Friday, May 31, 2019

Flashback Friday! 2007 Bowman Heritage: Who's Got Rookies?

Now that I'm back in the States, I'm trying to get by blogging routine up and running as well.  I haven't yet finished sorting through my box of 1992 Upper Deck (I'll share the results of that sorting process when I can) so for today's Flashback Friday I'm dipping into my pack stash and ripping a pack of 2007 Bowman Heritage.

I actually like the '07 Bowman Heritage set a lot.  In fact, it was a set that I considered collecting for quite some time (I bought a fair bit of the product when it was originally released).  However, space constraints (among other things) made me choose to give up on collecting the set - but there are still uses for sets like this in either of my two Frankensets (Reds or non-Reds sets) as well as trade bait!

This particular pack is supposed to have "8 official picture cards."  That's a relief, I would hate to have unofficial picture cards.

120.  Jorge Posada
87.  David DeJesus
216.  Curtis Thigpen (rookie)
BHP15.  Greg Reynolds
BHP31.  Josh Rodriguez
77.  Ronnie Belliard
125.  Roy Oswalt
Rainbow foilboard:  209.  Tyler Clippard (rookie)

Hmm, eight cards in the pack and only two got the official rookie card designation by Topps.  I had expected more than that in a Bowman brand.  The two Bowman Prospects cards are a waste of cardboard in my opinion - I'd much rather have a two more base cards since I like the base set quite a bit.  Overall, not a lot to love here for my personal collections - really only the Posada and Oswalt even have a chance to make it into my Frankenset but since I don't particularly care for either player it's unlikely either will make the binder.

That said, it's always fun to rip a pack of cards - I'm suffering from a bit of a pack ripping withdrawal in 2019 since I have yet to buy a single pack of new product.  Luckily, I have enough old stuff like this Bowman Heritage pack lying around to keep the pack rip itching mostly at bay!

Thursday, May 30, 2019

Barry Larkin Collection 675: 2001 Upper Deck Reserve - #172

Barry Larkin
Year:  2001
Brand:  Upper Deck Reserve
Card number:  172

In my opinion, the year 2001 was not a good year for most of what Upper Deck produced.  For the vast majority of the sets, the production, design, and even player selection felt rushed and overly predictable.  However, despite the company's general flaws for the year there were a couple of gems hidden in the sea of crap.  For me, 2001 Upper Deck Vintage was a nice set as was the set featured in today's post:  2001 UD Reserve.

The UD Reserve base card design is solid enough for a set like this.  Sure, I prefer the "old school" look of a set like UD Vintage much more but given what the Reserve set is striding for, I can dig the design.  I do dislike the abbreviated career stats (only two years, seriously?) but otherwise the design is fine enough.  The real star of the show for the UD Reserve set is the hits - this was a rather affordable product that gave you a real chance at dual relics (as well as both triple and quad relics).  Unfortunately for Larkin collectors, Barry wasn't included in any of the relics but I do still appreciate what Upper Deck did with the brand.  That said, this will probably be the last you see of this set on my blog since this is the one and only Larkin card in the set!

Wednesday, May 29, 2019

The Last of the 1992 Upper Deck Box!

I had hoped to get through the entire box of 1992 Upper Deck prior to my trip but I simply ran out of time.  I did get close though - only three packs were waiting for me when I got home!  Let's rip the final three packs now so that I can start sorting the contents of the entire box. 

Pack 34:

Randy Johnson was a favorite of mine as I grew up - and my all-time favorite memory of him was his All-Star game showdown with John Kruk (where Kruk eventually tried to bat from the other side of the plate).  Good stuff - very entertaining (though I don't blame Kruk since Johnson was "effectively wild" when pitching).

Pack 35:

There aren't a ton of action shots in 1992 Upper Deck - so when you do find one it's a breath of fresh air.  I love this particular card since the play in question is actually fairly rare - after all, how often do you see a player tag another player with the baseball in their hand (as opposed to a glove). 

Pack 36:

And we end with another quirky picture - this time of Darryl Kile.  I think a big reason why I decided to collect all of the '92 Upper Deck set was the fact that the set is full of photos like this.  It's sort of a "Stadium Club-lite" set and I appreciate that. 

That was a fun box rip - now the not-so-fun part begins where I have to sort through 36 packs of 15 cards each!  Once I get that task completed, I'll try and update my want list and go from there.  Here's hoping I can finish the entire set before long!

Tuesday, May 28, 2019

I'm Back, I'm Back!

You probably didn't notice, but I've been out of the country for the past two weeks leading a study abroad class full of 15 students.  We visited both Italy and Greece as part of my History of Mathematics course.  The trip itself was a lot of fun and, of course, educational!  On the blog side of things, I tried to "pre-write" a bunch of posts so that the blog wouldn't go dormant during my absence but I didn't quite have enough time to get a new post for each day I was gone.  However, now that I'm back I do hope to get back to blogging on a regular schedule!

I also have a few emails to get through so if you sent me a trade offer via email I'll try to respond quickly.  For everyone else, now that I'm back let's trade!  I'm still working hard on my goal of eliminating a ton of sets from my want list before the end of 2019.  I've had some good success so far but there is still a ways to go (I do have at least one order from COMC on the way that will inch me a bit closer to reaching my goal).

