Wednesday, March 31, 2010

A (Somewhat) Funny Strike in the Anticipation List

1) Yankees-Red Sox Season Opener
2) SI's World Series Predictions
3) My Birthday
4) Spring Break
5) Rec Basketball Season Finale
6) Conan O'Brien Sticks it in Jay Leno's Face

When the Sports Illustrated arrived in the mail today, I was pretty excited. With “For Cards Sake” favorite Roy Halladay glistening on the cover, I knew that SI’s World Series Predictions would be inside. Now, we all know that predicting a World Series winner before the season starts is extremely pointless, but it’s still fun to see what some “experts” come up with. Sporting News had an almost identical playoff bracket as the 2009 playoffs (with the Yanks repeating over the Phils) while ESPN had (of course) the Red Sox winning it all. But after SI’s hilarious prediction of the Mets over the Angels last year, I was extremely anxious to see who they chose as this year’s World Series winner. It wasn’t a too bad of a choice, but it still got a chuckle out of me.

SI predicted the Phillies would win the World Series. Good choice right? Just acquired the best pitcher in baseball, have arguably the best lineup in the game, and made the World Series the previous two years. However, I got a laugh out of whom they picked to represent the American League. Sports Illustrated has the Tampa Bay Rays going all the way to the World Series… as a Wild Card no less! Now, don’t get me wrong, the Rays have a great lineup and a steady bullpen, but I don’t think they have the starting rotation to make it all the way. Shields, Garza, Niemann, and Price are all talented pitchers who haven’t come close to touching their primes, but their ERAs are nothing to write home about. They’re filling out their rotation with a rookie as well. To keep up with the monster rotations of Boston and New York, the young hurlers better make that giant leap or else the Rays won’t be boasting a great record.

So I can cross off SI’s World Series predictions from the Anticipation List, although it wasn’t nearly as hilarious as last year’s. Oh, and Easter Sunday brings Yankees-Red Sox!

Sunday, March 28, 2010

An Old Flame Returns

After many weeks of anticipation, the Sports Locker opened up. You’re probably asking yourself what is the Sports Locker and why am I wetting my pants about it? The Sports Locker, previously known as the Baseball Card Locker, is the local hobby shop that I’m a frequent visitor to (and that I frequently blog about). The shop was going to close unless someone bought it. However, long time employee Kevin took the store off the hands of the previous owner in late February and has been revamping the place since. He opened up a week or so ago, and I finally had a chance to peek in.

While the place was still shaping up, Kevin brought in a lot of great stuff. He had the newest boxes along with great memorabilia. He got rid most of the old boxes and cards, and I’m kind of sad to see them go. Hopefully he put them in the back and is gonna take them out at a later date. Kevin also is selling a lot of cards under book value, unlike the previous owner who tried to pinch every penny out of my pocket. Also, Kevin stocked up his shop with a ton of excellent cards, ranging from parallels to autographed patches. I was pressed for time (I would have been there for hours looking at the new cards), so I picked up two cards.

2003 Fleer Patchworks Numbers Game Jersey JG-NG: Jason Giambi Nice lookin’ card with a stripe right down the middle. I ignore the fact that it’s Giambi.

2008 Sweet Spot Signatures Red Stitch Black Ink S-BO: Bobby Richardson (Numbered to 250)
Whoever came up with destroying a baseball and putting it in a card, you deserve a drink. My eyes still bulge whenever I see this beauty, and the card looks ten times better in person. Bobby Richardson was a solid second baseman for the Yanks, and is famous for winning the 1960 World Series MVP even though they lost the series to the Pirates.

It is not a task to go back to Sports Locker anymore. No, it’s a God-given mission.

Saturday, March 27, 2010

Thorzul's Offering

The world-renown Thorzul and I recently completed a trade, where I sent him a mix of Brewers and Bucks and in return he shipped me some Yanks. Let’s take a look.

2002 UD A Piece of History #81: Dave WinfieldI’m not positive if this is a Yankee or Padre card. Winfield is pictured in a pinstripe uniform, yet it has Padres on the front and their logo on the back. Despite the confusion, I like the look of this card.

2001 Fleer Futures #136: Mariano RiveraThe glittery context of the card makes up for its bland design. Doesn’t hurt that Mo is on it, either.

