Friday, January 31, 2014

#191 Chris Perez

Staying in the American League, today we have Chris Perez of the Cleveland Indians.

#191 Chris Perez
First impression of what’s going on: That’s a lot. A lot of red, lot of green, lot of off-white and a lot of hair. Kind of a generic shot, a pitcher doing what a pitcher does. I don't know the Indians uniforms well enough to know if this is a throwback or alternate, but it is not their normal home jersey. The crop job doesn't help the overall appeal of the card. Cutting off legs and feet can be unavoidable, but I hate missing arms, elbows and hands. And in this case, the forearm. I don’t blame the border design on this one because, depending on the source photo, it could have easily been zoomed out.

And a look at said photo confirms that. Look at all the room!

Photo courtesy of Getty Images. Photographer: Jason Miller
CLEVELAND, OH - APRIL 14: Closing pitcher Chris Perez #54 of the Cleveland Indians pitches during the ninth inning against the Chicago White Sox at Progressive Field on April 14, 2013 in Cleveland, Ohio. The White Sox defeated the Indians 3-1. (Photo by Jason Miller/Getty Images)

The Reality of the Photo: Yep, a pitcher doing what a pitcher does. And plenty of space to not have zoomed in quite so close. Giving this photo a horizontal layout on the card may have worked better.

The caption mentions this was taken during the 9th inning. That makes sense seeing as Perez is the Indians' closer. But then again, Getty was wrong yesterday, right?

Taking the date from the caption I headed over to for the BOXSCORE and further details.

Ok, they could be right today. Looks like Perez pitched the top 9th inning, despite his Indians trailing the White Sox 3-1. Most closers only come in when their team is leading. His pitch count for the appearance was 9 and without much else to go on, the photo could have been taken during his strikeout of Dayan Viciedo, the four pitches thrown to induce Conor Gillaspie’s groundout to third base or the single pitch that caused Alexei Ramirez to fly out to deep right center.

Chris’ line for the day:

A perfect inning of work but unfortunately it came in a losing effort for his team. They failed to rally in the bottom half of the inning, despite a two out walk by pinch hitter, Carlos Santana.

Earlier today, I debuted a new niche collection with the Notable Fan designation. This card inspires the Free Advertising label with Perez displaying, not one, but two fairly prominent Nike swoosh logos.

Undershirt and glove

I vaguely remember seeing a blog post last year in regards to all of the advertising on the legendary AJ Pierzynski card, but I’m sorry I can’t site the source. If somebody else remembers, I would be glad to give credit where its due.

On to the back:

Again, since the backs are relatively the same, I’ll just be breaking down the content.
Rookie Fact: Chris’ first major league save came in August when he was 6-for-6
This stat made me chuckle a little bit.  Being a rookie usually means a late season call up so to have a first of anything in August isn't anything to look down upon. And going 6-6 is certainly commendable. But my first thought was it sounded like it was trying too hard to put a positive spin on something. Sure enough, when I went to his Baseball Reference page, his first save came in his 24th relief appearance. Granted, he worked mostly in a setup role, but he is also credited with a blown save and a blown loss before he earned his first save. I do give credit to the Topps writer who put a good spin on it. It's exactly what I like to do when writing blurbs for former Cubs in my custom ATCRCS set.

And as you can see by the rest of his stats on the back of the card, Perez went on to become a pretty solid reliever, racking up over 100 Saves since joining the Indians.

Information I’ll be tracking:

Card Number: 191
Player Name: Chris Perez
Team: Cleveland Indians
Position: Pitcher
Game Date: April 14, 2013
Opponent: Chicago White Sox
Stadium: Progressive Field
Division:  American League Central
Home/Away: Home
Outcome of the game: 3-1,White Sox over Indians, Loss for the player depicted
Alternate/Throwback Jersey: One or the other, not sure which
Bats/Throws: Right/Right
Birthdate: 7/1/1985
Birthplace: Florida
Cameos by: N/A
Photographer: Jason Miller
Niche collections this card could fit into: Free Advertising, Throwbacks/Alternate Jersey, Awesome Hair, Former First Round Draft Pick

My Grade: With all due respect to Perez and through no fault of his own, this card gets a B- from me. Its just an average card with a bad crop but it does get a few extra bonus points thrown in for meeting the criteria of four niche collections. That's only one less than Murphy's card earlier, but this is still just an average card. As for the Awesome Hair category, long hair by itself doesn't qualify it. The flowing mane action resulting from his throwing motion that removes any doubt it belongs.

