Category Archives: Tyler Cloyd

The Parallel/Printing Plate Glut

Featured cards listed at end of post.

65,860. That’s approximately how many entries are in the version of the Phillies Baseball Card Database I posted last night. I am fairly certain it’s the largest Excel file I’ve ever worked with (my job requires me to work with large Excel files on a regular basis), but how many truly unique Phillies items are there really?

Well, if you filter out printing plates and parallels (not a perfect way to determine this, but it works nicely for my purposes here), the number drops drastically — to approximately 36,950. That’s still a lot, mind you, but it quickly demonstrates the extremely small possibility of someone actually putting together a comprehensive Phillies collection. What’s truly mind-numbing is that number also means that parallels and printing plates make up nearly half of the current content of the database. Worse still, that percentage is likely going to grow dramatically as I continue with the project and continue adding new material. For proof of this, look no further than the parallels from 2013 Topps:

2013 Topps Camo Contreras2013 Topps Em Green Aumont2013 Topps Factory Orange Rollins2013 Topps Gold Brown2013 Topps SS Blue Kendrick2013 Topps SS Contreras2013 Topps Target Lerud2013 Topps TRU Cloyd2013 Topps WM Cloyd

The worst part is that there are still a few additional parallels missing from this collage. For the 20 Phillies cards (not counting the gimmick variations) in the 2013 Topps set, there are 340 parallels and printing plates — and each of those cards and plates has its own entry in the database.

I first attempted to assemble a comprehensive, unabridged list of Phillies cards back during my teen years in the mid-to-late ’80s. I still have an original printout somewhere in a box of mementos — I’ll have to see if I can find it and post a scan of one of the pages in a future post — and if I recall correctly, I was able to print out the entire list in roughly 30 pages, at two columns a page, in a nicely-sized, easily legible font. After playing around with the newest version of the database, I determined that I could probably port a legible printout in roughly 260 pages — but that really is a best guess.

This is the primary reason why this project has taken so long. I’m convinced that without parallels and printing plates I’d likely be done this project by now. As it is, 2015 seems like a reasonable estimate as to when I’ll finally have it at the point where I’m only updating for new releases. In the meantime, every time I see Topps announce yet another new parallel, I will be muttering curses under my breath.

Featured 2013 Topps Parallel Cards: Desert Camouflage #152, José Contreras; Emerald Green #646, Phillippe Aumont; Factory Orange #206, Jimmy Rollins; Gold #625, Domonic Brown; Silver Slate Blue Sparkle Wrapper Redemption #71, Kyle Kendrick; Silver Slate Wrapper Redemption #152, José Contreras; Target Red Border #424, Steven Lerud; Topps Toys “R” Us Purple Border #424, Tyler Cloyd; Walmart Blue Border #424, Tyler Cloyd

Revisting the MLB Debut Post

Featured Cards: 2011 Bowman Draft Picks & Prospects Prospects #BDPP2, Cody Asche; 1996 Fleer Ultra #522, Rich Hunter; 1992 Donruss The Rookies #108, Steve Scarsone; 2013 Topps Walmart Blue Border #197, Tyler Cloyd; 2013 Bowman Cream of the Crop Mini Refractors #CC-PP3, Ethan Martin

Back in May, I wrote a post 2011 Bowman DPP Aschedetailing the correlation between the Phillies performance over the past 10+ years and the number of players making their Major League debut in each of those years. At the time, I predicted that if the team faltered then we would likely see Cody Asche, Cesar Hernandez, Adam Morgan and Jesse Biddle all appear at some point during the season and that Leandro Castro and Tommy Joseph would see outside chances at playing as well. Well, we know what happened with the Phillies, but I was only correct on two of those predictions: Asche & Hernandez. However, a number of other Phillies did make their MLB debut this year: Steve Susdorf, Cameron Rupp, Ethan Martin, Luis Garcia, J.C. Ramírez, and Mauricio Robles (Jonathan Pettibone had already made his debut at the time of the original post.)

