Completed insert set – 1999 Topps All-Topps Mystery Finest

27 05 2016

I’m still moving along with the catch-up posts for completed insert sets.  This was the last of the Mystery Finest inserts from the late 90’s – in fact, I think this was the last Finest branded insert Topps would insert into its flagship product.  That ended 6 straight years of doing so, counting the Finest inserts that were included in 1994 Topps Traded.

Info about the set:

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Set description:  This was the 3rd time (and the 4th set), that Topps inserted the “Mystery Finest” theme into its flagship product.  This set mirrors the players from an 11-card subset that’s included in the Topps base set – the All-Topps Team.  At each position there are three players who made the team, plus an additional three spots for rookies.  All 3 players are shown on the 11-card subset in the base set, but the “mystery” idea is used for this insert set – you have to peel the black front off the card to see who your player is.

Naturally, there is a refractor version as well.

Set composition:  33 cards, 1:36 odds (1999 Topps series 2)

Hall of Famers:  4.  Ken Griffey Jr., Frank Thomas, Mike Piazza, Greg Maddux

How I put the set together:

  • 1 card from my series 2 hobby box
  • 3 cards from a trade
  • 11 cards from Beckett’s Marketplace
  • 10 cards from Sportlots
  • 8 cards from Check Out My Cards

Card that completed my set:  #M14 – Ken Griffey Jr.

1999 Topps Mystery Finest Griffey

I got this card last December when my Black Friday COMC purchase arrived.  I accidentally bought 2 of these somehow.

Thoughts on the set:  I like the general idea of most Finest products, though at the end of the 1990’s it seems like they got a little bored with creating cool borders.  I liked the cool borders.  Instead they tried to create different etchings to highlight the background.  Which was neat at first, but not as good as the different borders.  Also, this set suffers from a big issue in my opinion.  It’s supposed to be a set of the best players at each position, but there’s no 2nd basemen in it.  Out of the 11 trios, there are 4 outfield slots, and 2 first base slots.  There is a slot for rookies.  There is one trio of catchers, shortstops, third baseman and pitchers.  But no 2nd baseman.  No bueno.

Best card (my opinion):  #M5– Jim Thome

1999 Topps Mystery Finest - front

To me, this is how baseball players are supposed to dress!  Just an all-around cool card.

My Favorite Reds card:  33 cards. No Reds. Blah.

Here’s the full set.  If you look closely, you’ll realize the Jason Kendall card is a refractor.  Not sure how that happened.  I bet I bought a regular and got sent the refractor.  Oops😉

1999 Topps Mystery Finest complete

1999 Topps Mystery Finest complete 2

1999 Topps Mystery Finest complete 3

1999 Topps Mystery Finest complete 4

Any other tidbits:  For the 2B discrepancy I mentioned.  There actually were a number of good second baseman in 1998.  Craig Biggio was the best of the lot and clearly would have made the All-Topps team – he became only the second player (and still is) to hit 50 doubles and steal 50 bases in the same season.  After him, I’d probably go Jose Offerman and Ray Durham, though Jeff Kent and Fernando Vina were also great.  And the best two American League second baseman of the previous five years, Roberto Alomar and Chuck Knoblauch, were also very good – just not in the category of the other 5 guys I mentioned.

  1. Biggio – .325-.403-.503, 20 HR, 88 RBI, 123 R, 210 H, 51 2B, 50 SB
  2. Offerman – .315-.403-.438, 7 HR, 66 RBI, 102 R, 191 H, 13 3B, 45 SB
  3. Durham – .285-.363, .455, 19 HR, 67 RBI, 126 R, 181 H, 36 SB




Completed insert set – 1998 Topps Flashback

25 05 2016

Continuing on with the completed set posts.  This is my favorite insert set from 1998 Topps.

Info about the set:

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Set description:  These cards show veterans who have been around for a decade or more (counting 1998), showing a current picture on the front and a rookie-year photo on the back.  Each side has a different design.  The front has some serious foil effect over the background, while the back has more of an old-school feel.

