Thinking Too Much About 2018 Topps Heritage

I’m sure everybody’s already seen someone else’s post about 2018 Heritage, but I wanted to bring my own perspective to the newly-released set.  Some of this likely comes across as nit-pick-y, but I don’t mean it to be critical, it’s more along the lines of “Hey, I’m analytical and visually-oriented and I noticed this – isn’t it interesting?”

One of the first things I did was run upstairs, pull out my 1969 Topps cards and fetch a 1969 Topps Ed Charles card to put up against my 2018 Topps Heritage Wilmer Flores card:

One of the things I noticed off the bat was how much brighter the 1969 card is “in hand”.  The white border matches up nicely, but it seems to be more that the current photos are more saturated and “hi def”.

The second thing I noticed… well, “noticed” isn’t the right word because other people had pointed it out… but Topps made many of the position notations longer than on the originals.  Here it’s “Third Baseman” vs. “3rd Base”, but there’s also “Outfielder” vs. “Outfield” as well as “First Baseman” and “Second Baseman”.  Kind of an odd choice when you’re working with a relatively small amount of real estate on the card.

The third thing that jumped out at me was the colored circle which features the player’s name and position is noticeably smaller in 2018 Heritage:

That’s Heritage on the left, 1969 on the right.

As I found out, it’s less noticeable because the photo is also smaller… Something which I found to be curious.

Let’s start by comparing the photo size vertically:

Again, it’s Heritage on the left, 1969 on the right.  No question that the photo is larger on the vintage card.  What about horizontally?

Heritage on the top, 1969 on the bottom… again, slightly larger.  That got me thinking;  the 1969 card has a larger circle and larger photos… but is the relative size within the card any different?

So I loaded both images into my aged copy of Paint Shop Pro, superimposed one on the other, adjusted the size of the 1969 until the borders matched the Heritage, and this is what I got.

Heritage on the left, adjusted 1969 on the right… You can see that the thin black border line matches up, and now the colored circles are almost the same.

So what we’ve got are Heritage cards with slightly wider white borders than the original 1969 cards… which is pretty interesting.  I know that cards are expected to be centered these days, but I got the impression there are all kinds of technological advancements which allow greater precision… so why are we being ever-so-slightly shortchanged on our photo size?

Let’s compare the card backs… overall a nice job, although the originals were a little more brightly salmon-colored (my scanner makes it look like a greater difference than it is):

Let’s “zoom in” on the upper left corner…

In an ever-lasting peeve for me, the Heritage card numbers are smaller than the originals.  Grumpy Old Man does not approve.


FLIBBERTY FLOO!!!!

One thing that Topps continues to do – something which isn’t really good or bad, it’s just a thing – is use different colors for a franchise that was in another place in 1969.  For example, there’s the 1969 Washington Senators, a team which is now the Texas Rangers:

That’s the Heritage Rangers and 1969 Senators, respectively.

New for 2018 we have the Nationals and Expos…

I’m not wild about the light green with yellow lettering for the Nats.  My scanner’s sometimes not the best at replicating colors, so I’ll point out that the Expos had black letters on a pink circle.

For what would seem to be a one-and-done, we’ve got the Brewers and Pilots:

The Pilots, a one-year team, would appear in 1970 Topps, but that set doesn’t assign specific colors to each team, so there won’t be the same thing next year.  1971 Topps/2020 Heritage will both have Brewers, 1972/2021 will both have Rangers and then we’ll just be left with the Expos/Nationals as the sole team which moved between sets.

Unfortunately within my blaster did not contain any base Astros cards, otherwise I’d point out that the 1969 versions used a light green circle and said “HOUSTON” on the bottom, due to lingering copyright issues.  2018 Heritage has “ASTROS” across the bottom, which you’d expect, but the colors have inexplicably changed…. Instead of light green, ti’s a dark purple-y blue with black and yellow lettering (and the black is hard to read against the dark purple-y blue).  I find this very odd.

