Category Archives: Scott Rolen

2014 Topps Turkey Red, Revisited

2014 Turkey Red HalladayOver the weekend, I gave some more thought to what I wrote about the newest iteration of Topps’s Turkey Red brand. My opinion on the set remains the same, and I wouldn’t retract or change a single word. However, it did occur to me that if Topps was indeed attempting a modern take on the Turkey Red design — one of my suggestions for why the set looks the way it does — then they managed to completely overlook a direction suggested by their own designers approximately 15 years ago: the 1997 and 1998 Gallery sets.

When you look at those sets, it’s clear that they contain the same basic design elements employed by the original Turkey Red set. Both the ’97 and ’98 Gallery sets contain the picture frame and nameplate motifs, and both sets actually employ multiple variations of it in each year. Remove the foil and the gloss from

1997 Gallery Jefferies1997 Gallery Schilling1998 Gallery Rolen1998 Gallery Schilling

the cards, and you essentially have Turkey Red sets with frames embodying a much more modern appearance. Topps could have taken this direction, and even potentially created a “Gallery” parallel set that used foil, gloss, and the Gallery logo. While I typically avoid parallels and find most of them to be utterly banal and superfluous, I would’ve applauded Topps for updating a retro design and paying homage to a brand that they’ve let lay fallow for quite some time now (and I’m not just saying this because I came up with the idea.)

One other thought regarding the 2007 Turkey Red Utley2014 Turkey Red set: who the hell thought that new photo treatment looked attractive? I can accept that paying artists to do original artwork for baseball cards can become quite pricey and that it’s more cost effective to apply some kind of filter to an existing photo to make it appear like artwork — even though original artwork is what made the 2007 Turkey Red set arguably the best of the series. However, the new filter they used on this year’s set was just awful — even if they did manage to correct the error that caused coloration problems on the Phillie script on the jerseys and the “P” on the caps. Why the change from the one they used on all the other Turkey Red sets? If they felt such a change was essential, there were better filters available, such as the one they used on the 2007 Bowman Heritage sets.

2007 Bowman Heritage IguchiComing back to my primary complaint about the 2014 Turkey Red set, this boils back down to an overall lack of attention to detail at Topps. I know that once you take into account all its other sports and non-sports brands, Topps creates and distributes an ridiculous number of sets per year. That type of production schedule must be difficult to maintain, as evidenced by the fact that the release date on this year’s Heritage offering was pushed back to March 14 from March 5. Because Topps is a privately-held company and therefore isn’t required to publish annual earnings statements, there’s no way for me to know Topps’s profit margins for 2013. However, are their earnings so slim that they can’t hire one person — an expert on both the details of baseball card design throughout the product’s history and baseball history in general — 2009 Turkey Red Ibanezwhose job it is to ensure that such inattention to detail doesn’t occur? Or is this a case of a company that actually doesn’t care all that much about what its customers think, so long as they somehow maintain their current profit margins?

In the end, I just wish that Topps showed that they care as much about the minutiae of the final product as collectors such as myself do. The key here is that we want to unabashedly love these sets — that’s why we purchase them and write about them in the manner we do. Out criticism stems not from a desire to berate the product but from the understanding that it could be made significantly more enjoyable without much in the way of effort. Deep down, however, I know that Topps will show no inclination to address these flaws so long as I, and collectors such as myself, continue to purchase such product  despite our complaints. However, I will continue to voice such objections in the hopes that one day Topps may actually start listening to them.

Featured cards: 2014 Topps Turkey Red #83, Roy Halladay; 1997 Gallery #23, Gregg Jefferies; 1997 Gallery #54, Curt Schilling; 1998 Topps Gallery #74, Scott Rolen; 1998 Topps Gallery #127, Curt Schilling; 2007 Topps Turkey Red #56, Chase Utley; 2007 Bowman Heritage #162, Tadahito Iguchi; 2009 Topps Turkey Red #TR129, Raúl Ibañez

Oddball Game Card Week, Post #3: APBA & Team Out!

