2015 Topps Update HTA Jumbo box – base cards

31 10 2015

Happy Halloween!  I have a bit more time for a full-blown base card post about my 2015 Topps Update box, after just showing cards of World Series participants on Thursday.

There are 3 notable cards when I think about this set.  Two are rookies, which is what you would expect in this set.  But the other is of Ichiro, who hasn’t been in a Topps set since 2012.  He signed back with the Company, and this is his first Topps flagship card since then.  It kind of goes with Update, since he did sign with a new team this year.  But I’m pretty sure Topps would have captured that in series 2 had it not been for contractual issues.

2015 Topps Update Ichiro

The other 2 are rookies.  Carlos Correa has a true rookie card in Update.

2015 Topps Update Correa RC

Kris Bryant is the third guy – he had his rookie card in series 2, but he is in the Rookie Debut subset in Update, which is just an excuse to get more cards of guys who are early in their career.  This was the first card shown in a lot of the previews for Update.  It’s one of my favorite cards, as it showcases the new jumbo scoreboard behind Wrigley Field’s left field bleachers.

2015 Topps Update Kris Bryant RC

Bryant is the Topps golden boy this year, so of course they have 3 additional cards of him.

2015 Topps Update Kris Bryant cards

Of course, this is possibly the greatest class of rookies in baseball history, so there are a few more rookie cards in this set.  Below are the most notable “true” rookie cards.

2015 Topps Update rookies

Most of those guys, along with a number of other players who had earlier cards, were in the Rookie Debut subset.  Rookie Debut is a strange term.  Including the work “rookie” feels a bit unnecessary.

2015 Topps Update rookie debut

Then there are the “traded” players.  Some of them are guys who were traded in the previous offseason.  I’m not sure what causes Topps to put them in series 2 or in Update, but these guys didn’t make the series 2 cut.  The guy who is going to win the AL MVP is in this boat.

2015 Topps Update offseason traded players

As are these 4 players, who unfortunately did not work out too well for the Padres.

2015 Topps Update Padres

More than ever, Topps is getting mid-season trades in the Update set as well.  Remarkably, every one of the guys below, except Hamilton, is in their new team after a late July trade deadline move.

2015 Topps Update midseason traded players

2015 Topps Update midseason traded players_0001

As always, there are a bunch of subsets.  A subset that wasn’t in any recent Topps sets is combo cards.  This is a bit of a throwback to old combo cards, which I think started as far back as the mid 1950’s.

2015 Topps Update Combo cards

A subset that has been around for a number of years is Highlights rolled up into the Checklist cards.  There’s 5 of these cards, and they showcase events from the 2015 season.  These are all pretty good events.

  • Alex Rodriguez:  3,000th hit.  I wonder if Topps was barred from using his 661st home run so the Yankees wouldn’t have to pay his bonus.
  • Miguel Cabrera:  500th Home Run.  He was in the 2014 checklists for his 2,000th hit.
  • Chris Heston / Max Scherzer:  No-hitters.  Obviously Scherzer’s 2nd no-no came too late to make the printing deadline.
  • Mike Trout: First back-to-back All-Star MVP winner.  The weakest one, but one I do think is pretty cool.  In other words, this year was a decent subset.

2015 Topps Update Highlights

Topps thankfully removed the Home Run Derby subset in 2014 – but then brought it back in 2015.  Though this was one year I am glad they did.  For selfish reasons.  I attended the All-Star game and the Home Run Derby.  The Derby was probably the coolest sporting event I’ve ever seen live.  Well, maybe 2nd to game 2 of the 1990 World Series, which the Reds won in extra innings.  But I was 10 and I only remember bits and pieces of that.  I’ll never forget Todd Frazier taking the crown in front of his home fans, under a much more exciting format.

2015 Topps Update All-Star game

This subset captures a lot of things I remember about the game.  DeGrom and Chapman both struck out the side – when Chapman did that, it was electric in the ballpark.  Keuchel was the AL starter, and I was in the majority when I was thinking “who is that guy”.  And the Vogt card is cool; the Stand Up 2 Cancer moment was very powerful when you were there.

