Monday, November 30, 2009

Knocking Down Ye Olde Want Lists

Now that the holiday season is officially upon us (it's not official in my book until Thanksgiving, so try all your want advertisers), it's time to give thanks to the many bloggers (and readers) who have helped me narrow down my want lists considerably over the past year.

First up, a second thank you to Jeff from the Topps Heritage Trade Page for the second half of a trade involving the Bob Rush red autograph I pulled awhile back. Jeff knocked off four of the last five cards I needed from the 2007 Topps Heritage set. The only card I'm still missing is a New Age Performers insert card #8.

Here are the cards that Jeff provided me:

2007 Topps Heritage - Baseball Flashback
FB5. Stan Musial

2007 Topps Heritage - New Age Performers
NP3. Alfonso Soriano
NP5. Trevor Hoffman
NP13. Ivan Rodriguez

Second, a thank you to everyone who has traded with me over the lifetime of my little blog. I appreciate all the trades, but I also appreciate everyone who stops by just to say hi or even just to read whatever it is I have to say that day. The only ones I don't wish to thank are the spammers - but they don't actually read this anyway so they probably don't care!

As always, if anyone else would like to work out a trade, please check out my want list and make an offer.

Phlogging: November 2009

Due to some recent comments and suggestions, I'm going to try to incorporate more into my blog than just baseball cards in an effort to expand readership...and keep the few people who do visit my blog on a semi-regular basis interested as well!

As I've mentioned before, I love taking photos - and I've shared a few of my photo blogging experiences in the past... Here are a few more photos from a pair of November events that I attended.

In the beginning of the month, I traveled to State College and attended a Penn State Nittany Lion football game - Senior Day for the Lions.

Pre-Game Tailgate Party:

Blue Band:
Pre-Game Flyover
Joe Paterno
The actual game.
First down Penn State!
Touchdown Penn State!

And on the day before Thanksgiving, I travelled to Sellersville, PA to watch an Enter the Haggis concert. If you've never heard of Enter the Haggis, they are a Celtic Rock band - quite talented and highly entertaining!



Overall, not a bad month for me. And don't worry, there will be a baseball card post going active later today!

Thursday, November 26, 2009

Happy Thanksgiving!

Happy Thanksgiving everyone!

While everyone else will (most likely) be posting pictures of turkeys, stuffing, and cranberry sauce...I'll entertain you with a visitor I saw when I was visiting my parents house a couple of months ago...perhaps I'll see him again while I chow down on a delicious meal at my parent's house this upcoming weekend!




Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Nachos Book Club: Episode 2

Welcome to the second episode of Nachos Book Club. (See the first episode here.)

Note: My goal is to highlight a few books that I've read (and I plan to continue this feature periodically) and briefly give my opinion on them. After I read a book, I keep an Excel spreadsheet with a brief summary (about 1 sentence) and three "scores" (fun, pace, and scholar). Fun is self-explanatory, how much fun was it to read the book? After all, if you are reading for pleasure that's usually one of the most important factors! Pace, on the other hand, is my attempt to quantify the "speed" of the book. A real page turner will have a great Pace score while a denser novel will not. Want a book for the beach, look for a high pace score. Want a book for a rainy day while sitting on your porch, perhaps a lower pace will be the ideal speed. Finally, Scholar is an attempt to numerical catergorize any possibility of learning within the book. If a book is full of factual information, despite being fiction, it will earn a high score here. Finally, I give an Final score which is basically my assessment of the book as a whole. The Final score is not meant to be an average of the three previous categories (as there are many different aspects of a book that add up to a good, or not-so-good, novel!).

Enjoy some more recommended reading!


Sharpe's Trafalgar
by Bernard Cornwell

Sharpe's Trafalgar is the fourth in a series of twenty books by Bernard Cornwell, though I didn't realize that when I purchased the book (since this was the first book I'd ever read by Cornwell). I've always been interested in history, so historical fiction books are often right up my alley. This book was a fast read, driven by a likeable hero in an epic oceanic battle, a bit of a love story, and enough villains that there is bound to be someone you'd like to see "swimming with the fishes" when all is said and done.

