Contrast & Compare: 2010 Topps/Topps Chrome Ike Davis

I was at Target for non-card-buying purposes, but on the way out I have to stop by the card aisle… It’s non-negotiable, y’know?

It took me just a handful of packs and a blaster to get over Topps Update, so there were no interesting wax packs to be bought.  I went to look at the 100-card repacks… I didn’t feel the desire to buy one, but I always look to see if there’s anything interesting on top.

And it turned out there was something interesting on top… This 2010 Topps Chrome card of now-former-Met Isaac Benjamin “Ike” Davis:
2010 Topps Chrome Ike Davis
…and it doesn’t matter that he’s in Oakland now, “I Like Ike” still applies.

The thing is, the photo used on this Topps Chrome card didn’t look familiar, so I bought the repack on the chance that I might be adding to my Mets collection.

Later on in the day, when I had a chance, I went and looked at the regular 2010 Topps Ike Davis and saw…
2010 Topps Ike Davis
…Yep, it’s different, which means that the Chrome Ike is a variation-of-sorts to add to my Mets collection!  Yay!

That got me curious and I started researching as to whether there were any other 2010 Chrome Mets which were different from the flagship… and then 2010 Chrome Orioles… and then 2009 Chrome Mets and Orioles…  and 2008…. then forward to 2011… 2012… 2013… 2014… and I’m looking at 2014 chrome Mets and saying “Oh, look, the Granderson is different!  And the Rafael Montero!”  …And then I realized it was after Midnight and I needed to get to bed.  The next morning after the alarm went off I fell back asleep for 45 minutes and then had to rush around in order to minimize how late I was for work.

Which is a roundabout way of getting to this:  What is it about these “Chrome Variations” that gets me all fanboy?

For the most part, Topps Chrome is a shiny parallel of regular Topps, and in-and-of-themselves neither “shiny” nor “parallel” do anything for me.  The only packs of Chrome I’ve ever opened were out of repacks, and once I figured out if there was anything worth selling on COMC, the rest were given away to kids the following Halloween.  For me, it’s clearly more about the variation than about the Chrome… But then why did I stay up late making Chrome wantlists when I don’t give a second thought to keeping track of the shortprinted variations in the flagship?

I suppose the key word there is “shortprinted”.  If I happen to pull a variation out of a pack, more often than not it’s eventually going back out of my house because it’s worth much more to others than it is to me.  But a Chrome Variation… something which I can get in a repack or buy cheap on COMC or theoretically find in a quarter box on those rare occasions where I have access to a quarter box… Well, sign me up for that!

And maybe there’s something in there for Topps’ marketing department to learn… but probably not.

For the record, here are the 2009 – 2014 Topps Chrome Mets and Orioles I found which are different from the Series 1 / Series 2 / Update… Mets first, then Orioles; if a year isn’t listed, it’s because there aren’t any different cards I could find for that team.

2010 Chrome Mets which are different
55    Jason Bay
184    Ike Davis
200    Jenrry Mejia
201    Ruben Tejada
217    Hisanori Takahashi (no non-chrome Topps card)

2011 Chrome Mets which are different
58 Jason Bay
189 Mike Nickeas

2012 Chrome Mets which are different
192 Kirk Nieuwenhuis
195 Jordany Valespin

2013 Chrome Mets which are different
180 Zack Wheeler

2014 Chrome Mets which are different
9 Curtis Granderson
59 Rafael Montero

2009 Chrome Orioles which are different
198 David Hernandez
203 Koji Uehara
231 Nolan Reimold

2010 Chrome Orioles which are different
52 Miguel Tejada
210 Brian Matusz
213 Jake Arrieta

2011 Chrome Orioles which are different
216 Zach Britton

2012 Chrome Orioles which are different
185 Tsuyoshi Wada (no non-chrome Topps card)
189 Xavier Avery

2014 Chrome Orioles which are different
160 Nelson Cruz

Let  me know if you have any additions or corrections, and I will update this post.  Tomorrow I’ll follow up on the two cards which exist only in “ChromeLand”.

Because That’s The Way These Things Go

I’ve had 5 packs of 2013 Topps Series 2 sitting around for a couple of weeks, and last night I got around to opening them… Well, actually my wife opened them. Mrs. Shlabotnik doesn’t collect, but she loves baseball and she enjoys opening packs and looking through the cards, especially when there’s a chance of pulling Brian Roberts, her favorite player.

So, did she pull any Brians? Nope.

Did she, in 5 packs, pull anybody at all from her favorite team, the Orioles? Nope.

But she did pull three inserts from my team!

2013 Topps Making Their Mark Ike Davis

2013 Topps Chasing History David Wright

2013 Topps Cut To The Chase Tom Seaver

A pretty good haul for 5 packs. Maybe the powers that be were making it up to me for the fact that, as we were opening these packs, the Mets were being no-hit through 6 innings and would eventually lose a 1-hitter by the score of 9-0. Oh, and they were mathematically eliminated from the NL East division title.

