Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Time flies

First of all, my apologies for the lack of frequent updates over the past couple of weeks. Work in the advertising industry becomes incredibly hectic during the holidays, and coupled with out of work commitments - not to mention a desire for time to just relax - there just haven't been enough hours in the day to update Darryl Strawberry Fields as often as I'd like.

But not to worry; things will be back to normal shortly.

I've got a lot to get to, including packages from Tribe Cards and an awesome Darryl Strawberry related Christmas gift, not to mention hundreds of cards left in my collection.

Thank you, everyone, for reading in 2008, and here's hoping to an even better 2009!

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Merry Christmas to me!

With the rest of the week off from work, I figured at least a couple pack breaks were in order. It seems that I was destined to open these two 1994 Stadium Club packs on the day before Christmas. So, without further ado...

The first pack:

The first group:

Not too bad a start, by '94 standards. Both Listach and Hamelin had reasonably decent starts to their careers, each winning a Rookie of the Year award (in '92 and '94, respectively.) And the next bunch:

I've always liked cards of players signing autographs, so the Teddy Higuera was a nice pull. Also, that's a Zane Smith rainbow foil at the bottom... one per pack, baby! And then, there it was:

The first Darryl Strawberry I've pulled so far from the three boxes of packs I bought! I've opened a ton of packs, too; far more than I've shown on this site. Riding the high of pulling a Straw, I decided to open one more pack of Stadium Club...

The first bunch:

David Cone is always a nice pull, but not much else of even sentimental value from the first few cards in the pack. So let's move on to the second half:

I always liked Joe Orsulak when I was younger, but only because his name was Joe (as is mine, in case you're unaware.) But so far this has been a pretty crappy pack. Pretty crappy, until:

Yeah!!!!!! Back to back Strawberry pulls! And not just any Strawberry, this one is a rainbow foil, one per pack! What a happy Christmas this will be! I'm thinking of giving away the rest of my box of Stadium Club, because it's only downhill from here. Unless I pull one of those rare (relatively) and often counterfeited First Day Issue versions. I'm gonna hold off a while, though, and enjoy these two pulls.

On a serious note, this blog has been a blast to work on, and I've got lots more in store. Thanks for reading, and I hope you're enjoying it. Happy Holidays, everyone!

Monday, December 22, 2008

1985 (Donruss) Leaf #159

I guess Donruss (or Leaf, whoever the parent company is/was) was afraid of O-Pee-Chee becoming a baseball card monopoly in French-speaking Canada; this card also features English to French translations on the back!

Quick research (aka wikipedia) actually turned that both Donruss and Leaf were owned by the Finnish company Huhtamaki, in case you were wondering. Back to the card...

I only own one of these cards, so no front/back in the same scan, and I don't feel like scanning it twice, so I'll give you the French translation (see the English version in the post below): Recrue de l'Annee dans la Nationale en 83...Bien que beaucoup ne considererent pas la saison derniere comme une bonne annee pour les joueurs de seconde annee, il fut le meneur des Mets pour les circuits et les points produits se classant 4eme dans la Nationale pour les circuits et les points produits et 8eme pour la moyenne de puissance (.467).

I don't speak French at all, but from reading through the translation I'm pretty sure RBI translates to "points produced." Points?! Words cannot convey how disgusted I am by this.

Other than the translation, this card is exactly the same as the all English version. The only other changes are the number and the green leaf on the front, next to the Donruss logo. I'm definitely not a fan of the leaf; it gives the card a cheap-promotional-giveaway look.

Like I said earlier, I own just one copy of this card.

Friday, December 19, 2008

1985 Donruss #312

Now that we're through with the '85 Topps debacles, it's nice to see something with a colored border with Strawberry's 1985 Donruss card.

From the back of the card: "Rookie of the Year in NL in '83 . . . Despite what many consider to be an "off" sophomore year last season, led Mets in HR and RBI ranking 4th in NL in HR, 4th in RBI and 8th in slugginh (.467). Most Valuable Player in Texas League in '82 when he hit .283 with 34 HR and 97 RBI for Jackson."

Was Donruss not aware of his basketball playing days at Crenshaw?

