30 Day Baseball Card Challenge

Saturday, August 3, 2019

Raising the Bar

When I look back on my collecting history, I can pretty much define the kind of collector I was by decades.  In the 80's, I was opening packs and boxes in search of rookie cards.  The 90's were all about parallels and insert cards.  And when I came back to the hobby in the late 2000's, I was hoping to pull autographs and relics.

These days I try to hold off on opening packs and boxes.  My hobby budget is usually reserved for specific singles and complete sets.

Back in April, I purchased a 1998 Zenith Raising the Bar insert set off of eBay:

On the surface, this set is just your ordinary, run-of-the-mill shiny insert produced by Pinnacle.  It's not particularly flashy.  And they aren't rare.  But I've been obsessed with 1998 Zenith baseball and hockey for the past twenty-one years.

That's when Pinnacle came up with the Dare to Tear line of cardsEach pack of 1998 Zenith contained three 5x7 trading cards.  Within each 5x7 trading card, there was a standard size card embedded insideCollectors had to choose to either keep their 5x7 card intact or tear it open to reveal the standard size card.  If you are familiar with Allen and Ginter's RIP cards, it's pretty much the same concept.

These shiny, golden inserts were inserted into one out of every twenty-five packs.  When you consider that there's eighteen packs per box, collectors were not guaranteed one of these inserts in their box.  And if you decided to keep some of your 5x7 cards intact, the odds of pulling one of these were even tougher.

That's why I let someone else do all of the work and purchased the complete set of fifteen cards:

1 Ken Griffey Jr., 2 Frank Thomas, 3 Alex Rodriguez
4 Tony Gwynn, 5 Mike Piazza, 6 Ivan Rodriguez
7 Cal Ripken Jr., 8 Greg Maddux, 9 Hideo Nomo

10 Mark McGwire, 11 Juan Gonzalez, 12 Andruw Jones
13 Jeff Bagwell, 14 Chipper Jones, and 15 Nomar Garciaparra

As you can see, the checklist is loaded with hall of famers.  There are currently nine guys in the set that have a plaque hanging in Cooperstown and one or two other guys with a shot of eventually making it in.  The rest are recognizable names from the era.

At the end of the day, nobody will be funding their retirement with this set.  In fact, I purchased all fifteen cards for $20.49 (+ $3 shipping), which is a little over the price of a blaster.

However when you consider how these were distributed to collectors and all of the big names on the checklist, it was well worth the price I paid (in my humble opinion).

Okay, here is today's question of the day:

Alex Rodriguez, Hideo Nomo, Mark McGwire, Juan Gonzalez, Andruw Jones, and Nomar Garciaparra are the six guys in this set who aren't enshrined at Cooperstown.

If you had a vote, would you vote for any of these guys?  Do you think any of these guys eventually get elected?

That's it for now.  Happy Saturday and sayonara!


  1. The stores near me must not have stocked much Pinnacle product because I don't remember seeing any Zenith after their first year, and definitely none of the 5 x 7s. These are nice looking inserts, and a unique item to purchase for roughly a blaster price.

    As far as your sample HOF ballot, I can't say that I'd vote for any of them. A-Rod will get in eventually, because I think the voters are softening on PED users. Maybe that will give McGwire a shot one day. I could be persuaded to vote for Andruw Jones. Nomar was my guy, but injuries killed his chance at Cooperstown. I liked Nomo a lot, too.

  2. You got a nice deal on those Zenith inserts!
    As far as the HOF, I would vote for A-Rod, McGwire, and Andruw Jones. Jones was the best defensive outfielder in baseball for about a decade, he could play so shallow. He hit 50 HEs in a season, and has over 2,000 hits and 400 HRs and a slew of Gold Gloves. He should’ve at least stayed on the ballot for a few years. Nomar was kind of like David Wright. I feel they needed a few more complete seasons and they would be in, but unfortunately, injuries ruined their chances. I feel if the veterans committee votes guys like Gil Hodges, Dale Murphy, and Vada Pinson in that eventually Juan Gonzalez could get in too, but I feel he shouldn’t get in until other players of his caliber are elected. Nomo was good, but just not consistent enough. Perhaps put him in for his contributions to baseball in paving the way (along with Masanori Murakami) for more foreign players to get a chance in MLB.

  3. I wouldn't vote for any of them but ARod will get in eventually I bet. I usually stay out of Hall of Fame debates but I will say that the bar was lowered a smidge this year so who can really say what will happen in the future.

  4. When I saw this in my blogroll, I misread it as "Raising the Bear". Man, that would be a cool post too!

  5. I’d vote for A-Rod, because even if you penalize him substantially for the steroids he’s still a Hallworthy player. I do think he will get in someday.

