Thursday, November 30, 2017

Posters Are Cool

While I was organizing my cards a couple of days ago, I came across these cool fold-outs that I had acquired a few of over the years. After doing some more research, I learned that this is a set produced in 1970 called Topps Posters and it features 24-star players from that year.

I bet Topps wouldn't do anything this cool or colorful nowadays, but these posters are just really awesome. This is one of the first instances, at least to my knowledge, of a product showing a player's headshot as well as an action-shot in the background. I especially also like how the action-shot is in black and white, it just gives it more of a vintage feel.

Another good part is that the colors vary from poster to poster. While Ed Kirkpatrick's poster was predominantly red, this one has lots of blue, as well as yellow and green. And while the action-shot for the Joe Horlen poster is a bit blurry considering we can't see much of a face and it could very well be that the photo included isn't even Horlen. However, I am willing to see past all of that when I notice other small details like the 3 different fonts used on 1 poster, yes 1 poster (you'd never see that in today's products).

The player's name is all one font. The team name is a different font, and so is the player's position. That makes 3 different and unique fonts all on one poster, a bit perplexing but cool nevertheless. 

The final of the 3 posters is of Ken Harrelson, one of the key player's of the 1967 impossible dream Red Sox team. My favorite part of Harrelson's poster and my favorite detail out of all the posters is that the back of his jersey in the action-shot says "Hawk." This was Harrelson's distinctive nickname and I know it represented who he was, but I had no clue when and how a picture was taken of the nickname on Harrelson's jersey. Regardless, this poster, as well as all of the others, is really awesome and nice to admire and look at. And while Topps may never make anything like this again, we still have 1970 to bring us back fond memories. 

Tuesday, November 28, 2017

Top 5 Cards: Eddie Murray

Out of the thousands of players that put on a baseball uniform in the 80's, to me, no player embodied that decade he played in more than Orioles 1st baseman Eddie Murray. The 8-time All-Star played the whole decade besides the 1989 season for the Orioles before leaving for the Dodgers. His powerful bat and excellent fielding are what made him a multi-tool threat to his opponents throughout his 21-year career.

I have 52 cards of Eddie Murray dating from 1981-2017. Here are my 5 personal favorites. 

#5 1984 Donruss Diamond Kings
While many cards in the 80's had the ability to grab your attention, few did it in the way that Donruss' Diamond Kings cards did it. The bright colors and banners on this card immediately catch your eye and force you to look at the card more closely, where you discover what's so great about it. The 2 perspectives of Murray are standard in Diamond Kings, but the red, white, and purple colored banners around the card are my favorite feature. It usually would be blue instead of purple, so I'm glad Donruss stepped outside the box for this card. The yellow background is okay but doesn't go with the color scheme. With that being said, this card still depicts the 80's and Murray very well which is why it made the list. 

#4 1989 Fleer 
The grey borders of the 1989 Fleer set not only make it one of my favorite Fleer base set designs but allow it to pair up well with certain colors to create stunning cards. One of those colors is blue, the color of the Dodgers who Murray joined for the 1989 season, his first year with a team other than Baltimore. And while his 1989 could be labeled as a disaster, hitting just .247 with only 20 home runs, we still have his 1989 Fleer card to remind many a Dodger fan of the exciting time when he joined the team. And not only were the borders great, but the photo of Murray, especially with the sunglasses on just adds another great factor to my 4th favorite card of him.

#3 2002 Fleer Fall Classic
I remember this being one of the first cards I ever got of Eddie Murray, which is probably the main reason why I put it so high on the list. The border color is one that I haven't ever really seen in any other set before. The greyish-brown color is actually a color I like a lot, which also goes well with the faded Orioles dugout in the background. However, my favorite part of this card is the nearly perfect image captured for this fabulous set. The picture is so great as it shows Murray at the plate right before taking a swing. I know that at first, the card can seem a bit boring, but I believe if you examine it a bit further, it is truly a beautiful card. Plus, I'm slightly nostalgic for it, so I had to put it on the list. 

#2 2005 Donruss Classics Legendary Lumberjacks
It was a very close race between this card and the #1 card on the list and as you can see this one narrowly missed out on the #1 spot. However, that does not diminish the job Donruss did in making one of my favorite cards in my whole collection. The insert is called Legendary Lumberjacks, and therefore a lot of the card is brown to commemorate the lumber used by Murray. This excellent insert idea was beautifully executed and thus, a stunning card was created. The card also has a little pop of bright orange on Murray's jersey which could be seen as unnecessary, but I think it adds a great detail to the card. Not to mention, the card is numbered 122/400, yet another reason why this card made it to #2.