Two more pictures.  First, as Night Owl posted a few days ago, this is the set of cameos.  Most of those are in the All-Star subset, where a guy you wouldn’t recognize like Brad Boxberger is shown next to a guy you probably would like Chris Archer.

2015 Topps Update Cameos

Anyways, finishing it up, here are some of my favorite photos from the set.

2015 Topps Update great photos

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2015 Topps Update HTA Jumbo box – Royals and Mets

29 10 2015

Every year I buy a jumbo box of Update, and every year I seem to be opening it up while watching the World Series.  It’s a good set to do that for – most of the teams that make it deep into the playoffs have some sort of contribution from a few key rookies or free agents.  This year is no different.  In fact, to me it seems like there are even more new guys helping out the 2 pennant winners than normal.

The Mets made a huge trade – a trade that their fans probably had no faith they’d make – right at the trade deadline.  They got Yoenis Cespedes, and he’s helped change around their offense from the worst in baseball before August 1st to the best in the National League since then.  It’s pretty impressive that Topps caught that trade into Update.  I was wondering if the picture below was photo shopped.  I can’t always tell those things, and this one looked pretty real to me.  Well, it is a legit picture of him with the Mets – here’s the original.

2015 Topps Update Mets

But it’s not just Cespedes.  The Mets also traded for Tyler Clippard to improve their bullpen.  And while he hasn’t been great, he’s been so much better than their alternatives that he has had a huge impact by getting the ball to Jeurys Familia.  Finally, the Mets have a group of 4 young starters, but two of them are rookies; Noah Syndergaard has his true RC in this set, while Steven Matz has a Rookie Debut subset card.

Juan Uribe and Kelly Johnson are also in the set – but they haven’t had quite the impact the 4 guys above had.

The Royals are no different.  They have 6 guys whom I deemed, in my infinite wisdom, worthy of making the scan in this post.  Edinson Volquez, Johnny Cueto and Chris Young have pitched 18 of the team’s 23 World Series innings so far, and gotten credit for both wins.

2015 Topps Update Royals

At the same time, Kendrys Morales has been a noticeable upgrade over Billy Butler this year, and Ben Zobrist was just the player they needed to augment their team at the trade deadline.  Paulo Orlando is an enticing rookie with some serious speed – he’s come in as a defensive replacement in both games so far.

That’s all I have time for today, but I’ll do a longer post about the base cards in this set tomorrow or Saturday.





Tuesday Tunes: Diamond Ditty #7 – “Meet The Mets” by Ruth Roberts and Bill Katz

27 10 2015

It’s World Series night!

I did one of these posts a week ago, and the Cubs didn’t do so well after my post about their theme song.  Next up, keeping with the times, it’s time for the theme song of the team that beat them.

Meet the Mets sheet

Artist/Title/Album: “Meet the Mets” by Ruth Roberts and Bill Katz (1961)

Description:  The Giants and Dodgers left the New York boroughs at the end of the 1957 season, heading west for a more promising financial future.  The Yankees were still on top of the baseball world, but that didn’t appease fans of National League baseball.  At the beginning of the 1960’s, New York was without a National League team after having at least two for almost all of MLB’s existence.

The Mets, set to play in the Polo Grounds while Shea Stadium was built in Queens, were baseball’s answer.  They started in 1962, but before their first game, the team’s front office was doing all it could to endear the jilted Giant and Dodger fans to the new team.  They ran contests to determine the Mets logo and a theme song for the new ball club.  They picked the song written by collaborators Ruth Roberts and Bill Katz, who had already penned a few baseball hits like “I love Mickey”.  The song had a positive tempo and vibe.  This was important for a team that would lose a record 120 games in its first season and wouldn’t post a winning record until the end of the decade.

Meet the Mets 1996 CD

The song has been tweaked a bit over the years; the Mets gave away a CD to fans at a 1996 Shea Stadium game that had 4 versions of it.  But the original version is still a classic.

