Monday, April 30, 2012

The Mathematics of Games and Gambling

Image source:  www.casinogames.org

By now, most of my loyal readers probably know that I teach college mathematics.  In fact, I’ve been teaching at the college level since the year I got out of undergrad (starting with a teaching assistantship in grad school).  I’ve been fortunate that I haven’t had to scramble (too much) since then in order to have a teaching job for each upcoming academic year.  For the past five years, I’ve been teaching at a four year undergraduate institution (which I love) teaching mainly Calculus and PreCalculus (though I’ve also dabbled in Combinatorics and Statistics a couple of times).  Well, I’m pleased to announce that next fall I’ll be teaching a brand new course titled “The Mathematics of Games and Gambling.” 

Throughout the summer (as I plan the course), and perhaps throughout the school year as well, I plan to occasionally post a blog entry or two on my teaching progress along with any ideas/problems that I have with the course.  It is my hope that I’ll have a bit of “diary” of sorts in regards to the course.  For now, I’m thinking I’ll post the entries here at Nachos Grande but I may end up starting an “education only” blog just to keep things somewhat on theme at both blog destinations.

Luckily, for today’s post, there is a tie between one of the first topics I want to discuss in my course and the main ideas of the blog – namely, gambling!  In my course, we are going to mostly look at gambling in terms of casinos but we may also dabble in sports gambling a bit, specifically with odds and various ways to make (or lose) money.

The college that I work at is located in Pennsylvania, but we draw a lot of students from surrounding states (including a whole bunch students from New Jersey).  As such, current articles such as that discuss the legalization of sports betting in places like New Jersey will probably get a lot of play in the course.  As someone who tries to teach without always resorting to the “lecture and exam” pattern that so many math professors find themselves trapped in, I am always looking for new and exciting ways to draw my students in to the material and concepts.  Anytime you can draw in a student’s hometown (or at least home state), there is an instantaneous connection!

In fact, this particular course is designed entirely around the idea that interested and motivated students will learn mathematics!  The course isn’t for our majors (though I think there is a math major or two signed up “just for fun”), but rather, it is designed to give our distribution students a different outlet for their mathematics requirement (other than the usual statistics course).  Obviously I have no idea at this point whether or not the plan will work, but I can say that the course had strong numbers during spring registration which leads me to believe that I am on to something!

Anyhow, back to the structure of the course – one of the things that I’m debating about in my head (and now on the blog) is how much weight and importance to give various topics.  The course description is intentionally vague, and I do want to be sure to feature some games/activities that the individuals in the class find interesting, but there are other topics that I always want to make sure I include within the course. 

There will be a few topics that are no brainers – poker for one since we get a fun way to experiment with ideas of permutations and combinations.  Other no brainer topics will include roulette, black jack, and Monopoly.  I’d like to include backgammon because there’s a lot of approachable mathematics in that game, but quite honestly, I’ve never played the game myself so I don’t know that I’d be the best instructor for that one!  I plan to look at games like Chuck-a-Luck, Bingo/Keeno, and Connect Four as well.  I’d also like to discuss and investigate some online casinos, like bwin casino (which also happens to be a huge sponsor for the Portuguese soccer league cup)! 

Besides the common (and not-so-common) games in the course, I also want to spend a bit of time discussing gambling.  We will take a look at state (and multi-state) lotteries – and I have a fun little “Tips to win the Lottery” article that I printed off back when the gigantic MegaMillions lottery was all the rage.  That should draw some laughs (or at least I hope it will draw laughs by that point in the semester once students realize the follies in “hot numbers” or “numbers due”)! 

I also plan to spend a little bit of time discussing sports (and prop) betting – specifically talking about betting lines and how they affect payouts (and betting practices)!  I have already spoken to one of the psychology professors about a guest lecture on the psychology of gambling as well – it should be a great, well-rounded course!  Who knows, it may even help to shape the future direction of other distribution mathematics courses, both at my current institution and at other colleges!

