Tag Archives: pksteinberg

First 2018s

While I have yet to get any new packs of 2018 Topps, I’ve been encouraged by the generally positive reaction I’m seeing across the web and have been feeling increasingly curious about what they actually look like in hand. I was initially hesitant about buying any new product and since my local Target hasn’t had any in stock, I haven’t even had a choice about whether or not buy.

Thankfully though I didn’t have to wait for my local Target to even get anything in stock. Peter at Baseball Every Night couldn’t resist busting a few packs to celebrate the new season and was kind enough to send me a plain white envelope of cards he didn’t want.

So these two Giants count as my first 2018 cards. I’m still not feeling the waterslide design but I appreciate that it’s less intrusive than previous years’ designs and fits the full-bleed look much better. The photography is also noticeably more interesting. Cueto’s is most-similar to previous years’ shots of slightly-too-closely-cropped action but I love the detail where it looks like we can see he probably just threw a circle change.

Posey’s is a little oddly cropped for me. Topps still likes to center players within the card rather than suggesting movement within the frame. All too often you can see in the original images that there’s plenty of space for a more dynamic framing. The photo of Posey is no exception. I want to move him a quarter inch to the right, get the full mask in the frame, and give him space to look into. Still, the shot itself is more interesting than the usual full-exertion swing we’ve had the past years.

Peter was nice enough to include doubles of these so my kids will also get a chance to start their 2018 card collection without having to spend money or, if they do, be disappointed if they don’t get any Giants in their packs.

Jed Lowrie is part of my Stanford project. I like this card a lot. Again a more interesting image with lots of small details—like the extra pair of gloves in his back pocket—to notice.

And yeah, the fronts of these are very nice and suggest that there’s a lot more variety in the photo selections this year. I’m looking forward to seeing more of these cards over the next few months.

The backs though? Sigh. I didn’t scan anything because they’re pretty boring. I miss having complete stats. My 8-year-old even complains about this. He wants to know where the players have played each year they’ve been in the majors (and ideally, each year in the minors too). It’s funny, I liked the stats when I was a kid.  He, however, likes the story about where in the country each player has played and how the different minor league levels fit into the club organization.

Also, the huge amount of space devoted to twitter and instagram handles is going to age horribly. I know it’s a little silly to complain about the future of these cards but at the same time, much of the allure of this hobby is how it’s part of a history of card collecting. There aren’t many things now that kids can share with their grandparents this way* and those social media handles won’t age nearly as well as the cartoons from the 1950s have.

*As much as I make old man jokes this is what I love about the hobby too.

The last card is a Buster Posey insert. I’m increasingly disenchanted by all the inserts. Yes, I guess I’m glad that they’re inserts instead of yet another set to buy, but the explosion in insert sets was something that helped to push me out of the hobby 25 years ago. There are just so many of them now that most of the people in the hobby who I follow now just mail them to whoever they know collects that team.

I’ve tended to pull Dodgers inserts and have sent them off to Night Owl. Peter seems to get Giants one so I’m the lucky beneficiary. It’s good. They end up in my Giants album and I enjoy them there. But they’re just not something I’m excited to pull from a pack. The inserts are almost invariably over-designed and as I’ve gotten older I find myself liking cards for the photography more than a anything else.

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Mailday from Peter

A semi-surprise mailday from Peter at Baseball Every Night. This is fun. Each mailday from him has worked further back into the past, first it was current cards, then it was junk wax from my collecting years, now it’s a bunch of cards predating my collecting years.

There’s good news and bad news here. The bad news* is that I’ve been doing very well at covering my mid-70s to mid-80s Topps Giants needs. What few holes I have now are all rookie cards where the Giant is sharing the card with someone else who commands a premium. Which means that the only truly new card for me here is the 1981 Fleer Vida Blue.

*Well for this mailday. It’s good news for my collecting goals.

Filling in non-Topps team sets is an activity which I haven’t officially embarked on—there’s no wantlist nor do I have plans at this time to make one. Yet I’m passively accumulating cards in the unused pockets of the past page of each Giants team set* and am enjoying adding the other brands and oddballs to the timeline of Giants Topps history.

*28 or 29-card team sets are the worst.

The good news about this stack though is that many of my cards aren’t in the best condition—especially regarding print quality. I don’t care much about dinged corners and usage wear but having spent over a decade in the print industry, if the actual card itself is badly printed I’m increasingly disappointed.

