Wednesday, June 29, 2022

2 guys whose cards are better than you remember

 A day or so ago, San Jose Fuji did a post about sunglasses on baseball cards. It got me thinking about a post I've been meaning to make for a while. 
There are 2 guys who have some excellent photos on baseball cards. One of them is a well-known guy around the blogosphere. The other has been fairly ignored. Both played the majority of their careers in the '90's. One won a World Series title and was World Series MVP. The other won a few Gold Gloves and appeared in one World Series. 
Let's start with the more well known guy. Kurt Manwaring. I first remember him for being one of the guys I pulled from my first packs of 1992 Topps when I first started getting packs with my own money. I thought his name was 'Man Warning' at first. I never really gave thought to most of his cards until some 20 years later when I joined the blogging community. People have shown some of his cards off, but I don't think anyone really 'collects' him, per se. I'll have to be honest, I probably won't collect either of these 2 guys I'm writing about after I post this, but I've never been hot or cold on either of their teams, and they just don't interest me as someone to collect. That's ok. Perhaps someone reading this who enjoys collecting cards with unique photos will decide to. 
I don't think anyone has really listed out all of the cards that Kurt Manwaring has made appearances on, or has taken the time out to show off all of his cool cards, so I thought I would do so. Keep in mind, these are taken from my collection, and I do not have all of his cards by any stretch, so there are probably a good number of cards I am missing. Here we go.....
First up is Kurt's 1991 Topps card. Just a cool shot of him on his stomach in the dirt trying to corral a wild pitch. His 1992 Donruss card features him in an old-school New York Giants uniform. There is the '92 Topps card I pulled from a pack back in the day. It's a decent photo of him taking off his mask going after a popup, and I think that might be Charlie O'Brien at the plate (can't tell for sure. Many people had mullets in the '90's). '93 Stadium Club gives us a nice posed shot. 1993 Topps has him springing into action. '93 Ultra was taken just before a play at the plate. Another play at the plate is featured in his '94 Collector's Choice card. '94 Topps is a play at the plate without the helmet. Aparently when Kurt is about to get collided into by a runner he opens his mouth wide. His 1995 Pinnacle issue is a beauty, with Expo (and now Reds coach) Freddie Benavides about to get tagged out. The last card is from 1998 Upper Deck, and features snow in the background. This card was written about in a late '90's Beckett magazine, and aparently the photo was taken during one of the first Rockies home series of 1997, and it was snowing during the game. 
But that's not all...Kurt also makes appearances on other players' cards. He is shown on Astro Rafael Ramirez's 1991 Ultra card in a baserunning shot, on the Reds Glenn Braggs's 1992 Upper Deck card applying the tag, and finally, on the back of Astros James Mouton's 1996 Upper Deck card catching a pitch that Mouton aparently didn't like the umpire's call of. 

That's just some of probably more cards of Kurt Manwaring that feature some fun photos on which make me surprised that he isn't in anyones player collection. 

The second person I want to write about is probably more well-known by baseball fans in general, Reds pitcher Jose Rijo. His first major appearance was on a 1984 Topps Traded card, but he didn't really have any unique cards that I noticed until 1994. We'll actually start with a card from 1992 which I didn't have until around 2012 when my brother-in-law gave me some of his old cards. 

His 1992 Stadium Club card is a card of him wearing some funky shades. The 1994 Collector's Choice (Silver Signature) card is the card I thought of when I read Fuji's post. His 1994 Score and Topps cards feature him with a super soaker. I think on many of these cards he is holding the same squirt gun. His 1995 Collector's Choice SE card shows him listening to a teammates heartbeat with a stethoscope (perhaps Hector Carrasco?).  He is shaking hands with a teammate on his 1995 Donruss card. 1995 Pinnacle and 1995 Score show us he hasn't given up the squirtguns a year later, and finally, on the back of his 1992 Upper Deck card, it's just a different photo with the fan kind of peeking out from underneath his leg. Again, I don't own nearly all of Jose's cards, there could be more, and I'm just really surprised with so many cards like these with the unique photos that somebody doesn't have them in their player collection. 

Maybe this will inspire you to collect those 2 guys, or at least seek out some of their cards. If not, hopefully it was a fun read none the less.

