Sunday, March 29, 2009

Hobby Box, Part Two

Insert cards. Reader Chris S got it right - there are no inserts in these packs whatsoever. If you look at the tiny writing on the pack wrapper above (you'll probably have to click on the image), you can see that Topps has inserted a little disclaimer where the insert odds usually are located. "Topps does not, in any manner, make any representations as to whether its cards will attain any future value." Nice. There's something that screams "purist" about a box with no inserts, though.

Here's the second half of the box:

Pack 11:
124 - Eric Owens (Not a great start.)
82 - Johnny Damon (Bleh.)
136 - Carlos Zambrano (Oh, come on!)

1 - Jim Thome

356 - Carlos Delgado Sporting News All-Stars

115 - Johan Santana (Nice shot with the scoreboard in the background.)
272 - Dusty Baker
121 - Ben Grieve
283 - Ron Gardenhire
313 - Kyle Davies (No. 3 guy in the Royals rotation now.)

Pack 12:
23 - Jay Payton
255 - Deivi Cruz

207 - J.D. Drew (I hate buying his cards, so I guess I don't mind getting them in packs.)
227 - Francisco Cordero

365 - Andy Pettitte Sporting News All-Stars (These cards are kind of ridiculous looking. "crafty southpa")
321 - Tim Friend
176 - Ben Sheets (The man without a team.)
119 - Adam Eaton (If Adam Eaton is on your fantasy team, you're in trouble. Actually, you could probably say that about your real team.)
197 - Matt Clement (What a waste.)
222 - Randy Wolf

Pack 13:

45 - John Smoltz (I just saw the clip where Smoltz showed Maddux his bald head when Maddux faced him at the plate for the first time on the MLB Network the other day. Yech.)
67 - Mariano Rivera (A fair amount of doubles in this box.)
151 - Erubiel Durazo

241 - Orlando Hudson
96 - Alex Cintron (Cintron is the WORST! He knocked Scott Rolen out of the 2002 playoffs and I will never let it go.)
144 - Alex Gonzalez
281 - Jim Tracy (Jim Tracy is now a bench coach for the Rockies. Just so you know...)
323 - Tydus Meadows
270 - Mike Hargrove
273 - Jerry Manuel

Pack 14:

140 - Greg Maddux (There should be more retro uniform days.)
104 - Mike Hampton

101 - Orlando Palmeiro (A pretty "meh" Cardinal. I didn't have the card, though, so I am fine with this.)
179 - Mike Stanton
89 - Tim Spooneybarger
298 - Anthony Lerew (Not all Braves pitchers pan out.)
258 - Runelvys Hernandez
320 - Rodney Choy Foo
159 - Toby Hall
42 - Josh Phelps

Pack 15:
46 - Jay Gibbons (The back of his card practically admits steroid use. "These days, his biceps bulge from his short sleeves..." Okay, you could say it sounds like a romance novel, too.)
224 - Ryan Klesko
225 - Rich Aurilia (He hit 37 HRs and batted .324 in 2001. I guess that's what happens when you have BondsMonster in your lineup.)
193 - Luis Matos
292 - Bob Melvin
33 - Jeff Weaver
175 - Paul Quantrill
279 - Jimy Williams
219 - Richard Hidalgo (He sort of just dropped off of the face of the earth.)

238 - Raul Ibanez

Pack 16:

31 - Mike Piazza
249 - Jose Cruz Jr.

28 - Fred McGriff (Who knew that McGriff was a Dodger? I didn't.)
282 - Ned Yost

364 - Roy Halladay Sporting News All-Stars
284 - Frank Robinson (Do player collectors collect cards of players' managing days, too?)
43 - Brendan Donnelly
264 - Frank Catalanotto
135 - Tom Wilson
27 - Brett Mayne

Pack 17:
243 - Doug Mientkiewicz

157 - Miguel Cairo (I still can't believe people keep giving Cairo a major league job. He must just be a really nice guy.)
223 - Kris Benson
271 - Grady Little

349 - Roger Clemens / David Wells Postseason Highlights (Yee-haw!)
250 - Jeff Kent
198 - Byung-Hyun Kim
208 - Einar Diaz
146 - Brian Jordan (Former Cardinal OFer / Falcon Safety.)
109 - Russell Branyan (The new Mariners 1B - an even worse version of Richie Sexson. Bring back John Olerud!)

