Category Archives: Roy Oswalt

2013 Allen & Ginter’s: A Phillies Collector’s Review

Featured cards listed at end of post.

2013 Topps AG KnightsYesterday, I reaffirmed my love for sets that reuse vintage designs; this extends to sets inspired by vintage designs. I thought that the 2005 Topps Cracker Jack was a nice update the classic Cracker Jack design and I have absolutely loved the follow-ups to Topps’s first Gypsy Queen set — I particularly hope that Topps does not stop producing those anytime soon. Yet, I have not been as big fan of Topps’s Allen & Ginter’s (A&G) brand over the years. The primary reason for this has been the inclusion of cards highlighting individuals, items and locations outside of MLB. I am fully aware that this is keeping in within the spirit of the original Allen & Ginter sets from the late 19th century, and as such I don’t fault Topps for their inclusion. Furthermore, since I primarily collect Phillies cards, this isn’t that much of a concern. However, for this very reason alone I very rarely buy packs of A&G and am even less likely to ever attempt completing a set, or even buy one already complete. That doesn’t negate, 2011 Topps AG Oswalthowever, my looking forward to how the Phillies in the set look, and I have to say that I am very pleased with the 2013 edition.

Last year’s set featured what looks like an overcorrection to a major mistake Topps made in 2011. I’m sure that creating a design to look very similar to a iconic 19th century set while simultaneously sporting a new look must be difficult, but the 2011 set just looked too modern; the solid, rounded border looked like it came straight from the 1980 Topps set, and team logos do not belong anywhere on a set harkening to the 1880s — very few teams (if any) actually had anything that could reasonably called a logo back then. It appears that Topps realized this after the fact, but the effort to make the border on the 2012 set look like it could’ve been from roughly 18872012 Topps AG Pierre was far too intricate. Furthermore, the stylized art deco font for the A&G brand name actually looked like it belonged on a movie poster from the 1920s. It was actually a decent retro design, but still too modern, for completely different reasons.

This year’s edition of A&G, now in its eighth year, finally gets it right. Everything about the set screams 19th century design. The fonts look period appropriate and the lined border manages to be decorative without becoming ornate. Furthermore, Topps even managed to avoid their mistake from the 2010 set by leaving the area around the photo predominantly white. It’s a very clean look, and is easily Topps’s best A&G base set effort since it started to create new designs that were clearly different from the ones used by the original Allen & Ginter cards.

2013 Topps AG KrukFrom a Phillies collector’s perspective, the player selection is decent given that once again, as with the Archives set, the team’s decline over the past couple seasons means a drop in the number of Phillies cards from last year’s set (only 11 Phillies this year, as opposed to 14 last). The only real omission is from the base set is Rollins, who gets a Mini Framed Relic insert card, which helps to remove the injustice of not seeing one of the most important players in franchise history in the set (regardless of how you feel about Rollins, this is an indisputable fact). The nicest thing about the base set has to be the inclusion of, for Topps, a new picture for John Kruk. It’s not completely new as Donruss used it in its 2005 Donruss Timeless Treasures Material Ink cards, but it’s still nice to see Topps finally select a new photo.

The parallels and relic insets are basically what we’ve come to expect from Topps’s A&G set over the years, so there’s little need to go over most of them. However, I would like to know how/why Topps chooses to include some relic cards in a standard-sized format while other are issued as a Framed Mini Relic 2013 Topps AG AtY Howardas I can’t discern any pattern to the process. This year’s unique, big, concept insert set is Across the Years. The thing about insert cards are they really are just flimsy excuses to make more cards of star players. However, manufacturers attempt to give a justification the existence of most insert sets — including previous, similar past A&G insert sets such as last year’s What’s in a Name in 2012 and 2o11’s Hometown Heroes — by providing information that you won’t find about the ballplayer in his base set card. This really isn’t the case with Across the Years, which lists events that occurred on the player’s birth date and the names of other celebrities who share the same birthday. Interesting idea, but with no real information about the player depicted on the front, it does drive home the fact that inserts really are nothing more than excuses to print more cards of the game’s stars (the same criticism can be leveled at the This Day in History insert set in 2010 A&G).