2004 Upper Deck Vintage #107: Bernie WilliamsI assume this is Upper Deck’s version of “Heritage” or a reproduction of a base design from some odd years ago featuring modern players. Actually, it’s not a bad lookin’ card.

1995 Pinnacle #365: Jack McDowellI know a few collectors have busted some ’95 Pinnacle, and I really want to as well. Old school breaks are the bomb.

Thanks for the cards, Thorzul!

Sunday, March 21, 2010

2003 Topps Finest Master-Box Break

Anything older than 2004, I consider old school. I started collecting that year, and I’m making it a goal to collect everything I can from 2004. I’ve always been a big fan of Topps Finest and the multiple mini-boxes (the fun doesn’t stop after one box!). The earlier years were dominated by base cards and few refractors, but I’m not really too upset about that. Let’s roll.

Each master box came with a “10th Anniversary Uncirculated Parallel Card”.
Finest Gold X-Factor #75: Chipper Jones (Numbered to 199) What do you get when you cross a beautiful card with a Hall-of-Fame player? A beautiful card with a Hall-of-Fame player. Although I'm a bit ticked that Topps sealed it. Sure it's a nice card, but it's only numbered to 199.

Box 1:
Pack 1:
#40: Mike Piazza Before Topps started recycling base designs in 2008, Finest had beautiful base cards. This year’s is no exception. The photography is always pretty good, especially for a card with no background support for the player. The scan doesn’t do the cards justice, either.

#99: Pedro Martinez
X-Factor #55: Bartolo Colon (Numbered to 99) Right off the bat, I pull a beautiful X-Factor. Unfortunately, it’s of Bartolo Colon. Some things are too good to be true.

#31: Tim Hudson
#13: Brian Giles

Pack 2:
#65: Ken Griffey Jr.
#100: Alex Rodriguez What’s weird about “old school” cards is A-Rod in a Rangers or Mariners uniform. It looks a bit… off.

#35: Vladimir Guerrero
#39: Phil Nevin
#55: Bartolo Colon

Pack 3:
#42: Tim Salmon
#38: Frank Thomas
#84: Omar Vizquel
#5: Lance Berkman
#18: Ivan Rodriguez

Pack 4:
#58: Edgar Renteria
#74: Moises Alou
#62: Luis Gonzalez
#95: Albert Pujols The king himself.

#68: Doug Mientkiewicz

Pack 5:
#17: Aubrey Huff
#83: Johnny Damon
#50: Ichiro Suzuki
Finest Relics Jerseys FRJ-LW: Larry Walker First hit of master box, and the guaranteed hit of the mini-box. I’ve always liked Larry Walker, and I think he has the numbers to get himself a few votes for the Hall of Fame. Do I think he’ll get in? Hell no. But I wish he did.

#15: Rich Aurilia
#36: Jeff Kent

Pack 6:
#39: Cliff Floyd
#27: Magglio Ordonez
#110: Byron Gettis (Auto) Whoa, two hits! There aren’t any big rookies on the checklist (the biggest name is Andy Marte, and we know how is career turned out), and I’m not really too disappointed in the autograph. I expected it.

#57: Pat Burrell
#89: Roger Clemens

Box 2:
Pack 1:
#34: Hee Soep Choi
#3: Todd Helton Now this guy I would bet money that he makes the HOF. I don’t care that he played in Coors… he has been extremely consistent and played great defense (voters pee themselves over that) throughout his career. If he doesn’t get more than 50% of the vote on his first ballot, I’ll slap every member of the BBWAA in the mouth.

#14: Ryan Klesko
#46: John Olerud
#93: Edgardo Alfonzo

Pack 2:
#82: Greg Maddux
#100: Alex Rodriguez
#43: Shawn Green
#66: A.J. Burnett
#96: Carlos Delgado

Pack 3:
#78: Kevin Brown
#60: Alfonso Soriano
Finest Moments Refractors Autographs FMA-DL: Don Larsen Don’t you love it when luck is on your side when you break boxes? Not only is this a Yankee (and a Yankee I especially like), it’s a beautifully designed card and the autograph sticks out. I’m not sure what the odds are on pulling a “Finest Moments” autograph, but I’ve kissed this card about four times now. Five. Six.

