There Is A Perfect Strasburg Storm A Comin’…

Topps is plowing through their late 2010 release calendar, and most of the products that populate that calendar are ones that I would love to see burned as a sacrifice to the almighty cardboard deities. The recently re-released Topps Tribute, Topps Sterling and Topps Triple Threads form the unholy trinity of Topps High end that I talk about as what to avoid, and I stand by that regardless of the gimmicks they use. This is mainly because the products focus more on packing cheap relics onto the cards than making cards that actually look good or have unique concepts. Topps Tribute may be a newer product than the old and stale Sterling and Triple Threads, but it is already falling into the familiar pattern of a design that doesn’t change, retina burning neon foil board, and stickers that are built into the design to draw your eye. Sounds like I have heard that one before, I wonder where?

Regardless of my feelings on these terrible excuses for products, there is one card that I believe could make more waves than people are expecting. Well, with all the parallels, its probably closer to 9000 cards. Of course, I am talking about the Triple Threads Stephen Strasburg Triple Relic Auto (OMGZ STRAS-JO!!11!!!!). Because Topps is actually taking the step to get some hard signed cards into the product for once in their life, this particular card should be one of those instances. Now, think about how perfect this storm is turning out to be. The people who pay 800 dollars for those Strasburg autos are probably the same people who buy four cases of Triple Threads each year. I see a distinct correlation between the two. I say this because it takes a certain type of person to buy Strasburg cards when they are selling as high as they are, and it also takes a certain type of person to love what Triple Threads brings the table each year. I think you catch my drift. When you combine the two, things could get ridiculous.

Even though the Stras cards from Triple Threads could end up being redemptions as a result of the timeframe needed to produce and sign the cards, it wont matter. Those people, you know which ones I am talking about, will go nucking futs when one is posted on eBay. Hell, they may even send it to Beckett and get it graded first, because after all, that group of people also overlaps this venn diagram from hell. Of course, this is after they post a card by card break on a message board, and combine it with a recap from their latest mail day. Yup, that’s about right.

The cards from Triple Threads will also be some of the first to have MLB Strasburg relics in them, something that will drive the prices even higher than they already would be. Yeah, see what I am saying? Its going to be like that movie with Jake Gyllenhaal, a hobby apocalypse, and I am going to be stuck shivering in the New York Public Library while the Triple Threaders are going to be making snow angels in the piles of two dollar hits they will get from their boxes outside.

Don’t get me wrong, Topps is doing everything right in this case. They have a player they can exploit like a sweatshop worker, and they have shown that they will plaster his face on any possible thing to sell more cards. Funny enough, collectors sure are responding like it’s a new concept. They don’t care if Topps puts out blowup Strasburg dolls that they can use in the privacy of their own home, they just want them and they will pay through the nose to get them. Its that crazy right now.

I still stand by the frame of reference of how popular a Nationals pitcher can become when someone like Tim Lincecum has already won 2 Cy Young Awards. Lincecum’s cards arent worth half of what Strasburg’s are right now, and he plays for a much more popular team. When was the last time you met a Nationals fan outside of Washington? Im pretty sure they don’t exist actually. So, if Strasburg goes on to win 2 Cy Youngs, like Lincecum already has, where does that put his value? Lincecum’s has already peaked and it isnt anywhere close to the value of a Bowman Strasburg auto. What does that say for future prospects of value? Its NOT likely that Strasburg will accomplish anything close to what Timmy Longhairs already has, and its actually more likely that he wont last more than a few years if fireballer history lives up to its name.

In all reality, I am going to sit back with a cold beer and watch the fireworks when Triple Threads hits shelves. Its like watching that kid open his Nintendo 64 on Christmas. Triple Threads collectors have very similar reactions in most cases, and it is equally hilarious. Even more so when this Christmas is Stras-mas too.