Group Break #5: 2002 Donruss Elite - Packs 4, 5, and 6

Whenever I break the boxes, I always find myself trying to figure out if a certain pack "feels" like it has a hit in it (usually by weight or thickness).  I am quite terrible at this game...but if I'm correct, the last pack in this post should have something good.  Am I correct in my prognosticating?  Let's find out together:

Pack 04:
26.  Joe Mays - Twins
57.  Orlando Cabrera - Expos
73.  Paul Lo Duca - Dodgers
87.  Adam Dunn - Reds
BF-23.  Back to the Future:  Vladimir Guerrero - Expos #0236/1000

A great looking card for the Expos - and, for that matter, a great pack for Montreal with the extra base card in addition to the Vlad.  Gotta love the serially numbering love that Donruss always shows collectors!

Pack 05:
1.  Vladimir Guerrero - Expos
8.  Ken Griffey Jr. - Reds

28.  Mark Quinn - Royals
37.  Javy Lopez - Braves
99.  Derrek Lee - Marlins

Woo, I love the Griffey Jr. card - that's the sixth Reds card in the break - so far so good for my team!

Pack 06:
21.  Scott Rolen - Phillies
33.  Mike Cameron - Mariners
39.  Jeff Bagwell - Astros
43.  Ellis Burks - Indians

64.  Juan Pierre - Rockies

And that hit I thought I felt?  .........

Dummy card.

Yep.  More proof that I'm a dummy I guess - that's why I don't pack search!

Group Break #5: Three Packs of 2002 Fleer Box Score

Happy Monday morning!  This is the first (official) week of summer vacation for me - so I'm up early to celebrate by opening up more packs of baseball cards.  Seriously, it doesn't get much better than this!

I opened the first pack from the '02 Fleer Box Score on video a couple of days - here are the next three packs out of the box.

Pack 02:
6.  David Justice - Athletics
14.  Pat Burrell - Phillies
43.  Brad Radke - Twins
68.  Scott Rolen - Phillies

105.  Tim Salmon - Angels
118.  Robert Fick - Tigers
122.  Gary Sheffield - Braves

The Phillies have been lagging behind most of the other claimed teams thus far, so getting a couple of Philadelphia cards in the pack is a good thing.  We still haven't found a single Rockie, Royal (another claimed team), or a Blue Jay.  Hard to believe that - but the break is still relatively young.

Pack 03:
32.  Jeremy Giambi - Athletics
40.  Mark Grace - Diamondbacks
45.  Adam Dunn - Reds
51.  Lance Berkman - Astros
74.  David Eckstein - Angels
79.  Albert Pujols - Cardinals
89.  Jeff Suppan - Royals

One pack after mentioning the Royals were shutout in the break, we get our first Royal!  Now it's only the Rockies and Blue Jays that haven't seen a single card in the break...will the next pack fix that?

Pack 04:
9.  Larry Walker - Rockies
12.  David Wells - Yankees
16.  Bud Smith - Cardinals
20.  Russ Ortiz - Giants
38.  Jason Giambi - Yankees
63.  Todd Helton - Rockies

81.  Matt Morris - Cardinals

Well, that makes the Rockies a bit better, now doesn't it?  From 0 cards to 2 cards in a single pack is a good thing for the mountain guys.

All things considered, those weren't the most exciting packs - but they did provide a few teams with their first cards so no real complaints!  Stay tuned to the blog for plenty more group break goodness (both today and for the week)!  And, of course, there's always a non-Group Break post each evening for the rest of you!

Sunday, April 29, 2012

My Name is Nachos Grande and I'm Addicted to Ginter

As the post title says, I'm addicted to Allen & Ginter.  I've decided to do two things to help feed my addiction:
1.  I've added the 2006 Allen & Ginter set to my want list (right now I need all 350 cards).
2.  I've decided to try and pick up a few inexpensive Allen & Ginter original cards.

I already grabbed a few Allen & Ginter cards a couple of weeks ago - today, it's time to take a look at my second package of original Ginters from eBay!