Set composition:  10 cards, 1:72 odds (1998 Topps series 1)

Hall of Famers:  5.  Ken Griffey Jr., Paul Molitor, Randy Johnson, Cal Ripken, Tony Gwynn.

Actually, it’s 6 – Deion Sanders is in the pro football HOF.

How I put the set together:

  • 5 cards from COMC
  • 2 cards from trades
  • 2 cards from Sportlots
  • 1 card from Beckett’s marketplace

I didn’t get any from the box I opened – basically I got the “other” box as you got one in every other box.

Thoughts on the set:  As I mentioned above, this is my favorite insert from 1998 Topps.  Topps could take some note and do a few more like this – only 10 cards, so each cards is more meaningful.  Cool design, cool theme.  I can’t ask for more.

Card that completed my set:  #FB10 – Brady Anderson

I got this card from Beckett’s website in June of last year.  This was a tough set to finish off.

Best card (my opinion):  #FB2 – Paul Molitor

Molitor is the elder statesman in this group, so he has to win best card here.

My Favorite Reds card:  #FB7 – Deion Sanders

Imagine if they’d have thrown him in a Falcons uniform on the back!

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Here’s a scan of the set – front and back.

1998 Topps Flashback complete

1998 Topps Flashback Brady Anderson

1998 Topps Flashback complete back

1998 Topps Flashback Brady Anderson back

Any other tidbits:  Three of the ten players were on the same team on the front and back – Griffey, Gwynn and Ripken.





Completed insert set – 2000 Topps Own the Game

23 05 2016

Info about the set:

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Set description:  This set has what had become a very typical insert for Topps with tons of background shininess on the front.  It’s broken up into 2 subsets.  The first 21 cards are “Stat Stars”, with specific active rankings in a certain statistical category.  These aren’t mutually exclusive – Larry Walker is in the set for his batting average and slugging.    The next 9 cards are “Titans of the Game”, which cover award winners (Cy Young, Hank Aaron, MVP, RoY and World Series MVP).

The back has a write-up about the player’s stat highlighted or the award.

Set composition:  30 cards, 1:12 odds (2000 Topps)

Hall of Famers:  3.  Ken Griffey Jr., Randy Johnson, Pedro Martinez.

How I put the set together:

  • 2 cards from my series 1 hobby box
  • 3 cards from my series 2 hobby box
  • 1 card from a trade
  • 10 cards from Beckett’s marketplace
  • 6 cards from COMC
  • 5 cards from Sportlots
  • 2 cards from an eBay lot

Thoughts on the set:  Like I said – there’s a lot of shiny in this set and that’s not necessarily my favorite thing.  The themes work, though.  I like when there’s specific criteria for a set.  Not just “this guy’s great”.  If you were a league leader for the stat they picked, you’re in.  If you won the NL Rookie of the Year – you’re in!

Card that completed my set:  #OTG24 – Mariano Rivera

2000 Topps Own the Game Rivera

I got this card on Sportlots last September.

Best card (my opinion):  #OTG16 – Pedro Martinez

1998 Topps OTG Stat Stars - front

I like the Stat Stars portion of this the best, and Pedro Martinez has one of the greatest pitching seasons of all-time in 1999.  This card honors his ERA, which was over a run better than the next best pitcher.  There’s a lot of debate among stat heads whether Pedro’s 1999 or 2000 season was better.

My Favorite Reds card:  #OTG25 – Scott Williamson

1998 Topps OTG Titans - front

The only one!  Williamson won Rookie of the Year.

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Scan of the set:

2000 Topps Own the Game complete

2000 Topps Own the Game complete 2

2000 Topps Own the Game complete 3

2000 Topps Own the Game complete 4

Any other tidbits:  Pedro has 3 cards – which sort of shows how dominant his season was.  The Big Unit, Big Mac and Manny Ramirez also have 3 cards in this set.

Also – it’s kind of amazing that Carlos Beltran is in this set – and he’s still active!