If all goes well, you'll be seeing me back in the blogosphere moving forward.  I finally got my suitcase unpacked and all the laundry done - so now I can get back to the "fun" stuff. 

Thursday, May 23, 2019

How Low Can You Go?

Only six more packs remain in my box of 1992 Upper Deck.  Let's rip half of the remaining packs right now and leave the final three packs for another day.

Pack 31:

How low can you go?  Carney Lansford seems determined to keep a low profile, probably in part due to how close to home plate he is playing (that's the infield grass that he's set up on).  This appears to be an actual "in game" photograph too judging by the dirt on Carney's pants. 

Pack 32:

The above card is the checklist card for the prospects subset.  I have to admit, it's a pretty cool shot - I love the idea of prospects finding their way to their home cities.  I also love that each guy has his own team-centric sports bag.

Pack 33:

There are so many awesome catcher shots in 1992 Upper Deck.  For those that like players who don the tools of ignorance, I assure you that '92 Upper Deck is a set that seems custom made for you. 

That does it for this round of packs.  Only three more packs remain - what are the chances that I get one of those super rare Ted Williams autographs?  I'd guess slim-to-none with emphasis on the none but we shall see.

Wednesday, May 22, 2019

Barry Larkin Collection 674: 2001 Upper Deck Vintage - #322

Barry Larkin
Year:  2001
Brand:  Upper Deck Vintage
Card number:  322

I'm in the midst of scanning and writing about a number of different cards produced by Upper Deck in 2001.  For the most part, I feel like I've been railing against most of the sets - but even Upper Deck struck gold once in a while back in '01.  The Upper Deck Vintage set is a glorious throwback inspired set (clearly a rip-off of 1963 Topps but that doesn't bother me as much as it might other people).

Instead, I choose to focus on how great this particular set is.  The card fronts are spectacular - a giant close-up plus an action shot inset, easy to read player and team name, and no foil to be found!  The card backs are also quite nice - notice the career statistics! 

All things considered, this is one of my favorite Larkin cards in 2001, not just from Upper Deck but from all brands!

Tuesday, May 21, 2019

30 Teams in 30 Days: #1

I'm ranking all 30 of the MLB teams in order of how much I like them at this moment in time.  As with most countdowns, I'm starting with the worst (Cardinals) and I'll eventually end up with the best (Reds).  The real question now is:  Where will the other MLB teams land in my countdown?

This is it, the final post in my 30 Teams in 30 Posts countdown of the best MLB teams.  We made it to #1 (finally) and there should be no surprises for any of my loyal readers:

#1:  Cincinnati Reds

Yep, you guessed it.  The Reds take the top spot in my countdown.

Now, I've written many, many words over the years about why I like the Reds so I won't rehash that here.  Instead, I thought I might take a moment to talk about a few of the Reds that I collect (to varying degrees).

Barry Larkin

We have to start with my main player collection which is that of Barry Larkin.  Barry is the only player for whom I am writing individual posts for every single card that I own of his and documenting my entire collection on the blog.  It's a time consuming process to be sure, but it's also kind of fun and I've actually met a few other Larkin collectors because of it.

Ken Griffey, Jr.

After Larkin, my next largest individual player collection is that of Ken Griffey, Jr.  Now, in Griffey's case I do collect cards from all of his years in the big leagues which means I have plenty of Mariners cards as well.

Joey Votto

Another huge collection is that of Votto.  I seem to acquire his cards without even trying, but that's quite alright since I like the guy a lot.

Sean Casey & Adam Dunn

Casey and Dunn were the two main representatives for the Reds in baseball card sets for much the 2000s.  Many of those Reds teams were quite awful but at least you could count on the Reds being included in most sets thanks to Casey and Dunn.  As such, I have quite a few of each of these guys - but truthfully I'm not fully invested in either (and I may end up not actually keeping my PC of one or the other down the road, hard to say for sure right now).

Brandon Phillips

Much like Casey and Dunn, Phillips was a great player on a number of rather bad Reds teams.  While I do have a PC of him right now, he is one of the first ones that I'm going to disband once (if?) I ever get my baseball card collection fully reorganized.  I didn't like Phillips attitude as he left Cincinnati, and whether that's justified or not, it is enough of a reason for me to stop collecting him.

Chris Sabo / Eric Davis / Jose Rijo

Three guys from the last time the Reds made it to the World Series. My collection of each is modest but I like all three of those dudes quite a bit (Sabo, in fact, as my favorite player prior to when I switched over to like Barry Larkin best).

Jay Bruce

Bruce should probably be lumped in with Casey and Dunn in terms of being a decent player on a lot of bad Reds teams.  That said, Bruce wasn't ever the cardboard darling that the other two guys were and so my collection of Bruce cards does pale in comparison to his contemporaries.

Nick Senzel

The newest Red in my collection, I have high hopes for Senzel and so I'm setting aside any cards of him that I acquire.  I think my collection is at exactly two cards right now, so it isn't like I've done much in the way of collecting Nick yet (it doesn't help me any that I have yet to buy any 2019 product this year and Senzel was only called up to the big leagues this year)!

I have a few other guys set aside as well, but those are the main Reds PC guys right now.  Will I actually work to collect all of them moving forward?  Absolutely not, but until the day comes when I have to make some tough choices I'll keep stacking up their cards!

Thanks for joining me on my journey through all 30 MLB teams.  I hope to repeat this exercise down the road some day, it'll be interesting to see how the list changes!

