Tuesday, December 2, 2008

Twenty Dollar Updates

For a stretch of time, starting with 1986, I used to get a Traded set every year for either my birthday or Christmas, or sometimes both. The 1986 and 1988 Topps Traded sets were instant classics with their player selection (and in the latter set, the Team USA cards.) I didn't always stick to Topps, but no matter what set I got, I always enjoyed getting the first cards of [insert player here] in a [insert team here] uniform. Eventually, they started serializing sets and putting out the year end sets in pack form (previously most of these things were only available in factory set form), but I still have a strange bit of fondness for this kind of thing.

I had set out to spend $20 on a blaster of this year's Topps Updates & Highlights set, even though I'm not much of a fan of the base Topps set this year overall. I had a fairly good bit of luck with a blaster I got from last year's U&H and there are plenty of Cardinals in the set, so I figured I'd get this one box and hopefully be done with it. Here's the thing, though. These $20 boxes promise 80 cards and a guaranteed relic. Unfortunately, the only relic card in this batch I'm even remotely interested is a Mark Mulder relic, which is probably worth only slightly more than a 1989 Donruss Ken Hill card these days. Target also sells packs of 12 cards for $1.99, blister packs of two 12-card packs for $3.99, jumbo packs containing 36 cards for $4.99 and some sort of collossal mega ultrajumbo pack containing 80 cards for $9.99. I was afraid of the $9.99 "packs", but I decided to put my $20 bill towards an assortment of (most likely searched) packs and get more cards for my money. I ended up buying four loose $1.99 packs, two blister packs and one of the more manageable-sized jumbos. In the interest of brevity and the fact that these cards are just not that exciting to begin with, I'm going to ditch the usual comments about each card and just show a few highlights along with the list of what I got, starting with the loose packs.

Pack 1:
UH43 - Jason Bartlett
UH60 - Jim Edmonds (AGH! The eyes... they bleed!)
UH139 - Jon Lieber
UH79 - Willie Harris
UH27 - Reid Brignac (RC)

UH249 - Chris Volstad (RC)
UH303 - Taylor Teagarden (RC) (No relation to Aimee Teegarden)
UH327 - Hernan Iribarren (RC) (As a Cardinals fan, I have been subjected to a lot of Brewers games, and I swear this guy is made up.)
UH311 - Oscar Salazar
UH52 - Derek Jeter All-Star
UH233 - Grady Sizemore All-Star (I find it strange that most of the all-star/combo/highlight cards seem to be found at the end of packs or at least in clusters, even though they are not insert cards nor are they numbered sequentially. Hmm.)
UH124 - Rodriguez & Longoria Combos (What they have in common is that they both play 3rd base for an American League team.)
- David Wright Loss Prevention Card

Pack 2:
UH163 - Miguel Cairo (Adding Cairo to your lineup is a sure sign that your season is over.)
UH205 - Octavio Dotel
UH121 - Jacque Jones
UH37 - Connor Robertson

UH112 - Hamilton & Drew Combos (One is an intense player who fought a long hard battle back from personal adversity and the other plays the game like it's a chore.)
UH292 - Ryan Dempster All-Star
UH161 - Asdrubal Cabrera Highlights
UH23 - Cristian Guzman All-Star
UH210 - Joe Saunders
UH281 - Chris Aguila
YR165 - Carlos Lee Year in Review

MMS74 - Mickey Mantle Story (Will the story ever end?)
- Topps Town Filler

Pack 3:
UH152 - Steve Trachsel
UH330 - Johan Santana
UH110 - Jose Valverde (This card was a pack-searching casualty, no doubt, as one of the corners is totally mashed. Serves him right for being an Astro.)

UH295 - Aaron Miles (Players that were neither traded nor have rookie status probably make up a simple majority of this set.)
UH154 - Grady Sizemore Home Run Derby
UH241 - Chase Utley All-Star
UH185 - Joey Votto Highlights

UH329 - Jeremy Sowers (I don't like the photography in most of the Topps base set this year, but this one is pretty nice.)
UH28 - Miguel Tejada All-Star
UH227 - Carlos Quentin All-Star
UH275 - Rich Harden
UH11 - Matt Holliday (Holliday is sure taking his time becoming a Cardinals, isn't he...)
- Checklist 2 of 3

Pack 4:
UH277 - John Rheinecker
UH31 - Marco Scutaro
UH30 - Brendan Harris

UH271 - Brad Thompson (Thompson has become a staple of these Update sets.)
UH225 - Ryan Tucker (RC)
UH261 - Matt Macri (RC)
UH171 - Brian Bixler (RC) (The rookies seem to all stick together, too.)
UH3 - Freddie Bynum

UH264 - David Ortiz All-Star
UH181 - Runelvys Hernandez
UH258 - Arthur Rhodes
UH35 - Hanley Ramirez All-Star
- Topps Town Filler

Now it's time for the blister packs...
Pack 5:

UH302 - Brandon Moss
UH188 - Ray Durham
UH248 - Doug Mientkiewicz
UH116 - Odalis Perez

UH273 - Chris Perez (RC) (Best card I pulled so far, as far as I'm concerned. Not the best picture of Perez, but it beats a lame spring training photo or posed picture any day.)
UH291 - Jonathan Herrera (RC)
UH93 - Chris Coste
UH183 - Greg Reynolds (RC)
UH197 - Michael Young All-Star
UH107 - Jason Varitek All-Star
UH68 - Jonathan Papelbon All-Star
UH35 - Hanley Ramirez All-Star
- David Wright-less Topps of the Class Filler