Now I’m up2013 Topps AG Rip Halladay to the point where I really want to rant against a particular element of A&G: the Rip Cards. Before I start, I understand that Topps shows no inclination to discontinue producing them and that they are here to stay. Nonetheless, every time I see one, I wish a pox upon the people at Topps who continue to allow the production of these cards. I hate them because they’re an extraordinarily unnecessary gimmick that requires the destruction of a card. In addition, most people just haven’t figured out that you can very carefully slice open a Rip Card using something like an X-Acto Knife and leave the back far more intact than just ripping it. As a result, most opened Rip Cards just look terrible on the back. Furthermore, each card that isn’t ripped means there’s a card that has been, for all practical purposes, produced and deliberately withheld from the hobby.

Admittedly, I can’t afford 1/1 cards in 2013 Topps AG Rip Halladay Backnearly all instances, but that’s not the point. You don’t announce the making of a 1/1 card or special extremely limited mini inserts and then leave the hobby wondering if/when it will finally emerge from its prison. I really wish Topps would just seed all the cards buried in Rip Card directly into packs and just transform the Rip Cards into a super-limited, serial-numbered insert set. Instead, this year Topps decided to double-down on the Rip Card idea and create Double Rip Cards. Now, you have a card in which the picture on both sides of the card can be ruined. At least before, the front of the card could be left intact and otherwise pristine. Not anymore. I don’t just wish a pox on the idiots who came up with and approved this concept — I wish a pox on their entire genetic line.

Sadly, I doubt that my wishing a pox upon the people behind the Double Rip Cards will work, which means that they will become another staple in the A&G line, and we will continue to see even more otherwise rare cards either desecrated or forever locked away from the hobby for no rational reason whatsoever.

2013 Topps Allen & Ginter’s Martial Mastery #MM-KN, Knights; 2011 Topps Allen & Ginter’s #108, Roy Oswalt; 2012 Topps Allen & Ginter’s #2, Juan Pierre; 2013 Topps Allen & Ginter’s #333, John Kruk; 2013 Topps Allen & Ginter’s Across the Years, #ATY-RHO, Ryan Howard; 2013 Topps Allen & GInter’s Rip Card #RIP-88, Roy Halladay

2012 Topps Tier One Top Shelf Dual Relics

Set Type: Insert
Card Dimensions: 2½” x 3½”
Additional Information: Cards were inserted in packs of 2012 Topps Tier One. This set is technically a parallel of 2012 Topps Tier One Top Shelf Relics, but is listed independently because of the changes in card numbering. The front of each card is serial numbered up to 50, and the card for each Phillie in this set bears two jersey swatches. Beckett refers to the set simply as “2012 Tier One Dual Relics.”

Ryan Howard
Roy Oswalt
Steve Carlton

2012 Topps Gypsy Queen

Set Type: Primary
Card dimensions:
2½” x 3½”
Parallels: Blank Backs, serial numbered “1/1” on back of card; Framed Black, serial numbered “1/1” on back; Framed Blue, serial numbered to 599 on back; Framed Gold; Black, Cyan, Magenta & Yellow Printing Plates — each serial #ed “1/1”; Mini; Mini Black; Framed Mini Black, Cyan, Magenta & Yellow Printing Plates — each serial #ed “1/1”; Mini Green; Mini Gypsy Queen Red Back; Mini Sepia, serial numbered to 99 on back; Mini Straight Cut Back. Topps distributed the Blank Backs parallels exclusively on eBay via The Topps Vault and only issued them for the base (non-SP variation) versions of the cards.

Additional information regarding the Mini parallels follows the primary set checklist.

Inserts: Dual Autographed Relics, Framed Mini Relics, Indian Head Penny, Moonshots, Original Art Patches, Relics, Sliding Stars, Triple Autographed Relics.
Additional Information/14,000 Phillies Commentary: Unlike 2011 Topps Gypsy Queen, this set does not actually replicate any previously used design. Although Topps clearly attempted to replicate the feel and spirit of the previous year’s offering (as it has done with its Allen & Ginter’s sets over the years), when you compare the 2012 set to other cards issued during the 19th century it certainly seems as if the border is just a little too ornate.

I love the fact that so many cards contain photo variations — this is completely keeping in the spirit of the very first Gypsy Queen set in 1887. However, there is no good reason for Topps to not just assign each of the variations its own card number — especially given the sheer number of variations in this set and the Mini parallel (again, more information on those after the primary checklist). Just giving each of the photo variations its own card number would make life a lot easier for collectors.

