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Build it, and the All-Stars will come

Build it, and the All-Stars will come

Don't have a ticket to the 2006 All-Star Game in Pittsburgh? Neither do I. But I figured out that I'm closer to experiencing some bona fide Midsummer Classic magic than I thought. You see, the thing is ... build it, and they will come.

Okay, where's that voice coming from?

Anyway, as I was about to say, with the arrival of the big event in the Steel City, I have come up with an All-Star festivity that can take place right in your very own home.

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But first things first. This event needs a name. How does "The All-Star Baseball Card Derby presented by YOU" sound? Thought you'd like it.

Without further adieu, here's the deal: YOU are going to build a card set of 2006 MLB All-Stars.

Now don't go clicking the "Back" button on your browser; you don't have to work at Upper Deck or Topps to create this new collection. No, your new collection will be composed of cards that are already out there in trading card land. They may be in your notebook binders, shoe boxes or waiting for you down at the mall.

Sounds simple, right? It is. Essentially, your 2006 MLB All-Star collection comes down to picking your favorites. Remember, this is YOUR set.

Build it, and they will come.

Does anybody else hear that voice?

Back to The All-Star Baseball Card Derby presented by YOU. It's time to put together your dream card set of '06 All-Stars. Make sure you have the list of players selected for the game handy. Whether you want your set to be focused on only starters -- or include everyone, even the managers -- it's your call.

Next, decide what cards will make the cut and what will make your collection different from the rest. Think about it for a moment, because if you're a seasoned card collector, you know that there have been many card sets that have been produced, all around different themes.

There's been sets focused on showcasing the most stunning action photos. There's others that have gone the route of providing detailed biographical information that stat hounds like me devour.

And there's more where that came from, as a list of top card hallmarks goes on to include:
•   Colorful decorative foil
•   Limited, serial numbering
•   Die-cut designs
•   Retro-themed designs
•   Player autographs
•   Inclusion of player-worn materials

"The All-Star Baseball Card Derby presented by ME" kicked off after All-Star Selection Sunday last weekend, and here's a sample of the cards I'm interested in pursuing. It's a little bit of everything:

Boston's David Ortiz will be starting at first base for the American League, and one specific card of the slugger (2006 Upper Deck UD Materials, # UD-DO) caught my attention. It's a fantastic looking memorabilia card, and aside from the cool jersey swatch included from his uniform, there's more. Looking at his photo on the front of the card, it appears Ortiz is about ready to launch a walk-off home run into the Fenway seats. To me, it's vintage Big Papi.

Like I said earlier, I love stats. I've admired New York Yankees superstar Derek Jeter for years, and a card that nicely wraps up his career by the numbers is going to be a keeper for this new collection. Card No. 307 (2006 Upper Deck Series I) does the trick here, providing an at-a-glance view of D.J.'s statistical accomplishments since breaking into the Majors over a decade ago.

Angels outfielder Vladimir Guerrero earned his seventh All-Star bid, and rightly so. He continues generating offensive fireworks for the Angels, often with impressive home run blasts. What better way to honor Vlad than with a memorabilia card that showcases a Guerrero-used bat piece? His 2006 Topps Bazooka/Bazooka Blasts insert card (#BBL-VG) is as powerful as the veteran's swing.

In the National League, Albert Pujols has been quite the story for the St. Louis Cardinals. Given his accomplishments thus far in his career, who wouldn't want a Pujols rookie card (2001)?

But, you know what? I'm looking for something a little different here. How about a card that commemorates something the five-time All-Star achieved in his rookie year? No problem. In an insert set in 2006 Fleer Ultra (called RBI Kings) it's there in glorious fashion: A Pujols card (No. RBI11) that broadcasts his incredible 130 RBI-performance in his debut season.

Making his first All-Star start will be the New York Mets' talented third baseman, David Wright. Joining him in the NL starting lineup will be three of his teammates with the Mets: shortstop Jose Reyes, catcher Paul Lo Duca and outfielder Carlos Beltran. If you're a Mets fan, you're loving it, because the National Leaguers also boast pitchers Pedro Martinez and Tom Glavine of the Amazins. Although they all sport Mr. Met's favorite colors of orange and blue, they're going to be represented a little differently in my All-Star set.

No disrespect to the Mets and their fans, but I'm going retro with these guys and zeroing in on cards showing them with their previous teams. Hey, variety is the spice of this set.

David Wright will be represented in his old Capital City Bombers Minor League uniform (2002 Upper Deck Minor League, No. 117); Reyes is wearing the official togs of his native Dominican Republic (2006 World Baseball Classic Set, No. 27); Lo Duca (2002 Bowman Baseball, No. 8) is swinging the bat for the L.A. Dodgers and Mr. Beltran is Kansas City Royals property on his card (1999 Fleer Tradition, No. 245). Meanwhile, Glavine is back with Atlanta (1989 Upper Deck, No. 360) and Martinez (2000 UD Legends, No. 77) is again throwing heat for the Red Sox.

And that, my friends, is just a peek at my special 2006 All-Star Collection of cards. Again, your collection can take its own form and be composed of any type of cards you want.

If you ... build it, and they will come.

Wow, perfect timing. I couldn't have said it any better. It all makes sense now, doesn't it? Build your All-Star baseball card set and the 2006 All-Stars will come.

Most definitely.

Joe Soehn is an online content developer for The Upper Deck Company and part-time freelance writer living in Carlsbad, Calif. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

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