Monday, October 16, 2017

Another natural enemy of baseball cards

Throughout the years of being a card collector, I've learned about the natural enemies of baseball cards.

Heat and moisture were the two biggies. As I read about collecting as a youngster, those wiser than me would warn about storing collections in attics or basements. And it didn't take much research to know what water could do. One drop into a puddle or a tour through a washing machine and I had my sad answer.

Legend said that mothers were a natural enemy of baseball cards. But although my mom didn't understand baseball in the least, she never threatened to do away with my cards.

During the early years of this blog I documented the conflict between dogs and baseball cards. My dog has chewed up cards in my collection a time or two. But he's older now and his willingness to chomp on everything he sees is diminished.

That's good, because my cards are dealing with another natural enemy right now: hardwood floors.

More than a year ago, we had all the carpeting taken out of our house (and by "we," I mean "she") to show off our "beautiful" (that's what all of my wife's female friends tell me anyway) hardwood floors. There is now rock, solid floors with no coverings in the living room, dining room, upstairs, downstairs. There is literally no place for a baseball card to hide.

It took me awhile to get used to the lack of carpeting, although it's no big deal now, except, of course, when I drop baseball cards.

This just happened to me today.

I was preparing to blog about a stack of cards sent to me by Julie from A Cracked Bat. I brought the cards downstairs and plopped them onto the computer desk on top of a padded envelope. As I was getting some stuff together to head out the door, the top part of the pile slid off the stack -- because everything has to be so damn shiny and slick -- and fell -- WHAP! -- onto the wooden floor.

"Oh no! Oh no! DINGS!" I said to myself.

There were five or six cards on the floor. I picked them up and sure enough, one had a brand new ding in the bottom right corner.

Chrome Kershaw. Come on, man, Kershaw?? Really, floor?

The scanner doesn't show it off well, but believe me, it's there.

I'll get over it, but I sure don't like carrying my cards around with the feeling that the floor is booby-trapped.

Let's take a look at some other cards from Julie to get my mind off of it.

Here -- here is another Kershaw card with all four corners safely sharp. This makes me feel better.

More shiny cards that made it past my hardwood floors unscathed and into my collection (although there's still the matter of carrying these cards on a trip back upstairs, where they could potentially squirt out of hands and fall to their sharp-corner death).

These mid-90's Score Summit parallels are as glittery and sparkly as the 2015 Topps Bolsinger bath beads parallel above (sorry, I forgot what they're actually called). They were 20 years before their time (or
Topps is rehashing ideas).

Speaking of natural enemies, Topps Triple Threads cards are the natural enemy of binder pages.

More shiny. Here is my first look at the revitalized Gold Label brand. I'm not anyone who longs for the days of Topps Gold Label, but I can see why collectors from that time are disappointed in these. The card stock is much thinner than original Gold Label. No self-respecting late '90s Gold Label card would curl.

Julie really loaded up on the shiny cards, no wonder things were slipping and sliding! Here are two cards of the always talked-about Yasiel Puig. As usual, we had to be dragged into a tired conversation about bat flips this postseason. At least Puig was able to smooth it over with his charm.

The '90s are all about filling holes in my collection I don't even know I have until I look up the cards. Here are two previously unknown needs from 1998 SP Authentic.

Some parallels that found a place in my collection. The less said about these the better.

Finally, another parallel of the guy who has turned the Dodgers' bullpen from semi-suspect to well worth the praise.

At the start of the postseason, when the national broadcasters talked about the Dodgers' excellent bullpen, I was confused. Despite being one of the better bullpens during the season, they still had issues, mainly they couldn't find a set-up guy.

But with Kenta Maeda's arrival in the bullpen and Brandon Morrow climbing to another level, the Dodgers are now 2-0 in the NLCS! The announcers do know what they're talking about!

However, I'm quite relieved I get a break from watching stress-filled games today. I'm now off to root for the Astros. There will be much less stress tonight.

Except ...

Wish me luck as I transport these cards to their proper home.

