Sunday, July 19, 2009

Non-vintage review: "Gems of the Game" box break

[Prepare yourself, this one's got almost as many pictures as a Dinged Corners post! :-]

Every now and then, a visit to Wal-Mart grabs some glossy, modern stuff to keep my finger on the new card pulse. (Disclaimer: Anything after 1980 seems "new" to me.)

Yesterday's trip picked up a Gems of the Game re-gather of packs from the last couple of decades. They contain mostly Topps, Upper Deck, and Fleer high-production remnants, with the slim possibility of something better. First thought: "Look, another sucker's bet to enrich the ghost of Sam Walton." That said, $20's not a terrible risk. Might it turn up treasure, a la A Pack A Day? Let's check the contents.

  1. 2007 UD Masterpieces (4 cards, smallest pack)
  2. 2008 Upper Deck Timeline (6)
  3. 2007 Upper Deck Series II, 2 packs (8)
  4. 2008 Topps Baseball Series I, 2 packs (10)
  5. 2008 Topps Updates & Highlights (12)
  6. 2005 Topps Bazooka (8)
  7. 2007 Topps Baseball (6)
  8. 2008 Topps Opening Day (6)
  9. 2006 Upper Deck First Pitch (5)
  10. 2008 Upper Deck Series I (18, biggest pack)
  11. 2008 Upper Deck First Edition (10)
  12. Tri-Star Hidden Treasures (listed as 5, actually had 6)
  13. 1989 Topps, 2 packs (15)

My GotG box contained 16 packs with 3 duplicates. Most of the Upper Deck sets picture Derek Jeter on the front. Others (primarily Topps) show Cal Ripken, Manny Ramirez, Josh Hamilton, Joba Chamberlain, Alex Rodriguez, David Ortiz, and Ryan Howard. With no high-value sets on the list, I adjusted my hopes down to "autograph" or "game-used." As things played out, the best it could do was "interesting."

  1. 1982 Fleer #457 Brian Downing (Tristar Hidden Treasures). Back in the 1980s, I thought of Downing as a "Mariner killer," always getting key RBIs and knocking around my otherwise reliable relievers. (REALITY CHECK: everyone hit well against the Reagan-era Seattle bullpen.)
    Don't adjust your TV set, the 1982 Fleer photos really are that blurry.

  2. Yankee Stadium Legacy #5434 (2008 Upper Deck First Edition). Mattingly's the only Yank I care about and this one features kung-fu mullet action.

  3. 2008 Upper Deck Series I #369 Padres Team Checklist. Jake Peavy, full leg kick, bright yellow Pads uniform. Let's call it "visually arresting."

  4. 2006 Upper Deck First Pitch #149 Ryan Howard. Great shot at moment of impact, with helmet, gloves, bat, and ball in alignment.

  5. 2007 Upper Deck Series II #591, Manny Ramirez running hard down the first base line. That's proof it happened at least once.

  6. Joe DiMaggio, The Streak #35 (2007 Topps Series II). The Clipper homers off Hal Newhouser on June 22, 1941.

  7. 2005 Bazooka #33 Carlos Zambrano (gold parallel). Our favorite burly, switch-hitting pitcher batting from the left side.

  8. 2007 UD Masterpieces # 46 Michael Jordan and #39 Frank Thomas (green border parallel). Surprised to find a recent Jordan baseball card, but a cool Chisox reminder, and The Big Hurt finds it easy being green. I like just about every card in this set, so will keep an eye out for them at the National later this month.

The box yielded a few other parallels and serial numbered cards, but nothing to celebrate having or regret losing. If you're working on a set listed above, point me to the wantlist and I'll try to hit it!

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