My list of favorite MLB teams (from worst to first):
#30:  St. Louis Cardinals
#29:  New York Yankees
#28:  San Francisco Giants
#27:  Washington Nationals
#26:  Boston Red Sox
#25:  Chicago Cubs
#24:  Atlanta Braves
#23:  Los Angeles Dodgers
#22:  Milwaukee Brewers
#21:  Miami Marlins
#20:  San Diego Padres
#19:  Arizona Diamondbacks
#18:  Texas Rangers
#17:  Los Angeles Angels
#16:  Kansas City Royals
#15:  Minnesota Twins
#14:  Oakland Athletics
#13:  Philadelphia Phillies
#12:  Tampa Bay Rays
#11:  Toronto Blue Jays
#10:  Detroit Tigers
#9:  Chicago White Sox
#8:  Colorado Rockies
#7:  Baltimore Orioles
#6:  Seattle Mariners
#5:  New York Mets
#4:  Cleveland Indians
#3:  Pittsburgh Pirates
#2:  Houston Astros
#1:  Cincinnati Reds

Monday, May 20, 2019

Barry Larkin Collection 673: 2001 Upper Deck SPx - #86

Barry Larkin
Year:  2001
Brand:  Upper Deck SPx
Card number:  86

The 2001 Upper Deck SPx set is a strange set with a number of different tiers in it.  Luckily for me, I'm only interested in the Barry Larkin cards in the set which means I only need to find two different cards - the base card you see above which I obviously already own and the parallel of the card (called Spectrum and numbered out of 50) which I don't yet own.

For whatever reason, it sure seems like Upper Deck wasn't as enamored with Larkin as some other brands since Barry rarely seemed to make it into Upper Deck insert sets after the year 2000.  That's just as well though because Upper Deck cranked out way too many sets (most of which are too boring for me to even consider looking into let alone collecting).  That said, I admit that I kind of like the design of the 2001 SPx set.  There's angled lines, strange colors (not team friendly), and too much foil and yet I still kind of dig it.  What can I say, sometimes you can't explain art? (or at least baseball cards)

Sunday, May 19, 2019

Vintage Logos are the Best Logos

It's been a number of days since I've dug into my box of 1992 Upper Deck.  Lately, I've found that I get much more enjoyment out of opening a box of cards if I spread out the pack ripping across many days.  That's probably due to the fact that A) I don't buy much new product to rip these days and B) the stuff that I do buy generally is base card driven rather than hit driven.  All that said, I am starting to get a bit anxious to sort the entire box and then marry it with my collection to see exactly how close I end up getting to the full 1992 UD set.  Still nine packs remain in the box waiting to be opened, let's do one-third of those now.

Pack 28:

There were two choices to scan in this pack, either the Astros hologram you see above or a Mike Mussina base card.  Mussina is a "local guy" so I actually have a small personal collection of him but that wasn't quite enough to eek out a scan over the always awesome (and now vintage) Astros logo.

Pack 29:

I think I've said this a few times throughout the process of ripping my box but I love, love, love the 1992 Upper Deck team checklists.  This Indians' one is even better than most - I love all the extra imagery in addition to Greg Swindell (sort of an odd choice for the Indians' poster child for the year but who am I to judge)?

Pack 30:

I found another hologram sticker in this pack (Blue Jays) but I went with a scan of Brian Downing looking...well....rather down in this photo (pun very much, painfully even intended).  You don't get a ton of images of dejected baseball players on cards, and while that's probably a good thing, seeing one every once in a while does add a bit of variety to a set.

That does it for today's post.  Only six more packs remain and then I can start the sorting process (which is kind of overwhelming given how many packs and cards are in a single box of 1992 Upper Deck)! 

Saturday, May 18, 2019

Barry Larkin Collection 672: 2001 Upper Deck SP Authentic - #86

Barry Larkin
Year:  2001
Brand:  SP Authentic
Card number:  86

Here we go again, another pointless set from Upper Deck in 2001.  This is yet another example of the laziness and dumb designs that Upper Deck showcased throughout most of their offerings that year.  For SP Authentic, we get the same photo on the front and back of the card (lazy) as well as one of the dumbest design gimmicks that I can remember seeing in the "position growth chart" along the front left side of the card (stupid).  If that weren't all bad enough, there is a parallel of the base set as well that is numbered out of 50 (of which I don't yet own Larkin's card).  I hate the fact that I feel compelled to track down another card from a set that I definitely don't care for - but that's the life of a player collector I suppose.  At least this card is now scanned and tucked away in my Larkin Collection binder so that I don't have to look at it nearly as often as compared to when it was sitting on my desk waiting to be written about.  Small victories.

Friday, May 17, 2019

Flashback Friday! A Hanger Pack of 2009 Topps Allen & Ginter

Happy Friday, everyone!  Today, we are flashing back to the year 2009 and taking a look at the contents of a hanger pack of 2009 Topps Allen & Ginter (or, more precisely, Allen & Ginter's as Topps called the set back then). 

The pack contains 12 cards (unless we get a framed card) and there are a bunch of cards that I still am looking for in the set.  Here's my full want list of what I am still attempting to acquire:
2009 Topps Allen & Ginter Wants:
Inventions of the Future (minis):
Extinct Creatures (minis):   EA1
Creatures of Legend, Myth, &Terror (minis): 5, 7, 14, 15
Cabinet Boxloader: CB6, CB10
Regular back mini: 134, 159, 176, 205, 277
As you can see, there is a chance I could pull something I need here - I believe everything but the Boxloaders are in play!