For some reason many of my early-80s cards are noticeably out of register. It’s like the designs got a little more intricate but the print quality wasn’t reliably there yet. So where in the 50s and 60s designs we just have big blocks of color—most of which are one of the seven colors you can get without screening the ink* and registration issues aren’t as obvious unless you really peep the photos—in the 80s the details are finer, traps are smaller, and additional colors come into the mix.

*Light Blue = 100% Cyan
Pink = 100% Magenta
Yellow = 100% Yellow
Black = 100% Black
Red = 100% Magenta + 100% Yellow
Green = 100% Cyan + 100% Yellow
Purple = 100% Cyan + 100% Magenta

As a result if a color is out of register it really shows up in the designs. In my cards this often means that the trapping isn’t large enough so there’s a white edge to some of the linework elements. Not something most people would notice but it really bothers me.

Kind of wonderfully, many of the cards in Peter’s mailday are better registered than the samples I had in my binder. So switching those out makes this print snob very happy. And since I’m increasingly being tempted by the siren song of TTM, having duplicates from these years is also very cool. Thanks Peter!

Blast from the past

A-blast-from-the-past mailday from Peter at Baseball Every Night. In his box break mailing earlier this year he’d hinted that he had a bunch of old Giants cards he was going to send for my kids. So while not unexpected, I didn’t know when to expect the second mailing—or how large of a mailing to expect. These arrived when I was out chasing the eclipse and I’ve only just received the package.

It’s a very generous assortment of cards, many of which are from the sets I used to collect when I was little. I enjoy that so many of these are well-loved. Not abused, just beat up from constant handling. I have a few cards like this in my collection too. Maybe it was a playground acquisition which had to be keep in a pocket or someplace else.* Maybe it was part of a favorite stack to show anyone who’d listen.** Maybe it’s a legacy of the beginning of a collection before binders and pages and learning the “correct” way to store things.***

*I vividly remember keeping cards in my pulled-up socks and unpeeling them from my shin when I got home.

**A phase my eldest son is currently going though.

***As a parent, the best thing about binders and pages is that they encourage the kids to clean up and put their collections away instead than leaving stacks of cards lying around.

Looking at them now brings a smile to my face the same way that looking through @captnarrr’s cards did—especially since they’re all Giants. It’s fun to see these old names and a lot of these cards are cards I either got autographed or tried to get autographed. I know the boys will enjoy incorporating them into their collection since they’re still very much into copying whatever I did. And while I definitely want to encourage them to branch into their own interests it’s nice to have some common ground as well.

I also can’t help but notice how many of those cards feature the Turn Back the Clock uniforms. I loved seeing those on cards when I was a kid. I’m making a note to myself to assemble a checklist of Giants cards featuring those uniforms.

I got out of collecting in 1994. I have a bunch of cards from that year but they never made it into binders and I had even forgotten most of the designs until I pulled my collection out of storage this summer. So I’m nowhere near as familiar with these cards. I do like how so many focus on photography and keep the designs simple. And I really like the Salomon Torres card even though he’s not the best of Giants fan memories.

Peter also included ten new cards. The McCovey Stadium Club is fantastic. But then that whole set is great even though I can’t help but laugh at also getting a Marvin Denard Span card. My sons will greatly appreciate the Topps Bunt cards. Bunt isn’t a set for me but I got a blaster for them to share and they’ve enjoyed ripping packs and seeing who they got. They can never have enough Giants.

The two Topps Archives cards are also fun. I’m not a fan of the way Topps reuses old designs—it falls into an uncanny valley of looking like both a lousy copy and a lazy homage—but I have a soft spot for the 1991 design.* This is also my first Hoyt Wilhelm card ever. I’ve been remiss in getting any of his cards in my Giants team set quest.

*I’m willing to make the argument that 1991 is the best set Topps has made from a design and photography point of view. And yes I checked the backs of these to see if Topps Archives pulled a UV glow backs shout out.

I need to specifically mention the two gold Matt Duffy parallels in that group of ten. I was very surprised to see that they are sequentially numbered. Peter insists that he was even more surprised when he pulled them out of random packs. My gut is skeptical but my brain can’t come up with any other scenarios for this either.

Anyway, I need to brainstorm on how to thank Peter for this. Last time I was able to send some neat Darryl Strawberry and John Kruk cards. This time? I’ll need to be more creative.

