Saturday, January 31, 2009

2008 Upper Deck Mystery Question?!

I'm in the process of finally sorting all of my 2008 Upper Deck cards (a want list will be forthcoming). That said, I noticed something odd as I was sorting the cards and putting them in the binder.

Apparently, the backs of the hobby version cards and retail version cards are NOT the same, at least not for the last 100 cards in Series II.

Can you spot the differences? Notice the top of the card. For some, it's all white. On others, it fades from gray/silver to white. I believe the white tops correspond to cards pulled from hobby packs while the gray/silver tops are retail cards. I only bought one box of Upper Deck Series II hobby cards, so I have no idea if the same thing happened with the last 100 cards of the first set.

Are these differences on purpose? Does this mean the complete set has a parallel within the hobby? Does anyone care about the differences now that the 2009 cards are out?

TV's "24" = Free Autographs and Relics for Me!

Steve, at The Easy Life, came up with a (admittedly slightly morbid) contest involving the body count of each episode of the hit tv show "24". I believe Steve will keep the contest running throughout this entire season, so I invite you to check out the ground rules here.

Thanks to Steve and his "24" body count contest, I am now the proud owner of three new cards.

2006 Bowman Heritage Adam Dunn (bat)

In the past few weeks, I've gone from ZERO Cincinnati Reds relic cards to a fair number of them. I love trading!

2007 Topps 52 Rookies Cory Doyne

Not much to say about Doyne, I've never heard of him. However, I now own three different blue version autographs from this set.

2007 Topps 52 Rookies Billy Petrick 26/52 Ooh, an autograph that's hand-numbered, that's always nice right? With Petrick, I have a total of 4 autographs from the '52 set. Maybe I ought to look into how many different autographs there were total and acquire them...most of the players haven't exactly panned out so far so they shouldn't be too pricey.

The best part (for me at least) is that I don't even watch the show "24". With my work schedule and other events, I can't let myself get addicted to a show that you have watch each week to keep up. And yes, I know TiVo and DVRs and the such exist, but I'm too cheap to have anything like that...

Thanks again Steve! Hopefully I'll get lucky with another guess in the future. The prize really makes me want to dust off the '07 Topps '52 binder and put that set together. I only bought retail packs of that set though, so I know I'm missing a lot of cards, including plenty of short prints. I suppose I ought to finish some of the sets I'm working on right now before adding any more to the want list anyway...

Thanks again Steve!

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

January is Slowly Killing Me.

Living in central Pennsylvania, I get the "experience" of all four seasons. Of course, central PA also offers its residence the joys of two "winters" often during the same storm...

I left for work this morning around 8:00 and had to slog through 4 inches of slush and shovel about 5 inches of snow off my car.

I left work a little after 3:30 to head to the mall and had to scrap about a quarter of an inch of ice off my car.

I left the mall around 4:30 and drove home in a near whiteout, complete with a car who did a 180 in front of me and ended up in a snowbank.

Welcome to Pennsylvania.

I was hoping to offset the trip to the mall with a quick stop at Target to see what goodies I could find in the card aisle. Of course, this is the dead season for baseball cards as well, so I picked up 4 loose packs of Topps Updates and Highlights and People You've Never Heard of Who Present Topps Heritage High Series Full of Even More People You Never Heard Of. At least, I think that's the official name.

I figured the packs I've bought were already manhandled by pack searchers, so I wasn't expecting anything great...which worked out since I mostly got crap. I decided to my own version of pack wars though...
5 points for any "good" player (good being quite subjective)
5 points for a player depicted as a Cincinnati Red.
5 points for short prints / black backs that I don't need.
5 points for inserts that I don't need.
10 points if I needed the card for my set.
20 points for relics.
50 points for autographs.
and -5 points for every player I haven't heard of.

Can any of the packs end with a positive score? Let's see...

Pack 1:

566: Bryan LaHair (Who? -5)
578: Carlos Gonzalez (Who? -5)
587: Mike Napoli (At least I've heard of him)
605: Greg Reynolds (Who? -5)
647: Matt Macri (Who? -5)
621: Jeff Samardzija (Black Back) (Already had this one... +5 for black back though)
UH44: Ryan Sweeney (Meh)
UH113: Justin Morneau (Finally, a legitimate good player, +5)

Pack 1 Total: -10 (ouch)

Pack 2:

564: Chris Burke (heard of him, that's a better start than pack 1)
604: Fernando Tatis (Comeback player of the year candidate in '08...ok, +5)
612: Jeff Baker (meh)
613: Houston Astros (meh)
656: Pablo Sandoval
691: Oliver Perez (Short print - and needed! +10)
UH54: Matt Ginter (who? -5)
UH63: Eric Bruntlett (the back of his card says he served wine at a charity function in '08)

Pack 2 Total: +10 (commanding lead...)

Pack 3:

510: Joe Saunders (Pretty good pitcher, +5)
557: Dallas Braden (who? -5)
639: Mike Redmond (meh)
678: Alex Romero (I think I heard of a Romero, but he was a Royal. -5)
720: Ivan Ochoa (who? -5)
RP1: Clayton Kershaw (an insert that I needed of Rookie Performer Kershaw, nice. +10)
UH87: Ryan Langerhans (he's not bad, but not quite good enough for a +5 score)
UH116: Odalis Perez (he was an all-star once, +5)

Pack 3 totals: +10 (Ooh, we have a tie for first.)