Let's see what the pack contains starting with the nine base cards:

This would have been a terrible start to a Gint-a-Cuffs pack since there are two Yankees in there.  I believe the final 50 cards in the set were all short prints - and if that's true then the Dominique Wilkins (Slam Dunk Champion) card is a short print since it's number 346 in the set.

I completed my base set years ago so all of the base cards are up for trade.  I knew going in to this pack that I wouldn't need the base cards - it's the minis that matter to me nowadays!  Before I get to the pack's lone mini card, let's look at the two inserts we found.

First up, one of the National Pride cards.

That's Scott Hairston representing his home country of Mexico (not really true actually, Hairston was born in Arizona but his mother is Mexican and Hairston did play for the Mexican team in the '09 World Baseball Classic.

My other insert is from the rather nice Baseball Highlights sketch insert.

That's the third Yankee of the pack so you better believe I'm glad this isn't a Gint-a-Cuffs competition.  I would have lost for sure.

Like the base cards, both of the inserts are also for trade since I've already completed each set for myself! 

Finally, we get to the main event of the pack:  the mini card. 

Drum roll......


Ta da!
Bummer, not a needed mini.  Oh well, the anticipation was still kind of fun even if I didn't end up needing the card.

In the end, I didn't get anything that I needed out of the pack but it was still fun to rip it.  I enjoy Allen & Ginter quite a bit and I enjoy opening baseball card packs so altogether it was still a fun activity to do on a Friday!

Thursday, May 16, 2019

Barry Larkin Collection 671: 2001 Upper Deck Ovation - #58

Barry Larkin
Year:  2001
Brand:  Upper Deck Ovation
Card number:  58

Nowadays, people are once again clamoring for a second brand (such as Upper Deck) to start making licensed baseball cards.  While that sounds like a good idea at first blush, a quick look at some of the dreadfully dull sets from the early 2000s should temper one's enthusiasm for what Upper Deck can do.

The 2001 Upper Deck Ovation set basically is a Fleer-knockoff in my mind.  The design looks to be straight out of Fleer's playbook, but without the interesting inserts and relics to round out the set.  While I'm happy to have another Barry Larkin card in my collection, I'm even happier to report that Barry only appeared once in this stupid set and so I'm done with the set in terms of my collecting goals! 

Wednesday, May 15, 2019

More from the Big Trade: 2001 Stadium Club!

Another day, another set from a recent big trade that I completed with blog reader Bob.  As has been my custom for the first couple of posts detailing the trade, I'm only going to focus on one set today and go over what I got, why I'm collecting the set, and what I still need from it.  I've already had some success with this approach with some of the other sets that I've done this with from the trade, let's see if today's post can help me inch even closer to completing this set!

First up, the set in question for today is 2001 Topps Stadium Club.  A quick glance at my want list will probably immediately make it obvious that I am generally a fan of the Stadium Club brand. 

Bob had two cards that I needed still for my set including one of the pesky short printed rookie cards.  Topps missed out in 2001 by not including either Ichiro OR Albert Pujols in their Stadium Club set so the rookies that are included are a fairly weak bunch.  That said, they are still seeded as short prints which makes acquiring them all these years later kind of annoying. 

Other than the short printed cards (which I don't care for and for which I'm still missing a bunch), I can now say that I have the base set complete thanks to that Marquis Grissom card.  I'm still planning to actually finish the entire base set with short prints though, so I can't quite take this set off of my want list. 

Before I get to what I still need for the set, a quick word on why I've decided to continue collecting 2001 Stadium Club.  For me, there are actually two reasons why I like this set a lot.  First, the photography is top-notch, as you would expect from the Stadium Club brand.  It is a well-established fact by now that if a set features compelling pictures then I'm probably going to be interested in it.  Second, I actually like the design of this edition of Stadium Club a lot, perhaps ranking in among the top three or so designs all-time for Stadium Club.  I like the team colored bars at the bottom of the card, I like the slightly raised player banner, and I don't even mind the foil since it's still easy to read the player on the card.  The only improvement that I would make to the card is to add a team logo to the top corner - I like being able to sort by team quickly and easily and logos are much better for that task than tiny written text at the bottom of the card!  Still, despite no team logos (on the card fronts at least), this is a nice looking design and one set that I can't wait to have completed in my binder!

Thanks to the two cards that Bob sent my way, I'm now down to only needing seven more before I can call the set complete.  Like a bunch of sets on my want list, I have high hopes that I can actually finish this thing off before the calendar flips to 2020.  Remember, my goal for 2019 is to get my want list down to under 100 sets by any means necessary!

Here's what I need (with player names courtesy of baseballcardpedia):
2001 Topps Stadium Club:
166.  Brian Sellier
167.  Rick Brosseau
168.  Shawn Fagan
186.  Tim Christman
188.  Brandon Parker
196.  Brandon Claussen
197.  Kris Keller

With only seven cards remaining (and the biggest name in the batch being Brandon Claussen), this should be a set that I can actually complete prior to the end of the year.  Who knows, maybe someone out there has some of the cards I need lying around currently unloved and unwanted.  I mean, who else is trying to collect Brian Sellier or Tim Christman anyhow? 

