Sunday, February 28, 2010

5 on the 5: 2010 Topps Opening Day

I made two rather embarrassing baseball card purchases today, but I'm not ready to call this one the most embarrassing. As much as there is to dislike about the Opening Day set overall, I was disappointed when it was cancelled last year. Call me a sucker for variations on the same basic design. I wanted to see what color they might choose for the border. This year, it seems that they have chosen the exact same color as the border, which is disappointing. The other oddness that others have already uncovered is that Topps apparently saved all of its Photoshop work for the Opening Day set, which is unusual. Anyway, I won't go so far as to collect this set or anything, but I will collect the Cardinals. Besides, at 99 cents a pack, you have to at least appreciate that this is about as close as you can get these days to picking up a pack for some loose pocket change.

Pack 1:
93 - Josh Beckett
87 - Mat Latos (There are now two "Mats" in the majors. That's alarming.)
215 - Chris Pettit (Whoever he is, I seem to get his cards like crazy.)

8 of 10 - Chipper Jones Where'd You Go, Bazooka Joe? (Topps seemed to make a serious effort at coming up with some of the most bafflingly bad insert set names this year.)

109 - Akinori Iwamura (Here's one of the Photoshopped cards. The photo could double as one of the "not licensed" photos that plague the unlicensed Upper Deck set this year.)
82 - Jeff Francoeur
55 - Brett Anderson

Pack 2:
77 - Josh Hamilton

208 - Drew Stubbs
8 - Johnny Cueto

TTS18 - David Wright ToppsTown Stars (Free code! The ToppsTown inserts are only in 1 out of 3 packs apparently, and look completely different from the base set version.)
174 - Derek Jeter
146 - Jimmy Rollins
160 - Grady Sizemore
- Topps Attax code

Pack 3:

89 - Roy Halladay (I know this card has been seen elsewhere, but this is definitely an example of lousy Photoshopping.)
53 - David DeJesus
2 - Derrek Lee

M23 - Rangers Captain Mascot (Mascot cards are inserts this time around? Wait... the Rangers mascot is actually called "Rangers Captain"? I don't know what to say about that.)
40 - Kenshin Kawakami
155 - Jake Peavy
164 - Kosuke Fukudome

Pack 4:
113 - Carlos Delgado
216 - Daniel McCutchen

12 - Cristian Guzman Light Blue Parallel 1818/2010 (I actually really like these, and by now you all probably know how I feel about serial numbered cards. I just wish this was a player I liked. I think this set would have worked better with blue borders, but they would have had to choose another color for the serial numbered parallels.)
TTS24 - Tim Lincecum ToppsTown Stars (This one goes right to my girlfriend, and no, you can't have the code.)
148 - Michael Cuddyer
183 - Jon Lester
190 - Jorge Cantu

Pack 5:
119 - Adam Dunn
57 - Hank Blalock
90 - Chris Coghlan (Is Coghlan for real or is he Todd Hollandsworth? I need to know these things before fantasy draft time rolls around.)
196 - Raul Ibanez
161 - Chad Billingsley

135 - Chipper Jones (See what I mean? Braves everywhere and no Cardinals.)
118 - Orlando Hudson (Braves and Dodgers... Dodgers and Braves.)

Saturday, February 27, 2010

High End Hijinks

A couple of weekends ago I won a high-end basketball "box" that is really a pack (or is that a pack that is really a box?) from the polarizing people at Beckett. For some reason, I had high hopes for this thing. Visions of Brandon Roy jersey chunks danced in my head. Oh, I was so naive. Plus, after later glancing at the checklist included in this, I realized that none of the Blazer rookies made it in this product. I need to get my hands on a Dante Cunningham card or two.

Here is the first, and almost assuredly last high end anything I will open and post on this blog. The dual images of this hated Laker guard should have been a strong enough warning to me.

Here's Kurt Thomas, still in the wrapper. Kurt Thomas? This is a 100-card serial numbered set and they give you Kurt Thomas? Is Milwaukee really that bad? (This is numbered 113/199.)

Okay, we have a legend here. 'Zo wasn't exactly Julius Erving, but he manages to stay relevant with the occasional awful Gatorade commercial. (10/99)

Here's Stephen Jackson on a Banner Season rainbowy shiny card thing. If anyone actually cared about basketball cards, aside from a select few, would there actually be such a thing as a Stephen Jackson player collector?