Salmon:

Sunfish:

Tarpon:

That gives me 5 of the 50 different fish cards from the set!  I'll have a better post about the set in a day or so...until then, do you happen to have any of the cards from the set (somehow?)...I'd love to trade for 'em (or buy them if necessary).

Group Break #5: 2000 Pacific Aurora - Packs 4, 5, and 6

The first three packs out of the Aurora box offered up three inserts - is that a trend or did we get lucky?  I have a feeling the next three packs will clear that issue up!

Pack 04:
11.  Andruw Jones - Braves

40.  Roberto Alomar - Indians
64.  Ken Caminiti - Astros
93.  Rey Ordonez - Mets
105.  Tim Hudson - Athletics
126.  Trevor Hoffman - Padres

Well, that answers that - a pack full of base cards means we shouldn't expect an insert per pack!  Normally, I'd be a little disappointed in only base cards but I have to admit, I like the design of the set quite a bit so getting only base cards isn't the worst thing that could happen!

Pack 05:
10.  Tom Glavine - Braves
22.  Pedro Martinez - Red Sox
96.  Roger Clemens - Yankees
106.  John Jaha - Athletics
136.  Dan Wilson - Mariners
4.  Pennant Fever:  Cal Ripken Jr. - Orioles

The Orioles land a nice little card of the Iron Man!  That makes 4 inserts out of 5 packs, not a bad way to begin the box.  Now, can we pull the Gwynn auto?

Pack 06:
4.  Mo Vaughn - Angels
7. Luis Gonzalez - Diamondbacks
65.  Jose Lima - Astros
107.  Matt Stairs - Athletics
138. Roberto Hernandez - Rays
143.  Rafael Palmeiro - Rangers

Three more packs are in the books!  What do you all think of 2000 Pacific Aurora?  Do you miss Pacific as much as I do?

Group Break #5: Three Packs of 2003 Fleer Authentix

I don't know how many people check the baseball card blogs at 8:30 AM EST on a Sunday morning...but for those that do, this post is for you!

Pack 02:
23.  Jacque Jones - Twins
25.  Sean Burroughs - Padres
44.  Bernie Williams - Yankees
60.  David Eckstein - Angels
109.  Victor Martinez - Indians

I like the Martinez card a lot - something about baseball cards with catchers in action I guess.  Good stuff!

Pack 03:
68.  Ichiro - Mariners
81.  Edgardo Alfonzo - Giants
93.  Darin Erstad - Angels
100.  Ivan Rodriguez - Marlins
13 of 15 TS:  Ticket Studs:  Sammy Sosa - Cubs

The Ticket Studs cards unfold and are seeded 1:6 packs.  I guess they are kind of cool in that they play nicely with the theme of the set.  It's certainly better than "Diamond Duos" or "Legendary Lineage" like Topps has cranked out lately!

Pack 04:
2.  Tom Glavine - Mets
9.  Johnny Damon - Red Sox
42.  Fred McGriff - Dodgers

61.  Jason Kendall - Pirates
103.  Francisco Rodriguez - Angels

McGriff as a Dodger?  I have no recollection of that at all!

Saturday, April 28, 2012

Delivery Time! Cards from Thorzul (Back in December 2011)!

Back in December of last year, Thorzul hosted one of his "big box of random cards" breaks where he acquires a giant box of cards and mails out teams to everyone who buys in.  It was a long time ago, but I think the gist of this break was buy one team, get one free (randomized).  It must have been because I somehow ended up with the Reds (obviously) and the Twins.  Anyhow, I ended up with a nice sized box of goodies - way too many to show off in a single post but I thought it'd be fun to take a look at the top 9 cards that I ended up with!

#9:
2001 Upper Deck - Steve Kelly (TTM Auto):

I certainly didn't expect to land any autographs in the break - so even though this is a through the mail (TTM) auto (or so it appears), it was still a fun surprise!  I'm not sure if I were Steve that I'd want to sign this goofy photo though...

