2014 Topps Archives #5 – comparing ’87 All Star inserts

23 07 2014

Archives 1987 All-Stars – 30 cards (1:4)

This insert set basically replaces the 1983 All-Star subset from last year.  This year, Topps paid homage to the inserts from the mid-late 1980′s.  These tended to be available as 1-per-pack inserts in rack packs back then.  They always featured 22 cards – the 9 starters from the previous year’s Midsummer classic, the manager and the honorary captain.  The honorary captain was pretty cool way to get a Hall of Famer in the set, though in 1987 they showcased a second pitcher instead of the captain (thus Rusty Staub and Charlie Gehringer got excluded).

The Archives versions of these cards come 6 per box, with 30 cards in the set.  I wish they held true to the old set and made it 22, but what can you do.  It has old and new players.  Again, I think it would be cool to do only current players, with last year’s starters included.  MLB discontinued the honorary captain practice after 2007, but this is easily replaced - David Ortiz and Michael Cuddyer started as Designated Hitters.  Or you could put Mariano Rivera in as the game’s MVP for Cuddyer (since the DH in the NL wasn’t fan-elected).

There are 20 current players in the Archives set.  7 of them were starters from last year’s game (Rivera was also included):

  • Chris Davis
  • Miguel Cabrera
  • Mike Trout
  • Jose Bautista
  • Ortiz
  • Matt Harvey
  • Bryce Harper

Not included: Max Scherzer, Joe Mauer, Robbie Cano, JJ Hardy, Adam Jones, Yadier Molina, Joey Votto, Brandon Phillips, David Wright, Troy Tulowitzki, Carlos Gonzalez, Carlos Beltran, Cuddyer

There are 10 retired players in the Archives set.  Six of them were featured in one of the old versions of the insert set.  The one on the right is the original card, whereas the one on the left is the Archives version.  You can also tell because the Archives version has the Topps logo and a smaller league logo in the bottom left corner.

Gary Carter

2014 Archives 87AS comparison Gary Carter

Carter was something of a poster boy for these insert sets, though he doesn’t have the most.  He was featured on 5 sets – 1984-85 and 1987-89.  Archives re-used this photo for about the umpteenth time and attributed it to his appearance in the 1988 All-Star game for this set.

Wade Boggs

2014 Archives 87AS comparison Wade Boggs

Boggs was also featured 5 times – consecutively from 1987 through 1991 (the ’86 through ’90 All-Star games).  Archives matches up with his second season in the old version of the set.

Dwight Gooden

2014 Archives 87AS comparison Dwight Gooden

Dwight Gooden was featured in the 1987 and 1989 sets – he was the starting pitcher in the ’86 and ’88 All-Star games.  The 1988 All-Star game he’s credited with here was in Cincinnati (though his photo is clearly from Wrigley Field).  I attended that game.  I taped the broadcast, and I remember Al Michaels saying that Gooden’s first pitch to Rickey Henderson could have been a preview of a subway series in October.

Those are the only 3 comparisons where the year matches up perfectly – here’s a few more that were featured in Archives for All-Star years they didn’t have a card in the actual Topps set.

2014 Archives 87AS comparison Ozzie Smith

Ozzie Smith is the true “poster boy” for this set.  In fact, he was the only player featured in all 8 sets from 1984 to 1991.  (Ripken – 7 – and Sandberg -6 – were the closest).  Interestingly, Topps chose to include his 1995 All-Star year on the Archives version of the card. He definitely looks older in the Archives version – 1995 may be the right year.

2014 Archives 87AS comparison HoJo

Howard Johnson was featured on the 1990 set (1989 All-Star game).  1989 was his second best season in the Majors.  1991 was his best season, so it’s somewhat appropriate Topps included that here. He led the NL in homers and RBI that year – but he wasn’t the starter.  Chris Sabo beat him out in the All-Star voting that year.  HoJo did make it as a reserve.

2014 Archives 87AS comparison Graig Nettles

Graig Nettles was featured on the 1986 Glossy insert set – he made the All-Star team with the Padres.  This one features his appearance in the 1980 All-Star game with the Yankees.

2014 Archives AS Goose Gossage

Additionally, Goose Gossage made the 1984 and 1985 All-Start team – but since he was a reliever he’d have never been in the original set.  He’s shown for his 1981 appearance in the Archives set.