The next three cards are of the thick variety: your guaranteed "hits". I just saw this rookie play against Portland on Wednesday and he looked, well, athletic. He's started every game he's appeared in this season, so at least he has that going for him. (64/99)

Here is the lowest numbered card I've ever pulled. The only problem is that it's someone named Sam Young. I have no idea who he is. If you look at the edge of the '4' he does have a bit of a stripe or color change or whatever going on, but I think people would be more impressed if it was more visible. By the way, am I the only one who doesn't understand the extreme increase in value of a jersey card if there's some sort of stripe or patch showing? (1/5)

As far as name recognition goes, this is probably the best card of the bunch. Hansbrough may never approach the high level of play and notoriety he achieved as a college star, but he's off to a decent start to his NBA career I suppose. At least, he's faring better than Hasheem Thabeet. (159/299)

And finally, here's a Baron Davis base card. Again, I could think of quite a few more likable players. (018/199)

Now, here's the tough part. What do I do with these cards? Aside from holding onto the Kurt Thomas card to unleash on Thorzul one day, I'm kind of stumped. I suppose I could try to sell the jerseys/autos for a few pennies. Does anyone have any advice?

Friday, February 26, 2010

Airbrushed Fridays: 1990 Topps Traded #52T

After Topps reached big success with their two most recent Traded sets, marked by the Olympians and strong rookie crop of the 1988 set and Ken Griffey Jr. himself in the 1989 set, the 1990 effort could have been filed somewhere between piss and poor. One notable addition, however, was the advent of Traded set wax packs. The entire traded set was issued in its usual factory set box with thinner, lighter card stock than its base set counterpart, but the wax packs contained cards printed on the standard card stock that everyone got to know and love over the years. I'm not certain which is the rarer version at this time, but I wouldn't consider your team set complete without a cards of each player in each card stock variety.

Brent Knackert logged 32 appearances as a major league pitcher in his career, including 2 starts and 8 games finished. Was he a fringe major leaguer? Certainly. The odd thing with Brent is that he appeared in the majors in two separate seasons, 1990 and 1996.

Why did Topps airbrush Brent's photo? I suppose Knackert's career could have been some sort of hoax and that he didn't really exist. The Mariners were a last place team in 1990 and Ken Griffey Jr. was still figuring out how to play the game. Growing up in the Portland area, we've always had Mariners game televised to some extent, and it's hard to pry my eyes away from baseball when it's on. I don't remember Knackert existing, though. It's even more curious that he showed up more than a half of a decade later.

What's wrong with this picture, anyway? Hand-drawn shirt and hat? Closely cropped photo? Actually, if it wasn't for the blip of color just above his right shoulder, I would seriously wonder if this was one of his class photos when he was in high school. Although, I suppose it's best to look directly into the camera when you're attempting to immortalize yourself into Senior Photo Glory.

1996 Pinnacle Conclusion

Alright, folks, it's time to conclude this mid-'90s parade of baseball cards. If I have learned anything from this venture, it's that if I was actually serious about putting together a set like this that I should have stopped after 2/3 of a box. The doubles begin appearing in droves from here on out.

Pack 17:
274 - Matt Williams Hardball Heroes
299 - Ray Durham
231 - Kevin Seitzer (I guess I don't give post-1987 Kevin Seitzer enough credit. He actually put together a pretty respectable 1995 season with Milwaukee, batting .311 with an OPS north of .800.)

265 - Mike Piazza Hardball Heroes
247 - Roger Clemens
343 - Charlie Hayes

372 - Livan Hernandez Rookie (As the sands of time have passed, Livan Hernandez has somehow become the de facto "The" Rookie Card of this set.)
337 - Sean Berry
382 - Osvaldo Fernandez Rookie
335 - Paul Molitor

Pack 18:

275 - Alex Rodriguez Hardball Heroes (Here's A-Rod when he was somewhat less repugnant.)
201 - Frank Thomas
309 - Butch Huskey
241 - Harold Baines
271 - Gary Sheffield Hardball Heroes
373 - George Arias Rookie
315 - John Smoltz
344 - Andy Benes
399 - Chase Checklist (For the record, pictured on this card are Griffey, Thomas, Ripken, Maddux, Chipper and Piazza. And it's still not a good look.)
311 - Erik Hanson

Pack 19:

225 - John Olerud (I think someone out there is a John Olerud collector. I just can't remember at the moment. I have a ton of his cards from the junky era.)
269 - Wade Boggs Hardball Heroes
251 - Bret Saberhagen (Saberhagen is actually the founder of Sabermetrics.)

