Sunday, January 31, 2010

Here's More High Series

I want to talk about 2010 Topps. I really do. I actually picked up three regular packs of the stuff at Target yesterday along with a jumbo pack. I have some thoughts about it. But I have some serious work to get done here at Cards on Cards Central, including my need to finally finish my 2009 Heritage High Series want list so that some of you can trade me your extras. I picked up another blaster of the stuff yesterday as well and will get this all sorted out as soon as I'm done posting it here. This will be a quick 'n dirty post, whatever that means.

Pack 1:
525 - Braden Looper (It's amazing to me how many of these players already have new teams - or in Looper's case, no team.)
640 - Melky Cabrera (Now with the Braves.)
685 - Sean West
UH166 - Mike Redmond
UH113 - Francisco Rodriguez All-Stars

CC-CH - Cole Hamels Clubhouse Collection Relics (Not bad. I was just complaining recently about how I never get jersey cards from Heritage. There's a stripe with this one, too, although it's hanging out along the edge of the window.)
557 - David Huff

Pack 2:
617 - Julio Borbon
638 - Matt Maloney
656 - Orlando Cabrera (Now with the Reds.)

UH186 - Zack Greinke All-Stars
UH77 - Jeremy Reed

CHR195 - Pat Burrell Chrome 0291 / 1960 (I tried to look up what Burrell's 2010 destination is and realized he's still with the Rays. Oops.)
670 - Ross Detwiler
569 - Alex Rios (Again, for some reason I thought Rios was traded again. Maybe it was because he had such a terrible time with Chicago last year.)

Pack 3:
680 - Scott Hairston (Hairston is pictured with Oakland but is back where he started last season: San Diego.)
676 - Ryan Perry

652 - Tyler Greene (It'll be interesting to see if Greene can make a push for a utility/backup infielder role with the Cards this season.)
UH175 - Jody Gerut
UH318 - Carl Crawford All-Stars (The All-Star Game MVP)

FB-10 - Ichiro Suzuki Flashback (My requisite Ichiro card.)
504 - Takashi Saito (Now with the Braves.)
567 - Eric Hinske (Ditto for Hinske.)

Pack 4:
613 - Josh Bard (Now with the Mariners.)
596 - Jason Marquis (Now with the Nationals. Does this mean that the Nats make the playoffs this season?)
561 - Derek Lowe
UH185 - Kevin Correia
UH97 - Juan Castro

696 - Fernando Martinez (My first short print of the box.)
608 - Jon Garland (Now with the Padres.)
649 - Ty Wigginton

Pack 5:
532 - C.J. Wilson (C.J. Wilson is Straight Edge. Oh, the things you learn from Wikipedia.)
514 - Anthony Swarzak
510 - Alfredo Figaro
UH298 - Jason Bartlett All-Stars
UH76 - Scott Rolen

CHR124 - Randy Wells Chrome 0253 / 1960 (Blehhh.)
681 - Scott Olsen
599 - Jeff Francoeur

Pack 6:
543 - Cliff Floyd (Out looking for a job, presumably.)
570 - Fernando Nieve
610 - Jordan Schafer
UH206 - Chris Burke
UH14 - Yadier Molina All-Stars (I think I have about 5 of this card now, but I'm still lacking other Cardinals from Updates & Highlights.)
RP-10 - Jordan Zimmermann Rookie Performers (I could have sworn that I scanned this card. Oops.)
639 - Scott Kazmir
620 - Kenshin Kawakami

Pack 7:
537 - Chris Gimenez
556 - David Hernandez (I don't know who any of these Rookie Stars are.)

590 - Jarrett Hoffpauir (Now with the Blue Jays. That's too bad, I always liked him...)
UH158 - Wilson Valdez
UH304 - Nick Swisher / Johnny Damon New York Rockers (I can't post this card. This is a family-friendly blog. Look it up if you want to, but don't say that I didn't warn you.)

720 - Russell Branyan (Branyan is looking for a new team as well. This one is a short print. I wonder if there are any cards out there with Branyan in a Cardinals uniform.)
545 - Neftali Feliz
674 - Ryan Church (Now with the Pirates.)

Pack 8:
633 - Tony Gwynn (They really should have stuck with the Jr. on these cards once Gwynn became a Padre. It looks weird.)
653 - Nyjer Morgan
UH70 - Wilkin Ramirez
UH119 - Bud Norris

702 - Jason Bay (This is good - another short print. I feel better that Bay is no longer with Boston, although I don't like the Mets at all, either.)
592 - Cliff Lee (Now with the Mariners.)
534 - Cesar Izturis

Alright, it's time to get to sorting. I'll update my 2009 Topps Heritage want list shortly.

