Monday, October 22, 2018

Nostalgic Box Break: 1999 Topps Stadium Club Series 2 (Part Two)

Yesterday, I started a box of 1999 Stadium Club. Why? Because it's such a cool set. That's why.

Even from the way the packs are set up here. Where this box can become a standee by just opening the goddamned thing. THAT is a testament to how cool this set is. The base set is gorgeous, the inserts are inspired, and while this is a few paces away from's still a small enough base set where you can complete it eventually. As I probably will.

We've got six more packs to go in this jumbo box before we're through with this one. And considering that we've got a far more important box to get to tomorrow night, I'd say we crack on.

 Pack 7-
Dupes: 2/15
Needs: 12/15
Steroid Abusers: 3/15
Phillies Personnel: 3/15

Gregg Olson looks very odd in a D-Backs uniform. I still do have a fondness for the predominantly-purple early D-Backs jerseys, though.
And Doug Glanville, in his pre-ESPN days, did allow for a lot of nice card shots.

 Dave Hollins, far from his Philly days, reminds me how odd the 90s Angels uniforms look now. Also, that is Carlos Lee's rookie card, and my does he look fit there.

Matt Morris was a St. Louis ace back in 1999, which proves they've come pretty far. And Mike Lieberthal was the second of three-straight franchise catchers in Philly, though I do prefer the guys that came before (Daulton) and after (Chooch) respectively. 

Mo Vaughn and Steve Finley were new to these teams- Vaughn would begin his descent into strikeouts, while Finley would nab a World Series ring within a few years. 
These would be some big-deal base cards if I were anything resembling a normal collector. Perhaps the sight of NOMAH in his prime, and Bonds during his MVP run, is a bit more savory to other collectors. 
Gosh, I love these Triumvirate inserts. This Kerry Wood one is the Luminescent component. I'm pretty sure that Sammy Sosa is one third of this trio. The other third is where I have to actually consult BBCpedia. Apparently they went less with a Cubs theme and more with a pitching theme, and made the decision to pair this SOPHOMORE YEAR player, with one good year under his belt...with Greg Maddux and Tom Glavine.

Pack 8-
Needs: 14/15
HOFers: 1/15
Steroid Abusers: 2/15
One Letter Off From An Oscar Winner: 1/15 (Here's looking at you, kid).
 A a throwback and a duo of sideways shots. Dan Wilson's may be the most elegant, but Belliard's Milwaukee cap is cool, and Bordick's infield play is impressive as heck.

 Chuck Finley played forever, and he was an integral piece of several pre-WS Angels squads. Tom Goodwin's card kinda works because of the simplicity of the angle. We only know some of the story of the slide, and I like that. Very 70s Topps.

Darin Erstad makes a gun, and Tim Bogar makes a leaping catch.

Some veteran legends- Smoltz had the best career of the three, as both Nomo and Eric Davis had some drop-off after their legendary runs, but...I still love pulling Nomo cards, especially the rare Mets issue.

A Chrome parallel of Alex Rodriguez. This would have been worth a ton more money in 1999. Or even 2009.

 Pack 9-
Needs: 14/15
HOFers: 3/15
Borderline HOFers: 1/15 (2 if you count Clemens)
2000s World Series Heroes: 4/15
Jose Valentin's leg kick is awesome and all, but it's gotten him banned from Cobra Kai.
And Doc Gooden...was not only still pitching in 1999, but was actually coming off a strong 1998. 
Two Angels heroes. Neither could really manage to craft wholly impressive careers, though.

 Lansing's DP is cool, but 2nd-year Magglio still has this awesomeness about him, as he would for a little while.

 Two Hall of Famers! Barry Larkin looks awesome in this running shot, and Cal's shot is pretty classy, as he was.

 The two most important offseason acquisitions of 1999- Randy Johnson was snapped up by Arizona, and Roger Clemens was traded to the Yankees. Both would square off in the 2001 World Series.

Eric Chavez is our second Never Compromise insert of the box, and these are still cool. Curt Schilling is in one of his final years in Philly. I often imagine how likable he would have remained had he stayed in Philly.

 Pack 10-
Needs: 14/15
Steroid Abusers: 3/15
Current Managers: 1/15
HOFers: 1/15

 Aaron Boone's hustling like hell out there, but that means he'd be benched by current-day Aaron Boone in favor of Aaron Hicks.
Cliff Floyd's catch looks hella cool here.

Jay Buhner is still a hero in Seattle, which is nice. Brad Lidge, as this is his rookie, is...sort of still a hero in Philly? I don't know. His later seasons sort of detracted from the legend a bit.

 A trio of forgotten 2000s stars. Lopez had his breakout year 12 years into his career, Kotsay essentially played for every team he could for a while, and Sexson had an odd come up in the 2000s.

 This is a cool Gary Sheffield card, but it won't mask how much he disappointed Dodgers fans. And the Piazza card is another cool one, with the detail giving just enough.