1996 Fleer Ultra HunterThe nine players making their debut this season marks the highest number since 1996, when the Phillies used a mind-numbing 54 players, 13 of whom made their MLB debut that year. One of those was Scott Rolen, who would win Rookie of the Year the following season, but for some of those players, such as Rich Hunter, 1996 marked the only year that they would play in the Majors. A couple of them, Rafael Quirico, and Carlos Crawford, literally made their sole Major League appearance that season. Sadly for both Quirico and Crawford, they also earned losses in those appearances. Even though card companies were still churning out massive quantities of product in ’96, a few of those players never appeared on a Phillies baseball card: Bronson Heflin, Jon Zuber*, & Quirico. If it hadn’t been for the Phillies Team Issue set, Crawford would’ve never seen one either.

All this got me to thinking about how it’s a shame that the Phillies won’t be issuing an update to the second edition of their team issue set. It’s likely that at least a couple of this year’s MLB debuts may never see action in the majors again, and the 1992 Donruss Rookies Scarsoneteam issue set was their best hope for a Phillies card. This is a perfect example of what made Topps’s Major League Debut sets in the early ’90s and Donruss’s 1992 The Rookies set so great: you got plenty of cards of players making their only cardboard appearance for a particular team. Without those sets, we wouldn’t have Phillies cards for Steve Scarsone or Jim Vatcher. I loved it when Topps resurrected the idea of sets built around rookie and MLB debuts with their ’52 Rookies sets in 2006 and 2007, and although neither of those sets contained the only Phillies card for a particular player, that may have had more to do with dumb luck than anything else. As such, it would be nice to see sets like those again.

The irony of all this is that the prospect inserts in the various Bowman sets does provide Topps a way to have at least (pre-)rookie cards for most players. Yet, they are so focused on printing2013 Topps WM Cloyd cards for players who are years away from appearing in the majors that they frequently miss players who should appear in those sets. I would argue that there was no reason over the past couple years to not issue a Prospects insert card for B.J. Rosenberg, Tyler Cloyd or Susdorf given that they were all in AAA long enough to make their MLB debut a more probable event than the likes of Julian Samson, Chance Chapman, or Jeremy Hamilton — none of whom ever came close to sitting in a big league dugout.

So, out of this year’s players to see their first MLB action this season, I believe we can reasonably surmise who won’t ever appear on a Phillies card. Asche, Hernandez, Pettibone, Ramírez, Rupp and Martin have all already appeared on a Bowman Prospects insert card of some sort, so they don’t even enter the discussion. Garcia has 2013 Bowman Mini Martinpitched in 21 games this season and is currently on the roster, which means there’s a good chance that Topps will include him in either this year’s Update set (amazingly, they haven’t issued the checklist for that yet) or in next year’s Topps set. Even though I earlier pegged Susdorf as someone who arguably should have appeared on a Bowman Prospects insert card, his age and the Phillies outfielder logjam make it very unlikely he’ll even appear in a Phillies uniform again (other than in Spring Training next year.) So I’m guessing we won’t see him on a Phillies card. Same goes for Robles, who has only appeared in two games this season, and, truth be told, whose minor league numbers suggest he doesn’t belong in the majors. However, he’s only 24, so things could still change.

In the meantime, I continue to wait for Topps to issue a card for B.J. Rosenberg and Freddy Galvis, both of whom made their debuts last year and have spent months on the big league roster. Amazingly, Steven Lerud, who also made his debut last year, already has two Topps cards even though he has appeared in only nine games and spent only a few cumulative weeks on the big league roster. Even more amazingly — Rosenberg and Galvis have appeared in Phillies team issue sets while Lerud has not.

It all makes me yearn for the return of something like Topps Total or Upper Deck’s Fortyman.