Pack 4:

580: Kosuke Fukudome (Ugh, I ought to give this a -100...I'm so sick of pulling Fukudome rookies)
590: Brian Wilson (unfortunately, not the Beach Boy by the same name)
610: Kerry Wood (I bet Kerry likes Dusty Baker just as much as I do... +5)
638: Jose Arredondo (uhm, who? -5)
650: Evan Longoria (He's no Eva, but oh well. +5)
592: Mike Hampton (Black back, but I don't need it, +5)
UH188: Ray Durham (good player for a long time, +5)
UH207: Alberto Gonzalez (who? -5)

Pack 4 total: 10 points.

So there you have it, four packs and the highest total was 10 points. No wonder these things were still available at Target. At least my want list is updated.

Monday, January 26, 2009

It's Been Awhile...

My dramatic slowdown in posts is a direct result of the academic season I'm afraid. My schedule is "overloaded" to begin with at my full-time job, but I've also signed on to teach a part-time course at a neighboring college. Add that onto the single most grueling job searches I've ever had to be part of (and it's still not quite over), and you can probably see why my humble blog got pushed to the back burner.

Don't worry though, I'll be back (and most likely sooner rather than later). I've got a retail box of Upper Deck Timelines, a hobby box of Upper Deck Series II, and some other random cards to talk about. I've got Dusty Baker saying insane things and last (but certainly not least), I've got my Pittsburgh Steelers in the Super Bowl.

Oh yeah, I've also got another hobby of mine that I plan to work into my hodgepodge of a blog. If you thought it was random now, just wait. Think you know, guess away.

Until then, hang in there with me. I'm hoping to make a decision about my future job, and then catch up on this pile of grading, and then, finally, get back to writing this blog.

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Get Your Trades Ready

I've completed a bunch of trades lately, which I am slowly going through, updating the binders, and then updating the want list.

I really hope to have these 2008 sets done and put away before the 2009 sets are out....

The first of the updates (a set that is almost done - I have all the mini insert sets complete except the ones below):

2008 Allen & Ginter mini cards needed:
Ancient Icons:
#1, 2, 6, 12, 13, 14, 17, 18
Team Orange: #1, 2, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 10
Regular Minis: #6, 7, 18, 47, 49, 51, 62, 63, 79, 100, 132, 177, 185, 193, 213, 218, 221, 250, 268, 281, 300, 308, 310, 320, 325, 326, 346, 350

I'm out of town this weekend, but next week I hope to finish updating the rest of my lists and then complete one last round of trades! I'll be posting what I have for trade as well as what I still am looking for.

Monday, January 19, 2009

Blog Bat Around: 2009 Hopes & Fears in Card Collecting

Once again, it's time for another Blog Bat Around hosted by a member of the baseball card blogging community. This time, Dave at the Fielder's Choice is hosting. This is the third Blog Bat Around topic (I didn't participate in the first one - my entry for the second one is here).

The topic:
Part 1:
What type of sets would you like to see produced in 2009 and beyond? What sets from 2008 and past years do you want to see return, and which brands would you like to see killed off? How could existing brands be improved and what new types of card sets would you like to see created?

My response:
2008 was a good year for me in terms of collecting, but not a great year. First, I started the year off trying to complete Topps Heritage and Allen & Ginter (they were the only two sets I completed in 2007, and I loved both sets that year). I managed to complete A&G rather easily, but I still haven't completed Heritage (want to help me?)

After my local retail store supply of Heritage dried up, I picked up a few packs of Baseball Heroes (lured by the decent number of cards, early '90s design, and low price of a box), Upper Deck X, Topps Chrome, Upper Deck Masterpieces, Upper Deck Goudey, Upper Deck Timeline, Topps Stadium Club, Upper Deck base, Topps base, Upper Deck Spectrum, and Upper Deck Artifacts. As you can, I at least sampled almost all the low and mid-level sets the "big two" companies had to offer this year.

I've written extensively about my personal feelings on most of those sets, so you can check my archives if you wish. Today, I wish to focus on 2009 - using the sets of 2008 (and previous years) as a guide.

What I'd like:
If I like a set, I buy it by the boxful, which means it doesn't take me too long before I have the vast majority of a set (the remaining cards I usually try to acquire via trades or eBay). That said, I hope the card companies spread out their set releases... If I had my way, here's what the schedule would look like (starting with February since January is half over already):

2009 - February:
Topps: Topps Heritage
Upper Deck: Upper Deck Series 1
Heritage is my favorite set year in and year out. I enjoy tracking down the short prints (and I've even completed the Chrome parallel set one year). Having a set loaded with short prints and parallels coming out first means more time to slowly acquire/trade for the needed cards...and it gives those of us living in the cold weather a "summer time" type activity to do while the snow flies outside.

2009 - March:Topps: Topps Series 1
Upper Deck: Collector's Choice
If I had my way, Upper Deck would scrap it's "kid based" First Edition and replace it by the formerly "cool" Collector's Choice. If UD made Collector's Choice a 300 card set, with a few inserts (including something kid-centric, stickers or "stand up" figures perhaps), the set would probably sell quite well.

2009 - April:
Topps: Opening Day
Upper Deck: Baseball Heroes
I, personally, don't buy Opening Day - but I understand it's place in the scheme of things. If Upper Deck axed First Edition, then Opening Day would have the "gimped base card" market all to itself. Opening Day makes sense to offer in April (it focuses on the season at hand)- and Upper Deck could counter with a set that focuses on the stars of today and yesterday.

