Wednesday, February 28, 2018

The Fine Art of Transatlantic Triple Breaking

The Triple break train continues! 2017 Topps Gallery was available exclusively at Wal-Mart, and I found a way to snag a box around X-Mas time. Each box has a pair of autographs, and I was happy to be able to send both of them out to my trade partners Bob Walk The Plank and The Card Papoy.

Here's a peek at the card backs - Mayumi Seto was the artist on all of the base cards (at least in the NL East and AL Central). The backs feature monthly splits and then does the math for you with their 2016 season totals.

The insert sets - all four of these feature the artwork of Dan Bergen. The top right is Gallery "Heritage" based on the early 50s Bowman sets, though not in the original size. The backs show the history of all (well, most) players that played the same position for the team.

Here were the Twins - was happy to get a Gallery "Private Issue" parallel of a Twin!

Just a few more of the base cards. I like the Gallery set. All the cards have heft to them, with a slick (but not too glossy) finish. It's a decent complement to Panini's Diamond Kings set, I am pretty sure that we wouldn't be seeing this set if not for the success of DK. Of course, Topps has the advantage of the MLB license, though I like the design and variety of DK a little more. 

If either Panini or Topps wanted to take a risk, I would recommend an art card set that used a less literal art style - there's no question that the artists are talented, but the photo-realistic style feels unnecessary. I mean, we have full bleed, full color photography on cards now, the paintings to me are too similar to photographs. I would say it's more in Panini's court, as they could take things further into the abstract since they aren't working with logos. Then again, that might be exactly the thought process that gave us the Triple Play sets....

Monday, February 26, 2018

Johnny's Been a Busy Bee

Johnny got me again- another week, another mailer crammed full of Twins.

Some old friends

Some new guys, slowly tracking down all the 2018 Twins, just in time for more to come out this week

A nice throwback uni when throwbacks were still a rare occurrence - Fleer Update rookies of Everyday Eddie and Mean Gene Larkin. Now I'm hungry for a Whopper.

Plenty of guys from the late 90s and early 2000s, this is still a part of my collection that has plenty of room to grow.

Johnny always hits me with some mini collection fodder as well - Larkin actually hits two mini collections as the front features a nice bat flip.

and last but not least, baby BOOOOF.

John, thanks as always! I will be sorting through my collection again to find some useful gems for you!

Sunday, February 25, 2018

The Chronic-WHAT?!-cles of Triple Breaks

Matt from Bob Walk the Plank got things rolling for 2018 with this Triple Break of 2017 Panini Chronicles.

The set features both current players and Hall of Famers like Rickey. Kevin did really well in this break and I was happy to see some cards from this new set. I was hoping to snag a Bartolo Colon card, as he's listed as a Twin, but the luck of the draw was not with me this time.

I ended up with the NL East and the AL West in the break, which meant getting the parallel Ken Griffey, Jr on the top right. They aren't the flashiest,  but the design is better than most logoless offerings.

Matt also included some 2017 Panini Prizms as well.

As is traditional for the Triple Break, Matt made this a trade of Twins goodies too. Kris Johnson was a Pirate at one time, coming to the Twins in the Justin Morneau trade a few years back. Morneau is back in MN this year as a roving instructor and part time color commentator on Twins telecasts.

That's a nice patch! Looks like it is from the middle of the jersey where the two sides overlap to be buttoned up. Pinto included his jersey number in his sig.

I still don't see how Johan managed to get zero only ten (thanks, Chris!) Hall of Fame votes - I'm not saying he should have been inducted, but he's probably a better pitcher than a few guys already in the Hall, and deserved to be in the conversation a little while longer. He had a fantastic peak, even though it was a shorter career than the traditional Hall of Famer.

Thanks again for the Break, Matt!

Saturday, February 3, 2018

2018 Topps, Or How I Learned To Stop Worrying and Love Building Other Sets

There it is - the first card from the first pack I opened of 2018 Topps. I've decided to keep the 1st card pulled in a separate spot.

Here's the last two years of first cards, just to give a sense of the evolution of the borderless design.

Here's the back - the trade with the Rangers looks like it worked decently well for both teams. The Rangers don't have Fielder anymore due to his retirement, and Kinsler is moving on to the Angels this year, but both teams ended up with several seasons of production from their player.

I purchased a blaster and 2 loose packs - and I ended up with just two Twins. The lens flare effect on the team logo doesn't really do much for me. It just gets in the way - might be better if the light source was behind the logo instead of in front.