* I am aware that the Phillies at some point printed a card for Zuber to use for answering autograph requests. However, it was never included in a team issue set, thus not readily available to the public. So, although he has a very limited Phillies card, I do not consider it an official baseball card release (if that makes any sense.)

2013 Pinnacle: A Phillies Collector’s Review

Featured cards listed at end of post.

2013 Pinnacle HamelsAs I’ve stated before, I want to see Topps’s monopoly on MLB-sanctioned card broken (even if it won’t happen until 2020, at the absolute earliest), but I can’t bring myself to stop collecting their cards because of what it will do to my collection. Thus, the only way to make my displeasure known is start spreading some of my collecting budget around to the sets that only bear MLBPA approval. Yes, I’m going to have to live without MLB logos and team names, but such cards have been around for over 40 years now. In fact, some of my personal favorite oddball Phillies releases were produced by Michael Schecter Associates, the longtime, indisputable king of such sets from the ’70s through the mid ’90s.

However, the playing field has changed 2013 Pinnacle Rufsomehow since sets bearing the MSA copyright freely roamed the land. MLB is paying much closer attention than they used to. Back in the ’70s and early ’80s it wasn’t uncommon to still see the use of team monikers on such issues, even if it wasn’t completely legal. Furthermore, MLB’s legal team is making harder for the MLBPA-approved sets to bear photography that links the photograph to a facility in which MLB games are played. True, today’s digital photo manipulation technology makes it easier to perform all the tasks necessary to keep the MLB lawyers at bay, but it’s hard to escape the end result: regardless of quality, the photos in the cards just seem to lack a vibrancy found in even the blandest Topps issue. As a result, one needs to judge the MLBPA-sanctioned issues with a different set of criteria.

2013 Pinnacle Ruf BackWith that in mind, there’s quite a lot to like about Panini’s revivial of the Pinnacle brand. It works as a decent low-end set, a kind of throwback set I alluded to a couple days ago: no foil or other printing gimmicks, a limited number of parallels and no SPs. Furthermore, Panini designed the fronts to reflect the designs of the original Pinnacle releases; most notably, the all black borders, and rookie cards grouped together in a subset. Even the parallels are resurrections of the original sets’ parallels: Artist’s Proofs and Museum Collection. Unfortunately, the backs look nothing like the backs of the 1992 & 1993 sets which fronts of the 2013 edition clearly evoke. Most notable is the absence of player portraits on the back, and it would’ve been nice to see Panini make such an effort on this release. Beyond that, it just looks like a different design aesthetic altogether, which is 1993 Pinnacle Bell Backa shame given that the fronts of the 2013 set make it look like a natural predecessor to those earlier releases.

As for the Phillies player selection, the huge emphasis on rookies, which encompasses fully ¼ of the whole 200-card set, leads to Darrin Ruf and Tyler Cloyd pushing out a couple Phillies who probably should’ve been included instead — most notably, Cliff Lee. In addition, I’m not sold on the inclusion of Michael Young in the set, but clearly both Panini and Topps both felt that his presence in many sets this year was more important than the inclusion of Jimmy Rollins, whose status seems most impacted in sets hovering around this size. With just four other cards in the set, it’s hard to quibble with the remaining player choices: Chase Utley, Roy Halladay, Cole Hamels, and Ryan Howard.

2013 Pinnacle Auto CloydThere are two really notable aspects to the set’s inserts. First, we get Tyler Cloyd’s first autograph card properly showing him in “Philadelphia” attire. Topps still hasn’t issued a Cloyd autograph card — though to be fair, I think that is a borderline defensible position from Topps’s standpoint as Cloyd really is little more than a AAAA roster filler material. So, at this time this is the closest you are going to get to a true Cloyd Phillies autograph card. (His only previous autograph card, also a Panini release, shows him in either minor league or collegiate attire and looks even less like “real” Philadelphia card.) Second, Chase Utley gets a lot of insert attention in this set and is the only Phillie with multiple inserts, checking in with three. This is a refreshing change from what I’ve seen this year from Topps, who seems to have largely forgotten that even with all his injuries over the past few seasons, he’s still produced as one of the game’s elite second basemen.