#19: Eric Hinske
#14: Ryan Klesko

Pack 4:
#40: Mike Piazza
#24: Jay Gibbons
#62: Luis Gonzalez
#54: Carlos Beltran
#7: A.J. Pierzynski I should make it a rule to scan a Pierzynski card in every break I post.

Pack 5:
#11: Barry Zito
#99: Pedro Martinez
#38: Frank Thomas
Uniform Relics FRJ-AD: Adam Dunn To me, the relic seems better with the stripe barely fitting into the space. It represents that you almost missed the stripe, but luck brought it on your card, and not that other guy’s down the street.

#31: Tim Hudson
#59: Rafael Palmeiro

Pack 6:
#58: Edgar Renteria
#50: Ichiro Suzuki
#70: Adam Dunn
Refractor #13: Brian Giles It was hard to identify refractors in this set, especially when it was easy to spot them in 2009 Topps Finest because they colored the darn borders.

#55: Bartolo Colon

Box 3:
Pack 1:
#26: Kerry Wood
#23: Andruw Jones
Refractor #81: Randy Johnson
#37: John Smoltz
36: Kazuhisa Ishii

Pack 2:
#85: Jeff Bagwell
#52: Torii Hunter
#92: Phil Nevin
#94: Bret Boone
#67: Mike Sweeney What every happened to Sweeney? Well, after playing some successful seasons with the Royals, he was released and signed with the A’s in 2008 for the second time in his career. He got injured a mere two months into the season and was ultimately released at the end of the campaign. Sweeney has been playing in the Mariners’ organization since 2009.

Pack 3:
#4: Mike Lowell
#49: Gary Sheffield
#30: Jason Giambi
#79: Josh Beckett
#98: Scott Rolen

Pack 4:
#63: Manny Ramirez
#10: Derek Jeter Jeter just looks so natural on a baseball card. And I just drooled.

#9: Roberto Alomar
#12: Jimmy Rollins
#16: Jim Edmonds

Pack 5:
#48: Mark Teixeira
#21: Darin Erstad Don’t you remember when Darin Erstad used to get base cards in exclusive sets?

#71: Shea Hillenbrand
Finest Jersey Relics FRJ-SS: Sammy Sosa Ugh. The last hit left a sour taste in my mouth. It’s up for trade.

#8: Jose Vidro
#51: Tom Glavine

Pack 6:
#97: Jose Contreras (RC) Jose Contreras’s rookie card. Yup. That’s about it, folks.

#86: Carlos Pena
#1: Sammy Sosa
#76: Bobby Abreu
#32: Edgar Martinez

I’m not gonna lie, I’m very pleased with the box. The hits were great (besides Sosa, but it would have been a great hit back in 2003) and the base cards were nicely designed. Topps Finest is one of my favorite products of all-time and their 2003 effort just enhances my opinion. Now I’m going to go make out with that Don Larsen card. I'll post pictures, don't worry.

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Unlicensed Fun

It wouldn’t be much of a blog without a post about 2010 Upper Deck. Upper Deck recently lost their- yeah, I’m sure everyone knows that story by now. If you haven’t, you can read it here. I ripped open a couple of packs, and I wasn’t too impressed.

Pack 1:
#8: Dustin Richardson (RC)
First card from 2010 Upper Deck… a rookie. Of a Red Sox player. This is not a good start.

#58: Javier Vazquez
#127: A.J. Pierzynski
#464: Joe Thurston
#285: George Sherrill
#469: Dennys Reyes
#254: Kyle Farnsworth “Common sense is wisdom with its sleeves rolled up.”

#158: Homer Bailey
Portraits SE-77: Tim Lincecum

This would have been a good idea if UD didn’t make the design so bland and the stock so flimsy. It reminds me of another product Upper Deck used to make… (By the way, you can clearly see the Giants logo on his hat)

2009 Season Biography SB-171: Casey McGehee

A much better executed “Documentary” from a few years ago. Still annoying though.

#103: Jon Lester
#418: Luke Gregerson
#456: Mark Lowe
#237: Bud Norris
#538: Garrett Mock
#568: Rangers Ballpark Topps failed to produce “stadium” cards so far, and Upper Deck took advantage. These cards are a refreshing relief to all the unlicensed cards.