That wraps up day one. Come back tomorrow to see whether the randomizer continues to favor the American League.

#39 David Murphy

And so it begins…

Rather than show favorites and start off with a Cub, I decided to put the 50 or so cards I already have on hand into the randomizer.

In case you didn't read the title, the randomizer has selected….
#39 David Murphy
First impression of what’s going on: Murphy hit at least a home run, knocking in at least one of his teammates pictured. The other could be another potential base runner in a three run blast, or maybe just the on deck guy. But it probably wasn't a walk-off since the catcher is standing dejected in the background and not heading towards the dugout.

Here’s the original source photo pulled from along with the caption they gave:

ARLINGTON, TX - MAY 19: Leonys Martin #2 and Elvis Andrus #1 celebrates David Murphy's #7 of the Texas Rangers three-run home run in the seventh inning against the Detroit Tigers at Rangers Ballpark in Arlington on May 19, 2013 in Arlington, Texas. (Photo by Rick Yeatts/Getty Images)
The Reality of the Photo: So this one wasn't too hard to call. I wasn't sure about the size of his home run but the caption confirmed it was a three-run shot and that it was from the 7th inning and not a walkoff.

Taking the date from the caption I headed over to for the BOXSCORE and further details.

Wait a minute. The Rangers only scored two runs in the seventh inning. How do you hit a three run homer but only get two runs? The answer is: you don’t. The home run was actually hit in the 6th inning. Here’s a screenshot of the inning recap:

I don’t know how often this will happen, but Getty Mistakes might be something I have to track too! Murphy did bat again in the 7th, but it was merely an RBI sacrifice fly, not something celebrated so jubilantly.

Murphy’s home run turned a 7-5 deficit into an 8-5 lead, marking the fifth and final lead change of the game.

David’s line for the day:

Not too shabby.

Earlier this week, I teased that I was compiling a list of mini collections that these cards could possibly fit into. Some of them are niches I've read about on the blogs (bunting, night cards, throwback unis, etc.) but others I came up with after looking at cards in my own collection (eye black, headfirst slides, umpires, etc.). This card puts a lot of tick marks on the checklist, including one that I came up with for just this card (although I have a feeling it’ll be used more often): Notable Fans

And I by notable, I don't mean famous. More like the fan could be credited in the cameo section. Usually they'll show up on cards when a player is signing an autograph or diving into the stands. How many of you noticed the little red headed fan amidst all the celebrating? She certainly jumped out out at me.

On to the back:
Since the backs are relatively the same, I’ll just be breaking down the content.

I mentioned yesterday that I really liked the Rookie Fact on the back of the cards and that they really seemed more personalized to each player than the generic milestones from last year. That said, my initial reaction to Murphy’s fact was that it was oddly specific.
Rookie Fact: Murphy led Texas in hitting (.340) over the last seven weeks of 2007.
But after looking at his statistics, he still qualified as a rookie in 2007 even though he played a bit in 2006. And the “last seven weeks of the season” was the time he actually played with Texas after starting the season with the Red Sox organization. I guess that wasn't so odd.

My Grade: I’m going to give this card an A. The photo had a lot going on, giving me a lengthy post to get this blog rolling. Good job, randomizer! Another takeaway is that having seen other cards from the set but without having looked at the 2014 Topps Opening Day checklist, makes me wonder if they are doing away with the celebration themed inserts they've had in years past. 

Information I’ll be tracking:

Card Number: 39
Player Name: David Murphy
Team: Texas Rangers
Position: Outfield
Game Date: May 19, 2013
Opponent: Detroit Tigers
Stadium: Rangers Ballpark in Arlington
Division: American League West
Home/Away: Home
Outcome of the game: 11-8, Rangers over Tigers, Win for the player depicted
Alternate Jersey: No
Bats/Throws: Left/Left
Birthdate: 10/18/1981
Birthplace: Texas
Cameos by: Elvis Andrus (Rangers), Leonys Martin (Rangers), Brayan Pena (Tigers), Ginger Fan
Photographer: Rick Yeatts
Niche collections this card could fit into: Group Celebrations, Horizontal Layout, Notable Fan (little redheaded photo bomber), Southpaws, Former First Round Draft Pick

Whew! One down, only about a thousand more to go! I hope you enjoyed the review, as this is what you'll have to look forward to for the next year. Come back at or after 6 PM EST for the next one.

