Saturday, May 18, 2019

Nostalgic Box Break: 2004 Upper Deck Series 1 (Part One)

So yeah...haven't done a NBB in a while. And I figured I should stay away from Stadium Club and Collector's Choice, considering what happened...LAST TIME with CC.

So DACW had a box of '04 Upper Deck lying around, so I jumped at it. For a few reasons, too. I think that early 2000's Upper Deck flagship is very underrated, solely because you never see a lot of it in dime bins and in card shows. Because it doesn't really allow itself to an era of overproduction, it's become sort of lost to collecting time, and not a lot of people know about how great it is. That also means there's still a few unopened boxes of the stuff lying around holding some pretty great stuff.

I've already broken boxes of 2002 and 2003 Upper Deck, and both of those went relatively well. So I figured I'd try this one. Normally I'd be ripping 36 packs, but there's a good reason we only have 24:

Each box comes with a factory traded set of the previous year's Update set...which I didn't know existed. Maybe they did a late pack promotion for them that didn't work, but each hobby box of '04 UD seems to come with a 'previously on' of the last season, tying up any loose ends before getting right into the new incarnation of the product.

 As you can imagine from a fifteen-year-old update set, it's very hit-miss. A lot of these rookies and late-trades haven't aged well, like Ryan Wagner and Joe Borowksi. But the photography is there, especially on the Linden card. Those cars look so happy.

 Hell, you could even happen upon a cool throwback uniform every once in a while, like when the 2003 Orioles...paid tribute to their mother organization, the St. Louis Browns? Damn, how is that not more documented? Why don't they still do that??

 Some have aged sort of well, like Dontrelle Willis and Brandon Webb, who'd have success during the later part of the decade, before fizzling out early in the next one.

 Some rookies would have great success, like these well-photographed stars. Haren would have the shortest career, followed by Weeks, then Reyes and Utley retiring last year. Impressive stuff, though.

 Some more rookies. Delmon Young's must have been huge when this came out, and while Jhonny Peralta's and Edwin Jackson's don't really have a market, Miggy's certainly does.
And, as an added bonus, this one. A...semi-sunset issue of Rickey Henderson's final season, in Los Angeles. Well done, UD.

Anyway, onto the first 8 packs of '04 UD's actual box:

 Pack 1-
Royals: 2/8
Borderline HOFers: 1/8
 As you can see, the base design is along the same vein as the previous two, taking up the bottom fifth or so of the card. These cards do have a nice little facade of the team's city lurking in the design, which is a nice touch, as well as minimalistic foil along the facade, and in logo-ing and lettering. And, as expected, the photography is still great. This Febles card is a nice one.

These are the closest we get to star cards in a 15-year-old box, but Durham was in the middle of some nice years in San Fran, and Billy Wagner was ending his massive Houston tenure by heading to Philly to do some damage there.

 Pack 2-
Memorable 00's closers: 3/8
Finalists in the 2003 NL Cy Young race: 2/8

 Billy Koch is one of those closers that you forget was insanely overpowered for a spell. He closed games for that impressive 2002 A's team, then lost his way a bit as the Chicago ninth-inning man. By 2005, his job was taken over by Bobby Jenks for the WS run.
And then there's Eric Gagne. Proof that throwing harder than hell in 50+ ninth-inning appearances a year while being on steroids still hurts like hell.

The 2nd place finisher in the previous year's Cy Young voting, Jason Schmidt, didn't fare much better after the fact. He had a few more solid seasons in San Francisco, signed with the Dodgers and subsequently made a permanent home on the IL.

 Pack 3-
2008 Dodgers: 2/8
 Oh yeah, I always forget that Derek Lowe was one of the most consistent starters in the game for a few years. Damn.
Jose Hernandez' shot looks hella cool.
And Tony Batista...who had the herculean task of following Cal Ripken in just kinda doing his thing. Hell, Batista didn't even play for the O's in '04: he'd spend his season in Montreal rounding out the Expos' existence.

These shots are cooler though. That Valentin is one that feels so pensive that it should be hanging on a wall. Andruw's and Zito's are equally dramatic.

 Pack 4-
Unsuccessful relatives of MLB heroes: 2/8
Borderline HOFers: 2/8

 One of the few inserts in this set was a National Pride one, showcasing members of the USA baseball squad for the 2004 Olympic games (I think?). Brent Lillibridge, one of the first stars of this blog, is showcased here, making this an XRC of the...perennial bench player. Not bad. The one thing about Team USA cards is that not all of them really amount to rookies of players that make it.

 Jared Sandberg is Ryne's nephew. Larry Walker is...okay, Todd's brother, but Larry is better than Jared, I guess. I cut off his photo, but Kelvim Escobar is next to them, and his cousins include Alcides Escobar, Edwin Escobar and RONALD ACUNA. So move over Todd and Jared...there's a new disappointing other relative in town.

 Jorge Posada being awesome as usual, and a killer shot of Mark Sweeney. I checked, and Mark Sweeney is not related to Ryan or Mike. Damn.

Javy Lopez would follow his breakout 2003 season with a move to Baltimore. David Bell would continue his infield dominance over the Phils for another few years before becoming the manager of the Reds.
 Pack 5-
HOFers: 1/8
Personal Favorites: 2/8
2002 WS Champs: 1/8
2010 AND 1997 WS MVPs: 1/8
 Bet a lot of you forgot Sean Burroughs existed til just now. I doubt Edgar Renteria has that problem. Edgar would make his way to Boston shortly after this.
 Jarrod Washburn would eventually settle into mediocrity in Seattle after this. Ben Grieve had already settled there as this issue was released.
And then these two, who I'm happy to collect any day. Biggio looks stoic on his, but that Abreu catch shot is a fun one. Looks Florida-esque.
 Pack 6-
HOFers: 1/8
Guy that a lot of people think should be a HOFer: 1/8

 Andy Ashby was a Dodger? I always forget that.
2 perennially solid 2000s pitchers in Joel Piniero and Jeremy Bonderman.

 Hideki Matsui was the cover boy, as Topps wouldn't get to make cards of him for another year. Looks great here.
And...a Highlights card of Barry Bonds. Thrilling.

VLAD!!!! In his last issue as a Montreal Expo. Yes, this'd be rectified in many subsequent UD Products, but it is kind of poignant seeing him in Montreal colors one last time.

 Pack 7-
Hall of Famers: 1/8
Future HOFers: 1/8
Guy a Lot of People Thinks Should be a HOFer: 1/8
Guy Baseball Reference dot com thinks should be a HOFer: 1/8
 Three people who will never make the HOF. Arguably Jason Kendall has the best shot?

 And then these two, among the best to ever play the game. Johnson looks fantastic in that Chase Field shot, and Pujols looks so young and happy to be sprinting around the bases.

 Pack 8-
Postseason Heroes: 5/8
Philly Heroes: 2/8
 Lots to like here. Shane Halter's mid-catch. Juan Pierre being himself. Omar Vizquel still being one of the best defenders of his era.

 Gonzalez, still in his prime in Phoenix, high-fifing everyone. And a semi-rookie of Cliff Lee, with one of those early attempts at a replacement for Chief Wahoo. This one did not work.

We finish off with a 25 Salute insert of Troy Glaus. I think this is an insert set dedicated to people who wear #25? Weird choice UD, but okay.

I'll post the next third in a few days, but I'm already enjoying this set. And we've yet to hit either of our promised hits.

1 comment:

  1. First I've seen of this set. Nice design and I think the photos are really good. Good pull and post.