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Tag Archives: Stupid Parallels

24 packs per box/five cards per box

Base set completion: 60 of 73 (81%)
Base duplicates: 9

Insert/parallel sets:
1941 Reprints: 10 of 15 (67%)
Mini: 14 of 74 (19%)
Red Backs: 22 of 74 (30%)
Ted Williams Tribute: 1 of 15 (6%)
Summer of 1941: 1 of 15 (6%)
The Yankee Clipper 1941 Streak: 3 of 56 (5%)

“Hits”

playball

hudson

dimaggio

Impressions

This was a nice surprise to find among the closeouts at Charm City Cards. And seeing how nice this set looks compared to its 2004 iteration makes it all the better I found a box.

As I’ve opined on here before, sets really ought to be more like this one in size, rather than the gargantuan checklists that exist today. While a single hobby box didn’t produce an entire base set, it did produce enough that completing the set isn’t some insurmountable task.

This modern rendition of the 1941 Play Ball set reiterates the biggest reason why I love retro sets — simplicity. The design is clean, and uncluttered, and the only modern addition is the “Play Ball” logo in the upper right. Like Topps Heritage, it takes the old design and leaves it be. The 1941 reprints are an added bonus too.

Speaking of bonuses, if only Topps would do its Heritage buybacks the same way this set did. No stamp or any other distraction from the original card’s design ruins this card. And what a treat to see how the 68-year-old cardboard shows it age, but still looks in good shape considering how long it’s existed.

My only quips with this set are the insane insertion rates for SPs and the ubiquitous parallels. Really, UD thought 1:24 for two different SP subsets was a good idea for a set builders’ set? And while I’m no fan of parallels, the set is at least small enough that compiling a set of red backs and/or minis isn’t an Allen & Ginter-esque task.

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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.

scans

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.

chad

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.

As I mentioned in earlier post, it’s puzzling to me that Upper Deck would eliminate two of its most popular products and stick with some its more widely-panned products. Then again, what do the critics know?

But that’s the thing — we may be more than just self-proclaimed “critics,” particularly since the sportscard media is really limited to just Beckett and Tuff Stuff. More importantly, we’re consumers, the ones who the card companies ought to be listening to.

Are they listening to us? In a way, I feel they are. Look at the 09 iteration of Upper Deck Goudey. Far less short print stupidity makes for a far more manageable checklist than the last two sets. Then again, rather than making the same change for Masterpieces, they’re canning it altogether.

As  a set-builder, I can attest that far less short-print stupidity would be a welcome change. In a time when the economy is ailing, the last thing I want to do is buy more product. I want to finish my sets, and enjoy my hobby. But when push comes to shove, I’d rather eat than search for SPs. If their scheme to get me to buy more boxes is to mismange the collation and inundate the sets with bloated checklists and SPs, it’s not going to work.

I look  back to say, 05-06, and think of the number of 100-card, non-short printed sets available during that time, and I wish UD and Topps hadn’t strayed from that formula. I also look at 08’s Donruss Threads and point that out as an example of exactly what I want to see in terms of collation — one 24 pack hobby box produced nearly an entire base set, and a bounty of inserts, autos, and gamers. Then I look at 08 UD Timeline, and see that a 24 pack hobby box isn’t even going to come remotely close to finishing the set, and I’ll still have work to do after even two boxes.

Contrary to what many others think, it’s not the gimmicks such as Kazuo Uzuki, or Hillary Clinton/Morganna that need to go. I actually LIKE those things. Cards like those make collecting not so monotonous. It breaks up the scenery, so to speak. It’s the lack of bang for the buck that really aggravates me. I’ll buy the cards, Topps and Upper Deck, that much we’ve established. I just need you to make it so it doesn’t cost me an arm and a leg to do it.

So in 2009, I want to see from UD and Topps the same thing I see from everyone else — a belt-tightening of sorts. No more overabundant sets. No more overzealous checklists. No more repetitive checklists. No more short print stupidity. No more ridiculous MSRPs! Seven dollars for a six-card pack of Masterpieces? Five dollars for a pack of base Upper Deck? No more using cheap, undesirable rookie autographs of Single-A washouts to justify price increases and “high-end” product. Make these inserts count and don’t waste them on the 42nd man of a 40-man roster!

For many of us, collecting is paid for with discretionary income. And with discretionary incomes growing smaller, UD and Topps need to make it so we get far more bang for the buck than we did in 07-08.

It was with great disappointment that I read Upper Deck plans on discontinuing the Masterpieces brand. It’s a shame as it was one of the few Upper Deck releases I actually looked forward to in 2008.

Really, it’s just another in a rash of bad decisions by Upper Deck — not that Topps was innocent of such things themselves — Moments and Milestones, anyone? That they’re bringing back the widely panned X, A Piece of  History/Artifacts, Opening Day, and adding updates to Documentary and Yankee Stadium Legacy. Add to that the decision to discontinue Masterpieces and Sweet Spot, arguably two of their most popular products, and you’ve some seriously senseless decisionmaking.

