Wednesday, July 2, 2008

Die-cuts part deux

After discussing some classic die-cuts just last week, what arrives in the mail this week but a modern take on the technology? Welcome to my collection multi-MVP and lifetime "I Had to Work for Ted Turner" award winner Dale Murphy, resplendent in 1980s blue-on-blue-on-blue. The card places him (and his 1987 Donruss All-Star Pop-ups brethren) under the Astrodome roof in Houston. He made the team despite a relative lull in production, with an OPS+ of "only" 121. (This was sandwiched between OPS+ years of over 150.)

Some think almost 400 homers, back-to-back MVPs, and six different seasons slugging over .500 make a case for the Hall of Fame. Murphy certainly scared pitchers more than most hitters in the 1980s, even given a penchant for striking out. This photo clearly happens after contact, perhaps with Dale shooting another double into the left-center gap.

As good as card photography gets these days, it was sub-par during the 1980s and well-timed shots like this were few and far between. The same company's regular issue from that year went with a is-he-hunky-or-dreamy shot and even his 1987 Diamond King looks distracted. At least the pop-up puts us into the game.

Once you punch out the card and stand Dale up, I can't help but notice the copious Astrodome advertising just past his shoulders. Around the outfield, it's the Marlboro man, Budweiser, Coke, and FirstCity Bank. OK, Coke is acceptable for kids, but ciggies and beer? Did we learn nothing from the airbrush arteests of the late 1970s? I imagine a Friday-night-working editor seeing the ads in the background, scratching the crown of his thinning scalp, and saying "screw it, it's just a gimmicky pop-up set."