Completed insert set – 2002 Topps East Meets West

22 05 2016

I have a card of Jalen Rose and Glen Rice from a set called “East Meets West”.  This is not that set – but it goes by the same name.

Info about the set:

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Set description:  East Meets West was an interesting set that was inserted into series 1 of 2002 Topps.  It was a reaction to the increasing number of Japanese players signing to MLB contracts – following the lead of Hideo Nomo and Ichiro.  And Masanori Murakami from a far earlier day.  The set is based on Masanori Murakami’s dual player Topps rookie card from 1965.  Murakami stays put on the right side of the card while other Japanese-born ballplayers like Nomo are on to the left side.

Set composition:  8 cards, 1:24 (2002 Topps series 1)

Hall of Famers:  None in Cooperstown.  But Kaz Sasaki and Hideo Nomo have both been inducted into the Japanese Baseball Hall of Fame.

How I put the set together:

  • 3 cards from my series 1 hobby box
  • 3 cards from Sportlots
  • 2 from Beckett

Thoughts on the set:  Today, the idea of retro designs has become a little more played out than it used to be, and it would have been better if it came on some sort of anniversary of Murakami’s card.  Like in 2005 – 40 years after the card.  Or 2004 – 40 years after his debut.  Also, I’m not sure why Ichiro wasn’t included.

But it’s still a cool set.  At the time, the Japanese influx was very much a new thing in baseball.  And while there’s no Ichiro, there’s the original guy in this wave – Hideo Nomo.

Card that completed my set: #EW-HI – Hideki Irabu / Masanori Murakami

2002 Topps East West Nomo Irabu

I got this in a Beckett Marketplace purchase last September.

Best card (my opinion): #EW-HN – Hideo Nomo / Masanori Murakami

2002 Topps East West Nomo Murakami

Can’t beat 2 originals.  Murakami was the first Japanese player to perform in MLB, but the 2nd player didn’t come for another 30 years.  It was Nomo who paved the way for Nippon League players to come to the states.  It’s not a perfect analogy, but Murakami is kind of like Moses Fleetwood Walker, whereas Nomo is akin to Jackie Robinson.

All that said, this is clearly the best card in the set.

My favorite Reds card:  There are none.  The Reds signed Aroldis Chapman a few years back, but have generally been pretty quiet as far as signing foreign-born players.

Here’s a scan of the full set.

2002 Topps East West complete

Any other tidbits:  The current players replace Dick Estelle on the left side of the card.  Estelle was a fellow Giants rookie with Murakami in 1964.  Like Murakami, he also only lasted into 1965.  For his career, he went 1-2 with a 3.23 ERA.





Saturdays Suds: Baseball & Beer #61 BridgePort Brewing Long Ball Ale

21 05 2016

I really haven’t done a “Saturday Suds” for a specific beer in quite a while, but I found at the local Binny’s one that definitely qualifies .  This beer was brewed in conjunction with a local minor league team out in Oregon.

Bridgeport Long Ball Ale 6 pack

Brewery:  BridgePort Brewing in Portland, OR

Beer:  Long Ball Ale

wp-1462244965680.jpgDescription: This Golden Ale has a good amount of carbonation.  It kind of reminded me of champagne, though it’s obviously less sweet and, of course, has hops!  It was a really good beer and I bet it does well at the ballpark.

Medium:  I bought a 12-oz bottle from Binny’s as part of a create your own 6-pack.  Though I may go back and get a full 6-er of this beer.  Naturally, if you live in Portland, you can get it at the ballpark as well.

How it’s related to baseball:  This is a beer produced specifically for a minor league team, the Hillsboro Hops.  The Hops are the short-season A-ball affiliate of the Arizona Diamondbacks.  They were founded in 2013 when the Yakima Bears moved to Hillsboro (a suburb of Portland).  They became the Hops, and a brewery became a natural sponsor.  BridgePort Brewing, known as Oregon’s oldest craft brewery – which is saying something – stepped in.