Let’s go back to that last image again…

Notice how both cards feature players with short last names, but the font is different.  This is something that bugs me about Archives and Heritage… Back in the day, Topps would often use two or more related fonts, rather than one universal font, for things like player names.  You can clearly see that names like “AKER” and “BRAND” are in thicker, wider fonts than are used for “EPSTEIN” or “CHARLES”.  Yet in Heritage, they just use the same font across the board.  That’s just something that’s long bugged me.

Quick comparison of the All-Star cards:

Generally a good job of replicating, other than the white borders are again slightly larger, the “News” is famously “Topps” instead of “Sporting” (but at least not “Fake”), and Topps wants to cram too much text into the circle… instead of “Outfield” and “NATIONALS”, we have “Outfielder” and “WASHINGTON NATIONALS”.

There’s also something going on here that I find interesting.  The original All-Star cards had a close-up portrait on one side, the circle on the other, and the background was an action shot taken from a distance and shown in black and white.    The new cards “follow the letter of the law”, but have a smaller portrait and a larger action shot… it reminds me of a badly-remixed 1960’s album I have where the lead vocalist, lead guitar, rhythm guitar, bass, drums and background vocals are all at the same apparent volume and it drives me nuts because you can no longer hear the vocals over the rhythm section.

…But I guess the real point is that the photographers from Getty Images, with their fancy digital cameras and zoom lenses… well, they don’t take action shots from quite a long way away… and you can’t just make the action image smaller because you don’t have the background to fill the rest of the space.

One last thing I noticed just before  hitting the “Publish” button:  The words “ALL-STAR” became italicized in the new version.

Quick minor complaint about the rookie cards:

Sure, the originals used the first initial if your first name was something long like Merv Rettenmund, Rich Robertson or Cesar Guttierez.  But you know what?  I think that “ZACK GRANITE” and “FELIX JORGE” will fit in there without a shoehorn getting involved.  Seems to be another instance of someone at Topps saying “You know what, I don’t feel like dealing with it… everybody gets handled *this* way”.

I was going to get more into showing examples of other base cards and inserts, but I’ve gone on so long already that I’ll just get into the two major surprises for me…

Surprise #1:  Target Exclusive “Transogram” inserts

When I saw one of these out on Twitter…

I said “Is that a ‘Transogram’ card?  Since when does Heritage include Transogram cards?”  For the record, these are on the checklist as “1969 Collectors Cards (Target Only)”.

A little background for those not familiar with Transogram…  Back in 1969 and 1970, a company called Transogram put out little baseball figures – think “Starting Lineup” – and the boxes had cut-out baseball cards on them.  I don’t have any Transogram cards or statues – they’re fairly rare and a bit pricey, plus I just haven’t bothered to track them down – so I borrowed this image from The Trading Card Database.

They did a nice job of replicating these, and did a nice job of confusing a lot of card collectors who said “This is pretty cool…  What the heck is it?”

Surprise #1:  Checklist Cards

Back two months ago I had a series of posts about what Topps should do if they really wanted Heritage to be true to 1969 Topps.  Much of what I pointed out, like blacked-out caps and five-year-old photos, were thankfully not replicated.  However, I’d also re-created a checklist and said “Oh, they’ll never do this”.

Now I need to point out that this Machado isn’t a real card (as if it weren’t apparent enough by Tom Servo, Ben Grimm and Barney Rubble being included on the checklist).  The reason I need to point it out is because Topps went ahead and created checklist cards with player photos:

Now why they suddenly decided to do this now when 2016 and 2017 Heritage could’ve included cards like this – and when 1969 was the last year Topps did this – I have no clue.

I thought I’d be excited about these, but it turns out I’m not.  When push comes to shove, they’re still checklist cards taking a slot away from some other player, and while it’s fun today to pick up a vintage checklist card featuring Mickey Mantle, Bob Gibson or Brooks Robinson, it’s far less exciting to pick up a checklist card featuring Cody Bellinger, Kris Bryant or Aaron Judge.  No offense intended, guys.

