Saturday, September 24, 2022

1996 Topps Seattle Mariners team set

 In 1996, I was 13 years old. I had just come off of a 1995 baseball season where I saw one of my favorite teams of the time, the Atlanta Braves, win the World Series. Kind of lost in the glory of the Braves finally winning a title and the Indians getting so close was the story of the 1995 Seattle Mariners. The team had some major hurdles that summer (Ken Griffey, Jr. getting injured and the potential relocation of the team if a stadium bill wasn't passed), but they overcame them. There is a very nice documentary on the MLB network about the team, so if you have MLB Network, I would recommend you check it out. I remember Griffey had a great 1995 season, and I was expecting him to hit 50 HRs, and then he got injured, and it seemed like the team would miss the postseason again. He came back from the injury early, and the Mariners got hot and the Angels got cold, forcing a 1-game playoff at the end of the season against the Angels for the AL West crown and a spot in the postseason. Randy Johnson won the game, only giving up 3 hits, and the Mariners were in the playoffs. In the ALDS, they won the series in the final game on an extra inning double by Edgar Martinez to score Griffey. They were a tad weaker than the Indians, but if you played the 1995 ALCS 100 times, I bet that Mariners team could've won about 35-40 of the games. 
Just off the top of my head, they had a decent starting lineup. Catcher Dan Wilson was a great defensive catcher, and he had a little power. 1B Tino Martinez was just starting to come to his own and hit for power. 2B Joey Cora was fast and an excellent bunter. SS Alex Rodriguez struggled some, but we all know how his career went.  3B Mike Blowers was solid and could give you about 20 HRs.   LF was a mix of Rich Amaral, Darren Bragg, and Vince Coleman. The first 2 were solid defenders, while Coleman gave you a threat to steal bases. CF Ken Griffy, Jr. was one of the best players of my generation, and the centerpiece of the Mariners lineup. RF Jay Buhner could mash 40 HRs yearly. DH Edgar Martinez was a doubles machine and challenged for the batting title every year.
The starting pitchers were Randy Johnson, Andy Benes, Tim Belcher, Bob Wolcott, and Chris Bosio. Johnson was a threat for a no-hitter every time out. Benes was a solid strikeout pitcher and was capable of 15 wins a year. Belcher had playoff experience and could win you 12-15 every year. Wolcott was a surprising rookie who had enormous potential before his career fizzled out. Bosio was a 12-15 win pitcher, and he pitched a no-hitter 2 seasons earlier. The bullpen was solid with Jeff Nelson, Norm Charlton, Ron Villone, Bob Wells, Lee Guetterman, Bill Krueger, and Bobby Ayala. Most of the guys had middle relief or setup fame, but all were decent players, and Charlton had playoff experience with the Reds. Throw in some solid bench guys like C Chad Kreuter (who hit 20 HRs for Detroit), Felix Fermin, Luis Sojo, Doug Strange, Rich Amaral, and Warren Newson, and they had a deep bench who came through during the playoffs. 
After watching the 1995 season, I was eager to get baseball cards in 1996. I got random packs at Wal-Mart (Topps, Upper Deck, Collector's Choice), and towards the end of the year, Topps put out team sets of a number of teams. Each one came with a big card of the teams best player. For the Braves, each card had a World Championship logo on it, the Indians had the AL Champions logo on it, each division winner had a special logo on it, and the rest of the teams with sets had a 'Team Topps' logo. I got the Braves, Indians, Mariners, and the Yankees (don't hate. I wanted the Mickey Mantle card) that summer/fall. While I had the 1996 Topps Mariners team set, the entire 1996 Topps set is only 440 cards, its smallest set ever. I decided to skip ahead of the checklist in the 1996 Topps set and finish off all of the Mariners and post them. 