They created a special brew to be sold at Ron Tonkin Field, and BridgePort sponsors the Brew Pen, where you can get beers, hot dogs and other concessions.

BridgePort Brew - Hillsboro Hops BrewPen

My uncle and his family live in Portland; someday I may make it out there and can try this beer in its natural environment!





2015 All-Star Stitches #15: Bryce Harper

19 05 2016

As a reminder, I went to the All-Star game and Home Run Derby in Cincinnati last year.  Because of this, I’m collecting this All-Star Stitches set!  These cards that have swatches from the Monday practice festivities, which was probably the most fun of the 5+ days of activities.

Bryce Harper got the most votes from the fans for any National League player last year, and he’s my 15th card overall for this set.

2015 Topps Update All-Star Stitch Bryce Harper

Card number:  STIT-BHA

Player:  Bryce Harper

How I got the card:  I found it on eBay for a decent price.

Position:  Right Field

How he made the roster:  As I mentioned, Harper was the leading vote-getter in the NL.

At the age of 22 – this was already his 3rd All-Star selection.

First half stat line:  .339/26/61, .464 OBP, .704 SLG

All-Star game:  0-3, 2 K.   Harper won the NL MVP unanimously in 2015, but he didn’t do well in the All-Star Game.  He declined participation in the Home Run Derby, and then went hitless against the AL in the game.  Then he struck out against David Price and Zach Britton, respectively, in the 4th and 6th innings.  At least he went down swinging both times!

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STIT-AB A.J. Burnett – Pittsburgh Pirates
STIT-AC Aroldis Chapman – Cincinnati Reds
STIT-AE Alcides Escobar – Kansas City Royals
STIT-AGN Adrian Gonzalez – Los Angeles Dodgers
STIT-AJ Adam Jones – Baltimore Orioles
STIT-AM Andrew McCutchen – Pittsburgh Pirates
STIT-APO A.J. Pollock – Arizona Diamondbacks
STIT-APU Albert Pujols – Los Angeles Angels
STIT-AR Anthony Rizzo – Chicago Cubs
STIT-BB Brad Boxberger – Tampa Bay Rays
STIT-BC Brandon Crawford – San Francisco Giants
STIT-BD Brian Dozier – Minnesota Twins
STIT-BG Brett Gardner – New York Yankees
STIT-BHA Bryce Harper – Washington Nationals
STIT-BHO Brock Holt – Boston Red Sox
STIT-BP Buster Posey – San Francisco Giants
STIT-CA Chris Archer – Tampa Bay Rays
STIT-CK Clayton Kershaw – Los Angeles Dodgers
STIT-CM Carlos Martinez – St. Louis Cardinals
STIT-CS Chris Sale – Chicago White Sox
STIT-DB Dellin Betances – New York Yankees
STIT-DK Dallas Keuchel – Houston Astros
STIT-DL DJ LeMahieu – Colorado Rockies
STIT-DO Darren O’Day – Baltimore Orioles
STIT-DP David Price – Detroit Tigers
STIT-FH Felix Hernandez – Seattle Mariners
STIT-GC Gerrit Cole – Pittsburgh Pirates
STIT-GP Glen Perkins – Minnesota Twins
STIT-JA Jose Altuve – Houston Astros
STIT-JDE Jacob deGrom – New York Mets
STIT-JDO Josh Donaldson – Toronto Blue Jays
STIT-JK Jason Kipnis – Cleveland Indians
STIT-JM J.D. Martinez – Detroit Tigers
STIT-JPA Joe Panik – San Francisco Giants
STIT-JPD Joc Pederson – Los Angeles Dodgers
STIT-JPE Jhonny Peralta – St. Louis Cardinals
STIT-JU Justin Upton – San Diego Padres
STIT-KB Kris Bryant – Chicago Cubs
STIT-KH Kelvin Herrera – Kansas City Royals
STIT-LC Lorenzo Cain – Kansas City Royals
STIT-MB Madison Bumgarner – San Francisco Giants
STIT-MMA Manny Machado – Baltimore Orioles
STIT-MME Mark Melancon – Pittsburgh Pirates
STIT-MTE Mark Teixeira – New York Yankees
STIT-MTR Mike Trout – Los Angeles Angels
STIT-NA Nolan Arenado – Colorado Rockies
STIT-NC Nelson Cruz – Seattle Mariners
STIT-PF Prince Fielder – Texas Rangers
STIT-PG Paul Goldschmidt – Arizona Diamondbacks
STIT-RM Russell Martin – Toronto Blue Jays
STIT-SM Shelby Miller – Atlanta Braves
STIT-SP Salvador Perez – Kansas City Royals
STIT-SV Stephen Vogt – Oakland Athletics
STIT-TF Todd Frazier – Cincinnati Reds
STIT-TT Troy Tulowitzki – Colorado Rockies
STIT-WD Wade Davis – Kansas City Royals
STIT-YG Yasmani Grandal – Los Angeles Dodgers
STIT-YM Yadier Molina – St. Louis Cardinals
STIT-ZB Zach Britton – Baltimore Orioles
STIT-ZG Zack Greinke – Los Angeles Dodgers