2000 APBA SS Rolen FrontAfter yesterday’s post, I realized that I didn’t make it clear when I started this series that I would be staying away from the various game cards issued by Topps and other major manufacturers. Nothing against games like Donruss’s Top of the Order, or Wizards of the Coast’s multi-year run of MLB Showdown sets (though I will almost certainly write about the Showdown sets at some point in the future), but they were well known in hobby circles at the time of their release. The key here is that the game cards I’m covering this week were at least partially licensed but were neither made by the major manufacturers nor specifically targeted at the hobby.

Today’s post is a twofer. APBA has 2000 APBA SS Rolen Backbeen making baseball simulation board games over over 60 years, but to my knowledge, the only one they made that contains photos of the players is their 2000 APBA Super Stars game. As with MLB Trade Up, I know nothing about the how the game was played. However, at least the standard-sized cards offer a clue as to some of the gameplay mechanics. Based on the back of Scott Rolen’s card, the only Phillie in the 30-card set, it certainly wasn’t played in the same manner as APBA’s traditional sets. This was probably a necessity since the game was clearly directed towards young kids. Given the game’s parentage, Super Stars probably stood a good chance of seeing a second or updated edition, provided it sold well enough. Alas, that must not have happened as APBA offered neither.

1996 Team Out BackToday’s other set is Team Out! Baseball, issued by Ultimate Line-Up in 1996. According to Beckett, this game was never issued as a complete set. Instead, the 101-card set was “distributed in boxes of 60-card decks.” Given the size of the set, 60-card decks almost seem ridiculous. Why not just issue all 101 cards together, or at least increase the set to a total of 120 cards, thus making it easier for a collector to compile a complete set? I’m sure someone in accounting convinced Ultimate Line-Up that they’d sell more cards with such a convoluted scheme. Unfortunately, the player cards bear absolutely no clue whatsoever as to how the game was played. In fact, other than the fact that it looks like some sort of slimmer than standard-sized playing card (2¼” x 3½”), there’s nothing about the cards that suggest that they are part of a game. 1996 Team Out SantiagoGiven the state of the Phillies at the time, it’s not surprising that they only had two cards in the set. What is surprising, however, are the two players who were picked to represent the team: Benito Santiago and Todd Zeile. Yep, Ultimate Line-Up chose the two big name off-season acquisitions rather than use either of the team’s biggest stars, Lenny Dykstra and Darren Daulton. Given his career through ’96, I understand picking Santiago, but Zeile? I’d love to know what went into the decision to pick him over Daulton and Dykstra.

Odds and Ends

Featured Cards: 2014 Topps #74, John Mayberry, Jr.; 2004 Throwback Threads Century Collection Material Jersey #CC-80, Scott Rolen

A2014 Topps Mayberrys I stated yesterday, I will have an updated version of the Phillies Baseball Card Database online by the end of the week. The plan moving forward is that I will post updates within a week or so of the release of a new set — even if I am otherwise in one of my posting hiatuses. Following this week’s update, I will  institute a new system whereby I post a both complete file and a file containing just the edits and additions so that those who are using the file for their own purposes can more easily incorporate edits and new material as I post them. This week’s revised database will contain the full 2014 Topps Series One checklists, and I’ll give my thoughts about the set when I post the new version….

I’m a couple months late in responding to a comment from steveinphilly, but here it is: Beckett Baseball Editor Chris Olds is still an idiot. I know it’s not news, but so long as he holds that position with Beckett and continues to make the kinds of statements he made in the comment thread to the post on 2013 Topps Heritage High-Number — especially his comments in regards to autograph stickers versus cards that are autographed directly — I will continue to mock both him and Beckett. It really would be nice to see one editor at Beckett at least acknowledges the validity of the  complaints and constructive input of collectors….

With the approximately2004 Throwback Threads CC Rolen 5,000 new additional items in the database, I am down to just 33 of my own cards that are not currently listed in it. All my Scott Rolen cards are in it, and I was surprised to discover that I own 699 of them. I almost feel like I need to go out of my way to add one more just to have a nice round number. What surprises me even more is that I have fewer cards of Ryan Howard and he, thus far, has played in three more seasons with the Phillies than Rolen did.

