Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Completed Pages, Complete With Joy.

     While my blogging may have slowed down some recently, my collecting never stops.  Today I have some completed pages, one quite recent and a few more than a decade in the making.

I haven't bought much Bowman the last few years.  In fact, I haven't bought any Bowman the last two years.  I used to be quite the Bowman backer, especially Chrome.  I liked the shiny and the speculation, and I also liked the vague rookies who you'd never hear from again (there is a reason my collection is eclectic and devoid of great value, after all).  This year, my interest in Bowman was renewed, well, my interest in one specific kind of card was piqued.  A while ago, Night Owl sent me an R.A. Dickey from the silver ice parallels and I was immediately struck by it.  I am such a sucker for the shiny and in this case it was a different shiny than I had ever seen before on a card.  I went to eBay with the task of finding myself a lot of them.  The cards themselves were only popping up one or two a box, I believe, so the prices were a little high.  I waited out a nice lot of 12 and snagged it at a price I could live with.  From those, I made this page:
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The scan does not do these cards justice.  They are really really really shiny (no, really!).  They remind me of the 1998 Bowman's Best Atomic Refractors, my all time favorite shiny (and a page I have yet to complete).  I got a nice mix of players and colors in this lot; even the Yankee player is a tolerable one.  I am quite pleased with this page.

While recently rummaging through a pile of cards, I found a 1998 SP Authentic Jeff Conine.  I had forgotten all about this set but I remembered that I really liked it when it came out.  Back then, SP Authentic was very high end stuff and (I believe) this was their first baseball offering.  I liked the foil-like pictures and the use of negative space.  I looked around in a few boxes, but alas, that Jeff Conine was the only one I had.  So, in my quest to make a page, I went first to eBay, but eBay did not have any lots of the base cards (nor had they in a while - hint: always check completed auctions when looking for something vague to see how easy/hard it will be to find).  So, I went to COMC.com for these instead. 
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I was able to pick off these cards for 20-25 cents apiece.  I went with a few beloved subjects (NOMAHHHH!! and a catcher pose) and a few reviled subjects as well (Clemens, Palmeiro).  Overall, I think I captured a good mix of players and poses and it only took me 14 years to get around to it. 

I also read a blog piece recently (the blog itself escapes my memory, lemme know if you recognize your dilemma) that was very puzzled with the 2001 Donruss baseball set and what they did for parallels.
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This page here is of the 2001 Donruss base cards.  This page has been in my binders for quite a while.  See, 2001 Donruss was their first baseball set since 1998 - I am not sure if their exile was self imposed or contractual - and it celebrated their 20th anniversary.  For the parallels, they decided to fill in those two missing years by making "2000 Donruss" and "1999 Donruss" cards.  I always found this odd and I can certainly understand some collector's confusion over the cards, especially 10 years after the fact.

I had, along with that 2001 Donruss page a 1999 Donruss page. 
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A pretty sharp (and Indians heavy) page.  What I did not have was a 2000 Donruss page to go along with the other two.  Since I decided my Donruss pages would not be complete without it, I went to eBay again, but only found a large (and way overpriced) lot for sale.  Back to COMC.com again for me!

Since I still had the 1998 SP Authentics cards still unsent, it made sense to grab the cards I needed for the 2000 Donruss page as well.  This is what I came up with.
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Once again, a nice mix of players and colors, and, as an accidental aesthetic choice, a lot of batting follow thru pictures.  I snagged these at 20-35 cents apiece with the Tony Gwynn costing me that big 35 cents.  I had never actually seen the 2000 Donruss baseball cards and I immediately recognized them...they copied the 2000 Donruss football set.  I have had this page forever:
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Now, Topps used to, and in fact still, uses their baseball set as a tablet for their football design, and some card makers use the same design for each name plate brand for each sport (like Prestige or SP etc.).  But this is the first time I can think of that a unique and singular football set was the basis for a baseball set and not the other way around.  Can anyone else think of one?  You know, if you can even understand what the heck I am talking about.

