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Tag Archives: Donruss

You know, I believe in the economic idea that competition between companies means a better product for the consumer. However, given the recent slate of releases from Upper Deck, combined with the swings and misses from Donruss, it’s safe to say that there is no real competition for Topps.

When you have beyond-mediocre releases such as A Piece of History, Goudey, First Edition, Icons, X, SPx, Elite Extra Edition,  not to mention the barely-even-worth-mentioning TriStar releases, is it even fair to say anyone competes with Topps? Did any of these releases even close to registering even a footstep, a faint zephyr of a breath against Heritage and Allen & Ginter?

Even Topps’ problematic recent products, such as Stadium Club, were far better than the best of what Upper Deck released in 2008-09. That said, I find it difficult to even raise an eyebrow at Major League Baseball’s decision to award Topps an exclusive license. Upper Deck has not only failed to compete against Topps, they’re flooding the market with one mediocre release after another — which is precisely what moved MLB to rescind Donruss’ license for 2006 and beyond. griffey

Competition is a great thing when there’s actual competition. Sadly, it’s clear that Upper Deck rested on its laurels, and has been in cruise control for some time now. Their designs seem so boring, if not outright recycled. And when a company doesn’t have the same sort of archival history that Topps does, recycling designs is a doomed idea from the start. Heritage makes sense from a historical standpoint, but there’s nothing particularly historic about 1995 SP Authentic.

Out of duty, it seems, I’m compiling this year’s (and apparently final) Upper Deck base set. I’m also still looking forward to Goodwin Champions. But given the mistakes and miscues rampant in everything Upper Deck lately, I have strong doubts that it’ll be the sort of knock-it-out-of-the-park success that Upper Deck so badly needs. It’s sad really, that the same company that produced one of the hobby’s most iconic cards would go on to produce such garbage in the future — drawing parallels with other dying breeds, i.e. Detroit’s Big Three.

I think the comparison to Chrysler and GM is appropriate — one-time king of the hill. Now, just a second-rate, barely-even-there competitor. Many of the same mistakes were made — hubris that came about from early successes clouded their innovative streak — which in turn left us with a sad shadow of what once was.

While it’ll certainly be odd to see just Topps wax on the pegboards next year, I know that I won’t be missing Upper Deck’s presence. When it comes to economics, I’ve never been a big fan of consolidation. It limits consumer choice, and inevitably causes the consolidated company to get lazy. We’ll see if Topps can avoid that — then again, Upper Deck appears to be doing fine with its hockey exclusive, and by all appearances Donruss is doing fine with its football exclusive. But in the world of baseball cards, Upper Deck has so badly mismanaged its franchise, it amounts to a virtual consolidation. There is no real choice — UD’s product is so feeble, the consumer has no real choice but Topps.

Eight cards per pack/14 packs per box

Base set (1-100) completion: 54 of 100 (54%)
2007 SP RC set (101-142) completion: 21 of 42 (50%)
Short print set (143-234) 14 of 92 (15%)
1996 SP RC set (243-284) 21 of 50 (42%)
Total set completion (this box) 108 of 284 (38%)
Total duplicates: 2 (2007 SP RC design)

Overall set completion (2 hobby boxes) 154 of 284 (54%)

“Hits”

pence

slowey

Impressions

Well, out of 108 possible cards, only 46 contributed to the set’s completion, leaving me at just a hair more than halfway through. And I’m nowhere near picking up all the short prints. Wow. That’s some bad collation. Oh well, no surprise here. Although this is going to give me some serious pause about even bothering with another box of Timeline. I think I’m better off trying to work trades to finish off the rest of these two sets.

Seriously, this is pathetic that two hobby boxes doesn’t even come close to finishing the base set. If this is Upper Deck’s model — and it certainly appears like it’s going to be in 2009, with a 1000-card flagship base set — they’re going to have an even harder time selling those hobby boxes.

It’s hard to really understand what in the world UD is thinking — producing bloated, massive base sets, inundating them with SPs, and canning their few worthwile sets. I have to think that if UD keeps this up, Topps is going to have fewer and fewer challenges, what with Fleer out of the picture, and Donruss relegated to non-licensed sets.

Five cards per pack, 15 packs per box

Base set completion: 50 of 100 (50%)
Base duplicates: 1
Inserts: 18

“Hits”

gotg_scans

gotg_scans_2

Impressions

As you can see from the scans, it looks like I ended up with a Yankee-heavy box. Too bad for me!

This was the first of three boxes I ordered from Dave & Adam’s, taking advantage of their Christmas sale prices and free shipping. That this box even arrived here today when it did is a feat in itself. I had originally ordered these on Monday the 15th, assuming that between the time it took UPS to deliver, and the final work week of the year, I’d have something to occupy myself the first couple of days of vacation. I should’ve figured on late ship dates though — DACW didn’t ship until 12/16, which meant the maximum time UPS would take extended my delivery time until 12/24, meaning I’d have no time to break the box until after Christmas!

