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, May 25, 2012

The Best Topps Set Countdown - #'s 15-11

If you are like me you have noticed that the final number in a particular set has a bit of a determining factor in whether that set will be good or bad.  This year, for example, is a 2 year.  2012 Topps will always have something in common with 1952, 1972, 1992, etc., for better or worse.  While the "2 year" is not a good example of this phenomenon since there are very good sets and very bad sets, there are a couple of prime examples of this working.  I'll preface this with the obvious statement that this is my opinion only.  I'll start with the bad one which, surprisingly, happens to be the "0 year."  On this countdown, the highest "0 year" set is 1980 at #34 and 3 of the bottom 4 sets are "0 years" as well.  On the opposite end of the spectrum there is one year that give me hope for the near future.  The "3 year" has never delivered a horrible set and in most cases, great sets were produced.  The lowest "3 year" is 2003 at #28 (and some would say that was TOO low).  Is this merely an anomaly or is there something to it?  Either way it leaves me with sufficient hope for next year's offering of Topps baseball cards.  For now let's show off the next five sets on the countdown featuring 3 of the "3 year" wonders.

15. 1993

PLUSES - Clean, simple front design which really accentuates the photo.  The back is the star of this show with the first ever appearance of the full color head shot in a Topps set.

MINUSES - Not all about the back is perfect though.  The vertical orientation is once again a pet peeve of mine.  The large Topps logo on the back is also not very appealing.

14. 1963

PLUSES - Really bright and colorful, always a plus in my book.  The inset photo (not shown here but you know what it looks like) is very iconic and probably the best aspect of this set.

MINUSES - The last name is in a bigger font than the first.  I don't know exactly why, but I never liked that.  The back is unremarkable at best and flat out boring at worst.

13. 1953

PLUSES - Absolutely beautiful painted card fronts in most cases.  The logo on the front is also great, especially for those teams that have drastically changed them over the years.  The Dugout Quiz is a great card back addition.

MINUSES - Once again the vertical card back rears its ugly head.  Aside from that, the completely unnecessary red facsimile auto is just odd, especially over the text.

12. 1984

PLUSES - The first ever appearance of the logo on a card back which should have never taken 32 years to happen.  A really good looking card back for the era as well.  Although I usually hate vertical writing, I like the vertically oriented team names in this case. 

MINUSES - The front design is a little too similar to the prior year knocking it down a few spots. 

11. 2009

PLUSES - Fantastic photography in most cases on a very clean design.  I really the use of the plate with the rarely used alternative logos as well.  I like the oddball stats above the arch in most cases (excluding the six degrees of Mickey Mantle).

MINUSES - The Mantle stat mentioned above.  I don't really get the circular "arched" shape of the back.  Most of the time the back mirrors the front, but this one seems odd somehow.

What did you think of this grouping?  Some too high?  Some too low?  Did I forget a better example of the "decade phenomenon"?  As always yours comments are highly encouraged, because without them I am just writing a diary.  Tune in next week for the start of the Top Ten.

Friday, May 18, 2012

The Best Topps Set Countdown - #'s 20-16

Today's word for the day is parity.  I am not talking about the usual sports definition of parity, the level of competition within a particular league, although that is important as well.  I am talking about a card company offering an equal portion of cards for each and every team within a set.  Obviously as a Rockies collector, I can shoot off about 20 sets in which my team received the short end of the stick, but none of them will be the Topps flagship set.  That is one of the main reasons that I started this countdown, not only because the Topps flagship set is the best known set of a particular year, but it also usually the most equitable.  Equality of teams is one big thing I look for in choosing a set to collect.  You may have noticed in this countdown that I have diversified among all of the teams as well.  I chose exactly two cards for each franchise as examples for the card fronts with the exception of the Senators/Twins who got three.  Why the Twins?  Well, I was one year short of having an example card for every year and the Senator was the cheapest I could find quickly online.  For now, let's break into the top 20 of The Best Topps Set Countdown.

20. 1974

PLUSES - Interesting photography.  I am not a fan of facsimile signatures on the front because they usually impact the photo, but I love the back placement on this set.  I also enjoy the bullet point set up on the back, nice and different.  The back layout in general was a drastic rearrangement which works for me in this case.

MINUSES - The landscape orientation cards do not look like they belong in this set.  The design for them is just off.  Less than complete stats on the back leave one wanting more.