Anyway, COMC has had a nice cheap bulk shipping option for the last couple months, so I might load up on some more neglected or ignored pages in the future. 

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And as one final update, I recently showed the spoils of a recent new product buying binge.  Some specific cards were put aside and dropped in the mail this week.  Some of you know they are coming and some of you don't.  Anyway, rest assured, they are out there and on their way...
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Right now, if anyone wants to reciprocate, I am desperately trying to get my hands on the two SP rookie cup cards from this years Topps - #158 Josh Reddick and #207 J.P. Arencibia.  I am also looking for the Dwight Gooden Mound Dominance insert from this year's Topps and the 1977 Gary Carter reprint and cloth sticker from the Archives set (plus his Gold Foil parallel). I am always dubious of people actually looking at my wantlist, so if anyone has any of these, please please email me post haste. Thanks!

Saturday, June 23, 2012

Quad: Reggie Jackson.

       I mentioned my preference of "quads" over "triplets" in a recent post - the triple being a rookie, game used, and autograph card of one player, the quad splitting the game used facet of the triple in to bat and jersey cards.  I said I would/should make it a feature on the blog.  Well, I have said this kind of thing before ("favorites", "Topps sets", etc.) and not followed through.  This time, I decided to mean it, so I rummaged through my boxes of favorite players looking for some quads and immediately found one, and when I say immediately I mean immediately: first row of the first box I looked.  I dove into my hall of fame box and the first player in there is my very first favorite player, Reggie Jackson.

I knew right away I had multiple bat and jersey cards of Mr. October, and I knew I had his rookie card (more on that in a minute).  Imagine my pleasant surprise when I found I had an old school autograph of his too.  I picked the best looking jersey and bat card and made this quad:
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While the jersey is just a white square (the scourge of some jersey card pullers), I like the card and the picture on it, plus it is numbered to /50 and has some shiny.  The bat card is an oldie, from the 2001 UD Legends set.  I really like the baseball stitches burned into the bat piece, an aesthetic touch I wish card companies would do more.  The autograph (which as I said, I forgot I even had) is from the 1995 Upper Deck set.  Back then, Reggie was the face of Upper Deck and it came complete with a numbered COA, I don't know if it was an insert or a mail in redemption kind of thing but it is a pretty awesome card.  Last and certainly not least is my very very off condition 1969 Topps Jackson rookie card.

I once owned a very nice looking Reggie rookie card, but as with a lot of my fancy schmancy old school vintage stuff, I had to sell it on eBay for practical purposes, like paying the rent and food.
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This was the second one of these I owned, as I once put together a complete 1969 Topps set.  I sold the set but kept this one.  I deemed it expendable as well, though because I owned the third one, the one with the multiple creases and tape.  I am a fan of extreme off condition cards and this one is a thing of beauty.  I mean look at it...

Seriously, look at it...
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Look At It...
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LOOK AT IT!!!
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Someone loved this card.   They played with it, maybe had it in their pocket for safe keeping.  Somehow, it tore, but they took it upon themselves to tape it together because they liked the card that much.  I cannot for the life of me remember where I got this thing, but goddamn, I love this card.  I find poor condition cards like this fit into John Waters definition of camp (to paraphrase): they cannot be created, they merely exist.  I could never ever make a card like this.  It had to happen back in 1969 organically at the hands of a baseball card loving child.  And now, they are out there to be rediscovered and loved again.  Of all the quads I put together and scanned the other day, this one is by far my favorite and this card is the number one reason why.

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Right On, Target.

       It was my birthday a few weeks ago and one of the presents I got from a lazy family member who will not be mentioned was a $100 Target gift card.  Now, I am never one to look a gift horse in the mouth, but most people who know me know that I never want money or impersonal gifts; my mandate when it comes to giving stuff to me is "entertain me" and you can use that phrase to mean anything you want it to.  But I made the most of my gift card and decided instead of buying something practical or regifting the thing (something I do with gift cards nine times out of ten) I would go and break all my rules of buying new product and blow it all in the card section of the local Target store.