The Kingdome and Piniella card were done by Richard B. of the FB Custom Card group, and the A-Rod was done by Topps. 
So, there you have it, the missing Mariners cards in the 1996 Topps set. Hope you enjoyed this trip down memory lane. 
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Wednesday, September 21, 2022

Unexpected trip to the card shop

 So a few days I put up a post about basically us getting new flooring and doing some painting. I was kind of freaking out about having to have to pack up everything like we were moving, and I probably said some things in it that were hasty, so I went ahead and took it down. 
Fast forward to today, it turns out that it wasn’t too bad having to take everything down and it didn’t take nearly as long as I thought it would, and we even got a little painting done today. One of Karens friends, actually. We’ve been paying her to do some housekeeping that we have just been too busy to get to for the past few months, and it’s been nice, and she did all of the packing and painted some of our front entryway today. 
I got off work and rushed to pick up Kyler from school, and on the way home Karen called and said her friend wasn’t done painting, and told me to find something to do for half an hour like go to a card shop or something. Well, you don’t have to tell me twice to go to a card shop, so we headed over to the one by our house. 
If not for having a 5 year old and me having a full bladder I would’ve spent a much longer time, but I spent a good 20 minutes or so. I was hoping their pencil boxes with team cards would be there. The Junk Wax Gems blog recently posted about a few of the latter 2002 Topps factory sets having corrected versions of some photo errors in them. The pencil boxes at my LCS have had 2002 Topps cards in them ever since I’ve been coming there, and with the sheer amount, I figured they were from a broken up complete set. Unfortunately for me, I either didn’t notice them, or they weren’t there. They did have the normal .50 cent boxes, and I looked through the Rays and Tigers and tried to find Kyler and Ichiro in the Mariners. I also picked up a 1990 Topps Traded set for 10 bucks, probably too much, but it gives me complete sets from the 1988-1990 Topps sets (including traded). I’m probably a few regular 1987 Topps cards short of that one (and maybe the 1986 one as well). 
The ‘90 Traded Travis Fryman was so hot in the early ‘90’s and I am still shocked that it isn’t at least 15 bucks for that card. I was also surprised that the Paredes rookie was in the .50 cent box. He is a decent hitter for the Rays, and while not a rare parallel, I’ll take a parallel over a base card if offered. 

Not too many Rays today, but I did find a Shane Baz parallel rookie (hope his arm is good). I did good as far as favorite players. I may already have the Cecil Fielder, but I can add it to the Tigers binder. The ‘21 Pink Refractor of Didi is the first one from that set for me. After Night Owl’s post about Topps Chrome, I realized the last time I purchased a pack of Topps Chrome had to be 2018. Dang flippers!  Terry Leach and Casey Mize are both Auburn alumnus. The Yarbrough is the 4th ‘21 Chrome card I have of his. I believe I have his base, Fish Fractor, Green Wave Refractor, and Sepia Refractor. 
Of course, the rookies in the Traded set don’t go for nearly as much as back in the day, but they will still go in my rookie binder. The Franco was sitting in the .50 cent box and I figured I’d take a flier. I think he’s going to rebound from this year and his stuff  will probably be out of my price range soon enough, so if I can find a chance to get a cheap rookie year card of Wander, I’ll get it, even if I already have a copy. 
So that was my trip to the card shop. I found Kyler a 2020 Topps Update Ichiro, and he was happy with it. Hopefully this painting and new floor install will keep going smooth and maybe I’ll have to go to card shops on a whim. 
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Friday, September 9, 2022

2023 Topps Sell Sheets are live!

 Well, it looks like the 2023 Topps sell sheets are live. I don't know about you, but I don't know what to think. I'll just let the pictures do the talking and then give my thoughts.

All base cards are SPs?!  DraftKings promos?! Cards of breakers and flipper brahs?!  I don't know if I'm going to buy a pack. I was going to probably get a few packs and get the complete set at the end of the year, but if all of the freaking base cards are SPs, I don't even know if a complete boxes set will be in the game for Topps, or if anyone who really wants a complete base set will have to spend a few hundred on eBay to get one. I'm no math wizard, but if packs have 8 cards with the base cards only falling 1 in 75 or so packs, I figure I could put together a complete set from the parallel cards quicker than I could from pulling a base card from a pack. It wouldn't be the same color, but at least I could put together a 1-330 complete set. I guess at the very least I'll try to put together a mixed parallel set of the Rays and Tigers. The getting a pack thing might be out of the question for me and many people too, as I don't know where a freaking 'Lids Outlet' is, and I figure the flippers would buy out the supply at my Local Card shop before I get a chance to head by after work whenever the cards come out. It might drive down insert prices if they are being pulled 8 of 8 cards in 74 of 75 packs. I just don't get the inserts. I liked some of the first pitch cards they had in the 2015-2017 sets, but I'm just not a celebrity fanboy, so the Fanatics Fans cards really aren't for me. I have nothing but disgust for flippers, and breakers are helping the products not stay on shelves for me to find and are probably driving up prices, so I don't care for them either and don't feel like they deserve an insert devoted to them. I don't gamble, and feel that can be a slippery slope for many people, so I think that's my least favorite insert of all. The '52/'87 insert doesn't really appeal to me as I feel like both of those are overdone and I don't see the point of combining the two sets. With that being said, it is probably the insert that I would actually put in my binders and not just throw in my Allen & Ginter oddball box. The parallels might actually be the most interesting things out there. I would love to pull a Draft Pick card (the most likely chance of that happening would be if I pulled a parallel insert), but I just don't want to bust pack after pack of nothing I want in order to get one. With the looks of the names on the partial checklist, I might just try to buy a 3-5 Tigers and Rays partial parallel team set and call it a day. Maybe we'll just have to wait for a kid-themed set like Opening Day or something later in the 2023 card season if we want to see the roster of our favorite teams if we aren't Yankees/Padres/Dodgers fans. I'm really worried and I hope that this isn't the way cards are going to go, because I really don't know if I want to participate in collecting cards if I can't build a nice team set of my favorite team and easily buy a complete set. 