But as industry insider Steve Judd asks succintly, you have to wonder what this means for the card industry. Can Upper Deck and Topps afford to keep flooding the market with garbage releases and expect to be profitable during these economic times?

As a post-mortem to Masterpieces, here’s a few of the bonus cards that came with the last of my Christmas presents from DACW.

01092319

My hope is that these boxes will bring me that much closer to set completion on their respective fronts. However, I won’t be breaking these boxes until next week — busy weekend and all. Sadly, my last two weekends were far busier than my last week — work has slowed considerably, but predictably. Hopefully things’ll pick up again — I’d like to get in on the early 2009 releases, not to mention do things like pay the bills!

biggio

This card is exactly why I love Masterpieces so much. Awesome photo, and although it isn’t a painting necessarily, the expression on Biggio’s face, the gold border, really, everything comes together so well and makes this such an aesthetically pleasing card.

morneau

And it wouldn’ t be a modern set without all the pointless, stupid parallels, now would it? Here’s Morneau, framed in Green Linen (I think).

jackie

I have three copies of this card — one with my 07 Masterpieces set, another in my Dodger binder, and now this one. And what a beautiful moment to immortalize — Jackie signing on with Branch Rickey and the Dodgers. This was actually one of the first Masterpieces cards I owned, having found it while rummaging through the massively unorganized piles of cards at one of my favorite shops.

And of course, the “hit,” an on-card auto from Padres 1st baseman Adrian Gonzalez.

gonzalez

I think it’s strange that I’ve managed to pull lots of Rockies, Padres, and especially Giants when it comes to autos and gamers.

I think it’s strange that in one pack, all the cards were vertically oriented, and in the other, they were all horizontally oriented.

I think it’s strange that both bonus gifts I received from DACW contained autos.

And I wish that I hadn’t haphazardly ordered from DACW, since combined, my orders would’ve qualified for something a lot nicer than Matt Cain and Adrian Gonzalez autographs!

Eight cards per pack/18 packs per box

Base set (1-100) completion: 43 of 100 (43%)
Total set completion: 127 of 385 (33%)

Inserts:
1992 UD Minor League set (101-130) completion: 18 of 30 (60%)
1994 All-Time Heroes set (131-180) completion: 18 of 50 (36%)
1995 SP Top Prospects set (181-210) completion: 18 of 30 (60%)
2004 Timeless Teams set (211-310) completion: 18 of 100 (18%)

Short Prints:
1993 SP set (311-335) completion: 5 of 25 (20%)
1994 SP set (336-360) completion: 5 of 25 (20%)
1995 SP set (361-385) completion: 2 of 25 (4%)

Other Inserts/Parallels:
20th Anniversary: 3 (133 G. Maddux, 169 L. Berkman, 178 K. Fukudome)
Gold: 6 (8 C. Jones, 11 J. Rollins, 20 A. Pujols, 38 G. Sizemore, 89 B. Barton, 98 C. Kershaw)
Silver: 1 (M. Ramirez)
Yankee Stadium Legacy: 4 (5558 D. Mattingly, 5583 J. Wetteland, 5608 J. Wetteland, 5658 D. Jeter)

“Hits”

scans

Impressions

After all the time I spent saying how much I didn’t like this set, I go out and buy a box. What is wrong with me?

Fact of the matter is, this is SP Rookie Edition + 100 more cards. And I really love 07 SP Rookie Edition. So by extension, I had to do this set too, right? I suppose.

This set has all the hallmarks of a set that’s going to drive me crazy. Appealing design, weak checklist, and scores of short prints and inserts. Just a few weeks before I’m going to be thinking about 09 Topps Heritage, I’m fiddling with Timeline.

But as I mentioned, the set just looks nice. You can’t go wrong with the re-visited SP designs, and I love the Timeless Teams design.

manny

Speaking of which, this card is listed on Beckett.com as a silver parallel. You can’t see it that well on the scan, but that foil stamping is definitely not silver, but gold. Either way — a Manny card in Dodger uniform? Bonus!

My quibbles about this set haven’t changed much. Upper Deck could’ve easily trimmed 200 or more cards off the checklist and still used all the retro designs, and still had a decent selection of players. But keeping in line with 07SPre, the set is filled with lots of no-name rookies. Which would be fine if they were part of the base set, but not so great when they’re all inserts and SPs. Just look at the autos I pulled — Washington is a 12-year minor league veteran who FINALLY was called up in 2008, Holm, an eight-year minor league veteran, and Wade … well, I like the guy, but autographs from 7th-inning relievers aren’t all that exciting.

It was also frustrating to see these three cards so badly miscut.

scans2

Granted, it’s just three cards, but come on. As the cards say, this is 2008, not 1958. What happened with UD’s quality control? I’m curious as I’ve read in more than one place that there have been printing issues with this set.