So what did I come up with?  Well, let's see the big pile before I tore it all to hell:
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I bought some blasters and some loose packs and some rack packs (just to relive my childhood a little).  I also picked up some pages but I forgot that the retail store pages are pretty cheapo, oh well.  I will find a use for them no matter what.  That shiny piece of plastic on top is the aforementioned gift card.

I grabbed a series 2 Topps blaster, pretty much because it was the newest thing they had.  I got a couple cool things in it, one of which you will see in a second, the other was this:
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I got not one but two whole packs of red Target parallels.  Is this normal?  I bought a Target blaster of series one and got exactly zero parallels.  Is this a new thing?  A new thing for series two?  Just a lucky snag?  Anyway, I made a page out of them.  As usual with colored borders, the similar teams look awesome, illustrated here by the Red Sox, the Angels, and, unexpectedly, the Twins.  Even the contrasting ones don't look too bad.  This is a good color red all around. 

I had read various things about the new Topps Archives.  Since I am a sucker for faux vintage, I decided to dive in head first.  I grabbed a blaster and then saw some rack packs, so I grabbed three of those too.
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I made this page with the vintage stars from packs.  Well, I only got eight of them to be honest, but Brian from 30-year old cardboard had been nice enough to send me that sweet 1980 Strawberry, so it found its way onto this page as well.  The highlight in my opinion is that 1984 style Clemente; it uses a picture we haven't seen 1000 times before (coughcoughtheTyCobbcoughcough) and it really captures both the player and the card set very well.  The Schmidt, Rice, and Berra also look great, though the 1984 Rice seems a little redundant since he had an actual Topps card in 1984.

Since in my three rack packs and blaster I got 7 doubles, I decided to make a contemporary page as well:
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I see how people think of this more as Fan Favorites than Archives.  I would also throw Heritage into that mix as well.  This effort from Topps was either half assed or not thought all the way through.  Typical Topps no matter what you may think of this stuff.  They have a pretty good idea but then cannibalize their own brands by not committing completely and following through. Plus they have all these extra rules about players past and present to abide by that makes these retro products extra difficult to pull off properly.  All that criticism aside, I kinda like the cards anyway.

Plus, I did pull a nifty Frank Howard autograph from one of those rack packs, a pretty cool pull from a retail pack:
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Also shown here are my awesome obligatory manufactured patch from the Series Two blaster, and it was a great one - my favorite player Gary Carter.  I can live with the fact that it is an Expo, what I cannot fathom is why they used a rookie year photo of him wearing #57 when the patch is his more familiar #8.  Just more sloppiness from Topps.  That Mantle is from the Gypsy Queen rack packs I got, I believe it is the short print.  It will join my other nouveau Mantles regardless.

In a fit of madness, I broke down and grabbed some Gypsy Queen rack packs. 
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These cards are just as ugly in person as they are on screen.  I got some cool minis out of the packs, but the rest were very underwhelming.  I will not be making a page out of any of them.  This was not the best use of my gift card dollar.

I suppose if I had waited until mid July, I could have gotten this year's Allen and Ginter, but since I didn't break a single pack of last years, I decided on a blaster of 2011 A&G.
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Once again, rather underwhelming.  I am glad I was not spending my own money on this stuff.

To fill out my electronic C-note, I grabbed a discounted blaster of last year's Panini Americana, since I didn't even know they made this set, I figured I would make a page out of them:
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And there it is.  Usually, it is the women in these sets that are the highlight - heck, I don't even know who Noureen DeWolf is, though I do know she is easy on the eyes - but for a Star Wars nerd like me, the Kenny Baker card is primo.  Having an astronaut and a Monkee is also a plus.  Good non-sport page all around.

