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Tag Archives: 09 Topps

Rather than giving each box its own post, I figured I’d condense by compiling everything into one post.

First up, Upper Deck. Most of us already know what the base cards look like. A pretty easy task considering many players had double issues in this set — among the Dodgers, Ramirez, Blake, Billingsley, Martin, Kemp, Loney, Furcal, Broxton, Kuroda, and Ethier were all repeats in series II. UD could’ve easily made this set considerably easier to finish (and a lot less boring and repetitive) had they not insisted on going with a 1000 card base set.

So did the inserts get any more interesting this time around? From left to right, a 1989 UD buyback, an O-Pee-Chee preview, and a USA National Team card.

I imagine there are more than a few collectors out there with piles and piles of worthless early 90s Upper Deck cards. Sure, 1989 was UD’s “rookie year,” but a foil stamp isn’t going to make me want those old cards any more than I already do (which is not at all).

All legal issues aside with O-Pee-Chee, I almost wish the base set looked like these rather than the design they went with.




The Ordonez jersey was a box-topper “buyback.” I don’t quite understand the meaning of the term buyback in sports cards vernacular. I do imagine it’s along the same lines as an investment “buyback,” which is an effort to re-acquire outstanding shares in order to reduce the available quantity. So in that sense, vintage “buybacks” such as Heritage, Play Ball, Goudey, etc. make sense in that they’re reacquiring old cards — though not specifically to reduce available quantity, but to include as purchase incentives.

But do cards from 2006 (such as the Ordonez) and the production glut of the 90s really fit the definition? Isn’t it fair to say that UD probably already had these on hand to begin with, thus negating the need to buy back anything?

As entertaining as it is to open a pack and find an auto/gamer in it, I really would rather it didn’t, especially if it meant box prices would be that much lower. A huge consideration since this particular box produced only 300 cards of the 500-card base set.

And now, Topps. The base set continues where series I left off, with much of the same stellar photography. Predictably, lots more spring training photos had to be used in order to accomodate many of the rookies/free agent signings who were unavailable the first time around. Given that, wouldn’t it make more sense — and add value to series II — to wait to depict the big free agent signings?



Nothing really too exciting here, although the Pedroia silk should command a nice trade/sell premium. The insert sets are continuations from series I, with Legends of the Game (10 in this box), Ring of Honor (10), and Turkey Red (10) returning. New for series II are Career Best Legends (two in this box) and WBC stars (five). Returning from 2008 are the Red Hot Rookie redemptions (two).

This jumbo box produced the entire base set (331-660) and 96 base doubles. Although the insert ratios are better for the jumbos, ending up with nearly 100 doubles and the increased MSRP for jumbos in 2009 ($95) will force me to reconsider if this is the path I’ll take for 2010.


20 cards per pack/16 packs per box

Base set completion: 290 of 500 (58%)




As usual, UD’s photography is excellent. Unfortunately, that’s where the accolades end.

2009 Upper Deck is in many ways far from being an ideal set. The first problem: a 1000-card base set. That’s just way too many, and UD ends up filling out the checklist with players who are probably better suited for a Bowman Draft release.

My biggest issue with a 1000-card base set? A single hobby box, even at UD’s bloated MSRP of $70, doesn’t come close to finishing the set. This box was produced just a shade more than half of series 1. A 1000 card base set forces the collector to buy more than one box (or spend that money in trades)  if they want to finish the set. I feel that a 1000-card base set is nothing more than hubris from UD — we can make a base set this big, so we will!

The second problem: lackluster design. While 08 UD was simple (although somewhat derivative of 95 UD), 09 UD lacks that simplicity. The gold bar across the bottom of the card is distracting. And then there’s the team logos superimposed over a non-matching color. What’s up with that?

When juxtaposed with 09 Topps, there simply isn’t any comparison. Topps’ photography is on par with UD’s this year, and their design is exponentially better. After looking at these cards, you get the feeling UD simply rested on its laurels and mailed it in this year.

And then there’s the insert cards. Topps tapped into its CMG deal andthe popularity of retro sets and gave collectors Turkey Red, Legends of the Game, and Ring of Honor. And while UD wisely brought back the USA National Team subset, the rest of the inserts are essentially an epic fail. I didn’t care for Documentary or Yankee Stadium Legacy last year, and I certainly didn’t want to see them again this year. And what a waste of space the 20th anniversary subset is.


Topps is often derided for their creativity, or as others put it “gimmicks.” Whether it’s gimmicks or creativity, or a little of both, their 09 set shines, and UD’s offering pales in comparison.

50 cards per pack/10 packs per box

Base set completion: 330 of 330 (100%)
Total base duplicates: 105

Insert Sets:
Turkey Red: 10 of 50 (20%)
Legends of the Game: 10 of 25 (40%)
Ring of Honor: 10 of 50 (20%)







Not that I bought this box for the “hits,” but let’s see if Topps delivered on what they advertised.