…and although he didn’t participate in the Nationals’ drubbing of the Mets, I also got this Steve Lombardozzi card which got me cautiously excited…
2013 Topps Green Sparkly Steve Lombardozzi
I wasn’t sure if a celebration card like this always meant short printed variation… And a sparkly green short print variation? Maybe I could get a couple of bucks for it on COMC?

Ah, but it’s not a variation, it’s just the regular Lombo card’s green parallel. It’s still going to COMC, I just won’t be financing any 1972 high-numbers with it.

The MASN reporter with the microphone is Kristina Akra, who’s now with the MLB Network.  If you do an Image Google on “Kristina Akra Lombardozzi” you can see a picture or two of this incident.  The Gatorade shower came on 4/16/12 after Lombardozzi went 4 for 5 with a double and 2 RBI in saving a 6-3 win for Stephen Strasburg.

…and no, it wasn’t another Nats win over the Mets, although that would’ve been fitting.

One of you Nats fans or Kristina Akra fans out there should get this card autographed by Kristina… it seems like it’d be a fun addition to one’s collection.

2012 Panini Triple Play – Best Kids’ Set Since… Oooooh… I Dunno

I was pretty dubious when I saw images of Triple Play; the weird, cartoony images didn’t look much like the players.  But I was in Target, packs were $1 each, I said “Eh, what the heck”.  And you know what?  I think Panini might be on to something.

These cards are obviously aimed at kids, but they don’t aim low.  A lot of sets aimed at kids tend to have bright, garish colors and goofy, cutesy images of players with giant heads and artwork straight out of “Highlights For Children” (no offense intended for those fans of “Highlights”).

I’m going to us an analogy that you have to be a certain age to get… These cards are like “Jonny Quest” while prior kids’ sets  are like “H.R. Pufnstuff”.  When I was a kid, I didn’t want sickeningly cutesy giant puppets and magic flutes.  That’s for babies!  I want to see jets and monsters and aliens and stuff!

I didn’t realize at first that the background was related to the team.  I took me a minute or two to realize that the background on the Oakland cards are oak leaves.    The backs of the card have a writeup on the player, career stats and a trivia question.  Here’s the one from the back of the Kurt Suzuki card:  “How many Hawaiian-born players have 500 hits?”  The answer’s at the bottom of this post.

Stickers!  The set’s got stickers!  Gotta have stickers.

This card threw me at first.  “Oooh, an insert!  I didn’t think there were inserts.”  Then I realized what I  had:  A piece of “Authentic baseball jersey”.  Not game-worn.  Not even a replica.  Just a jersey.  Even so, it’s kind of cool.  I guess it’s sort of “I’ve got my own jersey card like my dad has!  …Only I get to touch this one!”

I thought I got doubles of this Starlin Castro card until I realized that the backs were different;  when you get all nine Starlin Castro cards, you can make a puzzle of the image on the front of each card.  I appreciate the idea, but to me part of the fun of the puzzle-back cards was not knowing what the image would look like until you were finished.

I think what it comes down to is that this set is for kids, but it doesn’t talk down to kids.  I always appreciated that when I was young, and I wouldn’t be surprised if these cards get something of a following because of it.  This “kid” won’t try to collect the set, but I’ll probably buy packs here and there, just because.

Oh, jeez, I almost forgot the trivia answer!  The three Hawaiian players with 500 or more hits are Kurt Suzuki (of course), Shane Victorino (“The Flyin’ Hawaiian”) and Mike Lum (who played with the Braves, Reds & Cubs from 1967 to 1982)

Blog Bat Around – My favorite set of the year is Topps FrankenLineaStickAttaxMan

2011 was an unusual collecting year for me.  There wasn’t any particular set that I loved busting wax for, but there was a lot to love scattered about the various Topps sets.  Rather than pick out a particular release as my favorite of the year, I’m going to build a Frankenset out of my favorite elements of 2011 sets.

First off, the base set is itself a Frankencard… The front would use the design from Topps Stickers, except it would be standard size and non-sticky.  The back would be from the regular Topps set, and the cardstock would be Heritage.

Also from Heritage would be the manager cards and some of that classic slightly-ridiculously-posed photography:

2011 Heritage Adam Wainwright: Thanks to CheckOutMyCards.com for the image

Packaging for my set would include a rack pack much like what was used for Attax, where you could see at least one of the cards in the pack.  I like packs like these, they bring me back to the day where you could decide which of the racks to buy based on the glossy insert or the base cards you could see.  As long as I’m talking about packaging, I’d also like to see some sort of packs which have a lower price point by removing the “lottery” inserts but keeping the more common inserts.  The Dollar Store insert-less packs are a bit spartan, but I’d also like the chance to get inserts without having to worry about whether Peter Johnson-Packfeeler has removed anything of value.

