Monday, August 25, 2008

2008 Upper Deck Series 2

Nothing has changed my opinion about this lackluster offering from Upper Deck. It is responsible for the best Marcus Thames card ever, and that's about it. I picked all of these out of a commons bin at The National.

491 Kenny Rogers
492 Justin Verlander
493 Dontrelle Willis
494 Joel Zumaya
495 Ivan Rodriguez
496 Miguel Cabrera
497 Carlos Guillen
498 Edgar Renteria
499 Curtis Granderson
500 Jacque Jones (no, this is not a mistake, he is in both is Renteria....but no Galarraga.....argh......)
501 Marcus Thames
722 Clete Thomas
740 Ivan Rodriguez Season Highlight
777 Miguel Cabrera Team Checklist
785 Curtis Granderson Season Highlight
797 Magglio Ordonez Season Highlight

Well not all, as it looks like I am missing both Cabrera cards, the Pudge Highlight, and the Clete Thomas' RC.

Oh well....that is one sweet Thames card......

2008 Topps Series 2

I guess sometime during this disappointing season that my hatred for Topps has just dissipated into apathy. Since I am no longer buying packs of Topps cards, my frustration has eased somewhat. I picked up the following cards at The National for less than $10 total. I do actually think this is probably my second favorite Topps design of the last 10 years, ranking behind 2005, but that's not really saying a lot for the last 10 years of Topps cards.

No surprises in the base set:
403 Nate Robertson
412 Joel Zumaya
427 Carlos Guillen
466 Classic Combos Cabrera/Rodriguez
484 Todd Jones
503 Jeremy Bonderman
510 Justin Verlander
512 Placido Polanco
539 Clete Thomas
620 Gary Sheffield
634 Kenny Rogers
641 Marcus Thames

Topps continued along with the next two months of the Year In Review inserts.

YR73 Justin Verlander
YR108 Magglio Ordonez
YR115 Ryan Raburn

There is a new insert set called Topps Stars.

TS2 Magglio Ordonez
TS17 Miguel Cabrera

Topps reissued their Trading Cards History insert set from series 1, this time as chrome cards. 

TCHC26 Justin Verlander
TCHC29 Ivan Rodriguez
TCHC33 Gary Sheffield
TCHC38 Magglio Ordonez

I might be missing one or two of these, like Granderson, but since they aren't numbered the same as their series 1 counterparts, I don't really know.

Topps also continued along with the 50th Anniversary All-Star Rookie Team inserts.

AR95 Ramon Santiago

That Ramon Santiago has an insert card says more than I could ever say about series 2, and really, Topps in general.

Elvis Is In The Building

My buddy Dave came up from St. Louis for the weekend and we hit the Rays-Sox game last Friday night. Unbeknownst to a couple of Memphis expatriates, it was Elvis Night at U. S. Cellular Comiskey Park Field. We were treated to the Flying Elvises, which was cool, and numerous impersonators, who were not. 

We caught the first five innings from the cheap seats in the upper deck before heading down to the Bullpen Bar for the latter part of the game. The Bullpen Bar is a great concept, but a shitty place to try and follow a game. I'll let the pictures speak for themselves. (Although not completely, as I will add that we sat in the BB for several innings thinking the game was tied at 2 before walking up to the bar and finding that the Rays were actually ahead, 6-2.)

I'm pretty sure that this is my old friend Lance from Memphis, but I couldn't get close enough to ask him.

Anyway, this was my first time to see the Rays and they won. Ex-Tiger (and ex-Ranger, ex-A, ex-Yankee, and ex-Red Sock...) Carlos Peña hit a HR that I missed while commuting from the cheap seats to the bullpen. 

The Twins are now the only team left that I have never seen play in person. I hope to remedy that next month in Minneapolis. 

Sunday, August 17, 2008

1987 Fleer Baseball's Game Winners

Well at least it seems like someone at Fleer was informed of their previous lapses in content when it came time for this one. This time they just gave the set a vague title and included players with a lot of game winning RBI, wins, or saves. Guess it's kind of hard to screw that up.

I can't help but thinking though that the powder blue borders make this look like the box bottoms set from '88 Topps.