Recognition:  The song has been featured on a number of TV shows:

  • George sings “Meet the Mets” in the Seinfeld episode “Millennium” where he tries to get fired from the Yankees so he can become the Mets director of scouting.
  • In the Everybody Loves Raymond episode “Big Shots“, Ray and Bob break the ice of an argument by singing “Meet the Mets”.
  • “Meet the Mets” is featured on a “This is SportsCenter” commercial.

How it’s related to baseball:  “Meet the Mets” has been the official theme song of the Mets since it’s release in early 1963.  The team has played the song at various points in a ballgame throughout its history.  You can still find lyrics to the song on the Mets website, and I’m sure they’ll be playing it all over New York if the team can win 4 games over the next 9 days.

Meet the Mets,
Meet the Mets,
Step right up and greet the Mets!





Completed insert set – 1999 Topps Power Brokers

25 10 2015

This is actually the 7th insert set I’ve finished in 1999 Topps.  There really aren’t that many left for me for 1999 Topps at this point, though the Nolan Ryan reprints may take me a little bit of time.

Info about the set:

Set description:  Appropriate for the era, which saw an explosion in home runs, these cards focus on players who can hit the ball a long way, with a couple of strikeout pitchers thrown in at the end.  The cards are die-cut at the top, featuring the set name in what I’d describe as shattered block letters with an image of lightning going behind them.  This is all positioned between two electrical conductors that remind me of Dr. Frankenstein as he prepared to get the monster ready.  A picture of the player swinging is below, with Chrome technology as the finish (there are refractor parallels available).  The player’s name and team logo are below.  The back has another player picture and a write-up about the player’s slugging prowess.

Set composition: 20 cards, 1:36 odds (1999 Topps series 1)

Hall of Famers:  1 – just Frank Thomas, though that number will go up soon.

How I put the set together:

  • 1 card from my series 1 hobby box
  • 1 card from a trade
  • 2 cards from the 2013 NSCC
  • 3 cards from Sportlots
  • 7 cards from Beckett’s marketplace
  • 6 cards from COMC

Card that completed my set: #PB20 – Kerry Wood

This was one of 6 cards I got delivered from COMC last December, as part of the Black Friday promotion.

Thoughts on the set:  It’s a decent set, but not my favorite.  I like it, don’t love it.  Any type of power-hitting set in 1999 is a good theme, considering this was capitalizing on the home run splurge of the year before.  I like the die-cut design and Frankenstein-like conductors at the top – it’s kind of fun.  It is more of a Topps Chrome look than a Topps Finest look, which to me means it’s more dull than colorful.  The refractors are probably nicer, but also a lot harder to obtain.

Best card (my opinion): #PB4 – Sammy Sosa

Sosa or McGwire seem most appropriate here, since they were the ones making the “power” headlines in 1998 that probably led to this space.  I like the Sosa picture in particular on his card.

My Favorite Reds card:  There are none.

1999 Topps Power Brokers complete

1999 Topps Power Brokers complete_0001

1999 Topps Power Brokers complete_0002

Any other tidbits:  There was an insert set by the same name in 1994 Leaf called Power Brokers.  I kind of liked the design of that set a little better.





Completed insert set – 2012 Panini Golden Age Batter-Up

23 10 2015

This is my second completed set out of the Panini Golden Age product that was released in 2012.  In a way, I consider it my first, as I kind of completed the Headlines insert set by default and wasn’t that interested in it anyway.

But this insert set was definitely something I wanted to complete.

Info about the set:

Set description:  “Batter-up cards similar to the 1934-36 originals.”

This set mimics the 1934-36 Batter-Up baseball set that was issued by National Chicle.  The set is a die-cut version of sepia-toned cards, where you can fold out the silhouette of the player.  The originals had quite a few sepia-toned cards, but also had a few other color cards.

There are some slight differences on the front in comparison with the original set.  The subject’s name and position are in bold black print in the bottom corner, whereas the original had a white box with the phrase “Batter-up” for the player’s name.  The set contains athletes from all different sports, as well as 2 actresses.  The back has a write-up about the individual. This also differs from the originals, which were blank backed.

