Category Archives: Carlos Ruiz

Complete 2015 Topps Series One Phillies Checklist and Review

It’s been a quite a while since I posted these type of checklists, and I don’t really have the time to do them in the old format. However, I did enjoy sharing my work, so I’m going to try a new method of posting checklists separately from the massive Excel file I occasionally update on this site. So, in the hopes of making this a regular feature (as far as anything is “regular” in regards to this 2015 Topps Utley Variationblog), here is the complete, to the best of my knowledge, 2015 Topps Series One Phillies checklist, in PDF format.

I feel that it’s much more thorough and helpful than the checklist officially issued by Topps — which actually wasn’t as complete as they would have you believe. I’ve supplemented their information with data from Beckett and with details I’ve gleaned from the cards I acquired and what I’ve seen on eBay. I’d also like to note that I haven’t actually seen everything on the list. This list contains all known parallels and variations for both the main set and all the inserts. I’m not guaranteeing it’s 100% complete, but it’s probably better than you’d find anywhere else — please excuse my lack of modesty on this.

2015 Topps RuizAs for my thoughts on the set itself… For starters, I think it’s the most attractive set Topps has issued in a while, but that may be due to the fact that the player and team names are now in plain white text and not foil-stamped. Topps seems to have also pared down the number of parallels, but given their propensity for adding additional parallels and backfilling when issuing the second series, it’s too soon to say that they’ve cut down on that particular blight. I’m also pleased with the photo selection; in particular, Ruiz’s card and Utley’s variation card stand out in my mind. Having said that, the set vaguely reminds me of 1999 Upper Deck MVP, sans unnecessary foil lines. However, I do wonder if there can ever be a truly unique card design at this stage in the game.

Moving to the inserts… I’m glad to see that Topps has done away with the mini inserts. Some people really enjoyed them, but at the same time they really were kind of superfluous given Topps’s Archives brand. Unfortunately, Topps continued the ridiculously ponderous medallion cards, and because they are a pain to properly store2015 Topps Robbed Revere they can’t go away fast enough for my taste. I like the concept of the Robbed in Center insert set but hate the fact that Topps couldn’t be bothered to use a photo from the April 9, 2014 catch they reference on the back of Revere’s card. It shouldn’t come as a great shock, however — Topps never really has been a stickler for paying attention to that kind of detail. Given the sheer number of Ryan Howard Career High Autographs available on eBay, it certainly appears that Topps is trying to blow out their inventory of Howard autograph stickers while they still can. Speaking of blowing out the autograph sticker stock, Topps issued a Mike Adams autograph card via its Spring Fever dealer promotion, and I snatched up the very first one I saw that hit eBay. There are only 200 of them, which (assuming he doesn’t appear as a Phillie on any future autograph issue) makes Adams one of the harder Phillies to find a certified autograph issue for.

In all, I think it’s a decent start to the 2015 baseball card season. Solid, but nothing spectacular, which is what the Topps flagship brand should be.

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2013 Topps Supreme Triple Autographs #TA-HRY; Halladay, Ruiz, &… Young?

There are very few cards that reach “must have” status for my collection. Most of them, such as the Richie Ashburn rookie card, in my opinion are just prerequisites for any serious Phillies team collector. However, every once in a very rare while, I just see a card and decide that I absolutely must have it. It’s almost always an emotional response — there’s no reason or logic as to why I need that card. But, I suspect on some level that’s true in varying degrees to what a lot of us collect. It’s just that some impulses are ridiculously stronger than others.

With that in mind, I bring 2013 Topps Supreme Triple Auto Philsyou the 2013 Topps Supreme Triple Autographs card of Roy Halladay, Carlos Ruiz, and Michael Young.

At the beginning of the year, I posted about the head-scratcher that was the 2013 Panini America’s Pastime Hitters Ink John Kruk & Carlos Ruiz card. I reference it now because it seems to me that it’s the only Phillies-only multiple autograph card issued thus far that makes less sense than this card (though, the 2013 Topps Archives Triple Autograph of Larry Bowa, Darren Daulton, & Juan Samuel is certainly in the running). I’m being a little unfair with that statement — after all, each of these three were members of the 2013 Phillies. However, I just can’t imagine any Phillies fans picking Young when asked which other team member they associate with Halladay and Ruiz.

