Saturday, January 31, 2009

The Elusive Heritage High Jumbo Packs

Even though I'm reasonably close to completing two sets I'm chasing (2008 Allen & Ginter and 2007 Turkey Red), my priority has become 2008 Heritage. Since there's rarely a pack of the first series to be found at retail anymore, and since I don't get to hobby shops much, I have had to settle for the high series stuff. Fortunately, it's a much smaller set than the first series, so I feel like I'm getting closer to completing it than the first series anyway. Considering my luck with the blaster I bought recently, however, maybe I shouldn't buy any more packs of this stuff. Nothing that awesome will probably ever happen to me again.

Credit goes to Erin (once again) for finding these three jumbo packs on the rack at a westside Target. It's way too easy for my eyes to miss these things when they're almost indistinguishable from the regular Updates & Highlights rack packs. At $4.99 for 13 cards (plus 3 U&H cards), they are a much better deal than the regular packs. I snagged the last three of the rack, so let's see what's in them...

Pack 1:

562 - Jed Lowrie (RC)
591 - Rod Barajas
522 - Jason Kubel
668 - Kevin Mench
635 - Maicer Izturis
683 - Jorge Cantu
536 - A.J. Pierzynski
601 - San Diego Padres (This one has the autograph checklists on the back. I realize now how well I did.)
607 - Kevin Millar
584 - Wes Helms
548 - Glendon Rusch (Glendon just looks happy to be in this set.)

RP11 - Johnny Cueto (I get all kinds of Johnny Cueto cards. Same with Jay Bruce. I'd gladly give them up for more obscure Cardinals rookies.)
706 - Heath Bell (SP)
UH110 - Jose Valverde

UH274 - Albert Pujols All-Stars (Maybe the last 2008 Topps base card I put on this blog. Maybe.)
UH184 - Chase Utley Home Run Derby

Pack 2:
535 - Curtis Granderson

507 - Skip Schumaker (First base?? Seriously? I guess that's what the Cardinals are planning on doing with their glut of outfield talent this season. Move over, Albert!)
504 - Todd Wellemeyer (I'm doing pretty well on the Cardinals cards here. Can't complain about that.)
534 - Jesse Litsch
644 - Andy Sonnanstine (I'm going to be tempted to snag this guy in fantasy leagues this season.)
503 - Johnny Cueto (RC)
554 - Vicente Padilla
523 - Jose Molina Black Back

545 - Justin Masterson (RC) Black Back
658 - Arizona Diamondbacks
579 - Jose Guillen Black Back (A parade of black backs here.)
546 - Milwaukee Brewers

TN5 - Bob Allison / Dustin Pedroia Then & Now
UH295 - Aaron Miles (My 6th Miles card from this set.)
UH4 - Brent Lillibridge (RC)
UH319 - Ruben Gotay

Pack 3:
586 - Cody Ross
684 - Jo-Jo Reyes
568 - Damion Easley
521 - Angel Pagan (Back-to-back Mets scrubs.)
679 - Erick Aybar

615 - Todd Jones (See, it's not all prospects, inserts and Cardinals around here. Sometimes you just gotta Todd Jones.)
518 - Brandon Boggs (RC)
639 - Mike Redmond Black Back (Redmond sounds like a fake player name from MLB 2K.)
557 - Dallas Braden Black Back (So does Braden, actually. I have no idea who he is. MLB 2K seems to like to create fake player names by recycling other players names. So I've decided Braden is a combination of Dallas McPherson and Braden Looper.)
617 - Gregorio Petit (RC) (Another fake player.)
563 - Doug Mientkiewicz Black Back (This is making up for the lack of black backs in my blaster, not that I'm complaining.)
641 - Omar Infante

TN10 - Sam Jones / C.C. Sabathia Then & Now (It's not very "Now" of them to show Sabathia in a Cleveland uniform, but it works okay I suppose.)
UH44 - Ryan Sweeney
UH111 - Brandon Boggs (RC)
UH311 - Oscar Salazar

All in all, with an insert in each pack I have no complaints. I will try to snag more of these if I manage to see them. I'm going to try to hit another Target this weekend as rumor has it that 2009 Topps is creeping its way into stores. Yikes. My poor wallet...

