Monday, July 20, 2009

2009 Upper Deck

What? Me blogging about new cards? After I've derided the cardmakers time and time again and vowed not to buy any more packs or boxes? 

Don't worry. I've held true to my vow up to this point. I met a great dealer at my first show in Chicago last year who busts open cases upon cases of cards. I talked to him for a bit at that show and asked him if he wouldn't mind pulling out a team set plus any miscellaneous inserts of Tigers from the stuff he opened. He said he'd be glad to and a great relationship has come of it. He usually makes it to a show here to Chicago about three times a year. I'll go and pick up my cards and chit-chat with him and his dad for awhile and the whole arrangement works out well for everybody.

Well he wasn't able to make the show last week, so instead he mailed me the latest batch of Tigers that he had saved up for me. I've been putting off blogging about any 2009 cards because I have so few of them since I am NOT buying any packs anymore, but with the big package that came in today I thought it might be fun to review something current, especially with all the time I've been spending on 90's cards around here.

So I'll start with this 2009 Upper Deck release. There are so many good things about this set that I like. These are great looking cards, the inserts look great too, this is one of the biggest team sets I have seen in a long time, I got a Clete Thomas AU Insert, all around these are just absolutely fantastic. 

As I do when I get new cards, I catalog them so that can I print out a sheet of paper of what I'm missing (there always seems to be a missing a card or two) so that when I go to my next show I don't have to lug around a bunch of binders. But as I was cataloging these this evening I noticed something that literally floored me.


What the fuck is the deal with that?!? $erou$ly? You've got to be kidding me! was bad enough when Topp$ did it in their 2007 $et (Gary Sheffield and Mike Rabelo) but there are quite a few of them here. I count FIVE players that were duplicated, and damn if one of them isn't Sheffield, who didn't even make the team out of Spring Training! Gerald Laird only shows up on the front of one of the team checklist cards. There are no cards of Ryan Raburn, Fu-Te Ni, Brandon Lyon, Matt Treanor, Dusty Ryan, or Jeff Larish. What could possibly be the reason for this? 

Ok, I can understand that there are no cards of those guys because I'm sure there is little demand for them. But they did issue cards of Zach Miner, Bobby Seay, Freddy Dolsi, Chris Lambert, and Todd Jones, so it's not like they didn't already issue some low demand cards. So then why make duplicates of other guys and then end up with a set that checks in at over 1,000 cards? If I was trying to build an entire set I would be pissed. Especially with the price of packs these days. I guess little has changed in the last year. Both card companies are still out to fuck as many people over and take as much money from them as they possibly can. It's a shame too. This is a nice set. There was absolutely no reason for this.

The 2009 Upper Deck Detroit Tigers:
125 Armando Galarraga
126 Miguel Cabrera
127 Placido Polanco
128 Edgar Renteria
129 Carlos Guillen
130 Gary Sheffield
131 Curtis Granderson
132 Marcus Thames
133 Magglio Ordonez
134 Jeremy Boonderman
135 Dontrelle Willis
136 Kenny Rogers
137 Justin Verlander
138 Nate Robertson
139 Todd Jones
140 Joel Zumaya
428 Chris Lambert
437 Team Leaders
495 Team Checklist
633 Fernando Rodney
634 Justin Verlander
635 Bobby Seay
636 Clete Thomas
637 Placido Polanco
638 Ramon Santiago
639 Adam Everett
640 Gary Sheffield
641 Curtis Granderson
642 Freddy Dolsi
643 Magglio Ordonez
644 Zach Miner
645 Brandon Inge
945 Rick Porcello
995 Team Checklist
1006 Ryan Perry

It's a shame to be disappointed in this set, because there are some great looking inserts too. (These are probably not all the inserts, just the ones I did a limited amount of research on.)

O-Pee-Chee Preview
OPC-15 Magglio Ordonez

O-Pee-Chee Insert
OPC-37 Magglio Ordonez

Stars of the Game
GG-MC Miguel Cabrera

SQ-19 Miguel Cabrera
SQ-36 Justin Verlander

INK-CT Clete Thomas AUTO

Needless to say, I'm glad I haven't caved in on my vow not to buy any more packs of cards and pissed away money in the wind trying to complete sets that can't be completed without spending hundreds of dollars. But now I'm contemplating giving it up altogether and just sticking to making my own......instead of letting the card companies continue to stick it to me.

Saturday, July 18, 2009

2006 RobbyT Cards

Ladies and Gentleman, my first very own card set. 