191 of 200 - Mark Grace .300 Series Starburst (Okay, these doofy dufex cards are starting to grow on me, much in the way that chrome cards started growing on me after I made endless fun of them originally.)
342 - Ryne Sandberg

390 - Bob Abreu Rookie
397 - Greg Maddux N.L. Checklist
362 - Greg Gagne
330 - Tom Gordon

Pack 20:
236 - Randy Johnson

256 - Hideo Nomo Hardball Heroes
206 - Moises Alou
290 - Dwayne Hosey
283 - Raul Mondesi

348 - Ken Hill (I realize at this point that I have yet to show one of the backs of the cards, so here we go. And... now you know.)
377 - Brooks Kieschnick Rookie
320 - Gary DiSarcina
318 - Kirby Puckett .300 Series

387 - Jeff Suppan Rookie

Pack 21:
292 - Rod Beck (I thought about scanning his card, but the thought makes me somewhat uncomfortable.)

224 - Jay Buhner (You get Buhner instead, in all his '90s teal glory.)
268 - Kirby Puckett Hardball Heroes
267 - Tony Gwynn Hardball Heroes
249 - J.T. Snow
324 - Juan Acevedo
334 - Wade Boggs .300 Series
389 - Terry Adams Rookie
396 - Chipper Jones N.L. Checklist

361 - Tino Martinez

Pack 22:
253 - Ryan Klesko (Surfer dude again. The spots on the top of his photo that I originally thought might have been printing defects actually seem like they might be water spots on the camera lens. Cute.)
274 - Matt Williams Hardball Heroes
232 - Lenny Dykstra
266 - Chipper Jones Hardball Heroes (Him again.)
248 - Orel Hershiser
372 - Livan Hernandez Rookie
337 - Sean Berry

335 - Paul Molitor (I realized that I've now scanned 4 Molitor cards for blog purposes and they've all been from 1996, all featuring Molitor on the Twins.)
382 - Osvaldo Fernandez Rookie
308 - Hal Morris .300 Series

Pack 23:
263 - Sammy Sosa Hardball Heroes (I should have scanned this one. I don't think the guy on the front of the card is actually Sosa.)
245 - Vinny Castilla
212 - David Cone
276 - Tim Salmon Hardball Heroes

108 of 200 - Barry Bonds Starburst (Do Bonds cards have any actual value anymore? Could Pinnacle have chosen a worse photo than this?)
325 - Bip Roberts (I've been Bipped! In the... sort of... literal sense, I guess.)
345 - Sterling Hitchcock
306 - Mark Grace .300 Series

338 - Rickey Henderson (Far be it from me to keep track of Rickey Henderson's every move throughout his career, but I did find it somewhat surprising that he actually spent some time with the Padres before his 2001 tour with the franchise.)
374 - Steve Gibralter

Pack 24:
214 - Cal Ripken Jr.
278 - Manny Ramirez Hardball Heroes
204 - Alex Gonzalez

235 - Bret Boone
255 - Ken Griffey Jr. Hardball Heroes
308 - Hal Morris .300 Series (Again? I hate this card.)
347 - Julio Franco
376 - Jason Kendall Rookie
355 - Rick Aguilera
365 - Ernie Young

And that's it. It's time to unleash these cards on the unsuspecting masses.

Thursday, February 25, 2010

Twenty Ten Cardinals Surprise

In what would certainly count as a surprise package in my world, reader Steve from ID became the first person to send me 2010 Cardinals cards. In most trade posts, I'll just select a handful of cards that were noteworthy to me or at least produced some sort of thought in me that I felt could be written about. However, set-building trades aside, I'm not sure that anyone has ever sent me a package where every single card was something I needed until now.

Here's my first 2010 Topps Gold Cardinals card. Lugo wasn't a terrible pickup for the Cardinals last year as it allowed them to part ways with Chris Duncan to give him a new start somewhere else and even gave them an additional contract year for Julio. He's a great low-cost backup infielder on a team that uses its reserve players almost as often as its regular starters.

This Pujols '51 Red Back mini becomes the second retail exclusive card that I've pulled. Are there more Cardinals to be had there? I don't have checklists handy at the moment, but I'm sort of hoping that Pujols and Dizzy Dean are it.

I know that not everyone appreciates a Topps League Leaders card, but I kind of like them in some weird way. I guess they remind me of 1984 Topps.

Albert Pujols is good at baseball.

I'd like to see Wainwright and Carpenter go into this season with chips on their shoulders and just flat out dominate the National League. I'm still pretty bitter about the whole Cy Young Award debacle, although awards are becoming more and more meaningless.

As much as it is fun to get 3 insert cards per $1.99 pack, I think that Topps could have dropped at least one of the insert sets. There isn't a whole lot of difference to me between the Topps Town design and the Peak Performance design.