Pack 18:
232 - Kyle Farnsworth (A great picture of a terrible pitcher. But he's a Cub, and I didn't want to scan him. Look it up if you want to.)
261 - Dustan Mohr
267 - Mike Scioscia
96 - Alex Cintron (Again?! Curses!)

348 - Kerry Wood / Mark Prior / Javier Vazquez NL Strikeout Leaders (Speaking of curses, look at these guys. At least Wood has rebuilt his career as an allegedly decent closer now and Vazquez is in a rotation. What does Mark Prior have?)
114 - Cesar Izturis
318 - Nic Ungs (Yes, there really is a player named Nic Ungs and, no, he has not made it to the majors yet. He's hanging in there in the Milwaukee organization by the looks of it.)
259 - Joe Mays

328 - Ryan Madson / Elizardo Ramirez (Stars might be a reach, but I guess you could do worse.)

Pack 19:
38 - Tim Worrell

186 - Tino Martinez (Amazing shot of a player who was decent, but never produced for the Cards like he did when he was a Yankee.)
93 - Javier Vazquez

49 - Frank Thomas
246 - Ryan Franklin (Franklin has been terrible this spring. Even an average spring probably would have won him the closer's role just because of how Tony La Russa and Dave Duncan love the vets.)
95 - Darren Dreifort
312 - Khalid Ballouli
289 - Lloyd McClendon (McClendon is not welcome anywhere near the Cardinals clubhouse.)
266 - Orlando Cabrera
296 - Carlos Tosca

Pack 20:
103 - Brad Fullmer (Last pack, thanks for reading!)
253 - Miguel Batista

220 - Manny Ramirez (The pride of Ball State University.)
271 - Grady Little

337 - Bill Mueller / Manny Ramirez / Derek Jeter (The Red Sox pack. Wait... Bill Mueller won a batting title? How??)
307 - Jesse Roman (Only Cardinal double.)
36 - Craig Wilson
208 - Einar Diaz
308 - Sung Jung
187 - Aubrey Huff (He finally had a pretty good year last year.)

I'm not attached to any of these cards, except for the Cardinals that I didn't already own, of course. Let me know if anyone out there is interested in some otherwise-completely-ordinary-except-for-the-foil-stamp 2004 Topps cards.

Thursday, March 26, 2009

A Hobby Box for the New Economy

When at long last I finally got my (cheap) scanner, I promised that I would "break" a hobby box on this blog and I was pretty excited about it. Well, that is, I was about as excited as one can get over posting on a blog about sports cards. Like most ideas that I have, the more I think about something, the longer it takes me to actually act on it. Here's a box I believe that I paid less than $20 for on eBay. It was part of a grand plan of buying budget-priced hobby boxes to add some interesting cards to my team collection and, perhaps, having something equally as interesting to send out to people I trade with. All I really know of HTA (The Topps "Home Team Advantage" program) is that they produce jumbo packs that are generally pretty loaded with stuff that gets people excited. The box I bought is a 2004 Topps Series 1 HTA box, but it's sort of a strange one. Every single card in these packs is a parallel of the base set. Each card is stamped with a foil "1st Edition" stamp. Going into this, all I knew is that I only had a handful of 2004 Topps cards, so I figured this would be a win for me no matter what happened.

Here are the first 10 packs. I promise that it won't be another 2 months before I post the rest of the box. I opted not to break this up into more than 2 parts, because I personally find my attention starts to wane a bit when people break up their box break posts into many parts, unless it's a set I'm really excited about. Because of that, there aren't going to be a ton of scans or comments per pack. Hopefully it will be just enough to keep you from falling asleep.

Pack 1:
83 - Hee Seop Choi (Hee Seop Choi is leaning over the dugout, looking back at his rather awful Cubs career, perhaps unaware that he is about to be traded for Derrek Lee. I don't know how people can handle being Marlins fans, really.)
248 - Gary Bennett (Ex-Cardinal count: 1)
231 - Travis Driskill

329 - Rich Harden / Bobby Crosby Future Stars (One of the few cards of this type over the years where both players actually stuck.)