There are still only 5 HOF in the set, it's not visually appealing, and I swear I've seen that Ripken photo used prominently within the last year (Upper Deck Masterpieces?), but given that it's pretty late on Sunday evening, I'm willing to let this one slide. That this is one of their better box sets of 1987 speaks volumes about the year that was at Fleer.

Hey, there are two Tigers included:

17 Kirk Gibson
20 Willie Hernandez

Ok, insert your own lame ass Chris Berman-like song reference here.

Hopefully Morrison gets out of the on-deck circle before the stadium sinks completely into the water......

1987 Fleer Baseball's Exciting Stars

It's a wonder Fleer didn't get sued for this gross false advertising of a product. Out of all of these sets I've seen so far, this is easily the the biggest collection of has beens and never will be's that Fleer boxed up in the 80's.

I would love to sit down one day with the whomever was in charge of player selection for this set. (Or any of the other ones for the matter.....) It looks like Fleer pimped the same 10 or so players out in each one of these sets, and then drew from a pool of the remaining players with the rule that once a player was in a set he was ineligible from inclusion in any other set.

I'm at a loss for the logic of leaving out so many obvious players from an "Exciting Stars" set from 1987. I would list the omissions, but I'm still trying to wrap my head around the inclusions.

Don Aase, Rick Aguilera, Sid Bream. Danny Cox, Gene Garber, Mark Gubicza, Mel Hall, Terry Harper, Rick Honeycutt, Charlie Kerfield, Dennis Rasmussen, and Kent Tekulve are the most glaring inclusions in this set. Don Aase? Terry Harper? KENT TEKULVE? IN 1987?

There are only 3 HOF in this set, and one of them is Steve Carlton pictured in a White Sox uniform and I don't recall Lefty being an exciting star while he was sporting those togs.

Again there is only one Tiger in the set. How they came up with including him is a mystery to me.

26-Willie Hernandez

What's up with that design, too? It looks like each card was printed on the sleeve of a Rangers uniform. There seems to be a trend in 1987 of a Red, White, and Blue motif on the fronts as well as the backs. Fleer must've gotten a good deal on a couple of cases of Red and Blue inks that summer.


It is a testament to the disappointment of this season that it has taken me ten days to blog about catching the recent Tigers-White Sox series at U.S. Comiskey Park Field. I promise I'll keep it short and sweet, at least until I get to the part about former Tiger catcher and current White Sox bullpen coach Mark Salas.

Tuesday night's game was what should have been one of those gut wrenching losses, if there hadn't already been so many that there is nothing left to wrench. I knew in the 9th we wouldn't win. I left after the 10th knowing that we wouldn't win. I arrived home in the 14th just seconds after Polanco's HR, and thought "hey, we're going to win this one." Dumbass. There was no worse sound this year than having to hear Hockeroo's lame ass home run call well after midnight.

Wednesday night's game was so boring that I'm having to look it up on yahoo to see what happened. Seriously, I'm looking it up right now. Oh yeah, this was the game that Thome hit the three run HR to left center in the first inning, and that was about it. I think I left after the Tigers batted in the top of the 8th. I dunno. I was still beat from staying up the night before.

Now, Thursday night's game was more like it. I met my pal sixtyeight boy from the Tigers Forum and crashed with his group in the first row behind the White Sox bullpen. Midway through the game, Mark Salas came out to warm up one of the Sox pitchers. When he was done I yelled at him that he was a former Tiger and that he had no business being in the White Sox bullpen. He looked up and grinned in what appeared to be amazement that somebody actually recalled his time in Detroit.

I told him that I had all of his cards from his Tiger days and he laughed. Sixtyeight boy asked him how many HR did he hit in Tiger Stadium and he replied, "all of 'em." Salas then asked us what was up with the Stadium and when we told about the demolition getting underway he frowned and told us that was his favorite place to play during his career and that he was sad to see it go. Amen brother.

I apologize for posting a picture of a '92 Fleer card, but it's pretty slim pickins when it comes to Salas. There isn't any one card that stands out, so I figured I'd just post a bad one. Be thankful that I didn't post the '91 Fleer. Here's the quick and dirty on the Salas cards I have:

1991 Topps #498
1991 Fleer #350
1991 Fleer Ultra #127
1991 Donruss #65
1991 Upper Deck #205
1992 Fleer #144
1992 Donruss #512

Not exactly a stellar selection to choose from.

