31 03 2011

“You’ve got to admit, Ramon has historically been one of the best clutch RBI guys for the minimum amount of home runs the guy has hit.” – Dusty Baker

Add one more home run and three more RBI’s.

You can let the other team hit as many home runs as they want to open a game as long as your team hits the home run to end it.

MLB Gameday

31 03 2011

I’ve never been able to stare blindly at MLB Gameday to watch a game.  There’s just too much other stuff going on the internet for me to be able to do that.  But I went over this morning to see who would claim first hit of the season (Chipper Jones, who as I typed this scored the first run, too) and I noticed that MLB has really spruced the thing up.  Is it interesting enough to watch a game on?  I’m not sold on that yet.  But it looks beautiful.

How about you?  Is there anyone who watches their favorite team on MLB Gameday?  I’m willing to be tipped over the edge here.


Joy of a(n almost) completed set, 1990 Topps edition

30 03 2011

This was supposed to be the end of the set.  I packed up cards of Manny Trillo, Julio Franco, Jay Baller, George Vukovich, and Jerry Willard for this one Von Hayes card*, which was supposed to be the last one I needed to put 1990 Topps to bed forever and in record time based on success from the 80’s sets that remain unfinished on my list.

I was pretty happy to finish this set that I decided to complete on a whim long ago but never do anything about.  As most people have a soft spot for the first set they collect, I have a soft spot for 1990 Topps as the last set from my childhood collecting era.  While most people find the set too garish unless your colorblind, there are some nice looking cards including the Von Hayes card that was supposed to finish my set.

Typically when I get the last card for a set, I pull the cards out one more time to double-check my cataloging ability.  Obviously if I’m going to complete a set I want to make sure it is complete.  And while leafing through my 1990 Topps set, I found I had made a mistake.  And another.  And four more.

Somehow I had missed six cards that weren’t in the set.  Five of them I found filed away in my duplicates box, a simple matter of poor sorting.  The sixth card is nowhere to be found.  This means I either had it and traded it away, have put it in a completely random box, or I never had it to begin with.

So now, instead of celebrating the completion of another set, I’m feeling the lack of a Fred McGriff All Star card.  It’s card #385 in the set if you sort them that way, and he’s dressed as a Blue Jay if you sort them like that.  If you sort by career batting average, it’s .284.

And I hope this hasn’t happened to you, but if it has, feel free to commiserate in the comments.  Maybe I even have the card you are looking for.

(*Trade did not actually happen.  This came as part of a package from I don’t know who anymore.  It’s a reference to the Phillies trade with the Indians back in 1982 to land Hayes in Philadelphia in the first place.)

2011 Topps Heritage Rack Pack attack

29 03 2011

Something strange had been drawing me to Heritage this year, and I’m not sure why.  I’ve already bought more Heritage from this year than any other as I tossed a rack pack in my cart last weekend while doing some other shopping.

Luckily this past week or so has been too busy for me to focus much on cards and seems to have broken the spell that it held.  Not that I dislike the cards any more or less, but the desire to have the new has finally waned.  Strange, because this was actually a pretty good pack.
Now that is a good-looking Heritage card, and how they all should be done.  I almost could see this being in the 1962 set.  Examples like this where Topps does such a great job makes the rest of the cards that feel so photoshopped so frustrating to me.  If they all looked like this, I’d find a way to order three or four boxes of the stuff.  Even after the week away.

I thought Topps had used this photo in a number of places for Brandon, but when I double checked I could only find it in 2010 Ginter.

I’m a little worried about B-Phip this year, though.  Even though he still sniffed 20-20, he was caught stealing in almost half of those attempts.  A lot of his worth seems to still come from this excellent 2008 campaign, and while .275-18-16 is still good for a 2nd baseman, I’ve got my fingers crossed he does not regress further.

Nice to see the Tigers aren’t the only ones that Topps subjected to those trees.  And yes, I’m pretty sure those are the same ones that are on the Verlander card I posted previously.  Should be an interesting year for the Rays as they seem more likely to battle for third place rather than first.  Unless Damon and Ramirez got younger in the offseason, that is.

Ooooh, shiny Josh Hamilton.  Who does not like Chrome cards at this point?

I don’t need to make a Stranger Danger joke here, do I?

Finally, an SP of Kevin Gregg, who no doubt will end up being the last SP that someone needs for their set and they will wonder why he of all closers received that status.