Another, incredibly small, quibble comes from the relative lack of Phillies autograph cards in this set. Maybe the 2011 edition spoiled me, but seeing none whatsoever in this set (outside of the incredibly short-printed Dual Autographed Relics and Triple Autographed Relics) was a huge disappointment.

Hunter Pence
Roy Halladay (mid-pitch, home jersey variation)
Roy Halladay (SP; running, alternate uniform variation)
Cole Hamels
Ryan Howard (finished swinging bat, home jersey variation)
Ryan Howard (SP; running, alternate uniform variation)
Carlos Ruiz
Domonic Brown
Roy Oswalt (mid-pitch, right hand behind head variation)
Roy Oswalt (SP; beginning of pitch, ball below hip variation)
Shane Victorino
Cliff Lee (road jersey, mid-windup variation)
Cliff Lee (SP; home jersey, throwing pitch variation)
Jimmy Rollins
Mike Schmidt (road jersey, fielding variation)
Mike Schmidt (SP; home jersey, hitting variation)
Vance Worley
Chase Utley

Additional Information on Mini Parallels
With the exception of the Framed Mini Printing Plate cards, which are encased in clear plastic within a standard-sized 2½” x 3½” frame, all the mini parallels measure 1716” x 21116.” All the non-SP cards in the primary set have a corresponding card in each of the Mini parallel sets. However, the regular Mini parallel set, and only the regular Mini parallel, contains all the variations in the primary set, as well as five additional Phillies: four variations and an extended series card. Unlike the variations in the primary set, all the Mini variations seem to be produced in equal quantities. To further complicate the matter and cause unneeded confusion, the four added variations do not appear in any of the other Mini parallels. However, the extended card — #325, Shane Victorino — does appear in all the other Mini parallel sets. The Mini additions are as follows:

Hunter Pence (hitting variation)
Cole Hamels (retro uniform variation)
Jimmy Rollins (hitting variation)
Chase Utley (hitting variation)
Shane Victorino

Odds and Ends

Featured Cards: 1999 Sports Illustrated by Fleer #15, Roger Clemens & Curt Schilling; 2011 Leaf Ink Cuts Philly’s Finest, Seth Morehead; 2012 Topps Opening Day #108, Roy Oswalt

As the last few weeks of posts clearly show, I’m enjoying working on the online portion of The Phillies Database Project. So long as I post checklists more quickly than new sets appear, there’s a consistent sense of progress. Furthermore, because I actually maintain one other regularly-updated blog as well as attempt to keep up with friends and family on social networking sites, this particular project provides me with a ready-made template for relatively easy posting. However, this blog was started for other reasons — so, I intend to bring some balance to what gets posted here. Before I embark down that road, a few odds and ends regarding 14,000 Phillies

Thus far, with just one notable exception I have only posted checklists for which I own a card I could use for a sample scan. Unfortunately, my desire to post checklist for sets as they appear means that will end very soon. I do not have a either of the 2012 Topps Golden Moments Game-Used Memorabilia cards or the Schmidt 2012 Topps Retired Rings card. I will most likely post the checklists in the next couple days or so, and include sample scans once I have any of those cards in hand. If, however a good Samaritan out there would like to send me the necessary good-quality scans, I will of course properly credit the individual…

I went against what I wrote a couple months ago and actually purchased a 2011 Leaf Ink Cuts Philly’s Finest card. Although I like adding Phillies autographs to my collection, the card will not go into the Database. The Database is for cards, coins and similar items that are easily discernible as Phillies collectibles. If the cards said “Philadelphia, NL” or some variation thereof, I would probably add them. However, the fact that you need to look up the player on a site like in order to determine whether the card is of a Phillie means that it is not such a collectible…

One last note on the Database (for now): I do update checklists after they are posted. If you take a look at the 2012 Topps checklist I posted over three weeks ago, you’ll see the format I intend to keep using to address parallels and partial parallels. I think this is much better than posting a separate checklist for every single parallel set. However, I am open to suggestions regarding a better format…

Finally, although I already purchased a complete Phillies team set that includes some inserts and a couple of the blue parallels off of eBay, I bought and ripped a couple packs of 2012 Topps Opening Day last night. Once again, I am struck by how unnecessary the foil on the regular Topps issue is; the Opening Day cards just look cleaner. Just because you can do something doesn’t mean you should do it. Having said that, it’s nice to add one final Oswalt card to the collection. I can’t imagine Topps including him as a Phillies when they issue the second series of 2012 Topps. However, this all assumes that he doesn’t somehow return as a mid-season acquisition.

