Friday, April 30, 2010

Hell on Earth

Combine SATs, two AP tests, school functions, and community service and cram them together in the first two weeks of May. What does that get you? Hell on Earth. My schedule is filled to the brim with cram sessions and senior citizen proms (don’t ask) that I have very little time for baseball cards. Unfortunately, that puts the blog in the backseat until May 12, when my final AP test will be sealed and sent for grading. However, I would like to post when a free night pops up on my schedule. I have a lot of cards to share, including my contents from Thorzul’s latest break, a few trades, an update on my history card trading game, and purchases off the good ol’ internet.

I would also like to mention that I am officially a writer on 30-Year-Old Cardboard. Brian does a great job on the site, so please check it out. I recently posted about my Alexander Hamilton collection, keeping with the history theme of my recent posts (and the fact that I’ll be studying every nook and cranny of American history for the next week). I’ll be posting over there more frequently as well.

SATs are tomorrow. Did you know Robin Yount scored a perfect 1600 on his SATs? However, his score was nullified when it was discovered he used a number 2.5 pencil.

Sunday, April 25, 2010

American History Trading Card Game

To say I’m a history buff is an understatement; I’ve taken every advanced proficient class my school has offered on world and U.S. history, along with regularly reading about historical events and people on my free time. It’s my favorite and most knowledgeable subject. So when my AP class started a “history trading card game”, I started sweating with excitement (my teacher was about to call the nurse).

We received a “pack” of 9 cards that students from past-AP classes created. The topics on the cards ranged from the Puritans to the Platt Amendment. Some of them look really nice.

Others, not so much.
The main objective of the trading card game is to collect the most cards that are correlated to each other. The more cards that are related, the higher your grade will be. So if you’re dealt a pack with the TVA and Dr. Francis Townsend, it would be wise to collect cards associated with the New Deal.

Alexander Hamilton is one of my favorite historical figures and one of the brightest minds America has produced. Along with his key work in mapping the U.S. Constitution, Hamilton’s economic philosophies would become touchstones of the modern American capitalistic economy. And as wrong it sounds, I’m fascinated by the infamous Hamilton-Burr duel and everything surrounding it (Burr’s name is not to be spoken of in this household). He’s also one of two men to be featured on U.S. currency without being President, which is pretty cool. My love with the Founding Father made it natural for me to be an Alexander Hamilton super-collector (I actually own quite a few real baseball cards related to Hamilton, but that's a different post for a different date). My fate as a Hamilton collector was sealed when I pulled this card.

Not the best looking card, but none-the-less, it has the handsome Hamilton on it. Since my Hamilton cards would be limited, I decided to branch out and collect Thomas Jefferson as well. Although Jefferson and Hamilton were on different sides of the spectrum when it came to political philosophies, both were Founding Fathers and big players in the development of the U.S. Constitution and the United States government in whole. I traded worthless garbage like the Credit Mobilier scandal and Warren G. Harding for these two cards.

Hopefully my Hamilton/Jefferson collection will continue to grow. My friend has a duel-relic of the two men numbered to 25 that I’m just drooling over. Until then, remember…

“Those who stand for nothing fall for anything.” – Alexander Hamilton

Saturday, April 17, 2010

There Can Be Only One (1980 Topps Pack)

After going to my local hobby shop and picking up some 1980 Topps Yankees cards that were lying around, I feel in love with the set. I like the banner design along with the facsimile signatures, and the colors blend in nicely with the white border. There is a definitely a good shot that I’ll try to collect this set, including the daunting Rickey Henderson rookie card.

I bought a pack of 1980 Topps on eBay for a nice price from a Canadian seller. Yes, Canadian. This means business. After shifting through the broken pieces of 30-year-old gum, this is what I pulled.

#425: Mark Belanger
#715: Sal Bando
#45: Frank White What better way to start off a vintage pack with three All-Stars in a row? White’s was the only card to feature an “A.L. All-Star” title in the pack.

#48: Rick Miller
#396: Dan Meyer
#324: Tom Underwood
#252: Ted Cox
#393: Ozzie Smith This was one of Ozzie’s earlier cards before his career skyrocketed when he was traded to the Cardinals.