My First Box Break; My First Relic

Continuing from yesterday. I was expecting a package from Peter at Baseball Every Night. I’d sorta-hesitantly joined his box break—I’m new in baseball card twitter and don’t want to be that guy who just takes without having contributed anything. But he convinced me to join and I’m glad I did.

Getting a batch of over a dozen Giants cards in the mail is always fun. And I’m still a bit in awe of the print quality of modern cards. Yes I agree with the complaints about the TV-style graphics and the over-cropped ACTIONACTIONACTION photographs. But at a pure technical level these even blow the original Stadium Clubs out of the water.

It’s nice to get a bunch of long-time franchise favorites. Cain’s been scuffling for a while but when I see his cards I’m still reminded of the first half of this decade. Pence is basically the team mascot now. And I don’t need to say anything about Posey. When I grew up I loved Will Clark. Posey has been the same kind of a guy since his rookie year.

A few other key names, some of whom I’m only just getting used to. It’s been a weird season so far and I’ve had a hard time keeping track of how far off the rails we’ve gotten. I can’t catch a lot of the late games on the East Coast so it’s nice to get photos to match the names.

Also, the Nunez card is a great example of both how the horizontal format works well and how it fails in this particular design template. Sometimes the action just has to be displayed horizontally and a sliding picture is one such play. At the same time, the weird fade-out Topps is doing at the bottom of the cards gets super distracting and noticeable here. Rather than being a fade it looks like the entire photo’s been deleted—only badly.

And some people who I’ve just not heard of. This is both exciting and also a reflection of how this year has been going. We’re doing so badly that it seems like we should just be churning through the complete 40-man roster looking for players who might stick.

Anyway, very nice variety in the break and the kind of team set which, as a team set collector, leaves me feeling super satisfied. It’s important to have some stars but it’s also great to have a good cross-section of the entire team. This break does that perfectly.

Peter also threw in a couple Series 1s thrown in as a bonus. I didn’t get any Giants in my first packs so it was nice to get them this way instead. Thanks Peter, this was a lot of fun and I need to put together a thank you package to send your way in return.

My First Relic


The good news is that I “won” the break. That’s also the bad news. I’m kind of sheepish about this since I’m not big on chase cards and feel like the prize is wasted on me. Don’t get me wrong, I’m very happy to have gotten a relic card. It’s just that my reasons aren’t what Topps is going for.

When I was drifting out of the hobby in the early 90s, relic cards were only beginning to appear. I was intrigued by them then but the idea of chase cards also directly contributed to my disillusionment.* At this point I can’t see myself ever actively acquiring one so getting one from a lucky pack or box break is the only way I’d ever own one.**

*I just found all my 1994 cards. I never bothered to put them in albums at all and, once the strike occurred, they just ended up in a shoebox.

**This is true with most chase cards. The only ones I can see myself acquiring are the printing plate ones which I’m interested in from a purely craft point of view.

It’s certainly an interesting object. I knew they were thicker than the average card but I never realized exactly how thick.* But aside from the cleverness in how it’s made there’s little in this that I find appealing. The patch is a small square of cream CoolBase and there’s literally nothing else of interest on the card. The photo is nice enough—especially if you’re into the cut-out player look—and I enjoy the spot UV coating. But that’s about it. There’s not even anything interesting on the back.

*What the hell do you do with these, just keep them in the toploader and find a box to store the toploader in?

And without the card itself having any interesting information, I’m left holding a small square of fabric and thinking whether I’d be excited about such a thing if it didn’t have the cardboard frame around it.

I’m pretty sure I wouldn’t be.

I understand the point of these relics but they’re not for me. At a certain point the small square of cut fabric becomes too abstracted from any emotional meaning. It’s explicitly not from any specific game. And there’s no context to suggest that it’s even from an actual jersey—for all I can tell it’s from a bolt of fabric.* I have to take Topps’s word for it.

*The relic cards which include cuts of patches or numbering are better in this regard.

Holding this card in my hand left me feeling underwhelmed and disappointed about what the hobby has turned into. That pack searching for this kind of card is a thing makes me sad. That hobby packs cost more per-card than retail packs because of this kind of thing makes me sad.

Still, I’m happy to have gotten a relic card because I had no idea how I would react to actually owning one. I did enjoy looking it over and really examining it and thinking about how it’s constructed as a product. I also enjoyed thinking through my reactions to it and trying to figure out why . I even plan to keep it so I can remember why it’s not for me. It’s a rare thing for card to evoke that many different thoughts and emotions.