Actually, I think I just answered my own question:
Q:  “Why are they suddenly making checklist cards?”
A:  “Cody Bellinger, Kris Bryant and Aaron Judge… especially Aaron Judge”.

Keep an eye out for Shohei Ohtani checklists in Heritage High #’s!

Getting back to the cards themselves, the original cards were “1st Series”, “2nd Series” and so forth.  Of course, this batch of checklist cards are ALL “1st Series”, so it looks kind of… dumb.

My final verdict:  You want to do this?  Fine.  Make the checklist cards be shortprints, and free up a handful of the regular player cards from SP Hell.  Same goes for League Leader cards.

So that’s about all I have for now (as if it weren’t enough).

Thank you for reading through my long ramblings about Heritage.  Maybe I think too much for my own good… Some people say so.  Other people say “No, no… The fact is you don’t think as much as you could.”

Hm.

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If 2018 Heritage Were True To 1969 Topps, Part 2

Last week, in Part 1, I got into some of the weirdness which would have to be perpetrated by Topps if they really wanted 2018 Heritage to be 100% faithful to the quirks of 1969 Topps.

I’ve got a few more examples, including two suggested by readers of The Shlabotnik Report!

First off I have a suggestion made on Twitter by Lanny Ribes @DOCBZ17:

There are a couple of instances I know of where Topps reused a photo from 1968 or earlier, but by referencing Freddie Freeman I believe Lanny is specifically referring to Topps using the same photo of Hank Aaron in both 1968 and 1969 Topps.  Unfortunately I don’t have a Freddie Freeman card from last year’s Heritage set, so I hope Nick Markakis will do.

I had to tighten the crop on the custom card on the right, being that I needed to get rid of the puple “BRAVES” circle on the 2017 Heritage card… but it works out fine, because the two Aaron cards were cropped differently anyway (although the 1968 was cropped tighter than the 1969, but that’s the way things go.)

Next up was a suggestion from Night Owl, who suggested riffing on this card:

This is another instance of Topps repeating a photo from 1968 Topps, but the key thing with this card is that Topps flipped the negative for 1969, thus making Larry Haney a left-handed catcher.

The Seattle Pilots are, of course, now the Brewers.  I went looking for a photo of a Brewers catcher on which I could pull similar shenanigans.  Nobody poses for pictures like this anymore, but I did find an action shot of Jett Bandy which does the trick.

A little side note:  I just realized that I’ve made a mistake on all of these customs thus far in that I’ve been making the position all capitals (CATCHER) when it should be sentence case (Catcher).  I’ll fix this in future customs.

One last custom for this week… or to be precise, one last pair of customs.

On January 20, 1969, the Phillies traded catcher Clay Dalrymple to the Orioles for outfielder Ron Stone.  For whatever reason, Topps decided to update Dalrymple’s 2nd series card after printing a number of cards showing him with the Phillies.  The updated card showed a bare-headed Dalrymple on an Orioles card (and much to my chagrin, I don’t have either of these cards, but I intend to remedy that in 2018).

For the purposes of this post, I figured where the traded player was going wasn’t as important as where he came from, so I went with Freddy Galvis, who was traded from the Phillies to the Padres this past December 15th.

Here’s the Phillies version of the Galvis:

I suspect that the capless photo of Clay Dalrymple was an old photo (and honestly, the full uniform photo was likely pretty old as well), so when I went looking for a Freddy Galvis photo, I chose a pre-dreadlocks shot from 2016.  I think his expression also fits pretty well…

That wraps things up for now, but I intend to do at least one more post in this series.  Feel free to make a suggestion on what particular quirk of 1969 Topps could be replicated… Suggestions which are already in the works include having the Astros be just “HOUSTON” and having a traded player with a blacked-out cap.  I have a couple of other ideas in mind which I won’t mention just yet.


Before I go…

Some of you probably read an off-hand reference to Twitter above and said “Twitter?  Since when is he on Twitter?”