One auto: Sean Rodriguez
Two relics: Ted Williams and Josh Anderson
10 each Turkey Red, Legends of the Game, Ring of  Honor, Gold parallels and Topps Town: Check
One WBC redemption: Present

So it looks like the Sketch Card redemption and the Silk Card were bonuses in my HTA box. Topps delivered in this box what they promised they would.

Disappointments? Well, the fact that the letter patch counts as a relic, since it’s only technically a relic, but whatever. I’m also disappointed that of all the possible players I could’ve ended up with from the Career Best series, I end up with two essentially career minor leaguers. Honestly, whatever — I’m not chasing these stupid hits.

I won’t comment much on the design — that’s already been covered extensively both here and other places — other than I absolutely agree this is what Topps needed to do after last year’s lackluster looking set. And although I’m already predisposed to Topps, I will say objectively that 09 Topps is better than 09 Upper Deck. For starters — Topps is a 660 card base set and Upper Deck’s is 1000. That alone means a jumbo box will produce an entire series set, and a hobby box will come very close. I haven’t yet sorted the results of my 09 UD break, but I’m expecting to be only 2/3 of the way through the set.

As has been noted in many places now, the photography on this year’s cards is exponentially better than it has been in years past. I saw several action shots, and a lot less of the “pull a player out of spring camp and throw him in front of the camera” type pictures. There also appears to be a lot less of the Photoshop wizardry. There is this card, though.


I’m not entirely sure it is (or isn’t) a real, untouched photo. What strikes me as odd is Topps used what looked like a current Dodger photo of Maddux in Stadium Club, so why couldn’t they, months later, use another one for 09 Topps?

Photoshop questions aside, I’ll reiterate it — this is Topps’ best design in a few years, and it’s leaps and bounds better than UD’s 09 offering. I haven’t seen all of the 09 UD inserts yet, but I have no quibbles about Topps’ choice of inserts this year.

After an aggravatingly dry January, and several spring-like 60-degree days, winter finally came back last night.


There were intermittent snow flurries, and at one point, traffic slowed to a crawl as the snow turned into a blinding sheet. It also snowed for about an hour or so today, and was quite a lovely sight to see. And those temps — now back to a more appropriate high-20/low-30 level. Cold winter days and snow flurries all about — some of my favorite things.

But hey, this isn’t about the weather. It’s about the 2009 product …


A jumbo box of Topps S1, a box of Upper Deck S1, and what I was really looking for — a box of American Heritage. Fresh wax waiting to be ripped — definitely some of my favorite things.

The guy at my hobby source was awesome. I called this morning looking for all three, and all he had were Topps S1 hobby boxes. He said he’d save me one, and when I came to pick it up, I was surprised to see all three of these were waiting for me. Score! And to top it off, he charged me MSRP ($63) for the box of American Heritage, which is more than I can say for DACW ($95), Blowout ($75), or The Card Kid ($75). I’m VERY surprised that DACW is charging $30 more than MSRP on these boxes.

Saving that extra $30 — I figured on paying DACW’s price of $95 for a box — means I’ll be for sure buying two boxes of baseball Heritage when it comes out. Saving money — also one of my favorite things.

Strangely enough, I have no idea when I’ll be able to actually break the boxes — it’s going to be a very busy week, and then there’s Valentine’s Day this weekend. In the mean time, I bought a couple loose packs of UD S1 to satiate the pack-breaking urge until then. Too busy a week to find the time to bust wax — not a favorite thing, but a good thing nonetheless.

It appears my local hobby source won’t be getting their load of 2009 product until at least Tuesday, so it looks like I’ll be stuck with retail packs until then.

As a history buff, and a teacher of sorts, the idea of Topps American Heritage is absolutely one I am on board with. Just thinking of the myriad ways I could use these cards as a learning tool is awesome.

I bought two retail packs, and here’s what caught my eye.


It saddens me how often I have to remind others of how important the right to vote is, and for some groups, how relatively new these freedoms are.


Forget voting — how important is the simple freedom of being in a desegregated classroom?



As a Los Angeles native, there’s an obvious appreciation for J.P. Getty. Strangely enough, however, in all my years in LA, I never once managed to visit the Getty Center. This in spite of commuting past it twice a day at one point.


Never been a big fan of the Kennedy brothers, but this is a great picture. I also loved his portrayal in the movie “13 days,” about the Cuban Missile Crisis.



This reminds me — not only did my scanner refuse to scan this card properly, I really need to frame the “Three Umpires” Rockwell print my wife gave me for Christmas.


Oh yeah, I bought some baseball cards too!


In an unintended ode to Upper Deck Documentary, this card commemorates Manny’s efforts against the Cubs in the NLDS. And the picture on the front? It’s from a day game, odd considering all three NLDS games were in the evening. Judging from the brick background, it looks like this was taken at AT & T Park in San Francisco.


No Legends of the Game inserts this time, but I’ll gladly take another Turkey Red. I never once even remotely thought about this set when it was a full set, but as an insert set, they’re incredibly appealing to me. Weird.

And I even managed to buy football cards for the first time in really, a decade. I haven’t bought football cards (aside from the ones I occasionally buy for my nephew) since I collected them in the early 90s. But the idea of revisiting another classic tobacco card set from Topps drew me in.