Days of Future Passed

Featured Card: 2000 Bowman Retro/Future #78, Bobby Abreu; 2002 Topps Summer School Heart of the Order Relics #HTO-ARB, Bobby Abreu, Scott Rolen, & Pat Burrell

2000 Bowman RF AbreuI still don’t know what to make of yesterday’s signing of Bobby Abreu to a minor league contract. The Phillies need to get younger, not older, and while Abreu has to earn the spot, I’d hate to think that this means less time for Darin Ruf, who despite the holes in his game, is a perfectly serviceable bat off the bench and fourth outfielder. On the other hand, if Abreu makes the team, the Phillies will enter the 2014 season with ⅔ of its starting lineup from 2003 — how many other teams can say that? (Snarky aside: how many other teams would be glad to say that?) In addition, it’s very hard for me to root against any player in his 40s trying to hang on to the game as long as possible.

Two other thoughts come to mind about Abreu. First, he truly is a borderline HOF candidate (though he probably doesn’t pass the old-school “sniff” test and falls off the HOF ballot after his first year because although he ranks 51st all-time in times on base, far too many of his times on base came via walk and not via base hit). I forget who said it, but if he does somehow make the Hall, he should be the first person whose plaque doesn’t actually touch the wall — put it on a stand about six feet away from it. Along those same lines, I’ll never forget the time a co-worker, who was a 2002 Topps HO ARBYankees fan, telling me a few months into the 2007 season that his son asked him about Abreu, “Dad, why is he so afraid of the wall?” Second, if you had asked me back in 2002 when Topps issued this triple-relic card which of the three men pictured on it I thought would be entering the 2014 preseason looking to hang on with the Phils, Abreu would’ve been my last pick. Just goes to show what an unpredictable game baseball really is.

Still Here

Featured Cards: 2013 Topps Rookie of the Year Award Winners Trophy #ROY-SR, Scott Rolen; 2013 Phillies Team Issue, Second Edition (no #, uniform number on front), Jonathan Pettibone; 1916 M101-4 Blank Back (no #), Wilbur Good

2013 Topps ROY Award Winner RolenFour weeks since the last post. For what it’s worth, I’m accumulating ideas for posts — I’ve just lacked the time to work on them, and after four weeks without posting (actually, nearly three months without regular posting), it feels like I should do some sort of “I’m back” post before just jumping in again. So, another quick hodge-podge of stuff today before really getting active again tomorrow…

As of today, I have 417 Phillies cards designated as 2013 issues in my collection (I’ve followed Beckett’s convention and listed this year’s Panini Prizm set as a 2012 release). Even given that there are nearly four months left in the year, I believe it’s very unlikely that this year’s total will reach the same numbers as the first few years of the MLB-sanctioned Topps monopoly. However, as I am now adding MLBPA-sanctioned cards (again, I refuse to use the term “unlicensed”) I suppose that there is a chance that the final number might get closer than I suspect. For the record, I own 596 Phillies cards from 2010, 599 from 2011, and 625 from 2012…

2013 Team Issue 2 PettiboneI was kind of sad to see Jim’s report at The Phillies Room stating we will not see an update to this second edition of this year’s team issue set. It’s understandable given the recent crowds at Citizens Bank, and — truth be told — I feel relieved that I don’t have to purchase it again in its entirety just to add a handful of new cards to my collection. On the other hand, Phillies team-issued cards of Cody Asche and a few of the other last-season call-ups would’ve been nice, since I don’t trust Topps to include most of them in the Update set later this year…

Work on the database continues. It now contains 29,085 entries and is now complete through 1992. (Link currently goes to a version that I posted at the end of July). I will post an updated version once it reaches 30,000 entries…

1916 M101-4 GoodAs for the number of items in the actual collection, I am now approaching 18,500. I started this blog in May 2011 while anticipating the addition of item number 14,000. I think it’s safe to say that the growth in my collection over the past 28 months is, for me, both unprecedented and will almost certainly never be repeated. Most of this growth was the result of filling in massive holes in the collection from the 2003-2009 timeframe — a period of (comparatively) very limited collecting. Although I certainly have enough cards to assemble a decent-size want list for those years, I’ve now collected the overwhelming majority of what I want to acquire from that era. I’m now going to devote greater resources to the pre-WW II part of my collection…

Finally, come hell or high water, I will be posting a very belated review of 2013 Topps Archives tomorrow. I actually have something I’ve really wanted to say about the set and the inserts, and damn it, I’m going to.