#435: Don Gullett
#191: Ted Martinez
#169: Luis Gomez
#104: Manny Mota
#240: Dave Kingman Kingman hit a whopping 48 homeruns in the 1979 season for the Cubs. It’s a much more astonishing number considering the time period he hit.

#516: Hector Cruz
#530: Jim Sundberg

So no Henderson, but a pretty decent pack full of All-Stars. The seller was also kind enough to throw in an unopened 1986 Donruss pack. Nothing spectacular came out of it except for this jive photo of Alfredo Griffin.

Monday, April 12, 2010

A Half-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

In a move that came out of nowhere, recently-ousted host of the Tonight Show, Conan O’Brien, takes a late night show to TBS. It will air every weeknight at 11 p.m. which will lead into George Lopez’s late night show at midnight. I’m hesitant to put a full strike into the list. While O’Brien did find other work, his new late night show probably won’t be successful for numerous reasons. First you have TBS, strike one. Then you lead into George Lopez, strike two. With bad ratings for the first few weeks while competing with other popular late night talk shows, TBS will probably bag O’Brien and Lopez and their whole “late night show” adventure will crumble and they’ll stick to what they do best… re-runs of Friends.

Sunday, April 11, 2010

The Rookie Card Challenge

I was organizing my binders (which are finally done) when a card caught my eye. It wasn’t a jersey card. It didn’t have an autograph. Hell, it wasn’t even a Yankee.
A 2005 Topps Ryan Howard/Cole Hamels rookie card. I had forgotten that I owned this card (I actually own two copies) and I was thrilled to find it. But why though? I generally dislike the Phillies, especially living in central Jersey with all their obnoxious fans. I don’t necessarily like Howard’s massive strikeout numbers or his shaky defense at first. Hamels, well, he needs to do a lot to revive his career. So you ask again, why?

It represents a nostalgic feel of simpler times in the world of baseball cards. No one was after the newest autographed swatch, the card numbered to 10, or the six game-piece book. Rookie cards were, quite frankly, the sh*t up until the start of the 2000 decade. How many of the most famous cards are rookies? A 1989 Upper Deck Ken Griffey Jr. rookie card still goes for a nice chunk of cash. I would have to sell my kidney to get my hands on a 1952 Bowman Mickey Mantle. Before the rise of memorabilia cards, rookie cards were the most sought out pieces of wax. Now there aren’t nearly as valuable as they were.

Also, I do appreciate the backgrounds. You can clearly tell these photos were taken in spring training. Spring training represents the transition between a long, cold winter into a beautiful spring with baseball nipping at your nose. A lot of people love spring training because it gives them a chance to see their favorite players and teams up close and personal without the $10 beer and hot dogs getting in the way. And for memorabilia collectors, autographs come in waves. Its fun to see the players interact with the fans, because once the season starts, it’s pretty much closed doors until October.

Another reason I do enjoy this piece of wax is because of the multiple players on the same prospect card. It’s another fond memory of the rookie cards of old where there were up to three players at once on the same card. Up until 2006, Topps featured team prospect cards for almost every club in baseball in the base set of their flagship. The 2005 set has notable rookies like Felix Hernandez, Matt Cain, and Jeff Francouer. But the best one in the set is the Howard/Hamels rookie card, which still books five bucks. Not bad for a card that doesn’t sparkle or stick out. Unfortunately, Topps has gone a different route with their rookie cards and we probably won’t see the multiple players on the same prospect card again. It makes me cherish these cards even more and protect them much better than any of my newer rookies.

Now this rookie card talk is leading me to bestow a challenge to my (oh so few) readers and other members of the baseball card blogosphere. Your challenge is to have a post featuring your favorite rookie card and why it is special to you. The post should include a scan of your favorite rookie card and a nice write-up explaining why it is your choice. It could be because they’re your favorite player, part of your favorite team, or there’s an interesting story behind how you obtained it.