I didn’t recognize anyone from the pack — my football knowledge is really limited to superstars and whoever’s currently playing for the St. Louis Rams. I did get this nice Matt Forte mini, however.


And it’ll likely be the only card I end up keeping. This an awesome looking set, and I hope Topps continues on its tradition of reviving old tobacco card sets.

The first 2009 card break! I’ve only been back in the hobby for a year or so, but it’s so refreshing to begin again this yearly routine — wait patiently for the new cards to come, open the packs, start sorting, admire the cards, and then off into brand new 5000-count boxes. Now if only Manny would quit the charade and sign already (p.s. we all knew you wouldn’t go to D.C.)

My local Target finally put out its double-wide gravity feeder of 2009 Topps. Strangely, not unlike others out there, it appears retail outlets received their allocations of 09 Topps prior to hobby outlets. I know my hobby source hasn’t received theirs yet — which is irritating as I want more than just retail packs!

I bought five packs, and ended up with 49 base cards, five ToppsTown cards, one gold parallel, one Turkey Red insert, one Legends of the Game insert, and one Legends of the Game parallel, for a total of 58 cards. No, I wasn’t shorted — apparently the Students Work Hard cards and Topps Attax code cards count towards your total of 12.


Initially, I was irritated to learn that one of my 12 cards per pack would be these more or less useless ToppsTown inserts. However, in increasing the cards per pack to 12 from last year’s 10, Topps makes room for the insert as well as another card. This means a hobby box will yield 396 non-ToppsTown cards, which makes completing Series 1 conceivable with just one hobby box. Twenty-six of those 396 remaining cards are slated to be inserts, with the following ratios:

6 Legends of the Game inserts
9 Turkey Red inserts
6 Ring of Honor inserts
4 Numbered parallels
1 World Baseball Classic redemption

That’s 370 potential base cards per hobby box. That should, provided there’s good collation, yield an entire set. Looks like Topps was listening to collectors like myself after all.

While the collation looks like it won’t drive me mad, the parallels once again probably will. After glancing at the sell sheets, I knew that the Legends of the Game subset would be one I’d chase. But as you can see, that subset of course, has parallels. It does appear however, that the parallels are limited to the retail version — this makes sense, as these packs came from Target. Nonetheless, the these stupid parallels even exist is room enough for frustration.

I’ve been very impressed with the inserts from Topps, and this year is no exception. I figured it’d be hard to top last years Trading Card History and 50th Anniversary All-Rookie Team. The aforementioned Legends of the Game as well as Turkey Red look promising too. And with more cards per box, insert collecting doesn’t take away from base set collecting.

The first two Dodgers of the year are Chad Billingsley and Joe Torre.



Last year, Andy LaRoche was the first Dodger to appear, and incidentally, Chad Billingsley was the last. Bills gets to lead off in 2009. And of course, Torre’s Dodger “RC” of course didn’t come out until Series 2 last year.

Overall, I’m pretty thrilled with the design. The last three years of Topps have had their issues. 2006 was just not easy on the eyes — hated the font and the colors. 2007 looked great, but the black borders made them susceptible to dinged corners. 2008 returned to the white borders, but the quasi-retro design was lacking. 2009’s design is easily my favorite since 2005.

I had an unexpected day off today, so I thought I’d kill some time at the local card source. I was hoping to find some deals — specifically, I was hoping that 07 Topps 52 packs would’ve been marked down by now. Unfortunately, nothing of the sort was there. There were a few random markdowns — 07 Ultra, 07 Topps Update, 08 Topps fat packs — but nothing that really caught my eye.

For a second, I even conidered something high-end, as there were mini-boxes of 07 Bowman Sterling for $20. I fought the wax-ripping urge, and boy, was it strong. I even pondered buying Garbage Pail Kids, or even Obama cards. But I fought it off; and it’s probably one of the few times I went in there without spending a penny.

All this to say I cannot wait for the 2009 product to come out. I’m eagerly awaiting putting together the Topps set, and I have enough spare change I may even contemplate putting together the Upper Deck set.

This is a strange time of year. It seems like only yesterday when Evan Longoria and Carlos Pena were wishing for a miracle; when Manny was picking curveballs from his shoetops and launching them into the Wrigley Field bleachers. Knowing that pitchers and catchers report in a little more than two weeks is making me salivate at the thought of baseball. And the little tidbits — the MLB network, 2009 baseball cards — oh how they tantalize the senses.

I’m sure most have read this, but I feel it’s poignant….

It breaks your heart. It is designed to break your heart. The game begins in the spring, when everything else begins again, and it blossoms in the summer, filling the afternoons and evenings, and then as soon as the chill rains come, it stops and leaves you to face the fall alone. You count on it, rely on it to buffer the passage of time, to keep the memory of sunshine and high skies alive, and then just when the days are all twilight, when you need it most, it stops.

– former MLB commissioner A. Bartlett Giamatti, The Green Fields of the Mind

p.s. Manny needs to sign with the Dodgers already. Scott Boras’ game of chicken is getting tiresome.