2009 - May:Topps: Fan Favorites
Upper Deck: Goudey
For me, May would be a GREAT month of cards. I loved the idea of Fan Favorites and wish it would return as a "modern retro" type of product, complete with a chrome parallel version. Meanwhile, Goudey would have the floor as the "collector's set" for a few months, giving people time to track down the short prints, mini cards, etc.

2009 - June:
Topps: SP
Upper Deck: Masterpieces
I realize that Upper Deck said they were cutting Masterpieces, but since it's my list I say it should stay. I've never bought anything "super high end" so I just picked SP as the product there. Whatever those that like to buy highend-wise like should be released in June while Upper Deck can counter with a nice set that appeals to the more budget-based collectors.

2009 - July:Topps: Allen & Ginter
Upper Deck: Fleer Ultra
Now that Heritage and Goudey each had their time to shine as the "short print" collector's sets, it's time for Allen & Ginter to make its appearance. Upper Deck can counter with something to appeal to the "other" collector's with a shiny, glossy set full of gorgeous photos and interesting subsets/inserts in the newly revived Fleer Ultra.
2009 - August:
Topps: Stadium Club
Upper Deck: Series 2
August will be the month of stellar photography. Stadium Club for the mid to high end collectors and Upper Deck Series 2 for everybody else.

2009 - September:Topps: Series 2
Upper Deck: Timeline
Just like in the beginning of the release calendar, Topps releases their version of the base set a month after Upper Deck, meaning the glut of "base packs" in stores can be reduced which may make both sets sell better. Upper Deck releases it's "short print infused" set of Timeline, which makes set collectors excited going into the fall.

2009 - October:Topps: Bowman Chrome
Upper Deck: Spectrum
October is the month of the playoffs and World Series fever - so what better way to celebrate that than with some Chrome and flashiness? Now, I personally don't buy Bowman, but I think it has enough of a following that it shouldn't be discontinued. Spectrum, on the other hand, could be a decent set for October if Upper Deck changed the card design to something nice and kept the set size at 100 cards. I'd build that set in October.

2009 - November:
Topps: Topps Total
Upper Deck: Fleer Tradition
No better way to get over no more baseball than to have two epic sets released. Fleer tradition can appeal to those who like the "old" style of baseball cards while Topps Total can have every player from every team from the 2009 season.

2009 - December:
Topps: Topps '52
Upper Deck: Documentary
The final month of 2009 brings a huge set from Upper Deck (done correctly this time - matching pictures to what happened in the game, etc.) while Topps ends the year with a preview of next year's rookie class and one last hurrah of retro style cards.

I prefer my release schedule because it means two sets per month, one per manufacturer. This gives each set a chance to make a splash and be noticed by consumers...but nothing will linger too long without something fresh to replace it. I've axed a number of products including Bowman, Finest, SP Legendary Cuts, Co-Signers, Moments & Milestones, Heritage High Series, Piece of History, First Edition, and X. Obviously, some of those sets have already been confirmed as appearing in 2009, but if I had my way they wouldn't.

The Topic:
Part 2:

Should new sets be geared more toward set collectors, or should the number of hits (autographs and game-used relics) be increased? What about short prints? Parallels? Inserts? Gimmicks? What do you love about current cards, what do you hate, and where should the card companies go from here?

I'm a set collector, but I'm not sure what "geared to set collectors" really means. I love collecting sets with a reasonable number of short prints just as I enjoyed collecting sets like Baseball Heroes that had no short prints. Since I buy a fair number of cards, I think I prefer at least a few short prints because I can use my doubles as either trade bait or eBay fodder to pick up any missing cards.

As for parallels, I don't mind them as long as they aren't over done. I love the mini A&G cards, in fact, I'm trying to complete the mini set right now. I like the Chrome cards in Heritage and I like the colored parallels in Baseball Heroes. That said, there shouldn't be ten different versions...and each version should be easy to tell apart (otherwise, what's the point?!)

As for the "hits", I think it's dependent on the product. I don't mind buying Topps or Upper Deck base cards and not getting any hits - so long as I get some interesting inserts and lots of great photography for a low price. I don't need relics in Goudey or Heritage either - the other subsets and inserts make up for it. I do, however, want on-card autographs in both Goudey and Heritage, they just seem to "fit". On the other hand, sets like Baseball Heroes or Fan Favorites could benefit from having relics of different players, both current and retired.

In conclusion, I think there is a lot of room for improvement on the card companies part - but most of it could be done by simply LISTENING to the consumer and THINKING logically about the set. The idea behind Documentary, for instance, was great - but the execution of the set was atrocious. The idea behind Topps Heritage High Series appeared to be only about selling more cards to people who knew their set wasn't truly "complete" without the high series cards...despite the fact that the set has virtually no stars or other cards worth collecting.

There are also sets like UD X that have no redeeming qualities, from roller marks and hanging chads, to parallels that can be "homemade" with a steady hand and an xacto knife using the ugly base cards, UD X was a complete disaster. If companies reduced the rubish and focused on putting out fewer, but higher quality, sets, the entire industry would benefit.

What do you think? Did I miss any sets that MUST return in your eyes? Is the release schedule too much or too little? Let me know in the comments!

Image Source:

Sunday, January 18, 2009

Stories You Might Have Missed: Volume IV

Welcome to another issue of Stories You Might Have Missed.

