2015 TSR: For The First Time, A Virtual Blaster

I’ve reached the point of the year where things are winding down with my virtual card set, and I start to run across semi-forgotten images and notes, and I say “Oh, yeah, I was going to do that…”

One of those things is a virtual blaster of 2015 TSR Baseball.

To quote Pee Wee Herman, “Why?  What’s the significance?  I DON’T KNOW!!!!”

Well, let’s take a look… Here’s the blaster, fresh off the shelves at ShlabotMart…

Topps Series 4 Blaster

I would ask you to pay particular attention to the blurb on the lower left of the blaster box.  “Cards on the back?”, you ask, “He couldn’t possibly mean that…”

Aw, hell yeah I could!

2015 TSR BOX 7 - Curtis Granderson

That’s right… You can keep your minis and your die cut cards…This is all about being oversized and hand cut!  Yeah, baby!!!!

Once the card is cut off of the blaster, it’s roughly 3.5″ x 5″… Twice the size of a standard card, roughly the size of an early 1970’s Topps “Super” card.  And, unlike Hostess cards or the “box bottom” cards of the 1980’s, blasters are shrink-wrapped, so surface wear is not an issue.

So that’s the big “reveal” for this post… Of course, the virtual blaster has virtual cards inside it as well.  Crazy, right? Let’s check out some of those.

The first card inside the blaster represents another idea I kept meaning to get around to… An insert set based on former MLB players who are currently active in foreign leagues… We’ll start it off with a Japanese player who established himself in Japan, played for 7 years with the Dodgers and Yankees, and went back to Japan for 2015.  I’m talking about none other than Hiroki Kuroda.
2015 TSR FF-1 Hiroki Kuroda
This past season, the 40-year-old Kuroda went 11-8 with a 2.55 ERA for the 4th place Carp.  For what it’s worth, it’s his third straight season with 11 wins;  he went 11-13 in 2013 and 11-9 in 2014.

Like the oversized blaster cards, I would be all over an insert like this.  I can’t see an insert set like this being very large, since I don’t expect that there would be much demand for cards of Dennis Sarfate or Wily Mo Pena… But I think it would be pretty durn cool.  (And *I* would want a card of former Oriole Sarfate…)

TSR Production hasn’t kept up with the postseason, so for now you’ll have to make do with a Mets N.L. East Champions card…
2015 TSR #501 - Mets NL East Champs

I would like to point out that someone other than Topps had sepia-colored inserts featuring throwback uniforms, and that someone started featuring them several months ago.
2015 TSR TB-2 - CJ Wilson
You’re welcome, Topps.

The latest issue of Baseball America lists Lucas Giolito as the Nationals’ #1 prospect.
2015 TSR FG-5 Lucas Giolito
…But what I find most interesting about Giolito is that he comes from Hollywood stock. His father, Rick Giolito, was a regular on “As The World Turns”, was in multiple episodes of “Twin Peaks” and is now a producer. His mother, Lindsay Frost, was also on “As The World Turns”, and has also appeared on “L.A. Law”, “Murder, She Wrote”, “Frasier”, “Lost”, “Boston Legal”, two different CSI’s (playing two different characters), as well as movies like “The Ring” and “Collateral Damage”. On top of that, Lucas’ uncle Mark Frost was co-creator of “Twin Peaks”, Lucas’ grandfather Warren Frost had a recurring role on “Seinfeld” (as “Mr. Ross”, the father of George’s ill-fated fiancee) and was also on “Twin Peaks” (imagine that)… anyway, you get the idea.

As long as we’re talking about Hollywood types, I saw this image of Debra Messing throwing out the first pitch at a Mets game, and couldn’t resist.
2015 TSR FP-1 Debra Messing
I can’t say that Topps stole my idea for first pitch cards, but neither did I steal the idea from them.

Oh, and there are some base cards in this blaster. Here’s one of…

BROCK HOLT!
2015 TSR #159 - Brock Holt
If you’ve ever wondered why people like Keith Olbermann (and me) always follow BROCK HOLT! with an exclamation mark, it’s a reference to a character on “Arrested Development”. I’d explain it further, but it’s the kind of running joke that doesn’t come across well in exposition.

…But at least BROCK HOLT! has one arm raised…

And I almost forgot the last card, which is a League Leader card for statistical categories you don’t normally see on League Leader cards…

2015 TSR LL-1a Hit By Pitch Leaders

I’ve gotta say, this is my favorite card out of the subset.