Another fascinating thing about this card is that the autograph stickers represent the disconnect; Ruiz’s and Halladay’s are clear on top of a gold foil background while the Young sticker has a silver foil backing. The scan of the card doesn’t do justice to how badly the silver foil wrecks the overall appearance of the card. For a premium product, it looks juvenilely slap-dash. Yet, Topps clearly had Michael Young stickers lying around that needed to be used; hence this monstrosity.

2013 Topps Supreme Triple Auto Phils BackHere’s the real kicker about this card: it’s the only certified autograph card of Michael Young picturing and denoting him with the Phillies, and Topps only made 10 of it. The fact that 2013 Topps Supreme was (in theory) released only in Asia means that this is even harder to find in the US than the print run suggests. One day I plan to write a short series on the Phillies with the smallest number of certified autograph cards available, and I’m pretty certain that Michael Young will top the list.

Even though I try to make sure that I grab as many certified Phillies autographs as I can, Young’s presence still doesn’t fully explain my irrational need for this card. It’s ugly and reeks of Topps trying to make sure that they weren’t stuck with unused old autograph stickers for Young. Of all the cards with a print run of 10 or less in my collection, this is easily my least favorite. Yet, I’m still happy to have it.

A Day for Love

Featured Card: 2007 Upper Deck/Majestic Phillies Alumni Night #14

On this special day, let us take 2007 UD Majestic Ruiza moment and remember the greatest love story in sports history. In the aftermath of Halladay’s retirement, I just hope that both he and Ruiz find a way to move on now without each other.

Having said that, I’d just like to take a moment to state just how much I hate this particular design, which was also the basis for Upper Deck’s 2007 MLB Artifacts set. By slightly tilting the interior portion of the frame, every card feels like it’s off-center. The design would’ve been much better off if the picture had been either tilted just a little more or not at all.

Kruk & Ruiz, Together At Last!

Featured Card: 2013 Panini America’s Pastime Hitters Ink #HI-PHI, John Kruk & Carlos Ruiz

Last week, in my first post after a three-month hiatus, I mentioned how jaded I had become as a collector. That, somehow, I wasn’t really that excited about adding to my collection a short-printed triple-relic card featuring three different Phillies to win an MVP award. However, I have to admit that changed a couple days later when the first cards and inserts from 2013 Panini America’s Pastime started appearing on eBay. The second I saw the Hitter’s Ink card featuring Kruk and Ruiz, I knew I had to have it in my collection — it was a moral imperative.

2013 Americas Pastime HI Kruk & Ruiz

Well, it arrived yesterday, and in my heart, I squealed like a little schoolgirl seeing One Direction in person. A dual autograph card featuring my two favorite Phillies from the past 20 years, and the best part is that the autographs are directly on the card, not stickers! I also give Panini all sorts of credit for choosing photos which required negligible retouching to remove the Phillies insignia. At first glance, you don’t even notice they’re gone. I cannot overemphasize how thrilled I am to have this card in my collection.

What makes me love the card so much more is that it makes no logical sense why someone at Panini thought Kruk and Ruiz should share a dual autograph booklet — unlike, say, a dual autograph booklet or card featuring any combination of Phillies who have an obvious connection, such as playing same position, winning similar awards or honors, playing in all star games together, etc. Panini attempts to make such a rationalization by comparing Kruk’s Phillies career batting average to Ruiz’s batting average from 201o through 2012, but that really takes an act of precise cherry-picking. In other words, they had to concoct a reason for this particular pairing.

I don’t know if this card is the true centerpiece of my collection — it’s far too early to say that right now. However, including all parallels, Panini only made 46 copies of this card, and when the day comes that I can put together some sort of display to highlight my favorite pieces in my collection (unfortunately, due to space constraints, it’s nearly entirely in boxes), I’m certain that this card will be a part of it.