If you'd like to trade, you can check out my full want list here and then shoot me an email!

Tuesday, May 14, 2019

Barry Larkin Collection 670: 2001 Upper Deck Evolution - #86

Barry Larkin
Year:  2001
Brand:  Upper Deck Evolution
Card number:  86

The Upper Deck Evolution set is definitely a set that has no real purpose.  Actually, that's not 100% accurate.  The purpose of the set was to highlight Upper Deck's website - but that site went offline within a year of the release of this set so basically this set has no purpose.

The design elements in play here are standard Upper Deck fare (and I don't mean that in a good way).  You've got too much unnecessary foil on the card front making reading the player name difficult.  You've got a boring front image - and then a copy of the same image on the backside of the card.  You've got abbreviated career statistics and finally, you've got a fairly pedestrian write-up.  All things told, there's not much to like about this set in either its design or execution (in the 120 card set, the last 30 cards are all serially numbered out of 2250).

The one bit of good news (for Larkin collectors at least) is that Barry only shows up once in the base set and not at all in any of the insert sets.  Thus, I can at least say I have this set 100% done as far as what I need/want from it!

Monday, May 13, 2019

More from the Big Trade: Some Stickers I'm Collecting

Last week, I mentioned getting a fairly large trade from blog reader Bob in the mail that was chock full of cards from various sets that I'm working on.  In an effort to give each set its own time to shine, I decided to dedicate each post to a single set and explain my thought process for why I decided to go after the set in question.  Last time, I looked at 2000 Topps.  This time we travel back a few years earlier to 1997 Upper Deck Collector's Choice.

The decision to collect the '97 edition of UD Collector's Choice was actually made back in 1997.  This is one of the few sets that I recall purposely going to the store to buy packs in an effort to build the set.  Of course, this was way before I realized the folly of trying to complete sets one retail pack at a time (from different boxes no less).  Still, it was a fun summer of card buying at my local CVS which is where I bought the vast majority of my baseball cards that year.

Today, I am pleased to say that I have finished the entire base set.  However, my love for the '97 Collector's Choice set compelled me to chase after some of the insert sets as well - and it's those (well, one of those anyhow) that we take a look at today.

That's a pair of Stick 'Ums, an aptly named insert set featuring - you guessed it - stickers.  Each Stick 'Um has a sticker for the player in question along with a sticker of the player's name on a banner as well as a team logo sticker.  You also get stickers for both the "Stick 'Ums" insert logo and the Collector's Choice logo but I doubt either of those particular stickers are in high demand.

Thanks to the two cards that Bob sent my way, I now own two-thirds of this insert set.  In addition to the stickers, I'm also still working on a second insert set from the same brand:  Big Shots.  If interested, here's my full want list of what I still am missing from 1997 Collector's Choice:

1997 UD Collector's Choice:Big Shots: 1, 3, 4, 5, 9, 13
Stick 'Ums:  5, 6, 7, 8, 10, 12, 14, 16, 29, 30

Turning our attention back to the Stick 'Ums, here's the full checklist thanks to it being printed on the backside of each Stick 'Um card.

As you can see, I need:
5:  Jeff Bagwell
6:  Manny Ramirez
7:  Kenny Lofton
8:  Albert Belle
10:  Chipper Jones
12:  Dante Bichette
14:  Andres Galarraga
16:  Brady Anderson
29:  Ken Caminiti
30:  Frank Thomas

The good news is that I have most of the big stars from the set already.  Based on the list of what I still need, probably only Frank Thomas qualifies as a big remaining star (and maybe Chipper Jones I guess).  Otherwise, it's  abunch of solid players from the late 90s that I need to track down (plus Brady Anderson).

My goal of whittling my want list down to under 100 sets by the end of 2019 is still on track.  Getting large trades like the one discussed today obviously helps, but quite frankly, acquiring ANY number of needed cards helps me out!  If you happen to have anything I could use, let me know and hopefully we can work out a swap.

Sunday, May 12, 2019

Cards Showing the (Literal) Crack of the Bat are Cool!

Today's post will put me at the three-quarter mark in terms of ripping my box of 1992 Upper Deck.  Before long, I'll have the long and arduous job of collating the contents of the box...and then working those cards in with the many '92 Upper Deck cards in my binder already.  Once all of that is done, then I'll be able to work up a want list for whatever cards remain to finish off my set.  Will I be able to finish the entire thing off before the end of the year?  I sure hope so since I'd like to avoid adding a new set to my want list during a year in which I've made it my priority to remove sets from my want list!

Pack 25:

Cards like that Mike Scioscia are a perfect example as to why I've decided to actually try and complete 1992 Upper Deck.  It' a simple image, but it's a lot of fun - and it's not the type of photography that you see in many other sets (both for its time and even for today).  Kudos to Upper Deck!

Pack 26:

There were a few great cards in this pack including the two wonderful horizontal shots you see above.  I particularly like the McGwire card since it shows his bat splintering (and you can make out the baseball leaving the picture as well)! 

I also had to highlight this goofy Mike Jefcoat card.  Why is he holding a football?  The world may never know, but the image is at least immortalized forever.