Friday, January 29, 2010

Airbrushed Fridays: 1968 Topps #260

I have a small array of cards that I would consider vintage (pre-1979) and I don't really have a great story behind them. I believe I have at least one card, sometimes a few, for each Topps year back to the mid-'50s or so. A kid in my neighborhood that I used to hang out with occasionally ended up dumping all of his vintage cards on me for who knows what. I was pretty certain that he couldn't tell me a thing about them and I don't remember how he came about owning them in the first place. There was nothing amazing in there - I have a very close to mint condition Gil Hodges manager card and some sort of damaged Ted Williams manager card, for example, and there were even a few late '50s cards. This one is from that collection, and the card is not nearly as off-center as the scan would suggest.

Jimmy Wynn was a three-time all-star center fielder who spent most of his career with Houston. He was coming off of a season in which he hit career bests in HRs (37 - second to Hank Aaron) and RBI and also was known a top notch defensive player. Wynn was nicknamed the Toy Cannon, for reasons which I'll let you browse his Wikipedia entry to find out. He now does broadcast work for the Astros and FSN Houston.

Why did Topps airbrush Jimmy's photo? This is a good question that I cannot give you a definitive answer for. The Houston Colt .45s were renamed the Astros following the opening of the Astrodome in 1965, but that was three years prior to this card's release. Jim was not recently traded and went on to spend 5 more seasons in Houston. Every Astros card appeared as "Houston" rather than the "Astros" and no players in this set had Astros logos visible. My fuzzy memory suggests that there was some sort of licensing issue with the Astros that affected these cards and possibly other sets of this era - apparently 1969 Topps is the same way - but I am just speculating as to the reason at this point.

What's wrong with this picture, anyway? To be honest, I'm not even sure you could call this airbrushing. It looks like someone just took a black Sharpie to his cap. I suggest that you do some eBay searches on other "Houston" cards from this era for more examples.

Thursday, January 28, 2010

More First Day Swag (and an Update from Reader Howard)

Bud from First Day Issue struck again recently, sending over another familiar manila padded envelope full of Cardinals goodies around the end of December. To give you an idea, that's about how close I am to catching up on the packages that people have sent me recently. I'm also not certain if I used the word "swag" properly. Feel free to point it out if I misused the word or if I could have found a more appropriate word.

David Freese is expected... er... projected to be the Cardinals starting third baseman next season after suffering terribly at the position in 2009. Troy Glaus had a really nice year at the hot corner in 2008, but he was pronounced dead about a year ago while no one bothered to let the Braves front office know.

Here's another serial-numbered card, this time of Mitchell Boggs. I have already forgotten all about the weird numbering scheme of the 2008 Stadium Club set and all of the variations and differences between the retail and hobby products. All I know is that I needed this card. Thanks!

Believe it or not, this is actually the first 2008 Heritage relic card I've managed to get. I don't think I've bought more of any single product since the junk wax era than I have of 2008 Heritage and the accompanying "high series". This is doubly nice to see because it's Jim Edmonds.

I opened a pack of the 2002 Upper Deck World Series Heroes set awhile back but didn't get anything I wanted to keep, so it's nice to see a Cardinal here.

Ruuuuuuuuuuuuuuudddddyyyyyyy! The ladies love this guy. I'm pretty upset with the Blazers performance this week, however, so it's probably best to move on...

Chris Duncan looks so young here! And so awkward. He has some crazy spider legs.

As disheartening as this Blazers season has been so far - and I'm already on record having said that I don't think they'll make the playoffs following Greg Oden's injury - I am extremely happy that Nic Batum is back on the court. I imagine the same can be said for this guy. I don't think he's about to share any of his Chrome rookie cards, though.

Is there anything better than some goofy-sized head card of Albert Pujols? Of course, when it's a goofy-sized head card of Albert Pujols in a retro uniform!

I don't have a lot of Ducks basketball cards, but it's stuff like this that makes me want to get more. I love the old-school Ducks logo on the card, even though it's not appropriate for this era. I thought Chris Christoffersen (commence snickering...) would make a notable impact on the NBA once he got free of Ernie Kent's system which seems to hate post players, but it never happened.

Thanks again to Bud for all of the great Cardinals, Blazers and Ducks cards!


