Monday, November 30, 2009

Equal Time: Upper Deck Blunder

Just a thought here. While it seems like I might be a little overly critical of Topps when I talk about their airbrushing past and other less than optimistic opinions I have of their new exclusivity deal, I hope that it's noted that the airbrushed cards amuse me a lot more than they upset me. Times were different, the technology was - I can only assume - vastly more limited, and deadlines were likely tighter than they are today. I'd love to be a photoshop expert and do a regular feature on all of the idiotic photoshopped cards that we see in today's products, but I'll leave that others. However, I thought at least for this post I'd give equal time to Topps's chief competitor.

Why is Koyie Hill shown wearing a Dodgers uniform? That doesn't look right. Before I ever even attempted to look up his stats or any biographical information on the guy, I noticed that behind that blue chest protector appeared to be a home Dodgers uniform. (I'm starting to become an expert on that team.) This wouldn't ordinarily set off red flags since I would have assumed that Koyie Hill had been recently acquired by Arizona at the time of the card's printing, but check out the back of the card.

The text refers to him playing in Arizona for at least the past season, and lo and behold, so does the stat line. It took me a few glances to realize that 2004 was not actually Hill's only season to date. A quick check at reveals that Hill only played 3 official games as a Dodger, netting him a grand total of 3 plate appearances - all in 2003. The current part time Cubs catcher was traded in the middle of the 2004 season to the Diamondbacks. Upper Deck got the team right, but could they not find a current photo to use? If this guy is such a "Pro" and/or "Prospect" worth making serial numbered parallel/insert/whatever cards of, I'd think they'd take a little care in making things right.

Anyway, this card now ends up in my outgoing Dodgers pile, mostly because I don't have a repeated Diamondbacks trading partner that I can think of. Fans of both teams are probably pretty underwhelmed.

Friday, November 27, 2009

Airbrushed Fridays: 1988 Topps Traded #13T

The 1988 Topps Traded set was the first time in my collecting youth that the whole baseball cards as profit philosophy really came to light for me. Everyone had decided that the 1988 Topps traded set was the must-buy set because of Topps's decision to include cards of the Olympic team, which would provide the first legit cards of a plethora of talented young players. Presently, the entire set can be had on eBay for about $1.50 if you buy in bulk, and the most collectable card probably isn't even an Olympian. (Mark Grace, maybe? I have no idea.)

Buddy Bell was a five-time all-star third baseman who was nearing the end of his career as these young guys like Charles Nagy and Andy Benes were being ushered in. He's been part of a pretty strong MLB lineage, as he is the son of Gus Bell and father to ex-Cardinal David Bell. He's also been a manager on and off for the past 14 years.

Why did Topps airbrush Buddy's photo? Bell joined the Astros a little less than halfway into the 1988 season, so deadlines were a bit tighter than their usual offseason trade subjects. By 1988, I have noticed that the airbrush was starting to be used less often and probably a little more strategically, but that didn't let a few gems keep from sneaking in from time to time.

What's wrong with this picture, anyway? The classic Astros stripes aren't bad, actually, but everything else points to art class. The cap is all wrong. The logo isn't awful but is definitely drawn, and you can see the hand-drawn creases in his cap. Also, what's up with the wood paneling behind Buddy? Is he hanging out in front of his neighbor's fence or is he in some creep's living room?

Thursday, November 26, 2009

Night Owl Post

Sometimes the hardest part of writing these posts, particularly trade posts, is coming up with a title. This time I was going for a Harry Potter reference, but it wasn't really working. These cards are from Night Owl Cards, and I'm already working on a decent stack of Dodgers to send across the country to this Dodgers fan in New York.

Dal Maxvill was a lousy GM, but I like the action photo on this 1971 Topps card a lot.

This card is great. I've been jealous of all of the great-looking cards that people have posted lately from group breaks of this set.

Night Owl was one of two people recently to send this Ryan Ludwick SP card from this year's Allen & Ginter. This is very convenient, as I'm one of those team collectors who collects the occasional set or two and actually need two copies of certain cards that fit into both categories.

I really like the regular 2000 Upper Deck set, so these Gold Reserve cards are kind of fun to get. I'm not sure if these were parallels inserted into regular packs or if it was a set of its own. I also received Pat Hentgen, Edgar Renteria and everyone's favorite guy, J.D. Drew.