It is nice of UD,  however, to collate six inserts/SPs into each hobby pack, up from two in retail packs. The six insert/SP per pack ratio actually make the set a decent one to pursue. Still, had this box not been littered with all those stupid gold/silver/20th anniversary parallels,  I would’ve been even closer to the finish line. And although the YSL cards don’t count towards the total card count, it would’ve been nicer yet if those were additional cards towards the set.

Also, isn’t it interesting that there are exactly one each of the non-SP inserts in each hobby pack?

For all the problems I have with this set, chances are I’ll buy another box as prices for them have dropped considerably since their release.

14 packs per box/eight cards per pack

Base set completion (1-100): 54 of 100 (54%)
2007 RC set completion (101-142): 19 of 42 (45%)
Short print set completion (143-234, 1993 & 1995 SP design): 14 of 92 (15%)
1996 SP RC set completion (234-284): 21 of 50 (42%)
Total set completion: 108 of 284 (38%)
Total duplicates 2 (2007 RC design)

“Hits”

chico

montero

Impressions

This is the third of my Christmas purchases from DACW. You have to love below-retail prices combined with free shipping.

It strikes me that this year’s UD  Timeline would’ve been infinitely more attractive to collect if they managed the checklist the way they did for last year’s SP Rookie Edition. And that’s not to suggest that 07 SP Rookie Edition’s checklist is that much more well-managed — this set could’ve easily been trimmed by about, let’s say, 92 short-printed cards or so.

This is a sweet design — the veterans have just the single right-hand-side gold/black  border with their surnames in bold letters. Rookies have an additional border featuring a shadow-like action photo as well as the Rookie Card logo. And then there’s the three subsets based on the 1993, 1995, 1996 SP designs.

Sets like this remind me why I love sets such as Heritage, and why I thought I’d love Timeline. I’m not necessarily in favor of recycling ideas necessarily, but I like homages to the past. I say this since I missed so many of these classic designs. It’s nice to be able to appreciate them now.

I do think UD could’ve easily included all three subsets and avoided the stupid short prints by keeping the checklist shorter and not repeatedly using the same players. I’m obviously still an Andy LaRoche fan, but the need for three different “parallels” of his card in this set is negligible at best. Perhaps not coincidentally, the same could be said of this year’s Timelines.

Fortunately, boxes of this set are pretty cheap to acquire, so finishing the 284-card set may not be such a monumental task. Still, it could’ve been considerably easier had not UD stuck with the “must include parallels and short-prints” mantra.

I bought a 2007 Topps S1 Jumbo recently, and that pack produced the following cards:

fronts

wells1

I was pretty upset and irritated until I looked at the backs.

backs1

wells2

Stupid red back parallels!

28 packs per box, 8 cards per pack

Base set completion: 100 of 100 (two base sets completed)
Short print set completion: 7 of 30 (23%)

“Hits”
Classic Seasons Materials (1:14) Jim Rice 
Classic Materials (1:14) Bill Russell
League Leaders Signatures (1:28) Kevin Mitchell
Classic Moments (1:7) Kirk Gibson 1165/1999
Classic Seasons (1:7) Carl Yastrzemski 1716/1999
League Leaders Keith Hernandez (1:7) 130/999

Silver Parallels (1:7)
4 Babe Herman 77/399
15 Brooks Robinson 56/399
57 Johnny Mize 39/399
109 Dennis Eckersley RSR 114/399
110 Don Mattingly RSR 310/399

Platinum Parallels (1:7)
128 Tony Gwynn 1/25

Impressions
In a way, this set make me think of a value version of Legendary Cuts. Lots of HOFers, retired stars, and even Negro League players.

As for the collation, I’m impressed. I haven’t opened a single box that produced not just one whole base set, but two. As I was ripping packs, I was admittedly frustrated that the last few packs produced so many doubles. And as started sorting, it became quickly clear why that was — two whole base sets were produced. I’ll be honest — though a second complete base set is cool, I’d rather have the rest of the SPs, or more of the inserts/hits.

Nonetheless, SPs or not, this is what I wish Topps and UD would get back to. A box FULL of cards (224 of them, to be exact) making it easy to hand collate a base set. Not to mention the SPs are actually worth chasing after, and not ridiculously seeded (1:4).  No more relentlessly and pointlessly short-printing cards of 4A washouts and scrubs!

Once again, given the economy, it’s nice to get a box with this much value. 13 hits including two GU and one AU is great considering how stingy the companies are these days. The GU/AU fell in exactly the same seeding as advertised. From the looks of it, I should’ve received one more insert, but I won’t complain. Just look at the parallels I ended up with. I should’ve had four, but ended up with six. I can’t stand parallels, so those are going straight to the trade box. Still, it doesn’t hurt to add that many HOFers and numbered cards to my trade box!

Given the price I paid for this box relative to other boxes I’ve bought, it’s insane how much more came from this one. One would think that the boxes would be more value-filled today, but that sadly isn’t the case. I can only hope that Topps and UD go back to this sort of game plan.