In a bout of patriotic blindness, I also snagged five packs of the Topps USA Olympic team.  At a buck a pop, I figured these would be fun and possibly even educational. 
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I suppose you get what you pay for...in those five packs (10 cards each) I got twelve doubles. Obviously, collation is not high on Topps priority list for low end packs.  I know I have been bashing the hell out of Topps in this post, but come on, what the hell?  Twelve doubles in five 10-card packs?!?  Anyway, this made my choices for the page pretty easy.  If anyone is putting this set together, email me and I will gladly send any or all that I have that you need...in fact, that goes for the other stuff in this post too.

So there were plenty of highs and lows in my reintroduction to retail pack ripping.  In the long run, I have made a wise choice by not taking part in this low grade lottery anymore, but honestly, this was a pretty fun way to spend my Sunday night, especially on someone else's dime.

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

What's a cheap (under $5) cool card you feel every collector should add to their collection?

       This question was recently posed by The Chronicles of Fuji.  I have seen it answered by a few blogs so I am gonna throw my answer hat into the ring (and horribly mix my metaphors).  I am a little torn whether to answer this with a favorite (selfishly) or with a universal truth kind of card (selflessly).  In an odd display for me, I will go with the latter and be selfless.
Obviously, I have also gone a bit vulgar.  This card needs no introduction.  It should be in every collection in one form or another.  I prefer the original naughty error version, but for the more demure of you, there is no end to the "corrected" variations.  I am lucky enough to have pulled one before the frenzy back in 1989, but since this card is from the height of the overproduced junk wax era, even this "rare" card is probably out there in the tens of thousands.  Some thought they might put their kids through college with one back in the day...these days, you can snag one off eBay for about $5.

Two Trades and a Chicken Dinner.

       While I was idle for a couple of weeks in terms of actual blogging, I never rest when it comes to trades.  Let's catch up with a couple swaps and some contest swag.

Robert from $30 a week habit has quickly become a go-to guy for all my obsessive online trading.  First off, he's really polite.  I mean he might not be just the most polite person in the cardblogosphere, he might be one of the most polite people I deal with period.  I am a sucker for good manners.  If I had a daughter, I would totally let her date Robert.
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I had seen that Parnell rookie on his Insanity Set blog and had to have it, so I swapped him a few other numbers for it.  He also had pulled that Wright and figured I would give it a good home (he figured correctly) so I sent him some other stuff and the trade was complete.  He threw in the shiny and the Archives Mets as well as those minis.  Polite and generous?  Heck, forget my hypothetical daughter, I might date him...thanks Robert.


I broke down recently and bought some Gypsy Queen (yeah, I know) and was underwhelmed as I expected to be.  But I pulled a great numbered mini Colby Rasmus card, which reminded me of a trade from while back with Dennis of Pictures of Men.  Dennis was very receptive to getting that Rasmus into his collection, so we worked out a deal for a David Cone jersey card (a Met that I somehow did not have a jersey card of).
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Dennis was also quite giving by sending me most of the Topps Series 2 Topps Mets he had and a couple of my 2012 rookie cup needs (woohoo...someone reads my wantlists!).  Sadly, given my hectic schedule recently, I only just mailed his card out, with a few additions due to my laziness and his generosity.  With any luck, those cards will find their way to Canada safe and sound. 

Last but not least, I won a contest on The Chronicles of Fuji:
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Not only are these Japanese cards pretty damn nifty, they were free!  I am a sucker for free.  They will find a nice spot in my small but expanding Japanese card pages.  Plus, how cool is it that Fuji has his little icon on his return address labels?  But Fuji, I have to ask, my bad eyes cannot seem to decipher what your little Fuji Avatar is thinking about...please let me know what it is. (UPDATE: I looked again, is it sushi?) Thanks again Fuji!

Monday, June 18, 2012

A Day Late and a Father Short.