Finally, a number of you commented on my post the other day about some rare 2009 Heritage variations I obtained in a trade. Howard has left an interesting comment that I felt worthy of publicizing on the blog:
I found a few [Heritage blasters] in the Wal-Marts in this area. I went to five stores and found 4 of them, each store only getting one. [...] One of the blasters had something that I had never seen, each pack was practically identical. I got 6 or seven of the Glavine's, Smoltz's, Gonzalez's, Ramirez's, and two others. If anyone else wants to trade they can contact me and we will work something out.
I know a bunch of you also collect Heritage, so I encourage you to drop Howard a line. You can get his e-mail address from the comments section in my original post here. I have to say that find myself rolling my eyes at how Topps seemingly can find a way to take gimmicky variations that are already difficult to find and make them even more difficult by stuffing them all into the same blaster. Lucky for Howard, he found that blaster.

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Another Blaster... or "Bonus Box"

Blogger is telling me that I've now used 15% of my image storage. Has anyone ever filled this thing up?

Anyway, I bought three blasters for a bargain price from eBay awhile back. I posted about the first one last week. The main thing I was going for was that I wanted the 2003 box because I'm actually collecting the set but felt like I had a decent opportunity to save on shipping and pick up some extras to make the entire thing worthwhile. 2004 Topps is not the most interesting set to me by any stretch, but I know there's a chance at some Cardinals cards that I don't already own, whereas I have almost every Cardinals Topps base card from 2005 through 2008. (See my wantlist on the sidebar for exceptions.)

The same basic deal applies to this box as the last: 6 cards per pack, 10 packs in total plus 1 "bonus pack" which really just brings you to 11. I've often wondered when and how the term "blaster" came to be.

Pack 1:
179 - Mike Stanton
136 - Carlos Zambrano
152 - Mike Lieberthal

357 - Bret Boone Sporting News All-Stars (I don't understand why they felt the need to put the Sporting News logo on these when it's also already on the "magazine cover".)
172 - Juan Encarnacion
279 - Jimy Williams
- Topps of the Class insert (Yeah, they had these back then.)

Pack 2:
163 - Geronimo Gil (Gil wins the prize for first guy I've never heard of. He actually was the Orioles starting catcher in 2002 but only hit .232 with a .633 OPS. Yikes.)

157 - Miguel Cairo (First Cardinal of the box, so I can't complain here.)

20 - Derek Jeter (Yeah, yeah, I know... why did I post a picture of Jeter? I just find it to be kind of a strange looking card of his. The little foil outline representation of his picture in the lower left corner looks kinda silly because he's not really doing anything.)
85 - Jon Garland (Garland just signed with the Padres, which makes it, what... 3 NL West teams in less than 5 months?)
287 - Ken Macha
259 - Joe Mays

Pack 3:
98 - Jorge Posada

49 - Frank Thomas
169 - Mike Remlinger

344 - Albert Pujols / Todd Helton / Juan Pierre NL Hits Leaders (Pierre is in the same group as Pujols and Helton?)
272 - Dusty Baker
222 - Randy Wolf
- Some unnumbered checklist

Pack 4:
79 - Jerry Hairston Jr.
248 - Gary Bennett (Former Cards backup catcher in his pre-Cards days with the Padres.)

40 - Albert Pujols (I probably already have this card, but back-to-back Pujols packs is something I will certainly not complain about.)
292 - Bob Melvin
258 - Runelvys Hernandez
63 - Pedro Astacio

Pack 5:
200 - Nomar Garciaparra (I wonder if Nomar's career is done.)
57 - Michael Tucker
105 - Willis Roberts

340 - Carlos Delgado / Alex Rodriguez / Bret Boone AL RBI Leaders (Which one of these names is not like the others?)
278 - Jack McKeon
54 - Shane Halter
- Topps of the Class thing

Pack 6:
100 - Alex Rodriguez

23 - Jay Payton (Is this the first time Payton ever caught a ball?)
89 - Tim Spooneybarger

205 - Ray Durham (This is no play at the plate, but I know some of you out there appreciate a good photo of a turn.)
178 - Rocky Biddle
32 - Brad Radke
- MLB Sportsclix ad

Pack 7:
221 - Mike Mussina
223 - Kris Benson
227 - Francisco Cordero

350 - 2003 NLDS Postseason Highlights (I know I'm not too into posting Cubs cards around here, but I couldn't pass this one up. Nice puns.)
238 - Raul Ibanez
323 - Tydus Meadows
- another unnumbered checklist

Pack 8:
102 - Dave Berg (I'm not sure who this is, either.)
44 - Steve Finley
96 - Alex Cintron