More Pujols. I don't have a lot of Goodwin cards and I don't really plan on buying any packs, so I like to receive these. (Not pictured: Ryan Ludwick.)

Jose Cruz was a Cardinal? How did I not know this? I'm hoping this is one of those things I always knew that just sort of leaked out of my brain one night when I fell asleep on the couch watching bad TV.

Even more Albert Pujols! Apparently Upper Deck took "X" to the next level by putting out X5 inserts. Last year's stuff did not progress beyond the X4 stage. And if you don't know what that means, don't worry, because I don't really have the answers for you either. This set won't be missed. I appreciate the shiny rare insert card, though!

And lastly, here's Mark McGwire. This is from an Ovation insert set called Remarkable, I believe. Big Mac certainly is remarkable. He's a lot of other words to other people as well, but he built a lot of great memories in the Birds on the Bat as well as with Oakland. It'll be interesting to see how this whole hitting coach thing plays out.

Thanks again to Night Owl, who always gets first priority for any Dodgers I pull. Lord knows I pull enough of them...

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Bargain Bowman

Bowman Draft Picks & Prospects is a set I don't completely understand. It seems to pair together the current year's "Rookie Card" eligible using the base 2008 Bowman design with "draft picks" who did not have MLB service time. I expected all of the players to be 2008 draft picks, but there seems to be no real criteria for these cards. A lot of them actually are 2008 draft picks, but I also found undraft free agents who had been in the minor league system since the early part of the decade. Anyway, this isn't really the type of thing I usually get into, but at the right price ($1 per pack) I was tempted. Here are the 4 packs that I purchased from the retail guy at the card show about a month ago.

Pack 1:

BDP4 - Burke Badenhop
BDP46 - Warner Madrigal (A madrigal sounds like some sort of animal, but I'm way off base here.)
BDPP79 - Wes Hodges
BDPP95 - Luke Hughes (Here's the undrafted free agent from 2002. Really, I have no idea who most of these guys are. This guy has a Twins logo.)
BDPP37 - Logan Schafer Chrome

BDPP73 - Greg Golson Chrome Refractors (There's two chrome cards in each pack, either of the base-looking "prospects" - BDP prefix - cards or the "draft pick" cards - BDPP prefix. Confused yet? Good. But this one is a refractor parallel, or a parallel of a parallel.)
- Checklist (This card is relic thick. It's not numbered, so perhaps there's only one checklist for this set?)

BDPP44 - Bryan Shaw Gold (And then there's the whole one-per-pack gold parallel, which is another matter in and of itself.)

Pack 2:
BDP48 - David Robertson (Not to be confused with David Robinson. I think this is the reliever that was on the playoff roster for the Yankees this year, but for some reason I thought his name was Kevin.)
BDPP91 - Scott Campbell

BDPP84 - Pablo Sandoval (Yeah, this is the guy that was christened Kung Fu Panda. It probably didn't help that he fell over on the basepath like some sort of confused large mammal last season.)

BDP12 - Chris Carter Blue 135 / 399 (No, not the X-Files guy.)
BDP55 - Jeff Samardzija Chrome
BDPP63 - Matt Cerda

BDP53 - Joe Mather Gold (Assuming Mather is fully healed, he could compete for the 3B job next season with the Cards as was the plan last season before he got hurt. David Freese seems to have the inside track, though, which is fine. If he's right, Mather could be a good bench bat at the very least.)

Pack 3:
BDP21 - Micah Hoffpauir (Now that there's no longer a Hoffpauir in the Cardinals system, I can go back to completely ignoring this guy instead of pondering a reality series in which Micah is reunited with his long lost "distant cousin" Jarrett. Oddly enough, The Internet really has no definitive answer as to whether or not the two are really related, but I found it amusing that their respective wikipedia pages consider them to be related now all of a sudden.)
BDP5 - Wladimir Balentien (If Balentien ever starts up a hip-hop career, his stage name should definitely be Wlad-I-Am.)
BDPP99 - Gorkys Hernandez

BDPP70 - Shairon Martis (I scanned him for the sole reason that he was someone that I'd actually heard of playing in the majors this past season.)

