18 March 2014

Breaking it Down 8: Nachos Grande Group Break

I participated in a group break hosted by the Nachos Grande blog. Based on the teaser post that prefaced the official start of signups, I tried to estimate which team and which years might contain some Randy Johnson cards, as that was a player from that era whose player collection I wanted to beef up a bit. I picked the Mariners. I guessed wrong. Most of the cards featuring Randy Johnson wound up going to the Arizona Diamondbacks. I also wound up feeling like a jerk for taking the team usually reserved for The Junior Junkie, who collects the cards of a certain Ken Griffey Jr., a move which is probably a violation of the 'bro code' of the sports card blogosphere. This mixture of disappointment and guilt led to me bingeing on Randy Johnson cards during one of my trips to the card shop during a work trip to Texas.

First up are some base cards from 1995 Fleer Flair Series 1. These are some nice-looking cards and you knew they were something special because instead of arriving at the shop in foil packs, they were packed out in little cardboard boxes. The Griffey is the obvious winner of this lot, but all of the cards are pretty appealing.

This next group of cards comes from 1999 Topps Gallery. Jay Buhner's card is so nice, I pulled it twice. Again, Griffey gets a good looking card with a nice shot of him leaping into orbit. He is so darn photogenic, like the Ridiculously Photogenic Guy of internet meme fame. That's him on the left there, in case you had difficulty finding the person in that photo who does not look like he is dying while running a race.

And here are a couple of the memes that photo inspired. There are whole blogs devoted to this guy, and he was featured in snippets on several news outlets.

Anyway, Griffey was the Ridiculously Photogenic Guy of baseball. 

One downside of my picking the Mariners as my team was that I wound up with all of these A-Roid cards. He put up an awful lot of numbers during his time in baseball, but I can't say I'm a fan of the guy.

The next box was 2001 Topps Stadium Club, which gave me a few of the usual suspects, including a couple copies of John Olerud's base card. At least he gets a decent photo, with the ball appearing just at the moment of contact with his bat.

The ball also makes an appearance on Rickey Henderson's card, although from this angle it appears that he didn't make contact this time. This is probably the best photo out of the bunch, though, and it is also the only Henderson card I got.

I got a few base cards from 200 Topps Stadium Club Chrome. They are pretty shiny and feature some decent photography.

The final box was a box of 2000 Topps Tek, which was issued while I was out of collecting, but is made up of acetate cards with a great many parallels of each card in the set, mostly focusing on the repeated pattern in the background of the card. I got a couple of A-Roid cards, which I believe are the Team Logo and Hometown parallels. I could be wrong. Topps Tek is a pretty cool-looking concept which is rumored to be coming back in some form, although it sounds like it will be focused on autographs and thus be well out of my price range.

On to the inserts! A group break from the late '90s - early '00s wouldn't be complete without inserts, would it?

My insert from the 1995 Flair product is from the Outfield Power set and features a nice shot of Griffey Jr. wielding the bat. To make the card special, he gets a nice laser starburst background to emphasize just how hard he hits the ball.

2001 Stadium Club netted me a Capture the Action! insert featuring a shot of Alex Rodriguez, you guessed it, in action! It's an okay card, I suppose.

But it is nothing compared to this Ken Griffey Jr. Gallery of Heroes acetate card from Topps Gallery. Everything about this card is awesome. I actually missed the post from the group break when this card was pulled, so I didn't even know I had this card coming to me. I consider it the hit of the break for me, although the real hit of the break is probably the next card in this post. I also missed the post when it was pulled, as I was away from home doing work stuff and must have had a couple of busy days that lined up with my best cards of the break.

This is a Play at the Plate insert from the 2001 Stadium Club box. It is another A-Roid card, which is why it rates in my book below the Griffey Gallery of Heroes card. It features Authentic Game-Used Batter's Box Dirt, which is a rather odd relic as I don't know how you would isolate it to one particular batter in a game unless you collected it from his shoes. I will give Topps credit for trying something new, something that they seem a little less willing to do now that they have the exclusive licensing rights with the MLB.

The back of the card features a holographic sticker with a number on it, so you know this card is legit.

Overall this group break was a success for me. Although I whiffed on my primary pursuit, I got quite a few nice Griffeys and even the big A-Roid hit was at least a unique relic. My main problem with 'winning' the break is the implication that other people might not have received a proportionate value for their money. But in the end I guess it all balances out (unless you're like a Padres fan or something) because I feel like I've 'lost' my share of group breaks in the past. I have to say that my favorite cards from the break are the two Griffey inserts, the Flair Outfield Power and the Gallery of Heroes. The Griffey base card from Flair is a strong runner-up.

Thanks for the break!


  1. You nailed some amazing inserts from the boxes.

  2. I have all those Griffeys except maybe the acetate one. I'll have to check, though I wouldn't blame you at all for keeping it. That A-rod PATP card is super cool!

    I'll trade you a million Randy Johnsons for stuff....:-)