But here’s the catch. The rookie card CANNOT be autographed, numbered, a parallel or contain any memorabilia. It also must be a card that you own. Not your friend’s, not your brother’s, and especially not a copy from the internet. You will not be penalized if it’s not a multiple-player card or if it’s a newer card. The contest will end at the end of July, and whatever rookie card and write-up I feel was better than the rest will receive a prize based on their favorite team and/or player.

Before I go, I’m sure you’re wondering what my favorite rookie card is.

1998 Topps #264
Not only is he my favorite player, but it represents everything I love about a rookie card. Since this card is older than a decade, it’s fun to see the other prospects and know how their careers panned out. Fuentes had a few successful seasons with the Rockies and Angels, and is considered one of the better lefty relievers in the game. Clement, on the other hand, hasn’t pitched since 2006. And you know how Halladay’s career turned out. It will be fun to look back on my multiple-player rookie cards in a few years from now and see how each prospect turned out. I can’t do that with my 2010 Topps cards, that’s for sure.

Good luck!

Friday, April 9, 2010

2008 Upper Deck Timeline Box Break (Part 2)

Here’s Part 2 of the arguably thrilling 2008 Upper Deck Timeline box break.

Pack 9:
#9: Mark Teixeira
#27: Alex RodriguezA-Rod has gotten off to a slow start this season. Then again, the whole team usually gets off to a slow start.

#60: Luke Hochevar (RC)
1992 UD Minor League #129: Scott Kazmir
1994 SP Rookie Card #333: Clayton Kershaw (RC) Damn, damn. That’s a beautiful card.

1994 Upper Deck All-Time Heroes #176: Clay Buchholz
1995 SP Top Prospects #195: Jesus Flores
2004 UD Timeless Teams #283: Greg Smith

Pack 10:
#8: Chipper Jones
#82: J.R. Towles (RC)
1992 UD Minor League #122: Matt Joyce (RC)
Upper Deck Yankee Stadium Legacy #1722: New York Yankees I believe this is my first “Yankee Stadium Legacy” card without a specific player on it. I’m not a big of fan of the fact that Yankee Stadium is no where in the picture. But it’s still a cool picture.

1995 SP Rookie Card #367: Daric Barton (RC)
1994 Upper Deck All-Time Heroes #138: Mark Teixeira
1995 SP Top Prospects #201: Nick Blackburn (RC)
2004 UD Timeless Teams #263: Justin Morneau

Pack 11:
#18: Ryan Braun
#45: Vladimir Guerrero
#78: Clete Thomas (RC)
1992 UD Minor League #102: Brandon Phillips
1993 SP Rookie Card #316: Ian Kennedy (RC) Shiny Yankees = happy collector.

1994 Upper Deck All-Time Heroes #158: David Wright
1995 SP Top Prospects #204: Rich Hill
2004 UD Timeless Teams #297: Erik Bedard

Pack 12:
#44: Frank Thomas
#30: David Ortiz
#93: Brandon Boggs (RC)
1992 UD Minor League #119: Joey Votto (RC) Votto is a reincarnation of Todd Helton. Great bat, good glove, and classy player.

1993 SP Rookie Card #315: Clay Buchholz (RC)
1994 Upper Deck All-Time Heroes #165: Miguel Cabrera
1995 SP Top Prospects #183: Burke Badenhop (RC)
2004 UD Timeless Teams #277: Derek Jeter 2008 Upper Deck Timeline knows how to make a combination. A design of one of my favorite sets, great photography, and Derek Jeter makes for an awesome card.

Pack 13:
#26: Randy Johnson
#35: Roy Halladay About time! I don’t think I’ve pulled a Halladay in the last four boxes I’ve busted.

#59: Alberto Gonzalez (RC)
1992 UD Minor League #104: Chris Duncan
Gold #13: Alfonso Soriano Soriano buys his eye black from Aztec warriors.

1994 Upper Deck All-Time Heroes #174: Daric Barton (RC)
1995 SP Top Prospects #206: Russell Martin
2004 UD Timeless Teams #291: Tim Lincecum

Pack 14:
#50: Erik Bedard
#51: Daric Barton (RC) I should have collected Daric Barton. I pull at least two of his cards every box I bust.

