Saturday, July 2, 2022

2022 Topps Spotlight 70 II


Cards are getting interesting lately. I appreciate all the different ways that cards are being created. Artists and celebrities create or dictate what a set should look like and who should be in it and suddenly it's for sale on a website. 

It could be the most beautiful piece of artwork in the galaxy or a huge steaming pile of crap sent through the mail for a fee. It's all in the eye of the beholder. I would never intentionally try to yuck someone else's yum, but some of these cards are catered to my tastes, while most of them are not. Some look like a lot of thought and effort was put into the design and each brushstroke was a dazzling liquid diamond pouring out onto a mystical canvas until Leonardo Da Vinci wept salty tears of happiness at the pure ethereal joy birthed into the world. Others look like a second grader drew a spite portrait of the MLB player that crushed their hamster. In other words, it can be a bit of a mixed bag.

This offering by Andy Friedman, at first glance looks a bit off. It wasn't until I saw that the chosen medium was ink and watercolor, that I started to really look at the cards. I have painted some great portraits in my time as an artist, but watercolor is one of the most difficult to work with. Throw in ink to the mix and there will be some massive color bleeds in the journey to the final product.

The combination is not without its charms, but it will clearly not be everyone's favorite.

The White Sox have three cards in this release. Two cards in the regular set and one in a rookie insert subset.

29 - Harold Baines

33 - Jerry Manuel

R-8 - Gavin Sheets

Pablo Picasso, Mark Rothko, Georgia O'Keeffe, Vincent Van Gogh, Andy Warhol, Jackson Pollock and June Leaf each have distinct styles and some have widely ranging techniques. Some people love them. Some people loathe them. It's all a matter of taste.

I think it's absolutely wonderful that a variety of modern artists are getting their chance to explore and imprint their creative minds onto cardboard. Mixing baseball and artwork is a long standing tradition that goes back to the hobby's roots as advertisements for department stores and tobacco. It's a practice that fell out of fashion with the rise of the camera and occasionally has a resurgence.

I think that the most impressive feat in these types of cards are the risks that the artists are willing to take. It also takes great commitment on Topps part to keep these ventures going. All the efforts may not please all the consumers out there, but I don't think it was ever meant to.

Tuesday, June 28, 2022

2022 Topps Cesar Hernandez Rainbow

 2022 Topps #28 Cesar Hernandez

Gold Foil


Rainbow Foil

Royal Blue

Gold (/2022)

Green Foilboard (/499)

Advanced Stats (/300)

Orange Foilboard (/299)

Red Foilboard (/199)

Vintage Stock (/99)

Independence Day (/76)

Black (/71)

Father's Day Blue (/50)

Mother's Day Pink (/50)

Memorial Day Camo (/25)

1st Edition

1st Edition Gold

1st Edition Green (/150)

1st Edition Orange (/75)

1st Edition Red (/50)

1st Edition Black (/25)

5x7 (/49)

5x7 Gold (/10)

By my calculations, I only seem to be missing a few.

- Topps Premiere Party

- Topps Rip Party

- Platinum (/1)

- Printing Plate Black (/1)

- Printing Plate Cyan (/1)

- Printing Plate Magenta (/1)

- Printing Plate Yellow (/1)

- 1st Edition Hot Pink (/10)

- 1st Edition Light Blue (/5)

- 1st Edition Platinum Stars (/1)


I was surprised to see the 5x7, as I don't recall seeing it listed anywhere. I'm going to assume that I'm not going to find anything on this list that is numbered at five or one. I'm OK with that. The odds would definitely have to be in my favor to obtain six cards numbered to one.

This is the closest I have come to collecting a true rainbow. The hunt was just as fun as opening the cards. I chose Cesar Hernandez because he is already on another team. He isn't a superstar, so the prices wouldn't be astronomically priced. I could get the bulk of the rainbow under the radar.

As much as I would have loved chasing a rainbow for Luis Robert or Tim Anderson, I think this was the correct decision. If I happen to complete Robert or Anderson or any other White Sox card, I'm certainly not going to complain.