BDP33 - Max Scherzer Chrome (I swear I must have at least 20 Scherzer cards for some reason.)
BDPP27 - Trey Watten Chrome (Never trust anyone named Trey.)

BDP14 - Chris Davis Gold (He likes to strike out a lot, or so I'm told.)

Pack 4:
BDP42 - Jamie D'Antona
BDPP37 - Greg Golson (Back again in non-chrome, non-refractor form.)

BDPP69 - Andrew McCutchen (Yes, we've heard of this guy. He seems to be one of the few guys in this set... er... subset(?)... that has actually progressed to a key role already.)

SOF-OP - Omar Poveda Signs of the Future (Not bad... an autographed card in a $1 pack. I have no idea who this guy is, but perhaps a certain Rangers fan could use this one.)

BDP29 - Chris Perez Chrome (Former... Cardinal. That's difficult to say. I'm not sure how good Perez might be in the long run, but it's always difficult to say goodbye to a young player that was at one time full of promise.)
BDPP64 - Bobby Lanigan Chrome
BDPP35 - Tim Federowicz Gold (Okay, I give in. Who are these guys?)

Most of these cards are going into the trading stacks. You guys have been warned.

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Trading with Ryan's Memorabilia Redux

By the time I start my daily routine and look to head off to work for the day, the man pictured up above will have officially earned his 3rd NL MVP, barring any epidemic idiocy outbreaks. Meanwhile, it bears mentioning that Ryan's Memorabilia has struck again. I sent over a Brian Roberts jersey card that just missed the cut in our last trade and was rewarded with a surprise package. Actually, almost every package I've received lately has been something of a surprise. I guess everyone is in the giving mood lately and I'm definitely going to make a point of making it to the post office again soon.

I had to look this kid up, as I'd never seen his name before, let alone his picture on a baseball card. It turns out that he was a 12th round draft pick from last year and as of right now is barely not a teenager. That's always weird to me. It was even weird to me when I was a teen myself and I would get a card with some awkward teen photo on it. To Swinson's credit, he looks like he means business on this card.

This is some sort of shiny Donruss insert card of Scott Rolen - serial numbered for my enjoyment. I don't know if I'll ever get over the novelty of owning cards that are serial numbered, because I started collecting in the era of amazingly overproduced cards. Whenever I see something that is not numbered, I can't help but assume that there's an infinite amount of them available in the world.

Matt Rigoli, unlike Mr. Swinson, actually went to college. According to the back of the card, he went to someone called Pace University. Is this actually an accredited institution? This sounds like the sort of school that would advertise during daytime talk shows. I have a fair amount of his Bowman cards already, but this one is an XFractor, numbered 4 of 299. I wish the crazy shiny boxes actually showed up in my scans.

Here's Albert again, Owning the Game. He already has a ton of cards showing him Owning the Game, so it's easy for me to get mixed up and not know which ones I still need. This is a good one, but aren't they all?

Finally, here's a fairly low-numbered card of ol' Red. This one really looks nice. If I could invent anything magical, I think I might have to strongly consider a YouTube of old baseball footage. I would love to see high-quality video of guys like Schoendienst playing instead of the scraps of old photos that we are left with.

Saturday, November 21, 2009

Good Luck Ducks, Week 12: One More for the Road

It's time for the Ducks final road game of the season, and it happens to come against a very formidable opponent: the Arizona Wildcats. I'm not going to gloss over the grizzly facts here. The last two times the Ducks played in Tucson, they lost their starting quarterback. In 2005, Kellen Clemens was having his greatest college football season when he broke his leg at Arizona. He was relieved by the backup tandem of a young Dennis Dixon and one Brady Leaf, who eventually led the Ducks to victory in spite of the turmoil. That would be the end of Kellen's college career. Two seasons later, Oregon was ranked #2 in the nation when Heisman hopeful Dixon found himself twisted and torn down to the turf in Tucson, no longer able to play through what was revealed to be an ACL tear. Like Clemens, Dixon's college career ended in the desert.

Here we are in 2009 and the Wildcats have yet to lose at home. Why am I optimistic about this game? I don't really think Arizona has the weapons to handle the Ducks defense. Oregon's D was overmatched against Stanford and probably would have some difficulties with Boise State should they meet again, but there are very few teams out there who I think can't be shut down by Oregon defenders. Should rotten luck prevail, though, at least I can say that this won't be Jeremiah Masoli's last collegiate game. He's a junior.