Fast forward to today, when UPS finally showed them out for delivery. I waited for the usual time the driver comes by, and nothing. Checked my tracking numbers — wait a minute, delivered? Our usually reliable driver for some reason sent my boxes next door.

Long story short, it took a while, but they’re finally here.

I feel this set is what 08 Donruss Threads should’ve been. The 100-card checklist is nothing but HOFers and retired stars. It seems to me that the last set to do really well with a checklist of non-active players was 07 Legendary Cuts. Everything else since then has really faltered in terms of checklist variety.

But as for these cards, as I mentioned in a pack break earlier, they feature a simple, bordered design with enough old-timey looking artistic accents to give them the proper feel for a retired players set.

As for the box, I’m disappointed (though not surprised) that I only managed half of a base set with one hobby box. Even if the 18 inserts had been base cards, I’d still be only a little more than two-thirds of the way to a full set. Still, with a five-card/15 pack configuration, that’s not a surprise. What I am happy about is the price point on the box compared to its actual retail price. I bought a single pack for $6. I saved $20 off the price of 15 hobby packs.

I do wish we could go back to 04-06 in the baseball card production era. Lots of 100-150 card base sets; hobby boxes with 20 or more packs per box, and a greater variety of interesting sets to collect — as opposed to the Upper Deck Timeline/Documentary/X debacle of 2008. Those three years were great, and it’s no surprise that I continue to bust boxes from that time period.

As an added bonus from DACW, with a $50 purchase, I received two free hobby packs of 07 UD Masterpieces. In one of the packs was this card:

cain

Once again, as a Dodger fan, it sure is odd ending up with all these Giants and Yankees!

Coming tomorrow: 2007 Bowman Heritage hobby box, and a package from Cards on Cards

24 packs per box, eight cards per pack
Base set completion: 167/200 (84%)
Insert set completion: not even close
Duplicates: none

“Hits”
Diamond Heritage 5 Albert Pujols
Diamond Heritage 12 Sammy Sosa
League Leaders Duo 5 S.Sosa/T.Glaus
League Leaders 8 Cal Ripken Jr.
League Leaders 10 Tony Gwynn
Stars of MLB 3 Eric Chavez
Stars of MLB 8 Kerry Wood
Fans of the Game 2 Tia Carrere
Connections 7 S.Rolen/L.Walker
Connections 16 B.Upton/C.Crawford
Connections 24 J.Bench/T.Seaver
Changing Stripes 10 Ken Griffey Jr.
Changing Stripes 17 Nomar Garciaparra
Changing Stripes 20 Sean Casey
Changing Stripes Foil 25 Reggie Jackson 78/100
Xtra Bases Red 18 Javy Lopez 44/150
Xtra Bases Purple 192 Dave Parker 79/100
Prestigious Pros Bronze 12 Alfonso Soriano 25/100
Prestigious Pros Purple 33 Miguel Cabrera 40/200
Prestigious Pros Purple 64 Carlos Beltran 73/200
Prestigious Pros Green 51 Ichiro 76/350
Prestigious Pros Green 9 Hank Blalock 58/350
Prestigious Pros Orange 25 Rafael Palmeiro 299/500
Prestigious Pros Orange 54 David Ortiz 299/500
Prestigious Pros Red 56 Nomar Garciaparra 644/700
Prestigious Pros Red 74 Rollie Fingers 551/700
Prestigious Pros Blue 39 Don Sutton 234/900
Prestigious Pros Blue 51 Ichiro 228/900
Prestigious Pros Blue 76 Jose Vidro 165/900

scans

Impressions:

I fell in love with the design of this set forever ago, so I’m stoked to finally open a box of these cards. As usual with Donruss, inserts and parallels galore. Had this box come without inserts, I would likely be only seven cards short of a complete base set (the box came with 29 inserts). As it was, I finished 37 cards short, which is not a bad number at all. Far better than I’ll be when it comes time to open 2009 Heritage, for example. I really wish the manufacturers would keep this in mind — not all of us are crazy-rich (or just plain crazy) and can afford to break a case or whatever of cards. A lot of times, I want to break a single box and come as close as I can to finishing a base set.

Nonetheless, the inserts are well-designed, and other than the “League Leaders” subset, don’t have that “just think of SOMETHING to throw in there” look about them. I especially liked the Diamond Heritage subset — yet I failed to include one in my scan — with its backdrop of a baseball’s stitches.