1992 UD Minor League #111: Elijah Dukes
Upper Deck Yankee Stadium Legacy #1647: Spud Chandler
1994 SP Rookie Card #346: Justin Masterson (RC)
1994 Upper Deck All-Time Heroes #167: Ichiro Suzuki
1995 SP Top Prospects #186: Chris Smith (RC)
2004 UD Timeless Teams #217: Chipper Jones

Pack 15:
#23: Matt Kemp
#83: Eugenio Velez (RC)
1992 UD Minor League #120: Jonathan Van Every (RC)
Upper Deck Yankee Stadium Legacy #1622: Joe Gordon
1995 SP Rookie Card #364: Joey Votto (RC) The front of the card is beautiful; however I’m not a fan of the back. Why ruin the card with a picture of Votto in that ugly camouflage uniform?

1994 Upper Deck All-Time Heroes #149: Derek Jeter
1995 SP Top Prospects #196: Joakim Soria
2004 UD Timeless Teams #231: Derrek Lee

Pack 16:
#5: Johan Santana
#41: Justin Verlander
#56: Black DeWitt (RC)
1992 UD Minor League #115: Felix Pie
1993 SP Rookie Card #318: Chin-Lung Hu (RC)
1994 Upper Deck All-Time Heroes #175: Ian Kennedy Not sure why this isn’t considered a “rookie card” when every other Ian Kennedy card in the set is.

1995 SP Top Prospects #205: Ross Ohlendorf (RC)
2004 Timeless Teams #245: Miguel Cabrera

Pack 17:
#17: Ken Griffey Jr.My eyes can’t take Griffey in a White Sox uniform.

#1: Jose Reyes
#77: Denard Span (RC) The Yankees need to trade for this guy… now.

1992 UD Minor League #113: Evan Longoria (RC)Well it took a while, but I finally pulled a Longoria rookie. He always has good photos for his baseball cards.

Upper Deck Timeline Gold #80: Clay Timpner (RC)
1994 Upper Deck All-Time Heroes #161: Ken Griffey Jr.
1995 SP Top Prospects #184: Callix Crabbe (RC)
2004 UD Timeless Teams #305: Carl Crawford

Pack 18:
#37: Grady Sizemore
#64: Hiroki Kuroda (RC)
1992 UD Minor League #108: Craig Breslow
1993 SP Rookie Card #324: Brian Bocock Oh man, it’s the Brian Bocock box!

Upper Deck Yankee Stadium Legacy #1697: New York YankeesAnother no-player “Yankee Stadium Legacy” card. Once again, another cool picture that has nothing to do with Yankee Stadium.

1994 Upper Deck All-Time Heroes #143: Johan Santana
1995 SP Top Prospects #202: Nyjer Morgan (RC)
2004 UD Timeless Teams #213: Max Scherzer (RC)

If you like rookies, variations, and crappy autographs, then this is the set for you. I appreciate the 2004 Timeless Teams design out of all the variations, but the 1993 and 1994 SP designs are great as well. I think the box was well worth the price I got it for. Now who wants some Brian Bocock cards?

Thursday, April 8, 2010

2008 Upper Deck Timeline Box Break (Part 1)

I placed an order on Dave and Adam’s to get some binders shipped, and I figured I might as well get a box to hold me over spring break. The well-priced 2008 Upper Deck Timeline caught my eye, and I decided to purchase it. The set chronicles various designs throughout Upper Deck’s history and is loaded with rookies and parallels. I wanted to showcase all the different cards found in the box, and instead of boring you guys to tears with a long entry, I’ve separated the break into two posts. Here’s part one. Let’s bust!

Pack 1:
#19: Prince Fielder
#100: Nick Adenhart (RC) This card made me take a step back. I remember reading about Adenhart’s tragic death and how disgusted I was. Not necessarily about his death, but more at myself for going straight onto eBay and purchasing one of his rookie cards. Adenhart had tremendous talents, and I’m sure he would have been a household name… but I only knew the pitcher because of the catastrophic car crash he was involved in and that sort of repulses me. I have trouble looking at his cards.