#1 1996 Fleer Ultra Call to the Hall
Yes, I surprised myself, along with most of you probably, by me putting a card of Murray on the Indians at #1. Still, with a beautiful set of Gallery fresh in my mind, and with this card resembling Gallery a candidate for the #1 spot, I had to put it at the top of the list. The image is absolutely beautiful with just about everything you need or want in a card like this. There's a great attention to detail for everything, even down to the dugout. The choice to have him shown as an Indian rather than a possible tribute to his days as an Oriole, where he had his best years surprised me, but I support the decision. Murray's facial expressions, immaculate drawing of the jersey, even the way he's holding onto the bat were just a few of the many details included on this card. Fleer didn't have to do all of this, but they did. That, to me, is a card worthy of the #1 spot.

Monday, November 27, 2017

More Gallery

Before heading back home for this week, my dad and I went to Wal-Mart to test our luck and pick up 2 more Value Packs of 2017 Topps Gallery. I knew how my collecting year had gone at this time and that if I were to buy any more of this set I'd be disappointed, but I made the decision to go for it and try to pick up some new cards from the art-centric set. Here's what I got.

Pack 1:

#78 Edwin Encarnacion 
Encarnacion's Gallery card simply looks awesome. His 2017 stats weren't quite what the Indians expected considering his totals from the year before, but they certainly weren't bad. Every stat was just a bit lower than they were in 2016, but that's what you get when you're still power hitting at age 34.

#27 Noah Syndergaard 
Despite being on the Mets, a team a neither like nor follow, Syndergaard has emerged as one of my favorite pitchers in baseball. 

#4 Jose Berrios
This colorful and creative background makes this Jose Berrios card one of my favorites of the entire Gallery set.

#MP-27 Greg Maddux
I realize that he had his best years with the Braves, but I wish that Topps would put the Hall of Fame pitcher on the Cubs in more of his modern cards. 

#47 Jackie Bradley Jr.
I'm very pleased that Bradley got more recognition in 2017 sets. I just wish I could acquire more of the cards made of him considering that his down-year in 2017 could cause his card production to go back down in 2018.

#81 Magneuris Sierra

#134 Matt Duffy
The minuscule tree in the bottom left is what saved this card from rivaling the Jameson Taillon card for the most boring card in the set.

#56 Hunter Renfroe

#87 Kevin Kiermaier (Gold Canvas)
I got Kiermaier's base card in the last purchase. Now I have his Gold Canvas as well.

#47 Jackie Bradley Jr. (Gold Canvas)
Same for JBJ.

#138 Luke Weaver

#119 Buster Posey
It's crazy to think that Posey has been in the MLB for 7 years now. Could we be hearing rumors of him being a future Hall of Famer?

Pack 2:

#82 Anthony Alford

#23 Hunter Dozier

#96 Manny Margot
Am I the only one sick of the over-representation of the same rookies in 2017 Topps sets?

#37 DJ LeMahieu

#HOF-27 Ernie Banks
I'm really starting to like these Hall of Fame gallery cards. Getting one of Mr. Cub himself only makes it better considering this is one of my first cards of him since 2015 after an issue between his estate and Topps caused him to be left out of their sets for 2 years.

#77 Miguel Sano

#149 Lewis Brinson
I'm sorry, who? It's difficult to keep up with all the new rookies nowadays.

#148 Lucas Giolito

#137 Ichiro (Gold Canvas)
Like I've said before, I always enjoy getting new cards of Ichiro. And I personally think the gold border goes exceptionally well with the black jersey. 

#80 Freddie Freeman (Gold Canvas)

#115 Justin Verlander
This is a card I was absolutely ecstatic to get as it's my first card of Verlander on the Astros, and I'm excited that it won't be my last considering they have him locked up for a few years. I just really like how he looks in an Astros jersey.

#55 Jose Bautista
The last card is of Jose Bautista, a player who is most likely done or close to it after a disastrous 2017 season.

Even though I got some more cool cards in this purchase, it still wasn't as good as the first which was expected. So unless I go out of town again in a year or so and see these in the discount bin, I most likely won't buy any more of this. Unless, of course, it's in the dime bins.

Sunday, November 26, 2017

The Final 5: Top 25 A's Cards List #5-1

The time has come for me to show off my top 5 favorite Athletics cards from my entire card collection.

If you've seen my past parts of this list you'll notice that the 20 cards above are cards 25-6 on my countdown. They range from the 60's to the 2010's, feature superstars and duds along with every player in between. That leaves us with just 5 cards left, the final 5, the best 5.

Thank you to everyone who has viewed and commented on my last 4 segments of this list, it really means a lot. And without further adieu, I give you the top 5 A's cards.