Well, dear readers, I had never made an official announcement about it here in this blog, but The Shlabotnik Report has been on Twitter since November.  The Twitter handle is @Shlabotnik_Rpt.  If you’re searching on it, keep in mind that there are no C’s in Shlabotnik and that there’s an underscore between “Shlabotnik” and “Rpt”.

After looking at my own Twitter feed for the past two months, I feel it necessary to point out that @Shlabotnik_Rpt is this blog’s Twitter account and is intended as another channel for the same kind of content and PG-rated nonsense you get here.  So far it’s largely been notifications of new posts, but I’m starting into some Twitter-specific content.  What you won’t find are political views, fat-shaming or other bits of shouting… unless I’m quoting Daleks or Vogons (“RESISTANCE IS USELESS!”).

More Assorted Vintage Because I’ve Time For Little Else

All of these came from the last show I went to… or maybe the show before that. Does it really matter? Nope, not really.

I got this Hal Lanier because I spent a short time using the All-Star Rookie trophy as an excuse to buy vintage cards.  I’ve backed off on that goal just because I had far to many goals in 2016.

In 1964, Lanier batted .274 with 40 runs scored and 16 doubles in 98 games… Not too shabby for a 2nd baseman back when offense was more or less icing on the middle infielder cake.  I think of Hal Lanier as a manager first (Astros in the late ’80’s) and as a Yankee second, even though he only played 95 games in pinstripes… but the beloved 1974 set – my first – shows Lanier with the Yankees, so end of story.

Reasons for buying this next card:  1)  I like it, 2)  it was cheap, 3) I enjoy saying “Rico Petrocelli”.

Rico hit 2 homers in game 6 of the 1967 World Series, and batted .308 in the 1975 World Series.

This Dick Howser card was also fairly cheap, and I can’t resist cheap 1963 Fleer.  I’ve only got 8 of them, but someday when I’m looking for a new vintage challenge, I may go after this abbreviated 66 card set.  Maybe.

Dick Howser is another guy I think of as a manager and a Yankee…  He managed the Royals in the 1980’s and was a Yankees coach during my formative years.  Howser died tragically from a brain tumor in 1987.  He was 51 when he passed, which I’ve always viewed as sad and tragic, but it’s admittedly even more sad and tragic to me now that I’m 51.

Established after his passing, the Dick Howser Trophy is awarded annually to the collegiate player of the year.  Somewhat-recent winners have included David Price, Buster Posey, Stephen Strasburg and Kris Bryant.

Here Are Some Cards From The *Previous* COMC Promotion…

I have to admit;  Black Friday weekend and Cyber Monday have sucked up much of my “hobby time” for the past week…  As a result, I’m gonna buy myself some time by sharing an assortment of cards from the last time I took advantage of a COMC Promotion, which was back in June.

I mainly bought this card because it shows Jesse Gonder wearing a Mets uniform, a team he last played for in 1965.
1969 Topps Jesse Gonder
When I looked up Gonder’s record, I noticed that he never played for the Padres, nor was there any transaction that showed him going to the Padres. A little Googling revealed that he was a Spring Training invite, made the team but was released shortly into the season without having appeared in a game.

This card was a pleasant find… This card is a high number and a rookie card, plus it was a need, but I got it for under $1 because it was flagged as “Altered”. Once I got the card in my possession, I could tell it had been trimmed. I could also tell that I do not care.
1971 Topps Mets Rookie Stars

Ted Uhlaender’s daughter Katie was in the 2014 Sochi Olympics in the Skeleton event.
1972 Topps Ted Uhlaender
Ted’s last Major League at bat came as a pinch-hitter in Game 7 of the 1972 World Series.

I’m slowly… very slowly… working on the 1976 Kellogg’s set, but for now I’m keeping this set within a tight budget. We’ll see how far I get (probably not very). Dave Cash here set me back 55 cents.
1976 Kellogg's Dave Cash
Just a reminder that this winter’s “Hot Stove” custom set is based on this very same 1976 Kellogg’s set… I’m still working on some of the related images (you’ll understand when we get there), but so far I’ve got three customs made. Hint, hint: I’ve “photoshopped” on-field personnel into Red Sox, Marlins and Angels uniforms. I’m hoping to get the first one out this weekend.