Go figure, I was in the park on the night when newly inducted Hall Of Famer Goose Gossage threw out the first pitch, but the highlight hands down was chatting with an old Tigers catcher for a few minutes. Oh yeah, we won 8-3 to stop a six game losing streak. 

Too bad I couldn't chat with Goose about my favorite Tiger Stadium memory involving him!

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

2008 Goudey

Enough blogging about mediocre Fleer sets for awhile. Time to blog about a lights out issue. The 2008 Goudey.

I guess this is Upper Deck's answer to Topps Heritage. So much so that they've resorted to the same old different colored back variations and what not. But since reprints of 1994 Upper Deck don't appeal to me in the slightest, this is likely the best they can do, and I love it. I vaguely recollect Fleer doing a Goudey set a few years back. I guess since Upper Deck bought Fleer that they have the rights to do these now. And I thank them for doing it.

The cards are on the same type stock as Heritage, which I hope someone figures out in the near future is SO much cooler than the usual glossy stock with some sort of foil stamping, and will one day produce a full set like this.

I picked up the following Tigers at the National:

68 Justin Verlander
69 Curtis Granderson
70 Miguel Cabrera
71 Gary Sheffield
72 Magglio Ordoñez
73 Jack Morris

I have also seen on ebay that there is a SP card of Al Kaline, #211.


I'll be the first to admit that offering base set cards of players like Morris and Kaline is infinitely better than offering cards of Nate Robertson and Fernando Rodney. As successful as the Topps Archives were in the early 00's, I have never figured out why someone wouldn't do a set that mixes the best of the present and the past.

Well now they have. Hopefully next year it will be bigger, and ultimately, better. 

P.S. Why the fuck did they have to put Derek Jeter on the bottom of EVERY card? Why couldn't they do it by team? How much cooler would it be if at the bottom of every Tiger card it had Magglio or Granderson "saying it..."?

1987 Fleer Baseballs (sic) Best, Sluggers vs. Pitchers

So before I hammer Fleer again for lousy design and questionable player selection, let me at least give them a little credit for this issue. They don't look as bad as a lot of their other 44-card box sets. They came up with a pretty interesting concept for a set. But somewhere between conception and production they absolutely lost it.

Are Pat Tabler with his 28 career HR (over six seasons at the end of 1986) and Mike Witt 3.52 career ERA (not exactly world class in 1986) REALLY some of baseballs (sic) best?

Again there is only one Tiger. Apparently being named to a Sports Writers Award was not justification for inclusion into this set for Lance Parrish. But as long as there is at least one Tiger, I'm ok with it. 3.57 ERA and all.

27-Jack Morris

Again, there are only seven HOF out of forty-four cards. No cards of Nolan Ryan, Pete Rose, Reggie Jackson, Tom Seaver, Steve Carlton, Rod Carew, Jim Rice, Gary Carter, or Dave Winfield, but instead there are cards of Kevin Bass, Jesse Barfield, Sid Bream, Ivan Calderon, Tom Henke, Jeff Leoanrd, Joe Magrane, and Ken Phelps. 

On second thought, my pain is eased considerably. Jeff Leonard? If that is not the definition of cool then I don't know what is. 

Yeah boyeeeeeeeeeee.............

1987 Fleer Award Winners

If you hadn't figured out by year three of the Fleer Limited Edition 44-card box sets that they were mailing it in, then this one left no doubt. Bad looking design, flat-out awful player selection, and dubious "awards" highlight this set. Much like Over The Top, this is so bad that it's actually pretty entertaining.

While I can't post scans of everybody, some "Award Winners" include: Bob Boone, Bob Forsch, Bob Knepper, Candy Maldonado, Roger McDowell, Gary Pettis, Johnny Ray, Robbie (sic) Thompson, and Frank White. Wow! Stellar!

I love the look on Webster's face. "The most triples? They give an award for that?"

If Blyleven really did strike out 3000 batters in 1986 then it's a travesty that he's not in the Hall Of Fame.

There is only one Tiger in the set and he doesn't look all that thrilled about his award either.

28- Lance Parrish

It's not all bad though. There are seven HOF in the set. Seven out of forty-four. 

Ok, I've got nothing here.....

