One box of 2004 Donruss Baseball (paid $38)
24 packs per box, 10 cards per pack (MSRP $1.99/pack)
Base Set:400 cards
Broken Down by Short-Print Scheme:
Short Set: 300 cards
Diamond Kings: (25 cards, pack odds unkonwn)
Rated Rookies (45 cards, pack odds unknown)
Team Checklists (30 cards, pack odds unknown)
Season Stat Line (400 cards, production varies)
Career Stat Line (400 cards, production varies)
Black Press Proof (400 cards, numbered to 10, hobby only)
Gold Diamond Kings (25 cards, numbered to 2500)
Black Diamond King (25 cards, numbered to 25, hobby only)
Studio Series Diamond King (25 cards, numbered to 250)
Elite (15 cards, numbered to 1500)
Elite Black (15 cards, numbered to 150, hobby only)
Elite Dominators (15 cards, numbered to 25)
Power Alley Red (20 cards, numbered to 2500) Power Alley Red Die-Cut (20 cards, numbered to 250)
Power Alley Blue (20 cards, numbered to 1000)
Power Alley Blue Die-Cut (20 cards, numbered to 100)
Power Alley Purple (20 cards, numbered to 250)
Power Alley Purple Die-Cut (20 cards, numbered to 25)
Power Alley Yellow (20 card, numbered to 100)
Power Alley Yellow Die-Cut (20 cards, numbered to 10)
Power Alley Green (20 cards, numbered to 25)
Power Alley Green Die-Cut (20 cards, numbered to 5)
Power Alley Black Die-Cut (20 cards, one-of-one, hobby only)
Production Line OPS (10 cards, production varies)
Production Line Black OPS (10 cards, numbered to 125, hobby only)
Production Line Die-Cut OPS (10 cards, numbered to 100)
Production Line Slugging (10 cards, production varies)
Production Line Black Slugging (10 cards, numbered to 75, hobby only)
Production Line Die-Cut Slugging (10 cards, numbered to 100)
Production Line OBP (10 cards, production varies)
Production Line Black OBP (10 cards, numbered to 40, hobby only)
Production Line Die-Cut OBP (10 cards, numbered to 100)
Production Line Average (10 cards, production varies)
Production Line Black Average (10 cards, numbered to 35, hobby only)
Production Line Die-Cut Average (10 cards, numbered to 100)
All-Stars (20 cards, numbered to 1000)
All-Stars Black (20 cards, numbered to 250, hobby only)
Longball Leaders (10 cards, numbered to 1500)
Longball Leaders Black (10 cards, numbered to 250, hobby only)
Longball Leaders Die-Cut (10 cards, numbered to 50)
Craftsmen (15 cards, numbered to 2000)
Craftsmen Black (15 cards, numbered to 275, hobby only)
Master Craftsmen (15 cards, numbered to 150)
Mound Marvels (15 cards, numbered to 750)
Mound Marvels Black (15 cards, numbered to 175, hobby only)
Inside View (25 cards, numbered to 1250)
Jersey Kings (12 cards, numbered to either 100 or 250)
Jersey Kings Studio Series (12 cards, numbered to either 25 or 50)
Bat Kings (8 cards, numbered to either 100 or 250)
Bat Kings Studio Series (8 cards, numbered to either 25 or 50)
Timber and Threads (40 cards, 1:38)
Timber and Threads Studio Series (40 cards, numbered to 50)
Timber and Threads Autographed (production varies)
Recollection Collection (production varies)
Base Set Autographs (production varies)
*Stated odds of pulling an autogamer: 1:24
217 of 400 (54.25%)
Broken Down by Short-Print Scheme:
Short Set: 195 of 300 (65.00%)
8 Diamond Kings: I. Suzuki, R.Clemens, B. Bonds, S. Rolen, ManRam, A. Soriano, A. Kearns (2), C. Jones
6 Rated Rookies: M. Ojeda, C-M Wang, H-C Kuo, I. Ferguson, O. Villarreal, R. Wagner
8 Team Checklists: M. Mora, M. Ordonez, M. Sweeney, T. Hunter, B. Zito, C. Delgado, I. Rodriguez, M. Piazza
1 Season Stat Line: R. White /115
3 Career Stat Line: T. Hall /262, O. Hudson /196, C. Izturis /278
1 Black Press Proof: D. Jeter
1 Gold Diamond King: D. Jeter
1 Elite Black: A. Kearns
1 Power Alley Red: Ja. Giambi
1 Power Alley Blue: Ja. Giambi
1 Production Line Slugging: A. Pujols /667
2 All-Stars Black: R. Clemens, M. Piazza
1 Longball Leaders Black: J. Thome
1 Craftsmen: A. Soriano
1 Timber and Threads: L. Berkman Bat
On May 26, 2001, I posted my collation of 2001 Donruss set on my old website. The very last line says it all:
Maybe, just maybe, next year they (Playoff) can produce a set worthy of the "Donruss" name.
Well, it is now 2004, and Playoff still has yet to produce a set worthy of the "Donruss" name.