Fun: 8
Pace: 9
Scholar: 3
Final Grade: 80/100





The Drunkard's Walk: How Randomness Rules Our Lives
by Leonard Mlodinow

As a mathematician, it's basically a given that I'm going to read mathematical themed books. It's also usually a given that a math-themed book won't appeal to the general public...but that's where The Drunkard's Walk shines. Mlodinow manages to seamlessly blend mathematical discussion into aspects that affect everyone's lives. Think that job that you didn't get was due to some fault of your own? Think that the guy who has "beat" stock market for the last two years knows something the rest of us don't? Think that that CEO is somehow smarter than any average person off the street? This book will make you rethink all those ideas plus many more...and prove why our senses and intuition fail us almost as often as they help us!

Fun: 8
Pace: 8
Scholar: 10
Overall: 98/100

Obviously, with the end of the semester fast approaching (and with it, lots of final exams to grade)...not to mention the holidays, my reading is likely to slow down even further than it already has. However, hopefully you enjoy the two recommended selections above. And, just to prove that I don't always pick "winners" when it comes to books, here's one of the worst books I've read in a long, long time:


Word Freak
by Stefan Fatsis

I like the board game Scrabble so I thought this particular book had potential to be interesting. Wrong! While it does a nice job of documenting the life and journey of a few different Scrabble personalities, it's quickly apparent that the only thing more boring than waiting for someone else to make their move in a game of Scrabble is reading about someone else waiting to make a move in Scrabble.

Fun: 2
Pace: 1
Scholar: 5
Overall: 25/100

As always, if you have some favorite books you've read recently let me know in the comments - I'm always looking for good, new books...even if I don't have time to read them!

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Delivery Time! Trade with Jeff from Topps Heritage Trade Page

A long, long time ago I pulled a Bob Rush red ink autograph (#55/60) from a blaster of '09 Topps Heritage. After a bunch of emails spread out over the span of a couple months, Jeff from the Topps Heritage Trade Page blog and I worked out a deal where he got the auto and I got a bunch of holes in my Heritage sets filled!

Trading away:
2009 Topps Heritage Red Ink Auto

Bob Rush

Getting:

2008 Topps Heritage:
429. Miguel Batista
437. Jhonny Peralta
454. Brandon Inge
479. Tony LaRussa
686. Gavin Floyd
700. Eddie Kunz

High Numbers Then & Now:
TN4. Willie McCovey and Ryan Bruan

Rookie Performers:
RP6. Chris Davis
RP13. John Bowker

2009 Topps Allen & Ginter minis:
177. David Freese
212. Mariel Zagunis

Thanks for the trade Shane. If anyone else would like to work out a trade, you know the deal. Check out my want list and make an offer!

Monday, November 23, 2009

Delivery Time! Trade with Shane!

I started my humble little blog back in June of 2008. Since that time, I've written about politics, cooking, sports, origami, and (of course) baseball cards. While I still enjoy writing about the other subjects, it's obvious from the last 6 months or so of posts that baseball cards have mostly consumed my blog - and with that, baseball card trades with readers from all over the country (and a few international readers as well)!

One of the great things about this blog is that it gives me a "store front" window to every reader who is interested in cards all over the world - and often times those readers have cards that I would love to acquire. One such reader was Shane who sent me an email stating he had cards from 9 different sets off of my want list - including the last two cards I needed for the 2001 Topps set! In return, I sent Shane a box full of 2009 Heritage and 2009 Topps cards, plus a couple of other random cards...and I fear it's still not enough!

Here's a small sampling of what Shane sent me.

2001 Topps:
345. Jim Fregosi
346. Bobby Valentine

My father ordered the 2001 Topps set off of eBay for Christmas for me a few years back. For some reason, the set came complete - except for about a run of 15 cards (mostly manager cards). Over the next few years, I've slowly gathered the missing cards - and now thanks to Shane the set is finally complete!

2009 Topps Allen & Ginter:
Extinct Creatures:
EA4. Labrador Duck

I love the Allen & Ginter set, that's no surprise to anyone who's read my blog. What makes acquring this card great is that I'm now over halfway done with the crazy hard to find insert sets (Inventions of the Future & Extinct Creatures). I'm only missing 4 out of the 10 cards now!

