Wednesday, October 31, 2012

2000 Hasbro Starting Lineup Extended Series

Set Size: 9 cards

Design Notes: The cards use the same design as the other 2000 SLU issues, with a red-tinted background. The backs are black on white. "Extended Series" is in the lower left of the card front in a logo style.

Parallels and Similars: As mentioned, (I think) all the 2000 Starting Lineup cards have the same design. The set easily identified by the "Extended Series" logo on the front.

Distribution: Cards were packaged with 2000 Starting Lineup Extended Series figures.

Thoughts: If it wasn't for the logo, identifying which set each card came from (if separated from its packaging) would be impossible. I like the design, though - simple and modern but not boring. The checklist is pretty impressive (as with most smaller sets) - Griffey Jr, Gwynn, Chipper Jones, Ripken Jr, and A-Rod are all in the Extended Series.

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

2000 Hasbro Starting Lineup Cards

Set Size: 30 cards

Design Notes: The player's photo appears on a red background. The backs are black on white with career statistics through 1999.

Parallels and Similars: Several subsets issued in 2000 have the same design with a logo in the lower portion of the card; the regular version has no special logo.

Distribution: One card was included with each Starting Lineup action figure.

Thoughts: As I mentioned yesterday, the 2000 issue Starting Lineup cards aren't horrible looking. I like the inclusion of the gray team logo in the background behind the player, adding an extra dimension to the image.

Monday, October 29, 2012

2000 Hasbro Starting Lineup Classic Doubles Cards

Set Size: 10 cards

Design Notes: The cards have a red-tinted background, and the player's name appears at the bottom. This set is identified by the Classic Doubles logo in the lower left. The backs are black on white with career statistics.

Parallels and Similars: Most 2000 Starting Lineup sets use the same design and can be distinguished by the inclusion (or lack of) a logo as seen and mentioned above.

Distribution: Cards were packaged with Starting Lineup Classic Doubles figurines. Two cards and two figurines were in each package; there are five different packages. John Smoltz was packaged with Pedro Martinez.

Thoughts: As a bonus included with an action figure, the card is fairly attractive. It's not a great stand-alone design, and the back is pretty plain for a 2000-era release. However, I like the novelty associated with Starting Lineup cards and figures.

Sunday, October 28, 2012

2005 Just 9 Beckett Inserts

Set Size: 9 cards

Design Notes: A player photo appears inside a giant number 9, with the word "JUST" overlaid on the left side. The bottom contains the player's name, position, team logo, and the MiLB logo. The backs use a similar design and include prior year statistics.

Parallels and Similars: None known.

Distribution: Uncut sheets of the nine-card set were included in an issue of Beckett magazine in 2005. The cards are perforated and can be easily separated into individual cards.

Thoughts: I like the idea of free cards and exclusive promos, though like most Just issues the design isn't exactly eye-catching, with a lot of empty white space. The photo is pretty uninteresting as well. Felix Hernandez is the first card in the set, though an intact sheet can be had for $6 or so on eBay.

Saturday, October 27, 2012

2004 Donruss Production Line OPS Black

Set Size: 10 cards

Design Notes: A diamond shaped logo holds a baseball identifying Giambi as a leader in OPS. The fronts are mostly black other than the player's photo. Unfortunately this means a little bit of my card's image was cut off by my slightly inferior scanner. Backs list the top 25 players in OPS.

Parallels and Similars: This is the black parallel. The regular insert has color to it, and a die-cut version was created as well. There are a few Production Line sets under different categories.

Distribution: Cards were randomly inserted into packs. The regular Production Line OPS are serial-numbered to the player's 2003 OPS (somewhere between 910 and 1278). Black parallels are numbered to 125, and die-cuts are numbered to 100.

Thoughts: I like sets that recognize leaders in categories and award winners, so the set concept is pretty nice. However, the set doesn't include some of the leaders in this category, and the checklist isn't numbered according to actual OPS. The insert has a nice modern look to it, and the black parallel looks even more sleek. With a few minor tweaks to the checklist, I could have been happier with the set.

Friday, October 26, 2012

2002 Donruss Diamond Kings Inserts/Studio Series

Set Size: 20 cards

Design Notes: This grey-bordered insert set used paintings of the players on the front. The Diamond Kings logo is at the bottom and uses blue foil. The back explains why the player was chosen as a Diamond King.

Parallels and Similars: A "Studio Series" parallel was issued using silver foil and a canvas style card surface. Randy Johnson was also issued as a Jersey Kings memorabilia card in regular and Studio Series formats.

Distribution: All cards were randomly inserted in packs. Diamond Kings had a print run of 2500 serial-numbered sets, Studio Series and Jersey Kings are numbered to 250, and the Jersey Kings Studio Series card is numbered to 50.

Thoughts: Diamond Kings is one of my favorite sets. Where the DKs of the early 1990s were generally bright, loud, and vibrant to match the neon colors of fashion, Diamond King cards found after Donruss's return are generally designed to look like it belongs in a museum. The artwork here is very realistic and attractive.

