2008 midland rockhounds team set review

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2008 Midland RockHounds team set
Official Score – bases clearing DOUBLE
Manufacturer: Grandstand
SGA: Sunday, June 1, 2008
Tulsa Drillers – 2 / Midland RockHounds – 0
Sponsor: Coldwell Banker Covenant, KMID abc 2, KODM98
Retail price: Best guess is $9.99 at the team shop, $12.00 secondary market

Double-A affiliate of the Oakland A’s for the past decade, the Midland RockHounds have earned the respect of fans and “baseball people” located hundreds, perhaps thousands, of miles beyond the Texas League circuit. The RockHounds don’t just do baseball- they do it right. In fact, the RockHounds were honored as winners of Minor League Baseball’s John H. Johnson President’s award in 2007. That’s pretty impressive.

I was lucky enough to have made the trip to Midland, Texas last summer to watch the RockHounds take on the Corpus Christi Hooks (Houston Astros). I can tell you first hand that they have a fantastic ballpark. One very kool feature of Midland’s Citibank Ballpark is Legacy Field– a wiffleball field that was opened on the centerfield concourse in 2007. My only complaint was that they didn’t schedule any extra inning games while I was there!

I really like the grey and white mottled three-sided borders on the front sides of this team set. I also like the concept of having all positions listed in the border while the appropriate one is highlighted in the same blue used for the player name, position and team name. Neat idea! It sort of reminds me of the gear selection display panel in my jeep. If I ever manage to hook up with a representative from Grandstand Trading Cards, I hope to be able to say something about the templates used in the creation of their cards.

One of the questions I will ask Grandstand is whether they even offer a checklist with their team sets as I have yet to review one that included one. The 2008 Midland RockHounds 27-card team set is no exception.

1 – [5] Cliff Pennington (inf)
2 – [9] Jon Zeringue (of)
3 – [10] Kristian Bell (p)
4 – [11] Myron Leslie (of)
5 – [14] Scott Emerson (pitching coach)
6 – [15] Brian Snyder (inf)
7 – [16] Nick Blasi (of)
8 – [18] Jesus Guzman (inf)
9 – [19] Justin Sellers (inf)
10 – [20] Aaron Cunningham (of)
11 – [22] Casey Myers (c/batting coach)
12 – [24] Andy Shipman (p)
13 – [25] Andrew Carignan (p)
14 – [28] Ryan Webb (p)
15 – [30] Jason Glushon (p)
16 – [31] Henry Rodriguez (p)
17 – [32] Vincent Mazzaro (p)
18 – [33] PatrickCurrin (p)
19 – [34] Justin Dowdy (p)
20 – [40] James Simmons (p)
21 – [41] Jay Marshall (p)
22 – [45] Anthony Recker (c)
23 – [46] Andrew Bailey (p)
24 – [49] Webster Garrison (manager)
25 – [50] Jose Rojas (p)
26 – [55] Tommy Everidge (inf)
27 – [‘08] Jeremy Smith (realtor)

Yes, the cards are thin, but they aren’t exactly flimsy. Both sides exhibit a semi-gloss finish, so graphers do need to employ a bit of caution to ensure that the fresh signatures don’t get smudged. A few nanoseconds of drying time in that warm west Texas air should be more than enough. Card backs exhibit four-color printing of player stats, team and sponsor logos, and other important data over a grey background with a stylized batter image in white. The cards are sharp and easy to read. Photos are credited to HotShots Photography and Greg Bergman.

Eight of the set’s thirteen pitchers are posed in right field with the scoreboard used as a nice background. Instead of coming off as monotonous, this strategy actually helped highlight each player’s unique personality. It was actually kind of difficult deciding which cards to include as an example. That said… this offering of Jason Glushon was a must. I like a card image that needs no description. The shadow cast by Jason’s extended arm is bothersome, but even that doesn’t really take away too much from this card.

I also selected Vincent Mazzaro as a representative sample of the posed pitchers cards in the set since he currently leads the Midland RockHounds with 8 wins and an ERA of only 2.29 over 17 starts this season. Mazzaro has only suffered three losses and given up three long balls while completing 106 innings on the mound.

Although the five remaining cards featuring pitchers are action photos taken from different angles, the quality and clarity of those photos simply fall a bit short of the bar that was set by the eight posed shots. James Simmons’ card is my favorite of the action photos used for the pitchers. Simmons is the only non-coach present wearing an orange jersey. Just to make it easier to sleep at night, let’s assume this photo was taken while Simmons was warming up, as a large portion of the crowd seated along the first base line seems to not be anticipating the possibility of a screaming foul ball heading in their direction.

This card of Ryan Webb is the only one with horizontal orientation with exception of the sponsor card that features realtor Jeremy Smith. Unfortunately, the photo of Webb is completely out of focus, resulting in that card being my least favorite in the set. On the other hand, this card does make you stop and take notice of the ultra KOOL RockHounds logo.

This set contains six cards of players batting. This card of Tommy Everidge gives you a good idea of what to expect in that department. It is worth noting that the focus on the other five is a bit sharper than this.

The remaining four player cards are a wonderful mixture of baseball randomness that goes beyond hitting and pitching. These cards include Brian Snyder running, Myron Leslie warming up on deck, and a well-framed shot of Anthony Recker in the process of throwing out a would-be base thief.

I really like this card of Jon Zeringue. Not only is he helping out a teammate by carrying his stuff back to the dugout, but he also appears to be lending a sympathetic ear as someone just off to the side explains that the first base umpire just blew a call. Isn’t that what teammates are supposed to do?

The RockHounds always schedule a large number of fantastic promotions for fans that show up at Midland’s Citibank Ballpark throughout the season, including the popular “Thirsty Thursdays.” Heck, for $2,400 you can sponsor your own half-inning! Of all the promos, it is tough to top Photo Wednesdays when the first 250 fans through the turnstiles receive a player photo packet. These photos are great to get autographed by players who stick around after the game. Of course fans that don’t arrive in time for a free player photo packet can always pop into the RockHounds’ gift shop and pick up one or more team sets to get autographed as well.

Overall this is a quality product that I believe should appeal to fans beyond those in Midland, Sacramento and Oakland. Without a doubt, all of you RiverCats and A’s fans need to grab up these cards so you’ll be ready when players get called up. I see that you can purchase various Midland RockHounds team sets (2000, 2001 and 2002) and Texas League Top Prospect card sets (2001, 2002 and 2004) and online for right around ten bucks each. However, I was unable to find where you can pick up a set of the 2008 Midland RockHounds cards directly from the team, so I would advise that you contact them directly to find out what other card sets are available.

– Kris

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