2008 inland empire 66ers team set review

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2008 Inland Empire 66ers team set
Official Score – 3-UNASSISTED (“hidden ball trick”)
Manufacturer: Grandstand
Retail price: $6.00

Participants in the California League, the Inland Empire 66ers are the Class A Advanced affiliate of the Los Angeles Dodgers. The sixty-sixers’ highway sign-inspired logo will make even the most sensible fan nostalgic for bygone days either experienced or imagined.

I recently reviewed another team set that used the same Grandstand template as the one chosen by the sixty-sixers. Do you recall what team that was for? I liked them then, and I like them still. How could you not?

These minor league-thin cards exhibit a semi gloss surface ready for immediate autographing. The backs consist of four-color printing of typical player stats in black and short bios in blue over a light image of a glove and some tattered baseballs. There is no printed checklist for this team set, so please allow me…

1 – [51] James Adkins (p)
2 – [26] Alberto Bastardo (p)
3 – [29] Josh Bell (inf)
4 – [11] Matt Berezay (of)
5 – [36] Henry Cruz (hitting coach)
6 – [50] Francisco Felix (p)
7 – [12] Justin Fuller (inf)
8 – [8] Tommy Giles (of)
9 – [9] Javy Guerra (p)
10 – [40] Gabriel Gutierrez (c)
11 – [49] Charlie Hough (pitching coach)
12 – [5] Bridger Hunt (utility)
13 – [38] Joe Jones (p)
14 – [62] Brent Leach (p)
15 – [7] Francisco Lizarraga (inf)
16 – [27] Drew Locke (of)
17 – [34] Paul Koss (p)
18 – [6] Jaime Pedroza (inf)
19 – [14] Eduardo Perez (inf)
20 – [54] David Pfeiffer (p)
21 – [22] Jordan Pratt (p)
22 – [21] Trayvon Robinson (of)
23 – [45] Ryan Rogowski (of)
24 – [59] Jesus Rodriguez (p)
25 – [41] Carlos Santana (c)
26 – [46] Tim Sexton (p)
27 – [13] John Valentin (manager)
28 – [15] Josh Wall (p)
29 – [35] Cody White (p)
30 – [61] Garrett White (p)
31 – [‘08] Steven Downey (strength coach)
32 – [‘08] “Possum” Nakajima (athletic trainer)
33 – [66] Bernie (mascot)

The sixty-sixers field staff includes three men with a wide range of big league experience. Were you aware that manager John Valentin is the only player in major league history to both hit for a cycle AND turn an unassisted triple play? I wasn’t… until I read it as part of his bio on the back of his card. As interesting as that is, Charlie Hough gets the nod to have his card featured here as he ponders blogger/collectors who are interested in bullpen telephones.

Fifteen of the cards in the 2008 Inland Empire 66ers team set depict pitchers. Only one in the bunch is a posed headshot, the remainder being mound action photos. Two of the cards are horizontal in orientation. Amazingly, the photos include a considerably wide variety of angles, backgrounds, jersey variations and day/night situations that serve to prevent these cards from appearing to be repetitive. I would tip my lens cap to the photographer(s), but no photo credits were included. Well, you know who you are…

I’m presenting this Tim Sexton card as an example of one of the pitchers. Not because it is the best photo- it isn’t. Instead, I’ve chosen this card due to the presence of the mountains in the background. I’ve never been to Inland Empire, but it would appear to be a fabulous venue to take in 9 to 12 innings while enjoying a dog and a couple of beers, and possibly even pulling in a foul ball.

Catchers? There are two. Half of them feature a horizontal orientation, which brings the count to three (so far) in this set. I was going to just describe them in general terms, then post a scan of the Carlos Santana card- but as I looked at the cards side by side I began wondering just what in the heck was going on.

At first glance, these photos would appear to have been shot during different days. Well sure, it isn’t impossible to expect to see two catchers in the same game. For example, one of the two may have pinch hit for another player at some point in the game. But wait… how many (non-All-Star) games have you seen where players from the same team wear different uniforms? So they must have been taken during different games. But wait again… wouldn’t you also agree that the faces in the crowd look somehow familiar?

Perhaps these shots were captured during a double header? Should I consult the 66ers schedule to see how many twin bills they’ve played at home this season? I don’t think so, and here’s the “why.” Some of these people are doing exactly the same thing in both photos. Granted, the guy screwing around with the cap (who is already wearing one) does seem like he would be the kind of person who would screw around with a new hat for two games straight. But how long do you expect that the kid in front of him, or the couple sitting behind him would maintain their exact same positions- especially in the presence of such a fidgety person?

Then I’m left wondering where all those other people to the right side came from, and why they aren’t in the other photo. I’m beginning to suspect that some kinky Photoshopping has been going on in Inland Empire. I’m not complaining, mind you… just curious.

You’ll get eleven cards of position players when you obtain your own 2008 Inland Empires 66ers team set. Six are variations of the classic batting stance. If you enjoyed the background people-looking aspect of the catcher subset, then you will also find these entertaining. Personally, I believe you can look to the remainder of the position player cards to find three worthy candidates for best overall card in the set.

Okay, so this card of Justin Fuller is a bit dark and unfocused, but the use of the wall ad as the background helps elevate this card above the majority.

I also really like this action photo of utility player Bridger Hunt hustling down the first base line.

Finally, this card of Josh Bell has absolutely nothing wrong with it other than that fact that it got a corner dinged during shipping. I should point out that a reader, and not the Inland Empire team shop submitted this set for review.

The 2008 Inland Empire 66ers team set is a bargain at only six bucks. In fact, the deal is so sweet; you may expect to hear the Dragnet theme playing immediately after placing your online order. I’m here to tell you that that probably will not happen. I’m kind of surprised that they don’t charge at least $6.60 for them to help stay with the theme.

The Inland Empire 66ers online team shop also has team sets from 2003 thru 2006 available. Possibly if you order more than one you will save a small amount of coin in shipping charges. Fans of the Mother Road would have a tough time if they could only order a single item from the sixty-sixers’ team shop. Fortunately, the only limit is between them and their credit card issuer.

If you are planning on just purchasing this team set on the secondary market, be sure to budget approximately double the price offered by the team.

– Kris

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