2008 Topps Heritage:
444. Scott Rolen
454. Brandon Inge
459. Pedro Feliz
462. Kyle Kendrick
486. Mike Lowell
532. Willie Bloomquist

Black back:
529. Frank Catalanotto

2009 Topps Heritage:
TME-DP. Dustin Pedroia

Plus a bunch of 1985 Topps, a couple of '91 Scores, a 1991 Topps card and a couple others.

Shane also sent along a bunch of Reds, including a relic of Austin Kearns that I didn't have! In addition, there were a couple of Barry Larkin cards that will get their own post in due time.

Many, many thanks Shane! And, as always, if anyone else would like to work out a trade, check out my want list and make an offer!

Friday, November 20, 2009

Barry Larkin Collection 36: 1993 Upper Deck #473

Jose Rijo, Rob Dibble, Roberto Kelly, Reggie Sanders, Barry Larkin
Year:
1993
Brand: Upper Deck
Card number: 473
Subset: Red October (Team Stars Subset)

Here's what made the 1993 Upper Deck so awesome: Themed team stars cards (plus the player sketch checklist). While Red October isn't exactly the most original "title" for the Reds (not to mention October hasn't been relevant to the Reds for almost 20 years)...it's still a pretty cool card. Rijo, Dibble, and Larkin were all big parts of the Reds World Championship in 1990, one of the last cardboard reminders of the Reds last championship!

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Delivery Time - Part II from Kevin

A couple of days ago, I highlighted the first part of a massive box of Cincinnati Reds cards sent to me by blog reader Kevin. The box that Kevin sent me contained well over 500 Reds cards, many of which I didn't already own (especially since I didn't buy a single pack of '09 Upper Deck)!

While sorting the giant stacks of cards, I came across the following 5 cards that are all awesome for some reason or another to me.

2009 Upper Deck
#102
Joey Votto

Votto is one of the few bright spots on the Reds' roster. Despite his trips to the disabled list, Votto still managed to be one of the Reds leaders in just about every statistical categories for 2009. Of course, with so-called players like Willy Taveras playing everyday for most of the year it's not hard to see how Votto could manage that feat despite missing quite a bit of playing time.

1990 Upper Deck
714
Glenn Braggs

This card was one of the cards that as soon as I saw it I said "I remember that one." I don't know what it is about the card, but for some reason this particular card has remained in the deep recesses of my brain all these years only to be awoken when I glanced through the stack of '90 Upper Deck cards. Maybe it's the slightly out of focus bat. Maybe it's the determinationon Braggs face. Maybe it's Braggs keeping his "eye on the ball" like my Little League coach would have told me in 1990. I don't know, but I do know that I like this card. A lot.

1993 Upper Deck
4
Willie Greene

What - you were expecting a '93 UD Jeter instead? Heck no.

1993 Upper Deck
469
Reggie Sanders

This card, coupled with the team checklists and other subsets (like the Star Rookies above) made the 1993 set a favorite among many people. I'm not a huge fan of the set, but I still can appreciate certain parts of it...especially the Peter Gammons "Inside the Numbers" subset. In 1993 Peter Gammons was THE go-to guy for baseball knowledge and rumors. It always seemed like Gammons had the biggest scoops first - and you knew whatever he was about to say was going to be insightful and worth listening to.

And finally:

2009 Upper Deck
456
Reds Team Leaders

I saw some of these cards on other people's blogs throughout the year and always thought they were nifty...and now I own the only one I care about, woo! The only downside to this particular card is the showing of Edinson wearing those camo jerseys...ugh.

Many, many thanks Kevin for the box of awesome cards! As always, if anyone else would like to work out a trade, check out my want list and make an offer!

Monday, November 16, 2009

Delivery Time! Long Overdue thanks to blog reader Kevin

While I'd like to think that I'm organized and efficient with trade posts, occasionally a package arrives that proves that I'm neither completely organized nor overly efficient. In fact, in the case of awesome package from Kevin v. me I am guilty of both.

Luckily, any admissions I make in my blog cannot be held against me in a court of law...er...better late than never, yeah.

So, without further ado (and with plenty of apologies on my slow response), here is part I (that's right...this is only part of what Kevin sent)!

1989 Upper Deck Reds:

I'm going to list out all the 1989 Reds that Kevin sent mainly because I don't own many '89 Upper Deck cards at all! Looking back, it's easy to see why people became so enamored with Upper Deck...especially comparing Upper Deck's baseball card offering to Topps, Donruss, and Fleer in '89.