The “Fans of the Game” subset, as nice as it looks, really feels unnecessary to me. Maybe it’s just me, but I’m not too concerned with what celebrity is a fan of whichever team. And of course, this is assuming they actually are fans — not that I’d automatically doubt that “Cassandra” is actually a Blue Jay fan, but you know?

I guess I would’ve like nicer players other than known steroid freaks Paul Lo Duca and Roger Clemens as my hits. That’s too bad too — a few years back, I would’ve been tickled pink to have such nice cards of theirs. Of course, post-Mitchell Report, their reputations are just a tad tarnished.

And there’s the travesty of pulling a Don Sutton insert, but having it be in Angels uniform!

Regardless, the inserts will make a nice addition to my trade box, and I’m excited about having another set-building project to do over Christmas break.

The wife and I made a trek up north this weekend. Normally, this would also entail a visit to the two card shops out there. Alas, we went on a Sunday, so both places weren’t open for business. As a consolation prize, we stopped at a market on the way home that always has tons of older wax on clearance.

wrap

All of this for just $14 — “all of this” of course, in relation to how much these packs originally cost. That’s two packs of 05 UD MVP, one pack of 05 UD All-Star Classics, one pack of 06 Fleer Greats of the Game, one pack of 05 Topps Gallery, one pack of 05 Donruss, and one pack of 05 Donruss Zenith. Not a whole lot going on in these packs as far as Dodgers — only Eric Gagne showed up. Here are my favorites:

highlights

Once again, I prove I’m a sucker for HOFer cards. And finding HOF inserts in packs as cheap as UD MVP is always a bonus. It was also nice to discover Topps Gallery. As a forever fan of Allen & Ginter and Masterpieces, and their painting-style portraits, Gallery is definitely up my alley. It’s too bad I doubt that I’ll ever buy Gallery unless it’s in a bargain bin though. Those are some pretty cards, but that’s also some expensive wax!

I didn’t care much for the Zenith or the MVPs. MVP’s design in 2005 just doesn’t do anything for me. I much prefer the 2000 design, and I have a complete set to prove it. The Zeniths, well, that just screams “crappy-looking overpriced high-end wax.” Ugly, ugly cards. Dayf agrees. And for some reason, the Biggio pictured above is an “Artist’s Proof,” although I’m not really sure if any artistry went into the design of that card.

Pulling a AU/GU out of bargain wax is always a bonus. That didn’t happen, but I did make yet another wonderful discovery. Of all this wax, 2005 UD All-Star Classics really caught my eye. Take the usual stellar UD photography, clean design, add a bunch of HOFers/retired stars, and hook, line, and sinker — I’m sold.

highlights2

Provided I can find a hobby box somewhere, I’ll probably work on this set next. It sure seems like 2005 was a very good year for Upper Deck, at least in terms of good, small, easy-to-collect sets. Classics, which I broke a box of a few weeks ago, and now All-Star Classics. Even better about All-Star Classics is the lack of stupid short prints. I’m pretty sure a hobby box of 24 packs/8 cards per pack will yield close to two full base sets. In fact, I’d say the only thing wrong about ASC is the fact that Jeff Kent, Edwin Jackson, and Eric Gagne are the only Dodgers represented in this set — not one of their HOFers are included!

Pack Breakdown:

2005 Donruss
73 Chone Figgins
116 Byung-Hyun Kim
140 Todd Walker
195 Juan Pierre
202 Carlos Beltran
335 Albert Pujols
228 Jim Edmonds
356 Francisco Cordero
360 Laynce Nix
DK-17 Derek Jeter Diamond Kings

05 Donruss Zenith
84 Chipper Jones
129 Jack Wilson
191 John Buck
220 J.J. Hardy
116 Craig Biggio Artist’s Proof Gold 16/50

2005 Upper Deck All-Star Classics:
6 Carlos Beltran
10 David Ortiz
15 Gary Sheffield
27 Kerry Wood
52 Alex Rios
66 Johan Santana
77 Bill Mazeroski
94 Ozzie Smith

2005 Upper Deck MVP
1 Adam Dunn
2 Adrian Beltre
26 Eric Gagne
28 Garrett Anderson
32 Hideki Matsui
33 Ichiro
36 Jake Peavy
49 Jose Vidro
54 Khalil Greene
63 Miguel Cabrera
BU-9 Catfish Hunter
BU-32 Ralph Kiner

2005 Topps Gallery
28 Lyle Overbay
119 Raul Ibanez
132 Melvin Mora
149 Randy Johnson
77 Kazuo Matsui Artist’s Proof

2006 Fleer Greats of the Game
7 Bill Madlock
21 Carlton Fisk
60 Lou Piniella
95 Wade Boggs
DET-TC Ty Cobb Tigers Greats

24 packs, 5 cards per pack
Retail price paid: $83

Base set completion: 98 of 100 (98%)
Insert/parallel set completion: Not even close!
Base doubles: 8, out of 120 total cards in the box.

