A place where Colorado Rockies baseball card collectors (all 3 of us) can waste some time reading about our favorite sport. The Rockies and their cards will be the primary focus, but I like to go off on tangents as well so anything and everything baseball related may be covered here.

Friday, April 27, 2012

The Best Topps Set Countdown - #'s 35-31

For this segment of The Best Topps Set Countdown, I want to talk about the helpfulness of time.  By that I mean sometimes when a set comes out our first impression is that is an awesome set or that set is awful.  Sometimes, that first impression will stick with us and be an accurate representation.  However, there are some sets that get either better or worse with age.  This segment will give us a look at three representatives that have either moved up the list, down the list, or are literally still under the first impression.  Let's take a look at the next five entrants onto the Best Topps Set Countdown.

#35 1994

PLUSES - I like that the photo is cut into the shape of a plate, well somewhat anyway.  All relevant information is put on the front.  This is the first Topps set with a large color picture on the back.

MINUSES -The large color picture on the back does smash the stats into a very small and hard to read font.  Overall, just kind of boring set from a year that is full of weak offerings from every manufacturer.

#34 1980

PLUSES - This is one of the better card backs of the 70s and 80s.  I like that they went away from the usual baseball as the card number and went with the plate.  The flags on the front seem baseball-specific and fit with the times.

MINUSES - Very few action shots in the set.  I still don't like facsimile autos on the front.  The team colors are seemingly random, which works in theory but not in this case.

#33 2008

PLUSES - The bubble letters are very memorable.  I really like the baseball diamond on the "name bump" on the back.  The set gets better with age.

MINUSES -The bump on the front is very intrusive on many of the photos.  The player name would have been better in primary team color to give balance on the front.  I don't that the bubbles are reversed color on the back.  They would have been better as identical.

#32 1978

PLUSES - I like the most distinctive aspect of the set, the script team name.  The baseball position is also fairly nice, if a bit cliche.  The "Play Ball" on the back is a good idea and was probably fun for kids at the time.

MINUSES - Team colors are not stuck with in general.  Brown for the Blue Jays?  Blue is in the name, how hard is that?  I don't like the major information (name, team, position) being at the bottom on the back.  The orange back is not all that appealing either, but not horrible.

#31 2012

PLUSES - Very good photography in most cases.  I like the "surfboard" being used on the back as well.  No picture on the back is actually kind of nice after several years of crowding one in.  Generally a very appealing card back.

MINUSES -The black bar on the front makes the last name very hard to read.  Once again foil is the main culprit.  Several of the photos are too zoomed in, such as the above card with half the shadow cut off.  

In case you were curious 2008 was the set that moved up in my mind, 1978 was the set that moved down, and 2012 was the first impression of course.  When I initially set up the outline of this complete list, I had 2008 at #6 overall.  After reexamining, I believe I put it in a more deserving spot at #33.  Three years ago, 2008 would have been in my bottom 10 at best, but time does seem to change things.  I also thought 1978 was the best set of the 70's for the longest time as a kid, obviously that has changed.  It's not a bad set, but is kind of middling which is why it is set up in the middle I suppose.  The set I put in as the exact average set is also the newest.  Will time cause this years Topps set to move up or down?  Who knows?  All I know is that in 10 years my list will probably be a bit different than it is today.

Are there any sets that you changed your mind about in either direction after a few years passed?  I am really curious to see some comments on this one. 