Thursday, January 29, 2009

Gifts from Rod of Padrographs

As mentioned previously, Rod from Padrographs was kind enough to dig his way out of the Portland snow to send me a package that included an Arvydas Sabonis autograph, a former NBA player and favorite of mine from the Blazers. What I didn't expect was the nice assortment of Cardinals he included in the mailing. Here are some highlights...

There were several "All-Century Team" playing cards that I had never seen before. I couldn't really tell anything about them other than the year 2000 printed on the back. I'm not sure if this is a Cardinals-specific issue or if it's comprised of players from all sorts of teams. What I do know is that the photos look great, which was unexpected from a set of playing cards.

2008 Donruss Elite Extra Edition - Shane Peterson (As a rule I don't buy unlicensed cards, but this was still a nice surprise. I certainly won't turn down any offers of Cardinals players in these sets. This particular release is interesting because it already includes Peterson's 2008 stats on the back. We'll check back on the guy in a few years and see if he makes anything of himself.)

2008 Upper Deck Baseball Heroes Charcoal (I think?) - Ozzie Smith (Another nice surprise - an Ozzie for my collection, and a parallel one at that! Now I just need the 83 other colors that Baseball Heroes was released in.)

2008 Upper Deck SP Authentic - Albert Pujols (I'm not always a fan of higher end cards because they usually take the life out of the game - i.e. the background, the green grass, the sunshine. This is a nice design, though, and Albert is about to crush another line drive into the white void.)

2008 Topps Heritage High Series - Todd Wellemeyer (The Cards still haven't completely solved their rotation issues, so they'll no doubt be counting on another big year from Wellemeyer, who at least so far can be counted as one of Dave Duncan's biggest successes.)

A huge surprise here! Autographs of Mike LaValliere. These cards both came out the year I got into collecting cards, and I recall as a kid really liking to say LaValliere's name outloud. That's all I really recall about him, though. That, and he helped introduce me to "traded sets" as he soon ended up on the Pirates as part of the Andy Van Slyke for Tony Pena deal.

Big thanks again to Padrographs! Make sure you check out the blog to check out autographs of Padres players you may or may not have heard of.

Token Weekly What?

We interrupt this week's regularly scheduled Token Weekly Blazers Post* with word that Panini is taking over as the NBA's sole licensee in producing trading cards, bidding farewell to Topps and Upper Deck.

Erin: Panini? That's a sandwich.
madding: It's an Italian company...
Erin: Sandwich.
madding: Remember those stickers?
Erin: Oh yeah.

(*well, okay, many days late as it turns out. I'm sorry, guys... for the lack of baseball content, at least. I'm sure you can live without basketball posts for an extra week. Besides, zombies are afoot! What are you doing reading a blog, anyway?)

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

A Box of the High Stuff

I picked up a blaster of 2008 Topps Heritage High Series (this product has a longer name, but there's a good chance I'll nod off in my chair before I finish typing it and you finish reading it.) I keep hearing that they put out jumbo packs of this stuff which are a better deal, but I've never seen it. I've yet to get a relic card out of a Heritage product, so I was hoping to get one here. After this, I may actually put together my Heritage wantlist, which will be gigantic.

Pack 1:
569 - Josh Fields

515 - Chris Volstad (RC)
513 - Darin Erstad
585 - Minnesota Twins
525 - Matt Harrison (RC)
719 - Brad Ziegler (RC) (First pack and an SP right off the bat. Nice.)
UH232 - Geovany Soto
UH72 - Pete Orr

Pack 2:

618 - Matt Diaz (I swear Diaz is saying "dude, what stinks in here?")
616 - Brian Schneider
571 - Gerald Laird
638 - Jose Arredondo (RC)
614 - Russell Branyan
665 - Texas Rangers (I've gotten those last four cards in a row a couple of times now.)
UH109 - Alberto Callaspo
UH132 - Jorge de la Rosa

Pack 3:
608 - Ben Francisco
606 - Brian Moehler

669 - Aaron Miles (Miles is one of 4 Cardinals from the 2006 Championship team to go to the Cubs.)
672 - Taylor Teagarden (RC)
643 - Jeff Mathis

ROA-OC - Orlando Cepeda Auto (I just stopped and stared at this card for a few seconds before I realized what it was. Let's just say that I'm not used to getting autographed cards, let alone ones of Hall of Famers!)
UH32 - Cody Ross
UH167 - Justin Morneau Home Run Derby (I don't think I even glanced at these U&H cards, to be honest.)