Sunday, October 15, 2017

C.A.: 1982 Donruss Rick Cerone

(I am writing this in the midst of postseason stress. Yesterday was fun ... from about the fifth inning on. But now it's over, the Dodgers won and I'll agonize through another game less than 24 hours after the first one. Maybe the NBA playoffs have it right: we need a few days to recover before the next heart attack. It's time for Cardboard Appreciation. This is the 264th in a series):

A few days ago, I was in a yank about the length of time since the Dodgers had been in a World Series, counting up the winless streak in the NLCS (currently at four straight), when I decided to relive the good old days.

I found Game 6 of the 1981 World Series and for the first time since it happened, watched it from beginning to end.

It felt strange to see the Dodgers doing so well on the biggest stage in baseball. I've experienced that feeling twice in my life, but the last time was 1988 and I've become accustomed to inevitable failure no matter how well my team is doing.

The circumstances of a game played 36 years ago were both amusing and heartening. ABC aired the World Series that year and the broadcasting team was Keith Jackson, Jim Palmer and Howard Cosell. Only one of those guys possessed a real appreciation for baseball and I am still amazed ABC let that happen (yes, I know, this is where someone will start yelling, "Joe Buck!"). But seeing all those players from my childhood brought me back to everything I first loved about the game.

ABC panned the stands just like TV likes to do now. This was the time when network TV broadcasts discovered ballplayers' beautiful wives, and there were shots of Barbaralee Monday, Diana Murcer and Cindy Howe. It also showed a couple of celebrities so Cosell could fawn in only the way that Howard could. Gerry Cooney and Marlo Thomas were at the game.

As for the game, it was played quickly back then, much more quickly than today. Not much stepping out of the batters box. Relatively few trips to the mound. The Dodgers brought in one relief pitcher -- Steve Howe in the sixth inning -- and he pitched the rest of the game.

The Dodgers beat the Yankees, 9-2, with most of the scoring being done in the fifth and sixth innings. Pedro Guerrero, just being discovered by baseball fans at the time, knocked in five runs and featured supreme confidence every time he batted.

The most controversial moment came when Yankees starter Tommy John was removed after four innings with the game tied 1-1. The cameras showed John grousing in the dugout and the broadcasters discussed it throughout the game, but I couldn't help but think about how much more significant this would have been if it happened now, how loud the noise would be. I had completely forgotten that John had been removed so quickly, leading to a collapse by the Yankees bullpen. There's no way I would have forgotten it if something similar happened today. Heck, Clayton Kershaw was removed at five innings yesterday, the Dodgers ended up winning and people still acted like the Dodgers did something wrong.

But perhaps the most interesting moment of the game, to me, happened in the sixth inning.

The Dodgers just had taken a whopping 8-1 lead and the Yankees came to the plate with Cosell yammering about wholesale changes in the offseason. Graig Nettles reached Dodgers starter Burt Hooton for a single, bringing Rick Cerone to the plate.

Cerone ended up walking on a 3-2 count. Hooton threw ball four, which was nowhere near Cerone, yet Cerone proceeded to launch his bat disgustedly toward the dugout while staring angrily at Hooton.

Cerone then trotted to first and while he was on first, started barking at Hooton. I couldn't figure out what Hooton had done to make Cerone so upset. I had to have Palmer, the only guy in the booth paying attention to the game, to explain it.

According to Palmer, Cerone was upset because Hooton had not "challenged" Cerone with fastballs. Hooton's offerings to Cerone were a mixture of fastballs and the knuckle-curveball for which he was known. Palmer, naturally supporting the pitcher, said in his usual slightly sarcastic manner that Cerone felt Hooton should be throwing fastballs so Cerone could be successful.

The incident baffled me.

"How bizarre," I thought, "this game was back then."

Is that the way ballplayers thought then -- off-speed pitches were for weakling pitchers?  Today, pitchers throw four, five, six pitches and the larger the repertoire, the more impressed I am. If pitchers actually were discouraged from throwing off-speed pitches for fear of being branded "weak," then I have to say that is something I much prefer about the game today. I want each side to use everything at their disposal. Intellect and skill. Pure power can only get you so far.

Of course, perhaps Cerone's histrionics had to do with a seven-run deficit in what was a must-win game for the Yankees. Teammate Lou Piniella threw a similar fit on the bases that inning when a runner ahead of him didn't score.

Or, after consulting the back of Cerone's 1982 Donruss card, maybe it was just the last straw in a long year:

Maybe that's why Cerone is keeping his face shielded on the front of the card.