     When I decided to start this blog in the dead of winter, I didn't have a job and my social life was a barren wasteland.  Needless to say, I had spare time to spare.  Now I suddenly find myself (mostly) gainfully employed and my social calender has a little more ink splashed upon it and my blogging has suffered for it.  While most people would blame my short attention span for blog abandonment, rest assured, I have not left Starting Nine on the side of the road, nor do I plan to.  I just gotta prioritize my time these days and this poor cardblog has suffered for it.  Oh for the days when I spent all my time in my pajamas waiting for the phone to ring and I had hours to sit and think of something to write about.

Anyway, yesterday was Father's Day, which is usually a rough day emotionally for me.  For the most part, I grew up without a father - and the brief time he was around was not exactly Ozzie and Harriet quality parenting - so having a designated greeting card day allocated to remind me of that fact is not my idea of a good time.  One nice thing we did in my family a while ago is we decided, since my poor mother was the only parent, she got both holidays in celebration....and we still all get her cards and gifts on Father's Day.  And since she somehow kept me and my siblings out of prison and the morgue, it seems the least we can do.

Baseball has a rich tradition of fathers and sons, so it seems like the perfect day to showcase the good the bad and the ugly of baseball families.  First off is the absolute epitome of father/son perfection, the Griffeys.
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Ken Griffey Sr. was the first player in major league history who got to play with his son at the same time he was still active.  They upped the ante when, in 1990, they became teammates and got to play together on the Mariners for a year and a half.  Then they put the cherry on top of the feel-good story when they hit back to back homers on September 14, 1990.  To me, that is the alpha and omega of father/son feats in major league history.

Bobby Bonds is probably the best father who is also the second best player in his family.
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Bobby Bonds was a player way ahead of his time.  He was a speedy power hitter who struck out a ton.  These kinds of players were all the rage in the 1980's, but Bobby played all through the 1970's, for seemingly every team in the league at one point or another.  He retired in 1981 with 332 homers, 461 steals and 1757 strikeouts.  Then, in 1986, his boy Barry came up with the Pirates.  Now, I was way ahead of the curve in hating Barry Bonds, so the less said about him in my world, the better.  If he had retired in 1999 with his 445 homers, 460 steals, .288 average and tiny head, he would be a first ballot hall of famer.  Instead, he took his jerk factor and multiplied it by 10 by injecting himself with lots of B-12 and ruined a bunch of great records.  Man, all I can say is, fuck Barry Bonds.

On the other end of the jerk spectrum is Pete Rose. 
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I was never a Pete Rose guy, but I could understand those who were.  Rose was never the most talented player or greatest athlete, but he played his ass off.  Sadly, his nickname Charlie Hustle now applies more to his gambling and lying about it then to his play on the diamond.  His kid, who was on a 1982 Fleer card with his dad at the age of 12, is also a disgrace even though he worked his ass off.  Even less talented than his father, Pete Rose Jr. played for a decade in the minors and then got himself a cup of coffee with his dad's hometown Reds in 1997.  Sure, it was probably a publicity stunt, but he made it.  He played in the minors for another decade, until he was busted for selling steroids.  So both father and son have been in federal prison.  Classy family.

And then there is Yogi Berra...
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...Yogi could never be described by anyone as anything other than loveable.  Everyone loves Yogi Berra.  Being a swell guy does not guarantee having a fine son, unfortunately.  Dale Berra was a fringe player, and there is nothing wrong with that, but he was also a junkie and a dealer, and in the end, there is something tremendously wrong with that.  I wonder if Dale and Pete Jr. had the same parole officer?

As an aside, let's cover my favorite Father's Day moment:
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...granted, it was done 11 years before I was born, but Jim Bunning throwing a perfect game on Father's Day is pretty damn sweet, even if it was against my Mets.  Jim Bunning has seven kids, so he knows a thing or two about being a father.