The Printing Plate Perplexity

Featured Cards: 2013 Topps Chrome Printing Plates Black #26, Carlos Ruiz; 2010 Bowman Printing Plates Cyan #24, Raúl Ibañez

2013 Topps Chrome Plate B Ruiz2010 Bowman Print Plate C Ibanez

I’ve never understood this particular problem: printing plates are supposed to be mirror images in order to properly apply the ink to the printed surface — the Carlos Ruiz plate is a perfect example. Given that this is that case, why is it that so many of the ones issued by Topps over the years are not actually mirror images? Based on my understanding of how these things work, you can’t actually create properly oriented cards from plates as the Raúl Ibañez one on the right. Instead you’d get a reverse image, such as the infamous 1989 Upper Deck Dale Murphy error. I’d love to hear the explanation.

Update, Jan. 16: The original entry was off-the-cuff and posted in a hurry. If I first hunted around on the web, I would’ve gotten an answer to my question: there are two different types of printing and the type of plate you see dictates the type of printing used. Plates that are not mirror image are used in “offset printing,” which does not apply ink directly to the printed surface. Instead, the plates apply it to rubber sheet which is then used to apply it to the printed surface. I’m not sure what advantages an intermediate step provides, but I’m sure a little more hunting around will get my answer.

2013 Topps Archives: A Very Belated Phillies Collector’s Review

Featured cards listed at end of post.

This is only the second year that Topps has issued its Archives set in the current format, and it was already one of my most anticipated sets of the year. I’ve made no secret of my love for cards of current players in vintage designs, thus the very very nature of the Archives and 2013 Topps Archives RuizHeritage brands unquestionably makes them must-own sets. There is very little that Topps can do to actively ruin the experience of collecting those cards — not that they can’t make some very notable mistakes, but more on that I progress in this review.

Unfortunately, the change in performance for the team means a drop from last year in the number of Phillies in the base set. With only six cards (down from last year’s 11), there’s no real way to complain about the player selection. Ruiz was an All-Star last year, Schmidt is now a staple in all Topps sets in which he can realistically appear, and when Topps was first determining player selection, choosing each of the Three Aces was something of a no-brainer. Given Ryan Howard’s status in the hobby since his rookie season, selecting him to round out the Phillies made sense. Having said that, Topps did a terrible job when it came to properly scattering the six players across the four designs in the set — none of them appear in the 1985 design. This really is an unforgivable oversight. There are thirty teams, and each of the four designs in the base set contains 50 cards. So long2013 Topps Archives Halladay as a team has at least four players in the set, it should be represented in each of the designs. I was especially annoyed by this sloppiness in set construction as the 1985 set is one of my all-time favorites. My annoyance only amplified when I realized that both Howard and Halladay appear in both the 1972 design and the Topps 1972 Minis inserts to the regular Topps set. I’m not quite sure why Topps felt the need to give double-duty to the design this year, but as much as I love retro-themed cards, I really would have appreciated more variety in Topps’s efforts this year. (Because of this and the fact Topps does reuse photos quite frequently, I almost feel like I should applaud Topps for managing to avoid using the same photos in both the minis and the 1972 portion of the Archives set.)

Just as an aside, I feel like I have to give Topps credit for getting the color scheme right for the Phillies in the 1982 design. In the 2005 Topps All-Time Fan Favorites set, they rather amazingly used the wrong colors for the Bob Dernier card, listed his position as “3rd Base” (a position he never played in his entire professional career), and used a hatless photo to boot — something that typically only happened when a player had just changed teams. It’s almost as if they intended the card to be a Cubs card (it has the correct Cubs colors and Dernier did get traded to the Cubs after the 1983 season), changed their mind at the last second, and couldn’t be bothered to properly fix anything on the card’s border, other than the team name. This may well be Topps’s worst Phillies card ever.