Today's the big day in the NFL. First, as a warmup to the game I'm waiting for, the Philadelphia Eagles take on the Arizona Cardinals. By all accounts the Cardinals have no right being in the game (they could win inside their division, they don't run, they don't have defense, blah blah blah). Obviously, the Cardinals have (so far) proved their naysayers wrong.

Of course, I've picked against the Cardinals not once but twice already, so this makes it a trifecta. Philly does their part to keep the dream of an all Pennsylvania Super Bowl in tact.

Then, at 6:30 EST, my Steelers take on the hated Ravens for the third time this year. I, of course, picked the Steelers to beat the birds yet again...and not only beat them, but beat them badly.

Of course, there are more stories out there besides football.

Apparently, there are still Pirates in the world (but they seem to have about the same management skills as the Pittsburgh Pirates.) According to Yahoo! news, a Somali pirate's body washed ashore with $153,000 in a plastic bag stuck in the pirate's pocket. It appears the pirate was part of the crew that got a $3,000,000 ransom for the release of a Saudi oil tanker.

No word if the pirate that was found was forced to walk the plank.

Second, it seems my old stomping grounds of Burlington, VT have been named the healthiest city in America. For anyone who has lived there, that isn't surprising. The city is gorgeous, clean, and HILLY! Anyone who chooses to walk will burn calories easily. Anyone who chooses to live there in the winter will burn off any fat they have accumulated as the body tries to stay warm. Seriously though, it's a beautiful city that's teeming with health conscious people and stores. You can eat any number of healthy alternatives to the typical cheesesteaks and fries that other parts of the nation are known for (like my home state of Pennsylvania for instance).

Finally, in other news that affects me, it seems that Scorpios get more asthma. The article claims that:

The reason for the disparity is not clear, but the sterile conditions under
which American babies are born may be a factor. Babies in developing countries
encounter more infections, so they may be better equipped to withstand less
serious assaults associated with asthma, like mold and dust mites.

Interesting. I'm no doctor, but it seems to make a little bit of sense (and yet, it still seems like I'd rather take my chances with mold and dust mites when the baby gets older rather than right at birth...)

And there you have it, the news that you might have otherwise missed. You're welcome. (Go Steelers!)

Image sources:

Saturday, January 17, 2009

NFL Playoff Picks: Conference Round

First, a recap of last week's picks:

Baltimore at Tennessee:
My pick: Baltimore wins a close one. 16 - 10.
What really happened: Baltimore won 13-10, which was even closer than I thought... Still, I give myself full credit for this pick.

Arizona at Carolina:
My pick:
Carolina smokes the Cardinals. 35 - 18
What really happened: The score was 33 - 13, so I wasn't too far off. Of course, I had the wrong team winning, so really I was about as far off as you can be... I keep under estimating the Cardinals, that's for sure...this is the second week I picked the Cards to lose and they let me down.

Philadelphia at New York:
My pick:
New York gets it done at home. 25 - 17
What really happened: Philly won 23 - 11. Not much else to say about this - I stunk up the NFC side of the picks last week, that's for sure.

San Diego at Pittsburgh:
My pick:
Steelers sick of hearing they have no offense. Steelers 38 - 17
What really happened: Pittsburgh rolled, 35 - 24 (and it really wasn't that close).

Overall, I finished the week 2-2, and I'm now 5 - 3 overall in the playoffs. If it weren't for the Cardinals, I'd have this picking stuff down. Can my good picks continue? Will the Cards mess my picks up again? Let's see....

This week:

Philadelphia at Arizona:
I thought the Cardinals would lose their first game. They didn't. I thought the Cardinals would lose their second game. They didn't. Guess what, third time's the charm. I think the Cardinals will lose this game too! Eventually, I'll be right. (I was thinking about playing it safe and picking the birds to win, but that'd be too easy now wouldn't it?)
Philly wins it for the state of Pennsylvania. 32 - 26.

Baltimore at Pittsburgh:

My Steelers are hosting their hated divisional rivals...looking to beat them for the third time this season (never an easy task). Everyone seems to be expecting a rock 'em, sock 'em type game...but I actually don't. I think the Steelers will be able to make some big plays downfield, and then use the running game to grind out the final two quarters...
Steelers win it for the state of Pennsylvania too! 29 - 13.

There you have it folks. Can I improve to 7 - 3 overall, time will tell.


Wednesday, January 14, 2009

2008 Topps Heritage High Series Hobby Box Break

It's snowing outside. There's a football game on the television. All of that can't ruin the baseball nostalgia that is Topps Heritage right?

I bought a box of 2008 Heritage High Series off of eBay for an "ok" price, nothing spectacular. I'm still trying to finish the low series of Heritage (please help) and now I've got a bunch of high series cards I need as well...

Box breakdown:
Base cards: 108 (out of 185 in the set = 58%) - I needed 16
Short prints: 9 (out of 35 in the set = 25.7%) - I needed 4

Black back: 8 (out of 35 in the set = 22.9%) - I needed 5

Flashbacks: 3 - I only needed the Fukudome

Then & Now: 2 - I only needed the Banks/Rollins

Rookie Performers: 2 - I only needed the Evan Longoria

Relic: 1 - I didn't have it, but I'm willing to trade it for a "better" relic

Chrome: 7 - Decided not to do the chrome set this year luckily. eBay will see these probably.

Chrome Refractors: 3 - These scanned fairly well, I like the rainbow effect going on. These will see eBay sooner or later as well.

Updates & Highlights: 48 - I told myself I wouldn't collect this set because it annoys me. I might go back on that now that I have so many - curse you Topps and your marketing ploys!