#5 1964 Topps #508 Diego Segui
Throughout the 50's and 60's, Topps' choice of odd color combinations leads me to associate certain teams with obscure colors. One of these pairings happens to be the Athletics and the color purple. Not only was purple their banner color in 1966 Topps, but it just seems like many A's cards just had purple, which I like a lot. Not only do I feel it's a nice pairing with their uniform, albeit an odd pairing, but I also think it adds something to the card that helps it stand out from cards of any other team. Not many cards have this amount of purple on them, so that along with a great image of A's pitcher Diego Segui (who played for the Seattle Pilots just FYI) is what was able to propel this card into the top 5.

#4 1976 Topps #165 Gene Tenace
Instantly, the first thing that stands out to me on this card is the green and yellow stripes located on the sleeves of A's All-Star Gene Tenace's jersey. This feature is something I hadn't seen on a jersey before, so when it appeared on his 1976 Topps card I immediately took notice. And even when considering all the other highlights of this card like the bat in his right hand or how the yellow star matches the A's colors, I still went back to the stripes and how they truly made the card what it is. Along with the color scheme and how there are 3 main colors on this card and 3 only, green, yellow, and white. Those 3 colors are symbolic of the A's which was noticeable on this card. Those factors are combined to create a stunning card, definitely a favorite of mine.

#3 1967 Topps #344 Ossie Chavarria
If you saw my preview of my A's cards list a couple of weeks ago then you most likely saw this color-filled exciting card of possibly the least recognizable player on this whole countdown, Ossie Chavarria. This is by far the most colorful card on the list as it features the bright yellow jersey along with long green sleeves that must be from Spring Training considering that I've haven't seen them worn that often before. Another reason I like this card is that the image takes up the whole card, which is something that I like about 1967 Topps, it's almost like a Stadium Club set that allows the image to take control of the whole card. Those features are hard to find all on one card, which is why I had to put it at #3.

#2 1970 Topps #140 Reggie Jackson
The #2 card on the list is a card you might have seen before, of a player that you have definitely heard of before. I'm talking about A's slugger Reggie Jackson's 1970 Topps card that shows the young future phenom swinging the bat during practice before the game. This card also shows off another different jersey (this list probably has 8 or 9 different A's jerseys alone). However, the best part of this card is the silver borders that work so incredibly well with the light green on Jackson's sleeves and hat. The 1970 set is just so distinctive and is one of my favorites, so I am a little biased in putting this card so high on the list, but this Jackson card is so stunning that it is nearly unbeatable.

I said nearly. 

Here it is, my #1 card on the Top 25 A's Cards list is...

#1 1971 Topps #523 John "Blue Moon" Odom
Where do I even start with this card? not only does it feature quite possible my favorite A's jersey ever, a more gold rather than yellow along with green sleeves, but it also includes my favorite picture of any card on this list. It shows Odom staring off into the outfield with a glove in his hands in what is quite possibly one of the most awesome, for a lack of a better word, cards that I've ever seen before. And as if that weren't enough, the unique black borders from 1971 Topps make this stunning card even better, if that's at all possible. Plus, he signs his name John "Blue Moon" Odom which is just plain cool.

So there it is, the list is complete. I know many people won't agree with my list so please, leave a comment suggesting a card I may have missed. Also, I really hope you enjoyed the list and if you did, tell me which team I should do a top 25 cards (or more) countdown of in the future. 

Saturday, November 25, 2017

2017 Topps Gallery: Bringing it Back

You'd think that after the release of Topps Update that no Topps sets would be released again until Flagship comes out in February. Well, that wasn't the case this year as Topps surprised many collectors with the revival of the Topps Gallery set which was released in the late 90's and the early 2000's.

Topps Gallery was and is an art based set. The cards are created to look like pictures and the borders are the frames. This was produced as a Wal-Mart exclusive, much to my dismay considering the Wal-Mart closest to my house doesn't even sell baseball cards. However, I was out of town to celebrate Thanksgiving and while many people were running around like crazy on Black Friday, I strolled into a Wal-Mart that wasn't very crowded and bought 3 value packs of Topps Gallery.

Pack 1:

#35 Antonio Senzatela 
The first card may be of a player who is kind of meh to me, but this is one of the better-designed cards of these 3 packs. This reddish-pink seats in the back seem to be from the Reds' Great American Ballpark which would make sense for the Rockies to play at often enough to get a picture of. The white borders with silver writing really blend in and let the color of the card pop. It really feels like the original Topps Gallery.

#117 Aaron Judge
2 cards into the first value pack and I already pulled a Judge rookie. Yes, this card may not have the value of Judge rookies when they were pulled in June or July, but he was just unanimously named the AL Rookie of the Year, so it's definitely a great card to get.