1992 UD Minor League #117: Greg Smith (RC) This is one of the many variations you’ll find in the “base set” of 2008 Upper Deck Timeline. This mirrors the design used in the 1992 Minor League set. While it is fun to look at all the different deviations of cards, it can be a pain in the butt to organize and sort, especially if you have OCD.

1994 SP Rookie Card #349: Nyjer Morgan (RC) This is my favorite variation in the set; I love the smooth feel and the shine of the card (the scans don't do these cards justice). Nyjer Morgan isn’t a bad player, either.

1994 Upper Deck All-Time Heroes 20th Anniversary #163: Joe Mauer Yet another variation, and my least favorite to boot. The difference between these “20th Anniversary” cards and the regular “All-Time Heroes” set is the gold foil stamp on the corner of the card.

1994 Upper Deck All-Time Heroes #164: Derrek Lee Yeah… they look exactly the same. Upper Deck loves making more parallels for me to categorize and sort.

1995 SP Top Prospects #193: Jeff Baker I’m not a big fan of die-cuts, minis, or any of that mumbo jumbo (actually, I do like jumbo cards). At least the photography is good.

2004 UD Timeless Teams #227: Jed Lowrie (RC) I’m a big fan of the “Timeless Teams” set from 2004 and the design looks just as good in 2008 Upper Deck Timeline. By the way, my next wantlist will be for 2004 Timeless Teams, for all of you who are dying to know what I need.

Pack 2:
#29: Chien-Ming Wang
#88: Burke Badenhop (RC)
1992 UD Minor League #127: Rico Washington (RC)
Upper Deck Timeline Gold #40: Miguel Cabrera
The gold parallel to the base set. It doesn’t really stand out compared to other gold variations I’ve seen in other sets.

1994 Upper Deck All-Time Heroes 20th Anniversary #136: David Ortiz
1994 Upper Deck All-Time Heroes #145: Alex Rodriguez
1995 SP Top Prospects #209: Steve Holm
2004 UD Timeless Teams #304: Clayton Kershaw (RC)

Pack 3:
#28: Derek Jeter
#87: Wladimir Balentien (RC)
1992 UD Minor League #126: Reed Johnson Not sure why they used an alternative Cubs logo, but I like it.

1995 SP Rookie Card #380: Rico Washington This confused the crap out of me. I originally thought it was a “Top Prospects” card, but the gold foil had me double-guessing. I finally figured out that it belonged to a completely different variation. Thanks, Upper Deck!

1992 UD Minor League #125: Paul Janish (Auto) (RC)An autograph! Now who the hell is this? “Timeline” is known for its awful autographed cards. Stickers + no name players = crap.

1994 Upper Deck All-Time Heroes #156: Manny Ramirez
1995 SP Top Prospects #203: Randor Bierd (RC)
2004 UD Timeless Teams #241: Travis HafnerI would like to mention another key factor in making “2004 Timeless Teams” on of my favorite sets, the back. Not only does it have a nice design and write-up, it features a stunning photo of the home stadium.

Pack 4:
#2: David Wright
#79: Josh Banks (RC)
1992 UD Minor League #123: Max Scherzer (RC)
1995 SP Top Prospects #182: Brian Bocock (Auto) (RC) My second of the two guaranteed autographs. Since I already knocked them all out, opening the rest of the packs won’t be as exciting. Or so the memorabilia card collectors think…

1994 SP Rookie Card #348: Evan Meek (RC)
1994 Upper Deck All-Time Heroes #136: David Ortiz
1995 SP Top Prospects #200: Micah Hoffpauir (RC)
2004 UD Timeless Teams #221: Nick Markakis

Pack 5:
#46: Torii Hunter
#10: Chase Utley
#69: Micah Hoffpauir (RC)
1992 UD Minor League #124: Nick Swisher
1993 SP Rookie Card #334: Nick Blackburn (RC) Between this year and the 1994 SP, I have to lean toward ’94. I like the design much better, although both cards are fun to look at.

1994 Upper Deck All-Time Heroes #140: Chien-Ming Wang
1995 SP Top Prospects #185: Cha Seung Baek
2004 UD Timeless Teams #255: Torii Hunter

Pack 6:
#47: Josh Hamilton
#20: Albert Pujols
#73: Alexei Ramirez (RC) I remember I picked this guy to man second base for me in a fantasy league last year. That didn’t go too well.