Friday, October 13, 2017

G.O.A.T., the '70s, 70-61

I have some gall placing a countdown show in the middle of the baseball postseason. Doesn't Major League Baseball have a rule against that? No transactions or countdowns while the playoffs are going on!

I'm not feeling that guilty about it however.

Sure I've got baseball playoff fever. My Dodgers are still alive (playing those Cubs again, who don't have that "we haven't won in a century" sob story to get fans on their side anymore). And there's still lots of work to do getting rid of those Yankees.

But I also know that the games last six hours and 12 minutes on average. And one-fourth of that time is filled by bourbon commercials. So you've got time to look at a countdown of some of the greatest cards the 1970s ever made.

So, if you haven't made yourself a baseball meal tonight yet, might I suggest something:

Grab a bowl of Freakies cereal and pour some Nestle's Strawberry Quik on it. Then, if you're still not fired up over the '70s after that, watch about 25 episodes of "This Week in Baseball" back-to-back, followed by the James Caan movie "Rollerball".

That ought to do it.

It's the greatest cards of the '70s, numbers 70-61:


Pete Rose, 1979 Topps Burger King, #13

The 1978 season was over. The Yankees had defeated the Dodgers in six games for the second straight year in the World Series.

The Cincinnati Reds, the former Big Red Machine, had finished out of the postseason for the second straight year. These were restless times for the Reds and no one was more restless than Pete Rose.

Rose wanted to be the highest-paid player in baseball. Everyone knew it. The man who had hit in 44 straight games that summer had taken turns with Reds management batting down contract offers. Then, it happened on Dec. 5, 1978. Rose, a Red as long as just about everyone had known him, was now a Phillie.

The concept was baffling. If you weren't a Reds fan, you probably spent most of your time rooting against Rose and Cincinnati. I know I did. But he was always a Red. That's how you found him, scuffling to first in crimson trim between Aqua Velva commercials. How weird would it be to see Rose as a Phillie?

It took a Burger King baseball card, an oddball card, to show us.

Even though I was never a Reds, Phillies or Rose fan, this card was on my want list from the day I knew it existed. And it stayed on that list for decades until I landed one a year or so ago. Those who see nothing more than Pete Rose in an airbrushed Phillies helmet simply don't understand what Rose and the Reds meant to 1970s baseball.


Willie Mays, 1973 Topps, #305

I am assuming that seeing Willie Mays as a Met on cardboard was just as jarring as seeing Pete Rose as a Phillie on cardboard. Mays' transition from the Giants to the Mets happened before I started following baseball.

But I can appreciate the strangeness. And from the looks of Mays' expression, he can, too.

"Whaaat?" he seems to be saying, "I'm a Met??????"

Yep. Get a load of you, Say Hey Kid, you're wearing blue pinstripes. This is Mays' final card of his career, other than the World Series card featuring him in the 1974 Topps set. It's not exactly the kind of card that you'd want for your finale.

But then, hitting .238 in his last two seasons, both with the Mets, maybe that's the card Willie Mays deserved.


Bud Harrelson, 1970 Topps, #634

There aren't a lot of cards from the 1970s that I haven't seen before, especially now after doing research for this countdown.

But I discovered the 1970 Bud Harrelson card for the first time maybe two years ago and fell in love with it instantly.

It was off my radar for so many years because I didn't bother paying attention to 1970 Topps for a long time, what with those drab borders. But also because Harrelson's card falls in the high numbers and those high number cards just don't seem to get distributed so people can see them.

Photos of players signing for fans are always pleasing. But this one is special just because of the almost private moment captured on cardboard. Harrelson is thoughtfully signing for a single fan. We're so close to the scene we can almost make out the type of pen being used.

I still don't own this card. I need to get it.


Tony Horton, 1971 Kellogg's, #69

I can't imagine what kids who didn't grow up in Cleveland thought when they pulled a 3-D card of Tony Horton out of their cereal box.

Tony Horton? Who is Tony Horton?

In those days before the internet or cable television, kids learned about baseball players from baseball cards. But Horton didn't show up on baseball cards. Topps didn't make a card of Horton during his time with the Red Sox or the Indians. He hit 27 home runs in 1969. No card.