This card is strangely blue in the background, so I’m not sure if it’s due to this being a blue-tinted SP of an SP, or if it’s just the natural background of the card.  I read recently on Crinkly Wrappers that the code on the back should be different, but haven’t had a chance to actually check it out.  To bad Olbermann’s going after the green tints instead.

Without that week break, I would have gone crazy on this stuff and probably had to pull my kids from day care to cover it.  Thank goodness I’ve been too busy to blink, let alone look at more cards until now.  Because that Ike Davis had me thinking more about buying my first box.

Christmas catch-up

25 03 2011

I’ve had this box sitting on my scanner for a while now, and I’ve been meaning to do some posts from it for that same stretch of time.   I dare say it’s been there since Christmastime, so I’m not sure why it’s taken me so long to finish posting things from it.   But in my latest concerted effort to catch up, allow me to present the cards with the most dust on them, even if they are mostly protected by cardboard.First up were a handful of cards from the 79-80 Topps hockey set.  I absolutely love this set, and am reasonable sure it would be a iconic hockey release even without the appearance of a certain rookie in it.  This guy here, Bobby Smith, actually bested Gretzky for the 77-78 OMJHL scoring title by ten points, and yet no one cares much about his rookie card.  He would win the Calder trophy in 1979 and hoist a cup for Montreal in 1986.  He was a constant threat throughout his career in the playoffs, even when his season numbers began to fall.  But like I said, every one wants this guy instead:

Yeah, not imagining anyone will just send me a Gretzky rookie.  Still, a 84-85 Wayner isn’t a bad consolation.  The big card from this set isn’t Wayne, however, it’s Steve Yzerman’s rookie card.  I’m not sure what I could write about Wayne that hasn’t already been said elsewhere, so I’ll just say that any time you get a Gretzky in the mail it’s a pretty good day.

Unless Panini can come up with a more original idea, this will be the look of Score cards two years from now.  I hope that their creative team comes up with something better between now and then, though.

And I cannot look at the Bure card without thinking of two key moments in the 1994 Stanley Cup finals.  One is the high stick to Jay Wells in Game three with the score tied 1-1.  Bure’s stick to Wells face would lead to his ejection and the Rangers would score the go ahead goal on the power play to take a 2-1 series lead.  The other is his penalty shot attempt with the Canucks up 2-1 in game 4.  Mike Richter stoned him with the right pad, and that stop would seem to energize New York to score three unanswered and then take a 3-1 series lead. The Rangers would eventually win in seven.

I may be biased, but that has to be one of the better Stanley Cup series of all time.

Bure would eventually play for the Rangers, but knee injuries would force him to call it quits after managing only fifty-one games over two seasons.

Here’s a fact i bet you didn’t know:  Tim Cheveldae was the inspiration for the Matrix, as seen here on this 94-95 Upper Deck card.

Cheveldae was a workhorse for the Red Wings before he was traded to the Winnipeg Jets (so much better than a Coyote, I might add).  Once there, he was mediocre at best and soon gave way to Nikolai Khabibulin.  And yes, I had to look that up.

Was this one of the best looking sets of the last twenty years?  I’d venture to say it’s right up there.  It’s hard to find a bad shot in the set.

As to Kirby, I know only what the back of this card tells me, and that is he toiled in the minors for ten years before getting his chance.  He was twenty-nine when he made his debut, which isn’t usually a good sign for a long and hall of fame career.  I believe he is now the first base coach for the Baltimore Orioles.

So that’s bu five cards in a two hundred count box.  Imagine that goodness times forty.  And now I can finally file it all away.

I’m so far behind, I forgot a title…

23 03 2011

So the stacks have returned to my scanner.

This is both a good and a bad development.  Good in that it means cards to sort and checklists to condense.

Bad because I now have to decide between blogging and more trading.  And the package I’m about to feature came in trade for a card I have yet to send out yet.  I hate falling so far behind.

So Gary, your card is coming.   But here’s a recap of what you’ve already sent.

Gary sent some of card from my 08-09 OPC hockey set, one of my favorites at the time it was released.

Vyborny, I think, is a good analogy for Blue Jacket hockey in general.  Brought in with exciting promise.  Lower than expected returns.