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

*TRADE BAIT* Various Sets Edition Updated

I hadn't updated the set trade list in a few weeks, so here we go.  This time I have added 2006 Topps to the list.  The previous sets added are still here and completely up to date.  Let me know if there is anything you need off this list.

red = claimed

2006 Topps
4 5 7 13 23 31 36 45 53 57 71 72 73 77 82 87 116 120 122 123 127 136 137 147 152 154 161 163 173 174 179 187 190 191 198 210 212 215 226 229 232 235 239 240 261 264 269 272 279 280 281 285 290 295 296 301 304 322

2000 Topps
3 5 8 10 11 12 13 16 18 19 20 23 31 37 38 40 45 46 50 54 58 62 63 64 67 70 76 79 80 81 86 88 92 93 97 102 103 106 109 116 118 119 120 121 122 127 128 130 132 133 135 136 138 143 145 147 152 153 166 167 168 170 177 179 185 186 187 190 196 201 204 206 207 212 213

2011 Topps
7 9 11 13 17 29 32 33 36 39 40 41 43 45 46 54 58 58 60 66 69 69 71 72 74 75 80 82 83 83 85 87 87 90 91 92 93 95 102 104 104 104 104 104 105 105 107 107 113 113 113 122 122 127 130 132 134 134 139 139 139 139 140 140 141 141 141 141 141 141 141 144 148 155 155 162 163 163 168 169 170 172 172 175 187 188 189 191 193 195 195 198 198 200 202 204 205 206 206 209 209 211 216 218 218 220 220 220 220 220 221 221 223 224 227 228 228 230 230 230 239 239 243 246 247 249 250 250 250 250 250 250 252 252 255 256 264 264 264 265 270 270 270 270 276 276 276 276 276 276 276 283 283 283 286 297 299 299 301 301 301 304 307 311 317 317 318 323 339 341 342 342 348 365 373 377 377 377 377 394 425 446 468 482 507 507 542 548 560 560 560 579  583 613 613 613 613 642

2011 Topps Heritage
8 12 14 27 37 43 55 56 58 83 97 112 119 121 121 121 124 139 141 141 142 142 151 160 170 174 177 178 183 190 205 218 229 240 252 258 264 296 305 314 321 327 327 332 334 335 341 342 353 353 357 372 373 375 377 378 378 379 379 380 393 393 393 396 396 396 401 407 411 413 415 415 418

2011 Topps Allen & Ginter
3 10 17 25 26 31 34 35 53 61 64 65 78 89 95 97 102 103 104 106 111 113 123 131 141 167 168 181 186 193 193 193 212 214 237 240 242 261 279 291
Hometown Heroes
9 97
Baseball Highlight Sketches
12 15 23

2011 Kimball Champions
12 41 148
2011 Gypsy Queen 
Regular back
96 276 276 287 
2011 A&G
Animals in Peril
Portraits in Penultimacy

Friday, April 20, 2012

The Best Topps Set Countdown #'s 40-36

Now we enter the average Topps set phase of the countdown with the middle third.  Average is a word that has been under-appreciated in general.  Average generally means you are as good or better than half of your peers, but it has always seemed like average was much worse than half.  I consider myself a fairly average blogger and I do not consider that a bad thing.  I can both learn from the above average bloggers and inspire or help the below average bloggers.  It's the best of both worlds.

The two big averages in baseball, Batting Average for hitters and Earned Run Average for pitchers, have taken quite a large hit in popularity since the Moneyball stat-head era began in the early 2000's.  Most new-school thinkers are of the opinion that those averages which had worked in baseball for 100+ years are also worse than half, batting average especially.  I am fairly old-school in my thinking that those averages are still a useful tool for judging baseball performance, at least half the time anyway.

With that being said, let's take a look at the next 5 sets on The Best Topps Set Countdown.

#40 1968

PLUSES - A lot of people do not like the "burlap" border of this set, I like it.  It has character and is a bit different which is usually a good thing.  The back is fairly well put together and pretty easy-to-read. 

MINUSES - Despite the character of the border, the front design is relatively mundane otherwise.  The color, which I refer to as "stomach acid orange," of the back is just awful.  I still don't like vertical orientation on card backs.

#39 1989

PLUSES - A simple front design which has sort of a minimalist appeal.  I really like this card back.  It is arguably the best of the "overproduction era."  Team colors were stuck to much better than previous years.