2014 Topps Archives #4 – comparing the ’87 Future Stars

21 07 2014

Archives 1987 Future Stars – 15 cards (1:8, retail only)

This insert basically replaces the Dual Fan Favorites last year as the more common retail-only inserts.  These 1987 Future Star designs are a little easier to pull than last year’s (1 in 8 instead of 1 in 12).  These cards are based on the 1987 Topps design, so we’ve seen these very recently when Topps did a mini set in the 2012 flagship brand.  This is the wood-grained border set that I love.  I say it every chance I get – I wish in 2012 Topps had made a new wood-based design to keep up with the every-25-year tradition!

Unlike the retail chase cards I featured in my last post, this set does have retired players.  In fact, each of the 4 retired players was around in 1987, and 3 of them had a card.  None of them had the future stars designation, however.  Here are the 4 players with overlap.

Ron Gant

2014 Archives 87 FS Ron Gant

The first is Ron Gant.  Gant didn’t have a card in 1987, so this is of the “card that never was”  variety.  My favorite!  Gant had a cup of coffee at the end of the 1987 season in Atlanta, skipping AAA when he got called up on the 40-man roster to hit .265 in 21 games.  He played a full season in the big leagues in 1988, hitting 19 homers and showing some promise.  But he wasn’t nearly as productive in 1989 and thus went back down to the minors for about half the year.

Gant was a 4th round draft pick in 1983, and he hadn’t torn up the minor leagues by any sense of the word.  It makes sense that he didn’t have any cards in 1987, and it’s certainly reasonable that he wasn’t one of the 5 players on Topps “Future Stars” subset.  Still, it’s cool that he gets this version of the card today.

2014 Archives 87 FS Eric Davis 1987 Topps Eric DavisEric Davis

Davis definitely had a card in 1987 Topps – it was his third Topps card.  He was still pretty young, but was by now an established major league player who had garnered some MVP votes when he stole 80 bases and hit 27 homers in 1986.  So he wouldn’t have been in this subset the way Topps picked its players back then.  But he’s still a pretty good option and it’s neat to see this card, even though this is the third 1987 card design he’s had (after the original and his Archives Fan Favorites last year).

You can tell this picture is from the 1990 World Series – the logo on the sleeve and the USA patch on the shoulder.

1987 Topps HoJo2014 Archives 87 FS HoJoHoward Johnson

HoJo, like Davis, was also an established starter on the rise in 1987.  His first season was 1982, and he had nearly 1,200 at bats through the 1986 campaign.  He was a platoon player for the world champions that year.  Unlike Davis, he hadn’t yet had a breakout season like Davis did in 1986.  That would come in 1987 when he hit 36 homers.  Given his tenure in the league, I think Topps would have been stretching it by any definition to include him in this subset in 1987.

By the way – the HoJo photo is the same as his base card in last year’s Archives set.

Rickey Henderson also has a card in this subset.  Henderson isn’t just a stretch – by 1987 he was a full-blown superstar who had already broken the single season stolen base record, become the first player to steal 100+ bases in 2 and then 3 seasons.  He had been the best leadoff hitter in MLB for 6 years and was on his way to being the best player in baseball.  Oh, and he was on the Yankees – which is why I’m not showing his cards here.  The Archives version shows him with the A’s.

I think it would be cool if Topps did a “what might have been” set with this concept in the future.  Do a future stars subset for players in the year they would have had the card.  Gant is a good one from 1987, but maybe do Eric Davis in 1984 / 1985, HoJo in 1982, Rickey in 1980 or 1979, and guys like Tony Gwynn, Ryne Sandberg and others.  Just a thought!





Saturdays Suds: Pubs near the Park #4 – Rock Bottom Brewery (Cincinnati)

19 07 2014

Today is my 4th attempt at the newer version of “Saturday Suds”, the type where I look at specific bars near Major League parks.  Up until now, all three of these have been in the Chicago area where I currently reside.  Now I’m moving back to my “roots”, looking at a bar in my hometown Cincinnati.

My wife and I were home for a friend’s wedding in early June, and since my parents were more than happy to play grandparents for an extra half-day, we decided to stay for the Reds game Sunday afternoon.  Homer Bailey pitched.  The last time we’d gone to a Sunday afternoon game in June that Homer Bailey pitched was 6 years ago – the day after our wedding.  Bailey got shelled by the Boston Red Sox.  I think the score was 10-0, we both had a moderate hangover, though my wife was excited that we got on the kiss cam as newlyweds.  This time, an improved Bailey beat the Phillies, 4-1 (no kiss cam this time).