#8:
1970 Topps - Tony Perez

Oh sure, the card is in terrible condition, but that's ok - I still love it!  Anytime you can nab vintage cards of great players, well, you can't complain much about condition!

#7:
2002 Upper Deck - World Series Heroes:  Jose Rijo

Ok, this card is butt ugly - but it celebrates the Reds' last World Series win so I love it anyhow.  Rijo was a beast in the 1990 World Series - he went 2-0 with a 0.59 ERA pitching 15.1 innings in the Reds four game sweep of the heavily favored Athletics.

#6:
2009 Topps 206:  Piedmont mini:  Joe Mauer

As I mentioned, I ended up with both the Reds and Twins in the break...luckily for me, the Reds pile was about four times the size of the Twins (not a lot of Twins in the box I guess) but that's ok as I don't have much use for random Twin cards!  There were a few Minnesotian gems though, this mini Mauer being one of them.

#5:
1971 Topps - Frank Duffy & Milt Wilcox

There's not a lot special about this card (though Wilcox's hat looks all sorts of wrong).  It is, however, a 1971 Topps card that I didn't own before now so I'm happy!

#4 (tie):
1991 Post & 1991 Pepsi:  Chris Sabo

I couldn't decide which one of these two oddball cards I liked better, so combined they take slot #4 in my Top 9 countdown.  Once again, the cards are from a prime year for Reds fans (one year removed from the World Series) so that makes 'em a bit more special.  Throw in the fact that Chris Sabo was one of my favorite Reds of the era and you have a pair of sure winners!

#3:
1993 Upper Deck SP - Bip Roberts

Bip has earned quite the reputation amongst bloggers, but he also should have a reputation for some of the strangest (and sometimes coolest) photos in various baseball card sets.  This particular card is a perfect example - here's Bip in a jacket that's 4 sizes too large for him...standing in front of a lake.  I dare you to try and find other baseball cards that feature the main player standing in front of a lake!

#2:
2007 Topps - Josh Hamilton

A Hamilton rookie card is a good find - and despite the black border, it's still in pretty good shape.  I think I already had one of these in my collection but I'm not positive.  Regardless, a second Hamilton rookie isn't anything to complain about!

And the #1 card in the break?  A surprise - it's not even a Red!

#1:
1971 Topps - Bert Blyleven

It might be a bit rough around the edges and a bit (ok, a lot) off centered, but it's still a great card!  Of all the cards, this one was probably the most exciting to me - and it's certainly worthy of the number spot!

In case you were wondering, there were two different Barry Larkin cards - but since I already had both of them, they didn't crack the Top 9 for the break!  Thanks for hosting the group break Thorzul - even if it did take me about 5 months to get the cards posted!

Group Break #5: Molten Metal - Packs 2 and 3

I opened up the first Fleer Molten Metal card as my initial preview pack for the group break.  Let's rip open another pair of the cardboard packs right now!

Pack 02:
4.  Rafael Palmeiro - Rangers
17.  Bobby Higginson - Tigers
20.  Pedro Martinez - Red Sox
47.  Jim Thome - Indians
122.  Barry Bonds - Giants
108.  Xplosion:  Chad Allen - Twins

The Chad Allen card is actually made out of metal (hence the Molten Metal set name)!  I have to admit, the gimmick works for me as it's a really nice card (and no worries about dinged corners either)!

Pack 03:
2.  Jose Canseco - Rays
75.  Eric Karros - Dodgers
80.  Tino Martinez - Yankees
118.  Kenny Lofton - Indians
139.  Frank Thomas - White Sox

4F.  Sterling Heavy Metal Fusion:  Darin Erstad - Angels #257 of 500

Woah, there's a nice score for the Angels!  I have to say, in the three packs of Molten Metal we've opened so far, we've done really well!  What a fun little box!

Group Break #5: 1999 Fleer Brilliants - Packs 2, 3, and 4

Another day, another three packs!  I've already opened one Fleer Brillaints pack as a preview pack - now let's really get into the box!