Here are the inserts I’d include in the 2011 Frankenset:

Diamond Giveaway code cards:  Yeah, yeah, the free cards aren’t really free.  Sure,  you can probably get many of them cheaper through other sources, but screw that.  Diamond Giveaway is fun.  I’ve enjoyed signing on every day to see what’s been offered for my cards, see what ridiculously one-sided offers I’ve gotten for my 1961 Chuck Stobbs, whether anyone’s accepted my offer for that 1972 Danny Frisella, and so on.  I also like the idea of an exclusive card for the giveaway;  Even though I traded the one die-cut I got, it was still a moment of mojo and, through a series of trades I got a lot from that one die-cut (more on that in a later post).

Lineage 2011 Rookies:  Unlike a lot of the other throwback-y inserts in Lineage and other sets, I remember pulling these cards out of rack packs, and I still have every one I pulled.  Well, OK, not the doubles, but you get the idea.

Bowman inserts and Bowman as an insert:  Rather than Bowman as a distinct brand, I think Bowman should be an insert which focuses on prospects rather than rookie cards.  Bowman as a set has too many uninteresting veteran cards and non-prospect minor leaguers.  I do really like some of the Bowman inserts, such as Topps 100 (and if an insert set ever begged to be in Topps instead of Bowman…).

I bought this card from COMC.com, it just hasn't shipped yet...

Funny, it wasn’t until I inserted this image in my post that I realized how Oriole-centric this post is turning out.  Just as well, I’ve had enough Mets cards lately.

By the way, Xavier Avery has one of the coolest names in the minors, and if you ever hear him mentioned on TV or radio, it’s fun to hear them carefully pause a beat between first and last name so they don’t end up slurring it into Xavieravier…y.

Lineage 3-D inserts:  I’m the right age to remember Kellogg’s 3-D cards, but for some reason I didn’t have any as a kid.  I guess it might be because I wasn’t allowed to get many of the “kids cereals”.  Doesn’t matter, 3-D cards are awesome!

Lineage 1975 Mini inserts:  Although I never saw a 1975 mini until well into my adulthood, the 1975 Topps set is one of my all-time favorites, and the first set I ever completed.  That being said, I still haven’t decided what to do with this insert.  I was initially a little disappointed that it was a parallel (for the most part) rather than a stand-alone insert, but since I’ve not really taken the Lineage base set to heart, I could almost look on that set as the parallel.  I’ll probably collect the Mets, Orioles and my other “guys” and leave it at that.  Still, this is a great insert.

Cheerleader Cards:  Wait a minute, how did this get in here?  Not that it wouldn’t make a great baseball insert (and I doubt many of your are complaining…)

Topps 60:  Another nice insert set, I like the mix of current and legend players on a non-ugly background.  I guess it’s a good thing that Topps 60 and Topps 100 weren’t in the same set.

Honorable mention:

Aloha, Mr. Hand!

If I  had to pick one and only one set, the regular Topps set would be it.  This was a design subtle in it’s appeal… I liked it well enough when I saw the sneak peek images online, liked it a little more when I opened packs, liked it even more when I started putting cards into binders and saw how nice they look together in a sheet.  I didn’t go for a lot of the inserts, but on the whole it was a well-above-average effort from Topps.

Also, I had a lot of fun busting packs of Attax and Stickers, even though neither is the type of set I would normally buy (and I’m still not really collecting either one).  My internal grew-up-in-the-70’s child enjoys packs where there’s nothing but base cards, and where the mojo comes from getting one of your favorite players.

My Mets wall calendar is making me nervous

I’ve got a Mets wall calendar at work, and it seems like a bad omen when a player has appeared on the calendar;  either the player’s gone or is about to be gone through injury, trade or otherwise.  Here’s what happened to each player pictured on the calendar:

January:  Daniel Murphy – No problems here, other than there being rumors this week about him being traded.

February:  Ike Davis – missed the season with an injury

March:  Luis Castillo – A pariah when March started, unemployed when March ended.

April:  John Maine – had become a free agent over the offseason, didn’t pitch in the majors in 2011.

May: Jose Reyes – I don’t need to tell you what the story is here.

June:  Johan Santana – missed the season with an injury

July:  Jeff Francouer – had been traded during the 2010 season

August:  Francisco Rodriguez – had been traded at the All-Star break

September:  Carlos Beltran – had been traded to the Giants at the end of July

October:  Jason Bay – Still around but coming off a disappointing season

November:  Mike Pelfrey – Ditto

Now David Wright is on my calendar and I can’t help but wonder… is this an omen of something bad to come?  Will he get traded at the Winter Meetings?  Will he be walking down a Manhattan sidewalk and have a grand piano dropped on his head?

With any luck, only thing that’s headed out the door is the black hat and socks which David’s wearing.