Sunday, April 13, 2008

The 20 for $40 re-wrap: 1999 Skybox Metal Universe

I bought a shitload of wax in '99, but never got around to Metal Universe. There are no RCs, but there are some decent inserts. Unfortunately, the odds of pulling a Planet Metal insert is 1:36; a Diamond Soul, 1:72; and a Linchpins, 1:360.

OBTW, due to satellite issues my new video pack bustin' sidekick Virtual Don West could not be with me to review this pack.

I know, you're heartbroken. As am I, but we're working on it. (I knew that Air Force training would someday come in handy.)

Let's review...

Charles Johnson
One of a handful of players to have been selected twice in the first round of the draft, Charles was picked by the Expos with the tenth pick overall in the '89 draft, but turned them down to attend "The U" on a baseball scholarship. Three years later, he was then chosen by the Marlins with their first first-round pick in '92. Johnson has the "honor" of being traded to, then released by, the Boston Red Sox on the same day. He ended a respectable career with the Devil Rays in '05.

Known more for his defense, Charles Johnson won four straight Gold Gloves (1995-98), and was an All-Star twice. Although pictured here as a Dodger -- he was sent to LA by the Marlins in the blockbuster Mike Piazza/Gary Sheffield trade -- he was traded again in the off-season to the Orioles, where he would hit .251/16/54 in '99.

Adrian Beltre (Building Blocks)
"Building Blocks" was your run-of-the-mill subset of rookies whose actual RCs were in a previous year's product. (In Beltre's case, 1997 Bowman) In the late-90s Fleer attempted to market/pander their Skybox brands to the "hip-hop" audience, with hilarious results. To fully appreciate this, I present to you, in all it's unintended comedic glory, the reverse side of Adrian Beltre's 1999 Skybox Metal Universe card.

(Before I go any further I should note that in 2001 I toured Fleer's headquarters in Mt. Laurel, New Jersey. After spending nearly two hours at the Fleer office, I did not notice anyone outside the "middle-aged-white-guy/white-gal" demographic who was employed there. Please take this into consideration before reading this gem...)
"Yo, Adrian, 20 years old, filling in for Bobby Bo' at third for the L.A. Dodgers ... not bad. We know that you almost nabbed the '97 FSL Triple Crown and were Mr. MVP. We can see your glove is phat already. But at 20? I guess that's why Zeile's in Texas and Konerko's in Cincy ... your move, Kid."
Ivan Rodriguez
Any pack with Pudge, is automatically a good pack, and 1999 would be his best season. He added to the trophy cabinet with his eighth consecutive All-Star appearance, (seventh consecutive start) his eighth consecutive Gold Glove, and the AL MVP. (Or should it be "Mr. AL MVP?") I don't give a shit if Canseco says he was on the gas, if only for his defense, Pudge is a first-ballot HOFer.

Darin Erstad (Caught on the Fly)
The gimmick behind the COTF subset is that it's "written" in the style of The Sporting News column of the same name. Unlike the Building Block card, I will not subject you to the mangled punctuation and broken English of this one.

Ken Griffey, Jr. (Checklist)
A checklist. Yay.

Matt Williams
Matt Williams was in every Fleer insert set in the mid-to-late-90s -- or so it seemed. So I guess it was inevitable that I pulled a Williams. After an awful '98 season in Arizona (his first with the Snakes), Matt rebounded with a possibly steroid-fueled .303/35/142 season. Matt was selected to his fifth (and final) All-Star game, and finished third in the NL MVP balloting to...

Chipper Jones
who led the Braves to the NL Pennant with a .315/45/110/25 campaign. In addition to the NL MVP, Chipper won his first of two Silver Sluggers -- but curiously was left off the All-Star team.

Neophytes (1:6/packs) Troy Glaus
The Neophytes were the designated "Hot Rookie" insert that were standard in most late-90s products. Just like the Building Blocks, the backs are written in "Mount Laurel Ebonics."
"Anaheim's Angel at the hot corner. Your future's so bright, it's hurtin' our eyes! We just hope the bosses know they have a future star on their hands. Keep their heads ringin', Troy, and we know the sky's the limit for this Angel in the infield. True that! True that!"
I believe that sometime around '97, even white people in Nebraska stopped saying "True That." Anyway, most of the fifteen players in this insert were also included in the Building Blocks subset mentioned earlier. In fact, looking at the checklist, with Beltre, Kerry Wood, and "That J.D. Guy," Glaus may be the best pull.

All-in-all, not a bad pack. I'm kind of mad at myself for not busting any '99 Skybox Metal Universe until now. I think I need to find a box of this stuff.


NickL said...

Thanks for adding a summary to the video.

Charles Johnson also anchored the mighty Portland Sea Dogs in the mid90s. Great guy, great (uh, mediocre) player.

expectingrain said...

Hey--you mentioned the Fleer HQ in Mt Laurel, NJ-- do you know if they still give tours? Are they still even open?