#587: Minnesota Twins Team Checklist
#76: Nolan Reimold

Pack 2:
#290: Jody Gerut
#444: Franklin Gutierrez
#219: Kiko Calero
#131: Josh Fields I love this card. The photography is beautiful, especially for avoiding any logos. It’s too bad that Fields doesn’t play with Chicago anymore. Upper Deck, you were so close.

#531: Wil Nieves
#227: Kazuo Matsui
#532: Ron Villone
2009 Season Biography SB-59: Freddy Sanchez
Baseball Heroes 20th Anniversary BHA-5: David Price Not sure how David Price made the cut on this insert. He didn’t exactly have a stellar year in 2009.

#316: Joe Nathan
#443: Ian Snell
#267: Jered Weaver Another nice shot of a promising player. Also, if you notice in the background, you can see some construction workers climbing on the rocks.

#335: Tim Redding
#244: Alberto Callaspo
#288: Clayton Kershaw
#495: Michael Young
#565: Busch Stadium
#211: Alfredo Amezaga

I was about to buy a hobby box of this stuff. But I changed my mind at the last minute. I’m glad I did. Although Upper Deck didn’t do a bad job (considering the limitations they had to endure), the product quality isn't something I would cough up $50+ a box for Maybe I’ll buy another pack or two. Maybe.

Sunday, March 14, 2010

A Package from Cards on Cards

I recently traded with Kerry over at Card on Cards, and I must say it was a generous stack! His blog got me into the baseball card blogosphere, and it’s very well run. Please check it out if you haven’t already, it’s a great read. Here are some of the cards he sent over.

2005 Topps All-Stars: Alex Rodriguez
Shiny. Just the way I like my cards.

2010 Topps Legendary Lineage LL19: Whitey Ford and C.C. Sabathia
I think this card would have looked better if Andy Pettitte was on it. But he doesn’t fit the Topps “player who needs to be on an insert” criteria.

2006 Fleer Ultra RBI Kings RBI14: Hideki Matsui I like all the inserts in 2006 Fleer Ultra, especially the “King” series.

2009 Topps Update UH304: Nick Swisher and Johnny DamonThis is the card that Kerry thought would scare children if posted on his blog, but fortunately I’m more shameless. I’m a bit upset to see Damon go, he had good times with the Yanks and he could still contribute with the bat. However, his agent screwed him over and now he’s playing in… Detroit. Yikes.

Kerry also sent over some Roy Halladay cards, including my first card with him in a Phillies uniform.

2010 Topps Opening Day #89: Roy Halladay It looks so… I don’t know. My eyes need to get adjusted to Doc in red.

Once again, thanks to Kerry for sending over the nice stack of cards!

Friday, March 12, 2010

2010 Topps Blaster and Bonus

I had no serious thoughts about collecting 2010 Topps. After seeing more of the base cards and how the dreaded Topps Town inserts were back, I thought I might pick up a few packs here and there and that would be it. But after receiving a blaster box and a jumbo pack of 2010 Topps, I’m changing my mind. Since I’m certainly not the first person to give a review of the set, I hopefully will be the last. Let’s begin.

Like last year, every blaster box came with a “Commemorative Patch”. I was fortunate enough to receive a Yankee.

MCP-17: Roger Maris Commemorative Patch

This is a sharp looking card and I like them much better than last year’s “Commemorative Patch” design. By the way, I have a 2009 Ichiro patch if anyone is interested.

The blasters came with two packs of black bordered cards.

Pack 1 (Black Border)
#141: Chone Figgins

These actually don’t look too bad. A peeve I always have of a “Series 1” set is that the players who moved to a different club aren’t pictured with their new team. This is a good example.

#19: Felipe Lopez
#314: Angel Pagan
#102: Minnesota Twins
The Cards Your Mother Threw Out #CMT-55: Alex Gordon

Here is one of the more popular inserts that Topps shoved down people’s throats this year. Not my throat anyway, I’m a sucker for inserts. I know a few people in the blogosphere were complaining about cards that are only two or three years old being thrown into a “vintage” subset. Especially this particular card. Alex Gordon will plague 2006 Topps set collectors for eternity…

Million Card Giveaway TMC-6: Mickey Mantle (We’ve heard enough about these.)

