer. Unreal. I loved Nate Eovaldi…check my previous post about him…but this feels like a genius move by Ned Colletti. I can’t believe I just typed that and actually mean it. I don’t know how you lucked into this one, Mr. Colletti, but I can’t help but feel it might save your job if everything pans out. The best part? Hanley is excited to be a Dodger, from all indications and the press conferences I’ve watched today. Ozzie Guillen is such a polarizing figure…I can’t help but feel he’s running the Marlins into the ground though but I guess time will tell on that one.
Now I’d normally never feature a Giant willingly on this blog, but how cool is this picture? In a set of rather “eh” photography, I just love the look on Manwaring’s face. Here’s the best part: the guy just about always made this face. I was looking through others and found similar plays at the plate with what seems like the Man-O-War-ing howl.
Finally, here’s a look at some nice cards from 1995 Upper Deck Collector’s Choice. I was a big Collector’s Choice fan…lots of neat insert sets and if I recall correctly were priced as the alternative to the flagship Upper Deck sets…and not like “Upper Deck Fun Pack” level of kid-friendliness, just a slightly better bang for my kid buck.
Bo knows, kids. I can’t believe the story of Bo Jackson sometimes. Whenever a pro athlete holds out or forces a team to renegotiate I think of stories like Bo Jackson and how he was literally the best athlete on the planet one day and the next he injures his hip so badly he can barely run even after years of recovery. It comes and it goes like that…one minute you’re on top of the world, featured in advertising campaigns, and so good you play two sports professionally…the next minute you are fighting your way back and struggling to keep your career going. Bo didn’t play after 1994 and even though he hit his highest batting average of his career (.279) for the Angels he was done.
Finally, a trio of cards that just made me smile. A few hall of famers had 1995 Collector’s Choice cards as well…some of them as hall-of-fame inductee tribute cards and the others as cards from their final years playing. By 1995 Brett had been retired a year, Schmidt had just punched his ticket, and Sandberg was technically retired.
My sister called me out of the blue last week asking me to drive her to run some errands. No problem, went and did my big brotherly duty and took her to the grocery store and what not. When we got back to her house she mentioned she had some things for me…a Christmas present she had to have returned due to a printing error, some coupons for my wife…and a large shoebox (albeit one of the plastic Tupperware variety) of my old baseball cards she saved from my Mom’s apartment! My mother died about six years ago now…and the time after her death was the beginning of what I refer to as the Time of Upheaval. Within three months my mother died, my first daughter was born, I began working for my current employer, and we uprooted and moved my new family back to our hometown. During the phase of cleaning out my mother’s apartment, stress was at an all-time high and I’m fairly certain I did a once over and told everyone I was good with burning the rest of the leftover mess. However, my sister stuck around after we completed our part to oversee the estate and complete the cleaning process. She saved this for me:
You’ve heard the tales of finding a shoebox full of 1952 Topps Mickey Mantles in attics? This story is similar…however this is a shoebox full of memories and it’s glorious. I returned home that night and helped get my kids to bed and then started right to work on the carpet of our living room…calling out randomness to my wife like “Look at this one!” and “This is the best picture ever!” When the sort was done, here is what I had:
The pile off to the top left is damage/unusable cards. The Pirates got hosed…lots of damaged cards there including a couple of cool Doug Drabeks but again I’m not a Pirates collector so it’s not a big deal. I’m amazed there weren’t more cards damaged…there were a few funky bends but most of the cards were in remarkable shape, even if they still smelled like my mom’s apartment which was pretty creepy (and gross). I’m airing the cards out now and I’m going to feature the highlights in the next post. I picked over this stuff pretty well before abandoning them initially, as there were absolutely no Dodgers in the piles above. However, you may have noticed there was a 550 count box on top of the shoebox…and that might be where this story really begins:
I guess I had another box…this one is full of Dodgers who weren’t featured on Dodger cards at the time…i.e. Brett Butler as a Brave and Giant, etc. but it also had those players’ Dodger cards too! I think at one point in 1996 I made this box for players that had moved on and I had decided to “stop” collecting…but it definitely has Dodgers in it and I am stoked to go through it all and see what we’ve got. It’s pretty cool to be looking through this stuff and find players still active today (guess who that might be) and Dodgers who have come to be some of my all-time favorites.
Next post, highlights and Dodgers from my youth!