19. 2004

PLUSES - A lot of information (team name, logo, position, uniform number) is on the front, but not in a negative way.  It doesn't seem crammed in at all and flows nicely.  The back is fantastic and seems to be perfectly placed.

MINUSES - The Topps logo is off-color in most cases and proves to distract from the card.  The above example shows this perfectly with the deep red logo distracting from the blue and purple card.

18. 1992

PLUSES - The stadium photo on the back was a fantastic addition following the "overproduction era" card back.  The changing to the white card stock was also a step forward, although I understand why some would see this as a minus.

MINUSES - The front design is a tad boring, although the color scheme for most sets was very nicely chosen. 

17. 1983

PLUSES - As far as front design goes, this is probably the best of the 1980s.  The photo combinations work well for showing an action shot and a close up.  I also like the minor addition of a player silhouette behind the Topps logo on the back.  It really perks up the back.

MINUSES - Aside from the silhouette, the back is rather drab.  The orange coloration is sort of dreary, although it does make the stats very readable. 

16. 1956

PLUSES - The action background on the front is great.  It is perhaps the best background of any set on this list.  I really enjoy the comic strip on the back.  It works much better than single comics.

MINUSES - It is too similar to the 1955 set to be ranked much higher.  Reverse the positions of the two sets and this would be a top 5 set easily. 

Now we are getting to the sets that fall just shy of my love category.  I am enjoying writing on this end of the scale because the minuses are becoming harder and harder to come up with.  

Does the question of parity in sets appear on other team collector's minds?  Even collectors of team such as the Yankees and Braves should have a valid opinion on this because most of the time they have to spend more money to get a team set than myself or a Pirates fan for example. 

Friday, May 11, 2012

The Best Topps Set Countdown #'s 25-21

In this week's installment of The Best Topps Set Countdown, I will finish up the middle third of Topps sets.  There is one thing I feel I must point out.  Just because a set is listed today or even in the last few weeks, does NOT mean I don't like it.  It is my opinion, that a card collector (or a collector of anything for that matter) should like at least half of a collected product or else why bother.  For me, I think only the bottom 15 or so of this list falls into the "don't like" category, and even then there are some good qualities with almost every one of those sets.  Now that the countdown is nearing the top 20, we are talking about a stage of degree of likability.  So before anyone think I am crazy for not liking these sets, relax I do like them.  There are just others I like more.  With that said, let's take a look at the next five on this list.

25. 2007

PLUSES - I am a big fan of the black border.  The two colored squares on the front were a nice addition of color.  The back is very solid as well.  I especially like the "field-colored" stat box.

MINUSES - I still hate facsimile signatures, even more so on modern products because of the abundance of certified autos.  There is some unused space on the back under the small photo.  If they had moved the team logo there and reformatted the personal info it would be a nearly card back.

24. 1966

PLUSES - The different colors of the name bar and team slash throughout the set perk up an otherwise boring front design.  Nice photography in general (although I picked a bad example to show that fact).  The black box for personal info really adds to the back.

MINUSES - It had the bad timing of following, arguably, the best four year run in Topps history.  Overall, if you take away 1 or 2 elements and this is a "cookie-cutter" set.  Kind of boring.

23. 2011

PLUSES - Very good photography, perhaps the best ever for a Topps set.  The "baseball logo at the end of the rainbow" is a great design element.  I really enjoyed the little text about the card number history on the back, although it is awkwardly arranged. 

MINUSES -The picture on the back is completely unnecessary and a bit of overkill.  The backs are full of info, perhaps too full.  It seems to be very crammed in.  Quality control issues "2 Jason Hammels anyone?" once again rear their ugly head.

22. 1975

PLUSES - The two-toned color scheme is very iconic and symbolic of the "psychedelic" 70's.  The team in the block lettering really works for this set.  I like the addition of the player's middle name on the back.  A simple touch that adds a lot to the set.

MINUSES - The "Christmas colored" back just never did anything for me.  The green writing will kill your eyes.  On top of that, this set also incorporates both vertical backs and the facsimile signatures.  The card number is in an odd location as well.

21. 1981

PLUSES - I love the caps on the front.  It is surprising that this is the only set (that comes to mind anyway) that uses that as a design element.  The back is crisp and very readable.  I like the dual cartoons at the bottom as well.

MINUSES - The Topps baseball on the front just seems odd and out of place.  It would have been better to use that ball for the player's position.  The color schemes were weird in the best case scenario and just wrong in the worst. 