However, one of 2013 Pinnacle CV Utleythose insert sets, Clear Vision, is a real puzzler. There’s no explanatory text whatsoever on any of these cards whatsoever, so without seeing the marketing material, I cannot make any sense of why players were selected for this insert. Additionally, I am unable to discern neither the rationale behind the various parallels for this set; the parallels each bear a different word on them — in the case of the pitchers, they are “Complete Game,” “No Hitter,” “Win,” “Shutout, and “Perfect Game.” Furthermore, are the parallels printed equally or in varying numbers? Once again, we have an insert set that serves no purpose whatsoever (not even a thinly applied one), other than to provide an excuse to print more cards of star players. At least thus far Panini hasn’t reused the same photo of Utley in any of its sets — though, admittedly, that’s a little easier for them since they don’t product as much product as Topps.

2013 Pinnacle HowardGiven the restraints the lack of MLB approval placed upon Panini, 2013 Pinnacle is a fairly decent set. Although it will never become a set collector’s will look fondly upon, it works well in the low-end segment of the hobby that the manufacturers really neglect since it’s not a huge money maker. Furthermore it provides an interesting glimpse into what Panini or Upper Deck, when they finally come around to issuing their first new baseball cards in three years, might produce should either of them decides to issue a comprehensive set of baseball players who play at the highest professional level in America. I, for one, am hoping such a set comes out sooner than later.

Featured Cards: 2013 Pinnacle #112, Cole Hamels; 2013 Pinnacle #161, Darin Ruf; 1993 Pinnacle #566, Juan Bell; 2013 Pinnacle Rookie Autographs #TY, Tyler Cloyd; 2013 Pinnacle Clear Vision Triple #CV50, Chase Utley; 2013 Pinnacle #139, Ryan Howard

2013 Bowman: A Phillies Collector’s Review

Featured 2013 Bowman Cards: #190, Ryan Howard; #135, Cole Hamels; #130, Tyler Cloyd; #197 Delmon Young; Bowman Prospects #BP30 Willians Astudillo

2013 Bowman HowardThe fact is that ever since the edict from MLB and the MLBPA banning the use of minor league prospects from base sets, the base Bowman set has basically become the 21st century equivalent of bubble gum packaged alongside insert prospect cards that for all practical purposes are rookie cards. I’m sorry, I just refuse to buy into the fiction that it’s not a rookie card if it’s an insert card. If that was the case, no one would care a whit about any of the Bryce Harper cards produced in 2011. But, since I avoid the prospect cards until the player actually reaches the majors (for example, I didn’t own Jon Pettibone’s 2011 Bowman Chrome Prospects insert card until about a week after his MLB debut), my thoughts will focus predominantly on the base set.

First, the good. Last year’s 2013 Bowman Hamels FrontBowman set was the first since 1995 to make use of white borders, and I’m happy to see that Topps chose to do so again this year. Dark and navy blue bordered cards have their place, but the long run of such borders really got monotonous. The plain white border also happen to work well with both the relatively simple frame and, by current Topps standards, the incredibly judicious use of foil (it would’ve been nice to do without foil on the player’s name and instead just show the name in plain white as well). The base set by itself is actually fairly attractive — in fact, I might even like it better than the design for the flagship Topps product. Unfortunately, that’s about the best thing I can say about this year’s base Bowman set.