It all started with me making a trip up to Comerica Park from Memphis for a Labor Day weekend series against the Angels in 2006. Nothing monumental happened during the trip with regards to my future as an aspiring baseball card designer. Well, nothing that I was cognizant of at the time anyway. 

Upon returning home after the weekend, I was perusing the game pics on the Detroit News website when I came across this photo of Curtis Granderson. I was at the game when he made that catch and and soon as I saw the picture my first thought was, "Wouldn't that look great on a baseball card?" And so the seeds were sewn.

I have had a career in printing for the last twenty years with fifteen of those years spent in desktop publishing. I worked in layout programs such as Quark and InDesign on a daily basis, so building a baseball card was certainly no challenge from a technical standpoint. All I needed to do was collect the photographs and place them into a design of my own. Unfortunately my desktop publishing experience didn't translate into me being a top flight graphic designer/artist. But I think I was able to use that to my benefit here, as it forced me to come up with a crisp, clean, and simple design, which regular readers of this blog know generally translates into me liking a set. 

I like to think this set pays a lot of homage to one of my favorite card sets of all time, 1981 Fleer. I don't think this is the best set I've ever designed in the four years I have been doing this, but as the first it will always be pretty special to me. It adds to the coolness for me that I was putting this set together during the fantastic post-season run of 2006. In fact, the little mug shots in the bottom corner were not in the original design, but before the post-season started, the Free Press made these available as downloadable masks that you could print off. So I downloaded all the faces, made a few tweaks, and voila! A set was born.

The 2006 RobbyT Detroit Tigers:
1 Jeremy Bonderman
2 Sean Casey
3 Alexis Gomez
4 Curtis Granderson
5 Jason Grilli
6 Carlos Guillen
7 Omar Infante
8 Brandon Inge
9 Todd Jones
10 Wilfredo Ledezma
11 Jim Leyland
12 Zach Miner
13 Craig Monroe
14 Magglio Ordonez
15 Neifi Perez
16 Placido Polanco
17 Nate Robertson
18 Fernando Rodney
19 Ivan Rodriguez
20 Kenny Rogers
21 Ramon Santiago
22 Marcus Thames
23 Justin Verlander
24 Jamie Walker
25 Vance Wilson
26 Joel Zumaya
27 Tigers Future Stars: Cameron Maybin and Andrew Miller
28 Tigers Future Stars: Brent Clevlen and Kevin Hooper
29 Tigers First Basemen: Chris Shelton and Matt Stairs
30 Tigers Hurlers: Chad Durbin and Mike Maroth
31 Tigers Specials: Gene Lamont
32 Tigers Specials: Dave Dombrowski
33 Tigers Specials: Mike Illitch and Ivan Rodriguez
34 Tigers Specials: Jim Leyland
35 Tigers Specials: Dmitri Young
36 Tigers Specials: Ernie Harwell

The downside about using the mask photos though was that there weren't masks for everybody that I'd already made cards for. So I decided to make up my own Specials cards with a nod towards the Fleer Specials of the 80's. Some are rookies, some recap events and the season, and some feature guys like the GM and owner who normally wouldn't get their own cards.

One final thing of note. When I was a kid starting out collecting cards, I never knew they were "classified" by dates. I just knew that there were baseball cards for different seasons, but I had no idea that they were labeled by the year of issue, and not the year that they recapped. I still get confused to this day when I am thinking about Topps sets from '76-'80. When I first designed this set, I referred to it as my 2007 set, but that never set right with me. The photos are from 2006, it was designed in 2006, and technically it was issued in 2006. So I have decided to call it my 2006 set. Being the designer does have it's privileges.....

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Reader Mailbag

So I should probably answer a few emails from the handful of readers that read this blog. 

First off, I'd like to say thanks to the folks who follow along here. I know I've been slacking this year, but it ain't easy plowing through these crappy 90's baseball cards.

So what have I been doing with myself these days? Mostly vacationing and following the Tigers around the midwest for the last month. But I should get to these emails and maybe that would answer a lot of questions.

RobbyT, you used to give us updates on all the games you went to last year. Why haven't you done so. C. Clark, East Lansing, MI.

Well Chris, I apologize for that, but I've been to so many games this year that I haven't had time to list them all. I will do so here.