Pack 27:

The final pack from the third quarter of the box featured three great head shots (Barry Bonds and Nolan Ryan being the other two).  I went with the Parker card though because it was the only one that appeared to have been taken during a game.  That is to say, to my eye Parker looks kind of sweaty which I am attributing to him being in a game (maybe it was just a hot photo shoot day but that's a much less glamorous mental image if nothing else).

Lots of good stuff this time around!  Only nine more packs remain in the box - my goal will be to get through all of those (and hopefully sort the entire box) prior to the end of the month.  Easier said than done though with the way time has been flying by!

Saturday, May 11, 2019

Barry Larkin Collection 669: 1994 Topps Stadium Club - #414 - Superstar Sampler

Barry Larkin
Year:  1994
Brand:  Topps Stadium Club
Card number:  414
Parallel set:  Superstar Sampler

The Superstar Sampler set is a partial parallel of the 1994 Topps Stadium Club set.  Information about this set seems fairly scarce online (or at least I couldn't find much about the set).  From what I can tell, this was some sort of promotional set that was quite rare (one post said less than 100 cards of each player were produced).  At the time of the writing of this post, Check Out My Cards only had three cards from the set for sale and all were listed for over $5 each which is quite high for the overproduced era of 1994 (which lends some credence to the idea that these cards are at least semi-rare).

As for the card itself, other than the foil nameplate (last name only) and the different logo on the backside of the card, it's essentially Larkin's regular Topps Stadium Club card from the year (which I covered here).  I don't own many of Larkin's rarer cards (especially from the early and mid 90s so I'm extra pleased to have this one tucked away in my collection, even if it is virtually identical to the much more common base card of his).

Friday, May 10, 2019

Flashback Friday! A Rack Pack from 2011 - Will it Hold the Missing Johnny Bench I need?

Happy Friday, everyone!  It's time for another Flashback Friday here at Nachos Grande and this time we are going back to the year 2011 for a rack pack of Topps Lineage.

Back when Lineage was released, I became enamored with the set and spent way more money than I ever should have buying the stuff.  In the end, I decided on collecting not just the base set but also all of the various parallels for each of the Reds in the set.  I also went after all of the insert cards (and relics) featuring Reds. 

Unfortunately for me, other people didn't fall as in love with the set as I did and so trading for the set dried up fairly quickly.  As such, I still have a few cards on my want list from the 2011 set:
2011 Topps Lineage:
1975 mini parallels: 
 33, 103
Topps Giants (box toppers):  TG7 (Votto)
1975 Mini relics:  75R-JBE (Johnny Bench), 75R-TP (Tony Perez)
How cool would it be if this rack pack held something I actually needed?   Obviously, I won't get the box topper card but the other cards aren't out of the question. 

According to the pack wrapper, the mini parallels are seeded 1:4 packs and the relics are either 1:10, 1:115, or 1:2,200 depending on which group the player is in.  I never did bother to look up which grouping Bench and Perez belong to but I'm guessing it's one of the two rarer seeded groups.

Anyhow, enough rambling, let's get to this pack!

Upper Half:
146.  Freddie Freeman

134.  John Danks
123.  Andre Ethier
Platinum diamond parallel:  163.  Jered Weaver

26.  Grady Sizemore
19.  Larry Walker
2.  Derek Jeter

The Freeman rookie is nice as is the Weaver parallel (though I do wish I didn't pull a parallel of an Angel since there aren't that many Angel collectors out there that I seem to trade with). 

Bottom Half:
Checklist 2 of 4
104.  Miguel Montero
168.  Delmon Young
154.  Fergie Jenkins

12.  Elvis Andrus
24.  Tsuyoshi Nishioka
38.  Chris Carpenter
47.  Lance Berkman

Other than the Fergie Jenkins, the bottom half of the pack didn't offer up much of interest (to me at least).  I have all the base cards already (and I'm not collecting the parallels unless they are Reds) and so everything you see here is for trade.  In fact, not only do I have the above cards but I have a SLEW of 2011 Topps Lineage cards available for trade (including some inserts).  You can find my full list of trade bait from the set here.

My thanks to Dennis for the prize of many unopened packs - this happened to be one of them from that pile (and one that I was excited to open since there was an outside shot of me getting a card that I needed for my set in it)!  Even though I didn't get anything new, it's always fun to rip packs - and now I have even more trade bait for other people.

Thursday, May 09, 2019

The Tiniest Glove I've Ever Seen on a Baseball Card

We are firmly in the middle of the second half of my box of 1992 Upper Deck, or at least we will be by the time this post is over.  Still no sign of a Ted Williams autograph but it's been a fun rip nonetheless.

Pack 22:

There were two choices to scan in Pack 22, it was either the card you see above or else the Mariners' checklist card.  The debate was that the Henderson card features a great action shot (with dirt flying!) of a great player while the Mariners' checklist was only interesting because it featured Edgar Martinez on the front rather than Ken Griffey, Jr. (Griffey, of course, was Upper Deck's bread-and-butter player for most of the brand's lifetime).

I think I made the right choice in scanning the Henderson.

Pack 23:

Another choice between a great image and an interesting checklist (this time the checklist was for the Athletics and it featured Rickey Henderson)!  However, I had to scan the Mike Benjamin card because it's interesting for a number of reasons.  First, what's with the uniforms?  That's some sort of throwback thread, but 1992 was a time where throwback uniforms weren't the rage and so that's an oddity on its own.  The mystery is compounded further by the incredibly small glove that Benjamin is holding - the whole thing looks like a "behind the scenes" of the making of Field of Dreams or something.