Wednesday, August 6, 2008

1985 Fleer Update

I am "working from home" today, still reeling from last night's bitter defeat to the White Sox, so what better way for me to cheer up than to blog about one of my favorite card designs of the 80's. I have always been a big fan of the '85 Fleer cards. Nice clean photos, trimmed with team colors, and a prominently placed team logo make this a fresh looking set still today.

I picked up a couple of these at The National for $2 apiece. For the price of two packs of Topps Opening Day, I think these are quite a steal. I can't even begin to imagine how many of these Fleer must have produced for this set of 132 cards to sell for that cheap.

I guess the "big card" would be the Ozzie Guillen rookie card. (I take small solace in the fact that he was serving game one of his two game suspension last night during the Tigers 14th inning, 10-8 loss...) Yo Ozzie, hit THIS!!!

There are four HOFers in this set. (Yes, I am counting Rickey. Because, you know, Rickey already be counting Rickey.) Hell, I'd forgotten that Don Sutton once played for the A's. I'll bet most Braves fans would like to forget that Bruce Sutter once played for the Braves. I'm sure many Mets fans would have already forgotten that Gary Carter once played for the Mets, if only Gary would let them.

There are four Tigers in the set, including another Sparky Anderson overhyped phenom, Chris Pittaro. Sparky once contemplated moving Lou Whitaker to third before placing Pittaro there out of spring training in 1985. Pittaro, replacing Howard Johnson, who was traded for Walt Terrell, played all of 28 games for the Tigers that year. He and Alex Sanchez the First were later traded to the Twins for Dave Engle. 

87U-Chris Pittaro
98U-Alex Sanchez
103U-Nelson Simmons
118U-Walt Terrell

I don't have anything on Nelson Simmons. For that I apologize.

I can reiterate enough how much I like the '85 Fleer stickers. I'm going to get a full set of these one way or another.

I have no clue who this guy is. Wasn't he the governor of Alabama or Oklahoma in the 70's?

Monday, August 4, 2008

1987 Topps Stickers

I don't know what happened between 1983 and 1987, but it's apparent that Topps had given up on its sticker set somewhere along the way. Chalk this up as another listless entry into the Topps pantheon of mediocre products.

Gone are the tributes to the Hall Of Famers. Gone are the cool die-cut All-Stars. Hell, gone are each guy getting his own sticker. 

I'll keep this brief because I really don't feel like spending a lot of time blogging about such a bland product. Also because there really isn't a lot to discuss.

Each team has two players that get full stickers. The rest of the guys are relegated to half-sticker status. 

The only foil stickers are of the All-Stars.

The Tigers in this set:
149-Lance Parrish All-Star
153-Lou Whitaker All-Star
264-??? full-sticker
265-Johnny Grubb half-sticker
266-Jack Morris half-sticker
267-Lou Whitaker half-sticker
268-Chet Lemon half-sticker
269-Lance Parrish half-sticker
270-Alan Trammell half-sticker
271-Darnell Coles half-sticker
272-Willie Hernandez half-sticker
273-Kirk Gibson full-sticker

Ok, so without having the sticker book, IT IS KILLING ME to know who the other Tiger full sticker is. Darrell Evans is the best I can come up with. But is he really full-sticker worthy over ANYBODY else on a half-sticker?

The coolest sticker in the entire set? If a sticker paints a thousand words.....

The worst sticker in the entire set? Cecilio Guante and Tim Hulett. There's not much else to say.....

Oh yeah, Barry Lamar Bonds made his debut in this set. Topps was obviously airbrushing to make him appear this small. Meanwhile, Neil Allen starts the trend of looking the other way.....

By this time Topps was up to its usual collation shenanigans again. There are 313 stickers in this set, but probably half of those are stickers with 2 players on 1 sticker. So there are maybe 200 or so stickers total. Out of a box of 500 stickers, I am still missing something like 11-13 stickers, including one of the single Tiger stickers. 

I have 6 stickers of Roger Clemens right leg, but no Tiger sticker of whoever it is that I cannot figure out. 

I hate Topps.

Saturday, August 2, 2008

1987 Fleer Limited Edition

Fresh off one of the ugliest sets ever, comes another. The highlight is the pre-juice card of Roger Clemens.

Mike Krukow? He sucked....

The stickers suck too.

The Tigers:
17-Kirk Gibson
28-Jack Morris

I don't know what else to add about this set, other than I paid $2 for it. 

It sucks.