Ticket to Topps Town #TTT17: Todd Helton

What the heck are these things still doing here?!

#211: Kelly Shoppach

Pack 2 (The Insert Pack):

#12: Doug Davis
#65: Nick Swisher

#32: Dusty Baker
The Cards Your Mother Threw Out Original Back: Rickey Henderson
A different variation of these “Cards Your Mother Threw Out” insert is that the original back is on the reprint. I was confused by this at first, but I appreciate it a bit better now.

Tales of the Game #TOG-6: Ernie Banks
I didn’t really see the difference in the “Tales of the Game” and the “History of the Game”, but I guess there is some sort of distinction. I like the “Tales of the Game” insert better.

Peak Performance #PP-34: Ichiro Suzuki Another insert! More power to ya Topps. These inserts remind me too much of those Ticket to Topps Town… hopefully they won’t pop up aga-

Ticket to Topps Town Gold #FCTTT21: Adam Dunn
Dag nabbit! This is the gold variation of the “Ticket to Topps Town”. I like these much better than the regular Topps Town cards. There is a different picture on the front and the subset name is FCTTT (I think it stands for First Class) which is pretty neat.

#35: Craig Counsell

Now on to the regular packs.

Pack 3:
#58: Kyle Banks
#161: Denard Span
#159: Vernon Wells
#140: Matt Holliday
History of the Game #HOTG22: Nolan Ryan
If I had the money and effort to start a Nolan Ryan collection, I would. This is easily my favorite pitcher of all-time. One of my life goals is to get an autographed picture of Ryan with the bloody lip.

Turkey Red #TR15: Hank Greenberg
I’m glad that the “Turkey Red” inserts are back in full force. I just love the feel of them… which isn’t creepy.

Ticket to Topps Town #TTT8: Zack Greinke
#47: Brad Penny

Pack 4:
#94: Ivan Rodriguez
#30: Victor Martinez
#315: Scott Kazmir
#227: Josh Thole (RC)
RC logo. It’s not as obnoxiously large, but the design is very bleak.

The Cards Your Mother Threw Out #CMT-19: Steve Carlton
Legendary Lineage #LL5: Ty Cobb and Curtis Granderson
The inserts… too much… can’t breath…

Ticket to Topps Town #TTT24: Ryan Braun
#125: Ichiro Suzuki

Pack 5:
#82: Jason Marquis
#149: Jose Guillen
#270: Michael Brantley (RC)
#275: Chris Coghlan
#328: Chicago Cubs
Million Card Giveaway TMC-9: Mike Schmidt
Ticket to Topps Town #TTT20: Adam Jones
#229: Daniel McCutchen (RC)

Pack 6:
#324: Alex Rios
#228: Chris Pettit (RC)
#302: Beantown Backhand
This is the lamest name for a card I've ever read.

Peak Performance #PP-7: Grady Sizemore
Ticket to Topps Town #TTT19: Justin Upton
#166: Eric Byrnes
#285: Kurt Suzuki
#239: Juan Uribe

Pack 7:
#282: Nationals History
#231: Luke Scott
#222: Curtis Granderson
The Cards Your Mother Threw Out #CMT-6: Frank Robinson
Turkey Red #TR38: Rick Porcello
The highlight of the 2009 season.

Ticket to Topps Town #TTT13: Ryan Howard
#320: Brian McCann
#224: Rod Barajas

Pack 8:
#209: Alexei Ramirez
#92: David Eckstein
#294: Adam Dunn
The Cards Your Mother Threw Out Orginal Backs: Mike Piazza
Tales of the Game #TOG-10: Jimmy Piersall
Legenardy Lineage #LL26: Dennis Eckersley and Mariano Rivera
Is it possible to have a crush on a reliever? Yes sir.

Ticket to Topps Town #TTT16: Kevin Youkilis
#313: Jason Kubal

Pack 9:
#121: Brett Anderson
#21: Cristian Guzman
#286: Javier Vazquez
History of the Game #HOTG17: Dodgers and Giants
When They Were Young #WTWYCM: Charlie Morton
A dumb insert got dumber by picking people I never heard of.