WS-LB - Lou Brock World Series Highlights (I never thought that the shiny rainbowy technology worked well on "vintage" style cards, but I like this one anyway. There's nothing that detracts a lot from the best part of the card, which is the photo. I can't always say that about some of the cards that are out these days.)
198 - Byung-Hyun Kim

328 - Ryan Madson / Elizardo Ramirez Future Stars

Pack 9:
46 - Jay Gibbons
11 - Kevin Millwood
134 - Alex Cora (Crazy photo!)
332 - Sammy Sosa Season Highlights
312 - Khalid Ballouli
283 - Ron Gardenhire
- Topps of the Class

Pack 10:
199 - Brandon Inge
261 - Dustan Mohr (Here's another guy to join the "never heard of" club)
18 - Corey Patterson
130 - Kazuhisa Ishii
17 - Kevin Millar
159 - Toby Hall

Bonus Pack time...

137 - Brett Tomko (Not a great pitcher, but I believe I needed this one.)

ASR-EM - Edgar Martinez All-Star Stitches (Edgar! I haven't pulled a relic card in quite awhile, so this was a welcome surprise. I guess I should stop making fun of the bonus pack concept for awhile anyway. I'm not so sure about the design of this, though. It's a little busy and of course you get a tiny visible jersey piece.)
184 - Brian Lawrence
319 - Omar Falcon (I don't think this is a real person. That can't be a real name.)
- MLB Sportsclix ad

These are all going into the box for potential trades, minus the Cardinals of course.

Heritage Treasures from Reader Howard

I have to admit that I'm a little bit lazy with making trades with people. If you send me an e-mail and say that I need something, I will generally take it for granted that I need it and probably won't think much of it. I always try to send something back that seems fair and equitable, and at the very least I'll try and throw in what I have from your favorite team to even things out a bit. When reader Howard from GA contacted me awhile back about some 2009 Heritage cards he had for me, it totally didn't register with me as far as what he was planning on sending me.

Included in the packages were some much-needed inserts, including some Flashbacks cards and the retail-exclusive Mayo cards. I still really need a Pujols Mayo card - two, really - but this trade made a nice dent in my list. I think that for some reason the Wal-Mart Mayo cards are a bit more difficult to find around these parts than the Target ones. There were also a small pile of base cards, but there's much more to this deal.

Oddly enough, the first thing I noticed about this card was not that Hanley is not pictured with his expected team, but that it's an All-Star card that does not have the dark "short print" background. It was only after then that I noticed the team variation. I see that they did not change the "National League" designation.

Hey, it's John Smoltz... as a Red Sox player. By this time I'd already accepted Smoltzy as a Cardinal (does he have any 2009 Cardinals cards? I'm guessing he'll have a few in 2010...) so this also didn't have an immediate impact with me. Again, however, as far as I know this is a very difficult card to find.

To be honest, I never even looked at Adrian Gonzalez's card until after I had looked over every card carefully about 3 or 4 times. He gets the Rangers logo like we're back in 2005 again, but the team designation and photos are all your normal Padres affair.

This one was hard to miss, however. "Thom" looks really, really old here. I know that this set is almost a year old now, but I had all but forgotten about the variations in it. There's still a few more of these to chase from the main set, including an Albert Pujols one that I don't think I'd heard about back when the set first came out, and some new ones that have showed up in the High Series.

Thanks again to Howard for the extremely generous trade. I scooped up and sent out about as many halfway-decent Cubs cards as I could find in my collection and will definitely be on the lookout for more to send out in the future.

Friday, January 22, 2010

Airbrushed Fridays: 1989 Bowman #65

1989 is the year that Topps revived the Bowman name, and I had high hopes for the set. They tried to remain true to the original Bowman designs by using a non-standard card size, but I think this kept the set from being fully appreciated by kids my age who couldn't quite fit these cards into your standard 9-pocket sheets or even most of the cardboard storage boxes. A lot of the cards that I have seen from this set, past and present, seem to be damaged a little more than you'd expect from something of the junk wax era. The same thing goes for the late-'80s Topps Big sets, which are slightly larger and more flimsy.

Robin Ventura was a star third baseman who won six Gold Gloves and made two All-Star appearances. He was highly touted coming out of college, and while he never reached the level of play someone like Chipper Jones has, he had a very long and successful career. He also foolishly charged the mound and came after Nolan Ryan and became a highlight film staple for decades to follow.