Horton, who likely did not have a contract with Topps during his time in the majors, ended up leaving baseball at age 25. He dealt with mental health issues and the game was too trying for him. In fact, this card appeared after Horton had quit the game.

It is the only 1970s card of Horton created during his career.


Mickey Mantle/Maury Wills, 1975 Topps, MVP subset, #200

The internet is stuffed to the rafters with "cards that never were," created by inventive types, often using familiar Topps designs.

But Topps created some of the first "cards that never were" in its 1975 set.

A subset that year commemorated each league's MVPs for the life of Topps' cards, from 1951-74. Topps decided to showcase the player's card from the year he won the MVP.

There was one problem with that. The MVP didn't always have a Topps card the year he won the award. That was the case a couple of times with Roy Campanella, so Topps created a mock-up of Campanella in a 1951 and 1955 card for its MVP subset.

And it created a 1962 mock-up for Maury Wills.

Wills, like Horton, didn't have a contract with Topps for much of his career. But the created "card" for the subset seemed so real that for years I thought there was a Wills card in the 1962 Topps set. I'm sure I wasn't the only one.

Topps then reused that "card" for other cards in later sets, solidifying this "card" in reality even though it doesn't actually exist.

The repeated use of the image is fascinating to me. And it's why this card is on this list and the Campanella cards are not. (OK, Mickey Mantle has a little bit to do with it).


George Scott, 1977 Topps, #255

George Scott was almost a mythical figure to kids in the 1970s.

A large man who blasted something he called "taters" into the stratosphere became an instant favorite to me and others I knew.

The significance of his 1977 Topps card escaped me for a few years though. Again, I wasn't following baseball when a Milwaukee Journal reporter asked George Scott in 1975 about the "beads" he wore on a necklace.

Scott's famous response was: "those are second basemen's teeth," which if I had heard it at the time, I would have dropped everything and become a Milwaukee Brewers fan. The necklace is actually a combination of various shells, but you wouldn't have had a difficult time getting a kid to believe that they were actually some nasty old teeth from a middle infielder. Ewww! Is that dried blood?


Bud Harrelson, 1971 Topps, #355

How about this? Bud Harrelson's second appearance in this countdown segment!

Unlike his 1970 Topps card, Harrelson is not on prominent display, despite making the tag on Astros baserunner Jimmy Wynn. It's an interesting action shot that could have benefited from some closer cropping.

But it's fortunate that Topps' editors didn't crop too closely. The beauty of this card is future Hall of Fame pitcher Nolan Ryan at right giving the out call, even though Wynn was likely safe.


Reggie Jackson, 1977 Topps, #10

I will never own the blank back Reggie Jackson card featuring him in a Baltimore Orioles uniform. It's disappointing because the 1976 season was all about Reggie Jackson playing as an Oriole. I remember that Sports Illustrated cover as one of the wildest, because who would have ever considered Reggie Jackson wearing orange and black?

Then the news grew noisier Jackson became a Yankee. During that wild offseason, the first for unfettered free agency, Jackson signed up for the soap opera that was The Bronx in the 1970s.

The best that Topps could do was airbrush yet another card for the 1977 Topps set. We kids knew that Jackson wasn't really wearing a Yankee helmet or jersey. But still, we felt ready for what was to come in '77 because Jackson was shown with his proper team.


George Brett, 1978 Topps, #100

There was this thing that Topps did when a player was a superstar. Topps liked to get in the player's face.

Zoom up real close, so close that you almost can't tell whether the dude is a ballplayer by simply looking at the photo. But also don't lose the personality of the player. Find something that says "this is Mr. Superstar".

The Brett card accomplishes this. Brett had hit over .300 for a third straight year and was now in the conversation as one of the best hitters in baseball. Topps zoomed in real tight, but also showcased two aspects that still tells you that this is Brett:

His long blond hair is waving in the breeze.

He's sucking on a wad of tobacco.

Topps added the all-star shield just in case you still didn't know.


Doug Rader, 1976 SSPC, #59

For years, there must have been an unspoken agreement between Topps and its photographers:

"Make sure to feature the baseball player in nothing but the best light. Nothing negative, nothing gross and no silliness."