2001 Donruss Retro 2000

Set Type: Insert
Card dimensions: 2½” x 3½”
Parallels: Stat Line Career; Stat Line Season
Additional Information: Inserted in packs of 2001 Donruss. There was no actual 2000 Donruss issue, and Donruss designed this insert set to simulate what the 2000 Donruss set might have looked like had it been released. The design is actually nearly identical to the 2000 Donruss football set. The Stat Line Career and Stat Line Season parallels were serial numbered based on a specific career or season statistic for each player. In the checklist below, the print runs for each of the parallels is listed in parentheses after each players name, with the Career print run preceded by “C” and the Season print run preceded by a “S.”

Curt Schilling (C: 338; S: 152)
Scott Rolen (C:297; S: 26)
Bobby Abreu (C: 209; S: 11)

1998 Pinnacle Plus Team Pinnacle

Set Type: Insert
Card dimensions: 2½” x 3½”
Parallels: Gold; Mirror, stated print run of 25 (not serial numbered).
Additional Information: Seeded in packs of 1998 Pinnacle Plus. According to the Beckett Online Guide, Team Pinnacle inserts were randomly inserted into one out of every 71 packs. Every card featured a different player on each of the two sides. Scott Rolen is technically the back of his card.

14 Scott Rolen (w/ Garciaparra of Red Sox)

2001 Donruss Studio Warning Track

Set Type: Insert
Card dimensions: 2½” x 3½”
Parallel: Off the Wall, serial numbered to 25 on back of card.
Additional Information: Seeded in packs of 2001 Donruss Studio. Each card contains a piece of an outfield wall from a Major League ballpark that is not necessarily the home park for the player on the card. However, Donruss attempted to compensate by noting on the front of the card a fact germane to the player’s career in the park from which the wall swatch originates.

The Off of the Wall parallels differ from regular parallels in that they replace the “Warning Track” text on the front and the back with “Off the Wall.” In addition, they use a slightly different foil for the replacement text and the serial number. All three of the Phillies in the set contain a swatch of wall from Three Rivers Stadium in Pittsburgh, PA.

Pat Burrell
Mike Schmidt
Scott Rolen

2000 SPx Signatures

Set Type: Insert
Card dimensions: 2½” x 3½”
Manufacturer: Upper Deck
Additional Information: Seeded in packs of 2000 SPx. According to the Beckett Online Guide, Signature inserts were randomly inserted into one out of every 179 packs. The players in this set signed the cards directly.

X-SR Scott Rolen

2002 Leaf Rookies & Stars Triple Threads

Set Type: Insert
Card Dimensions: 2½” x 3½”
Additional Information: Cards were inserted in  packs of 2002 Leaf Rookies & Stars. Back of cards are serial-numbered to 100. As the card states, it contains jersey swatches for all three players.
14,000 Phillies Commentary: During the 2004-2008 time period, I had to sell of a lot of my collection to stay afloat financially. This was one of the cards that went at that time, and I just replaced it. Given that only 100 were made, there is a very small, but not completely insignificant chance that I may have the same card again. Because I didn’t record that type of detail when noting what I sold, there’s no way for me to know. However, I do know that I reacquired it for less than I sold it for (and that’s before adjusting for inflation), so in the long run, I came out ahead.

By the way, you know that if Topps made a similar card today, they would have issued at least four different parallels, one of which bearing a “1/1” serial number, and at first glance you probably wouldn’t be able to tell the versions apart — even if placed directly side-by-side.

TT-5 Mike Schmidt, Steve Carlton, & Scott Rolen