Again, this is because Topps doesn’t really care all that much for the base set — it’s just a vehicle for the prospect inserts. Hell, they don’t even properly follow the slogan for the Bowman brand: “Home of the Rookie Card.” A week ago, I pointed out that eight different Phillies made 2013 Bowman Cloydtheir MLB debut in 2012. Of those eight, only Jake Diekman was in a 2012 set, so that leaves six Phillies eligible for “official” rookie card status in 2013 (Tyson Brummett went to the Blue Jays during the off-season, thus is no longer a Phillie for this discussion). Prior to the release of 2013 Bowman, only Darin Ruf and Tyler Cloyd have received cards of their own — Steve Lerud shared his only card thus far with a prospect in the Mariners organization. That left three Phillies without a proper rookie card. Sadly, none of them have a card in 2013 Bowman, even though two of them, Freddy Galvis and Phillippe Aumont, were on the opening day roster. Yet, there’s Ruf and Cloyd again in the base set, and at the time the set went to the printer, neither of them had appeared in an MLB game in 2013. Nice job, “Home of the Rookie Card.”

So, who did we get instead? Well, 2013 Bowman Youngfor starters we get the exact same crappy airbrush job on Delmon Young that we saw in 2013 Gypsy Queen. Topps had an extra few weeks to improve on it and couldn’t be bothered. I really would have rather had an “official” Freddy Galvis rookie card than a really crappy duplicate Delmon Young photo. Thank you, MLB, for continuing Topps’ monopoly and rewarding this bad behavior. Just as bad, Ruf’s card bears the same photo as the one on his 2013 Gypsy Queen Autograph card — a photo that was clearly taken a moment or two after the photo used on his 2013 Topps card. At least his Bowman Chrome Rookie Autograph card uses a new photo, though I’m certain that it’s not the last we’ll see of that photo either. Beyond that, it’s all the Phillies players you’d probably expect to see. Michael Young and Ben Revere both appear to have photos taken during Spring Training this year, but in both cases there’s a somewhat dark outline around the players that suggests to me that these potentially could be airbrush jobs as well.

2013 Bowman Prospects Astudillo FrontAs for the Prospects inserts, as I said before, I don’t typically track them down, but the two base inserts were included with the team set I ordered. It really does astound me that Topps goes out of their way to make Prospect insert cards for players such as Willians Astudillo, who spent 2012 in the Gulf Coast League and won’t be sniffing the air in a Major League stadium until sometime in 2017 at the absolute earliest, while simultaneously missing on players such as Ruf and Cloyd until after their MLB debuts. Interestingly, the “1st Bowman Card” text is not found on any of its Prospects cards this year. Nonetheless, every time I see a card of a player like Astudillo I can’t help but recall the plethora of Jorge Padilla and Josue Perez cards issued by Topps, Donruss and Fleer in 2002 and 2003. On one hand, we can be grateful that we no longer need to collect the likes of Astudillo for complete team sets, but I really do wish that Topps would make better use of its resources.

And that is how I will continue to feel about Bowman so long as Topps handles it this way. I don’t actually expect to see Topps make any changes to the flagship Bowman brand — they’ve been remarkably consistent about the set and its inserts since 2005. Yet, it could be better still. Imagine if a higher percentage of the Prospects actually possessed legitimate Major League talent; imagine if the base set included more rookie cards. Those things could happen, if Topps made better use of its resources.

2013 Topps Heritage: A Phillies Collector’s Review

Featured Cards: 2013 Topps Heritage #16, Cliff Lee; 2013 Topps Heritage #72, Chase Utley; 1964 Topps Heritage #258, Michael Young; 1964 Topps #243, Dick Allen & John Herrnstein; 2013 Topps Heritage #243, Darin Ruf & Tyler Cloyd; 2013 Heritage Then & Now #TN-BV, Jim Bunning

2013 Topps Heritage Lee FrontI love the Heritage series, as well as most other series and inserts that replicate vintage designs. I’m sure it’s just an aspect of my particular brand of Asperger’s coming out, but the reason for this is that I really like to see players from different years and eras in cards sharing the same design. In that vein, always wished the Phillies would authorize/produce a set similar to the 1991 Crown/Coke Orioles or the 1990 Target Dodgers sets. I don’t think that will ever actually happen, so the closest experience I have to this is the 1989-1994 run of Tastykake/Medford Phillies Team Issue sets — although, the ’52 Rookies sets from a few years back and both last year’s and the upcoming Archives sets also fill this role nicely too.