355 - Juan Pierre Postseason Highlights (I think Topps must have signed the same people to write their copy that The Oregonian currently employs to write their front page headlines. The street edition is rapidly deteriorating into a tabloid.)

307 - Jesse Roman (First Cardinal of the box. I've never heard of the guy. According to his B-R page, he's been out of baseball since 2004.)
285 - Art Howe
216 - Jimmy Haynes (Guys like Haynes whose careers began in the mid-'90s and ended in the mid-'00s are easy for me to ignore.)
262 - Tomokazu Ohka
306 - Donald Levinski

Pack 2:
98 - Jorge Posada (I don't usually think of Posada being a big HR guy, but he hit 30 in 2003.)
206 - Freddy Garcia (Once the ace of the M's staff, Freddy was recently reassigned to minor league camp with the Mets after failing in his bid to be the 5th starter. Livan Hernandez appears to be the guy. Thanks, MLB Network, for keeping me up to date with the, uh, Mets.)
254 - Jung Bong ("Translated from Korean, jung bong means 'middle staff,' and is a defensive martial arts technique." So you can stop snickering, now.)

221 - Mike Mussina (I'll always remember getting his rookie cards out of early '90s Score packs. I never thought he'd put together a Hall of Fame career. There were too many Ben McDonalds and not enough Chipper Joneses.)
213 - Tim Wakefield
182 - Terry Adams
202 - Jose Mesa (Jose Lima had "Lima Time". Did Mesa ever have, you know... Mesa Time?)
315 - Matt Creighton
110 - Todd Helton (Coming off of his fourth consecutive season of +1.000 OPS. Yes, kids, OPS is important.)

235 - C.C. Sabathia (Goofy looking.)

Pack 3:
79 - Jerry Hairston Jr.
44 - Steve Finley
106 - Ramiro Mendoza (One of a number of Yankees turned Red Sox, and vice versa.)
152 - Mike Lieberthal

367 - Jody Gerut All-Stars (In what bizarro universe what Jody Gerut an all-star? Wow.)
290 - Bruce Bochy
236 - Brad Penny
119 - Adam Eaton (Sadly not related to Mark Eaton, as far as I know.)
316 - Chris O'Riordan (Not related to Dolores O'Riordan, as far as I know.)
251 - Josh Beckett

Pack 4:
57 - Michael Tucker
83 - Hee Seop Choi

229 - Danny Bautista (A very Dmitri Young-esque photo here.)
11 - Kevin Millwood
292 - Bob Melvin
182 - Terry Adams
301 - Casey Myers

305 - Dioner Navarro (Navarro as a Yankee - hmm. I did root for the Rays in the World Series, but I haven't bought in to the whole budding Yankees/Rays rivalry or anything. I'd definitely root for New York if it came down to it. I have my reasons.)
280 - Tony Pena (The manager and former catcher.)
287 - Ken Macha (So many managers in this pack.)

Pack 5:
15 - Marcus Giles

240 - Rocco Baldelli (In his younger, healthier days.)
62 - Ty Wigginton
288 - Larry Bowa
147 - Wes Helms
310 - Josh Labandeira
75 - Hank Blalock

330 - Zack Greinke / Jimmy Gobble Future Stars (I'm sure this card was the punch line of a number of jokes at one point, but one of these oddly named Royals has actually made it as a #1 type starter.)
168 - Brandon Phillips (Cleveland wasn't the first team to give up on this guy.)
142 - Reggie Taylor

Pack 6:
199 - Brandon Inge
224 - Ryan Klesko
194 - Derek Lowe (Just thought of something - the backs of the cards are glossy, too. I don't remember the regular 2004 Topps cards being like that, but maybe they are.)
35 - David Bell

158 - Woody Williams (Not many memorable players wear #19.)
295 - Buck Showalter (It's funny how many managers are in this set that no longer manage or at least are with different teams.)
132 - Michael Barrett
279 - Jimy Williams
226 - Kelvin Escobar
247 - Chad Bradford

Pack 7:
94 - Al Leiter
269 - Bobby Cox
141 - Craig Counsell
325 - Zach Duke

336 - Eric Gagne Season Highlights (Duuuude. Remember 2004? Eric Gagne does.)
127 - Mark Buehrle
51 - Danny Graves (I saw his name scroll by on the bottom of the screen on MLB Network yesterday and was rather surprised that he still exists.)
264 - Frank Catalanotto
242 - Dave Roberts

239 - Adrian Beltre (Remember 2004? Adrian Beltre does. Hey, he's in another contract year this year.)