The afternoon before, we went to a watering hole I’ve been to a few times in nearby Fountain Square – Rock Bottom Brewery. True, it is a chain, but it’s a decent one, at least from a beer standpoint.

Establishment:  Rock Bottom Brewery – Cincinnati

Ballpark:  Great American Ballpark in Cincinnati

Location: 10 Fountain Square (about 3 blocks from GABP)

Rock Bottom Cincy front

Beers served:  The premise of Rock Bottom is a brewery that serves their own brews.  There are generally 4 Rock Bottom beers served all the time – Red Ale, IPA, Kölsch, White Ale – and an assortment of rotating beers that fall into two categories, Specialty Dark and Brewmaster’s Choice.

I’m a fan of the Kölsch.  Usually I’m pretty big on getting an IPA – but I liked the lager taste since it was a warm summer afternoon.

Menu (if applicable): They have a pretty comprehensive menu.  Like I’ve said, it’s a chain, so you can pretty much get the same food at the original location in downtown Denver or at the one in Cincinnati – but it’s made fresh and I’ve never had a bad meal the 4 or 5 times I’ve eaten at the one in Cincy.  I usually rate wings at restaurants like this – however it’s worth noting that I’ve never had the wings here.  I’m not sure why – I think it’s a combination of good other food and a lack of focus on wings.  A place that doesn’t focus on wings often lets me down – and I know this place has some good burgers and salads.  I also remember really liking their jalapeno dip (though it’s been a couple of years).

Is it baseball-themed?  Or is it just close to the ballpark?   Mostly just close to the ballpark, but they do have some Reds-flavored pictures hanging up inside.  I don’t know of a bar that’s baseball-specific in downtown Cincy.  Most places would want to cater to Reds and Bengals fans alike.

Description:  Again, this is a restaurant chain of about 40 brew pubs nationwide.  It’s a good spot in downtown, right in the middle of fountain square.  Great stop after, during or before a game for a quick drink, a meal or some appetizers.  I like the fact that you can drink their own brews – but obviously if you want something like a Miller Lite this isn’t the place.  I also like the fact that, when sitting inside, you can see the brew process in the background.

But the best thing to me about this location is the patio.  Nothing beats sitting outside on a nice day trying new beers.  The most recent time we went there, I got a flight of 6 beers.  That’s the 4 standard ones mentioned above and the 2 rotating options.  I also got a cream ale that was really good.  I wish I could remember which beers I got for the 2 rotating options, but it’s been over a month!

Rock Bottom flight





2014 Topps Archives #3 – comparing the ’88 All-Stars

16 07 2014

There are two retail-only inserts in Archives this year.  One is the “chase” concept that is a pretty tough pull in retail packs.

Archives Retail Chase – 10 cards (1:40, retail jumbos)

This was around last year in the design of the 1989 All-Star subset.  This year, Topps went with the 1988 All-Star design, which is one of my favorites!  The odds don’t seem quite as long this year – 1:40 jumbo packs is a bit less than the 1:136 regular packs last year.  I couldn’t find any regular packs, so I’m not sure what the exact comparison is to last year.  They are still a difficult pull, though.  The set is 10 cards, 5 less than last year – which also contributes to make it a bit more collectible this year.  This insert set features all new players, so there’s no overlap going on.

Here’s a look at an original:

1988 Topps AS Wade Boggs

And here’s an Archives version:

2014 Archives 88 AS Miguel Cabrera

Looking at these two is indicative of the differences between this year’s version and the originals.  The original cards have head shots only, whereas this year’s Archives versions have more of an upper body shot.  Additionally, there’s a difference in how Topps described the position – Cabrera is a “first baseman” whereas Boggs “plays third base”.





2014 Topps Archives #2 – the insert from other Topps products

13 07 2014

Yesterday I posted on Archives inserts paying tribute to old school cards from another (Hockey).  The other thing Topps started last year was copying designs from outside of the Topps flagship brand.  I wasn’t quite as enthused about this idea; I’d like it better to include Bowman cards in Bowman products, etc.  Still, it’s interesting, and this is a pretty cool way to see some Stadium Club cards redone.  Last year Topps did Gallery of Heroes from 1997 Gallery, and Triumvirate from Stadium Club.  This year, there’s a Stadium Club product.