Right now, the best player with the worst kid recently in the majors is probably Phil Niekro.
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Phil was the master of the knuckleball and won 318 games in about 1000 years in the majors.  Plus, Niekro looked old and paternal even on his earliest cards.  His kid, Lance knocked around for the Giants for a few years and then tried to reinvent himself as a knuckler as well.  That didn't go so well.  He is currently a free agent and coaching for a college in Florida.

The best "son" in the majors right now is no doubt Prince Fielder, son of the titanic Cecil.
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I always had a soft spot in my heart for Cecil Fielder.  He was a big dude who hit the ball a long way.  It took him forever to establish himself in the majors, with a detour to Japan thrown in there as well, and he fell off the cliff just as quickly as he rose to fame.  He was grand and larger than life and played ball like every game was gonna be his last, I always loved Cecil.  Then he showed himself to be a bit less jolly and more of a lunatic when it comes to his relationship with his son.  They are estranged, a nice way of saying Prince wants nothing to do with his dad.  So sad.  Other than the Griffeys, it seems all these father son stories are kind of a bummer in one way or another. 

Post script- Some people believe in the triplet (game used, autograph, rookie card); I like the quad (game used bat, game used jersey, auto, rookie card).  I have a great Quad of the Fielders:
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I never did find a jersey card of Cecil to complete his quad, so I have Prince in there to pinch hit.  I also love that the autograph I have from him is from his Japanese days.  That bat card didn't scan well, it is actually quite shiny and the 1986 Donruss rookie of Cecil is a great looking card.  I was never one for the 1986 Donruss design, but the Blue Jays cards look great with that border and you get that great 80's BJ logo not once but twice.  I'll have to scan and bring out some more of my quads to help keep this blog going.

Friday, June 1, 2012

JOHAN!!!!

51 seasons. 50 years.  Eight thousand twenty games.

Finally.






































You can shut down this particular website - The Mets have a no-no!!!

Johan Santana threw 134 pitches and looked like he didn't care if it was gonna take 200.  I was flipping around all night and turned over to the game in the seventh inning and I still can't believe it. 

The biggest villain in Mets history to me was always Jimmy Qualls.  For Tom Seaver, Jerry Koosman, Dwight Gooden, David Cone, Nolan Ryan, Gary Gentry, Ron Darling, Sid Fernandez, Al Leiter, and every other Mets pitcher - this no hitters' for you!

***

The fantastic High Heat Stats has the Ten Amazin’ Mets facts about Johan Santana’s no-hitter.  Go check it out.

Hey Everyone...

...who wants to see my new shiny Dickey?





































Uhhhh...yeah.

This marvelous little pile came from the Night Owl, who when he pulled the R.A. Bowman card not only earmarked it for me right away, but somehow resisted the urge to make the obvious lame joke I did.  That is why Night Owl is a better man than me (and most of us).  In my defense, dick jokes are much easier than college residence assistant jokes.  Also included are an awesome 3-D David Wright from this years Opening Day.  I was quite fond of the 2010 3D inserts and these are equally nifty.  I may have to find a lot of these to make a page.  I have also grown to enjoy the sheen on this year's gold Topps parallels; I already have a page of those, though.  That Mr. Turkey Dwight Gooden card combines my favorite failed Met and oddball food issues...what's not to love?  I also must give a shout out to the Topps Fan Favorites cards he included, Tom Seaver and Nolan Ryan cards are always appreciated, that but sticking out there belongs (fittingly) to Sid Fernandez - who may have been the widest pitcher I have ever seen, and I had never known that Ron Swoboda card existed, and now I need a second one for my Rookie All Stars collection.  Finally, I must say the 1984 Fleer set is not my favorite, I find it a little too minimalist, but I do find the blue stripe works well for teams with blue as a main color and, since the 1983 Mets spent a lot of time in blue 80's style pull overs, the team looks great in this set.  I don't have many of the 1984 Fleer Mets for some odd reason, but now I have two more, including the OG Brian Giles.  Thanks Night Owl!