Pack 02:
14.  Jaret Wright - Indians
17.  Tony Clark - Tigers
82.  Charles Nagy - Indians
123.  Brian Giles - Pirates
128.  Gabe Kapler - Tigers

A bit of bad news for the Kapler and Giles - they were places front-to-front in the pack and as such, there was some sticking when I tried to pry them apart.  That's extra unfortunate since the Kapler is a 1 in every 2 packs rookie card.

Pack 03:
5.  Jeff Bagwell - Astros
49.  Craig Biggio - Astros
94.  Henry Rodriguez - Cubs
166B.  Blue parallel:  Armando Rios

2 of 15 I.  Illuminators:  Ben Grieve - Athletics

The Rios card is a Rookie blue parallel (seeded 1:6 packs).  The Grieve is seeded 1:10 packs.  All things considered, that's a nice little pack!

Pack 04:
44.  Juan Gonzalez - Rangers
93.  Jason Kendall - Pirates
103.  Barry Larkin - Reds

110.  Rondell White - Expos
141.  Freddy Garcia - Mariners

Well, obviously I had to scan the Larkin!  I'm happy!

Friday, April 27, 2012

Delivery Time! Free Cards from Community Gum!

7Group breaks are all the rage on the blogs lately - and I should know as I've hosted five of them already this year!  However, what you don't often see is a truly FREE group break!  Well, it might not be common - but it's not impossible as the boys from Community Gum recently proved!

Perhaps it was truly free - participants did have to actually read their blog and comment (seems like a fair price to pay, no?).  Five comments (on specially marked posts) later, and a team was yours from a box break of 2003 Leaf.  

Personally, I didn't know anything about the '03 Leaf set - but I claimed the Reds anyhow hoping there might be a Larkin in the set (which there is, #151).

Unfortunately, the box Community Gum opened didn't produce me any Larkin cards (hence the image yanked from Check Out My Cards) - but I did get a few Reds!  From the base set, I scored Aaron Boone, Adam Dunn, Austin Kearns (x2), and Danny Graves.  

I find the design of the cards to be a bit wonky - mostly because of the "fade to blockiness" thing that Leaf had going on.  It kind of makes it look the player is about to be swallowed up in some type of terrible 8-bit void.

Although I would have been happy with the above cards (free cards should make anyone happy), I actually managed to land a really nice card as well - a Press Proof parallel of Ken Griffey Jr. numbered 21/50!

Thanks for the free break Community Gum - and for all my readers, make sure you check out their site as it's (obviously) much nicer than mine!

Group Break #5: 2002 Piece of the Game and 2002 Fleer Box Score (Videos!)

I was originally planning to only open one pack on video (the 2002 Piece of the Game) but unfortunately the video came out rather lame.  I'm really bad at "talking" to the camera - it feels weird and I find myself talking too quietly.  Anyhow, here's the first pack out of the Piece of the Game box - and remember, each pack comes with a hit!

To see if I could do better, here's a second video - this one from the 2002 Fleer Box Score box.

Congrats to the Cardinals!

Group Break #5: Donruss Elite 2002 - Packs 1, 2, and 3

Welcome back to another Group Break post!  This time, we crack open the Donruss Elite box and take a look at the first three packs in that box.

Pack 01:
18.  Mark Mulder - Athletics
23.  Alfonso Soriano - Yankees
84.  Mariano Rivera - Yankees
96.  Bud Smith - Cardinals

AS10.  All-Star Salutes:  Derek Jeter #0168/2000

Ok, not a great way to win me over as a unashamed Yankee hater - but for roddster who claimed the Yanks, this is a great pack!

Pack 02:
29.  Adrian Beltre - Dodgers
65.  Bobby Higginson - Tigers
79.  John Olerud - Mariners
88.  Luis Gonzalez - Diamondbacks
150.  Aaron Sele - Angels

The Sele card has some sort of refractor-esque finish to it - unlike the other base cards in either pack.  I looked at the pack wrapper but I didn't see any mention of refractor type parallels so I am at a bit of a loss as to what the card is.  I'll consider it a parallel I guess - which really only matters to me and my record keeping!

