One Good Break Deserves Another

Just so we’re clear, the “One Good Break” is the group break Colbey (flywheels) held quite a while back ago.  He’s since held two more (of which, I participated in one as partial payment for my break — that rundown will be coming to the blog eventually).  The “Another” is hopefully my recent breaks.

The boxes that were opened all held quite a bit of appeal for me.  They were 1992 OPC (not premiere, but the Topps “variant”), 2005 Topps Total (I had opened a couple boxes of ’02), and 2007 UD Elements.  Thanks to a multi-team discount and there being Maddux, Dempster, Wood and Frank Thomas cards to potentially be had, I was lucky enough to snag the Chicago Cubs and White Sox.  The Cubs are tough to claim in breaks, especially since I can’t read or respond to posts at work.  That means most of the time, I find out about it too late.

There were a lot of cards in this package and we have to start somewhere.  How’s about we save the best for last and show off the Pale Hose first.

"Totally" Awesome

The dual cards are a nice touch, especially for first year players.  McCarthy made his debut in May 2005 against the Cubs.  He’s now a starting pitcher for Oakland A’s.  He was with the runner-up Rangers last year.

Can you spot the trend on that top row?  The eagle-eyed of you will notice that some potentially spiteful photographer picker used photos of the Chi-Sox in Wrigley.  Take that Cell Phone Field!  The Konerko and Gload are obvious.  I had doubts about the Crede until I saw that big lady with the big Cubs logo on her big boob over his shoulder.  Thank you for the awkward swing, Joe. Otherwise I may not have been certain.  And thank you, random large lady for what I assume is a return from the hot dog stand.  How did this post get so mean-spirited all of a sudden?  I blame the White Sox.

Victory is mine! So is OPC!

I didn’t get the Frank Thomas OPC in the box.  I won’t lie.  That was disappointing.  And while the Alvarez over the shoulder shot is nice, the 1992 Topps Thomas picture is somewhat iconic, so any version of that I can get my hands on is much appreciated.  But, I did happen to get a solid line-up of early ’90s Sox, including Fisk-eroo, Mr. Bo Jackson and “not yet” Slammin’ Sammy.

You’ll also see some Ultimate Victory cards at the bottom.  These look great in person.  These were extras thrown in with no explanation.  Maybe Colbey felt bad for not finding the Thomas card, or maybe he was eager to dump extra Sox cards.  Whatever the case, they’re very cool looking, even if the blue border would look even better surrounding some North Siders.

Like A EmBOSSed!

Some more awesome freebies.  That Ozzie really looks creepy with the light on the raised surface.  Still, I love Topps Embossed.  I bought as much of the basketball version as my 14 year old self’s budget would allow.  Did you know that Ozzie Guillen starred in a Venezuelan TV soap opera in 1989?  Now you do.

The Belle card is a Stars ‘N Steel card apparently made out of metal.  It has the weight and the noise to it, but I’m not entirely convinced there isn’t some paper element involved somewhere in it.  Still a badass card of a badass player from a set I had not seen in person before.

Lastly, we have a Javier Vazquez Topps Black border.  This is numbered 20/57!  Indescribably awesome.  I know this baby wasn’t in any of the group break boxes.  I can’t help but think these cards were secretly meant for someone else.

This is where I say that I was only claiming the White Sox in hopes of landing some Frank Thomas cards, so if you’d like the Vazquez or any of the others you see here (I also got plenty more I didn’t showcase), please inquire within.  The Cubs players I don’t collect are also up for trade, so you know.

Now, everyone knows that the real good guys wear Blue, so go get your hot dogs and sit down, lady, and let’s see them Cubs!

Now we're talkin' and swingin' and slidin', but mostly swingin'

As the Flying Pig from Kids in the Hall would say, “Wow!  What a line-up!  Hey hey hey.”  Oddly enough, there was no Greg Maddux in the box either.  The box was clearly anti-me.  Hold on, angry mob!  Before you light your torches and get too far with your pitchforks, please note that I already had the 92 OPC Mad Dog.  You got lucky this time, box…if that is your real name.

Sweet pictures, everybody. Not you, Prior. Back to the towel toss for you.

“Corey Patterson may be on the verge of anchoring the Cubs with Carlos Beltran-type numbers if he can improve his SO-to-BB ratio.”  Yeah…that wasn’t his only problem.  Patterson is now on the verge of sucking some more balls.