Pack 4 (I'm sure it's all down hill from here...):

519 - Max Scherzer (RC)
526 - C.J. Wilson
547 - Jay Bruce (RC)
612 - Jeff Baker
613 - Houston Astros (Booooooooooooo!)

ROA-CK - Clayton Kershaw Auto (Someone really wants me to become a Kershaw fan. I have no idea how I got two autos in a row. It sounds like something is screwy here, but I'm not complaining!)
690 - Jonathan Sanchez (SP)
UH18 - Andy Phillips
UH97 - Sean Gallagher

Pack 5:
645 - Masahide Kobayashi (RC)
671 - Chris Davis (RC)

603 - Joel Pineiro
594 - Joe Mather (RC) (I'm doing well in the Cardinals department, for once. I have yet to get a Black Back card, though, which is very weird.)
685 - Ryan Raburn

C280 - Jose Castillo Chrome 0095 / 1959 (I probably don't deserve to get any more inserts at this point. I guess someone decided I deserved Jose Castillo.)
UH26 - Chris Iannetta
UH66 - Robinson Cancel

Pack 6:
625 - Greg Dobbs
553 - Brandon Lyon (Lyon is still a free agent if anyone is interested in a reliever that ruins certain people's fantasy baseball teams.)
575 - Jerry Hairston
666 - Jason Michaels (I have tons of this card.)
622 - John Baker

RP7 - Jeff Samardzija Rookie Performers
UH266 - Rob Mackowiak
UH244 - Brandon Webb All-Stars

Pack 7:
588 - Alexi Casilla
586 - Cody Ross

684 - Jo-Joe Reyes (Aw, poor Jo-Jo looks sad.)
582 - Florida Marlins
607 - Kevin Millar
704 - Kenny Rogers (SP) (I'll never forget the "brown discoloration" on his hand.)
UH298 - Dan Haren All-Stars
UH234 - Carl Pavano

Pack 8 (Last pack... let's see if I get any Black Backs):
568 - Damion Easley
521 - Angel Pagan
679 - Erick Aybar
514 - Brandon Backe Black Back (There we go. Backe is annoying, though.)
538 - Brian Buscher Black Back (Ooo...kay.)

TN1 - Ernie Banks / Jimmy Rollins Then & Now
UH40 - Jon Rauch
UH162 - Eric Stults

Well, there you have it. Hopefully I won't get struck by lightning next time I'm on my way to buy some baseball cards.

Monday, January 19, 2009

5 on the 5: 2008 Upper Deck Timeline

I've held off on writing anything about the Upper Deck Timeline set for quite awhile now because all of the subsets that have different retro designs and so forth. This topic has been covered quite extensively on other fine blogs, some of which you may see links to on the sidebar here, so I still won't get into that. Basically, this is a "housecleaning" post. I have purchased five packs over a bit of time and I need to get them sorted. For our purposes, let's assume that I'm posting these packs in the order that I purchased them as I don't really remember anymore when I got what. These are of the retail variety, where you mostly get the base design plus two of the retro designs. The wrappers call them "inserts" but they most definitely aren't, since the card numbers are continuous throughout the main set rather than separate numbering schemes.