Didn’t enjoy it? Please, please, please tell me what else you’d like to see/know!

Thursday, January 30, 2014

Thank you!

I've just put the finishing touches on the first four "real" posts and I just wanted to say thanks to those who have shown an early interest and support of this idea. Look for the first card, Friday morning at 9 AM EST.

The contest will also end at that time and I'll tabulate all of the blog and twitter followers and pimpage and do a special Sunday post to announce the winner. Right now, the blog stands at 15 followers so the inserts will definitely be given away. We'll see if I can reach the threshold to include the unopened manu patch pack.

Before I break down 990+ cards over the next 11 months, I thought I'd give my thoughts on the set as a whole. And remember this is just about the base set.

I follow a lot of blogs and have been eagerly reading all of the early reviews of this set I can find. To put it nicely, they've been mixed, but from what I've seen, the opinions lean more towards apathy than dislike.

This blog won't change any of those opinions because though I'm covering the set as a whole, the purpose is to celebrate what's different about each card in the set, from photo selection, to the blurbs, to the random rookie fact on the back of each card (one of the highlights of the set for me) and more.

It's different enough from previous releases, yet recognizable as something from the Topps brand. And I realize that's is part of the complaints it has received, but personally, I'm good with it. And I'm not just saying that because I'm pimping a blog I just dedicated the next year to writing. Everybody has the nostalgic sets from their youth that they compare current releases with and those childhood memories are hard to live up to.

The fronts are not overly cluttered, unless you have a ridiculously long name, but still have all of the components it should. Obviously a photo, the player name, team name and a team logo but they've also gone back to :including the position. And one of the best things about it, is they are scannable! Aside from the cards with the Future Stars logo, every other part comes out completely legible.

The backs are similar to previous years but have the wave to tie it into the front design. If you've seen my customs card over on my other blog, Once a Cub, you'll know I'm a big fan of simple. And as I mentioned above, I'm a big fan of the rookie facts on the back in addition to the blurb. Much more personalized than the generic milestones from last year. Really? A rookie pitcher is only 5700 strikeouts away from Nolan Ryan's stirkeout record? Or 4100 hits away from the "anonymous" hits record holder?

I don't know if they planned on doing the opposite of last year (milestones vs. future) or if they're trying to move past the steroid era, but a big part of the set seems to focused on the young guys and the future. The Future Stars subset is making a comeback with 15 cards (and at least another with Puig as an SP) and their are 35 cards with the Rookie Card logo. There's and insert set called The Future is Now, and another that focuses on draft picks. With a couple of big name stars retiring and getting tribute cards and a lot of the veterans assumed or actually guilty of being involved in the steroid era, it's probably good to focus on some of these younger guys coming up.

With all that said, I know the saying is that you can't see the forest for the trees, but for the sake of this blog, please take some time to see some of the wonderful trees in this forest you might already be apathetic towards one week into its release.

Wednesday, January 29, 2014

The Prizes Are Here

I stopped by the local Wal-mart last night for some milk and to once again check the card aisle. This time, they were prepared for my arrival. It didn't look like anyone else had been there because all the boxes had been recently straightened and lined up. I don't know how many blasters come in a case, but there were an even amount, side by side, maybe 5-6 back. Two pegs of hanger boxes and one peg of jumbo packs. I didn't see any regular packs though.

As promised, here are the inserts that will be randomized to a lucky follower.

I'm by no means a Yankees fan but this was probably my favorite of the inserts I pulled. Maybe that's the nostalgia talking. I just wish the Cubs had somebody I could see ten years down the road being the "Super Veteran" of the team. Nice, simple layout honoring some of the game's best. I will say that Jeter's right shoulder bothers me though. Is his hand on his hip? That couldn't Photoshop that down like the other side?

This next insert set is Upper Class. I haven't looked at the checklist but it looks to focus on a top rookie for each year. Here I have Hank Aaron from 1954, Buster Posey from 2010 and Yu Darvish from 2012. It looks to be a classy set, although the worst of the bunch for scanning. Maybe I would have been more excited about it if I pulled the Ryne Sandberg, Greg Maddux or Ernie Banks.

Another rookie-centric insert set, The Future is Now focuses on the current young crop of players. The back features a "Welcome to the Majors Moment" for each. Another nicely done set even if it lacks any Cubs.