So that’s it for the blaster… I should have one or two more posts to wrap up the 2015 TSR set before we get to the 2015/16 “Hot Stove” set.  We’ve already had a number of managerial changes, last night the Rays and Mariners pulled off the first trade of the offseason, and our hard-working production team is feverishly working on finalizing the details for the “Hot Stove” set.  Like last year, it will be an homage to a 1970’s Kellogg’s set… but with some added elements that I think you’ll enjoy.

Does Anyone Know The Way? There’s Got To Be A Way To Blockbuster!

If I’m not making semi-obscure references to 1970’s music, then I’m not doing my job.  Making comments on Topps Update cards is another part of my job…

I was surprised – in a good way – at the Blockbuster insert.  These are pretty nice looking cards, despite the huge “Trademark” symbols at the end of the team names.  I wonder if there’s a legal reason for this, that the symbol has to be a certain percentage of the text size, or if they just use the symbol that comes in that font and they don’t bother making it smaller.

“Well, that’s a pretty crappy photoshop job,” is what I said when I first saw this Eric Chavez card, but after a few seconds I realized that it was from the game where the Yankees and Red Sox both wore 1912 throwback uniforms.  OK, fine, it still looks weird.  I know a lot of people were gushing about those uniforms, but sometimes you can “throw back” too far.

Speaking of throwbacks, this C.J. Wilson card is the kind of card I like to see… almost, sorta.  As my regular readers know, I’ve been broadly hinting that Topps should feature throwback uniforms on throwback card designs, and we’ve certainly got that here… Unfortunately, it’s an early 1970’s uniform and a late 1980’s card, but I’ll give Topps some tiny little props anyway.  “Topps Propps”.  Wonder when that’ll end up on the shelves at Target….

Tyler Moore hit the go-ahead hit for the Nationals in Saturday’s Game 1.  Moore’s not exactly one of “my guys”, but I saw him play in the minors, which makes him a “potential guy”.  It’s always fun when a guy you’ve seen in the minors does good in the Majors.

What’s that? You want me to tell you what the subject line is referring to? It’s “Blockbuster” by Sweet… and if you want to get REALLY obscure, this song was one of the samples in “Doctorin’ The TARDIS” by The Timelords.

Pack Animal: 2012 Topps Series 2

An after-work Target trip lead to an unexpected purchase:

So, wouldya like to see what I got?  Wouldya?  Wouldya?  I’ll admit, I didn’t get any big hits (They were loose packs, maybe the feelers  had already struck).  I was pretty happy with what I did get.  Being Series Two, I got veterans in new uniforms…

…and rookies (Jarrod Parker no hit the Rangers through 8  innings earlier this week, not too shabby)…

…and a Met…

…and an Oriole…

“My name is Yim Yohnson, I work in Wisconsin, I work in a lumbermill there…”

As for inserts, the Walk-Offs and Timeless inserts have been replaced by two new inserts:

You can’t tell from the scan, but this “Cut Above” insert is die-cut, it’s got a sort of jagged cut to it.  I normally don’t go much for die-cuts, but this is a nice-looking card.  I fear that that might be largely due to the sweet photo, because I also got a Mickey Mantle Cut Above insert, and it didn’t have the same effect on  me.  Part of it is because it wasn’t as good of a photo (it looks like a colorized B&W photo), and part is because it’s Mantle, and I’m suffering from a severe case of Mickey Mantle overexposure (i.e. “I’M SICK TO BLOODY DEATH OF MANTLES!”)

The other new insert is Mound Dominance, which isn’t great, but is better than either of the replaced inserts.  It doesn’t scan well;  there’s silver foil on top, and the green strike zone graphic doesn’t GLOW on the card like it does in this scan.

Other highlights of my packs…

Bruuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuce!!!!

Bruce Chen is one of the players I collect, so he’s a welcome addition.

I also got a Pirate… Pirates fans, I apologize, you haven’t gotten  much from the Pirates being my “Emergency Backup Team” yet, but the Mets & Orioles have been doing well, and the Pirates… Um, the Pirates…. HEY, LOOK!  IT’S GARRETT JONES!

And now’s ze time on Ze Shlabotnik Report ven ve DANCE!!!!