Pack 24:

This pack had another Expos hologram sticker in it but I had to go with a scan of the Cubs checklist instead - especially since I barely decided against scanning checklists in each of the previous two packs!   I love the checklists in this set (though some drawings are definitely heads and shoulders above others).

All things told, this was a great trio of packs with plenty of nice looking cards.  I'm definitely enjoying the Upper Deck set - even more so probably because I'm taking my time going through each pack within the box.

Wednesday, May 08, 2019

Delivery Time! A Big Trade Shows Up!

Last week, I received a fairly large trade envelope from blog reader Bob.  Bob and I swapped a bunch of cards from the other person's want list which made for a great trade.  However, since I received so many cards from so many different sets, I thought I'd try something a little different this time around.  Rather than have one big post, I'm going to split the trade up into the various sets that were represented AND I'll take the opportunity to discuss each set in question and explain my thought process in terms of why I decided to collect the set.

To start us off, we begin with a set that Bob only sent me two cards from - but that's quite alright since I'm now only missing five cards from the set:  2000 Topps.

The 2000 Topps set has five different players featured as part of the Magic Moments subset in both Series 1 and then again in Series 2.  Annoyingly, each player has five different versions of their card produced - but a set is apparently considered complete if you have a single card for each player (rather than all five versions) and so that's what I aim to do.  As such, this Magic Moments card of Alex Rodriguez means there's one less person for me track down.

Bob also sent along a "regular" base card of Shannon Stewart leaving me with only needing five cards to complete my set:
2000 Topps Wants:Base:  84, 237, 370, 449, 478
So, why collect 2000 Topps?

There are a couple of reasons for why I decided to collect the 2000 Topps set beginning with the fact that this is one set that I bought quite a few cards of back in 2000.  That was actually somewhat rare for me since 2000 was the year before I graduated high school (and thus a lot of my spending money went towards things that were decidedly not baseball cards)!  Still, I did buy a fair bit of Topps flagship and so the set is special to me for that reason.

The second reason that I am collecting the set is perhaps equally important (if not more important), I love the design of the set on both the front and the back of the card.  The 2000 set has a few photography gems scattered throughout it and I like the simple design of the card.  I love the team logo (but I could do without the foil nameplate if I was nitpicking).  I also like the colorful backs (complete with a second photo) and the card numbers are easy to read (great for set collectors).

All in all, 2000 Topps won't blow the shoes or socks off of anyone but it's a solid little set.  It's also a set that reminds me of my pre-college days which is a fun little bonus.

Does anyone out there have any of the five remaining cards that I need?  According to baseballcardpedia, the cards are:
84.  Joe Girardi
237.  Hank Aaron (Magic Moments, any will do)
370.  Tino Martinez
449.  Chance Myers / Josh Hamilton (Draft Picks)
478.  Derek Jeter (Magic Moments, any will do)

(5/10/19):  Edit:  I have worked out a trade for cards 370 and 449.  Only three more remain for me to track down before I can call this set complete!

I guess I can understand why three of the five cards have remained elusive via trades (though I don't believe that a Josh Hamilton psuedo-rookie card is worth squat these days).  Maybe someone out there can help me out with the final five cards - I certainly have plenty of trade bait to offer in return!  I would love to be able to knock this set off of my want list once and for all this year, especially since one of my 2019 Blog Resolutions is to get my want list whittled down to 100 sets or less by year's end.

Tuesday, May 07, 2019

30 Teams in 30 Posts: #2

I'm ranking all 30 of the MLB teams in order of how much I like them at this moment in time.  As with most countdowns, I'm starting with the worst (Cardinals) and I'll eventually end up with the best (Reds).  The real question now is:  Where will the other MLB teams land in my countdown?

This is the last of the mystery slots - or at least it was a mystery until I posted team #3 in my countdown of the 30 best MLB teams.

#2:  Houston Astros

Truthfully, I used to hate the Astros back when they shared a division with the Reds.  I could count on the Killer B's of Berkman, Biggio, and Bagwell to utterly destroy Reds' pitching every time they met on the diamond which instantly made me hate Houston.  However, time heals all wounds (as does a team leaving not only the division but also the league).

Nowadays, Houston is in the AL West, about as far from the NL Central as you can get.  My real reason for liking Houston so much now though is that I like a lot of their players.  I've had Jose Altuve as a "keeper" on my fantasy baseball team for a number of years so I have an obvious rooting interest there.  I also enjoy watching the likes of Bregman and Correa ply their trade.  The only drawback to Houston at the moment is that I didn't like their signing of Osuna giving all his personal issues.  Sometimes I'd like to think that human decency will win out over baseball wins and losses but alas in this sport that rarely seems to happen. 

All that said, Houston does take the #2 spot on my countdown.  Houston also gets a secondary honor as Jose Altuve is the one current player that hasn't played for the Reds but for which I maintain a player collection for.  That is to say, I do collect Jose Altuve despite him never being a Red! 