When I signed up, I didn’t realize there were parallels.  Personally, I think that’s kind of a BS move on Topps’ part when they’re pushing a 990 card set.  Why water it down with these things?  Why multiple parallels?  The Leicester/Wellemeyer is the silver border.  The Prior is a Chrome-ish/foil version (tiny ding on the corner), which I believe isn’t a full-set parallel.  The Prior looks really nice, but regardless, I’d be okay with it not being in the set at all if it meant giving collectors a better chance at finishing their sets without buying an extra box to make up for the parallels.

Then we have the one that got away.  No, not Coats.  McGehee.  Cubs fans love to play the “what-if” and “shoulda” games with Casey at the Bat, here.  “What if we didn’t sign Ramirez to such a long extension.  What if we hadn’t let him go to the Brewers right before Ramirez had that season long injury.  The Cubs shoulda known that he was going to be the impact player he’s starting to become in Milwaukee.  The cubs shoulda given him a proper chance.  They never give anyone a proper chance.”

I mostly agree with that last statement, although I think they’ve done a great job with Starlin Castro and Darwin Barney seems to be fitting in pretty well as our everyday 2B – a job he was expected to be a third option for if he made it out of spring training.

Element-ary, my dear blog reader

The Elements cards were a big reason why I joined.  It’s an opportunity to be a part of something high-end (or at least seemingly high-end, not really sure what it costs, but it looks expensive) that I haven’t seen before and wouldn’t typically try myself if left to my own devices.  My own devices are usually cheap bastards.

The product has three mini-boxes, each with a different “element” aka style.  I got at least one of each style, which was cool.  I don’t know what they’re called, however and I don’t know how much, if any, overlap there is between the styles.  Does the etched foil Dye have a refractory version like the Soriano?  I suppose I could look it up, but my devices are advising me against it.  My favorite of the three types are the clear acetate cards (seen in Thome and Lee).  The scan shows how you can make out the stat box from the back on their jerseys.  I love see-through cards.  I can not get enough of them, so this was a very successful experiment, if I do say so myself.  And I just did.

Up to this point, you’ll notice that I haven’t shown any of the players that I actually collect.  Were they in there?  Yup.  I got exactly three.  I just like to scan and log those separately, you know.  For organization!

Thrilled to be throwing BP at the batting cages inside a mini-golf course

Look out!  I guess someone didn’t realize Ryan’s no longer a Marlin, because he’s about to be caught in a giant fishing net.  The backs of these cards are very busy.  I probably should have scanned one to show you.  There’s some sort of player rating system, a game thing, all kinds of numbers and a couple blocks of text.  This card was right before he started starting again.  He came off of an injury shortened 2004 where he only threw 20.2 innings out of the pen.  The “Topps Tracker” on the back lists “Improved ‘Feel.’”  I think that somewhere along the way in writing over 900 card backs, they just started making up stuff that sounded good thinking that nobody will be analyzing this 6 years later.  You were wrong, Topps.  You were wrong.

Proof I'm losing my hair in the form of that strand that fell onto the scanner

I’m digging the design of this year’s Total.  I like the fading color coordinated borders, although you don’t need the white as well, since that’s double bordering for no reason.  The logo on the top isn’t too big or distracting.  The name and position could be slightly more exciting, but I’ll allow it.  There’s no foil!!!  There’s no super-thick gloss!!!  I’ll take it!

The back says that Wood was 2nd all time in K/9 at this time.  I don’t know who holds that mark now, but I do know that Carlos Marmol set the single season record last year, and leads the Cubs so far this year as well.  Unfortunately, this is also around the time when injuries started to become a much bigger issue.  He was coming back from an injury (like Dempster), but got injured late and continued to have set backs that eventually forced the Cubs to set him free.  But, now he’s back!

The hair continues...back before I lopped it all off

Look at Frankie acting like an outfielder.  No infield dirt or bag to be seen.  This card features a nice birds-eye view type photograph, and now I need another copy of it.  You see, when I was opening the package from Colbey, I didn’t do so carefully enough and I ended up dinging the top left corner pretty badly.  You can sort of see it in the scan if you look hard enough.

Boy, all three of these guys were coming off of injuries in 2004.  Frank still was 64 homers away from 500 at this point.  His 2005 was going to be injury shortened again, but he would hit 12 HR in 35 games.

Thanks a lot to Colbey for hosting the break.  Please check out his blog Cardboard Collections, as he’s holding cool new ones all the time.  You’ll probably see it before I do anyway.

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