Set composition:  25 cards, 1:12 odds (2012 Panini Golden Age)

Hall of Famers:  11 Baseball Hall of Famers.  Duke Snider, Whitey Ford, Harmon Killebrew, Early Wynn, Al Kaline, Luis Aparicio, Billy Williams, Brooks Robinson, Eddie Mathews, Yogi Berra, Nolan Ryan.

20 total Hall of Famers.  In addition to the baseball players above, Red Grange (football), Jack Johnson, Jack Dempsey (boxing), Seattle Slew, Man o’ War (racing), Bobby Jones, Babe Didrikson Zaharias, Ben Hogan, Walter Hagen (golf) are all Hall of Famers in their respective sport.

How I put the set together:

  • 2 cards from my hobby box
  • 16 cards from an eBay lot
  • 1 card from the 2013 NSCC
  • 3 cards from COMC
  • 3 cards from Sportlots

Card that completed my set: #16 – Luis Aparicio

I got this from Sportlots last November.

Thoughts on the set:  I love this insert set.  Panini Golden Age is kind of like Topps Lineage from 2011, only its inserts are based on much older designs.  These Batter-Up cards are great, and most of the deviations from the original are nicely done.

The one complaint I have is that there aren’t any guys from the right era for the original design.  1934 does fall in the “Golden Age” time period Panini was going for with the Golden Age product.

Best card (my opinion): #23 – Yogi Berra

I’m probably influenced by his recent passing, but I really appreciate the picture of a younger Berra at the plate.  So many of his photos are up close head shots or of him in catcher gear.  Here I can see why he was such a good hitter – with the strong, compact build.

2012 Golden Age Batter-up complete

2012 Golden Age Batter-up complete_0001

2012 Golden Age Batter-up complete_0002

Other tidbits:  As I mentioned, there are no players from this set who were also in the original, which is disappointing.  Arky Vaughan, Frankie Frisch, Jimmie Foxx, Bill Dickey, Charlie Gehringer, and Dizzy Dean have cards in the 1934 set and are the 6 guys featured in the Panini Golden Age base set but not in this set.

Three athletes depicted by Panini in this set were active in 1934, and none of those 3 were in their prime for the sport shown.  Babe Didrikson Zaharias had finished her Olympic career by this point, and was about to move on to golf.  In 1934, Red Grange was playing his last season for the Chicago Bears, and Ben Hogan was in the early part of his professional golf career, which was a struggle at best.





Completed insert set – 2011 Topps Prime Nine

22 10 2015

Continuing on with my feeble attempt at posting about all the insert sets I’ve completed…  Next up is “Prime Nine”, which was a hobby shop redemption.

Info about the set:

Set description:  Prime 9 redemption cards were inserted into 2011 Topps series 2 packs.  You would get a card that looked like this:

2011 Topps Prime 9 redemption 4

Starting with Johnny Bench in mid-July, Topps would announce the “Prime 9 Player of the Week” on their Facebook page every Monday.  Once your card # was announced, you could, in theory, go to a participating Home Team Advantage store and redeem your card.  I say “in theory” because, in practice, it didn’t always work that way.  I pulled card #4 above, which is Derek Jeter, but as you can see below Jeter was my last card in completing this set.  When I went to the card shop near me, they had 7 of the cards, but had given out all the Jeter cards already.  My guess is they just asked collectors who they wanted, and Jeter was the most popular (I lived in New Jersey at the time).  That was fine; they gave me all 7 of the cards they had.

The card themselves have Topps patented chrome finish, but have more of a Topps Finest finish.  They are very colorful.  Prime 9 is a show on MLB Network, which showcases the top 9 of anything.  There is one player representing each position, with a top 9 moments for that player listed on the back of the card.