Additional Images: Studio Series parallel

Thursday, October 25, 2012

1998 Score Complete Players Gold

Set Size: 30 cards, 10 subjects

Design Notes: A simple design on the front uses a lot of rectangles and wide-spaced text with the player's name and one of the three aspects that makes him a complete player. Fronts use gold foil highlighting. The backs explain how the player excels in whatever aspect is mentioned on the front, and a third of a photo of the player is on the left. The backs serve as a three-piece puzzle.

Parallels and Similars: While this is the gold parallel version, it is actually more common than the original holographic foil release. There was also a release in that year's traded set, and a sample version (with a differently-arranged checklist) as well.

Distribution: Gold versions were inserted into packs of Team Collection at 1:11, while the regular cards were found in 1:23 packs of the regular Score release.

Thoughts: This is a nice-looking set with a decent concept. The photography is pretty nice, as well. Unfortunately, in a hobby flooded with insert sets that year, this release doesn't stand out much. As for Andruw Jones, he was a phenom at 19 years old, and served as the face of the Braves for several years. But when the steroids allegations started flying in 2007, his production crashed and he was soon off to another team. He hasn't really been named as being a steroids user, but it was interesting timing that he would have such big problems at the plate when the scandal really started. Jones was a great fielder, though, and never put up a high batting average. He made tough plays look easy when most outfielders try to make easy plays look tough to end up on SportsCenter. Jones is still playing - he was with the Yankees in 2011 and 2012.

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

2010 Leaf (Shoeless) Joe Jackson

Set Size: 15 cards

Design Notes: A very simple design - the Leaf logo is in an upper corner, and a banner at the bottom identifies the player - Shoeless Joe Jackson. A sepia photo fills the rest of the card. The backs have brown ink and detail his career and quotes.

Parallels and Similars: None.

Distribution: Cards were randomly inserted into 2010 Leaf Sports Icons Cut Signature Edition Update packs - one card was found in each pack.

Thoughts: Shoeless Joe is a legend, but Topps can't use him in their products because of the ban. However, companies like Leaf have taken up the slack and produced some modern cards for him. I like the basic design of this card, and it's great to see some photos that rarely see the light of day.

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

1997 Studio Gold Press Proofs

Set Size: 165 cards

Design Notes: The set features studio images with a striped background. Gold foil is used for text and the side borders. Backs feature an action shot and highlight biography.

Parallels and Similars: This is one of two parallels for the regular 1997 Studio set (the other being a silver parallel).

Distribution: 500 copies were produced for each card and randomly inserted into packs.

Thoughts: By 1997, parallel inserts could be found in every product, though a serial numbering to only 500 was still pretty low. The design is simple and attractive, which could make this a very collectible set... if you don't mind studio-style portrait photos instead of action photos on the front of your cards.

Monday, October 22, 2012

2000 Bowman Chrome Retro/Future

Set Size: 440 cards

Design Notes: This set is a parallel to the regular 2000 Bowman Chrome issue, but all the cards use a television border similar to the 1955 Bowman set.

Parallels and Similars: A refractor version of this parallel exists, as well as a refractor version of the original base set.

Distribution: Inserted one in six packs of Bowman Chrome.

Thoughts: Before Bowman Heritage issued a real throwback version of the '55 Bowman issue, this parallel served a similar function. I wonder if some of the 1990s sets that have nods to the internet and computers in their designs will be as lovingly remembered as much as this just-as-gimmicky design from the early days of television.

Sunday, October 21, 2012

2011 Gypsy Queen Framed Stamps

Set Size: 350 cards

Design Notes: The design follows the basic look of 2011 Gypsy Queen in a horizontal format. The artwork is seem on the left side of the card, and a stamp related to the player's hometown is included as a relic on the right. The backs look essentially identical to the regular Gypsy Queen cards except for a serial number in the upper-right.

Parallels and Similars: The set is a parallel of the base Gypsy Queen set, and there are a handful of other parallels.

Distribution: Cards were randomly inserted into packs (1:93 hobby, 1:530 retail).

Thoughts: While I really enjoy the art of Gypsy Queen and thus put together the base and insert sets in 2011, I had no interest in collecting the parallels and minis, and this set is no different. Stamps are a simple novelty as far as "hits" go, and while I enjoy gimmicks at least as much as the next man I don't care much for them in parallel form. Thankfully, I picked this up much cheaper than I expected as it was included in a lot of other Delmon Young cards.

Saturday, October 20, 2012

2011 Panini Black Friday

Set Size: 20 cards, numbered 1-19 and JH (for Josh Hamilton)

Design Notes: This is a black-background foilboard card set featuring the spokesmen and stars of Panini's sports product. Due to a lack of licensing, some players (such as Rivera, above) appear without any logos. The set is similar in design to several other Panini sets, with a two-lined ornate border around the photo.

Parallels and Similars: There are some autograph versions of a few cards from the set, and a Rookie set with the same basic design.

Distribution: Cards were sent to dealers in packs to be given away to customers purchasing Panini products.