2011 Topps Black Diamond

Set Type: Redemption
Card dimensions:
2½” x 3½”
Additional Information: Avialable via special redemption offer from Topps following release of 2011 Topps Series One. For each 36 wrappers from hobby boxes or 10 HTA Jumbo wrappers sent to Topps, collectors received in exchange a special 5-card pack of 60th Anniversary Black Diamond cards. The set is one of many over the years to recycle the 1952 Topps design.

Cliff Lee
Roy Halladay
Roy Oswalt
Chase Utley
Ryan Howard

2011 Phillies Cards in Review: Set of the Year

Almost just in time for the first set of 2012, I finally reach the pinnacle of my 2011 Phillies Card Year in Review series. I know that all the cool kids like to start their annual reviews sometime at the end of October when 1/6 of the year still remains, but waiting as long served two purposes. One, I had the opportunity to look over literally everything that arrived in 2011. I absolutely love, for example, when critics name their best books of the year when there are two months of books left unreleased. Yes, I know all about advance review copies, but that’s ignoring my point. How can you be certain if something is the best of the year if there are two frakking months left it in it? The other purpose is that drawing this series out gave me something to write about as I killed the weeks between the last of the 2011 sets and today’s release of 2012 Topps.

Seeing as I already have my order in for a team set of the first series, I better get started on my choice for the set of the year. So without further preamble, the winner is:

2011 Topps Gypsy Queen

I don’t believe I’ve hid my love for this set. I talked approvingly about it back at the start of this blog, and my while positive first impression came with a few reservations, the set really grew on me — so much so that I included a large number of cards from the set in the other categories in my review of the 2011 cards. Although I stand by my belief that Topps should have issued a set closer to the look and feel of the original Gypsy Queen cards, the treatment they applied to the photos on the cards gave the set a truly unique feel compared to all their other sets to date. I saw more than a few baseball card blogs complain about Topps issuing yet another retro set, but here’s the thing: unlike Topps’s Heritage offerings and all the various insert where they’ve reused designs from their past, the overwhelming majority of collectors cannot afford even one of the original Gypsy Queen cards. For most of us, this is going to be as close as get to them.

My love for the set, however, extended far beyond the look and feel of the cards and their photos. One of the other things that made this set really unique was that all the inserts — whether they were plain, simple inserts or contained memorabilia and/or autographs — maintained the basic card design of the base set. Even if all the card didn’t have “Gypsy Queen” in the same arched word-art at the top of each card, you would have recognized immediately, without a moment of doubt or hesitation, whether or not an insert came from the Gypsy Queen set. To me, this made it both fun and compelling to chase down as many of the various inserts as possible. It was a rare set in which you could mix the inserts alongside the base cards in a binder and they wouldn’t have looked out of place.

In fact, you could theoretically do the same thing with the mini framed inserts, if you were of a mind to somehow excise them from the frame in which Topps encased them.

Admittedly, putting together a true master set of 2011 Gypsy Queen Phillies will be impossible — there were just too many autograph and/or memorabilia cards with ridiculously small print runs. However, I really feel like Topps at least attempted to strike a balance because there were actually a significant number of those cards that I could afford. In fact, to the best of my knowledge, Topps also created much easier to find auto and/or memorabilia cards for all the players whom they created an auto/memorabilia card printed on an extremely limited basis. In particular, I’m referring to the autographed memorabilia cards with print runs of just 25 they created for Utley, Victorino, Howard and Halladay. For each player, you could much more cheaply acquire some sort of Gypsy Queen autograph or memorabilia card. You really can’t say that for any of the other sets made issued in 2011.

With that, I’m finished with this series. I don’t expect everyone to agree with my reasons for choosing Topps Gypsy Queen as my set of the year, but I’m comfortable with the decision. Topps has already announced plans for a second Gypsy Queen set this year, and I sincerely hope that all the elements that made the 2011 set so wonderful return in the upcoming issue.