Pack 8:
67 - Mariano Rivera (An interesting photo choice.)
256 - Alex Gonzalez
191 - John Lackey
282 - Ned Yost

347 - Jason Schmidt / Kevin Brown / Mark Prior NL ERA Leaders (Yeesh, what happened to these guys? At least Brown has age as an excuse.)
66 - Cliff Floyd

327 - Bernie Castro / Khalil Greene Future Stars (Greene has been awfully productive in spring for the Cards. That has me worried for some reason. He's gotta be better than Cesar Izturis with the bat, though, right?)
25 - Lance Berkman
311 - Kenny Perez
309 - Jon Knott (This has been a good box so far for ex-Portland Beavers.)

Pack 9:
153 - Jason Kendall (Great photo, but it makes me wish there was far less border on these cards.)
104 - Mike Hampton (We'll see how many starts Hampton can hold up for this year.)
111 - Braden Looper
195 - Mark Grudzielanek (People continue to talk about Grudz as the safety valve if the Skip Schumaker Experience at 2B doesn't work out so well. I don't see it happening - Mark, that is.)
152 - Mike Lieberthal

204 - Jack Wilson (Erin already has dibs on this card because of the photo.)
21 - Jason LaRue
315 - Matt Creighton
308 - Sung Jung
257 - Shawn Chacon

Pack 10:

73 - Fernando Vina (The finest groomed facial hair in all of baseball, I used to say.)
209 - Roy Halladay
174 - Desi Relaford
65 - Terrence Long
215 - Bartolo Colon
154 - Xavier Nady (More ex-Beavers.)

10 - Ichiro Suzuki (Token Ichiro card.)
122 - Randy Winn
234 - Felipe Lopez
58 - Paul Lo Duca

Can anyone tell me what is missing in these packs?

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

I've Never Been Good at Homework

Tonight was supposed to be the night that I finally wrote up my "Blog Bat Around" post as the deadline was several hours ago. Because of my work schedule, it would have made a lot more since if I got it done last night or maybe even a week ago when it was first announced. However, last night I decided on a self-imposed 24 hour sports blackout (with the exception of some spring training action on the MLB Network) because of an unfortunately irritating Blazers loss. But then it just got to the point where it felt like a homework assignment and I didn't want to write it anymore. I haven't participated in any of the Blog Bat Arounds, actually. I'm not very good with assignments, after all. It's not for lack of interest or that the idea isn't a good one. Check out some of the blogs that I have linked on the sidebar if you're interested. Most of these people tell a good story.

Instead, I took the easy way out and decided to write about something that put me in a good "sports mood" after a tough night last night. Eric, the Yankees Fan (as if there were only a few of them) sent over another huge bundle of cards. He also has a blog, but he's best known as being a great trader, and, yes, a Yankees fan. Not that there's anything wrong with that. Really, there isn't. I lead off with a Topps Total card because I've been really hyping this now defunct product line lately. If my time and resources were limitless, I just know I would make it my priority to collect every card from every year of Topps Total's existence (probably even the other sports) and would make sure and write lots of well-constructed letters to Topps executives about the merits of making a large set builder oriented set on a budget that's good for everyone in this "crazy economy." Since I don't have either of those, I'll just say...

Topps Total!!! Wait, what the heck is Reggie doing?

Totally! Dude! It's pretty interesting seeing Eldred and Wainwright together. Usually the two players pictured on these split cards are of the same stature within the organization somehow. Here, Eldred was entering his final year of big league baseball and Wainwright was about to get his first taste of action.

I got to cross this card off my Want List. Sadly, the want lists I have linked on this blog probably represent 0.01% of my actual Want List in the grand scheme of things. The Opening Day red style really works well on Cardinals cards. I have no idea what this year's Opening Day cards are supposed to look like. Shouldn't they be out already?

Poor Rico Washington. Last year at this time he was about to make his first ever Opening Day roster after an 11-year minor league career. Now he plays in China for the Uni-President 7-Eleven Lions. I wish I was making that up, but I'm not.