After busting the box, I was a bit disappointed. I LOVED the original (low series) Heritage set this year, but the High Series is tough to like. There are way too many scrubs and guys I've never heard of, even if there are a few good rookies in the set. I'm going to try and complete the set, but I may not attempt the high series set if it's the same way next year.

My want list is now up to date, let's start trading!

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Delivery Time! Trade with Brad from Couch Potato Chronicles

I recently received a package from Brad at the excellent Couch Potato Chronicles blog. I sent Brad a bunch of Red Sox cards and a few Topps Updates & Highlights cards. Brad, in return, knocked a bunch of cards off my want list.

I got:
2008 UD Timeline:
#139 Jose Reyes

#191 James Loney

2008 Masterpieces:
#7 Evan Longoria

#19 Ryne Sandberg
#22 Kosuke Fukudome
#26 Grady Sizemore
#42 Andruw Jones
#49 Harmon Killebrew
#56 Jose Reyes
#102 Nolan Ryan

2008 Topps Relic:
Brandon Phillips Jersey

I really like the Timeline set, though those short prints are TOUGH, especially the SP short prints at the end of the set. I also love the Masterpieces set, and I'm sad to see that it won't be repeated next year. Finally, you know I love the Phillips - he's one of my favorite players on the current Reds' roster.

Many thanks Brad. If anyone else wants to set up a trade, check out my want list and let me know.

Monday, January 12, 2009

20 Cards: My Choices

A few days ago, I asked you what 20 cards would you show off if you had a card display case.

There were a lot of interesting answers - with the common theme of "switching it up". I think that's the best idea of all, and I plan to continually evaluate the cards I have in display as I receive new cards. I'm fairly certain there are a few cards that will never leave their spot in the display, but who knows.

In the end, I decided to fill my display with 15 Reds cards and 5 cards of other "favorites". In this case, I mostly picked non-Red favorite players. The biggest obstacle for me was the fact that I only wanted to display duplicate cards since I didn't want to remove cards from their sets (I'm a big set collector).

My picks:

1987 Topps:
281: Cincinnati Reds Team Leaders (featuring Rose): This card holds more sentimental value than any other card I own. So much so that I have already written two blog posts featuring the card (here and here).
393: Pete Rose, Reds Manager card: I don't like Rose the person much, but Rose the player was magnificent. Plus I really like the 1987 Topps set.
648: Barry Larkin rookie card. My dad grew up watching players like Bench and Rose. Larkin was my generation's version of Bench, a great lifelong Reds player.

1988 Topps:
475: Pete Rose, Reds Manager card: This is probably the first card that will be replaced (perhaps by a 2009 card?). My personal requirements to only show off duplicates left me a little shortchanged for iconic cards from the 80s.

1991 Topps:
13: Mariano Duncan: A surprising pick perhaps, but let me explain. In 1990, the Reds won the World Series, so in many respects the 1991 sets are the Reds "glory days" cards. A quick perusal of some of the 1991 sets will yield quite a few Reds cards, much more than say the early 2000s.

122: Paul O'Neill: O'Neill is probably thought of as a Yankee by most people, but to me he'll always be a Red. I liked O'Neill, and as a testament to how much, I didn't even dislike him when he put on the hated pinstripes.

1993 Post Cereal:
28: Barry Larkin: Another card of one of my favorite players. Post cereal cards hold a special place in my collecting heart. I remember picking out cereal based on which had cards as a kid, and later on I used Post Cereal cards to make a lot of money on eBay.

1993 Topps:
110: Barry Larkin: This is a nice card in an underappreciated set. The 1993 Topps set had a nice, clean border and decent photography. That said, this will probably be replaced second after the 1988 Rose card.

2005 Upper Deck ESPN:
27: Ken Griffey Jr.: I always liked Griffey Jr. In fact, he was one of my favorite non-Reds player throughout the 90s. I still respect the guy and wish him the best of luck, whether it's in baseball again or in retirement. As for this particular card, I actually like the base design, which is weird because it's a busy, flashy design (something that I normally don't go for at all).

2007 Topps:
414: Brandon Phillips: Brandon is one of my favorite current Reds (the other is coming up in a few cards). This particular card was a nice change of pace from the white bordered base set but it is otherwise uninspiring. I'll be keeping a lookout for a duplicate Phillips card to replace this one in the future.

2007 Allen & Ginter:

52: Aaron Harang: I love the Allen & Ginter set - and this particular set was the first set I ever completed by hand. It's not easy to find a decent picture of Harang - this card was the least of the poor photos.

2007 Topps Heritage:
181: Edwin Encarnacion: Edwin is another of my favorite Reds...and here he is the lone representative of the second set I completed by hand, literally days after finishing the 2007 Allen & Ginter set.

2008 Upper Deck Masterpieces:
52: Ken Griffey Jr.: One last hurrah for Griffey as a Red on a really nice card.
59: Jay Bruce Rookie card: I figured it was only fitting to have a rookie of one of the Reds' brighest current stars to complement the Larkin rookie. I happen to like the Masterpiece Bruce rookie better than any of my other Bruce duplicates.

2008 Upper Deck:
239: Ken Griffey Jr.: The homerun swing sold me on this card, end of story.

2008 Upper Deck Baseball Heroes:
195: Mike Schmidt, Ernie Banks, and Frank Robinson: The card itself is sort of ugly (hard to see the players), but the player selection is iconic. I'm a huge fan of both Robinson and Banks, and Schmidt is no slouch himself. That said, this will probably be replaced by a card featuring other Hall of Famers in some 2009 set (or so I hope).