MINUSES - Generally boring photography, even for the era.  I am not a fan of the mixed script/printing font of the team name.  Pick one and go with it.

#38 2001

PLUSES - A return to a larger base set (790 cards) after 6 years.  One of the better border colors from the "colored border era" of 1998-2003.  I really like the card number location.  It changes the usual upper left position while still keeping it visible for box storage.

MINUSES -  No player position on the front and very little information on the front.  The player name and position on the back is really weird and should have been formatted differently.

#37 1955

PLUSES - I love the You're the Ump on the card back.  One of the best card back features of all time.  I generally like the card front with a couple of exceptions detailed below.  I like the full player name on the back as well.  Middle names are always fun.

MINUSES - The front is a bit busy.  I think the card would look better without the smaller action picture or the signature, preferably the picture. 

#36 1985

PLUSES - I like the linkage of the tilted team name box on the front and the player name box on the back.  It ties the design quite nicely.  I enjoyed the trivia questions on the back of most of the cards.  Naturally I scanned one without the question.

MINUSES - Normally I like logos on the front, but on this design the logo makes the front seem cramped.  I think position should have been in that bubble.  The red writing on the back is not really appealing.

So there you have the beginning of the average Topps sets.  I would imagine that some of you would consider a couple of these sets (1968, 2001) to be rated too high and some (1955, 1985) to be rated too low.  Feel free to make your case in the comments section.  I always enjoy more information and feedback to make me take a second look at my opinions.  I do not claim that my opinions should be considered doctrine.  After all, I am simply an average blogger.

Saturday, April 14, 2012

Group Break #5 Results from JABOs

Just a Bit Outside has become one of the newer blogs that is identified as a group break Mecca.  Kyle always has 1-2 breaks either running or shipping and I think that is a great thing.  Although it can get a bit expensive.  Last time through in his #4 break, I pulled a killer Tulo relic along with a bunch of Heritage SPs.  This time in break #5, I was far less successful, at least with my Rockies.  My second team, the Twins this time, did very well for me.  Let's take a look at some of my cards from this break.

The box I was the most successful with, at least with the Rockies, was by far 2003 Bazooka.  I actually didn't have any base cards for this set, despite opening a box for my own group break last year.  I still need 4 more for the team set, maybe I should do another group break with this box involved down the road.

I also got a mini parallel for the Jason Jennings.  In case you haven't seen them, these are not A&G sized minis, they are more comparable to the 87 Topps minis from this year's flagship set.  The only other needed Rockies card I got was the Jeff Francis from 2005 Topps Chrome.  So as you can see I did very poorly with my Rox this time.

But then we get to the Twins.

I got both the base and the "silver chunk" parallel of Bazooka Joe for the Twins.  I like this card because each of the 30 teams were represented with only the logo on the shirt changing.  This is card #7 and is from the time when Topps had that number retired.  This is much better than no card at all.

A trio of Twins from the Bazooka set.  One thing I both liked and disliked about Bazooka was the First Year cards.  Some like Terry Tiffee here did make the majors, even if it was just for a couple of short stints.  Others though like Kip Bouknight of the Rockies never made it and their cards just kind of bring the set down.  It is definitely a good thing that the whole Alex Gordon debacle happened.

A pair of parallels round out the Twins from Bazooka.  The Pierzynski is a regular mini, while the Hunter is a color logo parallel.  The color logos were a partial set parallel for mostly the star players.

The only Twin I got from the 2005 Topps Chrome box turned out to be a really good one.  This is a refractor of All Star Rookie Joe Mauer.  Even though Mauer turned out to be a great player, his inclusion on the All Star Rookie team was more of an indictment on the rest of the rookie crop of catchers.  He got hurt in late May and only played 40+ games the entire season, but no other rookie catchers had better stats.

Another box that was opened was 2008 SP Authentic.  I was shutout of needed Rockies, but I did get a nice triumvirate of Twins, along with a special treat at the bottom of the page.