Pack 1:
31 - Manny Ramirez (Now I just look at every card of Manny's on the Dodgers and think it's photoshopped, thanks to Topps. Upper Deck wouldn't do a thing like that, would they?)
12 - Jimmy Rollins

48 - Ichiro Suzuki (Yeah, I still get lots of his cards.)
63 - Masahide Kobayashi (RC)

71 - Ross Ohlendorf (RC) Gold (Interesting gold card of Ohlendorf in Pirates colors but pictured with the Yankees. Upper Deck did this a lot in recent years but seemed to avoid it in 2008. It's much better than faking photos if you ask me.)
174 - Daric Barton (RC) '94 All-Time Heroes

Pack 2:

28 - Derek Jeter (Let's just call this the Yankees pack.)
46 - Torii Hunter (Does Hunter only do the crazy poses for Topps?)
10 - Chase Utley (Phillies 1, Eagles 0)
36 - Jim Thome
52 - John Bowker (RC)

145 - Alex Rodriguez '94 All-Time Heroes

Pack 3:
8 - Chipper Jones
44 - Frank Thomas (I wonder if his career is done.)
30 - David Ortiz
26 - Randy Johnson (What cap does Randy wear when he's inducted into the Hall?)

108 - Craig Breslow '92 Minor League (This is the only retro design that I recognized.)

233 - Jim Thome '04 Timeless Teams

Pack 4:
32 - Daisuke Matsuzaka
15 - Jason Bay
33 - B.J. Upton
77 - Denard Span (RC)
178 - Kosuke Fukudome (RC) '94 All-Time Heroes

207 - Ryan Garko '95 SP Top Prospects (At this point I guess I should make the distinction that this is SP as in the product design and not a short-printed card. I don't really feel like any of this set was truly short-printed, but then again, these are retail packs and the hobby packs are much different.)

Pack 5:
49 - Felix Hernandez
4 - Pedro Martinez
31 - Manny Ramirez (again)
12 - Jimmy Rollins (again)

122 - Matt Joyce (RC) '92 Minor League (Joyce was traded straight up to the Rays for Edwin Jackson. Hope he's worth it!)

275 - Hideki Matsui '04 Timeless Teams (In my tribute to Yankee Stadium, I'll show the back of the card. Matsui missed about half of the final season.)

I have updated my general want list to include the Cardinals I'm missing from the Timeline set.

Sunday, January 18, 2009

Token Weekly Blazers Post: Halfway Home (Almost)

It's been another week in Blazerland, or Rip City as the people like to say. The Blazers finished off a 2-2 road trip with an overtime loss in Charlotte last night. I will keep my comments brief this week because I only was able to watch one of the four games due to work and life getting in the way.

The Blazers are at the 40 game mark of the season. With a win over Milwaukee at home tomorrow night, the Blazers will be on pace to win exactly 50 games this season, which is right where I expected them to be this year. There are some alarming things to note, however. First off, Steve Blake was injured in the 76ers game, Portland's worst loss of the season. He separated his shoulder, which has a 2-4 week recovery process. Secondly, the Blazers have a sub-.500 record against their own conference. No other team in playoff contention in the West can say that.

About the cards:
  • "Uncle Cliffy"'s headband looks like it's about to slip down over his eyes at any moment. The graphic design on these '93-'94 Stadium Club cards look like they were at least partially inspired by In Living Color.
  • It's too bad about Bonzi Wells. I saw him see some of his first meaningful action in an NBA game in person and from the very start it looked like the Blazers had flat out stolen him from Detroit, the team that drafted him. Maybe they somehow knew he'd eventually play a part in tearing the franchise down. Hey, maybe everyone really does hate the Blazers. Just ask the Memphis Grizzlies!
Bonus: Rod from Padrographs very generously sent me this sweet autographed rookie card of one of my all-time favorite Blazers, Arvydas Sabonis along with a stack of Cardinals cards. I'll feature the Cardinals cards in an upcoming post as there are some interesting goodies in there. [Edit: By the way, that is the New Orleans Hornets coach Byron Scott looking on in a Vancouver Grizzlies uniform as Sabas hits a layup. Just so you know...]

Congrats are due to Rudy Fernandez, as he won the fan voting and will be the fourth and final contestant in this year's NBA All-Star Slam Dunk contest. It'll be interesting to see what he comes up with. I wish I had a Rudy card. They really need to bring back Franz bread Blazers cards.