Some nice action shots for the young guns.

The veterans are all brooding and intense. They've been through some things.

The horizontal shots are back again, which is usually a good idea. Overall, I thought there was a nice selection of photos for Series 1.

Here's where everything comes off the rails. The inserts have been getting more generic looking and unnecessary. I'd much rather have more base cards than these. The 1983 Salute is a head scratcher - the design was just recently used for Archives, and while I will be the first to admit is one of the better Topps designs of the junk wax era, it still seems like a slot that could have been used for something else.

The Derek Jeter set... I get it, that's fine, but I will just be trying to get rid of them. Opening Day... Why? Topps has a whole set dedicated to Opening Day, we don't need an insert set on top of it. Then there's the Home Run Challenge card.

Check out the website. This "card" is just an ad for the promotion, not the actual Home Run Challenge insert. You can't even use this card to enter the contest! Wasting space in the pack.

Ugh. Get over yourself, Topps. This is masturbatory.

This is the manufactured Relic, Royals fans, hit me up... Overall, the base set is fine - I'd prefer borders, but the photo choices are good and there's a variety of rookies and veterans. No Bartolo Colon? That's a bummer. The inserts are terrible, I would have preferred bringing back First Pitch and/or adding National Anthem singers or something. The inserts also seem position player heavy - would have been nice to throw the pitchers a bone too.

The blaster came with a bunch of coupons, and this last one caught my eye. What set is this? I checked Topps website and Cardboard Connection but I didn't see any upcoming releases for Topps with "BL" initials. The coupon is good from May to August, so I'm guessing this is a product coming out in the summer sometime.

Thursday, February 1, 2018

The 1974 Topps Rookie All-Star Team - Bill Madlock

Here they are - the Topps All-Star Rookie Team, selected "by the Youth of America" following the 1974 season and featured in the 1975 Topps set. 

I have completed the run of these up through 2017 Series One, at least all regular issue cards that bear the All-Star Rookie Trophy. 

Topps decided to skip the Trophies on the 1974 Topps Set, but they made a triumphant return in 1975. I wanted to show my appreciation for this expression of good judgement, so for the 1974 Lineup, I will do a separate post for each player. This was a pretty good crop of players, so let's dive in! 
Third Baseman - Bill Madlock

It was a tall task for Mad Dog in his first full major league season - replace a Hall of Fame fan favorite at a vital position. Madlock was asked to take the place of the recently traded Ron Santo as the Cubs' Third Baseman.

He responded with a tremendous rookie year at the plate, then reeled off a pair of batting titles. The Cubs couldn't agree to a contract with Madlock following 1976. They decided instead to trade him to the San Francisco Giants. They moved Madlock from 3rd to 2nd base, but the position change didn't slow down his bat. His stint in the Bay Area could be called tumultuous, and his reception chilly as a windy day at Candlestick. He managed to get into a much publicized fight with teammate John Montefusco during Spring Training. Madlock had heard that Montefusco had told the press that the Giants were a "team of losers," so he confronted "The Count" mid-interview at his locker. The two men had to be separated by teammates. 

The following season didn't start any better off the field. A rumor was passed around that Madlock was instrumental in sabotaging the team's efforts to acquire Rod Carew in the off-season. Further complicating things, the rumor seems to have started from the Giants' owner Bob Lurie. The situation seemed to leak onto the field as well. His batting average in 1979 was well below his career numbers, and his slump did nothing to improve his mood. The famously short-fused Madlock tangled with Braves' pitcher Bo McLaughlin after a night of ducking fastballs high and tight. Mad Dog's elbow ignited a bench clearing brawl. Two days later, he was traded to the Pirates.   

The change of scenery did wonders for Madlock, and he found a clubhouse that embraced him as a member of the Fam-A-Lee. His bat turned around as well, hitting .328 for the remainder of the season and .375 in the World Series. He would go on to win 2 more N.L. batting titles in Pittsburgh, and became Willie Stargell's successor as Pirates' team captain.

Madlock was traded to the Dodgers in 1985 - He finished the season hitting .360 for LA. He had some injury issues in the years that followed, limiting his effectiveness. He was released in early 1987 by the Dodgers, but found himself back in the thick of another pennant race.

The last stop in his playing career came with Detroit, making one more trip to the post season and providing a little extra veteran leadership. In 1988, he played in Japan and hit a career high 19 homers. He had over 2,000 hits in the major leagues and his 4 batting titles place him among elite company.