This really is an eclectic grouping.  I'm sure some of you that are a few years older would have 1975 in your top 10 or higher, but it was in that "too new to be vintage, too old to be current" stage when I first started collecting.  Therefore, I never really got that attached to it, but I still like the set.  What are your thoughts on the above sets?  How about the collector's mentality?  What percentage of Topps sets falls into your "like" category?  Join me next week for the start of the top 20.

Friday, May 4, 2012

The Best Topps Set Countdown - #'s 30-26

Last week, I wrote about how time can affect how we look upon a particular set.  This week, I want to take note of how sets from the prior year (and the next year) affect our perception as well.  For example, was 1991 Topps really that good of a set or was 1990 Topps so bad that it made it look that good?  For that the answer could be both, but sometimes you really have to think about it.  There are several instances of this phenomenon that pop up among the 61 (major) Topps sets and the next group of five will highlight a few of them.  One follows a particularly memorable set, one comes before a memorable set, and one comes after a string of very forgettable sets.

30. 1988

PLUSES - Good photography, particularly for the era.  The 3-D effect of the photos is cool when the player overlays the team name, such as above.  For my tastes, this is the best set with regards to implementing the rookie cup into the design.  I also enjoy the "This Way to the Clubhouse" feature on the back.

MINUSES - Color schemes are off quite a bit for most teams, sort of a throwback to the 70's.  The baseball designs running throughout the personal info make it hard to read.  Overall, the backs are arguably the worst of the "overproduction era."

29. 1958

PLUSES - Bright and colorful which are both nice descriptions for a set in my opinion.  The large logo on the front is also appealing.  I like the large letter "first word of a chapter" treatment of the first and last name.

MINUSES - The design is a bit simplistic.  The personal info box seems strangely out of place.  The decapitated head of a scarecrow ballplayer serving as the card number is an odd choice as well. 

28. 2003

PLUSES - The best of the six year colored border run at the turn of the century, the blue has nice eye appeal for most teams.  The mini photo in the diamond shape is a nice touch although a tad too small.  A logo on the back for only the third time ever.  A simple touch that was not used nearly enough.  No back photo is actually a good thing for this set.

MINUSES - The card number at the bottom is a big pet peeve of mine.  It makes box collation very difficult.  The free-standing front logo seems odd as well, perhaps a small box, circle or wedge would have improved it. 

27. 1972

PLUSES - The star marquee font is an iconic team label for cards.  I like the bubble nameplate as well.

MINUSES - Generally an overrated set in my mind.  Way too many airbrushed or "look at the sky so we can't see the cap logo" photos.  The back coloration makes the stats hard to read.

26. 1973

PLUSES - Really memorable photography, not good in all cases but definitely memorable.  The circled silhouette as a position identifier is a nice touch.  One of the few uses of the black card back.  It works in this case.

MINUSES - The yellow/orange on the back does not work though.  White would have been better.  This set has another of my big pet peeves, a vertical back.  It displaces the card number to a large degree. 

Some of the questions surrounding this group that I had to contend with were hard to answer.  Did 1987 Topps (like it or not it is an iconic set) make 1988 seem a bit simple by comparison?  Has 1959 Topps (a great design) overshadowed 1958 in the years since they were released?  Is 2003 really that good or did it just look good compared to the previous seven offerings?  Is 1972 really overrated or just a product of my disdain for popular things?  I think there are definitely solid arguments to be made for both extremes on those questions.  I feel I was fair in their placings, but feel free to voice your own opinion in the comments below.  Either way, these sets are definitely worthy of being noted as above average Topps sets.

Wednesday, May 2, 2012

Small Hiatus from the Blogging World

As some of you may have noticed, the posting on my blog has been very sporadic over the last couple of weeks.  There is a very good reason behind it that I am not really wanting to get into at the moment.  But I will say that my physical health and well being is not the reason, nor of anyone I love.  With that being said, I am going to have to take a hiatus from blogging for a little while to get my mind wrapped around my new issues.  I will continue posting on Fridays with The Best Topps Set Countdown because I do not believe in leaving things unfinished, just in case. 

I still plan to be collecting cards, maintaining checklists, and maybe even commenting on your blogs, so I'm not really going away.  I just need to take care of some stuff that is on my mind that is preventing me from being in writing mode.  Like I said, there is no danger nor am I having any kind of legal difficulties, it's a family matter.

I have no idea how long I will be away, but I am hoping it is within the month because I really enjoy writing this blog and I hate that I have to put it aside.  But some things are more important.  Take care of yourselves and I hope to be back soon.