Topps All Rookie Cup Team. I like the upper left part of the card but the lower right is a little bland. No Cubs in this "base" insert set either, although Sandberg, Maddux and Banks show up with relic and/or autograph versions.

And the one mini die cut 1989 based insert I pulled. I didn't think I'd like these, but I kind of do. Not enough to chase the set, but I'll definitely find the Andre Dawson and Banks versions. The die cut aspect is what made me roll my eyes the first time I heard about them.

Last but not least, all of the parallels. I won't show them because I want the first base card from the set to be shown Friday morning when I start breaking them down. Silly maybe because they're being plastered all over eBay and other blogs right now anyway, but I don't care. I'll list them though so you know what you have a chance to get.

Blue Wal-mart parallels (20)
  • Future Stars  - Jean Segura (Brewers) & Kevin Gausman (Orioles)
  • Rookie Cards - Xander Bogaerts (Red Sox), Taijuan Walker (Mariners, Michael Choice (A's), Jake Marisnick (Marlins), Heath Hembree (Giants)
  • Regular Base -  Mark Ellis (Dodgers), Jason Castro (Astros), Dustin Ackley (Mariners), Daniel Murphy (Mets), Casey Janssen (Blue Jays), Brayan Pena (Tigers), Brian Dozier (Twins), Mark Melancon (Pirates), Ross Detwiler (Nationals), Alfredo Simon (Reds), Chris Heisey (Reds), Ryan Vogelsong (Giants) & Leonys Martin (Rangers)
Red Foil (2)
  • Buddy Bosher RC (Angels)
  • Esmil Rogers (Blue Jays)
Gold (1) /2014
  • Max Scherzer (reigning Cy Young y'all!)
So nothing Earth shattering but good selection of random trade bait for the lucky recipient. These will definitely be given away, but the unopened Patch pack still needs a home. As of this writing, I have 13 followers (I'm the 14th to make sure my posts are posting right and not counting myself). Still need 7 more to be thrown in with the rest of these. Less than 2 days left, spread the word!

Tuesday, January 28, 2014

Nerdy Stuff

This may sound a little cheesy, but I have fond memories of watching Mr. Rogers' Neighborhood and going on field trips with him to various factories. And later on, LeVar Burton on Reading Rainbow would sometimes do the same thing. So yeah, I'm the kind of guy that will sometimes watch the behind the scenes vignettes on DVDs that are longer than the movies themselves.

And what does any of that have to do with this blog? I have no inside information on how Topps chooses their pictures, but the whole point of this blog is to take the picture to find out the bigger story.

I do have a template made of the basics I want every post to cover, such the as the date, location and opponent for the game. And this where I can get a little nerdy. I love spreadsheets and databases and keeping track of stuff. I'll be honest, I haven't put much work into this blog yet. I've found a bunch of source photos while I wait for the cards to come to my area but I haven't done any research into the games yet.

While I have my template, I also developing a checklist of things to look for so I don't miss anything. My question to you, is there anything you want to know? For example, I'd be curious to know if any of the photos used came from the same game? Same series?

I'll be keeping track of which stadiums the photos are taken at. Wrigley's ivy showing up on other team's cards is a small, but growing mini collection for me.

Day games vs. night games.

Cameos. Who is that blurry second baseman behind the shortstop turning the double play? Or the blurry first baseman behind the pitcher? Or the guy colliding with the catcher at the plate or breaking up the double play.

Horizontal cards. Another niche collection of mine.

Home jerseys vs. away jerseys vs. throwbacks.

I'll be tallying the number of photos used by the photographers. Is one a clear favorite or go-to for Topps?

I know many of you have mini collections of bunters, pitchers batting, double plays and plays at the plate so I'll be tracking things like that too. Eye black. Stirrups. Umpires.

Of course, I'll be looking for any Photoshopped jersey changes, but that will probably be more of a Series 2 and Update concern.

While this stuff won't necessarily appear in the everyday posts, I do hope to make a statistical analysis post after I finish posting Series 1, 2 and Update and again as a whole set.

Throw some things out there and I'll keep track, no matter how minute. Bat boys in the background?  You got it.

And if you made it through all the nerdy stuff, here's a behind the scenes look at how baseballs are made:

Monday, January 27, 2014

Not a pack in sight...