2013 Topps Archives Hamels2005 Topps ATFF Dernier

As with last year’s set, all the retired Phillies in the high-numbered Fan Favorites SPs in the main set are really just non-autographed versions of the Fan Favorites autographs. With that in mind, it’s nice to see Juan Samuel finally receive a Phillies autograph card. By using the 1987 Topps design for it, Topps managed a rather subtle nice touch in that it also used the ’87 design for Von Hayes’s first Phillies autograph card in last year’s Archives set. It’s also nice to see the inclusion of Larry Bowa, 2013 Topps Archives FFA Bowa Autoeven though the slightly blurry, in-action photo on the card looks like it belongs in the 1973 set and not the 1978. Given his long-standing status with the team, I’m actually surprised he hasn’t shown up more often in such Topps sets. Furthermore, with only one other autograph card to his name, having more autograph cards is quite welcome. The same is not entirely true, however, for Daulton’s appearance. Yes, he is the epitome of “Fan Favorite,” but as I’ve stated before, there are a plethora of deserving retired Phillies who have yet to appear as a Phillie on an autograph issue, and Daulton has appeared on over a dozen different autograph cards to date. To add insult to injury, Topps continues to use the same crappy 1992 template it used with last year’s Mitch Williams Fan Favorites cards. The colors are too light — so much so that Daulton’s name is actually hard to read — and the font for the team name isn’t even close to how it looked on the actual 1992 cards.

1992 Topps Daulton2013 Topps Archives Daulton

(2013 Archives card on right — at least they used a picture of Daulton in an era-correct uniform for the card design, as opposed to previous efforts)

In the past, I’ve placed cards such as these in the same binder pages as the original cards. And while I will do so with the Samuel and Bowa cards, I won’t be doing it with this Daulton card.

Unlike the Daulton card, there’s lots to love about most of the other inserts. Understandably, Topps paid special attention to the 1983 set with its 1983 All-Stars and Dual Fan Favorites inserts. The All-Stars subset in the 1983 Topps set is wonderful design, and it’s nice to see it used with Schmidt in an (again) era-correct uniform (the lack of patch of his left sleeve means that it must be from before 1983). The Dual Fan Favorites is a nice tweaking of the Super Veteran subset from the ’83 issue. However, while they look nice, I think I would have preferred to see Topps leave the Super Veteran concept completely intact. It’s hard to believe, but Jimmy Rollins has been a Phillie for a longer period (2000-2013) than Schmidt was when he appeared in this subset back in ’83 (1972-1983). Just imagine how a Rollins Super Veteran card would have looked.

1983 Topps SV Schmidt2013 Topps Archives DFF Samuel Rollins

No slight intended towards the Samuel & Rollins card that Topps issued — it’s a great card — I just think a Rollins Super Veteran card would’ve been even nicer.

In a similar manner, Topps reworked the 1960 design for its 1960 Relic inserts. As with last year’s 1956 Relics inserts, Topps did a nice job of editing the design to make it work as a relic card. The 1960 Relic inserts contain Ben Revere’s first relic card as a Phillie, but it’s something of a stretch — the relic is clearly from a 2013 Topps Archives 1960 RevereTwins jersey. In fact, there’s almost no way it could have contained a Phillies jersey unless Topps somehow placed a Phillies jersey on him sometime during the winter and then used that for the cards (after all, Topps makes no guarantees about the jersey coming from any particular event or season.) Personally, I wish that Topps would just use relics that actually match the team designation on the card. Luckily, some of Revere’s relic cards contain a swatch with a shade of red similar to that used by the Phillies in the ’70s and ’80s, so I acquired one of those. Unfortunately, completing my 1960 Relics insert set looks like it will be a challenge as the Ryan Howard card appears to be super short-printed.

Of the inserts, the most pleasant surprise was the Stadium Club Triumvirates. At this point, Topps possesses a very rich history of baseball set design across its many brands over the past 60+ years, and Archives is the perfect place to celebrate all of them. In fact, there should be more of this in future Archives releases. Stadium Club, Finest, Gallery, Tek, Stars, Gold Label, Bazooka, modern Bowman releases and all of the inserts associated with those sets should be fair game for the Archives set. In fact, Topps is limiting itself by relying solely on designs from the Topps flagship set over the years — some of the other designs should find their way into the base set itself.