For this reason, I look forward to each year’s Heritage release. And, like a demented Alzheimer’s patient, I eagerly anticipate the set, only to find myself disappointed by some aspect of the newest Heritage offering once I have my team set and various inserts and parallels in hand. Here are my key observations about this year’s set.

1. What Topps Got Right

2013 Heritage Utley FrontBefore getting into what I don’t like about the release. I want to give Topps kudos what for what they did do right. First and foremost, some of the posed shots (in particular, Cliff Lee’s, Chase Utley’s, Roy Halladay’s and Carlos Ruiz’s) look like they belong in the original 1964 set — even though they don’t actually mimic any of the pictures found in the Phillies cards that year. Topps doesn’t have to meticulously attempt to completely reproduce every aspect of the original set — they just have to show proper deference and reproduce the feel of it. Along those lines, Topps finally figured out that the registered trademark symbol, which didn’t appear on the 1964 release, doesn’t have to be obtrusively obvious and just needs to be large enough to be seen. This was a definite improvement over the way it was prominently displayed in last year’s Topps Archives 1977 Cloth Stickers inserts.

Then there’s the trivia questions on the back. I had to wait until I had a duplicate in hand before I would actually rub a nickle over the white box to get the answer (the very act of doing so feels like you are purposefully damaging the card, and I couldn’t bring myself to do that 2013 Heritage Young Backto a card that I was keeping in my collection), but Topps completely followed through with historical authenticity and made the process work. I also discovered that looking at the back under bright light and at the correct angle makes the answer temporarily legible as well. Failing that, you could also just track down the Venezuelan black back parallels — an incredibly awesome and justifiable parallel — which have the answer already revealed for you.

2. What Topps Got Wrong

Let’s start with the Darin Ruf/Tyler Cloyd Rookie Stars Phillies card. Thankfully, Topps’s long-standing effort to as best as possible maintain continuity regarding card number and team assignment across the Heritage offerings meant that we can line it up with a Rookie Stars Phillies bearing the same card number from the ’64 set:

2013 Heritage Ruf-Cloyd Front2013 Heritage Ruf-Cloyd Back1964 Topps Allen Herrnstein Front1964 Topps Allen-Herrnstein Back

This manages to somehow surpass Topps’s own long-established record of laziness. The wrong font sizes, incorrect color choice and refusal to get the title on the back of the card correct make their 2001 Archives reprint of the 1967 Dick Groat card look positively competent. Sadly, the Ruf/Cloyd card isn’t the only screw-up on Topps part. Given the lack of Phillies in this year’s various Heritage inserts, it was nice to see Bunning appear on a Then & Now insert. However,2013 Heritage Then & Now Bunning Topps clearly still hasn’t learned from the mistake it made with its 2003 All-Time Favorites card of Bunning — it replicated the error of using a photo from the wrong period. Really, Topps, is it really that hard to find a color picture of Bunning dating from the 1964-1967 timeframe?

Then there’s the full-color border variations and color swap cards. I understand that Topps feels as though they need to make special variations exclusive to certain retailers, but could they please just find a way to make the variations look like they might have actually occurred back in 1964? The red and blue borders make sense on the flagship Topps product — they make no sense whatsoever in the Heritage line. The color swap variations — which 2013 Heritage Red Halladay Frontkind of made sense in the 2012 Heritage, with its wide array of color combinations that varied even amongst players from the same team — are marginally less atrocious. Thankfully, Ryan Howard is the only Phillie with such a variation, and I will not be tracking that one down.

Finally, there’s the issue of the Real One Autographs. I suppose I should be thankful that there’s at least one Phillie this year (in a few different years, there have been none), but as I’ve previously stated, there were a plethora of Phillies from the 1964 squad who still haven’t appeared on an officially-issued autograph card. I’m just afraid that we’ll never see such a card for many of those players. Thankfully, the Topps’s Archives offering provides more opportunities for these players, but I’m really concerned that some of them will never actually appear on one.