Cards Featured
Base Cards: #342, Placido Polanco; #47, Jimmy Rollins; #27, Roy Oswalt; #139, Raul Ibañez; #2, Roy Halladay
Mini Parallels: #346, Shane Victorino; #2[b], Roy Hallady (SP variation)
Certified Autograph: #GQA-SV, Shane Victorino; Framed Mini Relic (image was cropped): #FMRC-CU, Chase Utley

2011 Phillies Cards in Review: Insert Card of the Year

I don’t believe I made this clear earlier, but a key element to this entire series of posts is that these are cards that made it into my collection. Up till now, I don’t believe that this key requirement potentially impacted any of my selections. However, that is no longer the case. With so many inserts — many of them with available only rather limited qualities — it is possible that I may eventually acquire a 2011 insert that I like better than the ones I discuss in this post, but at this time the following are my favorite three inserts of the year.

The first of the two runner-ups is Roy Oswalt’s 2011 Topps Black Diamond Redemption. While my previously-professed love of cards reusing old Topps designs certainly came into play, what drew me to this card is the look on Oswalt’s face. I don’t know why, but there’s something about it that reminds me of Dave Chappelle’s awesome sketch where Wayne Brady actually says, “Is Wayne Brady gonna have to choke a bitch?” Is Roy Oswalt going to have to throw a fastball at someone’s head? It’s very possible that this is just an odd photo and there wasn’t a hint of malice going through Oswalt’s head at that time, but I’m glad I wasn’t present to find out for certain.

My other runner-up for Insert Card of the Year is Jim Thome’s Gypsy Queen Home Run Heroes card. When this set arrived at stores, There was just no good reason for his appearance as a Phillies card on baseball card. After all, it was nearly six years after his last game in a Phillies uniform. While commemorating Thome’s 400th home run in an insert series highlighting momentous home runs by current players provided justification for a Thome Phillies card, it would have made far more sense if they had issued a card commemorating his 500th home run in a White Sox uniform or maybe even his last home run in an Indians uniform — the team he will almost certainly be depicted with when he’s inducted into the Hall of Fame. However, his surprise signing with the Phillies in November suddenly made the card feel almost prescient. I don’t know if he will actually finish his career in a Phillies uniform, but for the moment, I am glad to see him in one again and look forward to seeing him grace a few more cards as a Phillie.

And now, my pick as the Phillies Insert Card of the Year is …

Chase Utley for his 2011 Topps Lineage 3-D

At the risk of sounding like a needle stuck in the same groove of an old record, the Topps Lineage inserts were everything that the actually Lineage set should have been. If I was giving an award for worst set of the year, Lineage would be the early and obvious front runner. However, I loved all the inserts — especially this one. Cards picturing players at various points of their swing are rather common, but we see very few photos of players as they are leaving the batter’s box and heading down the line. However, such a picture is perfect for this particular insert, given that the surface of the card is supposed to create a kind of in-motion effect. Thankfully, Topps seems to have received enough feedback such as mine as next year Topps replaces its Lineage debacle with Topps Archives and Topps Fan Favorites. I know I’ll be looking forward them.

Featured Cards: 2011 Topps Black Diamond Redemption #28, Roy Oswalt; 2011 Topps Gypsy Queen Home Run Heroes #HH14, Jim Thome; 2011 Topps Lineage 3-D (no number, but listed by Topps in promotional material as “T3D14”), Chase Utley

But… Where Did the Swatches Come From?

Featured Cards: 2010 Topps Peak Performance Relics #PPR-BR, Brad Lidge; 2011 Topps Topps 60 Autograph Relics #T60AR-RO, Roy Oswalt

I know that I’m more than a few weeks late in getting around to this particular post, but I just didn’t want to let the Phillies’ decision to decline Brad Lidge’s and Roy Oswalt’s option years and allow them to become free agents go without some mention of their impact on me as a collector. Surprisingly, as far as collecting Phillies baseball cards goes, their impact has been minimal.