23. Van Snider
29. Randy St. Claire
160. Kal Daniels
169. Bo Diaz

This is an awesome photo. The '89 Reds were one year away from winning their only World Series in my lifetime (a sad, sad fact)...and they will probably forever be remembered as a scrappy type team. One look at the determination on Bo's face staring down a runner at second while simultaneously getting hit by an incoming runner is plenty of evidence of the Reds "grit."

180. Chris Sabo
The only player that I actively collect from my lifetime is Barry Larkin, but had Sabo had a few more healthy years with the Reds he would definitely be my second choice (third choice would be Ken Griffey Jr if you are interested).

187. Ron Robinson
196. Dave Concepcion
257. Jack Armstrong
270. Barry Larkin

Woo, I didn't have this one - it'll get its own Larkin Collection post at some point.

276. Jeff Reed
Sometimes a picture is so awesome it begs to be scanned and saved for all of eternity (or at least until this particular blog becomes defunct). This particular photo of Reed rockin' the coke bottle glasses (while sporting my last name - and his of course on his jersey) makes this card an instant classic in my book.

287. Ron Oester
299. Nick Esasky
351. Dave Collins
354. Leon Durham
372. Rob Murphy
375. Rob Dibble
393. Jeff Treadway
407. John Franco
410. Eric Davis
428. Paul O'Neil
446. Lloyd McClendon

I'm not sure I ever knew McClendon was a Red!

449. Frank Williams
617. Tom Browning
619. Jose Rijo
636. Herm Willingham
638. Tim Birtsas
640. Danny Jackson
663. Chris Sabo - Rookie of the Year Award
Spuds!

688. Eric Davis - Reds Checklist
Looking back, the team checklists that Upper Deck used to do were probably one of the coolest things of their sets. Topps usually had a card full of names and numbers, but only Upper Deck sorted the players by team (in alphabetical order) and commissioned a full piece of corresponding team artwork for each checklist. If Upper Deck wants me to buy their non-licensed set next year I'd love to see checklists hearkening back to the late '80s / early '90s.

760. Rick Mahler
781. Lenny Harris
783. Norm Charlton
785. Todd Benzinger

Phew! Thanks a lot Kevin - and the next part of the trade will be posted shortly...the '89 Upper Deck cards deserved their own time to shine though before I delve into the rest of the box. And, as always, if anyone else would like to work out a trade please check out my want list and make an offer!

Saturday, November 14, 2009

Barry Larkin Collection 35: 1993 Upper Deck #245

Barry Larkin
Year: 1993
Brand: Upper Deck
Card number: 245


The 1993 Upper Deck is a beloved set by many collectors. The set features a lot of great photography, including different photos on the front and back. For Mr. Larkin's card, the front shows a unique shot of Barry on third base (I think) after what appears to be a successful stolen base. Heck, look at that slide that he did, it even looks like his jersey is ripped right on his number 11!

The back of the card features a more common shot of Larkin fielding, but it's still quite classy despite the fact that the particular uniform Larkin has on is hideous! My only complain of the '93 Upper Deck set design is the script names. I find it difficult to read a lot of the players names, especially if I'm quickly sorting through a large stack looking for a particular player (or team).

Friday, November 13, 2009

Who Needs Expensive Baseball Cards?

Yeah, others open cool stuff from earlier in the decade.

I open junky repacks full of crap from earlier in the decade.




10 bucks for 10 packs - wow, that's only a dollar a pack! It's gotta be at least a somewhat decent deal, right? Especially since the packaging claims "extreme value package."

...

Wrong.



Those Topps packs - 99 cents each. That Opening Day pack. 99 cents. That's right, I OVERpaid for a bunch of crap packs... Maybe something good will come out of one of the packs - but I somehow I doubt it. And yes, I accidently put one of the packs on my scanner upside down...but you know what, it's fitting given the crappy selection.