Those “Unlicensed,” Gray-Area Issues

Featured Cards: 2010 Upper Deck #375, Raúl Ibañez; 1986 Burger King All-Pro Series #7, Glenn Wilson; 2008 Donruss Legends Autographs #63, Pete Rose; 2011 Donruss Elite Extra Edition Autographs #158, Tyler Cloyd

2012 Panini Cooperstown hit the hobby shops this week, and like the overwhelming majority of such “unlicensed” issues, I’ve taken a look and will not be acquiring any of it. I put the word “unlicensed” in quotes because Panini possesses licenses from the MLBPA and the Hall of Fame — the only license they’re missing is the MLB license. Therefore, they just can’t depict logos or team names. For this particular Phillies collector, those lacking elements mean that these cards occupy a gray area: by and large, I don’t feel they are important to maintaining a comprehensive team collection. However, I feel that I must at least give a good look at these releases because occasionally they will include Phillies Philadelphia cards that I think would be cool, and sometimes even essential, to my collection.

I don’t want to get into the history of such “gray-area” issues (as opposed to illegitimate or collector issues, such as the Broder cards from the ’80s), but suffice it to say that I frequently embraced them in the past. It was especially easy to do so in regards to plenty of the MSA issues from the ’80s. Aside from quality, the only difference between them and the MLB-approved cards was the lack of logos — somehow, they got away with using team names, but clearly that can no longer occur. Because they featured photography that was similar to the sets issued by the major manufacturers, they didn’t look all that out of place when placed alongside them in binders.

But all that changed with the sets Donruss started issuing in 2008. The gray-area sets they issued that year featured minor league players alongside retired players. However, there were no current players to be found. Worse still, they did a poor job of handling the logos and found themselves sued by MLB. To be fair, they clearly did not airbrush properly, if at all; for example, the ’80s-era Phillies “P” is almost completely visible on Pete Rose’s helmet in the Sports Legends set. I don’t understand why they couldn’t be bothered to make such a minor airbrush, and it’s easy to see why MLB pounced. Even more amazing, Upper Deck inexplicably ignored the incident when throwing together its 2010 baseball set, issued under license from the MLBPA and found itself sued by MLB for the very same reasons.

Until recently, however, the 2010 Upper Deck set was something of an anomaly amongst the recent gray-area offerings. For the most part, they continued to feature either retired players or minor leaguers, so it was easy to disregard them, even though “Philadelphia” appeared as a team designation. Yet, that did not mean I didn’t eventually acquire some of the individual cards. Most notably, Tyler Cloyd, still pitching in Reading at the time, appeared in 2011 Donruss Elite Extra Edition, and Donruss issued autographed versions of the card. Once Cloyd made his major league debut, I treated the card the same way I treat the Bowman Prospect insert cards and quickly purchased one of the autographed cards. However, I never once considered doing something similar for Vance Worley’s 2008 Donruss Elite Extra Edition autograph because he was pictured in his collegiate uniform — the card looked nothing like a Phillies card despite the fact it stated “Philadelphia.” At least with Cloyd’s card, he was wearing a red air-brushed cap which allowed me to at least pretend he might be wearing Phillies’ colors.

Although the Panini Cooperstown set, being in black in white, doesn’t raise any of these issues, a few of Panini’s other, more recent offerings do. Search on eBay and you will find plenty of new Panini cards featuring Ryan Howard, Roy Halladay and Cliff Lee (among others) wearing Phillies red, sans logos and team name. I haven’t purchased any yet, but more than a few of them would look nice in my collection. However, my collection doesn’t seem incomplete without them, and so long as I feel that way, I will likely only acquire items such as the 2011 Donruss Elite Extra Edition Cloyd on a case-by-case basis.