SSPC broke that wall. Players want to be silly. Boy, do they ever.

What's sillier than someone nicknamed The Rooster choking up severely on a bat while wearing the most famous horizontally-striped jersey and a wild grin on his face?


At least SSPC could figure out that something like that should be on a card.

And that's 10 more down for the week as the fourth installment is complete.

I hope you enjoy the game (I hope you notice I ended with an Astro).

Thursday, October 12, 2017

Odd and getting odder

Yesterday, the 2017 Topps Update checklist made the online scene and it's pretty much a disaster.

Topps Update hasn't resembled the old Traded set that I loved so dearly in the 1980s for a long time. But the 2017 checklist seems exceedingly lousy.

For Dodgers, I am blessed with five All-Star cards -- in other words, players I already have from Series 1 or Series 2. Then there are three other Dodgers represented: Franklin Gutierrez, who barely played because of medical issues; Brett Eibner, a prospect who barely played but he's in Update because ROOKIE CARD, and, of course, Cody Bellinger.

Then there's Cody Bellinger and Cody Bellinger and Cody Bellinger. Four Cody Bellinger's in the set. Nobody needs this. Cody Bellinger's mom doesn't need this.

Meanwhile there is no card of Chris Taylor, one of the most valuable Dodgers of this entire year. He's not in Series 1 or 2 because who knew Chris Taylor would do anything? But since the start of the season Taylor has played in 140 games, hit 21 home runs and should damn well be in Update.

Also, there is no Austin Barnes, Brandon Morrow or Ross Stripling, players who normally fit neatly into Update. I don't think I'm being unreasonable here, I'm not demanding that Yu Darvish or Curtis Granderson show up as Dodgers in Update because I know the set gets put to bed before the late deadline deals. But sacrificing Chris Taylor for another Home Run Derby card? The Update set is now officially crap.

It's things like this that have me clinging more and more to older sets and oddball sets.

I've always liked oddball cards. I don't think that's a rarity. Anyone who ate Frosted Flakes in the '70s should like oddball cards.

But my appreciation for them has grown and grown over the years.

Recently, I received a package that was nothing but two sets of oddballs. It arrived from Stephan of Vintage Twins.

One of the items was a six-pack of my favorite oddballs of all-time.


Kellogg's 3-D cards from 1983, the last Kellogg's 3-D set that matters, basically. It's always enjoyable to get new cards of players that were around when I was a kid.

The other oddball cards in the package were Dodgers Police cards from the 1980s.

I got so excited to see those cards that I instantly put them with the other Dodgers Police cards I own already and now I have no idea which ones Stephan sent me.

But this gives me a chance to update an exercise that I did the last time I wrote about Police cards. I get to see how much progress I've made!

So, here again, is the breakdown of Dodgers Police sets from 1980-91 (there was no Police set in 1985):


30 of 30 cards

Feature on the back: "Tips from the Dodgers," basic baseball definitions along with nuggets from the police, such as:

"When a group of kids get together with nothing to do, beware of a FOUL TIP that could lead to trouble."


30 of 32 cards (missing late additions to the set: Ken Landreaux and Dave Stewart)

Feature on the back: Advice and information from the LAPD, presented as if the player on the front is saying it, as in:

"Rudy Law says: One of these days your sharp eyes may spot a deadly weapon that somebody threw away. Don't pick it up. Don't even touch it. Keep it in sight and send for an adult. let that adult call the police. You may have found the missing weapon the police have been searching for."


30 of 30 cards

Feature on the back: Paragraph write-ups on the back, sometimes referencing the player on the front, sometimes not, with the theme of "the team that wouldn't quit," a tribute to the Dodgers' 1981 championship.


26 of 30 cards (missing Yeager, Baker, Monday, Brock)

Feature on the back: Full career stats and vital stats! Best Police backs ever!


30 of 30 cards

Feature on the back: Career stats are replaced by bio information and police advice that ends in the DARE TO SAY NO slogan, such as:

"... Don't get roped in just because others smoke pot or pop pills. Remember that users are losers. DARE TO SAY NO."


27 of 30 cards (missing Stubbs, Duncan, Diaz)

Feature on the back: A player bio and police advice, such as:

"Is shoplifting a crime? You bet it is! Whether it's a pack of gum, a candy bar or something more valuable, it can cause your arrest for stealing. Don't take what you can't pay for, no matter how easy it seems. There's lots of satisfaction knowing you're a good citizen."