I am temporarily low on Ducks cards that I haven't scanned already, so I was tempted to recycle a Dennis Dixon card because they've been pretty lucky so far. Ultimately, I ended up going with an Akili Smith 2000 Topps Bengals card even though I couldn't find any Akili Smith highlights versus Arizona. I already covered the 1994 game against the Wildcats in detail last season, which still ranks among my very favorite football games of all time.

I dug up this highlight instead:

5:00 PM PDT start on ABC. It's a split regional broadcast - some of you directionally challenged Americans will end up seeing the Texas Longhorns and the Kansas Jayhawks. Expect that one to be over by halftime. Sorry, guys. Watch the Ducks on the internet or something!

Project 2007 Heritage: Volume 3

Here is the final portion of the 17 packs of 2007 Topps Heritage that I picked up recently. 2010 Heritage previews have hit the internet at full force, but there's no time to even think about that now with all of the stuff that I'm missing from past Heritage sets.

Pack 13:
444 - Joe Mauer (MVP? I don't even care who wins these stupid awards anymore, but Mauer would be deserving of such an award if there was a legitimate one.)
327 - Chicago Cubs
165 - Garret Anderson
345 - Brad Ausmus
FB9 - Richie Ashburn Flashbacks (My first Flashbacks insert from this set as far as I can recall.)

487 - Vernon Wells All-Star (Wells has the worst contract in all of baseball from what I hear. Possibly the worst ever.)
226 - Brian Rogers (Another one of these stealth rookies that I've never heard of.)
324 - Anibal Sanchez

Pack 14:
300 - Scott Schoeneweis
372 - Carlos Zambrano
64 - Tim Hudson
435 - B.J. Ryan
FB9 - Richie Ashburn Flashbacks (Again.)
324 - Anibal Sanchez (Again.)
342 - Daryle Ward

216 - St. Louis Cardinals (At least I can't complain too much about a Cardinals double.)

Pack 15:
445 - Miguel Montero
12 - Scott Hatteberg

409 - Frank Thomas (The Big Hurt looks kind of strange in Jays gear.)

310 - Ryan Howard ("Phila. Phils."? Really?)

266 - Andy Pettitte (SP) (In terms of sheer star power, this is probably the best pack you'll see. The short printed Pettitte card is just a bonus.)

485 - Vladimir Guerrero All-Star (All of these faces... they're so... close...)
484 - Alfonso Soriano All-Star
161 - Huston Street

Pack 16:
111 - Jeff Francis
481 - Alex Rodriguez All-Star
129 - Jerry Owens
229 - Mike Napoli

42 - David Murphy Chrome 0674/1956 (Not bad... another shiny card. Two chromes and a chrome refractor in 17 packs definitely beats the odds.)
53 - Jose Valentin
451 - Hector Gimenez
396 - Travis Chick (I totally forgot about this Mariners prospect of the time.)

Pack 17:
228 - Shawn Green
191 - Jonathan Broxton (Saw this one in an earlier pack.)
201 - Carlos Lee (Him too.)
398 - Reggie Abercrombie

FB1 - Al Kaline Flashbacks (Nice! And it's not Richie Ashburn for the 3rd time...)
107 - Garrett Atkins
235 - Julio Lugo
189 - Sean Marshall

And that is that. I'm off to a card show later today, and I'll be on the lookout for more $1 Heritage packs, although I'm not going to count on it. For now, I just need to work on my want lists.

Friday, November 20, 2009

Airbrushed Fridays: 1988 Topps UK Mini #13

In a Cardinals lineup constructed almost entirely with speed, Jack Clark was the anomaly. He was The Natural. His bat had lightning in it. Okay, maybe he didn't even bat lefty, but I'm pretty sure he knocked out stadium lights with his home run shots on a regular basis. Actually, for his time, Clark was a pretty solid power hitter, but relative to his light-hitting but fleet-footed teammates he was basically Mark McGwire and Albert Pujols all wrapped up in one. Clark led his Cardinals to two pennants in his three seasons.