Completed insert set – 1998 Topps Mystery Finest Bordered

17 05 2016

I’m caught up with those posts about parallel sets.  I’m kind of sad that I can’t keep going, but I haven’t opened the 2005 boxes yet, so I don’t know who I’m going to collect for those parallels.  Next up on this blog – I need to keep getting caught up on completed set posts.  I just checked, and I have over 25 sets that I’ve completed but not posted about yet.  Mostly inserts, but a few Topps base sets.  So that’s what will be on here for the most part over the next month or so.  Until Topps series 2 comes out, at least.

Info about the set:

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Set description:  Topps had a new take on Mystery Finest cards in series 2 of the 1998 set.  Unlike previous years, where the “mystery” was which player out of 3 you could find, you could tell which player you were getting by looking at the back of these cards.  However, the “mystery” in this case was which version of the card you pulled.  There were 4 versions – bordered and borderless cards, and a refractor version of each type.

I went for the bordered version of this set, which is the easiest to pull.  The front has a full-body shot of the player, with the background obscured by a giant translucent baseball that has lines emanating out from it.  The back has another color picture with a write-up about the player’s 1997 season.

Set composition:  20 cards, 1:36 odds (1998 Topps series 2)

 

Hall of Famers: 5. Tony Gwynn, Frank Thomas, Greg Maddux, Cal Ripken, Ken Griffey Jr.

And a few more guys who might make it in over the next few years.

How I put the set together:

  • 2 cards from my series 2 hobby box
  • 7 cards from Sportlots
  • 8 cards from Check Out My Cards
  • 3 cards from Beckett’s Marketplace

Thoughts on the set:  I don’t like this design quite as much as the series 1 Mystery Finest cards.  But the idea is cool – when I pulled one in my 1998 box, it was cool to do the peel and see which version I got.  Also, I think this design actually lends itself a little more to a base set than an insert set.

Card that completed my set:  #M-20 – Ken Griffey Jr.

1998 Topps Mystery Finest Bordered Griffey Jr

I got this from Beckett Marketplace last September.

Best card (my opinion):  #M-2 – Chipper Jones, M-18 – Andruw Jones

1998 Topps s2 Mystery Finest bordered

The two “Jones brothers” to me have the 2 photos that work best with the design for this set.  I couldn’t pick between the two.  It was actually tough to pick this over Griffey when he was at the height of his powers – but these photos work great.

My Favorite Reds card:  As was often the case for inserts from this era – there were none.

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Here’s the scan of the full set.

1998 Topps Mystery Finest Bordered complete

1998 Topps Mystery Finest Bordered complete 2

1998 Topps Mystery Finest Bordered complete 3

Any other tidbits:  The write-ups on the back had some interesting factoids about the players’ 1997 seasons.  The most interesting point I read was on the back of the card for Greg Maddux.  Maddux walked 20 batters in the 1997 season – barely above his win total (19) for the year.








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