Archives Stadium Club Firebrand – 10 cards (1:24)

This is an insert set from 1997 Stadium Club.  The horizontal cards have the word “Firebrand” die cut across the top of a faux-wood design. The word Stadium club is in an oval below that, with the player picture to the left.  The card back has the bat size and weight along with some batting stats and a photo of the player.  These cards are really cool – they’ve made me re-think the stance last year of not liking this idea!

This 10-card set has 8 retired players and the two best-hitting rookies from last year (Myers, Puig).  There were 12 cards in the Stadium Club original. No players are in both sets – though Juan Gonzalez, Ken Griffey and Mark McGwire are found elsewhere in the 2014 Archives product.  There are quite a few retired guys in this year’s set who COULD have been featured back in 1997!

Ivan Rodriguez was still known overwhelmingly for his defense back in 1997 - which is why he probably wasn’t featured on this set.  He certainly could have been an option, and he’s on the right team and seems to be the right era here.

2014 Archives Firebrand Ivan Rodriguez

Rondell White is also shown with the team he was on back then.  It’s good to see an Expos cap in this Topps product!

2014 Archives Firebrand Rondell White

Jose Canseco was back for his 2nd stint with the A’s in 1997 after a few years with Texas and Boston.  He probably would have been featured with his 1996 team (the Red Sox) for this set – but you never know!  I’m pretty sure this is a picture from his earlier days with Oakland, though.

2014 Archives box 2 SC Firebrand Canseco

Eric Davis was the opposite.  He came back to the Reds for an impressive 1996 campaign but moved to Baltimore the next season.  Again, this would have been an option for Topps, though I think this is from his 1980′s Cincinnati days.

2014 Archives Firebrand Eric Davis

Carlos Baerga (Cleveland) and Ron Gant (Atlanta) played in the era where they could have had a card in this set – however they aren’t shown with the right team in the Archives set.  Gant had moved on to the Braves after his 1994 injury season, and Baerga was traded to the Mets halfway through 1996.





2014 Topps Archives #1 – the insert from another sport

11 07 2014

Topps started a new idea with Archives last year, including inserts with old designs from the 1965 Football and 1972 Basketball sets.  They put current and retired players on the designs, though for me the best ones of players that “might have been”.  Bryce Harper is great and all – but it’s much cooler to me if they feature Denny McLain on a 1965 Football design.

Archives 1971 Hockey – 20 cards (1:24)

Topps went with one set this year that’s borrowed from another sport.  They did football and basketball last year, so of course hockey is the way to go this year.  The 1971-72 Hockey set, in particular.  This set was standard size – so Topps didn’t have to get creative with the design in the Archives version.  The set has 132 cards and was the first Topps Hockey set with statistics on the back.

The 71-72 Hockey set doesn’t have a real notable rookie – it’s notable for having a universally loved design.  The card fronts have a player picture on top of a solid-colored background inside a circular white frame. The team name appears in a block letter font with a curved effect at the top. The team logo, player name and position is at the bottom of the card. The card backs are vertically oriented, with the player’s name, team city and position in a green area at the top.  Two boxes appear below that, with stats on the left and a cartoon to the right. A biography and statistics follows at the bottom.

Gordie Howe is probably the most notable card from the set.  It was his second to last Topps card (his last came 8 years later).

1971-72 Topps Gordie Howe

Topps made the Archives version of this set a one-per-box insert of 20 cards.  This set also has current and retired players.

There are 3 guys who fall in the bucket of “what might have been” or “cards that never were” categories.  I have one of them so far, Roberto Clemente.

2014 Archives box 2 71 Hockey Clemente

The others are:

Willie Stargell, Clemente’s teammate

2014 Archives Hockey Stargell

Tom Seaver

2014 Archives Hockey Seaver

Graig Nettles also has a card, but it shows him with the Yankees, while he was still with Cleveland when this card would have been released.





2014 Topps Archives Fan Favorites – autographs

9 07 2014

Fan Favorites Autographs – 38 cards (1:17)

Topps did the SPs and Fan Favorites a little different this year than the previous two years – and I don’t like the changes.  First off, the Short Print inserts are just one of the 4 base versions as opposed to “Fan Favorites”.  The “Fan Favorite” concept has always been an idea where Topps put a player on a design where he had appeared previously, but a different picture.  This year you could get Sandy Koufax or Jose Abreu in a 1986 design just as easily as Jose Canseco in a 1989 design.  Sandy Koufax on a 1986 design is more like the Vintage Legends insert from Topps 2010.  I think there’s a place for that – but I don’t like it when it’s mixing retired and current players.