After I saw some reports of early releases on other blogs, I made a couple of stops during my weekend errands. Two Targets. Two Wal-marts. And a Toys R Us.

As the title suggests, I came up empty. I didn't even see any decent clearance stuff from last year. Luckily, they were all within a reasonable distance from my other stops. And that did not deter me from getting a jump on future posts.

Thanks to Wrigley Wax for posting a photo that Topps tweeted out back in December. With him pointing out some Cubs cards, I was able to knock out the Getty search on those pretty easily. I recognized a few non-Cubs from the sheet, too.

Then, the first reported retail purchase that I came across was by McCann Can Triple over at A Rookie (baseball) Card Collector. Once he posted his Braves pulls and some of his parallels, I found the corresponding Getty images for those as well. Thanks!

But the bulk of my resources came from a couple of sellers on eBay that were gracious enough to put a few things up for sale early with scans instead of the generic sell sheet artwork. I've sold quite a few things on eBay myself so I know how much work it can be with unique photos, even with templates. One of them was really looking to get a jump on the sales as he had all of the rookies uploaded. All in all, I have the source photos for nearly 100 of the 330 cards already without a single card in hand.

Can't wait to get rolling on the "real" posts later this week! And of course, don't forget to join the contest I mentioned yesterday!

Sunday, January 26, 2014

Contest Details

I want this blog to hit the ground running so I thought I'd offer a little contest to drive up the number of followers. I think most of you know how this game goes and I really appreciate those who choose to help out. Completion of each step will get you one entry into the contest.

Step 1. Follow this blog. Pretty simple stuff right there. If I'm not following you, I will. I'm always looking for some good reads.

Step 2. Promote my "Welcome" post on your own blog, if you've got one. Let me know when/where you've done that. Multiple promotions allowed, one per day limit.

Step 3. I'll be tweeting each post when it goes live. Follow me for another entry: @2014ToppsBlog

Step 4. Retweeting any of my posts will get you an additional entry.

And what is the prize you may ask?

I plan on buying a blaster to satisfy my pack busting itch before my full set arrives. If I have 10 blog followers before my first card post on Friday, January 31, 2014 at 9:00 AM EST, I will select a random winner from entries garnered from the above steps for all of my non-Cubs inserts. This would include any of the basic inserts and although admittedly unlikely, any autographs, relics and numbered parallels from the blaster.

If I have 20 followers by the same deadline, I'll throw in the unopened Commemorative Patch pack pulled from said blaster. Sight unseen.

Same winner gets both prizes and will be randomly selected from all entries.

Good luck to all and thanks for spreading the word!

Saturday, January 25, 2014

Welcome to the 2014 Topps Blog

Welcome to the 2014 Topps Blog!

Over the course of the rest of year (and maybe into next January), I will showcase the most complete 2014 Topps base card set possible. Not only will this cover the 990 cards typically included in Series 1, Series 2 and the Update Set, but also any additional cards from the individual team sets that Topps releases in blister packs that didn't make the cut for the complete set.

I will break down each card much the same way I did the 2013 Topps Cubs cards on my other blog, Once a Cub. Each post will contain at least the following information:
  1. A scanned photo of the front of each card
  2. A sample-sized image of the original photo from Getty Images
  3. A link to the box score of the game on
  4. A scanned photo of the back of the card
  5. My personal thoughts/witty commentary on the card and/or player 
What you will not find, unless I earn some benevolent readers (hint, hint), are the alternate photo short prints. Topps will get enough of my money trying to chase down the cards from the extra team sets so I doubt I will find funds for those too. If I do happen to get my hands on any of the other inserts, look for them as special Sunday posts.

With a Series 1 projected release date of January 29, 2014, look for my first "real" posts on Friday, January 31, 2014. The plan (for now) is to post two cards, Monday-Saturday during February and then bumping up to three cards from March until I run out of cards. If I calculated correctly, there shouldn't be any disruption of posts caused by the release dates of the Series 2 and Update.

I won't follow the numeric order of the cards but will instead randomize the selections for each day. There might be some mini themes, such as same position, same team, Future Stars or some such nonsense that only makes sense to me, but no exact method to the madness.

Tomorrow, look for more details on a special contest for followers of the blog!

This should go without saying but this blog is not affiliated, associated, endorsed by or in any other way officially connected with The Topps Company, Inc. or Getty Images, Inc., their subsidiaries or affiliates.