Saturday, January 17, 2009

Ozzie Mystery

Look here. We have a 1991 Donruss Series 2 Ozzie Smith All-Star card. Nothing special, right? This entire set (series 1 and 2) can probably be had for a couple of bucks on eBay and Beckett lists it at $3.00 - $8.00. I have stacks and stacks of this stuff. But Erin discovered something about this card that I had never noticed before. I have 14 copies of this card, and for some reason 13 of them look like this:

Note the stripey patterns on each side of the card border. For some reason one of the cards that I own has a totally different pattern. Does anyone know anything about this? Does anyone care? Have I completely wasted everyone's time reading this with cards that probably have a negative value in the real world?


I posted the Topps Finest pack over at A Pack A Day. No one guessed the player correctly. Night Owl was closest as he picked a guy from the same team, while the rest of you were at least on the right track by selecting pitchers.

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Trading with Tony from Illinois

Reader Tony from Illinois recently sent me a package of stuff from my want lists and was generous enough to throw in some Cardinals-related goodies. This is exactly why I started this blog, incidentally. I get to get rid of cards that I don't need and get amazing stuff that I ordinarily wouldn't have access to here way over here on the west coast. Included in the package was a Cardinals FSN flag that I will proudly display somewhere on my wall when I figure out a good spot and a 2007 DAV (Disabled American Veterans) team set that was likely a stadium giveaway.

The design is fairly complex and busy for a freebie type set. Most of the photos are action shots against a white background, with the player sometimes overlapping the borders. The player numbers are prominently displayed on the front, which I think is a nice touch.

This is the first Ryan Franklin Cardinals card I've managed to get. Franklin is apparently in the mix of potential closer candidates that the Cards will look to this season, although I'm hoping he never sees regular 9th inning save situation duty. With Russ Springer apparently gone, he should be counted on for 7th or 8th inning situations.

Speaking of Springer, here is my first Cardinal card of him. I don't understand how you don't re-sign your best reliever over the past two seasons, even if he was most likely seeking a significant raise. I realize he's advancing in age, but he wants to be in St. Louis. He still does not have a team. Pick him up.

Ryan Ludwick did not have a single official 2007 baseball card apparently, but here he is in this set. I love it. I'm glad that Ludwick is sticking around, as far as it seems. It could be that his 2008 all-star season was fluky, but I can live with the gamble of keeping him instead of cashing in on his trade value considering that it doesn't look like the Cards would have been able to replace his bat in the lineup anywhere. Khalil Greene is not a middle of the order type of hitter.

Fredbird! After finding out the results of Thorzul's Five Dollar Group Break, I will now be the proud owner of two Fredbird cards.

All of the backs of these cards are the same, with information about the DAV.

Tony also sent a stack of 2007 Turkey Reds from my want list. I am now down to two needed non-SP cards from this set, plus a whole mess of SPs. Once I get the non-SPs down, I may look into seeing how financially feasible it would be to collect the 2006 set. I'm not sure if I have a single card from that set. I bought a couple of packs of the 2005 set, but no 2006.

My girlfriend noticed that Justin Verlander's head is disproportionately large in this painting. I can see why not everyone was into this set.

I also received a nice bunch of 2008 Allen & Ginter cards, including this Adam Kennedy SP. I am only 9 cards away from completing the non-SP portion of the program, and 15 SPs away from the entire set.

I'm also down to just one missing flag card, after picking up seven in this trade and Jacoby Ellsbury at last weekend's card show. Paging Dmitri Young... paging Dmitri Young...

I'm sending a pile of long overdue Cardinals doubles Tony's way as soon as I get my sorry butt back to work. Sadly, today is the final day of my two week vacation, which really only felt like about two days.


Speaking of card shows, I bought a neglected pack of 1998 Topps Finest Series 2 at the show last weekend. If anyone can name the lone active major league player (with a contract) that I pulled in the pack, I will send you the pack and a team lot of at least 100 cards of your favorite team. I'll post the pack on A Pack A Day by the end of the week.