Monday afternoon's mail delivery brought me an unexpected pleasure -- a big ol' yellow mailer stuffed with cards from T.J., the Junior Junkie. And when I say stuffed, I mean stuffed. Two big bundles of assorted Mets favorites as well as other players I actively pursue.
Now, as much as I despise seeing the likes of Darryl Strawberry, Dwight Gooden or David Cone in Yankees pinstripes, I couldn't help but choose the above '97 Fleer Ultra of Straw to be the header for this post. In it's greatness, this card defeats any bias I harbor towards that other New York ball club.
Likewise for another couple Strawberry cards, which feature the man in foreign-colored pinstripes.
What can I say, I'm a sucker for that leg kick. Darryl is one of those guys who can't help but being the subject of a great-looking baseball card.
That being said, T.J.'s assortment of Strawberry cards did include Darryl wearing the right kind of uniform.
I go back and forth between these two cards and just can't settle on which one is my favorite all-time Topps card of #18. If you forced me to answer right now, I'd side with the '88. In fact, I'm even leaning towards using that very card for the All-Time Mets Project binder. Then again... that '89 has the iconic batting stride. Plus, '89 Topps is my personal favorite set, so there's that.
You know, I've never had the pleasure of being bipped before, and I'm not sure if there is a card-minimum by definition, but...
Wellp, I can cross that off my bucket list now! (This is one of Doc's best cards, by the way!)
Oh, and getting back to that ATMP binder, T.J.'s generosity also included some hits for my ongoing project.
Score! Well, Topps actually, but you get my meaning. Mike Marshall, who played in 53 unflattering games for the Mets in 1990 after an offseason trade with the Dodgers, was included in the '90 Traded set. The photo on this card perfectly captures what I remember most about him from his time in Queens: Doing a whole lotta nothing. Nonetheless, I'm still excited to cross another name off my player list.
Ditto for this next guy, who I wasn't even aware had a card in Mets garb.
The thing I remember most about Armando Reynoso was his pickoff move which, at the time, was regarded as one of the best by a RHP. Also, Reynoso will always hold a fond place in my heart, as he was the Mets starter for the second-ever regular season game between the Mets and Yanks back in 1997. I was at Yankee Stadium for that game, and it was one of the most amazing atmospheres I've ever experienced! Unfortunately, Reynoso got knocked out in the second, and the Mets lost, 6-3. Still, it was an unforgettable night for 16-year-old Me.
I've already got cards for both Darrin Jackson and Robert Person, but I think these two might supplant those for the purposes of the ATMP. I love the shades Jackson is sporting, plus you get the full effect of the short-lived swoosh underneath the Mets jersey script. Person, meanwhile, is wearing the look of a competitor. On top of that, I think '95 Bowman is a sharp-looking set.
This is another card that might work its way into the running for ATMP inclusion. I've never been a huge fan of 'Draft Pick' cards, but Topps put forth a winner with their DP designs in the 1995 set.
Payton, the everyday CF for the 2000 NL Champs, has quite a few good cards out there.
See what I mean?? An awesome card! This one from '96 Topps. Payton was a heckuva athlete who crafted himself a few really good seasons in the bigs. In his rookie year of 2000, he batted .291 with 17 homers and 62 RBIs in 149 games. Tremendous numbers for a rookie who hit near the bottom of the batting order.
Sometimes a card I might consider a real gem just doesn't fit the mold for what I envision of cards in the ATMP binder. Case in point: 1995 Finest Bill Pulsipher.
I love the look of '95 Finest, and I especially love it when it features a Mets player. But, perhaps this is a bit too busy-looking to make the ATMP cut. After all, this card might be sitting in a binder page next to a 1982 Fleer or '78 Topps card of another player, which might create too much visual distortion for your's truly.
Then again, T.J. sent me two of these Pulsiphers, so maybe if I peel the protective coating off one of them it'll alter my thinking. Maybe? Only one way to find out, I guess...
Okay, so I fulfilled my Mets quota for this post. Time to dig into some of the other neat findings from T.J.'s robust trade package...
Another awesome card from Pinnacle '96. You would be forgiven if you forgot that Todd Zeile played a partial season in Philadelphia. He did play for 11 different teams during his 16-year career. Zeile smashed 20 homers in 134 games for the Phils in '96 before being dealt to the O's at the deadline along with Pete Incaviglia for the infamous "players to be named."
I absolutely loved these "You Crash the Game" cards back in the day. Sure, they were essentially game pieces, but they were akin to landing an insert card back then. Especially in Collector's Choice packs, which didn't feature too many inserts at all, if I'm remembering correctly.
Ah, one of my favorite all-time cards of Albert (Joey) Belle. This is Belle's Topps rookie, if you don't count his appearance in the '89 Major League Debut set. You could just tell how menacing this man would be with a bat (on and off the field, ahem) just by looking at his physique here. One thing you can say about Belle, he wasn't no twig even as a rookie like, say, Barry Bonds. I *hope* that indicates his career of elite power and production was legit.
From 1997, another gorgeous example of Topps Finest at its best. Man, has Topps plunged that brand into the muck of banality or what? I used to hold the Finest brand in the highest regard, even during the '90s when it was one of the many glossy, shiny faces in the crowd. Now, it's rare that I go out of my way to grab a latter day Finest card of my favorite player. The designs are bland enough, but what the heck am I gonna do with a card that's practically bowed into the shape of a U?
Sorry for that depressing opinion. Let's finish on a high note.
Over the past year-plus, the blogosphere has blessed me with so many fantastic cards of my favorite players. I've found this especially be the case when it comes to Carlos Baerga. I'll have to go back and review all my Baergas to be sure, but I'm gonna go ahead and put this in the top-5 in terms of most badass cards of Carlos. Can you get any closer to the action than this?
Everyone together now: We miss you, Upper Deck!
What can I say, this trade package rocked, T.J.! Thanks a million for the amazing stuff!