My list of favorite MLB teams (from worst to first):
#30:  St. Louis Cardinals
#29:  New York Yankees
#28:  San Francisco Giants
#27:  Washington Nationals
#26:  Boston Red Sox
#25:  Chicago Cubs
#24:  Atlanta Braves
#23:  Los Angeles Dodgers
#22:  Milwaukee Brewers
#21:  Miami Marlins
#20:  San Diego Padres
#19:  Arizona Diamondbacks
#18:  Texas Rangers
#17:  Los Angeles Angels
#16:  Kansas City Royals
#15:  Minnesota Twins
#14:  Oakland Athletics
#13:  Philadelphia Phillies
#12:  Tampa Bay Rays
#11:  Toronto Blue Jays
#10:  Detroit Tigers
#9:  Chicago White Sox
#8:  Colorado Rockies
#7:  Baltimore Orioles
#6:  Seattle Mariners
#5:  New York Mets
#4:  Cleveland Indians
#3:  Pittsburgh Pirates
#2:  Houston Astros
to be continued...

Monday, May 06, 2019

Flying Dirt and Mesh Tops.

I'm finally ready to dive into the second half of the 1992 Upper Deck box of baseball cards.  As you probably know by now, I do plan on trying to complete the entire base set so once I've got the box busted (and sorted) I'll be sure to update my want list.  Until that happens, let's simply enjoy the cards as they come.

Pack 19:

Another Ted Williams Baseball Heroes showed up here but the highlight for me is the Mariano Duncan card of him sliding into the base.  I am a sucker for images on cards that show a lot of dirt flying around.

Oh yeah, this was also the first pack to produce a card numbered in the range of 1 - 49 in the entire box.  It sure took long enough!

Pack 20:

Another Ted Williams card, this one being the checklist card for the Baseball Heroes set.  I don't particularly like how Upper Deck did a long term numbering of the Baseball Heroes set with cards split across many different sets and brands.  That said, I've got to be getting close to completing the Ted Williams portion of the set if nothing else!

Pack 21:

No box of cards from the early 90s would be complete without at least one Roger Clemens sighting.  This card gets special mention though because of Clemens' jersey (?!).  It looks like he is wearing some sort of mesh top.  That's not a good look if you ask me, but what do I know about fashion?

That was a fun set of packs.  Now that the we are into the second half of the box, I fully expect that I'll get the entire thing busted and sorted before too much longer!

Sunday, May 05, 2019

Finishing off the First Half of the Box

It's hard to believe that (after this post) we will have ripped through an entire half of the 1992 Upper Deck box.  The most interesting thing of note so far through the box is that I have yet to encounter a card numbered 1 - 49.  That's bizarre - and it also means that collecting the entire set via this box and what I already owned will be impossible if I don't start getting some of those low numbered cards!

Let's see if the final three packs of the first half of the box can help me out any.

Pack 16:

A nice Reds hologram - I would have been super stoked to pull that sticker card back when I was a kid.  Heck, who am I kidding.  Even now I enjoyed getting that out of a pack.

The other highlight of the pack was this Manny Ramirez Top Prospect card.  I love the young Manny in the photo...and I like that it appears the picture was taken at a minor league stadium (or maybe even a Little League field)!

Pack 17:

When going through the packs, it is easy to overlook the backside of the cards.  Unfortunately, if you don't flip the cards over you might miss a gem such as this Greg Swindell hatless card.  Swindell must have paid the photographer to take a photograph of him swinging the bat - and obviously someone slow-tossed him a baseball to make the photo even more "impressive."  Of course, who chokes up on a slow-toss ball?  Also, since when did Swindell have to worry about hitting as a Major League pitcher in the American League (pre-Interleague of course).

Pack 18:

My second hologram sticker of the post - and it's of the now defunct Expos.  I will say that this one scanned a lot nicer than the Reds hologram did.

I also had to show off this Oil Can Boyd card because he is straight-pimping in the photo.  The glasses, the many gold chains, the upturned hat.  The man is bringing the funk.

That does it for the first half of the box.  Still plenty of packs to go - could there be one of those super rare Ted Williams autographs in the box?  If there is, I might have a heart attack when I pull it so maybe it's best if there isn't...

Saturday, May 04, 2019

Barry Larkin Collection 668: 1995 Score Summit - #10 - Nth Degree parallel

Barry Larkin
Year:  1995
Brand:  Score Summit
Parallel set:  Nth Degree
Card number:  10

The Nth Degree parallels in 1995 Score Summit can be summed up in one word:  Sparkly.  Seriously, the scan doesn't do the card justice, you basically have to hold one of the Nth Degree parallels in your own hand simply to understand what it's like.

All that said, this is (of course) a parallel of Larkin's regular base card (which I talked about a few years ago).  Now that I own this card, I'm only missing one more Larkin card from the 1995 Summit set:  a "sample" card of his that I don't (yet?) own. 

I am slowly but surely acquiring more and more Barry Larkin parallels.  Of course, the more Larkin cards that I track down, the more cards it seems like I'm missing!  I don't know how that is the case, but a quick glance at my master spreadsheet of Barry Larkin cards shows that I'm at about 51.92% complete with 1995.  That is to say, I own almost 52% of the Barry Larkin cards released in the year 1995!!  By my count, I currently have 54 of the 104 Larkins from the year - a great number in my collection and yet I'm still almost missing as many as I have from the year. 

Like I keep saying, every single new Larkin helps whether it is a parallel, a base card, an insert, or something rarer.  I'll never turn down new Larkins (and I may never even finish the year 1995 but I'll keep plugging away at it)!