Overall I'd say it's a fairly nice card; nice border, nice coloring. and while the yellow backing isn't the most visually appealing color ever, it beats the heck out of the weird "low on ink" color Topps used in '85. You know what I mean - it's the color you get when your ink is running low, but it's the end of the day on Friday and you don't feel like changing the cartridges, so the document comes out a strange faded mix of cyan, magenta, and yellow...

Unfortunately, the black border makes these cards nearly impossible to keep in good condition. You can see how nicked the edges are, and this card has been in a binder for 10+ years. Also, I forgot how thin the card stock was. I pulled it out of it's sleeve to scan, and it literally felt as thick (or as thin, however you want to view it) as an index card, if not thinner. Pretty poor.

Then again, the pack this card came in probably cost a dime. I'll take the savings, thank you very much.

There's only one thing I really, really dislike:

Why, Donruss? Why the shortcut? Can't you just spell out "through"? I HATE when people artificially shorten words, especially when it's unnecessary. There's plenty of extra space for the three extra letters.

Can't please everyone, I suppose. I own just two of these cards.

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

1985 Topps #278

We've seen the light, and now we're at the end of the tunnel... the 1985 Topps tunnel, that is.

We end it with #270, Strawberry's #1 Draft Pick card, which I always thought should've come after his regular issue. From the back of the card:

"Darryl was chosen by the New York Mets as the first selection in the 1980 Draft. He graduated from Crenshaw High School, Los Angeles, California, in 1980, starring in baseball and basketball. Darryl batted .371 with 4 Home Runs in his junior season and .400 with 5 Homers during senior campaign, attracting national recognition. He helped Crenshaw capture a city championship in baseketball. Darryl delivered a Single to centerfield in his first pro At-Bat for Kingston of Appalachian League in 1980."

First off, we've got all sorts of strange punctuation going on here. Lots of odd capitalizations, especially, unless statistical categories are proper nouns? I never considered "Single" to be all that formal, but perhaps I'm mistaken.

The colors are certainly better on Darryl's draft pick card than those on his regular issue. The centering is much better, too. But the red font on green background on the rear of the card? Appropriate enough for the holiday season, I suppose, but come January - no thanks.

The national attention seems a bit unwarranted; are seasons of four and five home runs really that impressive? And while his average his high, .371 seems low for the uber-prospect Strawberry was. I mean, the scouts were obviously right in their evaluation of Strawberry as a major league talent, but they certainly saw something that didn't show up "on paper."

And why are they highlighting that he was the 1980 #1 Draft Pick in 1985?! Seems a little late, especially considering he already had cards issued in 1983 and '84. A sign of the times, I suppose. We'd have Bowman cards of Strawberry as a high school outfielder if he'd come around 15 years later. Better to be safe and wait a few years to make sure the guy lives up to expectations before they got all crazy with subsets of Straw.

Lastly, the mention of his city basketball championship seems horribly out of place. It's kind of like, "Darryl was an awesome high school baseball player! High average, good power... oh, and he played basketball, too! Led his team to a city championship, even! Wait... where were we? Darryl who? Oh, right... yeah, Strawberry hit a single once in the minors. He's pretty good."

I own five of these cards.

Friday, December 12, 2008

Searching for Straw!

It's Friday - thankfully - and I thought, "What better way to end the week than busting a cheap pack of cards from my collecting heyday?" It was either that, or another card from 1985 Topps... you're welcome.

The pack: 1994 Stadium Club Series 2

I bought a box of these on ebay for $5, a deal too good to pass up. I hope Strawberry is in this series; Stadium Club used to print three separate series, with 300 cards in the first two, and whatever players they'd forgotten in the third (I always figured that's how it worked). Inserted randomly in Series 2 are "First Day Issue", "Dugout Dirt" which has cartoon drawings on the back, one-per-pack "rainbow" foil, and Bowman Preview.

On to the first group of super premium baseball cards!

No Strawberry's, but I got a nice action shot of John Kruk's mullet. I probably would've thought Jimmy Key was a good card, too.

Second group:

A Griffey dugout dirt! I've always liked the Mariners logo and colors, so I always liked this card. The second to last card is a rainbow foil Paul Molitor/Dave Winfield, two hall of famers on one card. I'm a baseball equipment junkie, so I liked the close up of Robin Ventura's glove.