Why did Topps airbrush Robin's photo? The "comeback" set for Bowman was the first widely available major league set that I can recall which included minor league prospects in a major league uniform. However, it seems that Topps either did not have the resources to go and find these guys wearing their hopeful major league caps or they just didn't care. In either case, you end up with a lot of airbrushed cards instead of the awkward high school yearbook photos that adorn some of the Topps draft pick cards of this era.

What's wrong with this picture, anyway? Ventura almost appears to be in some sort of underwater tank with a limitless expanse, floating about before a background of aquamarine. Something like that, anyway. The cap logo is laughably bad. There's not much else that needs to be said. I do want to state that I don't understand what they were thinking when they developed the card backs. Sure, the color scheme is fine and the card number wouldn't even make Mr. Magoo squint to read. I can't stand the team-by-team breakdown of stats rather than the traditional look, though. I loved Bowman (before it got expensive in 1992) for its minimalist design and break from the traditional player selection, but their card backs were useless. Does anyone need to know how their favorite player fared against the Detroit Tigers last season? Small sample sizes, people! And guys like Robin here are completely ignored if they haven't cracked the majors yet.

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Strange but True: Cards from Thoughts and Sox

I usually try to post about packages I receive more or less in the order that I receive them. However, before I could post about the recent package I got from Adam of Thoughts and Sox, I unexpectedly received another package from him that contained something rather... extraordinary... which I felt warranted bumping him up the queue. More on that later, but let's first look at package number one.

Adam lives in Missouri, where Cardinals cards are in scarce supply. (The same can be said of Blazers cards where I live, unless you want to shell out 50 cents a pop for Steve Blake cards.) He still managed to toss in a few, including this Kelvin Jimenez 2007 Upper Deck card that I happened to be missing. I've found that I'm missing a surprisingly large amount of cards from this set, although I managed to knock a handful off of my wantlist at the last card show for a penny a piece.

This is actually a black MINI O-Pee-Chee card of Adam Wainwright, despite the fact that it appears slightly larger than the rest of the images. You'll just have to trust me on this one. The Rick Ankiel card at the top of this post apparently was an inserted preview image for O-Pee-Chee's set before Topps got angry at Upper Deck or something. I don't even remember the whole story, and I thought the whole O-Pee-Chee set was so uninspired almost to the point of seeming intentionally awful. The bottom line is this: I don't care, but I do want the Cardinals cards anyway because they are Cardinals.

I've coveted this card ever since Upper Deck's first series of cards came out a year ago. I really like their Team Leaders cards but was not all that impressed overall by the regular base design. It's not bad, though. From what it sounds like, Upper Deck is going to attempt to put out a comprehensive base type set in 2010, which as far as I know is uncharted territory for an unlicensed set. (Correct me if I'm wrong.)

Here's a rookie card of long forgotten point guard Alvin Williams. Williams was just starting to come into his own when the Blazers ran out of patience with their starting point guard Kenny Anderson and traded him for Damon Stoudamire. Blazers cards always have a home here.

I haven't really mentioned the Eagles on this blog all season since the, er, unpleasantness. I did break down and watch a couple of games, but I was disgusted with their performance at the end of the season and opted not to watch the playoff game, which turned out to be a wise decision. Vick should be gone by next season, so I will probably pay more attention then.

The impetus of the trade was a healthy stack of 2009 Allen & Ginter cards which cut my wantlist down by quite a bit. I usually seem to get a Mickey Mantle card out of one of the first packs of every Topps product I purchase, so it seemed kind of odd that I didn't own this already. I didn't even realize he was in the set.

So the second package came yesterday, and I do vaguely an e-mail suggestingt hat Adam had a few additional old Heritage cards to send me. Let's take a look.

Here's Juan Encarnacion, former Cardinal. His career ended sadly, gruesomely and suddenly, and I hope he's enjoying a good and productive life away from baseball now.

Boss and Power, eh? Is Chipper threatening to keep playing until Cox retires so he can take over managing the team?

Here's a much-needed Rookie Performers insert from the 2008 Heritage set. I'm starting to find that, dastardly short prints aside, a lot of the stuff I'm missing from this set is from the high series.

Finally, there were a couple unlicensed 2008 Donruss Threads Cardinals cards, including Eck here. Of all of the Hall of Fame relievers (there aren't many), he seems like the most "regular guy." Unlicensed cards are just so awkward, and the only reason I like getting them in trades is so I don't have to spend money on them - because I won't.

Wait... there was another group of cards in the package.



Yargh!!! Ol' Red does kind of have a pirate look to him here. At least I got Bipped with a Cardinal. I don't think others have been so lucky.