Second, when the card does match up as a fan favorite - the statistics on the back no longer correspond to the appropriate year.  For example, last year the SP (Fan Favorite) card of Eric Davis was in the 1987 design, and the card showed his statistics through 1986 – just like his original 1987 card did!  This year, it shows a random selection of years and the player’s full statistics.  I liked the old way better, but I care less about the statistical fact.  Where they use a “year-correct” design – I still like the concept.

There are 38 Fan Favorite Autographs.  Some of them are autographed versions of the same cards in the short printed set.  They may or may not be what you think of as Fan Favorites.  For example, the Paul Goldschmidt I pulled is the same as his 1986 Short Print card – a full year before Paul was even born!  On the other hand, you could pull a Jose Canseco that is the same as his 1989 SP card - Canseco obviously did have a 1989 card.  There are 11 of autographs that are redone versions of the SP card.  I don’t plan on collecting any of these – because I’m already collecting the full base set.  One of those 11 is Jose Abreu has a different picture for the autograph card than he does for the base set (but both are 1986 design).  Also to note – these are all SP cards.  All but Mookie Wilson of the 1986 cards are the “wrong year”, whereas all of the 3 other years are the “right year” for that player.

  • 1973 – Graig Nettles
  • 1980 – Dusty Baker
  • 1986 - Mookie Wilson, Jose Abreu (different picture), Don Zimmer, John Olerud, Paul Goldschmidt, Troy Tulowitzki (redemption)
  • 1989 – Andy Van Slyke, Darren Daulton, Jose Canseco

That leaves 27 cards that are autographs that weren’t in the base set.  Of those autographs, 8 are of players who didn’t have a card in the year shown.  I’m trying to decide if I want to collect these cards.  I’m on the fence.

  • 1986 – Mel Stottlemyre
  • 1990 – Bob Horner, Ivan Rodriguez, David Eckstein, Jeromy Burnitz, Orlando Hernandez, Rondell White, Sean Casey

2014 Archives box 1 Rondell White auto

That leaves 19 cards.  Of the 18, 1 player is on a team that doesn’t fit – Lenny Harris.  He didn’t play for the Mets until much later in his career. Since I pulled his card, I’m going to just keep it.

  • 1990 – Lenny Harris

2014 Archives box 2 Fan Favorite Auto Lenny Harris

That leaves 18 cards.  Eric Davis, Mark McGwire (both 1980) and Rickey Henderson (1973) have cards in the non-SP portion of the base set, but the autographs are different pictures and the team/year are appropriate for that player.  For Henderson, I’m assuming he is 1990 because there’s a mock-up shown on Topps ads for Archives – but his card is a redemption so I don’t know for sure.  I will try to collect each of these, though I assume the McGwire will be pretty tough to get and the Henderson redemption will be as well.

  • 1972 – Phil Niekro
  • 1982 – Dave Parker
  • 1986 - Lenny Dykstra
  • 1989 – Eric Davis*, Terry Pendleton
  • 1990 – Greg Vaughn, Howard Johnson, Bip Roberts, Carlos Baerga, Chris Sabo, Mike Greenwell, Mark Lemke, Mark McGwire*, Mickey Tettleton, Rob Dibble, Ron Gant, Rickey Henderson*

2014 Archives box 2 Fan Favorite Auto Niekro

That Niekro is a great card.  Interestingly, Topps used only 3 designs outside of what was available in the base set – 1972 and 1982 (only Parker and Niekro), and 1990 - which was used on over half the FFA cards.  Here’s a recap!

  • 5 SPs from the base set – wrong year
  • 1 SP from the base – wrong year, different picture (Abreu ’86)
  • 6 SP’s from the base set – correct year
  • 8 players not in the SP in the wrong year
  • 1 player in the correct year but wrong team (Lenny Harris)
  • 17 players with the correct year and team

There are also parallel versions of these autographs this year.  The odds below are hobby unless otherwise noted.

2014 Archives box 1 Goldschmidt auto silver

Fan Favorites Autographs Gold – 38 cards (1:129 retail only, #/50)

Fan Favorites Autographs Silver – 38 cards (1:211 hobby only, #/25)

Fan Favorites Autographs Purple – 38 cards (1:563, #/10)

Fan Favorites Autographs Sapphire – 38 cards (1:1,122, #/5)

Fan Favorites Autographs Red – 38 cards (1:4,871, #/1)

Fan Favorites Autographs Printing Plate – 38 cards (1:1,400, 4 versions #/1)








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