    I’d vote for Jones, too. I’ve talked about this in blog comments before, but people push Omar Vizquel for Cooperstown, and Jones was arguably as great defensively and was far better with the bat.

  6. A-Rod is doing wonders for his image by his (admittedly great) baseball announcing on ESPN, I think he gets in first out of the players you mentioned.

  7. 3 OF THE 15 ARE BRAVES.. I'd vote all 6 in. Yes, I have issues with the PED thing, but MLB can't play dumb, they knew it and loved the butts in seats. Besides the numbers, all were vital components of their respective teams.

  8. Very cool that you were able to complete a fun (and shiny!) set that you have liked for a long time.

    In response to your questions, I have done mock HOF ballots with a friend for nearly two decades now, with both Andruw Jones and Mark McGwire having been listed each year in which they have been eligible. Given that he is one of the greatest players in MLB history, A-Rod will join that list soon. McGwire's offensive dominance was historic in nature, as was Jones' defensive performance, with both clearing the bar among advanced metrics in addition to the standard statistical consideration. While we all know why McGwire (and A-Rod, in the near future) has been held out, it feels as though Jones' disastrous stint in L.A. coupled with a merely solid close to his career caused many to forget his prior decade of brilliance.

    With Bud Selig in the Hall and Harold Baines making it due to cronyism on the Veteran's Committee (plus Landis, et al.), the HOF is really in no place to pretend like it is truly a sacrosanct institution, so I would be up for voting for this trio even if I did not already care very little about PED usage. As for whether each player will make it, I think that A-Rod definitely will at some point and that McGwire will eventually find his way in through the aforementioned VC. I can see Jones doing likewise well down the road, although guys like him, Jim Edmonds, Dwight Evans, and Kenny Lofton have similar cases while getting very little regard. Of the other three, Nomar is the only one that I could see being a potential selection due to his peak being HOF-worthy per Jay Jaffe's JAWS system, as there is precedence for peak level/excitement guys getting more chances at election than players who were consistently excellent for a longer span of time.

  9. chris - distribution might be one of the reasons why zenith isn't very popular. i ended up finding the dare to tear boxes on clearance a retail stores (maybe kaybee?) back in the day.

    jeremya1um - never considered nomo a hall of famer, but i like the idea of possibly getting in for opening the door for other japanese players. if not... i hope they at least have a small section dedicated to him and murakami in cooperstown.

    commishbob - i feel like the bar has been lowered over the years. i'm a small hall guy... but i do think arod should get in. he was one of the greatest hitters of his generation

    billy kingsley - you write it... and i'll read it.

    brett alan - agree on both of your points.

    nachos grande - i agree. i enjoy listening to that espn panel. they're pretty entertaining

    johnnys trading spot - not sure i'd vote for all 6 myself... but i agree 100% with you on the ped issue. performance enhancing drugs have been a part of the game for decades. are we going to start banning all of the players who admitted or were known users of "greenies"?

    mike - great analysis. since the hall has lowered the bar... it'll be interesting to see if dewey will get in. i loved following him back in the day. but the two guys i'd love to see the vc target first are ted simmons and tony oliva. oh hell... i'm gonna toss in dick allen's name too.

  10. I think ARod, Big Mac, and Andruw Jones get in from your list.

  11. If I had a vote, no. I don't think I'd vote for any of them. But, because I don't want to be so negative. The cards are awesome!

  12. Tough one. I’d vote for all except Nomo and Nomar.

  13. I am one of the people that couldn't tear them open. The thrill of not knowing what was inside is more than the actually opening of them. It's like always having the feeling of Christmas Eve, never actually Christmas. I'm okay with that! Ha! Cool set though.

  14. the snorting bull - andruw jones seems to get a lot of blogger support.

    peter k. steinberg - thanks for being a positive pete :)

    the lost collector - i figured nomo wouldn't receive any votes which i totally understood. but maybe the hof could have a special display to honor nomo for paving the way for other japanese players. then again... you could do that for every country out there ;)

    sumomenkoman - when i bought them back in the day, i'd create two stacks: one to rip, one to keep intact. i kept a complete set intact (of hockey), plus a handful of the inserts and parallels. the rest i ripped

  15. I would vote Jones and that's it.

    I don't know how anyone can like A-Rod as an announcer. He is horrible!! Actually the few comments on this post is the only place I have ever heard anyone say they like his announcing. A-Rod is so bad it makes me wish Joe Morgan would make a comeback!

    The only announcer worse than A-Rod is Mendoza; which makes ESPN Baseball only worth watching at the bar where there is no sound.

    1. Everyone has their own unique taste. Just think of announcers like baseball cards. There something for everyone. Even 1991 Fleer baseball has its fans.