USA National Teams Baseball Box Set, 2008.

Here is our foolproof method for receiving excellent baseball cards for the holidays: we order them ourselves, and then step aside when the cards are received in the mail. Other family members receive the cards, not me or Lucy; then they are hidden away and wrapped. Thus, we can't bust into anything early but have something cardular to look forward to. Not that blouses, trousers, planners, chamisoles, sweaters, socks and the rest aren't FABULOUS presents. But they aren't cardboard pictures of athletic people wearing pajamas and caps, either, okay?

Upper Deck put quite the moniker on these cards: the '2008 Baseball National Teams Box Set Featuring the 2007 National, Junior National, and Youth Teams.' We begin with a midair baseball moment featuring Justin Smoak.

We were intrigued by the concept of getting a complete set of cards in one reasonably priced hobby box ($45-ish), including guaranteed autographs and jersey cards. We also love baseball players before they become millionaires; our interactions with them have always been upbeat.

The shenanigans on the back of these cards prove interesting. In this case, we have Mr. Smoak baring his teeth to match the text, "The first baseman feasted on Chinese Taipei hurlers...." What more can you ask for in card literature?

The box the 2008 set comes in is sturdy and, well, pretty:This is what you see when you first open it up: Of course, that got us all hopeful about the Japanese Collegiate All-Stars cards, but it's the only one we got! A difficult bunch of cards to obtain. Still, we like the USA National and Junior teams, so we weren't disappointed. Here's a Night Owl style card, or at least a Late Evening Owl one:

The box also provides seriously different poses. Here's Mr. Swagerty smilin':

And here he is after the photographer says, "hey...loook pensive!":

Speaking of photographers, although we like the pictures quite a bit, there are moments that indicate perhaps full attention was not being paid. Such as this unfortunately positioned pole:

Maybe that's made up for by the pole's reappearance in this smile card:

Any baseball card that gives the sea-of-green-grass effect is all right with us.

The Junior Team apparently allows cute twelve-year-olds to pitch:

In fact, young master Hibbs has a tough time not disappearing into the required double flap helmet:In this shot, the back-pocket gloves are just downright troubling:

And here we have the Giant effect:

The three-player cards are nice:

We believe they should rethink the use of old painting tarps as a background, though:

This makes us realize that MLB players don't usually seem to wear Band-Aids in their baseball cards.

Here's a good photo:

And here's one where the player looks SUSPICIOUSLY CLEAN and well-pressed:
That is not a problem for the enterprising Mr. Alvarez:

Even in his portrait, he looks like he just wants to go out and GET something DONE:

What is the Hat Philosophy? There are players who do this:
Which leads us to call him Ryan Flahattery. Then there are players who wear their hats this way, with the addition of tousled bangs for full effect:

Here is the middle way:
This player wins the Dinged Corners Best Baseball Player Name That Could Also Be A Romance Novel Character Award:
You go, Garrison Lassiter! There are some cut signatures, too, matched with jersey bits:

And we are kind of wild about this jersey bit--the outline of a star is more visible in person than in the photo:
What do you think of the Congrats Text? "Player-Name Game-Used" is a better certification than just plain old "Game-Used."

Oh, and we liked this signature because although the penmanship is not thrilling, you have to love that he puts the 't' before the 'S' in Stovall:

Our lonely Nemoto:
Here's Garrison Lassiter's sidekick in that romance novel...Petey Paramore:

And just as there are red cards and blue cards in this set, delineating Junior and National, so there are red and blue bracelets on the well-dressed player:

Excellent smile!

The binder pages look pretty good. The box contains a 60-card set and seven autographs:

Our quibbles? As is often the case with Upper Deck, the foil-stamped names are in some cases a little blurry, or at least not sharp-looking. We could also probably live without the half-moon droop at the top of the cards. Perhaps too much of the card is taken up with something besides player depiction. But overall, thanks to the inclusion of a complete set; the nice autos and game-used; and the packaging, this receives three Dinged Corners out of a possible four. It seems as if some effort went into this. Wouldn't it be nice if you could look at the results from a baseball hobby box and always be able to say, 'Well, that was clearly a labor of love on the part of the card company!' <----dreamer


night owl said...

Petey Paramore -- if that really IS his name -- must make the major leagues.

Joey said...

Thanks for the in depth look at these. Kind of makes me want to get one.

thehamiltonian said...

I love those boxed sets. The on card autos look great (good enough for me to tackle the set - and I'm Canadian!), and its a lot of stuff out of one box for a pretty reasonable price.