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Tuesday, September 6, 2022

2023 Topps Rob Manfred

 As promised yesterday, here is the 2023 Topps card of our beloved Comissioner Rob Manfred!
Rob is probably holding his head from embarassment from the gambling sites taking the game over. Or maybe it is from the backdoor deal with Fanatics that he made so the Murdock deal with Topps would fall through. Or maybe it is from some of the preposterous rule changes he has allowed like starting a runner at second base in extra innings. Or maybe it is from embarassment after letting the Chicago-heavy veterans committee elect fellow-Chicagoan and mediocre slugger 20-HR threat Harold Baines to the Hall of Fame. Or maybe it's from letting half the league into the playoffs. Maybe it's from how he handled the positive Covid test of Justin Turner in Game 6 of the 2020 World Series (we know that it had to have been a rapid test, which means the League officials, the Dodgers, the Dodgers trainer who tested Turner, and Turner himself all knew before the game started and still let him play; probably factoring into Manfred making a decision to pay off Stu $ternberg to have his Rays manager Kevin Cash pull Blake Snell with 1 out in the 5th with just a runner on 1st and have the Rays just basically play dead so the Dodgers would wrap up the Series and no executive decision on Turner would have to be made for Game 7 and the coverup wouldn't get out). Maybe Rob is upset that more middle class teams are either being forced to become small-market perennial non-contenders like the Diamondbacks, Reds, Rockies, Marlins, Pirates, Orioles, Tigers, Royals, and Athletics. Maybe he's upset that teams that will barely make the playoffs like the Braves, Phillies, Brewers, Giants, White Sox, Angels, Twins, Mariners, Rays, Rangers, and Blue Jays are 99% not going to win it all because of the huge payrolls and lavish spending of big market owners. Maybe he is upset that he can't control the huge spending of big market owners that the Dodgers, Cardinals, Padres, Red Sox, and Yankee$ do which drives free agent salaries up and cuts his profits down. Maybe he is embarassed how he gave a hard deadline of having a shortened season during the lockout, then when the owners caved and the players gave up some of thier demands that he seemed like a liar and told fans that they WOULD actually have a 162 game season. Msybe he is embarassed of all of it. Either way, with the looks of both of those photos, I know this is a card I DON'T want to be pulling from a pack of 2023 Topps. 

Now that the Manfred jokes are out of my system, I thought I would try to make a different version of the 2023 Topps design. 

That is my version. Still has some of the angles, but much more room on the bottom, still a logo on the side, but not as big, a bigger nameplate where even a big name (like Adley Rutschman) can fit, still a position, and even added room on a 3rd corner (bottom right) where Topps could put their logo, instead of only on the top 2 corners on their design. 

That is them next to each other. My version kind of looks a little like the 2004 Topps Total set. I think the actual 2023 Topps design kind of borrows from it a little, with the scoreboardy elements and the angles (more on the back).

I don't know if anyone's made that comparision or not. I really hope the '23 design grows on me in time. I just felt like '21 was a little different, but way better than 2016-2020, and the 2021 design was one of the best one it's had in almost a decade. The 2023 design took a step back. Hopefully that is the fault of the people at Topps that might be on their way out and not Fanatics. We don't need another company that doesn't care about the true fans who actually watch the games and aren't in to flip and make a profit. 

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