Thoughts: I love free cards, though I actually picked this up in a card draft. The design isn't special, but the promotion was about the random hits. Lots of autographs and relics were included in the packs. I don't mind the lack of logos for the MLB players, though set after set of posed shots in t-shirts feels too much like a semi-pro league's attempt to look legit. I'm not a fan of foilboard in general, though this is a nice looking card. I miss the National Baseball/Trading Card Day promotions, though I doubt Topps would willingly combine their baseball offerings with Panini's since they still consider Panini to be bush league.

Friday, October 19, 2012

2001 Topps HD Images of Excellence

Set Size:

Design Notes: A really thick card. The background is obscured by an opaque overlay of the insert set's name. The photo really stands out in this product, printed in high resolution. This set carries a 2000 copyright, as it was released in December.

Parallels and Similars: An aluminum version parallels this regular insert set, and is about four times as rare.

Distribution: Inserted 1 in 8 packs of 2001 Topps HD.

Thoughts: I really think Topps should have done without the invasive background text on this set, and instead kept it to a small logo or bit of type in a corner. The Topps HD concept was meant to showcase high quality images. However, even with the background, Tom Seaver's photo seems to be bright and fresh, if a little blue. I've always campaigned for sets with high quality photography, and this set came pretty close. Unfortunately, the thick (50-pt) plastic card stock and high price ($3.99/pack of four) probably drove away many collectors. Plus, Topps' Gold Label and Stadium Club products also featured high quality photography at the time.

Thursday, October 18, 2012

2008 TriStar Projections Yellow

Set Size: 400 cards

Design Notes: A player photo stands out over a yellow-tinted picture of a baseball, with his name in gold foil near the bottom. His minor league team logo appears at the bottom. The cards are licensed by MiLB and carry the Pro Debut logo.

Parallels and Similars: TriStar Projections contains a base set, with four colored parallels (green #/50, purple #/1, orange #/5, and yellow #/25) in regular and "Reflectives" versions (same print runs as the regular versions). All ten of these sets have autograph partial parallels. Plus, there are four printing plate colors.

Distribution: Yellows are numbered out of 25 and are randomly seeded in packs. Despite the high number of total parallels, any retail packs from TriStar tend to contain virtually no parallels as they're seeded quite highly in hobby boxes. For a chance at parallel and autograph cards, collectors should buy hobby.

Thoughts: TriStar minor league products never really stood out (other than Obak), but minor league cards rarely do. TriStar and similar minor league products are purely autograph products for prospectors hoping to make money when players break into the major leagues, with base cards tossed in. On the other hand, it's a quality card with a nice clean design, perfect for autograph hunters to use (with the right pen) when seeking autographs down on the farm. The white backgrounds will show nice signatures well.

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

2004 Donruss Team Heroes Autographs

Set Size: 256 cards

Design Notes: The 2004 Team Heroes set has white borders with rectangular boxes at the top and bottom containing logos and the player's name and position. The design is almost the opposite of 2005 Donruss (where there's a small box of rectangles inside the photos). It's simple but attractive. A large signed silver sticker is placed over the photo.

Parallels and Similars: This set is a partial parallel of the 2004 Donruss Team Heroes set.

Distribution: Cards were randomly inserted into packs of Team Heroes. While the checklist is large, each card is available in differing quantities. Many players don't have an announced print run, but these are only commons or local stars. Players like Mike Piazza and Tom Glavine have print runs of only 1 card! Oddly, Nolan Ryan seems to have five cards per team.

Thoughts: Team Heroes is, unfortunately, a forgettable product released at a time when there were way too many releases every week. While it's a nice design, it doesn't stand out as a great design, and most people probably forgot this set even existed! Collecting the entire autographed set is virtually impossible due to so many players (52 by my count) having 1/1 autographs and eight more having print runs less than 5.

Additional Images: card back

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

2005 Donruss Autographs

Set Size: 11 cards

Design Notes: This partial parallel of the 2005 Donruss set differs only by the addition of an autographed sticker and an authenticity embossing. The 2005 Donruss set focuses mostly on the photography, with a simple yet attractive rectangle at the bottom containing player and team information.

Parallels and Similars: Donruss was known for its parallels, and aside from the base set, there were four colors of press proofs and Stat Line parallels for career and season statistical totals. An additional 25th Anniversary parallel was issued.

Distribution: Cards were randomly inserted into packs of 2005 Donruss.

Thoughts: This strange collection of autographed cards seems to have no purpose other than to increase the total number of autographed cards included in the product. With such a small, unimportant checklist, I doubt Donruss wanted to do anything else. In fact, this card is less important to me than an insert card, because those usually have some sort of theme. Unfortunately, when compiling a type collection, cards like this count just as much as a 1/1 autographed relic. Fortunately, cards like this can be had for nearly nothing.

Did you know: Craig Monroe was arrested in late 2004 for stealing a $29.99 belt, after earning over $300,000 that year. Also, his mother's name is Marilyn Monroe. I wonder if he agreed to sign autographs for Donruss to earn money to pay for that belt.

Additional Images: Card back.