Triple Threads = Ratings

Topps released pictures from my absolute favorite set of the year today, and I think you will see why its my favorite each and every year it comes out. With what we saw from the 2010 set in the preview, it brought nothing but everything we expect from a Triple Threads set. Horribly designed cards with stickers built into the layout, so that they draw the eye away from the train wreck below. Cards printed on eye obliterating bright neon foilboard with more parallels than Panini could shake a stick at. Fold out booklet cards that are more concerned with spelling out obscure accomplishments in confusing die cut windows than actually making the card something to collect. A 180 dollar price point for two hits, one of which does not have an autograph. It makes me feel dumber knowing that I associate with collectors in this hobby that think this is ALWAYS the product of the year.

See that paragraph above? I wrote that two days after the release of the preview for the 2009 set. Almost 365 days ago. This set is so utterly predictable, that I could write an intro without even knowing what the 2010 cards would look like. In fact, these cards are so much more like 2009, 2008, and 2007, that there is not a visible difference other than the players on the card. I guess thats what you get with Topps High End. Overpriced boxes with ugly cards that only appeal to the people who dont consider what the actual product looks like, as long as it is stuffed full with “OMG MOJOZ!!!!111!” cards stuffed with 280 jersey pieces and five billion 1/1s.

I dont even think I need to say anything more about it. Its all been said before. Here is the preview, have fun. Im out.

My LEAST Favorite Day of the Year – 2010 Triple Threads Baseball

I fucking hate Triple Threads. Other than maybe moments and milestones or Topps Sterling, it is the worst product ever. Its stale, its boring, and most of all its got sticker autos, slapped on ridiculously stupid cut outs, printed on rainbow neon foil, with a million parallels. I dont know how there could be a worse product out there. On top of all that, it costs a shitload per box, and you only get one auto and one jersey card.

If Triple Threads were a car, it would be a Hummer. Big expensive car with no other purpose than for idiots to show off that they have one. The Hummer hasnt changed much since its release, and neither has Triple Threads. The cards look exactly the same as they did last year, the cutout swatch windows are some how harder to follow than last year, and the only improvement they can boast is that the Rising Stars cards you get 8 per case of are signed on card. Yippee. Glad they finally determined that the crappiest part of the product is the only part that is going to be on card. Other than that, its foil sticker autos that are BUILT into the fucking design. Yup, its just as ugly as ever.
Not only that, but they are bringing back all terrible booklet cards, even expanding some to stickers as well as the jersey patches and bat barrels. Yes, because the only thing those cards needed is a foil sticker that covers half the player. Nice fucking job. Hell, even the worst cards in the entire fucking hobby are back with their 24 weirdly placed relics on a booklet card. Im so happy that I can now have a card that confusingly spells out entire sentences!
You know what the saddest part is? This product costs more than just about any other product that comes out during the year. At $150-170 a box, you are guaranteed an auto and a jersey, but the quality and design of the cards are so poor that they hardly ever live up to value. Then when you think you have a special card, you realize there are five million just like it with different ugly neon colors in the background. When just about every product at or below 100 dollars offers better cards with hard signed signatures, this price tag seems ridiculous. Ill give you an example. Ultimate Baseball had an MSRP originally below 100 bucks a box. It offered better looking cards, hard signed signatures, and similar ridiculous patches. Not only that, but there was no foil board, and there was no stupid fucking swatch window cutouts.
Even worse than that, Topps fucking loves this product. Their brass thinks this product is the best thing on the fucking planet, and I hope they wise up to their horrible fucking viewpoint. They need to figure out that instead of re-releasing the same god damned product every single year with the same ugly design, they need to revamp this whole bitch and hire a design team that actually has the power of sight.
I talk bad about a lot of products, but nothing gets me fired up like High End Topps sets. They are just that bad. When you look at how good their low end stuff is, it really makes you wonder how they could fail so badly at their expensive stuff. The gap between the two ends of the spectrum is even worse in football, and yet people still give them a pass most of the time. Triple Threads personifies that drift, with so many people either loving it or hating it. I have noticed that since SCU began its personal vendetta against this product, there are a lot more people that are wising up to the worst product of the year. Im in no way meaning to insinuate that I had anything to do with it, I just think that more and more people each year start to get that vomit taste in their mouth whenever they see this preview.

Topps posted a ton of pictures, you can see the rest here.

