Wednesday, January 20, 2016

Nostalgic Box Break: 2002 Upper Deck Series One (Part One)

Well, I think we've had enough of Collector's Choice for right now. So I'd say we go for a more contemporary, more recent set that does some things well that deserves some more credit. And, in this case, it's 2002 Upper Deck.

The way the Upper Deck flagship dynasty worked went in heats. From 1989 to 1993, UD put out some very basic, very cool, very photography-based sets that are still well-liked today. 1994-1999 is a completely different heat, of very foil-based, overdone sets that are really products of their own time. 2000 to 2002 is its own little cluster of more minimalistic, photo based sets, before the design kind of took over and semi-bland-ified the set from 2003 to 2005. 2006 to 2009 was the last of the golden age- quirky photos, minimalistic designs, collectable, fun sets, and stuff that still gets remembered to this day.

2002 is the tail end of the earl 00's era of big photo, waning-design type sets, and is still pretty damn cool, as we're going to find out in these next 24 packs. I think I'll be able to knock this out in two posts.

 The difference from the last few boxes is that this one has a box-topper, which is a pack of two numbered cards. So, I got...

 Curt Schilling, a potential future Hall of Famer, and Carlos Lee, who is not. Both are numbered to 1125.
 Onto Pack One. You can see the design is very minimalistic, but there's enough of it there that you can get a sense of color and everything. Rookie cards have red-white-and-blue starred card bottoms, rather than the little Tron T that the other ones have.

 Some 90's players in unfamiliar uniforms- Todd Zeile, best known as a Cardinal/Met, in a Rockies uniform, and Ray Lankford, a Cardinals legend, as a Padre.

 One of the inserts is Year of the Record, and this is a Chipper Jones one. Not a lot to it, but still nice.

 I adore this card, especially because of how much color is factored into this photo. It's wonderful, and it's a great shot, too. Regardless of the fact that it's a Garret Anderson.

 Pack 2- Ah, those 2000's Pirates uniforms.

 Here's Marty Cordova as an Oriole, a far cry from where he was a few years ago in Minnesota.

 Two legendary guys who took their time retiring. I-Rod, looking awesome in his catcher's gear, and Jamie Moyer, still on top of his game.

 Another really cool insert, a Superstar Summit one of Todd Helton, at it looks very cool. Great use of circles.

 Pack 3- Blurry, but here you can see some evidence of some pretty nice photography in this set.

 Todd Hundley was still hanging in there in 2002. I had no idea.

 A reminder that way before the Tigers were perennial offseason buyers, they were a perennial 5th-place-team whose flagship star was Bobby Higginson. How times change.

 Hey, look, two Hall of Famers. I mean, Robbie is currently there, and Derek will be there shortly, but still. Two NY Hall of Famers.
 Another Superstar Summit insert, this one of everybody's hero, circa 2001, Ichiro Suzuki. Glad to see he's gonna be back in Miami next year.

 Pack 4- Wow, reading the names here is reminding me that, for the first few years back there, the 2000's were slowly turning back into the 90's.
 For instance, here's a sweet bat-barrel shot of Juan Gonzalez, in his return appearance in Arlington.
 Also, here are two expansion heroes, Larry Walker and Luis Gonzalez. Gonzo's card is referencing his major work in the 2001 World Series.

 Pack 5- For every really cool shot in this set, there's at least one shot of someone just standing around.
 2001 was a big year for Shawn Green in LA, and 2002 would be even bigger.

 Andruw Jones' decade of terror was just getting started, and he'd hit some even higher Home Run peaks as the years go by.
 Oh hey, Barry Bonds hit 73 in a season. Wow, almost forgot.

 Pack 6- A ton of wider shots here, but at least in a great deal of them things are going on.
 Forgot that both of these guys were with these two teams. Brian Jordan is a Cardinal/Brave to me. Meanwhile, Alex Ochoa's just happy to be here.
 John Burkett, one of the more underrated arms of the 90's, was with the Red Sox in the early 2000's.

 Hey, here's another Shawn Green. This one's in the outfield.

 Pack 7- Ooh, those sweet, underrated Expos uniforms.

 Now, if you view this Chris Gomez card in the right perspective, he's being chased by a killer living car. It's like a Stephen King novel.

 I've always liked this card, mainly because it's Damon's first as a Red Sock, but also because he looks so casual waiting there. Very stoic.
 Also, here's Omar Vizquel making a play in the field. Gotta love it.
 And, as an added bonus, here's Hall of Famer Barry Larkin.

 Pack 8- A few more horizontals in this one, all pretty nice uses, and pretty dynamic shots. This set is actually pretty good at more nuanced, balanced shots, very similar to the later Collector's Choice releases.
 Jeff Cirillo is crouching down, pondering his next move. He actually looks pretty hostile here, too.

 Meanwhile, Delino DeShields (Sr.) fields a grounder at 2nd.

 I like this one too, especially how excited Berkman is landing safe.

 If we're being technical here, this is essentially Marlon Byrd's rookie card. Byrd, who's become a pretty solid consistent hitter for a bunch of different teams in the past few years, started out as a very nice outfield bat with the early 2000's Phillies team.

 Pack 9- A few cards in here that'd be huge back in 2002.

 KAZUHISA ISHII! Remember him? Guy was a huge deal when he came up in 2002, and was one of the big Korean imports for a while. He eventually Daisuke'd out of the leagues, but did some solid stuff for the Dodgers early on.
BriRo, a little while before he clinched the starting job, in a nice infield play.

 Oh, hey, another Barry Bonds subset.

 This is a nice Chasing History insert, as it commemorates Kenny Lofton's quest for 500 career steals. It also documents him in a White Sox jersey, which is very rare for cards.

 Meanwhile, Magglio Ordonez celebrates with Derek Jeter in the ASG, which is pretty cool.

 And here's a card commemorating A-Rod's 52 homers in 2001.

 Pack 10- A nice array of colorful jerseys here.

 This is one of my favorite shots in the set. Bruce Chen is warming up, in full winter regalia, which you don't see very often.

 Also, here's Miguel Tejada, fielding his way to an eventual MVP. Also, I think he's tagging out Dante  Bichette.
 Pack 11- Two more excellent cards in here.

 I love this card, because it's a Giants outfielder on the back of a golf-cart. You just don't see that everyday.

 Also, here's Mark McGwire with his kid. Even if he is a steroid abuser, there is a little bit of joy in here, and you can kind of see that Mark was just trying to be a good guy. Also, this is one of McGwire's last cards.

 Juan Gone was evidently close to 400 home runs in 2002.

 Pack 12- A very AL West-centric pack.
 Mike Cameron, right after his huge '01 Mariners year, looking awesome on base. And Tim Hudson's got a nice in-action shot.

Also, here's another footnote of Ichiro's awesome rookie season in 2001.

That's 12 packs, so I'll finish off the rest of the box another day, but so far I'm liking the slickness of this set.

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