Saturday, June 4, 2022

The Frustrations Of 1971 Topps


1971 Topps has got to be one of the most frustrating sets to collect. I can't even begin to imagine what patience it must take to collect the entire set. I'm getting frustrated just collecting the set for one team.

Finding an entire team set with near mint or better qualities is easy, if you feel like skipping your bills for a month. High quality condition cards can cost you a pretty penny. That's not even counting the high numbers, which can be astronomical to acquire. Most high numbers in fair condition will cost you an arm and a leg.

Not only are older cards harder to find in mint condition, the black that was used on the border is extremely prone to chipping. Even the best looking card may be foiled by the black color flaking away. Dinged and soft corners are another problem with this set. The black border really makes this stand out.

I am three cards away from completing the White Sox master team set from 1971 Topps. All three missing cards are high number cards. All three cards I have watched on auctions climb way out of my price range. I understand that the nature of these cards increases the price, but I find it hard to pay inflated prices for cardboard collectibles produced in the same decade I was born. Call it a principle, if you will.

I have this issue with a lot of vintage Topps products. I complete most of the cards in the team set, but struggle to get the high numbers. There are enough listings of these cards out there that I should be able to squeeze a bargain or two. Yes, the high numbers are rare, but not that rare.

I could settle for filler cards, but I don't want to. I shouldn't have to settle for filler cards for cards issued past 1950. Do I want the card just to have the card or do I want a decent example in my collection. If it's post WWII, chances are the answer is going to be best example out there. There just is a fine balance between financially affordable and high grade. It's an issue that I struggle with constantly. It also depends on the day, which I will prioritize.

It's always a good feeling when you hit that sweet spot. There are millions of online listings out there for cards. Not every card is going to sell for insane amounts of money. There will be some that slip through the cracks.

The last two years have been incredibly trying for the hobby, as thousands of people stuck home, found themselves with a lot of time on their hands. They tried to make money at card investing. This created a rabid marketplace, where people would try to swoop in and buy all the cards, so they can sell them online at a drastic markup. I'm all about free enterprise, but there are things that are frowned upon. Pack searching and secondary retail markup are some of the most rampant.

It wouldn't be so bad if the sellers would open the product and sell cards individually, but most of them would sell the unopened box for triple the cost or more. The sad fact is that most of them would get those prices because they had cleared out most stores of product. I work in retail and saw greedy adults swoop in and make children cry. I'm thankful that most of those extreme practices have subsided.

Vintage card collecting isn't nearly that cutthroat, but it can be close. I've had auctioned usurped last second. I've had auctions climb sky high in the last few minutes. I've seen inflated prices and questionable grading. Trust your instincts and your eyes. If it's too good to be true, it usually is.

Eventually, I will obtain the last three cards to complete the set. If I have enough luck and patience, I might just do it.

Friday, March 25, 2022

What Happened to 2010 Upper Deck Wave 2?


2010 Upper Deck was a gigantic middle finger to MLB and as a result, to the fans as well. Upper Deck responded to losing the MLB license similar to a vengeful toddler stealing cookies after being told they couldn't have any. The release became the pettiest excuse of a set, trying to push the envelope of what they could "accidentally" get away with. There were more logo slips than a Janet Jackson/Justin Timberlake Super Bowl routine. Logos were in your face, taunting MLB, implying that Upper Deck was above the law.

I definitely agree that logo-less uniforms seem amateurish and very beer softball league. In fact, I commented on that in a card spotlight (that evolved into a now deleted Baseball Digest post), turning Ron Karkovice's 1989 Upper Deck card into a logo-less softball card, removing logos from his jersey and hat, plus removing the logo from the edge of the card too. Karkovice looks like an electrician who is on a bar's sponsored softball pickup team. Not exactly a card someone would feel inclined to collect. The only difference is the lack of logos, but sometimes that makes all the difference. It's between a fully licensed card and one you cut out of the back of a box of macaroni and cheese.