I have been kind of busy with projects in the last month or so. Good kinds, though. If you guys remember, maybe a year or two ago, I was asked by a guy named CJ from Brainiac Baseball Breaks to make him some custom baseball cards for his baseball simulation seasons. That was for the 1981 MLB season he was playing, and now he is on the 1983 season. I checked in with him randomly to see if he needed cards for this season, and he did, so I've been busy at work making ones he needed, and he has graciously been supplying me with Rays cards. He also had the idea to make a few different variation cards and he is having me make them into a few 1/3 and 1/1 cards. Some of them will be given away, so if you are into watching guys simulate baseball seasons, check out his YouTube page and subscribe. He also does baseball card breaks on it, so if not for the sims, subscribe for the cards. 

The onther project I am working on is going to be hush-hush for now, but it is a big one. When I say big, I mean probably at least 2,000 cards big. It is very cool for me to be a part of, and I will bring everyone up to speed if and when it comes about. Good things, though, and something I never dreamed I would have the chance to do when I started this blog 8 or so years ago.

Last thing, I have done this other blog off and on for probably 5 years now called Completing the 1992 Topps Set, where I basically take all of the cards that I have made to finish the '92 Topps set with, and just go through them one by one and talk about the player, their career, and note all of the cards they need to have a career Topps run. I haven't posted in about a year, but I started working on it again. Many obscure players and older guys who were about to retire, but they were MLBers none the less, and they were good enough to deserve a card. If that sounds like something you are into check it out.

Thanks for checking out my latest post.

Tuesday, June 28, 2022

What’s the deal with Series 2?