The final box opened was 2003 Flair in which I was also shutout of needed Rockies.  I did pick up a pair of Twins including current Rockie Michael Cuddyer.  Cuddyer is really off to a hot start this season.  I hope he keeps it up.

Here is my big hit for the break.  A By the Letter manupatch Scott Baker letter "B" #'d 46/99.  This nameplate would be a pain to put together because you have to spell out not just "Baker" and not even "Scott Baker."  You have to spell out "Scott Baker Minnesota Twins" to have a complete set and all the letters are #'d to 99.  A tough little project, but I'm sure if anyone can do it, it's Rhubarbrunner.  This card and several of the above Twins are already en route to the biggest Twins collector I know.

Friday, April 13, 2012

The Best Topps Set Countdown - #s 45-41

One part of last week's limited discussion that I wanted to focus on this week is the definition of the word vintage.  Jon from Community Gum started collecting basically around the same year, 1986, as me.  He said that 1982 Topps was the newest set that felt vintage to him.  I had never thought of 1982 as vintage, but I'm sure there are some collector's out there that do especially those born in the 1990's.  Wow, I felt old just typing that.  Back to the definition of vintage, I have always felt that vintage is exactly one year before you were born and thus, like beauty, it is in the eye of the beholder for each collector.  For me, vintage is 1975 and back.  For younger collectors, 1991 could (and should) be considered vintage.

Anyway, I just wanted to chit-chat a bit before I conclude the bottom third of the best Topps sets.

#45 2005

PLUSES -Player name not in foil for the first time since 1994 (or since for that matter).  I like the big team logos on the front as well as the small one on the back.  Player name in team color on the back is a nice touch.

MINUSES - BUSY, BUSY, BUSY!  Way too much going on with this set.  The last name in foil at the top seems unnecessary, especially with the full name nearby.  Sideways writing is never a good thing, never.  The back isn't too bad except for the OPS stat being located in two different places.  The overkill set should be the name of this set.

#44 1967

PLUSES - Generally good photography, especially for the era.  The double cartoon on the back is very good although sometimes doesn't make sense.  Stats are very easy to read in the white box.  A nice touch.

MINUSES - Facsimile signature on the front.  The lack of a larger border really hurts this set.  The player name and/or the team name is sometimes hard to read due to the photo.  The vertical back brings this set down a few slots as well.

#43 1995

PLUSES - The "Diamond Vision" on the back was a very interesting addition.  I wonder why it only appeared in this set.  Generally interesting photography

MINUSES - The card number is at the bottom...I hate that.  The glossy finish on the front was a bad mistake.  This set reminds me too much of the strike that nearly killed my (and many others') love of the game in 1994.

#42 1990

PLUSES - I like a nice colorful set.  I think it might be time for Topps to do a rainbow-type set again.  The names on the front are very easy to read in all cases.  I have always liked the all caps name at the top of the card.  I don't know why, but I have always liked the "barber pole" stripe at the bottom on the back.

MINUSES - Generally, this is a boring design on both the front and back.  Most of the photography is lackluster at best.

#41 1952

PLUSES - The theater marquee nameplate on the front is very appropriate for the time period.  It's the first (major) Topps set, so it gets a little bit of a pass for the design.  Neat backgrounds in some "photos."  Fielding stats on the back were a great idea that shouldn't have disappeared.

MINUSES - The logos on the front are awkwardly placed on some cards.  Hair and eye color on the back?  It seems like a bit much.  The design has been done to death by Topps, so that pushes it down the list as well.

I'm sure some of you are happy to finally see 1990 show up.  What do you guys think of my bottom third?  I know a few of you guys are big fans of the 1967 set, tell me why it should have been higher.  Did I let my feelings for the strike push 1995 down too low on the list?  Did I let my feelings of overuse push 1952 too far down the list?  Is 2005 better than I gave it credit for?  What sets should have been seen by now?  Why do I continue giving you guys essay questions?  Until next week...