#99 Randal Grichuk

#E-8 Matt Carpenter 
These Expressionists inserts are tough cards to get, appearing on average, once in every 36 value packs. I pulled one of veteran Matt Carpenter that featured some fabulous art by Dan Bergren. I really applaud Topps for including such a uniquely designed stamp for the word Expressionists along with the stunning blue background.

#MP-11 Mookie Betts
On the other hand, the Masterpiece insert set is far more common, appearing about once in every 2 value packs. They have a very similar design to the original Donruss Diamond Kings cards that include 2 pictures of the player, one in action and one portrait view. These cards are much easier to obtain and do more for me than the Expressionists cards. 

#83 Aledmys Diaz

#65 Aaron Nola
Here's a look at the card backs that very similar to the original Gallery backs that include the player's stats by month of the previous year that was so distinctive in the original Topps Gallery set. 

#26 Yu Darvish
Here's my very first card of Yu Darvish on the Dodgers, which will probably be my last. I doubt they are eager to bring him back after 2 World Series losses. 

#150 Max Scherzer (Gold Canvas)
Each value pack includes 2 Gold Canvas cards. The first I got is the 3-time Cy Young award winner Max Scherzer. After another fabulous season, could we be hearing whispers of him joining the Hall of Fame?

#29 Taijuan Walker (Gold Canvas)

#137 Ichiro
It's always great to get new cards of Ichiro, who is a free-agent currently Could we see him return to Seattle and end up mentoring Shohei Ohtani, who could also end up joining the Mariners?

#102 Chris Davis
The final card of the value pack is Chris Davis, which features my some of my favorite art included on any of these cards.

Pack 2:

#69 Blake Snell
More fantastic art by Mayumi Seto, who I believe designed all the base cards. I'm really starting to dig this set.

#MP-28 Paul Goldschmidt
Another nice Masterpiece card of another player that I collect.

#34 Clayton Kershaw, Gallery Heritage
Topps Gallery is yet another set that paid tribute to a past set this year with their Gallery Heritage inserts. This one shows today's players in the recognizable 1951 Bowman design before they were owned by Topps.

#HOF-18 Ivan Rodriguez
As you can probably guess, the HOF stands for Hall of Fame and this insert set shows off Hall of Famers with a Gallery-style twist on the design. It looks pretty good, but the color and looks of the border remind me a bit too much of the 2016 MLB Debut inserts from Flagship. Still, these are not bad.

#132 David Price
I know I should be excited about my first Red Sox card of the purchase, but the only thing I can get excited about regarding David Price is his potential opt-out in 2018.

#40 Josh Donaldson

#57 Jameson Taillon
Every other card in this set seems to have a beautiful and colorful design besides this Jameson Taillon card, and I don't like that at all.

#102 Ty Blach

#59 Khris Davis (Gold Canvas)
This is the perfect example of the Gold Canvas actually working well with the card. An unintentional gold and green combo for an A's card could merit at least an honorable mention on my Top 25 A's cards list.

#110 Chris Sale (Gold Canvas)
Now here's a Red Sox player that I can get excited about, even after his less than spectacular 2nd half.

#87 Kevin Kiermaier 
In my opinion, it should be him, Kevin Pillar, and Jackie Bradley Jr. up for the AL Gold Glove for CF year after year. How Lorenzo Cain and Byron Buxton snuck into the race is beyond me.

#49 Jharel Cotton

Pack 3:

#9 Amir Garrett

#130 Nolan Arenado

#143 Cody Bellinger
Wow, the 2 Rookie of the Year winners cards being pulled in 3 value packs, how lucky am I? That's another reason why I really like this Gallery revival. Also because the card art is stunning. This is my 2nd Bellinger rookie with the other one being from Heritage High Number. I like this one a lot better, though both of them are pretty great.

#20 Evan Longoria

#MP-16 Brian Dozier
3 packs, 3 Masterpiece insert cards.

#18 Miguel Sano, Topps Gallery Heritage
The 2nd Twins insert of the pack happens to be yet another one of these Gallery Heritage cards. I think I'll be seeing a lot more cards of him after his successful 2017 season where he learned how to balance power with accuracy and lead his team to a Wild Card appearance. 

#HOF-6 Hank Aaron
But my favorite card of the purchase was none other than my favorite player of all-time, Henry "Hank" Aaron.

#15 Yoan Moncada
This may have been a big deal 8 months ago, but Yoan Moncada cards nowadays aren't worth what they once were. 

#104 Reynaldo Lopez (Gold Canvas)

#114 David Dahl (Gold Canvas)

#109 Mitch Haniger
This is the 10th rookie I've pulled in these packs, gotta love 2017 Topps products.

#53 Kenta Maeda
The last card of the last pack is of Dodger's ace Kenta Maeda. 

Overall I was very pleased with the attention to detail Topps showed in creating Topps Gallery. I loved it so much that who knows, I may even buy more.