The main problem I had with 2001 Donruss was that it wasn't a "real" Donruss set. In their haste to "pop a big number in the Beckett" with their first ever original baseball product, Playoff produced a set that bore absolutely no resemblance to the Donruss sets of the 80s and 90s. It was, arguably, the single worst baseball card product ever, up to that point anyway). 2001 Donruss took about every dumb idea concocted by every two-bit marketing "genius" and rolled them all into one steaming pile of cardboard crap.
Things began to look up later in '01 when it was announced that Doug Goddard and the rest of the Pinnacle Brands refugees responsible for 2001 Donruss (and other equally dreadful '01 Playoff baseball brands), quit/were fired from their positions in Donruss' product development team. Unfortunately, the 2002 Donruss set was too far along in the pipeline to completely salvage. The result: Another lousy "Donruss" set.
To be fair, '02 Donruss was a bit of an improvement over the '01 edition. Which is to say, if having two of your fingernails ripped out with a pair of pliers is an improvement over having all five ripped out. Much, but not all, of the extreme gimmickry of 2001 Donruss (the BGS chipptopper, the "pack-in-a-pack," the serial numbered "rookies") was removed. But the set still suffered from the inclusion of 50 short-printed (but not serial numbered) "rookies" and 20 SPed "Fan Club" cards.
As 2002 wore on, it appeared that Playoff was finally getting their act together. They released a number of decent products like Diamond Kings, Donruss Originals, Leaf Rookies and Stars and Donruss The Rookies. All of which led to 2003 Donruss, a set that, while it still wasn't what I would call a true "Donruss" set, was a drastic improvement over their previous efforts. At 400 cards, it was still a couple of hundred cards smaller than the Donruss sets of the 80s and 90s. But without any SPs, 2003 Donruss was, unlike the '01 and '02 versions, a set you could actually collect. A novel concept, I know. Like I said, it was an improvement, but far from perfect. The problem I had with 2003 Donruss was that they pushed up the release date up from March to December. By releasing a single series set that early, there was no way possible to include the scores of players who changed teams via trades or free agency. Granted, this isn't a problem that is unique to Donruss. Fleer and Topps are just a guilty of it as well, with their Ultra and Stadium Club brands. But '03 Donruss would have been better, a lot better, if they had followed it up with a second series.
Which leads us to 2004 Donruss. On the surface, it appears to be similar to the 2003 edition. All similarities end though, when you open the pack. You see, Playoff went back to short-printing base set this year, but you wouldn't know it by looking on the wrapper. Or by looking on the display box. Or on the press releases. Or at the dealer brochures. Or anywhere else. It isn't until after you open up your box that you'll discover that the 25 Diamond Kings, 45 Rated Rookies and 30 Team Checklists are, in fact, short-printed. Let's set aside the fact that, once again, they unnecessarily short-printed the base set. What irks me is that they SPed the base set, and never bothered to tell. This kind of "bait-and-switch" marketing is absolutely unconscionable. How "Pinnacle" of Playoff.
The rest of the 2004 "Don****" (I refuse to recognize this set as a legitimate "Donruss" set), follows the same kind of contrived scarcity and gimmickry that Playoff has been shoving down The Hobby's collective throat the last couple of releases. Case in point the 20 card "Power Alley" inserts: In addition to the regular PAs, or "Power Alley Red" as Playoff calls them, there are Power Alley Red Die-Cut, Blue, Blue Die-Cut, Purple, Purple Die-Cut, Yellow, Yellow Die-Cut, Green, Green Die-Cut and Black. Do we really have to have 11 different versions of what is, essentially, the same card? Seriously, do we? All of the rest of the non-parallel inserts have some sort of "parallel" element, which I guess is supposed to add some sort of "value." Whatever.
I'm not even going to waste any more time and effort reviewing this steaming pile. 2004 Don**** sucks and is not worth your time, money and effort. This set proves that the current Playoff baseball product development team have absolutely no clue as to what they're doing, and that any previous baseball card collecting experience is not a prerequisite to employment with Playoff.
The Bottom Line:
As far as this box, I guess I pulled everything I was promised. I couldn't tell you if I did, since Playoff never bothered to list the insertion ratios for the subsets, or the inserts. I guess I'm supposed to be excited by the Derek Jeter parallel numbered to 10 copies that I pulled. More of that "contrived scarcity" thing I was telling you about. If there is one positive to 2004 Don****, is that it's one of the few Playoff products left that you can actually afford to buy a whole box of without taking out a second mortgage. For the price of one four-pack box of 2003 Leaf Limited ($280), you can buy seven 24-pack boxes (I paid $38 for this box) of 2004 Donruss, and get a better bang for your hobby buck.
Collation Rating: Incomplete
Product Rating: 5 Hot Pokers up the Ass
Do I recommend this product: I'll say the same thing I said three years ago: Maybe, just maybe, next year they can produce a set worthy of the "Donruss" name. I wouldn't count on it though.
Oh, and another thing: You would think that a trading card company that has it's offices in a baseball stadium would include the previous year's National League Rookie of the Year in it's flagship card set. Yep, they forgot Dontrelle Willis. 2004 Don**** proves that Playoff knows nothing about baseball cards, but does anybody there know anything about baseball?