Pack 03:
17.  Lance Berkman - Astros
74.  Terrence Long - Athletics
82.  Fernando Vina - Cardinals
90.  Brad Radke - Twins
101.  Dmitri Young - Tigers

The Dmitri card looks just like the Sele card...now I'm wondering if maybe the cards numbered above 100 are refractor like?  That would explain the lack of mention of refractor parallels on the pack wrapper.  I guess I'll mark both the Sele and Young as regular base cards instead of parallels...but that all changes if I open another pack later in which say card 19 is a refractor-like card.

Group Break #5: 2000 Pacific Aurora - Packs 1, 2, & 3

One of the fun things about doing group breaks that way I do them is that I get to spend quite a bit of time looking at each pack (and card) seeing as how I post a pack-by-pack breakdown for every box.  Of course, it does take a bit of time - but I would suggest sitting back, relaxing, and enjoy the flurry of group break posts that I'm sure will be cluttering up your blog rolls over the next few days (or weeks).  This time, however, I have decided to try and make my evening post (usually around 6 or 7 PM EST) be a NON-group break post.  I know all my group breakers would love another post full of baseball card goodness - but the majority of my readers are most definitely not in the group break and I aim to please everyone*!

*ok, that's total bullsh*t.  I aim to please me, and it would please me to not do only group break posts for the next two weeks.  You'll enjoy what I give you and you'll thank me for it.

Enough jibber-jabber, let's get on with the break.  Here are the first three packs out of the 2000 Pacific Aurora box - and once again, big ups to our group break sponsor - Baseball Card Exchange!

I almost forgot - I posted the final team randomizations last night - so if you missed those check 'em out to see who your second team is!

Pack 01:
30.  Paul Konerko - White Sox

43.  Manny Ramirez - Indians
58.  Cliff Floyd - Marlins
78.  Jeromy Burnitz - Brewers
95.  Robin Ventura - Mets
14.  Pennant Fever:  Bernie Williams - Yankees #088/399

The Pennant Fever cards come in three different versions.  The copper version is hobby only and numbered out of 399 (which is what we found) but there is also a silver retail only version (numbered out of 199) and a platinum blue Pennant Fever variation which are numbered out of 67.  According to the pack wrapper, there are also "regular" Pennant Fever cards seeded 4:37 packs.

Pack 02:
39.  Eddie Taubensee - Reds
56.  Dean Palmer - Tigers
63.  Craig Biggio - Astros
92.  Darryl Hamilton - Mets
121.  Mark McGwire - Cardinals

17.  Scouting Report:  Ken Griffey Jr. - Mariners

The Scouting Report cards are seeded 4:37 packs and are another hobby only insert.  Since I had to pick up the last remaining slot in the break, I chose the Mariners precisely so I could get some Ken Griffey Jr. cards - so I'm happy to see one pop-up early in the break!

Pack 03:
20.  B.J. Surhoff - Orioles
42.  Kenny Lofton - Indians
54.  Juan Encarnacion - Tigers
89.  Jose Vidro - Expos
135.  Alex Rodriguez - Mariners
11.  Scouting Report:  Vladimir Guerrero - Expos

Three packs in and we already found two of our (expected) four Scouting Report inserts!  It's nice to see a team like the Expos get a little love though - that's often an underappreciated team!

A fun start to the break - right now only the Rockies, Royals, Angels, Pirates, Padres, and Blue Jays are without a single card - not bad for only six packs into a seven BOX break!

Thursday, April 26, 2012

Group Break #5: TEAM RESULTS ARE HERE!

Alright, it's time to do the team randomization for Group Break #5!  I can't wait to start the break (the three preview packs served to only whet my appetite)!  I had to claim the last slot so I choose the Mariners - and now, it's time to randomize the 15 unclaimed teams.  After three randomizations (as I always do), I then assign the following teams in the order of claimed teams (alphabetically by team, in other words Jaybarkerfan who claimed the Braves gets team #1 in the list, Pop Startled team #2, etc.).

