Just proving that it really was Christmas in July. John sent a massive package of cards, so I'm going to share some of them. In the past with cards from John, I've written them up with everything from a comparison to the local cougar lounge (Johnny's Hideaway) to comparisons to old cars to music drawn from John's blog.
How about I just show the cards and talk about them?
Let's start with Orlando Arcia's coin from 2017 Topps Archives. I like the coins from the original issue back in 1987 through 1990, which themselves were throwbacks to the 1971 coins, which themselves were throwbacks to the original 1964 coins. Each and every one of those issues is a great oddball that needs those cardboard and plastic cases to be able to display them properly.
Arcia has improved greatly this year. He might be a cornerstone. His OBP has improved this year, though he has not hit for as much power in the second half as he did in the first half (which was driven by his excellent June). He obviously needs to continue developing, though he seems to have the right attitude and his fielding is already among the best in the league.
Next up, we have some 2003 Fleer Hardball discs. I'm pretty sure this set was created by a Fleer card designer who wondered to himself or herself what those MSA discs would have looked like if MSA issued 200 of them and had licensing and had parallels. The answer: not bad, but oddballs should be kept as oddballs for a reason. Weird shapes and sizes of cards are best kept in small doses for fear of overdose.
Parallels? Really? Come on. I mean, it's cool if it was a "parallel" that was exactly the same except for the fact that, instead of "Fleer Hardball," the disc said, "Donruss Superstars" and another said "Upper Deck Dandies" and another said "Topps Lemons" or something like that.
According to Baseball Card Pedia, 1997 Pinnacle Inside came "inside one of 24 collectible player soup cans."
If that happened today, I'd have the same look on my face as Dave Nilsson has on his face on this card.
I have not paid any attention to what Panini has been doing this year in cards. Should I?
Based on this card, I'm thinking I'm okay with being a collecting version of Joe Barry Carroll a/k/a Joe Barely Cares when it comes to Panini. I'll pick up Diamond Kings and the like at card shows if I see them cheap. Otherwise, I'm not going out of my way to find them.
As for Ray, 2016's #1 pick for the Brewers struggled in the Carolina League this year, hitting just .238/.311/.367 in 503 plate appearances with 7 HR and 24 SB in 34 attempts. He struck out too much too. That said, he still is his toolsy self...we'll see what happens.
Out of these two cards, let's talk about Kevin Barker. He made it to Milwaukee at the age of 23 in 1999 and performed decently in 127 plate appearances -- .282/.331/.385. In 2000, he hit similarly -- .220/.352/.330. But, in their infinite wisdom in 1999, the Brewers played Mark Loretta and Sean Barry instead of Barker and, then, traded for Richie Sexson in 2000. That led to his eventual trade to San Diego in spring training in 2002 (where he got 7 games and 20 plate appearances). From there, he bounced around yearly -- to Detroit, to Florida, to Philadelphia, to Toronto (where he got into 12 games with 18 plate appearances) for two years, to Cincinnati (29 games, 36 plate appearances in 2009).
I mean, he grinded out 323 plate appearances across 11 years with four teams. There's something to be said for that sticktoitiveness.
These test proof cards that Panini put out last year are just plain awful. Other than photo comparison, I couldn't tell you from this scan that this is Orlando Arcia. Combine a single color with no logos and discolored uniforms, and you have what should otherwise be thrown away except for that serial number and the hint of it showing a baseball player on it.
It wouldn't be Christmas without 1995 Fleer. It really wouldn't. It's like the bow on the present. The star on the tree. The asbestos substituting for snow on the tree.
Pure, white, fireproof asbestos snow.
It's weird packaging for baseball cards, but I'm not surprised that Fleer used it in 1995.
John -- many thanks for the great cards. I hope that your home and your family are all safe after Irma.