“Hits”

Diamond Kings DK-48 Stan Musial AU 22/25
Baseball Americana BA-47 Eddie Matthews GU 91/100
Autographed Rookies 132 Engel Beltre AU 96/465
Autographed Rookies 137 Brian Friday AU 1107/1249
Autographed Silver Rookie 87 Yefri Carvajal AU 154/999
Silver Century Proof 2 Dale Murphy 63/100
Green Century Proof 100 Elvis Andrus 20/100
Baseball Americana BA-8 Ernie Banks 219/500
Century Legends CL-14 Pete Rose
Century Stars CS-1 Carlton Fisk
College Greats CG-11 Steve Garvey
College Greats CG-12 Fred Lynn
Diamond Kings Framed Red DK-29 Bobby Doer 44/100
Diamond Kings Silver DK-52 Gordon Beckham 8/250
Diamond Kings DK-36 Pete Rose
Diamond Kings DK-37 George Kell

Impressions:

A current hobby box producing 98% of a base set? See, I knew it was still possible. The manufacturers have merely been lazy, or worse yet, indifferent to this concept. So when a hobby box produces this much of a base set, I am definitely happy.

The cards themselves are what 08 SP Authentic could be if UD’s designers put a little more effort into it. Sure, there’s a white background, but it’s mostly filled, with a sepia-toned (for the HOFers) or full-color photo background shadow that fades to white. Love the thicker card stock as well.

The team names are missing from the cards — only the teams’  home cities are listed. I’m guessing this is part of the lack of MLB/MLBPA licensing for Donruss. In many instances, team names/logos in the photos are obscured as well. This technicality must’ve forced Donruss to use many less-than-ideal side view and profile shots for these cards. I do hope MLB/MLBPA grants Donruss a license again, as the lack of logos/team names does take away from what is otherwise a beautiful card.

I wasn’t intending on buying a box, but I couldn’t stay away knowing how many HOFers/retired stars are featured in this set. And I certainly can’t complain about the Dodger inclusion here. Obvious subjects such as Don Sutton, Duke Snider, and Steve Garvey are in, as well as not-so-obvious subjects such as Carl Erskine and Double-A Jacksonville slugger Andrew Lambo — and I suppose you can add Eddie Murray (depicted in an Oriole jersey), Kirk Gibson (Tigers), and Don Mattingly (Yankees) to the list of “Dodgers.”

As weird as it is to think of Don Mattingly as a Dodger, it’s still nowhere near as bad as it was thinking of JACK CLARK as a Dodger.

Anyway, back to the cards. Given that Elite Extra Edition is going to be out soon, I’m not really all that thrilled with the inclusion of 50 minor leaguers in the set. Don’t get me wrong — I love minor league cards. I’ll be buying a box of 08 TriStar Prospects Plus, and I’ll probably grab more than a few packs of Bowman Draft and Razor’s first offering into the minor league card market. But it seems really odd to find cards of Madison Bumgarner and Carlos Carrasco in the same pack as Willie Mays and Mike Schmidt. I don’t buy that Donruss needed the extra subjects to fill a 100-card base set. They could’ve easily filled it out with more HOFers/retired stars. I mean, just look at 05 UD Classics. No need for prospects there!

If they HAD to do prospects, I would’ve preferred this year’s draftees. Then again, with so many of them signed exclusively to Razor, there wouldn’t have been many to go around. So it makes more sense to fill the checklist with more HOFers and retired stars.

Still, in spite of the quips I had about this set, it’s one of my favorites for the year. It also doesn’t hurt that I pulled nearly an entire base set, a load of good inserts, and two HOF auto/gamers.

07 UD Masterpieces retail pack (2.99, Wal-Mart)

32 Vladimir Guererro
71 Ryan Howard
41 Josh Hamilton
15 Hideki Matsui

After being really reluctant and hesitant to get into these cards when they first came out, I’ve fallen totally in love with them. I love the “canvas” stock, and the painting-style photography. I also love that it’s only a 90-card set, so the hobby box I have headed this way is likely to complete the set for me.

08 Donruss 7-Eleven Madden 09 Promo

5 Adrian Peterson
1 Tony Romo
6 Ben Roethlisberger (x2)
4 LaDainian Tomlinson
10 Matt Hasselbeck
3 Vince Yong
8 Matt Ryan

The nice lady at the 7-Eleven gave me a lot more than my prescribed “one free with the purchase of a Slurpee souvenir cup.” I don’t collect football cards, but I do wish I had asked her to look for UCLA alum Maurice Jones-Drew. If anyone out there wants these cards, let me know!