This last card is shiny and features a decent photo, but I’ll be honest, I bought it for one primary reason: It’s a Japanese baseball card that was on sale for 35 cents.
2002 BBM Hanshin Tigers Extra Edition Go Kida
I don’t usually pass that by, no matter who’s on the card.

…And now you’re going to ask me who *is* on the card. Well, his name is Go Kida and I couldn’t find a whole lot about him… I guess he’s the kind of a guy who ends up on a 35 cent Japanese baseball card. Oh, I should mention that the set is the 2002 BBM Hanshin Tigers Extra Edition (at least that’s what COMC told me).

Thoughts On The Mets, Plus Recently Acquired Mets Cards

I’ve been pretty quiet about the playoffs so far, and I would guess that some of you are wondering why a Mets fan hasn’t weighed in on the subject.

I’ll admit, part of my silence was not wanting to jinx the Mets.
1969 Topps Cleon Jones

When this season started, my expectations were “This is the year we don’t suck!” A wild card spot would be cool, but being something other than painful to watch (not to mention putting the whole “LOLMets” meme to bed) was my wish for the season.
1992 Stadium Club Dwight Gooden
Halfway through the season, that’s about what it looked like. The Mets were a decent team, but didn’t look like world-beaters.

…But then again, neither did the Nationals (despite all the preseason talk of 100 wins and a championship).
1997 Pinnacle Denny's Todd Hundley
Then the Mets made a move where they actually traded away prospects for major league talent, rather than the other way around. They picked up Kelly “The Happy Wanderer” Johnson and Juan Uribe for two fringey pitching prospects. I liked the deal, and thought that would be THE big move towards acquiring mid-season help. After all, the Mets weren’t going to be serious contenders until next year, right?

2013 Topps Archives Howard Johnson
They also picked up Tyler Clippard to bolster the bullpen, another nice trade to help the team without selling out on the future.

Then, much to my surprise, they picked up Yoenis Cespedes. It was at that point that I realized that they had more than meaningful September baseball in mind.

2013 Topps Finest Matt Harvey
But all along, I kept in mind that this wasn’t necessarily supposed to be happening. I enjoyed the Nationals falling apart because that franchise’s arrogance annoys the crap out of me (a subject for another post, another day), but I didn’t get carried away about the division title… Hell, both wild card teams had better records than the Mets.
1962 Topps Gus Bell
I tried to keep in mind that the Mets, like Dante in the movie “Clerks”, were “not even supposed to be here today”.

They beat the Dodgers, which was thoroughly enjoyable because I’d run across a fair number of Dodger fans who were beating their chests about how unbeatable Kershaw & Greinke were…. Plus I’m still pissed about the Dodgers beating the Mets in the 1988 NLCS.
1964 Topps Jim Hickman
The Cubs made the NLCS difficult for me because the Cubs were my second-favorite team in the postseason and I have a few friends who are Cubs fans. As games between the Mets and Orioles have taught me, it’s harder to enjoy a game when you like both teams.

…which is why, after the Mets swept the Cubs, I switched my AL rooting interest to the moderately obnoxious Royals. I decided that, win or lose, the World Series would be more fun with a bad guy. Hopefully I won’t come to regret that.
1967 Topps Bob Shaw
So here we are, on the cusp of Game 1. I still maintain my mindset that this season is already an overwhelming success, and anything else is just gravy. Sure, I want the Mets to win, but given all the unexpected joys of this season, all I really ask for is that the World Series be fun to watch.
1970 Topps Tom Seaver
Let’s Go Mets!

Ya Get Whatcha Get: I Was Supposedly Saving You From Something Or Another

This post was originally started over a month ago and the subject line was “Saving My Readers From A Tortured Analogy”.  One month later, I don’t remember what the tortured analogy was… I guess I saved myself in the process.

Whatever. On with the cardboard!