The Blue Jackets have been around since the 2000 season and have made the playoffs once.  It may not be a surprise, then, that Columbus is struggling at near 80% attendance nowadays and losing money.  For a while they were in the midst of the playoff hunt this year, but have now fallen back by nine points with just ten games to play.  It doesn’t look like this is the year, either.

Vyborny now plays for a team in the Chezc Republic where he recently did something newsworthy.  Anyone care to translate?

The OPC base set is 500 cards that cannot be completed with two hobby boxes.  To make matters more difficult for the collector, they add another 100 cards that are short printed onto the end.  I think I’m actually closer to the end of those then I am to the actual set itself, so I guess I should not complain.  And while I’m not sad I missed last year’s somewhat ugly set, I really wish I could afford a box or two of this year’s release.  Or maybe three.

I love the look of the Wild’s home jerseys as modeled here by Derek Boogaard.  Gary also sent Derek’s 2010/11 victory card featuring Boogaard in a Rangers jersey, but I won’t hold that against him.  1.6 million a season just to fight.  Ugh.

Finally someone sends me a card from my 08/09 Upper Deck Masterpieces wantlist.  I believe this is only the second trade I’ve made involving this set since it came out.  Everyone fawns over the baseball release, but no one bought a case of its hockey counter part and has the last eight cards I need for the set?

Mr. MVP.  I absolutely love me some Votto cards, even the Toppstown ones.  I admire this one the same way Joey’s admiring the home run he just hit, and look forward to seeing it around forty times again this year.  The Joey stare, that is.  Not the card itself.

I am impressed that Topps put some effort into these Toppstown cards this year, and they remind me a lot of Upper Deck’s StarQuest inserts from their last couple of years in the hobby.  Still not the best of inserts, but better than the package filler than was past issues.

Same thing with Topps 60.  More effort here on design, but for most it’s still essentially a throw away insert.  But before you throw yours aside, why not check to see if I need it, throw it in an envelope, and mail it off you me instead?

As for Feliz, if you’ve got one of the best young closers in the American League, why would you think of trying to convert him to a starter when you’ve got other options available?  I’m not a close follower of the Rangers, so perhaps one of you could weigh in on if this is a good idea or not.  But I imagine it’s akin to the Chapman situation in Cincinnati.  They have plenty of starters for now, so why not give him more experience in the pen?

Also in the package was a majority of the Series 1 Reds cards, including the team photo and the last card of Aaron Harang as a Redleg.  Good game, guys.  You’ll get ‘em this year.

And Gary, you’ll get your cards this year, too.  Hopefully I can get back to trading by the end of the week.

Joy of an (almost) completed set, 2008 Topps edition

22 03 2011

There it is.  The final hole in my 2008 Topps set, card #370 has finally been filled by Adam Dunn.  This is actually Adam’s last card as a Red, and he would later appear in the update set as an Arizona Diamondback.  The Reds best get in the trade?  At the time, Micah Owings, who was expected to fill a fifth starter role while hitting home runs off the bench.  Owings has since been released and resigned by Arizona.

Now the hope is that pitcher Dallas Buck turns into something other than a pumpkin.  Otherwise the Reds got a package of nothing for one of the more consistent power hitters of our day.

But back to the set – if the hole is filled, why the almost in the title?

Because of card #661.  Not a hole so much as  a book end.

It wasn’t the first year Topps issued a card #661, but if I recall correctly it was the first year that they did not include a copy of it in the factory set.  Instead, Johan Santana’s no-hitter card, predicting an event that never occurred, remains a short printed thorn in the side of set collectors everywhere.

I know what you are thinking.  “Why not just ignore the card?  The basic set is complete, right?”

And my answer is, “I have no idea why I can’t ignore it.  It just doesn’t feel right.”

I’ve ignored other short prints when it comes to Topps sets- the pie in the face cards, for example, and all the other SP’s that littered the 2008 series 2 release –  but there’s something about a card sequentially numbered as part of the set that bothers me.  It feels incomplete without it.

Beckett’s Marketplace currently has one for $125.  Too much for me.  I haven’t seen one pop up on eBay in the last year or so, but I haven’t been checking everyday for it either.  Topps does have one on their Diamond Giveaway site, so maybe I can pick one up there.  Or in a $30 jumbo box.  Because even with these short printed gimmicks, no one wants 2008 Topps.

Except for me.  And that one stupid card that should never have been, #661.