A decent pack overall, with two hall of famers and one that will be as soon as he's eligible (Griffey), but no Strawberry.

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Can you spot the difference?

Before you think I'm reposting the '85 Topps card, take a closer look... can you see the difference?

Other than the one on the right being even more off-center than its look-a-like on the left, check out the logos in the upper left corners. The card on the right is 1985 O-Pee-Chee, #126.

For those not in the know, O-Pee-Chee is a Canadian company that had a deal with Topps enabling them to print and distribute Topps products in Canada. Though the company had been around since the early 1930's, the deal with Topps began in the mid-60's.

The only difference on the front is the corner logo; things get crazy on the back.

Ever wonder how to say "Complete Major and Minor League Record" in French? Easy: Fiche complete dans les majeures et les mineures. O-Pee-Chee helped card collectors everywhere learn the French language by providing translations under the English sentences!

So the next time you're lost in the heart of Paris, and you meet a Frenchman in a Strawberry jersey, walk right up to him and say, "Ses freres Michael et Ronnie ont joue au baseball!" The two of you will soon be lost in conversation about Darryl's ball playing brothers.

At some point it'd surely be helpful to know how to ask who hit the first grand slam in an All-Star game in 1983 in French, and once again O-Pee-Chee would come to the rescue, because that translation is on the card back, too.

Wondering how to translate "Baseball Trivia Quiz"? Sorry, you'll have to search elsewhere. O-Pee-Chee oddly omits this nugget.

I own seven of these cards.

Friday, December 5, 2008

Ebay thoughts

This entry isn't so much a rant about a stupid Darryl Strawberry auction as much as it's a rant about card designs I dislike.

According to the auction header, this particular card is from 2005 Donruss Classics Stars. Without knowing anything at all about this card or this set, I'm gonna go out on a limb and guess that there's a game-worn parallel set at well.

How did I come to this conclusion, you ask? Simple...

ALL OF THE BLANK SPACE TO THE LEFT OF STRAWBERRY!!! It's absurdly obvious that a swatch of jersey was placed on the left side of some versions of these cards.

Thanks to a birthday present from my wife, I've recently developed an interest (Get it?! Developed? Just a little photographer's humor...) in advanced photography, and I've become familiar with the "rule of thirds". One of the major principles of this rule is that "good" pictures DO NOT have the focal point in the dead center of the photograph, instead placing the object in the left or right third of the frame.

This doesn't apply to baseball cards.

Cards like these are the pack of cards slap-in-the-face. "Hey there, collector, congrats on almost pulling a cool card! Instead, enjoy this lame non-game worn parallel! **SLAP!!**" Could Donruss have made this card any more boring if it tried? Why bother with the picture at all? Just have some of the cards feature a patch of a baseball player. That's it. No explanation of the player or team involved. Think of the savings for the manufacturers!! I'd be a little pissed I pulled the straight-up blank piece of cardboard parallel, but I've pulled enough checklists in my day to become numb to it.

My apologies if this trend doesn't bother you. If you're one of these people, you can buy this card for just a buck. And when it arrives, go ahead and slap yourself in the face.

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

1985 Topps #570

Pop quiz: On July 6, 1983 who became the first player to hit a grand slam in an all-star game?

Easy right? The best guess, considering I pulled the question from the back of Strawberry's 1985 Topps card, would be Darryl Strawberry. But it's wrong.

The answer, oddly, is Fred Lynn. Not that it's weird for Fred Lynn to have been selected to play in an All-Star game, or that he hit a grand slam in one, but you'd think Topps would keep it's "Baseball Trivia Quiz" limited to the player on the front of the card. Or maybe not, and it was actually a genius ploy to get people to flip their cards over. Not that collector's weren't already; the inconsistent - but nearly always poor - photo quality on the fronts of the '85 cards leave much to be desired.

We are treated, however, to the nugget that Darryl's brothers Michael & Ronnie were also ballplayers. I don't know the highest levels they reached, since a quick Baseball Reference search returned zero results for either brother. They must've finished their playing days after high school.

As for the front of the card, yeah, the photo stinks. It's blurry, dull, and appears to be taken after a foul ball or strike out. Follow Darryl's eyes and he's not even looking high enough to see the first baseman.

I own nine of these cards.