4-10 Twins 12, White Sox 5
4-17 Cubs 8, Cards 7
5-7 White Sox 6, Tigers 0
5-29 Cubs 2, Dodgers 1
6-8 White Sox 6, Tigers 1
6-10 Tigers 2, White Sox 1 (Happy Birthday DT!)
6-12 Tigers 3, Pirates 1 (Happy Birthday to me!)
6-13 Pirates 9, Tigers 3
6-14 Pirates 6, Tigers 3
6-16 Cardinals 11, Tigers 2
6-17 Cardinals 4, Tigers 3
6-18 Tigers 6, Cardinals 3
7-3 Tigers 11, Twins 9 (yes, the 16 inning game, and yes, I stayed for all of it...)
7-4 Twins 4, Tigers 3
7-12 Cardinals 4, Cubs 2
As you can see Chris, I've been plenty busy this year watching games. Thanks for asking.

Next question.

RobbyT, you have promised us for years that you would tell us the whole story behind your designing your own baseball cards. J. Roy, South Portland, ME

J., I promise that will be my next blog entry. I promise. The 2006 RobbyT Cards will be the next thing you will read about. Especially with this being the third anniversary. 

Next question.

RobbyT, are you going to get back to to blogging with the frequency you used to? It's fun to hear your take on cards with the printing and baseball back ground that you have. RobbyT, Oak Park, IL

Thank you my friend for the kind words. As we both know there will be a lot of hard work ahead to get through the next 13 years of Tigers baseball cards. But I know we can do it, er, I can do it. 

RobbyT, were you really driving that truck in your picture? B. Reynolds, Cincinnati OH.

What do you think?

Thanks for the mail my friends. 

1995 Upper Deck SP

I keep forgetting this game is tied. I blame beer and Roy Halladay. But like any true denier (yeah, I made that word up...), I blame somebody....

Regular readers know what I think SP stands for. Irregular readers may dig through the blog to find out why. Or else eat more prunes and lots of Soy Joy bars....

The 1995 Upper Deck SP Detroit Tigers:
16 Tony Clark
152 Chad Curtis
153 Lou Whitaker
154 Alan Trammell
155 Cecil Fielder
156 Kirk Gibson

Ok, there is a DIE-CUT insert card. That must be cool (end sarcasm, as someone in the printing business die-cutting is not that big of a deal, especially nothing this simple....)

PP10 Cecil Fielder

There is also a parallel set that looks just like the 


base set, but instead of red, it's silver. Whoopty doo.


1995 Upper Deck Collector's Choice

Nice job by Edwin Jackson with the 1-2-3 inning!

I'm a fan of the big cheap sets and this one is no different. Simple, clean, and easy enough to build. They all should be like this. Well, except for the pink Tony Clark card...

The 1995 Upper Deck Collector's Choice Detroit Tigers:
16 Tony Clark
51 Cecil Fielder
465 Travis Fryman
466 Danny Bautista
467 Sean Bergmann
468 Mike Henneman
469 Mike Moore
470 Cecil Fielder
471 Alan Trammell
472 Kirk Gibson
473 Tony Phillips
474 Mickey Tettleton
475 Lou Whitaker
476 Chris Gomez
477 John Doherty
478 Greg Gohr
479 Bill Gullickson

There were a couple of parallel sets that aren't worth mentioning, so I will. One had a silver foil signature on the front, the other had a blue foil border. There was an insert called Crash The Game, which I don't have, but will gladly list.

6 Cecil Fielder

It turns out the parallels were not a total parallel, but a shortened set, so I'll list them too. 

217 Kirk Gibson
218 Lou Whitaker
219 Chris Gomez
220 Cecil Fielder
221 Mickey Tettleton
222 Travis Fryman
223 Tony Phillips

1995 Upper Deck


I like this set. Very clean, crisp, minimalist design. Upper Deck liked it so much that they pretty much duplicated it in 2008. After that horrible 1995 set, these were a welcome issue.

The 1995 Upper Deck Detroit Tigers:
184 Chris Gomez
185 Travis Fryman
186 Kirk Gibson
187 Mike Moore
188 Lou Whitaker
189 Sean Bergman
227 Tony Clark
233 Bobby Higginson
249 Rudy Pemberton
421 Greg Gohr
422 Felipe Lira
423 John Doherty
424 Chad Curtis
425 Cecil Fielder
426 Alan Trammell

They did the Electric Diamond parallel sets again, this time with a silver or gold foil stamped "home plate" in the upper corner of the card. I've only got a few of the inserts and one of them is only a checklist. Another is that lousy looking "Special Edition" set. 