Two random packs, 2011 Heritage edition

19 03 2011

Went to the local box to buy some supplies for an art project that the kids seemed eager to do , and I grabbed, as is my ritual, two packs of heritage which will sit in my trade box for all eternity. Every year I love the idea of Heritage and think that if I see the cards that my past dislikes will change. And every year I feel more confident on passing on the set for another twelve months.

Here’s the first card from the first pack, featuring World Series hero and new Reds backup shortstop Edgar Renteria.  Were I a Giants fan this would no doubt be one of my favorites of the bunch.  Only a Dodger fan could dislike this one.  Or maybe a fan of the Phillies.

And speaking of the Phillies, am I the only one that’s starting to hope they lose since everyone has crowned them as NL champs thanks to their pitching staff?  Are they going to become the Yankees of the NL?

The Renteria is a close second to this, the best card of the bunch and one of the best examples of why I don’t like Heritage.  I’m a Reds fan, I’m more than likely recognize Jay Bruce if I saw him on the street, and at first look I had no idea who this was.  Whatever Topps does to Heritage these things up doesn’t work very well.  But because the stuff sells like hotcakes anyway, there’s no need to change it.

Now for the worst of the bunch.  How many photos does Topps have of Verlander in the trees?  Too many that I’ve seen, and I feel like I’ve actually seen this very image before, but I cannot figure out where.

And was there really a ’62 Topps card featuring a player in a thicket of palm trees?  Could they not crop it closer, or find an open background?  Ugh.

And not to dogpile on the Tigers, but here is the back of their team card.  Can you read any of that?  Neither could I.  Since I’ve scanned it I can tell you in the left hand column is the pitchers from the 2010 Tigers and across the top are the baseball clubs they faced.  Where they intersect is that pitchers record, of course.

I understand these are to be true to 1962, but Topps should have rethought this one.

Here’s the only insert I pulled, and I actually like the look of this one.  Roberts is a guy I admit to knowing little about, but thanks to this card I know that he pitched a complete game 2-1 victory over the Yankees on August 26, 1962.  Wikipedia tells me he’s the only pitcher to defeat all three incarnations of the Braves (Boston, Milwaukee, and Atlanta).  Wikipedia wins.

I will say I enjoyed this year’s Heritage more than years past, but that’s probably due to the design itself rather than any changes Topps has made.  I may end up with a few more packs before all is said and done.  Feel free to request scans and/or trades of anything (players, teams) and I’ll oblige if I can.


Still ignoring 2011

18 03 2011

So this should be the last of the Doug trade I have to post. I’m realizing that since my focus has been on knocking these out, my long view of the hobby world has really shrunk. There’s a whole new release out there and I’ve been ignoring it completely. Sorry Opening Day.

I see also that Topps has gimmick paralleled the heck out of Topps Heritage. Blue tint, green tint, red tint, black borders – it’s a shame that a release that should be fairly pure when it comes to this sort of thing gets taken over by a desire to sell more cards.  I’m not sure I’ve touched more than a pack or two of Heritage cards in my day, preferring to spend that cash on originals when so inclined.

I’ve stated this before, but another reason I usually demur is that the cards in Heritage never feel right to me.   The images never really mimic the era they are supposed to be from, which jars me from the overall joy of the design factor.   I can either get a beauty of a Frank Robinson from the original, or look at Arron Harang as Herman Munster from this year’s release.  That’s not really a contest to me.

What does this have to do with the last of the cards Doug sent in our trade.  Absolutely nothing.  But if Heritage is around in 2058, I hope it can reproduce moments like these.

I love this card, and I don’t know why.  I assume it has something to do with the look on Eric Chavez’s face as he collides with Ian Kinsler (I think).  Chavez is currently in the hunt for a bench spot with the Yankees, which may be the best way for him to make it through a whole season without injury.

Now that Mr. Morales has announced that his name is actually “Kendrys,” does that make this an error card?

I refuse to mention his injury here, too.  It’s just too easy.  Another good looking horizontal batter swinging card.  I swear they should make a set.

Normally I scan cards when I have time and then jot in some notes if there’s something I want to talk about specifically with it and then try expound on it later.  Here’s the exact note I wrote for the card:  “Remember when this was cool and not a money grab by Topps.  Those were the days.”

I have nothing to add to that.