Horace Guy “Dooley” Womack achieved a not insignificant amount of fame by being traded for Jim Bouton during the season covered in Bouton’s book “Ball Four”. Bouton wrote “I’d hate to think that at this stage of my career I was being traded even-up for Dooley Womack”.
1968 Topps Dooley Womack
Bouton was no doubt relieved to find out that the Pilots also got minor leaguer Roric Harrison in the deal… Harrison would later pitch for the O’s, Braves Indians and Twins.

The above card is the third in my Dooley Womack PC; unfortunately his rookie card is a high-number he shares with Bobby Murcer, so I don’t think the “return on investment” is there for me.

Jim Hardin had a career year in 1968, going 18-13 with a 2.51 ERA. It was his only season with double-digit wins or losses.
1969 Topps Jim Hardin
Hardin had just 24 hits in 268 plate appearances, but he did some damage when he made contact… His 24 hits included a double, three triples, three homers and 17 RBI. He hit a walk-off homer in relief on May 10th, 1969.

Tom Seaver had 12 career homers, half of them coming with the Mets. If he hit any walk-off homers, I couldn’t find any reference to it.
1975 Hostess Tom Seaver

I think I first saw this next card over on the Dime Boxes blog… it’s the only baseball card to feature Goose Gossage in an honest-to-God Pirates uniform (instead of being airbrushed).
1978 Kelloggs Rich Gossage

Bright, Shiny New Uniforms Of 1969

One of the 73 different ways I collect – and I’m not being facetious, I made a list – is to obtain the later-series 1969 cards which feature players in their new expansion team uniforms. 

I generally like to collect cards that show any team’s first year, it’s sort of my take on the rookie card… but I really enjoy the high-numbered 1969 expansion team cards. The way it took shape that year is sort of like The Wizard Of Oz… For the first four series that year, the expansion teams were represented by bareheaded guys, or guys with blacked-out caps… drab and mundane like Dorothy’s B&W life in Kansas..
1969 Dick Selma
…And then in the 5th series – BAM! – we’re in Oz with Technicolor blues and reds and yellows and browns.

Shall we wander down the Yellow Brick Road a bit?

John Boccabella was the 56th pick in the N.L. expansion draft, having been selected from the Cubs.  I’ve always thought of him as a catcher, but it turns out that with the Cubs he was primarily an OF/1B with a handful of games behind the plate.  After the Expos drafted him, he was made more of a full-time catcher.
1969 Topps John Boccabella

Jose Arcia played in the farm systems for the Colt .45’s, Tigers, Indians and Cardinals before making his Major League debut in 1968 with the Cubs.  He’d be the 9th pick in the N.L. expansion draft, and would play 2 years with the Padres.  These days, Arcia would be called a “supersub” as he played short, second, third, left, center and first during his 293 game career.
1969 Topps Jose Arcia
Arcia appears in the 1973 Topps set as an airbrushed Royal, but he never played in a Major League game after 1970.

Tom Burgmeier was a reliever who was selected from the Angels with the 47th pick in the A.L. expansion draft (both leagues were separate entities then, and each league’s two expansion teams were stocked with players from the 10 established teams in that league).
1969 Topps Tom Burgmeier
Burgmeier is still pretty young here, but he would go on to pitch until he was 41, appearing in 745 games over 17 seasons. Of those 745 appearances, just three were starts.

It’s not clear to me when or how Gus Gil joined the Pilots, but it wasn’t through the expansion draft.
1969 Topps Gus Gil
Even though the Pilots lasted just one year before moving, Gil played in Seattle for two straight years; he spent 1968 with the Seattle Angels, which was California’s AAA team.

From a Pilots fan’s point of view, the most unfortunate thing about 1969 is that it only shows the spring training uniforms, which didn’t have anywhere near the glitz that the regular season Pilots unis had… No Pilots logo on the uniform, no sleeve striping, no “scrambled eggs” on the bill of the cap… None of the awesome stuff that Don Mincher had going on in 1970…
1970 Kellogg's Don Mincher
…after the team had already skipped town for Milwaukee.