 I was thinking about Series 2 Topps after reading Night Owl’s post the other day that mentioned Topps needing to just go back to 1 series. I first remember purchasing packs in 1992, the last year of only 1 series. I guess 2 series is all I’ve known. Back in 1993 when the set was split into 2 series, the cards came out in January, so it kind of made more sense.
I was thinking about how many times I’ve ever purchased a number of series 2 cards since then, and I don’t think it has ever happened. I don’t know all of the answers or if they ring true with other collectors, but I have some theories. I first want to go back through each year and see what may have contributed to series 1 beating series 2. 
1993-I got a number of packs of Series 1 that my parents purchased, including a few rack packs after graduating 4th grade. I got a number of Series 2 packs (I was digging the Rockies and Marlins cards), but I just never had more of them than series 1. My working theory is that Series 1 just had longer to spend on shelves (from Jan to June perhaps?), and maybe Series 2 was pulled in the fall when football, hockey, and hoops came out. Maybe I just got tired of asking for packs or my parents quit offering?
1994-I think this may be the only time series 2 beat series 1. This was due to getting a box of series 2 around 1995 or 1996. If not for the box, series 1 would’ve won by a long shot. 
1995- Series 1 wins here. I got a number of packs of series 1 by themselves, and I also purchased 2 series 1 boxes with lawn mowing money. I remember maybe opening 1 pack of series 2. Maybe they just didn’t get on the shelves?  I only got 1 pack of Upper Deck, 1 of Stadium Club, so I just don’t know why I didn’t get more of series 2. 
1996- Series 1. Not by a long shot, but I think this was a case of getting a ton of packs in the spring, and only getting a few in the fall, and looking at other stuff as well. I think that I would just get so eager to see the new designs and what the sunsets look like, and series 1 does that, and you usually need a good handful of packs to get a decent sampling. Series 2 would have newer cards and maybe some prospects or draft picks, but no new designs really. A pack or 2 will basically tell me what I need to know. Back to the summer of ‘96 and Series 2, I was really hooked with these stupid 2 for $1 packs at Wally World with a sample of 5 different ‘96 brands and the chance to win the famous Honus Wagner tobacco card. I think I was all after the ‘95 UD minor league set chasing all of the Michael Jordan One on One inserts (which I still haven’t finished). 
1997-Didnt purchase too much series 1 but I only got like 1 pack of series 2. I think I switched to Collectors Choice by the time series 2 came out so that was probably why. I ended up with most of the series 2 set a few years later after my friends dad gave me what they had compiled. 
1998- I probably opened a good amount of Series 2 trying to catch the Rays first cards, but I still think I had more Series 1. Don’t know why. Maybe I just spread out my purchases among different brands in the summer. 
1999- ‘99 was a weird year for me. I didn’t get packs till a few months after they were out. I guess the ‘rents didn’t buy me any and I didn’t really have spending money or anything. I still think I opened like 5-10 Series 1 packs and 2 of Series 2. 
2000- I think I opened more Series 2 this year, but I got my first job in the summer, and there was just a ton of different sets out that year which got my attention in the spring. I also purchased the complete Series 2 set with my first paycheck. 
2001- It was probably in favor of Series 1, but I opened a good amount of Series 2. I think I purchased a box of series 1, a series 2 set, and a good number of Traded packs trying to pull the Pujols rookie (I did!). The Traded set threw a kink into everything, as it really gave Series 2 only 2-3 months to live before Traded kicked it to the curb. 
2002- I opened a decent amount of series 1 packs, but I think series 2 was right there with it. Traded probably took the cake for me. I was getting autographs at minor league games, and 2002 Topps Traded helped me out a ton with having cards to get signed. I also had a friend who hung out with me at the same time who opened a ton of Traded packs with me. 
2003- I put together a series 1 set from a box, so I think it gets the win. 
2004- Another series 1 box, and the short time between series 2 and Update gives series 1 the victory. Plus, there was just so much out at the time. Remember the time when Target had  packs of  like 12 different products, boxes of 10, and a complete set or 2?  I stopped into Target or Wal-Mart (and my LCS) a few times a month, and just picked 5-6 different packs of cards and saw what they had to offer.  Instead of committing to Series 2, I purchased a pack of Fleer Flair Hot Prospects, Fleer Showcase Splendid Splinter, Fleer Tradition Box Score, Upper Deck First Pitch Spectrum, and Bowman Draft Heritage Chrome, and maybe 1 series 2 pack. Too much to choose from. 
2005- Another example of too much to choose from and the short gap between series 2 and Update. 
2006- I moved to AL in the spring, and money started getting tight. I probably purchased more of Series 1, and when I did get a little money saved towards the end of the year, I was trying to pull Pat Neshek rookies, so I grabbed Upper Deck and Topps 52 packs. 
2007- I think this was where Series 1 started getting released closer to March. It gave it a 1 or 2 less months for Series 1 to add cards to its totals but it didn’t matter. I purchased a number of Series 1 packs trying to pick up an extra of that Jeter card for a friend (I did), and didn’t really purchase that many packs of Series 2. I was more enamored with Topps ‘52, Chrome, Turkey Red, Bowman Heritage, and Update. 
2008- Same story, just had a ton of more product between Series 2 release and Update, but for some strange reason, it was Upper Deck stuff like Timeline, Piece of History, Baseball Heroes, Documentary, with some packs of Topps Chrome, and the random Bowman issue. I also opened a bunch of Update trying to get Evan Longoria cards. 
2009-I moved back to Florida in the spring, and money was tight again. I got a few packs of Series 1 and I may have gotten about the same amount it series 2. I think I actually have more of Update as my brother in law got me a blaster of it for Christmas. 
2010- Probably have more Series 1. I think I got a good amount of Upper Deck, but I got a ton of Bowman trying to pull a Harper (didn’t), and 2 boxes of Topps Chrome trying to pull a Strasburg (did). 
2011-I believe I got a box of Series 1, as I think I pulled an Alex Gordon autograph from it. Series 2 I probably have some packs from and I think I split my packs between Series 2, Pro Debut, Heritage Minors, and Bowman Chrome before Update came out. 
2012- This was where everything changed. I had met my wife in November 2011, and spent a lot of time with her. I tried to cut down with the card purchases as by December 2011 I had an engagement ring to save up for (which I purchased and gave to her in February 2012), and she was still kind of getting used to the fact that I had so many cards (fortunately she came around). I purchased a few Series 1 packs, and barely anything of Series 2 or Update. 
2013-This year was basically non-existent. I purchased a few Series 1 packs, and don’t remember buying Series 2 or Update. 
2014- I started buying a few more packs, mostly Series 1.  Got 1 or 2 of Series 2 probably, and in the middle of the 2 amounts was probably Update, although I probably have more of Update than I think as I was trying to pull a deGrom rookie (I did). 
2015- I got more of Series 1. I purchased a couple of packs of Donruss and Bowman, and Series 2. I think Update might be in between as I wanted to pull a Kris Bryant card (I did). 
2016- Same story. Series 1 wins, Series 2 just didn’t have enough time between its release and Update. 
2017- Series 1 wins, then Update, then Series 2. Was trying to pull the Judge from Chrome (I did), so it was a distant 4th. 
2018- Series 1 wins, and Update may actually be 2nd as Ohtani fever was rampant and his rookie was in Update. 
2019- I ended up purchasing the entire set (as I would the next 2 years as well), but so think I ended up having more packs opened from Series 1. 
2020- This was definitely the rare Update win. Series 2 was barely on shelves, so it didn’t stand a chance. Update was, and after months of no cards, I just wanted something to rip, so I probably purchased more than 2 boxes of it, coming like 7 cards short of putting the Update series together from packs. I ultimately got the final cards from eBay. 
2021- This was your standard Series 1, Update, Series 2 in the standings. Covid really messed things up for us collectors as I don’t recall too much Series 2 being available. 
2022- I’ve been lucky enough to have more than enough Series 1 on the shelves at Target, but so far no Series 2. Don’t know about Update, since Spencer Torkelson, Kjerstad, and Riley Greene among others will have rookies in Update. 