7 of 30

Feature on the back: Player info with a head shot, along with police advice underneath.


30 of 30

Feature on the back: Player bio information on the left and police advice on the right, such as:

"Don't be a chicken" "Don't be fooled by this trick to get you to try drugs or alcohol. A lot of chickens who try drugs end up as dead ducks. Don't be afraid to say, "No!"


28 of 30 (missing Carter and Strawberry)

Feature on the back: Same as 1984-89.

I've made some decent progress with these since 2014. I've gained the complete 1982 and 1989 sets to go along with my complete 1980 and 1984 sets. I plan to update these in my want lists as I don't believe I've done that before. It's still concerning that I have none of the 1988 and 1990 cards.

After 1991, the Dodger Police sets moved to the storing-friendly 2 1/2-by-3 1/2 size into the early 2000s. I still haven't figured out how to store the 1980-91 cards. They fit in the Ultra Pro four-pocket pages but that's way too much air for my liking.

Anyway, that's yet another post about oddball cards. Expect to see more and more. My collection (and me) is getting odder by the day.

Wednesday, October 11, 2017


I rarely regret any card purchases I make these days.

The money I reserve for cards is meant for cards of my choosing, whatever that may be. It may be vintage, oddballs, newness, money grabs, junk wax, whatever. If I buy it, it means I want it, and it is never the wrong call. Don't tell me I shouldn't have purchased it. I'm not buying insurance here.

But I knew I was going to test this mind-set by buying some of the latest new 2017 Topps product, something called "Topps Fire," which was an insert set last year.

This is what that insert set looked like:

When I first saw these, I'm not sure what I thought, but I'll bet the word "weird" was in there somewhere. I'm pretty much resigned to the fact that baseball cards of the future will never feature green grass again, but this was a little too far off the map.

It certainly didn't seem like something on which to base an entire set, but I'm sure Topps compiled several focus groups, polled all the card bloggers and arrived upon a rational, well-researched plan.

OK, none of that happened, we just have a set called Topps Fire now and we're supposed to collect it and try to make some sort of sense out of it.

After seeing a couple of bloggers post cards from this set (both based near Chicago -- hmmm), I decided to find some of my own. The strangeness of the set had intrigued me enough that it might be fun to examine.

It's a Target-only thing and when I arrived at my Target, there was a single blaster of the stuff sitting on a shelf. I didn't want to buy a full blaster of it, I was kind of hoping for a rack pack. But considering how quickly this stuff is disappearing off shelves, I counted my blessings and bought it. "FORTY-SIX CARDS!" the box screamed and I quickly calculated that to mean about 45 cents a card and then tried to forget that I used to buy a pack of cards for 35 cents.

The blaster featured seven packs of six cards each, plus some sort of "gold-plated" four-card pack.

Let's do the dirty deed:

Pack 1

#154 - Luke Weaver, Cardinals

Here is your first look with one of the three base designs in this set. I'll call this the Space Tornado design. The strange thing about this card -- and depending on your perspective, it's one of five or six strange things about this card -- is any area that features skin is black-and-white. This weirds me out.

#145 - Chipper Jones, Braves

This is design #2. Let's call it the Flying Embers Diamond design. Chipper Jones is one of many retired players in this set. When I first saw these cards, the old-timers looked out of place amid the splashy modern design. It's not quite as odd when I see the cards in hand, but I would've rather seen all current players in a modern set like this.

#15 - Adam Jones, Orioles, orange parallel?

This card arrived reverse side front, I'm assuming so I could see that it was numbered to /299. I think this is the orange parallel, based on the orangey look behind Jones' helmet.

What disappointed me is that this is just another foil-board card. In fact, foil-board appears on most of the parallels and inserts in this set. There's no way I would have bought this if I knew that the old, tired foil from the 1990s was the main theme in Topps Fire. Topps does restrict the foil to the card background, which helps the image, but when are we going to get rid of foil forever?

#134 - Manny Machado, Orioles

Here is the third design for the base set. I'll call this the Diamonds & Lightning Bolts design. These are the brightest cards in the set.