Pack 6:
UH200 - Luke Scott (Worst part of my day today? When ESPN's Outside the Lines replayed a clip of Luke Scott's segment on what a gun-toting lunatic he is in the wake of the Plaxico Burress news today.)
UH158 - Chad Durbin
UH109 - Alberto Callaspo
UH32 - Cody Ross

UH243 - Joe Mather (RC)
UH123 - Matt Joyce (RC)
UH39 - Jose Molina
UH189 - Micah Hoffpauir (RC)
UH311 - Oscar Salazar (Heeeeeeerrrrreeee... comes... the doubles!)
UH52 - Derek Jeter All-Star
UH233 - Grady Sizemore All-Star

UH124 - Rodriguez & Longoria Combos
- Topps Town Filler

Pack 7:
UH277 - John Rheinecker
UH31 - Marco Scutaro
UH30 - Brendan Harris
UH271 - Brad Thompson
UH297 - Cory Wade (RC) (Ends the run of 8 consecutive doubles.)

UH100 - Jay Bruce (RC) (Non-stupid version.)
UH105 - Dan Giese (RC)
UH309 - John Bowker (RC)
UH64 - Joe Nathan All-Star
UH95 - Ichiro All-Star (Someday I'll find an Ichiro collector to dump my countless numbers of Ichiro cards off on.)

UH17 - Russ Martin All-Star (Come on, Topps. Is it Russ or Russell? Make up your mind.)
UH41 - Joe Mauer All-Star
- Topps Town Insert

Pack 8:
UH55 - Cesar Izturis
UH13 - Geoff Blum
UH223 - Jeff Ridgway (Isn't he a rookie? I don't see the ubiquitous Rookie Card logo...)
UH289 - Chris Gomez
UH81 - J.C. Romero
UH225 - Ryan Tucker (RC)
UH261 - Matt Macri (RC)
UH171 - Brian Bixler (RC)

UH53 - Justin Duchscherer All-Star (Ladies and Gentlemen... Justin Duchscherer, Two-time All-Star.)
UH47 - Dustin Pedroia All-Star
UH82 - Joe Saunders All-Star
UH101 - Dioner Navarro All-Star (Lots of first-time all-stars this year.)
- David Wright-less Topps of the Class Filler

And finally, the Jumbo Pack:
(section 1)
UH199 - Lance Cormier
UH230 - Jason Jennings
UH194 - Gary Bennett (I have it on good word that next year Topps is naming this set "2009 Updates & Highlights Presents: Backup Catchers, Gimmicks & Guys We Forgot About The Last Two Times")
UH104 - Omar Infante
UH297 - Cory Wade (RC)
UH100 - Jay Bruce (RC) (Proper orientation.)
UH105 - Dan Giese (RC)

WBC5 - Chase Utley WBC (There's no background for his name on the back. Is that normal with these cards? Also, I find this insert set slightly weird. I am assuming the photos are from the last WBC, which was in 2006. Three-year old photos of players who may or may not be participating in the WBC... ooookay. Well, we do know that Chase won't be there.)

YR153 - Pedro Martinez Year in Review
UH208 - Kerry Wood All-Star
UH119 - Ken Griffey Jr. All-Star

UH313 - Tim Lincecum All-Star (The back of the card details the sad circumstances of his skull-crushing hangover and how it caused him to miss his first All-Star Game.)
UH215 - Josh Hamilton All-Star (There are four Josh Hamilton cards in this set. This is another one of them.)
UH317 - Brian Buscher
UH56 - Roy Halladay All-Star
UH64 - Joe Nathan All-Star
UH95 - Ichiro All-Star
UH17 - Russ Martin All-Star
(section 2)
UH295 - Aaron Miles
UH301 - Tony Pena
UH115 - Mike Lamb
UH86 - David Aardsma
UH220 - Geoff Jenkins
UH87 - Ryan Langerhans
UH63 - Eric Bruntlett
UH45 - Eric Hurley (RC)

UH192 - Craig Hansen Gold 0199/2008 (One sure way to make your baseball cards drop about 90% in value: get traded from the Red Sox to the Pirates.)
UH185 - Joey Votto Highlights
UH214 - Carlos Zambrano All-Star
UH22 - Brian Moehler
UH323 - Jorge Velandia
UH293 - Adam Dunn
UH190 - Manny Ramirez All-Star

UH59 - Cliff Lee All-Star
UH263 - Eric Patterson
UH34 - Nate McLouth All-Star
- Topps Town Filler
- David Wright Don't Steal These Cards Filler

All in all, it wasn't terrible. I did alright with getting Cardinals cards, although I'm still lacking a Ryan Ludwick card in a St. Louis uniform and he has two cards in this set. There's also a Pujols card that I need and probably a couple others. They also, inexplicably, inserted Mark Worrell autographs into this set. He only made a few appearances for the Cardinals this season and his major league future is tenuous at best. He doesn't even have a base card, but you can get his autograph. Is that normal? If anyone out there managed to get one of these, let me know and I'll trade you something that isn't worth all that much.


night owl said...

It's Russell Martin, at least to just about everyone who plays, works, roots for the Dodgers.

There are so many Josh Hamilton and Evan Longoria cards in this set, and yet they found space to insert a ton of rookies I've never heard of. If I wanted to collect rookies I've never heard of, I'd go for Bowman.

madding said...

Yeah, other than the Joe Mathers and Chris Perezes of the world, I'll pass on the unknown rookies. At least Perez is supposed to be the future closer.

Dinged Corners said...

We like Jeremy Sowers but this Topps card photo makes his arms look like toothpicks. Little toothpicks that might break from throwing the ball so hard.