You’d think that Lidge’s historic 2008 season would have caused some sort of glut of memorabilia and/or autograph cards. Nothing of the sort really occurred. Topps only issued a few jersey cards, and given Topps’s reticence over the past few years to state when a jersey was worn or a bat was used — the back of each card states “The relic on this card is not from any specific game, event or season” — we can’t even be sure that those grey road jersey swatches are actually from a Phillies jersey and not an Astros jersey. More amazingly, neither Topps or Upper Deck ever issued an certified autograph card of Lidge depicting him in a Phillies uniform. Yes, there are plenty of certified autograph cards out there from his days with the Astros, but if you’re like me, you have no interest in them. At the moment, it looks like the only way I’m getting such an autograph is either in person at a card show or some sort of item authenticated either by PSA or JSA.

The news is only slightly better on the Roy Oswalt front. Amazingly, Topps did issue this year a certified autograph/jersey card depicting him as a Phillie, but as with the Lidge Peak Performance Relic, we don’t know whether that grey swatch came from an Astros or Phillies uniform (or whether it was worn in a Major League game, a Spring Training game, or just got worn by Oswalt and isn’t actually game-used). Interestingly, Topps produced only 50 of this card — the only certified autograph showing and denoting Oswalt as a Phillie. Thus, Oswalt might actually be the hardest autograph to obtain for those interesting in collecting at least one certified autograph baseball card of every Phillie to appear on one.

The thing that amuses me most about these two particular cards is the idea that they both actually contain swatches from both player’s days as an Astro. Given the way Topps handles these matters, it certainly isn’t out of the realm of possibility (and actually wouldn’t surprise me one bit). Nonetheless, they are nice cards — I just wish that Lidge had appeared on at least one autograph issue during his time with The Fightins.

Topps’s Epic 2011 Lineage Fail, Part 1 of 2

Featured card: 2011 Topps Lineage #93, Roy Oswalt

Topps finally did it. Less than two full years after Major League Baseball handed back to them their monopoly on baseball cards, Topps finally put out a set that proves that they don’t give a shit about the quality of the product they’re crapping out, because they don’t have any competition to force them to put any real effort into anything anymore. That’s exactly the first thought I had when I looked at my Phillies team set of 2011 Topps Lineage when it arrived in the mail yesterday.

Admittedly, I had seen the previews of the set, but as with all new sets I decided to reserve judgment until I got my hands on the real thing. If anything, that only lowered my opinion of the set. The key to my disappointment lies in the set name, “Lineage.” According to Marriam-Webster, lineage means “descent in a line from a common progenitor.” Well, if the base set is any indication, then the only things that this new brand descends from are the recent styles favored by Topps for its flagship line. Honestly, the front of the card looks like it’s very likely the initial (probably rejected) mock-up for year’s regular Topps set. Hi gloss, unnecessarily using silver foil for the name* and a generic border — nothing to indicate any acknowledgement of the history of Topps cards over the past six decades.

The backs only serve to compound the laziness of the design and effort. Ever since Donruss and Fleer issued their sets in 1981, when designing the back of the card Topps has been the old man on the street who keeps yelling at teenagers to turn their car stereo down when they drive by his house. Yes, Topps has experimented with different looks on the back of some of its brands, but when it comes to their main offering, you can count on complete career major league stats — something that no other card company regularly did over the past 30 years. Yet, on the debut of the “Lineage” brand, there’s no stats; instead, there’s just a laughable effort at a brief text summary for the player. While this is what card companies mostly did until the mid ’50s, Topps never did that sort of thing well — even on recent issues with this type of back. Judging by the look of the Lineage cards, they still haven’t bothered to learn how. I seriously did better work on the half-assed book reviews I wrote for 6th grade English class.

What could they have done to make the set better? Well, the first thing they could’ve done was actually wake someone up in the design department and tell them to spend more than 10 minutes on creating a card that harkened back to an older set without actually duplicating it. They could have given the set a Heritage treatment, did away with the high gloss and foil stamping and used a heavier light grey or brown cardboard stock so that it had the feel of an older card. Failing all that, they could have actually reused all their old designs in a meaningful way, which is exactly what they with the inserts and is clearly the only thing Topps really cared about with this set — something I’ll address in my next post.

* Another quick rant: does anybody know how to get a scanner to properly scan one of these cards so that you can actually read the foil printing? Seriously, not once have I gotten a Topps card that uses foil for the player or team name to scan legibly.