I vaguely remember the Predictor inserts being game cards that if the player did something related to the statistic listed on the front you could win a complete set. I'm guessing Cecil Fielder didn't do that. Oh well, here are the inserts that I know of: 

1 Cecil Fielder

R13 Cecil Fielder
R32 Cecil Fielder

Special Edition
95 Cecil Fielder
96 Alan Trammell
97 Tony Phillips
98 Junior Felix
229 Chad Curtis
230 Lou Whitaker
231 Kirk Gibson
232 Travis Fryman

Joe Mauer has tied the game at 3 with an RBI double. Sweet! 

1995 Pinnacle Zenith

I laugh at the goldbricks pictured on the cards. Score/Pinnacle could not have left any more of a subtle hint. Unfortunately that's all I can laugh about with these. 

The 1995 Pinnacle Zenith Detroit Tigers:
15 Cecil Fielder
66 Kirk Gibson
105 Travis Fryman
131 Bobby Higginson

Obama is a Steelers fan? Now the NL has tied it up! I hate Score/Pinnacle! I'm done here!

1995 Score Select Certified Edition

Pujols error leads to the AL's first run in the top of the first. Lincecum fails to cover first and now it's 2-0 AL. Tim McCarver can't quit using the word buoy. NL goes 1-2-3 in the bottom of the first. So far this is fun!

Ok, I'll give credit where credit is due here. These have an interesting look with the bronze shadow silhouetting the player and the black and white background. But with only 135 cards in the whole set, why bother? Oh well, at least Gibby is actually on his own card with this Score issue. Maybe that's why these are certified?

The 1995 Score Select Certified Edition Detroit Tigers:
40 Travis Fryman
45 Kirk Gibson
47 Cecil Fielder
102 Bobby Higginson

1995 Pinnacle

Sheryl Crow singing while the Batplane flys over. Yawn. At least the introduction of all the Cardinals Hall Of Famers was cool. Always neat to see Stan The Man. Cool to see President Obama too, but did he have to wear that god awful jacket? LOL, I never knew he was a lefty. Who woulda thunk it?

This is not a great looking set, but not so horrible that it's worth complaining about, and there are still more Score/Pinnacle set to go, so I'll save it. Again, these remind me of Stadium Club cards, and I never thought they were so hot either. It's a full set, at least by 1995 standards, so there, I said something good.

The 1995 Pinnacle Detroit Tigers:
15 Danny Bautista
42 Junior Felix
69 Chris Gomez
117 Lou Whitaker
124 Travis Fryman
130 Milt Cuyler
148 Jose Lima
184 Cecil Fielder
209 Tony Phillips
338 Eric Davis
349 Kirk Gibson
379 David Wells
392 Alan Trammell

I can't find any info that there were any inserts or parallels with this one, which seems odd, but with something this mediocre, that's a good thing.

1995 Score Summit

As I sit down to write tonight I'm listening to the player introductions of the All Star Game. It's fantastic to see the Tigers' future core representing the team tonight. Congrats to Curtis Granderson, Brandon Inge, Edwin Jackson, and Justin Verlander. (who pitched his no-hitter on my 38th birthday!) Much like baseball cards, the All Star Game ain't as much fun as it was when I was a kid, but I still enjoy it. So while I'm in good spirits, I'm going to knock out the rest of the 1995 Score/Pinnacle issues. I'll do my best to stay positive in my review of these cards.

These cards suck. Yet another unneeded and uninspiring issue by the folks at Score. Or Pinnacle. Or whatever the hell they called themselves back then. Either way, this is another crappy short set that's rookie heavy. (although I think Bowman beat them to every one of these Tigers rookies years earlier.....) Nothing about the design or player selection really stand out here. 

The 1995 Score Summit Detroit Tigers:
57 Cecil Fielder
91 Travis Fryman
109 Kirk Gibson
134 Bobby Higginson
153 Rudy Pemberton
160 Shannon Penn
166 Todd Steverson

About the only interesting thing with this set is a handful of uncorrected errors involving Tigers. Pemberton's card has the Dodgers' logo foil stamped on it while Penn's card has a Cubs' logo. Meanwhile there are Tiger logos stamped on the cards of Antonio Osuna and Ozzie Timmons. If I could've picked the pair that I wished had been Tigers, it'd be Osuna and Timmons, but that's like saying I would prefer a Stroh's over an Old Style. Either way, you lose.

There only inserts were a parallel set called the Nth Degree that were a sort of speckled foil thing. These don't look as cool as the scan makes them look. I find that to be a case with a lot of foil cards. Maybe I should just scan them all. 

I'm no math expert, but N = 0 here.....