1992 UD Minor League #105: Clay Timpner (RC)
1993 SP Rookie Card #333: Clayton Kershaw (RC) Damn, damn. That’s a beautiful card.

1994 Upper Deck All-Time Heroes #163: Joe Mauer
1995 SP Top Prospects #210: Travis Hafner
2004 UD Timeless Teams #235: Ken Griffey Jr.

Pack 7:
#36: Jim Thome
#96: Jeff Samardzija (RC)
Bless you.

1992 UD Minor League #106: Clete Thomas
Upper Deck Yankee Stadium Legacy #1672: Joe DiMaggio Don’t we miss these?

Upper Deck Timeline Gold #49: Felix Hernandez
1994 Upper Deck All-Time Heroes #131: Randy Johnson
1995 SP Top Prospects #194: Jeff Keppinger
2004 UD Timeless Teams #269: Carlos Gomez

Pack 8:
#11: Ryan Howard
#38: Travis Hafner
#55: Johnny Cueto (RC)
1992 UD Minor League #114: Fred Lewis
1994 SP Rookie Card #340: Clay Buchholz (RC) At least most of the rookies (aside from the autographs) are recognizable.

1994 Upper Deck All-Time Heroes #147: Brandon Webb
1995 SP Top Prospects #192: Jay Bruce (RC) Hopefully Bruce can have a bounce-back season after last year’s injury-riddled one. I remember watching his first at-bat in the big leagues. He drew a walk and showed poise and patience that some major leaguers don’t possess, and I had high hopes about his future. Stay healthy, Jay!

2004 UD Timeless Teams #249: Jeremy Hermida

Here’s the conclusion of part one. The rest of the packs and a reflection of the break will follow. Stay tuned!

Monday, April 5, 2010

A Mournful Strike in the Anticipation List (Plus: Monday Morning Shortstop)

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

You won’t find a bigger pessimist than me when it comes to sports, and I knew the Yanks would eventually blow their big lead last night. Let’s face it… Yankees baseball in April makes me cringe. They historically have been pedestrian in the first month of the season (58-64 since 2005) and their big bats (Teixeira, Jeter) don’t get heated up until summer. So the scenario of the Yanks starting their season in Fenway Park on ESPN Sunday Night Baseball didn’t exactly favor the Pinstripes.
My hopes got high when Posada and Granderson hit back-to-back homers (Granderson’s was measured at 455 feet) and when the Yanks knocked Beckett out of the game. The offense came out to play last night, and they can’t even be remotely blamed for the loss. No, I place the blame squarely on Joe Girardi and his mismanagement of the pitching staff.
For starters, he left Sabathia in way too long. I could see he was getting tired, and once the starting pitcher walks the lead off man in a late inning, it’s time for him to get pulled. But Girardi stuck with him and it would eventually bite him in the butt when Kevin Youkilis of all people knocked in two runs with a stand-up triple. David Robertson (one of the Yanks brightest spots in their bullpen) then gave up the game-tying hit, but that was hardly his fault.

When you’re team retakes the lead, wouldn’t you want one of your best relievers on the hill to preserve that lead? If that’s the case, why in God’s name was Chan Ho Park out on the mound in the 7th inning? Girardi should have left Robertson in or brought in Alfredo Aceves, not a career journeyman who signed with the team not even a month ago. Well, wouldn’t you know it, but Chan Ho Park gave up the lead! What a shocker. He gave up a two-run homerun (which would have been an out or foul ball in any other park) to the hated Dustin Pedroia, and then proceeded to put more baserunners on before finally hitting the showers. Girardi then brought in Damaso Marte to stop the bleeding, but the lefty reliever throws a wild pitch and blows the tie. I don’t even want to start on Joba’s awful outing. It wasn’t a pretty game to watch, but I was pleased with the offensive output and C.C.’s stellar outing (especially compared to last year’s horrid Opening Day). However, Girardi better take another look at how he manages the bullpen and his starters or else it could be a long season full of 10-9 games.

This wasn’t pretty to watch either.