#190 - Josh Donaldson, Blue Jays

Back to the black-and-white faces. But I do like the color-coded frame.

#149 - Joey Votto, Reds

Pack 2

#140 - Adam Duvall, Reds

#94 - Ryon Healy, Athletics

Just showing you the back so you know that you'll never need to turn over any of these cards ... ever.

#144 - Hunter Dozier, Royals

This card is something of an outlier, but I'll show that near the end.

#FT-10 - Andrew Miller, Indians, Flame Throwers

Every third or fourth card in a pack is an insert or parallel and they're all foiled-up. The gold treatment is a little fun although I thought we were through with Topps' obsession with gold.

#169 - Dexter Fowler, Cardinals

Before I get so far that nobody is reading this anymore, I want to mention that I'm sure this set is very polarizing. There are going to be people who think this set is absolute crap, a complete waste of time, evidence that Topps is officially bereft of ideas or thought. Others are going to think that these cards are fresh, exciting, innovative, and highly collectable.

In other words, Topps can't win.

#87 - Wil Myers, Padres

Pack 3

#83 - Ken Griffey Jr., Mariners

#53 - Johnny Damon, Red Sox

#131 - Larry Doby, Indians, flame parallel

Just a guess on the kind of parallel. The card is not serial-numbered and the flame parallels are the most plentiful.

#119 - Brian Dozier, Twins

#170 - Dustin Pedroia, Red Sox

#104 - Stephen Piscotty, Cardinals

Pack 4

#8 - Aledmys Diaz, Cardinals

#22 - Mark McGwire, Athletics

#39 - Paul Goldschmidt, Diamondbacks, green parallel

This is numbered to /199. Nice swing there on Monday night, Goldschmidt.

#159 - Chris Archer, Rays

#28 - Johnny Cueto, Giants

#109 - Christian Yelich, Marlins

Pack 5

#55 - Jim Edmonds, Cardinals

#16 - Paul Konerko, White Sox

#99 - Adrian Beltre, Rangers

#GG-19 - Kevin Pillar, Blue Jays, Golden Grabs

More gold.

#56 - Nelson Cruz, Mariners

#96 - Ian Happ, Cubs

Pack 6

#117 - Aaron Sanchez, Blue Jays

#103 - Addison Russell, Cubs

#197 - Jacoby Ellsbury, Yankees, parallel of some sort

I don't know what this is. Except it's covered in foil.

#121 - Cody Bellinger, Dodgers

WAHOO! This purchase finally has MEANING!

#193 - Jake Arrieta, Cubs

#147 - Yasmani Grandal, Dodgers

More Doyers! ... I've seen this card online before. It's weird. Where's his other arm?

Pack 7

#126 - Alex Bregman, Astros

#74 - Fergie Jenkins, Cubs

#106 - Yulieski Gurriel, Astros

#M-25 - Chris Davis, Orioles, Monikers insert

I'd like these a lot more if they didn't have foil on them.

#36 - Ender Inciarte, Braves

#13 - Mark Melancon, Giants

Gold-Minted Four-Pack

I guess the Dawson is cool.

I put the three designs together mostly out of curiosity:

The Flying Embers Diamond design

The Diamonds and Lightning Bolts design.

The Space Tornado design.

You'll notice that every one of these Space Tornado cards features black-and-white faces.

Except for one:

No, I don't know why.

There's a lot I don't know about this set.

However, there's also a lot I don't care about in this set.

I won't say I regret buying these cards, but I do admit to feeling a bit burned by them. I was intrigued because I kind of like the idea of mixing art with cards, especially if you're going to go the cartoon route.

This doesn't get me there though. I have no knowledge of graphic arts and what is inventive and what is not. I just know that this doesn't do it for me. They kind of look like an Upper Deck set from 10 years ago, as if Upper Deck X and Upper Deck Spectrum had a baby.

I will be distributing these cards to my various trade partners (Dodgers excluded, of course). Not much sizzle, only fizzle with these.

I suppose though with the number of these I see for sale on ebay, that we'll soon be getting Topps Water and Topps Wind and Topps Air. In fact, that would have made a pretty good set, if you combine all of the elements together and call it "Topps Elements".

There you go, Topps, now that's an idea.