Ticket to Topps Town #TTT7: Josh Hamilton
#246: Leo Nunez
#50: Zack Greinke
Topps Attax insert

Pack 10:
#141: Chone Figgins
#19: Felipe Lopez
#106: League Leaders
Gold #153: Justin Duchscherer

Another thing that many people in the blogosphere have been upset about the missing gold foil in the numbering of the Topps Gold cards. Kind of ironic.

The Cards Your Mother Threw Out #CMT-27: Nolan Ryan
Peak Performance #PP-29: Roy Campanella
Ticket to Topps Town #TTT19: Justin Upton
#113: Willy Taveras

In addition to the blaster box, I received something I wasn’t too familiar with. Apparently, there are small boxes of Topps Series 1 with 55 cards and an “exclusive legends chrome refractor” according to the box. I assume it’s just one jumbo pack tucked into a nifty box with a chrome card.

Platinum Chrome PC9: Cy Young

This is a very nice looking card. Another odd thing about these “legends chrome refractors” is the checklist. On the side of the box it mentions that you will find one platinum chrome refractor of a “retired legend”. However, the checklist includes Albert Pujols and Mariano Rivera. Uh…

Now on to the jumbo pack.

#215: Max Scherzer
#295: Kevin Youkilis
#22: Anthony Swarzak
#175: Josh Hamilton
#93: Joe Nathan

An underrated and one of the best closers in the league. He was also involved in the infamous A.J. Pierzynski a few years ago, in which Pierzynski was shipped to San Francisco while Nathan, Francisco Liriano, and Boof Bonser were moved to Minnesota. I think we know who got the better deal.

#148: Cody Ross
#273: Pat Neshek
Neshek is one of the classiest guys in the league. He’s an avid baseball card and memorabilia collector and has a tremendous website that connects him with a ton of his fans. He also signs anything you send him.

#182: Coco Crisp
#276: Matt Lindstrom
#31: Jason Grilli
#76: Joe Saunders
#139: Frank Francisco
#189: Adrian Beltre
#11: Orlando Cabrera
#326: Tyler Colvin (RC)
#292: Tommy Manzella (RC)
#34: Michael Dunn (RC)
I haven’t been pulling a lot of Yanks, which is odd because Topps is loading their packs with all sorts of Bronx Bombers. This rookie card is a nice relief.

#163: Josh Butler (RC)
#236: Andrew Bailey
#287: Jhonny Peralta
#263: Placido Polanco
#56: Andy Pettitte
#5: Texas Rangers
#102: Minnesota Twins
#32: Cincinnati Reds
#73: NL Wins Leaders
#206: NL Home Runs Leaders
#75: Adrian Gonzalez
#140: Matt Holliday
#227: Josh Thole (RC)
The Cards Your Mother Threw Out CMT-2: Jackie Robinson
The Cards Your Mother Threw Out Original Back: Nolan Ryan
I received the regular card of the insert in the blaster box, but now both Nolans are mine! All mine!

History of the Game HOTG23: Cal Ripken Jr.
Turkey Red TR14: Kevin Youkilis
I might as well.

Million Card Giveaway TMC-7: Roger Maris
Tales of the Game TOG-19: Cal Ripken Jr.
Legendary Lineage LL9: Honus Wagner and Hanley Ramirez
I don’t see the lineage.

Peak Performance PP-27: Tom Seaver
Ticket to Topps Town TT4: Adrian Gonzalez
#251: John Lannan
#264: Arizona Diamondbacks Franchise History
#85: Ken Griffey Jr.
I love this card. The picture is beautiful, and Griffey’s name just looks great with a Mariners logo. I’m convinced 2000-2008 never happened.

#308: Robinzon Diaz
#262: Homer Bailey
#173: Kendry Morales
#47: Brad Penny
#125: Ichiro Suzuki
#229: Daniel McCutchen (RC)
#144: Rich Harden
#208: Tim Wakefield
#111: Ty Wigginton
#290: Orlando Hudson
#89: J.A. Happ
#170: Jason Bay
#213: Ricky Nolasco

Well, that was quite a bit. I’m seriously considering collecting this set, and I might open up the wallet for a hobby box of Series 2. I love all the inserts and the wonderful concept of the “Million Card Giveaway”. However, this is not the end of the birthday breaks, so stayed tuned.