So there you have it. I think for myself, I just like seeing the different designs and subset designs of new card sets ( non-Topps stuff included), and after getting a good fill after a box or so worth of packs in Series 1, I maybe only get 10 or so of Series 2, and either get bored, or Update or some other set comes out. If a new rookie could make their first appearance in Series 2, I still don’t think it would do anything, as it only has 3 months to sell. 
I would be happy with 1 series and an Update series in August or September to have cards of new rookies and new team photos. I would even be ok without the ‘23 rookies in the ‘23 Update set. It would drive the demand for the regular ‘24 set and the true team collectors would be chasing the Update sets. Maybe it would drive up sales of other sets like Stadium Club, Opening Day, Heritage, whatever. Then Update would actually serve a purpose and it would shake some of these collectors out of the ‘Hey! This guy played for the Red Sox in 2020 and just signed as a free agent with the Mets and is with them for the 2021 season!  Why does his 2021 Series 1 card still show him with the Red Sox???!!!!’  The postseason highlights cards in 2021 Topps show the 2020 postseason, so why shouldn’t the photos reflect the 2020 set?  The stats on the back do. If this ‘yearbook style’ approach isn’t good enough for you, just wait for Heritage or Stadium Club, and if you really want them on the Topps design, Update will have you covered. Maybe make it 100 or so cards bigger to feature all of the trades and rookies, but a little patience on collectors parts would solve the problem of Topps flip flopping between yearbook style and back every decade or so. It wasn’t yearbook style for the 80’s, and only switched in 1993 for the expansion team cards, and then only 1998 for expansion players and a few random guys. I want to say it didn’t switch to non-yearbook style again until 2005. This one really screwed the pooch as far as guys that love yearbook style, as they had postseason highlights cards in Series 1 which highlighted the 2004 postseason, then postseason highlight cards in Update for the 2005 postseason, making us wait until November for Update. Then the floodgates opened, and many free agents who changed teams in the ‘05 offseason were pictured with new teams in the ‘06 set (or pictured with their old team uniform and listed with their new team, see Geoff Blum and Tom Gordon). It’s been like that ever since, and now people freak out if free agents aren’t shown with their new team uni with whom they haven’t even played a game yet. Hello airbrushing. Plus, it just pushes the Series 1 release date from January 1 to the middle of March. 
All in all, I just think a 600-700 card Series 1 released in January with a 400-500 card Update with a few rookies and more traded players releasing in August would suffice. Everyone to play a game in the season gets a card. At least that’s my dream set. 
Do you have any thoughts on Series 2?  How should it be released?  Scrap it altogether?  Do your Series 2 numbers lag and for what reasons?  
Thanks for checking out my latest post.