My attempt at building the 2008 A&G set has stalled a few cards short of the base set. It was nice, however, to get a couple of Cardinals minis from the set. Troy Glaus was the other card. Minis are always great.

I have a couple of packs of these ridiculous comic-style cards, but I didn't have any actual cards worth keeping until now. I have a feeling that in another 25 years or so I'm going to be giving these out on Halloween like the older people that I used to encounter while trick-or-treating who would give out crazy useless stuff like stale popcorn balls that my mother would never let me touch anyway. These are kind of the baseball card version of razor blades, I guess.

Terrible scan, but a cool looking card from 1994 of all years. There was also a Geronimo Pena from this Topps Finest set. I may have never been crazy enough to afford the "Finest", but it's certainly fun to pick up singles from years long past from these types of sets.

I've taken quite a shine to the 2003 Topps set and the Opening Day version doesn't stray too far from it. I have built up a small army of packs of these from repack bundles that I've been suckered into buying, so expect a post about this stuff in the foreseeable future.

There was a healthy amount of Jim Edmonds cards in this lot, which is great. This is apparently a Topps Total insert card. I didn't know that Topps Total ever dipped into insert card territory, but I'm guessing that they must have done it with an understated style - no 1-of-1's, crazy rainbow parallels or chunks of mythical creatures' DNA samples. Right? I hope I'm right.

What a curveball! A 1975 Topps Bob Gibson card. He's got a few creases and some corners that have been well loved, but if you try to tell Gibby that he'll probably punch your face off. So don't even try it. Great card.

Adam Kennedy will probably never truly go away, as long as I am a fan of the Cardinals and collect baseball cards. I won't turn away any of his Cardinals cards, of course. And I'm starting to accumulate a decent amount of these Chrome Heritage parallels, which is nice. I haven't checked up on his progress with his minor league deal he signed with the Rays and I probably won't tonight.

I was starting to forget about the confusing 2008 Stadium Club set. I still can't really explain what they were trying to pull with the variations and the subtle differences between the ridiculously expensive hobby versions and the initially mispriced retail versions. All three of the cards pictured above are the "alternate photo" versions of some of the Cardinal rookies in the set, and I needed all of them. Also, they are 1st Day edition cards, whatever that means. It's amusing to me to see that both Chris Perez photos are very similar, but in the alternate photo he's wearing his 2008 uniform number, whereas in the other version he's wearing a spring training number.

There were some minor league cards thrown in for fun. I highly encourage this if you're looking to trade with me. I am a huge fan of minor league baseball. Dmitri Young is quite a character, but maybe not quite the character that the webcomic "The Dugout" has built him up to be. Thanks to those guys, I only and completely imagine him doing nothing but eating Twizzlers. And Basil Shabazz... the name says it all.

Sportflics Ozzie Smith! I think I was more excited about seeing how a Sportflics card would scan than actually talking about it, but these cards are cool nonetheless. Erin made sure to snag every Sportflics Cardinal double that I had in my collection because of the coolness factor.

Jason Motte has taken the lead in the race to be the Cardinals closer for 2009. I guess I get to eat some dark-colored bird for mocking people who drafted him in fantasy leagues this year, because I have felt all along that La Russa/Duncan would end up putting someone horribly mediocre and "veteran" like Ryan Franklin in the spot. But they really can't do that now, can they? Motte is pictured basically doing exactly what he can do - the only thing he can do. He's chucking a baseball as hard and fast as he can towards the plate. The guy can throw extremely hard and is fun to watch. Unfortunately, that's his only pitch. He's a great story - he was a minor league catcher as recently as the 2006 title winning season. But unfortunately I'd have to put the over/under on his career as an effective major league pitcher at 1.5 years if I was a betting type of person. I'm rooting for him, though.

To top it off, here's a Legends of the Game Bob Gibson card. This is the Wal-Mart version, so now I have both Gibson inserts. All I need now is Johnny Mize.

Great stuff from Eric as always. And to fill out the package, there is an apparently complete Stan Musial Donruss puzzle set from the late '80s (I want to say 1988.) I might have to actually bust this out and put together the puzzle next time there's a rainy day. Who knows when that will be, however, because it never rains in Portland, Oregon!