That being said, being only licensed with the MLBPA does not mean your product is doomed to languish at the bottom of the bargain bin with most late 80's/early 90s junk wax. Panini does a wonderful job with their limitations and they truly seem to respect the game and their small part of it. I can't recall seeing a logo on a Panini product, but I certainly remember them on 2010 Upper Deck. All over the place. On the card pictured on this post, there are four instances of logos. One on each photo with the hat, one on the sleeve, one on the front of the jersey. A case could be argued for each photo of the hat. The X is only visible on the head shot. That's not too bad. The left side of the logo is visible on the main photo. Not horrible, but lazy. The alternate logo on the sleeve is in full view and there is no mistaking the top of the S on the jersey. Each logo slip is distinctive enough to realize what the logo is. All four together creates a terrible circumventing of the rules. It's fine if Upper Deck wants to be anti-establishment, but it should not have been surprised at the swift reaction and ban it got.

Under an agreement, Upper Deck was allowed to sell through it's existing inventory of product that was already released. This meant that the public was bombarded with 2010 Upper Deck Series One product for the rest of 2010. That brings me to Wave 2.

Wave 2 was supposed to be a fifty card extension released on or around May 4, 2010. It would be an extension that would be one card per fat pack or two cards per rack pack, to my understanding. There is not a checklist of what was supposed to be in this extension, that I could find. I would be very interested in knowing what was on that checklist.

Here's what makes Wave 2 intriguing to me. The lawsuit that ceased baseball operations for Upper Deck was finalized in March 2010. That was roughly two months before Wave 2 was supposed to drop. With that short window, I would believe that some cards were actually printed. At the time, I was actually expecting them to randomly show up in packs of remaining inventory. I thought that I had heard of a few cards doing exactly that, but I can find no evidence of that actually happening.

At this point, twelve years later, I would like a few things to happen. I would like to see a checklist of those cards. I would love to see pictures of each card that was in the set. The cards were definitely finalized by this point, so there should be at least a finalized mock up of each card. If any cards were printed, and they featured White Sox players, I would love to have them in my collection.

I understand that is a pretty tall order, but for someone who is still trying to complete White Sox related mirror card sets from 2008 (not to mention a complete set of Heritage from that year), I figured this would probably happen before I get those sets completed. One can always dream.

Tuesday, February 22, 2022

The First White Sox Card Of 2022 Is...


Liam Hendriks!!

I feel pumped for the 2022 season, that is if it will ever start. Millionaires fighting about money always seems to turn me away from a sport. Unfortunately, in the end it's all about both sides getting richer and the fan getting poorer. Yes, the players and the owners should be able to get their money. There is a balance, but the only ones that should be crying poor are the rookie minor league players. I guess, minor league players in general.

I realize there are other things on the table, but the major sticking point is money. An insane amount of money. If a compromise can be reached, these two entities should work together to strengthen the sport. The longer they squabble, the less interested the average fan becomes and the more money both parties lose.

I can remember being in elementary school and getting free tickets for good grades. I can also remember my dad getting free tickets through his work. They were almost always for the upper deck and we would sometimes exchange them for upgraded seats and we would cover the difference. That's part of what hooked me into the sport. I remember going to a lot of games growing up. Even if the majority of those were horrible teams, I still had a wonderful time. I got to see my heroes on the field. I have great memories of comebacks, the crowds, the plays, the near wins, the blowouts and the search for great ballpark food.

Baseball cards only helped enhance that experience. I could flip through my cards and the memories would come flooding back, even to this day. With my dad passing last year, these memories become even more important. Sure, those times of yesteryear will never be repeated, but the chance to make new experiences with my dad have seen their last game. Fortunately, I have the chance to do that with my own family. That is, if the owners and players association can come to a new agreement.

Until that is sorted out, I will continue to hope for the best. I'll keep opening packs and smiling at the wonders that I've uncovered. The search for my team and my favorite players is never ending. Along the way, I cherish the memories of yesterday and await the unknown experiences that lie ahead.

Open a pack and find your adventure.

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