2008 Topps Stadium Club:
91: Jackie Robinson: Great picture, great player, he truly deserves to be on any board featuring great baseball players, no matter which team you root for.
95: Honus Wagner: I've lived in Pennsylvania for all my life (excluding graduate school), so the Pirates hold a special place in my heart. Wagner is one example of that influence.

97: Nolan Ryan: One of the greatest pitchers of my generation - and probably one of the greatest pitchers of all time. I wish I had an extra of the Nolan Ryan Masterpieces card from this year instead though, I really liked the Astros bright colors instead of the drab New York Mets blue.
98: Roberto Clemente: The second card of a great Pirate. I love the Stadium Club set (even though I HATE, HATE, HATE the "divisible by three" cards gimmick.)

Sunday, January 11, 2009

I love the BCS - Saturday Night Live song

It's a day full of football. If you happened to miss last night's Saturday Night Live episode (and you like college football), watch this: ( skip to 1:07 if you wish to avoid the rest of the Weekend Update)

Partial lyrics:
"I love stepping in dog crap
I love it when children get sick
I love paper cuts on my corneas
and I love the BCS."

That about sums it up.

Saturday, January 10, 2009

NFL Playoff Picks: Divisional Round

First, a quick recap of last week's picks:

Atlanta at Arizona:
My pick: Atlanta wins 28 - 17.
What really happened: Oops! Arizona won 30 - 24. The good news for me is that while i started out poorly, the rest of my picks went much better.

Indianapolis at San Diego:
My pick: Chargers roll 35 - 21.
What really happened: San Diego won 23 - 17 in overtime. Well, I thought the Chargers would win by two touchdowns, but most didn't think the Chargers would win at all, so I'll mark their one touchdown win as "close enough".

Baltimore at Miami:
My pick: Baltimore wins 17 - 16
What really happened: Baltimore won 27 - 9. I thought the whole rookie quarterback and rookie head coach thing would keep Baltimore's score down.

Philadelphia at Minnesota:
My pick: Philadelphia scores another one for the road team: 32- 20
What really happened: Philly won 26 - 14. I had the exact winning margin, but I gave each team an extra touchdown (without the extra point) in my point prediction. Oh well, if I were going off the spread I would have been ok on this one.

This week:

Baltimore at Tennessee:
The pundits will tell you that you can't trust the rookie QB/coach combination for the second week in a row. The pundits are now saying that Tennessee is one of the least respected teams ever that won their conference in the regular season. I don't like the pundits.
My pick: Baltimore wins a close one. 16 - 10.

Arizona at Carolina:
I severely underestimated the Cardinals last week....and sometimes old habits are hard to kick. I don't think the Cardinals can do it again, they simply aren't that good of a team (especially when they travel out of their division).
My pick: Carolina smokes the Cardinals. 35 - 18.

Philadelphia at New York Giants:
You almost have to feel bad for the Giants, they certainly would rather play any other team remaining in the NFC than face the divisonal rival Eagles. I guess you have to beat them all eventually though, so it goes.
My pick: New York gets it done at home. 25 - 17.

San Diego at Pittsburgh:
The only game not involving a bird as a mascot, that's something right? I can't see Sproles lighting up the fabulous Pittsburgh defense like he did to Indy last week. Big Ben has a helmet that fits now... Everthing points to...
My pick: Steelers sick of hearing they have no offense. Steelers 38 - 17.

There you have it. Can I go 3-1 (or better) again? Think you know more than me? Let me know in the comments.

UD Timelines Hobby Box Break (Packs 10 - 18)

I opened the first half of the box already, here's the second half. (So far, I've pulled 3 Reds)

Pack 10:
30: David Ortiz
62: Ian Kennedy (RC)
120: Jonathan Van Every (RC)
164: Derek Lee
201: Nick Blackburn (RC)
223: David Ortiz

319: Max Scherzer (RC)
YSL 4630: Lou Piniella
This is a great pack if you like the Red Sox...but since I don't, it's a dud. I needed the Ortiz Timeless teams card and the Blackburn rookie at least. Reds count: 3.

Pack 11:
8: Chipper Jones
44: Frank Thomas
80: Clay Timpner (RC)
89: Brian Barton (RC) - Gold Parallel
111: Elijah Dukes
143: Johan Santana
192: Jay Bruce (RC)

310: Ryan Zimmerman
The Bruce rookie card makes me happy. The Chipper Jones is probably trade bait for at least one of the Braves fans that read my blog. In addition to the Bruce rookie, I also needed the Zimmerman card. Reds count: 4.

Pack 12:
11: Ryan Howard
18: Ryan Braun - Gold Parallel

38: Travis Hafner
72: Jonathan Van Every (RC)
102: Brandon Phillips

161: Ken Griffey Jr.
210: Travis Hafner
296: Adam Dunn
Now this was a fun pack. I got a Van Every rookie (same guy that I pulled a signature of earlier), a Phillips card (one of my favorite players), and a Ken Griffey Jr. that's quite nice. I also pulled 2 cards I needed, including the Travis Hafner and ex-Red Adam Dunn. Reds count: 5.