2013 Topps Archives Triumvirate

Given the rich history of baseball set designs at this point, I am a little confused and disappointed by Topps’s decision to use its 1965 football design as a basis for the Mini Tall Boys inserts. While there’s no real need to move into the other sports to attempt this kind of crossover, I suppose that the Archives set is the place to try out this kind of experimentation. However, for me it just didn’t work. It probably doesn’t help that with a few notable exceptions I don’t 1983 Topps Glossy AS Carltonparticularly enjoy non-standard-sized cards. Since there was already a focus on the 1983 set, the Glossy All-Star Set Collector’s Edition (the mail-in set of 40) would’ve made far more sense as an insert than the Mini Tall Boys.

In the end, despite all the easily avoidable flaws and questionable choices Topps made with the set and its inserts, I still loved this year’s Archives release. I really do wish that Topps would hire some people whose job would essentially entail being as attentive to detail as collectors such as myself (to avoid really obvious mess-ups such as the details on the 1992 design and using the 1972 design in two different sets this year), but at the same time it’s obvious that Topps has an opportunity to put together a truly special brand for years to come — if they properly leverage their full history. Whether Topps has the desire and/or wherewithal to do so remains to be seen, but I certainly hope that they realize some of the potential the Archives brand truly holds.

Featured Cards: 2013 Topps Archives #162, Carlos Ruiz; 2013 Topps Archives #8, Roy Halladay; 2013 Topps Archives #58, Cole Hamels; 2005 Topps All-Time Fan Favorites #115, Bob Dernier; 2013 Topps Archives Fan Favorite Autographs #FFA-LB, Larry Bowa; 1992 Topps #244, Darren Daulton; 2013 Topps Archives #240, Darren Daulton; 1983 Topps #301, Mike Schmidt; 2013 Topps Archives Dual Fan Favorites #DFF-SR, Juan Samuel & Jimmy Rollins; 2013 Topps Archives 1960 Relics #BR, Ben Revere; 2013 Topps Archives Triumvirates #s T-3A, T-3B, & T-3C, Cole Hamels, Cliff Lee, & Roy Halladay; 1983 Topps Glossy All-Star Set Collector’s Edition #36, Steve Carlton

When Topps Gets Something Right

Featured Cards: 2013 Topps Gypsy Queen #111, Carlos Ruiz; 2013 Topps Gypsy Queen Autographs #GQA-CR, Carlos Ruiz; 2013 Topps Gypsy Queen Autograph Relics #AR-CR, Carlos Ruiz

Given the levels of negativity I’m feeling towards Topps and Beckett, I thought it would be a good idea to focus on a positive before writing another post where I find myself griping yet again about something one of those two entities did, or didn’t do. So, here’s a wonderful example of Topps doing something right:

2013 Topps GQ Ruiz2013 Topps GQ Auto Ruiz2013 Topps GQ Auto-Relic Ruiz

One of the reasons I love Gypsy Queen so much is that Topps actually makes the autograph, relic, and autograph relic inserts look like extensions of the base set. Furthermore, the pictures on the cards are different and the cards themselves are autographed directly, rather than having an autograph sticker slapped on them. Topps has been doing this since the first year of Gypsy Queen, and it’s something I wish Topps would duplicate in their other sets — I really like the fact that it is clearly obvious which set these inserts were issued with. Unfortunately, Topps only issued five such cards (not counting the framed mini relics) in 2013 Gypsy Queen — a far cry from the 10 such Phillies cards in the 2011 set.

With the exception of Allen & Ginter, Topps doesn’t have a track record of printing a vintage brand for more than a few years. Hopefully, we’ll either see more of this in 2014 Gypsy Queen or, if there is no Gypsy Queen, in whatever set Topps replaces it with.