Saturday, June 18, 2011

2011 Topps Kimball Champions Brooks Robinson

This great looking card came to me from a jumbo case break held by a cardboard problem. The other highlights I will show in coming posts. I normally don't build insert sets. They really have to catch my attention visually, not break the bank to build and I prefer them to be large sets. The Kimball Champions insert set in this year Topps issue fits this criteria and I have been slowly building the set since series one was released.

The case break helped me get a jump start on the second installment inserted in series two packs. besides this Brooks Robinson card, I also received Cal Ripken, Eddie Murray, Jim Palmer and Frank Robinson. The series two checklist for this set is great. I really like the inclusion of retired players. My only critique is a few players are included in both series, these players are, Ty Cobb, Pee Wee Reese and Mel Ott. I'm not really sure why these players were repeated, I expected Micky Mantle to be repeated, but he isn't, yet. I would have liked to have seen other legends such as Cy young, or even Satchell Piage, or maybe some retired stars like George Brett or Robin Yount fill these slots. 

The Brooks Robinson mini combines a nice batting pose of the third baseman combined with a action shot of him diving for a line drive. This card is my favorite from the set thus far and I'm very curious to see who Topps will include in the Topps Update series. Since they used current players in the first series, and retired players in the second, the logical progression would be rookies in Update. While I wouldn't mind a few rookies in the last fifty cards of the set, I hope its not dominated with players I have never heard of. A focus on young players such as Jason Heyward, Buster Posey and Nefatali Feliz would be a nice compliment and book end to this set.

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

2011 Topps Zach Britton #418

Yesterday, I found the card aisle at Walmart was stocked with Topps series two, so I picked up a loose pack, rack pack and hanger, to sample the release. Overall its a successful continuation of the first series. Out of my loose pack came this Zach Britton card, the first in my collection of the Orioles rookie, since I don't really buy Bowman. I am really looking forward to Topps Chrome for the simple fact of possibly pulling his auto which has been pictured in previews of the set.

Zach started the season with the O's after Brian Matusz went on the disabled list and pitched impressively well. He has started to struggle as of late, pitching a few no decisions and recently he had a very bad outing against the blue Jays. He still sports a 5-4 record with a respectable 3.33 ERA, which leads the team. If he can get back on track, I'm hoping he can be a strong rookie of the year finalist for the Orioles. The last Oriole to win the award was Gregg Olsen in 1989 when he became the first reliever to win a ROY. He nabbed the award with 27 saves, which set a major league rookie record and a 1.69 ERA.

Tonight the Orioles go for a sweep of the Oakland A's, with Britton on the mound. Currently the O's are three games under .500 and trail the Yankees by five and half games. It has been a long time since the Orioles were into June and only five and half games out of first place. This team has been alot more fun to watch this season but also incredibly frustrating because of their inconsistency. They win a few series at home and then go on the road and lose six straight.

My packs contained a lot of inserts. Two new sets are "Diamond Stars", which look like the diamond parallels on a ball diamond design, and "Before there was Topps."  The "Before There Was Topps" insert could have been left out, to me it feels like a filler and a unnecessary counterpart to the History of Topps insert in series one. Its a very dry set and I'm not a big fan of the design. The card has too large of a border and not enough focus on the vintage card featured. The Diamond Stars are a nicer insert, they remind me of an insert from the late nineties. The card I pulled featured Adrian Gonzales.

Also beware of the Dominic Brown twinkle. I pulled two which means it can't be an sp and the code number on the bottom matches the other regular base cards. If its a variant the code will differ. I'll be posting my haves and wants for series two on the blog shortly. 

Saturday, June 4, 2011

1986 Donruss Diamond King Andre Dawson

For this post we will stay with the Diamond King Theme. Today's card from my collection is number 25 from the 1986 Donruss set. This was the fourth year in a row that Donruss produced the Diamond King subset. Stylistically the 86' set continued incorporating horizontal lines that were used minimally in the 85' issue and gave the cards a blue border. Overall the design for this set isn't the worst Donruss produced in the 80's, I think the 89' set clearly wins that distinction, but it also is not it's best effort.

At the time of it's issue and through the 90's this was a popular card set due to the rookie cards of Fred McGriff, Jose Canseco and second year card of Roger Clemans. The success of these players helped to drive the cards in the secondary market as collecting rookie cards became an important driving force in the hobby. Today these cards retain a fraction of the value they once commanded as steroids and other off the field issues took their toll on these former superstars. Besides the indifference or dislike many collectors feel towards players during the steroid era and their cards, the 1986 set also falls into the era of overproduction. Donruss ramped up production on its sets after the huge popularity of it's 1984 issue and has the hobby and rookie card collecting began to explode.

As for "The Hawk," his recent induction in the Hall of Fame last summer was the final touch to an outstanding career. He flew under the radar for years playing in Montreal and didn't really become a household name until he signed with the Cubs in 1987. His 1987 season season was his finest, hitting 49 home runs and 137 RBI and winning N.L MVP. Today Dawson works for the Florida Marlins organization, where he won a World Series ring in 2003.