Here's the results from Random.org.

And with that, here are the team assignments.  As always, I will allow trading for a few days if anyone is interested.  However, BOTH parties must confirm the trade in the comments below!  I also still need payments from a few people - please get those to me ASAP (all payment details in the original sign-up post).

First though, a big thank you to our group break sponsor!


TEAM ASSIGNMENTS:
Last update:  5/16/12 at 11:23 AM

Arizona Diamondbacks - Jon
Atlanta Braves  - Jaybarkerfan (PAID)
Baltimore Orioles - Pop Startled (PAID)
Boston Red Sox  - Jon (PAID)
Chicago White Sox - Brad (PAID)
Chicago Cubs - Tunguska (PAID)
Cincinnati Reds - Nachos Grande (PAID)
Cleveland Indians - Baseball Dad (PAID)
Colorado Rockies - roddster
Detroit Tigers - Tunguska
Florida Marlins - Pop Startled
Houston Astros - Brad
Kansas City Royals - Tim (PAID)
Los Angeles Angels - Brad
Los Angeles Dodgers - Stealing Home (PAID)
Milwaukee Brewers - Baseball Dad
Minnesota Twins - Stealing Home
New York Mets - apba66and0
New York Yankees -  roddster (PAID)
Oakland Athletics - arpsmith
Philadelphia Phillies - Brad (PAID)
Pittsburgh Pirates - Nachos Grande
San Diego Padres - Jaybarkerfan
San Francisco Giants - arpsmith (PAID)
Seattle Mariners - Nachos Grande (PAID)
St. Louis Cardinals - Ike's Cards (PAID)
Tampa Bay Rays - Tim
Texas Rangers - apba66and0 (PAID)
Toronto Blue Jays - Nachos Grande
Washington Nationals/Montreal Expos - Ike's Cards

For me, I'm happy the randomizer gave me the Pirates as I (sort of) collect them but I'm extremely disappointed in the Athletics as it seems like I've landed the A's as my second team in about five different breaks over the past couple of months.  I'd trade the Athletics FOR ANY TEAM that you don't want.  Jaybarkerfan probably got the "luckiest" in the randomization since the Padres have the outside shot at a Tony Gwynn autograph in the Pacific box.

Group Break #5: Preview Pack - 2003 Fleer Authentix

I know I said I wouldn't do any more preview packs - but I am still waiting on too many payments to be able to go ahead with the break.  A few people have contacted me saying payment is coming, but too many still haven't bothered to either pay or at least tell me when payment is to be expected.  Also, there is still one open slot ($30.00 gets you a team of your choice plus a random team)...and amongst the random teams are the Mariners (some prime Griffey and A-Rod years) and the Padres (the Pacific box offers the chance for Gwynn autos).  Oh, and I already pulled a sweet Mariners card in my first preview pack!  You can go here to either sign-up OR see if I still need payment from you (in case you forgot).

Once I have payment from everyone, I will then do a team randomization for the second team that everyone gets.  At that point, I will open up team swapping if anyone is interested and the break will begin in earnest.  Until then, mostly because I didn't have much else to post for tonight, let's open one more box (out of the seven in the break) and take a look at another preview pack.

2003 Fleer Authentix:
Pack 01:

11.  Frank Thomas - White Sox

19.  Barry Zito - Athletics (team still available)

48.  Pedro Martinez - Red Sox

90.  Barry Larkin - Reds

108.  Michael Restovich - Twins (team still available)

I was happy with the Larkin although I'm fairly certain I already have that card.  Both the Zito (Athletics) and the Restovich (Twins) are available yet for the last slot.  The Restovich is part of a 10 card subset of the base set (Future Stars).  All told, I like the design of the cards - the theme works for me and I must admit I am looking forward to what the rest of the box holds (including what should be at least 3 hits in this box alone)!