This Sammy Sosa is our second Video Replay insert, and I do really like these, even if both of mine ended up being steroids-y.

Pack 11-
Needs: 15/15
People Who Have Played Miguel Tejada in Something: 2/15 (one of which being Miguel Tejada)
Blue Jays personnel: 3/15
Tricky HOF cases: 2/15 (Edgar and Aramis)
HOFers: 1/15

 Hentgen and Cone were Blue Jays aces, but not at the same time. Shannon Stewart was a fun player for Toronto and Minnesota for a while.

 This is an early Aramis Ramirez issue, which is pretty cool. And any Edgar Martinez issue is extremely cool in itself.

Two short-lived acquisitions. Robin Ventura would make an outstanding third baseman in Queens for a bit, before jumping ship and joining the city competition. Ken Caminiti's arrival in Houston would spell near the end for his career. 

As answer to my weird Tejada thing earlier, Royce Clayton did get to play Miguel Tejada in the film Moneyball, on the 1999 A's. I can only imagine Tejada has played himself once or twice.
And...Ken Griffey Jr. is incapable of making bad cardboard.

Pack 15-
Needs: 11/15
Dupes: 3/15
Current Managers: 1/15
People Who are STILL PLAYING???: 1/15
 Two awesome Pirates shots. As shitty as they were for a while, they were capable of producing great cardboard.

 A cool catcher shot from Mike DiFelice, and the superior swing of Tino Martinez

AJ Hinch must be looking forward to managing a World Series-winning team. Jamie Moyer is a full 12 years from retirement.

 These two were out transactions, which may have been big deals in 1999. Gregg Jefferies in a Tigers uniform is odd to me.

Finally, a Never Compromise insert of Vinny Castilla, who did compromise a few times I think, a base card of Kerry Wood, and a rookie card of Matt Holliday, still wearing that very uniform, and still playing for the Rockies. Yes, he may be done after this season, but since I didn't pull a Colon, this is still a current player in this set, which is nice.

That was 1999 Stadium Club Series 2. That was a fun rip. Lots of character in this set, which I love. I've got a ton of this set built, and I'm still working.

Tomorrow night...a more recent box. One that harkens back to a blog tradition that I had going for a few years, and skipped last year due to Topps' laziness.

Sunday, October 21, 2018

Nostalgic Box Break: 1999 Topps Stadium Club Series 2 (Part One)

So, we've got a few days before more definite content is set to hit the blog. So I figured we'd get this box break out of the way. And it's a cool one.

1999 Stadium Club catches the beloved set a few years out of its more collectible era, where the emphasis was more on inserts, rookies, and 'mojo'. There were no relics quite yet, but there was an increasing subtext that collecting the entire set wasn't the main point anymore. Subsequently, boxes like these, which would yield 180 cards, counting inserts, which, while very near the 185 card set for this series, would also be buffered by collation issues. Collecting a full set of 1999 SC Series 2 would be more difficult than any previous stadium club set.

Still, this set isn't without its highlights, including some insert staples, some cool technology, and, this should go without saying, some amazing photography.

We've got 12 packs of 15, so let's see if we can get through 6 today, and I'll post the remaining six tomorrow. Besides, we've got a more important box break coming later this week, and I want to make sure y'all are ready for that.

Pack 1-
Dupes: 0/15
Needs: 15/15
Future Managers: 1/15
Borderline Hall of Famers: 2/15
 So, these are your standard base cards. They're cool. They're also a bit more reliant on the glossy stock than previous SC sets. Still, normal-looking photos, like Stairs and Zeile, do pop here, while the perspective can make mundane shots, like Fernando Vina's, look impressive.

 Equally impressive are the horizontal issues in the set. A.) because pitchers can look even more incredible thanks to overhead shots, and B.) because there's a TON of what GCRL would refer to as a 'Tatooine shot', where everything in the background is sand. Also...correct me if I'm wrong, but the Steinbach and Cordova must have come NOT ONLY from the same game...but the same photographer. Both are plays at the plate from Sandy Alomar at Progressive Field (or Jacobs as it may have been known back then). It had to be pretty recent between the two photos.

 This set would feature two large subsets- one for 1999 Transactions, such as Rafael Palmeiro returning to Arlington and Jose Offerman heading to Boston, and one for rookies, like failed Seattle prospect Ryan Anderson and future Philly manager Gabe Kapler. These would make up the majority of the back half of the checklist.

And we end the pack on a great infield shot from Omar Vizquel.

 Pack 2-
Needs: 14/15
Chrome: 1/15
Guys Who Stuck With Teams For The Better Part of Their Careers: 2/15
Guys Who Played Into Their 40s: 3/15
Borderline Hall of Famers: 2/15
 We start with some cool sideways shots. One is a reminder that Phil Kevin A.) used to play for Anaheim, and B.) used to catch. The other is a reminder that Brad Radke was just a solid, consistent Twins pitcher for over a decade.