Set composition:  9 cards, 1 card per redemption – 1:18 odds (2011 Topps series 2)

Hall of Famers:  6.  Johnny Bench, Jackie Robinson, Mike Schmidt, Hank Aaron, Mickey Mantle, Sandy Koufax

How I put the set together:

  • 7 cards for my 1 redemption
  • 1 cards from the 2013 NSCC
  • 1 card from COMC

Card that completed my set: #4 – Derek Jeter

I got this card from COMC last December.

Thoughts on the set:  Putting aside the issues I described above with the redemptions, these cards are really nice.  And I like the idea of working in social media and hobby shops at the same time.  This is a fun set that wasn’t too hard to finish off.

Best card (my opinion): #6 – Hank Aaron

The 70’s Braves uniform was really cook.  This is actually a photo of Aaron I haven’t seen before – unlike the Robinson or Koufax cards.

My Favorite Reds card:  #1 – Johnny Bench

The only one in the set.

2011 Prime 9 complete

Any other tidbits:  Three of the four “Greatest Living Players” were included in this set.  Willie Mays didn’t have a contract with Topps in 2011 (he would a year later), but Bench had been in sets for a while and Koufax and Aaron had signed with them in 2011.





Tuesday Tunes: Diamond Ditty #6 – “Go Cubs Go” by Steve Goodman

20 10 2015

Go Cubs Go sign

While I’m a Reds fan first and foremost, I’ve always had a soft spot for the Cubs.  My mom is from Chicago originally, and I live there now.  More importantly, my Grandfather lived there for about 60 of his 90+ years, and growing up I always associated the Cubs with “Grumpa”.  Add to that the fact that I now live in the Chicagoland area?  Once the Reds were eliminated from any chance at the playoffs (which officially happened in early September, but realistically had happened in early June), I was rooting for the Cubs.  I’ve been to 3 Cubs games this year – all 3 vs the Reds. That’s actually less than the past 3 years – before I moved to the ‘burbs, when I could have walked to Wrigley.  But it’s been fun to see the city so interested in the Cubs, and this team of youngsters is as exciting as any I can remember.

Hopefully they win tonight!

Artist/Title/Album: “Go Cubs Go” by Steve Goodman (1984)

Included on No Big Surprise (1994), a posthumous collection of Goodman’s songs

Steve Goodman No Big Surprise

Description:  The song was written by Steve Goodman, a lifelong Chicagoan and Cubs fan.  Goodman had originally written a song in 1981 about the Cubs failures, titled “A Dying Cubs Fan’s Last Request”.  The song lamented about the Cubs historic failures; naturally, it wasn’t played at Wrigley Field.  In 1984, WGN asked Goodman to pen a song they could use on their broadcasts, and thus “Go Cubs Go” was born.  WGN played it on their Opening Day broadcast that year, and it caught on as the Cubs made the playoffs for the first time in almost 4 decades.

Goodman was a Grammy-winning folk singer born in Chicago who got his break when he opened at a Chicago show for Kris Kristofferson.  This led to a string of events in which his song, “City of New Orleans” was covered by Arlo Guthrie.  The Guthrie cover got to #18 on the Billboard Hot 100 list, and enabled Goodman to work full-time as a musician.  A number of other famous musicians covered it, including Willie Nelson whose recording reached #1 on the Billboard Hot Country list.  That recording earned Goodman a Grammy for Best Country Song in 1985.  Goodman won a 2nd posthumous Grammy for his album “Unfinished Business” in 1988.

How it’s related to baseball:  The song lasted as the official team song for a few years, and has regained popularity over the last 10-15 years.  It’s now the official victory song played after Cubs win.  Last week after knocking off their rival Cardinals, you could hear the fans at Wrigley singing it a mile away.

Sadly, Goodman did not live to see most of the song’s popularity, or even the Cubs’ 1984 playoff appearance.  He succumbed to a 15-year battle with Leukemia a few days before the end of the season.  Jimmy Buffett sang the National Anthem in his friend’s stead at the first playoff game at Wrigley.

Steve Goodman Cubs singles

Go, Cubs, Go!
Go, Cubs, Go!
Hey Chicago, what do ya say?
The Cubs are gonna win today!