Jack Clark ended up signing with my second favorite team in 1988 after sour contract negotiations and really was never the same. For some reason I had trouble rooting for him even though I could easily root for Don Mattingly and Dave Winfield and even Willie Randolph.

Why did Topps airbrush Jack's photo? I suppose a lot of this was covered in the Steve Sax post, but to be brief, at the time it was rare to actually see a player in his new uniform the season in which he joined the team without some sort of manipulation.

What's wrong with this picture, anyway? Jack himself doesn't even understand what is going on with this picture, as is evident by his facial expression. It starts with the very crudely drawn NY logo on the cap and ends somewhere below his neck with the navy-ish non-descript t-shirt that he appears to be wearing that changes colors like an early Hypercolor prototype.

I happen to love the cartoon on the back.

Thursday, November 19, 2009

The Name Game

Justin Tim from the Great Sports Name Hall of Fame has some very eclectic and specific tastes in sports cards. Go check out his want lists, as I bet each and every one of you reading this has something in your collection to suit him. He was kind enough to send over some needed cards (and more!) including the Jamie Moyer Allen & Ginter card that you see up above. Collecting sets bit by bit is the only way to go, unless you plan on actually finishing something within a strict time frame.

This is a beautiful Albert Pujols card from 2007 Bowman's Best. I don't think I've managed to purchase a pack of anything with "Best" in the brand name, unless we're talking about detergent or something.

This blurry little image is a picture of a bona fide 1989 Topps Ozzie Smith coin. This is awesome, because I have no idea what happened to my old Topps coins. Even as a kid, I was never quite convinced that these things were actually "coins", but I still thought they looked cool.

Ack! It's a Red Sox invasion. This David Ortiz card, however, is from the 2007 Topps Heritage set, and if you've been following the blog you'll know that I've started to get serious about collecting this thing. Er, the set, that is... not Ortiz.

More Red Sox? What madness is this? Actually, this card is from the similarly sought after 2003 Topps set. I need to get some more packs of this stuff, actually. 2003 was a weird year. The New Jersey Nets were in the NBA Finals, the Raiders (!) and the Bucs squared off in the Super Bowl and the Marlins beat the Yankees in the World Series. Madness!

Okay, I give in. The Red Sox have officially invaded my blog. I blame the Cy Young voters for bringing my guard down. Although, again, I have to confess that I am also collecting this set and this was a card I needed.

Thanks again to Justin Tim, who happens to be a Sox fan. Just don't hold it against him too much.

Does This Make ANY Sense?

Adam Wainwright gets the most 1st place votes in the NL Cy Young balloting.

Chris Carpenter earns the most 2nd place votes.

I'm too angry to post a baseball card right now.

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Ginter from the Wasteland

I made a trade with Justin from the blog Is This a Wasteland - No It's Tampa Bay Sports recently and am here to tell you all about it. He had a simple request for just two short printed extras that I had from the 2008 Allen & Ginter set. In exchange, he generously sent over a handful of A&G cards that I needed from 2009.

This Josh Hamilton reminds me that I got a package from Play at the Plate yesterday, but that's for another day to discuss.

Ahh, Doc Holliday, friend of Earp. I'm somewhat surprised that there wasn't some sort of gimmick card featuring Roy Halladay with this guy's name or his picture on the Blue Jay's card. Something like that. Maybe I think too much. This is a much-needed short-printed card, although there's a ton of everything that I still need for this set.

Speaking of much-needed, Justin is the first person to send me something from my 2008 A&G want list in a very long time. I'm now down to needing just 10 cards (8 SPs.)

Justin also threw in a couple of Cardinal surprises (the best kind!) including a Bob Gibson Legends of the Game card and this Ryan Ludwick jersey. Justin, close your eyes now. (Guys, I now have three of these, and I'm hardly someone who is swimming in relics. Something is going on here. My girlfriend has suggested that I attempt to reconstruct one of Ludwick's jerseys. I do think I'll have a hard time trading this, though. This is one kind of double I don't mind having.) Okay, all clear, you can open your eyes now.

Thanks again to Justin for the trade. I am going to have to do some research and find out which Legends of the Game cards I am still missing, with all the store-exclusive ones and the new Updates & Highlights stuff. If Justin wants to work out another trade down the road, I'll definitely look for a relic card to toss in.