 Some fairly good photography details, like the pointing motif, and the little bit of motion on Garret Anderson's bat.

 Guillen's shot is a great avoided DP one, while Reyes' is a reminder of the cool red-and-white Reds uniforms.

 Here are some subsets, one of which, Bruce Chen, being a Chrome insert, which were seeded 1 in 6 for these Jumbo Boxes. And the other being a cool Todd Stottlemyre Transactions subset, as a way of showing off the cool 90s D-Backs alternates.

 A duo of stars who are sure to confuse HOF voters for years to come.

I love this card. I absolutely adore this card. I'm sure Larry Walker does too.

 Pack 3-
Needs: 14/15
Inserts: 1/15
Pirates: 3/15
HOFers: 1/15
 Some players in motion, including a great multi-focus shot of Ryan Klesko.

 A trio of Pirates. Abraham Nunez' is the most subtle, but Jason Kendall's slide makes for the best photo, especially with the helmet in the air.

A trio of hard-hitting stars- the Delgado is a standard base card, but the Alomar and Belle are Transactions cards. Alomar came from Baltimore, while Belle came from Chicago. 

This is what NEVER COMPROMISE looked like in 1999. I don't know how evident this is in the photo capture, but Wood's outline is a bit lifted off the card, and his outline is glossier than the rest of the card, which has a different texture. I don't know what they're going for, maybe it made sense in 1999.

This card is also a hint at Topps' 1999 obsession with Kerry Wood after his stellar rookie year, in which he had his 20-K game at 21. They really hyped that angle up. Wood spent 1999 on the DL, and while plenty of issues of his rolled in, he didn't really generate any immediate stats to warrant them. Not until 2000, that is.

 Pack 4-
Dupes: 1/15
Needs: 13/15
Borderline HOFers: 1/15

 Bobby Jones and Counting Crows are forever intertwined in Queens. Matt Williams' swing is forever remember by Diamondbacks fans.

 Speaking of players whose consequences are still felt in Queens, Bobby Bonilla is back with the Mets in this issue, and Bret Boone spends one season in Atlanta before making some career years in Seattle. And Bernie's just doing what he always does.

 Again, the amount of dirt in these shots is pretty cool, and the Alomar is ANOTHER instance of multiple shots being taken from the same game, and possibly the same play. It's not as evident as the other multi-shot cards in this era, but it's worthy of investigating.
One of the more intriguing innovations of this Stadium Club set was the Video Replay insert set, which was essentially SportFlix on steroids (HEH). You turn this from left to right, and, in effect, replay this highlight real of A-Rod clinging to a base. It's pretty cool, though I imagine Topps figured it'd age a little better than it did.

 Pack 5-
Needs: 14/15
Super Cool Inserts: 1/15
Boston Borderline HOFers: 2/15
HOFers: 1/15
Also, another routinely excellent Kirt Manwaring shot, a rare shot of Mike Sweeney catching, and Eric Milton looking masterful in Minnesota.

 The Houston shots here are awesome. I love the dramatic effect of Hampton's, and the sheer fun on Carl Everett's one (with a Jeff Bagwell cameo). Bret Saberhagen's is just a reminder that A.) he was still playing in 1999, and B.) he played for Boston.
 Three team heroes: Andy Pettite batting in New York, Scott Rolen early in his career, and Manny Ramirez plowing another shot forward (in the DIRT), in Boston.

 Todd Hundley's represents his umpteenth trade of the late 90s. I don't think this one had anything to do with Mike Piazza, but I could be wrong. And Bagwell's is an impressive fielding shot for the more bat-prone HOFer.
Ah yes, one of the best parts of 90's SC- the Triumvirate insert, this one the Luminous counterpart, featuring Nomar Garciaparra. If I had a guess, I'd say the other two are Manny Ramirez and Pedro Martinez.

 Pack 6-
Needs: 15/15
Team Legends: 3/15
HOFers: 1/15
Future HOFers: 1/15

 Carlos Hernandez's amusing all-treys, plus some standard shots from Mark Grace and Jeff Kent, he of 'cursing out a president while being voted off of Survivor' fame.
 SO MUCH GOOD STUFF HERE. Regardless of star power, or lack thereof. A lot of the joy from these comes from zooming out wide enough to get detail, like Tatis' card, or the first-baseman on Cirillo's.

 Unconventional pitcher shots. Wakefield looks out of place beating a runner to first, while Omar Daal looks otherworldly dealing a pitch toward the mound. The overhead shots in this set are magical.

 Kevin Brown's trade to LA was still a big deal in 1999, and David Justice was still struggling to stay healthy after leaving Atlanta. Luis Gonzalez, meanwhile, as a 1999 Transaction, landing in the city that'd give him legendary status in only a few short years.

Two Red Sox legends. Pedro doing his usual mound business, and David Ortiz, in a rare Minnesota shot, and an even rarer sliding shot. Fantastic stuff either way.

Expect the second half of this to go up tomorrow night. This is a pretty cool box, so far, as well.