Pack 13:
20: Albert Pujols
99: Jonathan Albaladejo (RC)
129: Scott Kazmir
174: Daric Barton (RC)
200: Micah Hoffpauir (RC)
282: Daric Barton (RC)
331: Jay Bruce (RC)

USA-BH: Brett Hunter AUTO (sticker)
I got three cards I needed (Barton, Hoffpauir, and Barton again), plus a double of a really nice Jay Bruce rookie card...AND an autograph. If only every pack were this good. Reds count: 6.

Pack 14:
13: Alfonso Soriano
40: Miguel Cabrera
76: Greg Smith (RC)
119: Joey Votto

142: Albert Pujols
207: Ryan Garko
275: Hideki Matsui
342: Deric Barton

Another pack, another Red (that I didn't need). I did get 4 more cards I needed (the second half of the box has gone better in that regard). I needed the Smith rookie, the Garko, the Matsui, and the Barton rookie. Reds count: 7.

Pack 15:
47: Josh Hamilton

81: Matt Tolbert (RC)
106: Clete Thomas (RC)
165: Miguel Cabrera
209: Steve Holm (RC)
268: Prince Fielder
365: Clay Buchholz (RC)
YSL14: Babe Ruth Yankee Stadium Legacy

A great pack for my collection, I needed all the cards except the two base cards and the Clete Thomas card. No Reds cards in this pack though, that's sad. Reds count: 7.

Pack 16:
2: David Wright
63: Masahide Kobayashi (RC)
124: Nick Swisher
138: Mark Teixeira
173: Chin-Lung Hu (Gold Stamp)

191: James Loney
254: Vladimir Guerrero
359: Cory Wade (RC)

A great pack for me - even without any Reds. I needed every card in the pack except the two base cards (which I've completed that portion of the set). The gold stamp card is still a little weird, I don't get what the point of the parallel is though. Reds count: 7.

Pack 17:
3: Carlos Beltran
29: Chien-Ming Wang
54: Jeff Clement (RC)
126: Reed Johnson

147: Brandon Webb
182: Brian Bocock (RC)
240: Grady Sizemore
322: Wladimir Balentien (RC)

Johnson, Webb, Bocock, and Sizemore will all find their place in my binder now. Too bad I already had the high number Balentien, those cards are tough to come by and I get a duplicate. Reds count: 7 (still).

Pack 18:
21: Tim Lincecum
39: CC Sabathia
90: Brian Bocock (RC)
117: Greg Smith (RC)
163: Joe Mauer
190: Homer Bailey

226: Clay Buchholz (RC)
350: Colt Morton (RC)

The last pack of the box - and finally my Reds drought ends with a nice Bailey card. I also needed the Bocock rookie, the Buchholz rookie, and the Morton rookie. Reds count: 8.

After opening the complete box:
(Cards I needed ... Cards that are duplicates)
Base cards (1-50): 0...28
Base Rookies(51 - 100): 6...12
'92 Minor League(101 - 130): 4...14
'94 All-Time Heroes (131 - 180): 4...14
'95 SP Top Prospects (181 - 210): 9...9
'04 Timeless Teams (211 - 310): 18...0
'93 SP Rookie (311 - 335): 2...4
'94 SP Rookie (336 - 360): 4...0
'95 SP Rookie (361 - 385): 3...0

Total needed:
Total duplicates: 81

Other cards:
Yankee Stadium Legacy: 3
Gold Parallel: 5
Gold Stamp: 2
Serially numbered /100: 1

Overall, not a bad box. I knocked another 50 cards off my want list (always nice) and now I've got a stack of cards for trading so that I can hopefully trade for the missing cards. I was happy to pull an autograph of someone other than Boggs too.

For Trade: 2008 Upper Deck Timeline

2008 Upper Deck Timeline cards for trade:
Updated 1/09/09

Base: 1 (3), 2 (3), 3 (4), 4 (2), 5, 7 (2), 8 (3), 9, 10, 11 (4), 12 (2), 13 (2), 14, 16, 17 (2), 18, 19 (2), 20 (4), 21 (2), 22 (2), 23, 25 (2), 26 (3), 27, 28, 29 (4), 30 (3), 31 (2), 32, 34 (2), 35 (3), 36, 37 (2), 38 (4), 39 (3), 40 (2), 41, 44 (3) 45, 46 (2), 47 (4), 48 (3), 49 (2), 50

Rookie Base (semi-Short Prints): 62, 70, 73, 79, 80, 82, 88, 89, 98

'92 Minor League style (Short Prints): 101, 102, 104, 105 (2), 106, 107, 108, 111, 114 (2), 115, 116, 117, 119, 120, 121, 122, 123, 129, 130

'94 All-Time Heroes style (Short Prints): 136, 140, 142 (2), 143, 145, 151, 154 (2), 156, 160 (2), 161, 163, 164, 169, 178

'95 SP Top Prospects style (Short Prints): 181, 183 (2), 185, 188, 189, 193, 196, 198, 203, 206 (2), 208

'04 Timeless Teams style (Short Prints): none left!

'93 SP Rookie (Short Prints): 313, 322

Contact me at, (remove the ZZ’s) to set up a trade! You can find the link to my want list here.

Friday, January 09, 2009

UD Timelines Hobby Box Break (Packs 1 - 9)

I bought a box of UD Timeline off of eBay (and Heritage High Series and UD Series 2, but those will be discusses later). I can only hope my box holds as many Reds as dayf's did.