The Creeping Death Of Foldout Cards

I cant stand booklet cards. I just hate everything about them. Its pretty obvious that my hatred for Topps Triple Turds has something to do with it, but it extends far into this year’s preview for 2009 Exquisite Football. It is a completely needless innovation, it looks awful, and most of the time, its just Topps looking for extra places to spell out weird shit with swatch windows.

The onslaught of the foldout cards started in 2007 Triple Threads, when Topps decided that one card wasn’t enough room to stuff their relics into. They created hinged cards where the outside alerted the collector that they had pulled some “OMG SIZCKZ MOJOZ!!” and the inside was where the neon foilboard magic happened. In the product, there were one player hinged cards, and multi player hinged cards, all with the goal of trying to have a little more room to spell out that incosequential phrase.

In 2008, Topps went a step further, introducing their famed visual laxative “Triple Threads XXIV.” For this card version of 2 girls 1 cup, they threw design and layout to the wind in order to shoehorn 24 different windows onto the two cards. This meant little room for player pictures or common reading practices, as many of the cards required some major deduction skills to read.

These cards extended into other sets as well, including the horrid Topps Sterling baseball and other high end fare. Collectors who cared little about the way a card looks and more about getting “relics” of their favorite players went nucking futs for these cards, while a vocal minority group of people scoffed at them. Due to Topps’ notorious reputation of cutting up jerseys from old timer games and exhibitions, cards like the booklets held little value for people with eyes.

Fast forward to 2009, where booklet cards have continued their Sherman March into the hobby. In 2008-2009 Exquisite Basketball, the booklet cards made their mainstream upper deck debut, to much fanfare. These “upper-deckers” were little more than glorified triple threads foldouts, even though they were signed on card and very low numbered. Topps even took it a step further to stay ahead of the wave, introducing cards that were tri-hinged for extra vomit, and cards hinged vertically rather than horizontally.
Being a part of that vocal minority, I have voiced my opinion quite a bit on the existence of foldouts. Oddly enough, some of those collectors with relic manifest destiny on the brain have started complaining to. The main reason is that these cards are very hard to protect without paying 20 bucks on ebay for a custom holder. Add in that jerry rigging a holder out of two top loaders doesn’t give you complete coverage, and there is a larger problem at bat here. Yes, I realize its only a matter of time before one touch comes out with something, but until then, I will laugh heartily at the people who chase these hobby versions of the people of Wal Mart.

See, I am not a person who cares how many pieces of jersey you can stuff onto a card, no matter if its game or event used. I want to see cards that look good. Most of the time, these foldouts are created for the sole purpose of tickling the testicles dangling from the collectors who live and die for jersey cards, not those who care about design and content. I also think it’s a good reason why these rare cards, even when autoed, hardly eclipse the price of a simple and elegant single jersey auto or patch. Hopefully this gimmick will go the way of the atomic refractor very quickly, though its not looking good at this point. As long as Joe Collectors outnumber those of us who don’t scream “LAST PACK MOJO!” everytime we bust a box, things will continue as is. All I can say is bring on the boredom, ill stick with my old favorites.

2009 Exquisite Is Hitting The Net, I Am Both Impressed and Not

Card Informant has a nice little slideshow of the Exquisite Previews, and after going through the pictures, I am both happy and not. I really like the move towards signed swatches, but I cant stand that the booklets are making their way into a product like Exquisite. Triple Threads sucks because of the horrible concepts used in their products, and though these cards look better than that junk, UD is still using the bad ideas. Exquisite was fine without foldouts.

I am still not sold on the Rookie Patches either, as I get a very Las Vegas feel off of them. The borders look weird, and the gold design throws me, but the cards still look good enough that I would chase a few. Not as good as last year, but definitely better than some of the other high end cards this year.
Although the inscriptions are very cool, Im beginning to see a move towards overuse. Instead of getting one subset or two subsets a year, now we are getting three or four per product, and that could get problematic if it continues to spread. Sometimes you just need the old way mixed with new freshness.
Lastly, the biography cards are awful. Just plain awful. Not only are they booklet cards, but they look like the horrid ones I covered back in the worst of the worst from Chirography. They look boring, they have no originality, and are booklets for the sake of booklets. Bad news.