So I had this premise all set up with the Walmart dark cards that Doug sent.  It would show the cards that featured players with looks that could be interpreted as distress on their face as they ran from an unknown fear.  Then it would end with this card full of yelling an screaming.  I just didn’t have the cards to make up what would have been a most epic post, so instead it will live in my mind.  And now yours, if you so desire.

Finally, some 2010 Topps.  Drew Stubbs is something of a sleeper pick in fantasy baseball drafts, a guy who has shown a good mix of speed and power, while hitting (I think) in the .260 range near the end of last season.  Of course, that was when he was hitting low in the line-up, and this season he’s slated to lead off where he was pretty awful.  I certainly hope the hype is justified, but use some caution before you go crazy for Stubby, okay?

Remember when I said I could see a whole set featuring cards like this?  How could I not include it?

I am nos exceptionally close to the end of a number of sets that I have been toting across the country with me since I was a child.  That prospect excites me to no end, which means I’ve got to catch up on what’s already come in and get busy trading again.  One big stack down, four more to go.

Flashback with me to 2009…

16 03 2011

I’ve noticed lately a lot of romanticizing of Upper Deck in their absence from the baseball hobby.  A lot of it comes in the form of “if Upper Deck were still around, then Topps would care more,” which to me is kind of a specious argument.  After all, we complained about Topps before Upper Deck was gone, and we will continue to complain about things if and when competition returns.

I’ll admit there’s some things I miss about them, too – Goudey, for instance, even though I’ve never followed through on my plans to collect any of the sets, but I think this is more of an instance where time away makes it easy to forget things like X, Spectrum, Signature Stars, and Icons, too.

2009 Upper Deck was a disappointing release to me when it first hit shelves.  I didn’t care much for the design, cards were damaged straight out of the pack, and don’t even get me started on the 20th Anniversary insert cards, the Yankee Stadium Legacy update cards, or any other of the ill conceived inserts that peppered the release.

But Upper Deck’s mark was made with photography, and while Topps has done a great job closing this gap in the last few years, there’s still something to be said for a full bleed no border shot.

Like this Andrew Miller.  I’m not sure why a horizontal shot like this looks so great while a vertical card with this image may not get a second look.  Miller was a can’t miss pitching prospect who somehow managed to miss anyway.

Seeing this card brought up a much more important question, though – anyone know how Mario from Wax Heaven is doing or what he’s up to?  I can’t see a Miller card without wondering what happened to him.

I’ve been relying on the horizontal cards a lot lately, so here’s a vertical card that looks great, too.  This must help atone for the run of Dodgers as card #666 that occurred after Upper Deck’s debut.  Pierre led the league last year in stolen bases, but unfortunately for the Dodgers it was the American League and for the Chicago White Sox.

I was torn between including this Dodger…

… or this one of Andre Either.  They are both great cards, so in the end I figured why not let you see both of them?

On a side note, I’ve often thought if I had the time that I’d create a second card blog featuring moments captured with dirt flying in the air on baseball cards.  You can see that both the Ethier (above his left hand) and Pierre (between his body and the base) would qualify.  There’s just something I love about that on a baseball card.  But since I haven’t had time to post here, a second blog would be a serious misuse of my time.  So instead, I’ll mention it here and move on.

I don’t remember this happening.  Pudge was a Yankee?  It wasn’t for very long, was it?

Now I remember.  For Kyle Farnsworth, right?  The Yankees didn’t give up much to get a guy they didn’t end up playing that often, did they?  I wonder what the point of it was, since Posada would be back the following year.  Was the plan to have Pudge back him up or something?

Ah, there’s the good stuff.  I like Edison Volquez and was a little disappointed to hear him turn down a long term contract with the Reds.

Voltron turned down a long-term contract with the Reds this year in hopes of proving he’s healthy and worth even more.  I hope that works out for him, because a season like that would certainly put the Reds in a place to repeat as NL Central champs.  Fifteen days away!

While my overall opinion on this set has soften, these cards were still a bad idea.  Put Matt Holliday outside, drap some curtains behind him – do something to lighten this up just a little bit.  I’d rather have to wait a year to see a player in a new uniform that look at one of this mug shot type cards.

And finally, a card of Brandon Phillips spreading his voodoo on you.  He wants you to help me finish this darn set by checking out my wantlist and getting rid of your useless 2009 Upper Deck cards.  Who are you to deny Brandon Phillips?  A Cardinals fan?

Thanks to reader Doug and my brother for these.


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