Sunday, April 8, 2012

Complete Set Sunday - Drunken Easter Diamond King edition.

       My family is large and unwieldy, like a stack of newspapers ready to topple at any minute but you keep throwing onto the pile anyway.  Don't get me wrong, I love my family, but we had 31 for Easter breakfast this morning.  Thirty.  One.  Luckily, we have a few traditions that make Easter a very tolerable family gathering.   One, we start drinking at 9:30 in the morning.  This is always a surefire way to make my family much easier to deal with.  Two, we have an egg fight before we eat.  No, we don't throw them at each other, but we hold them and smash their hard-boiledness at one another and the one that doesn't crack wins.  Alcohol and violence - a marvelous one-two punch to celebrate the resurrection of our lord.  So I drank until 3:30 this afternoon and I am still feeling it, but I haven't blogged in a couple days and I didn't do Complete Set Sunday last week - but, and not to toot my own horn, my post was pretty damn epic. 

       So lemme see if I got something small and easy to work with here.  Ahhhhh yes, I do.  I am a big fan of Donruss Diamond Kings.  They were always the best part of the usually kind of 'meh' Donruss set.  Donruss ended up the bastard child in the set hierarchy, either because of tradition (Topps), or brazen willingness to sue (Fleer), or innovation (Upper Deck), or even just colorful whimsy (Score or Pacific).  Donruss was just sort of there.  It was the set you bought if you didn't feel like the others or they weren't available and now it has been bought and divided so many times, it doesn't exist anymore.  But I always liked the Diamond Kings.

       I guess because I spent most of my childhood drawing baseball players, I respected Dick Perez because he turned that skill/hobby into a marketable commodity.  I mean, now with the power of hindsight, I can see he was not much of an artist, but getting a painted portrait in your pack instead of a photo was always kind of neat.  The Diamond Kings were, from 1982-1991, the first 26 cards of the Donruss set.  Then, in 1992, something odd happened; they weren't the first 26 cards.  What fuckery was this?  Well, it turns out with the advent of insert-mania, Donruss made the rather brand-wrecking choice of making the Diamond Kings an insert set instead of the cornerstone of the base set.
Now, I am not gonna lie, these full-bleed cards with their dash of foil are pretty damn handsome.  I would say of all the Diamond King sets, this one is the sharpest.  It has good player choice (except Scott Sanderson...remember when the Yankees sucked so bad that Scott Sanderson was their Diamond King?) and Perez reeled in the wacky backgrounds of the last few sets and keeps them simple and classy...but...
It was a stupid stupid choice to make the Diamond Kings an insert set!!! This choice made their already rather bland and poorly put together base set completely disposable.  Their go-to insert in 1991 was the Elite Dominators (cards I will cover another time) and Donruss got greedy and wanted another one and they never really recovered from this sea change.  They eventually made the other mistake of thinking "more is more" and became the company that really ramped up the different various releases without any personality or purpose.  They even made Diamond Kings their own Gallery-esque separate set with very mixed results.  I shed no tears for the demise of Donruss, but I do still like the Diamond Kings.
Wait a minute, this is Complete Set Sunday, and that is a hole!  Come on, this is a 27-card set (still, always appreciated by its divisibility by nine), where is that other card, dammit!  Well, I solved my own One-Card Challenge with a quick trip to and picked up old #22 for my set for a cool 14 cents.  Fourteen cents!  ahhh, the joy of a completed page - and set for that matter.
Much better!  I put this set together from a lot I picked up at a local card shop years ago.  I augmented that lot with my own cards in my big-ass pile of Diamond Kings and finished it about an hour ago by adding the aforementioned Randy Johnson to its spot.  The other 26 cards have been sitting in one of my set binders for a while now and given my love of Diamond Kings, complete sets, shiny, and sets divisible by nine, this set is gonna be there for a long time.  That is, until I decide to put ALL my old school Diamond Kings in to a binder, but that is a long term collecting goal that is way way down on the list...that would be pretty damn cool, though, given that, with the checklist, all the DK sets until 1993 have 27 cards (then the Marlins and Rockies screwed up the whole system).  I also gave up on Diamond Kings in 1994 when they got so pug fugly, I couldn't stand them.  Wow, Jesus, I am rambling in my buzzed state, I have no finish.  Well, except for another slice of cake and some Aleve.

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