First up out of the repack thing:

2 packs of 2006 Topps Updates & Highlights:

20. Rob Bowen
49. Sammy Sosa

72. Darin Erstad
74. Luis Castillo
109. Jason Wood
127. Marco Scutaro
188. Ryan Rowland-Smith
259. Freddy Sanchez
261. Carlos Lee

301. Bob Howry

Mickey Mantle Home Run History:
MHR418. Mickey Mantle

Barry Bonds Home Run History:
741. Bonds HR #741



Ugh. Talk about the end of the steriods era... Bonds and Sosa make an appearance, not to mention another infernal Mantle card...I'm so sick of Mantle in packs of Topps cards!

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Nachos Grande Review: 2009 UD Goudey (Hobby Box)

Oh sure, I might be 6 months late on the review...but it allowed me to grab a hobby box of Goudey off of eBay for a much more reasonable price than I would've had to shell out back in the spring. Plus, I shared a blaster opening experience back in May, so it's not like I completely missed the boat.

No matter, it's time to review the 2009 Goudey set!

What I opened: 1 hobby box of 2009 Upper Deck Goudey

What I got:

106 base cards (No duplicates):
I always appreciate opening a box up that contains no duplicates. Even better for me, the box included the last base card that had eluded me up until this point (#116, Joe Nathan).

9 short prints:
209 Whitey Ford
214. Johnny Bench
221. Cal Ripken Jr.
228. Johnny Bench
229. Mike Schmidt
254. Rollie Fingers
280. Chase Utley
286. Grady Sizemore
293. Brandon Webb

For me, that's an awesome collection of short prints. I needed eight out of the nine, including both the Johnny Bench cards!

Now that the "regular set" is out of the way, let's see what else the box held:

Mini cards:

2 Blue backs:
62. Travis Hafner
155. Ryan Howard

4 Green Backs:
59. Kelly Shoppach
173. Matt Tuiasosopo
185. Carl Crawford
291. Alfonso Soriano

Once again, not a bad collection of minis. The short print Alfonso Soriano is nice, as is the Howard and Crawford minis. I don't are much for Tuiasosopo at the moment, but I guess they can't all be winners.

The 35's:

9 Red:
35-1. Lyle, Niekro, Bench, Jackson (Sweet!)
35-13. Haren, Drew, Young, Gonzalez (Boring to me)
35-25. Ripken Jr, Smith, Jeter, Reyes (Two of my childhood favorites)
35-37. Cabrera, Ordonez, Granderson, Guillen (Lots 'o Tigers)
35-49. Soria, Papelbon, Lidge, Wood (Proof you can't trust closers for very long)
35-61. Guerrero, Lackey, Ethier, Kershaw (West coast madness)
35-73. Soriano, Lee, Ramirez, Soto (Lots 'o Cubbies)
35-85. Rodriguez, Wright, Ramirez, Longoria (Lots of hype here folks)
35-97. Reyes, Wright, Jeter, Rodriguez (The all New York card)

2 Blue:
35-64. Beltran, Berkman, Rollins, Jones (I don't see what the tie in here is)
35-76. Griffey Jr, Dye, Quentin, Thome (The almost all White Sox card)

1 Green:
35-56. Martin, McCann, Doumit, Soto (The men who don the tools of ignorance)

1 Black (#ed16/21):
35-23. Yount, Braun, Gallardo, Fielder (Lots 'o Brewers. Certainly not a bad "super rare" card to get!)

Relic:
GM-ME. Melvin Mora

Not much to say about this relic, besides the fact that it's up for trade.

and finally...
The autograph:
GG-LM. Lou Marson

Heh.

Oh yeah, there were also a bunch of those retrospective crap cards. Nine of them to be exact, I'd rather have gotten 9 more base cards...even if I already have all the base cards. Blech.

Bottom line:
Pros: Fun box break, enough variety to keep each pack interesting. The different variations of the minis and 35s allow each pack to have a "hit" in it. The relics are quite classy. The autographs are on card which should never be overlooked. There were no duplicates.
Cons: Retrospective cards stink. Card stock a bit flimsier than I'd prefer. The hits weren't of players of much caliber. Some of the photos are downright scary and/or disturbing!

Final score: 70 / 100.
This set is everything a $40 per hobby box set should be. A nice variety of cards, on card autos, two hits of varying fame, and a whole slew of cards. The set doesn't score higher though because it simply doesn't resonate much past the value aspect.

As always, I'm looking for plenty of the Goudey cards to finish off my set - check out my want list and make an offer. Also, you can find all of my extra '09 Goudey cards available for trade here.