This is my second Timeline hobby box (I stopped buying retail Timeline when I realized for the price of two retail blasters I could get 100+ short prints plus some autos...) The big questions:
1. Will I get another Boggs auto?
2. Will there be ANY die cut cards that don't have roller marks?
3. Will I get any cards I need for my set?

Let's rip 'em open:

Pack 1:
22: Jake Peavy
94: Brent Lillibridge (RC)
122: Matt Joyce
160: Matt Holiday
198: Josh Hamilton

261: Matt Kemp
329: German Duran (RC)
YSL 3822: Thurman Munson
Not a terrible first pack, though no Reds is an ominous start. I need three of the cards (Lillibridge, Kemp, and Duran). I'm completely sick of the Yankee Stadium Legacy cards though. I hope someone on eBay still is buying these things. Reds count: 0.

Pack 2:
25: Brandon Webb
62: Ian Kennedy (RC) - Gold Parallel
79: Josh Banks (RC)
114: Fred Lewis
120: Jonathan Van Every AUTO (sticker) (RC)

151: B.J. Upton
189: Glen Perkins
247: Matt Tolbert (RC)
Ugh. Only the second pack in and I had every card except the Tolbert. As an aside, I really don't get the point of the gold parallel cards - does anyone collect these things?! Reds count: 0.

Pack 3:
7: John Smoltz
9: Mark Teixeira - Gold Parallel
88: Burke Badenhop (RC)
105: Clay Timpner (RC)
170: Ryan Howard - Gold Stamp

178: Kosuke Fukudome (RC)
197: Joey Votto (RC)

233: Jim Thome
Another pack, another single card needed (Thome)...and another gold parallel. If the gold parallels weren't bad enough, what's with the gold stamped cards? At least the gold parallels I can tell from the back of the card, not so for the gold stamp cards. I got my first Red of the box but, of course, I had that one already. Reds count: 1.

Pack 4:
16: Lance Berkman
34: Nick Markakis
70: Jeff Niemann (RC)
123: Max Scherzer (RC)
169: Lance Berkman
188: Felipe Paulino (RC)
219: Jeff Francoeur

320: J.R. Towles (RC)
I doubled the number of cards I needed from the previous pack (Francoeur and Towles). Not much else to say about this pack, kind of boring for me. Reds count: 1

Pack 5:
27: Alex Rodriguez - Gold Parallel
48: Ichiro
58: Kosuke Fukudome (RC)
108: Craig Breslow
136: David Ortiz
208: Seth Smith
212: Randy Johnson
215: Justin Upton (gold stamped 084/100)
Now this was an interesting pack. I got three cards I needed (Fukudome, Breslow, and Johnson). I also got another gold parallel (that's three already). The real kicker was the serially numbered card. How many parallels are there in this set?! Reds count: 1.

Pack 6:
36: Randy Johnson
35: Roy Halladay
89: Brian Barton (RC)
115: Felix Pie
156: Manny Ramirez
183: Burke Badenhop (RC)
237: Joey Votto (RC)

353: Clint Sammons (RC)
Alright, a Red that I needed. I also needed the Clint Sammons rookie card. And for the record, the uniform that Votto is wearing in that photo is one of the ugliest Reds uniforms I've ever seen. Reds count: 2.

Pack 7:
1: Jose Reyes
17: Ken Griffey Jr.
98: Clayton Kershaw (RC)
130: Tyler Clippard
140: Chien-Ming Wang
206: Russell Martin
251: J. R. Towles (RC)
381: Brandon Jones (RC)
So I'm thinking this box wasn't the best purchase idea I've ever had. It seems every pack is almost all duplicates for me. Only two more that I needed (Towles, again, and Jones). No Reds either. Reds count: 2.

Pack 8:
12: Jimmy Rollins
31: Manny Ramirez
85: Rico Washington (RC)
113: Evan Longoria (RC)
145: Alex Rodriguez

181: Brandon Boggs

303: Evan Longoria (RC)
313: Kosuke Fukudome
Well, three cards I needed. First, I thought I'd show off the Boggs card WITHOUT an autograph. It seems easier to find the autographed version. I needed the Washington card, the Longoria rookie Minor League style, and the Longoria Timeless Teams style card. Interesting that this pack had two Longorias...though I did pull another Fukudome to continue my trend of all Fukudome, all the time. Reds count: 2.

Pack 9:
4: Pedro Martinez
49: Felix Hernandez
67: Justin Masterson (RC)
104: Chris Duncan
154: Magglio Ordonez
199: Kosuke Fukudome (RC)
289: Jake Peavy
364: Joey Votto
The last pack of the first half yielded three cards I needed, including a Red (Masterson, Peavy, and the gorgeous Votto card). Reds count: 3.

Overall, through half a box:
(Cards I needed ... Cards that are duplicates)
Base cards (1-50): 0...14
Base Rookies(51 - 100): 4...5
'92 Minor League(101 - 130): 2...7
'94 All-Time Heroes (131 - 180): 0...9
'95 SP Top Prospects (181 - 210): 0...9
'04 Timeless Teams (211 - 310): 9...0
'93 SP Rookie (311 - 335): 2...1
'94 SP Rookie (336 - 360): 1...0
'95 SP Rookie (361 - 385): 2...0

Total needed:
Total duplicates: 45

Other cards:
Yankee Stadium Legacy: 1
Gold Parallel: 3
Gold Stamp: 1
Serially numbered /100: 1

For potential collectors, the entire checklist is here. After I open and sort through the second half of the box, I'll update my needs and want list. I already know I'll have a LOT of these to trade, including many short prints.