Here's one less Card My Mom Threw Out to retrieve. This is the more common version and not the reprint back style.

I guess the only reason that the Peak Performance insert set exists is to provide a base for the Peak Performance relic cards that I've seen while browsing around.

Thanks again to Steve, who should be receiving a return pack of Braves in the near future.

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Shiny Gold Triangles

Here's part two of my 1996 Pinnacle Series 2 box break. If you're sensitive to light or flashy gold colors, you may want to look elsewhere or at least dim the setting on your monitor a bit.

Pack 9:
226 - Jeff Conine (Fancy bit of photography here to catch the reflection in Conine's shades... if it's real, that is.)
270 - Will Clark Hardball Heroes

289 - Bob Hamelin (Yeah, yeah, yeah. Photo day is so hilarious. This shows you how fresh Upper Deck's ideas were last year with the OPC set. But honestly, these days, could anyone pick Bob Hamelin out of a lineup?)
218 - Carlos Baerga

5 of 16 - Chipper Jones Christie Brinkley Collection (These are inserted at a 1:23 ratio. Wow, I really don't know what else to say about this.)

Yeah, again, I'm not sure there are words for this. Apparently Brinkley fancied herself a photographer at this point in her career.

336 - Tony Gwynn .300 Series
398 - Mike Piazza NL Checklist
363 - Mike Kelly
331 - Ben McDonald
371 - Jason Schmidt Rookie

Pack 10:
246 - Cecil Fielder
213 - Will Clark (Back to back Clark packs.)

277 - Johnny Damon Hardball Heroes (Now that he finally has a job, I guess we can stop reading about him.)

203 - Kirby Puckett (One reason for me to hate the Twins less.)
234 - Rondell White
326 - Javier Lopez
314 - Kurt Abbott

307 - Don Mattingly .300 Series (Nice to see that Mattingly went out at the top of his game.)
346 - Bernard Gilkey
375 - Jermaine Dye Rookie

Pack 11:
295 - Willie Greene
227 - Dean Palmer
261 - Mo Vaughn Hardball Heroes
243 - Mark Grace

253 - Ryan Klesko (Dude!)
311 - Erik Hanson
364 - Tim Raines (I saved Rock fans from seeing him in a Yankees uniform.)
353 - Darryl Hamilton
391 - Quinton McCracken Rookie
305.3 - Paul Molitor .300 Series

Pack 12:
296 - Ismael Valdes
228 - Jim Abbott
262 - Albert Belle Hardball Heroes
244 - Derek Bell
211 - Craig Biggio
383 - Wilton Guerrero Rookie
354 - Shawon Dunston

392 - Mike Busby Rookie (First Cardinal of the second post.)
305.6 - Jeff Bagwell .300 Series

394 - Ken Griffey Jr. AL Checklist

Pack 13:
266 - Chipper Jones Hardball Heroes (Yeah, him again.)
248 - Orel Hershiser
215 - Wade Boggs

279 - Derek Jeter Hardball Heroes (Jeter looks like a little leaguer here.)
284 - Terry Steinbach
360 - Todd Zeile
328 - Mark Lewis
368 - Karim Garcia Rookie

301.8 - Ken Griffey Jr. .300 Series
349 - Russ Davis

Pack 14:

281 - Ozzie Smith Hardball Heroes (Ozzie! Hit of the box as far as I'm concerned.)
286 - Dave Justice
238 - Jim Thome (Thome is listed at 3B here, but you hardly ever see pictures of him fielding on cards.)

258 - Cal Ripken Jr. Hardball Heroes (People seem to like this guy for some reason.)
208 - Barry Bonds
370 - Sal Fasano Rookie
303 - Mike Greenwell .300 Series (I wonder what Red Sox fans think of Greenwell today. I could use this as a good barometer for telling whether a self-professed Boston fan is a real fan or if they just saw the crappy Jimmy Fallon movie.)
351 - B.J. Surhoff
380 - Rey Ordonez Rookie
332 - Dan Wilson

Pack 15:

282 - Garret Anderson Hardball Heroes
287 - Eric Anthony (I remember when Anthony's 1989 Topps card was highly sought after.)
239 - Edgardo Alfonzo
259 - Jeff Bagwell Hardball Heroes (The doubles are finally starting to appear.)
209 - Fred McGriff
304.9 - Carlos Baerga .300 Series
352 - Lance Johnson
381 - Jay Powell Rookie
333 - Ron Gant (First Cardinal double. This goes to one of the 10 boxes of Cardinals doubles I have in the corner of the room.)
310 - Ozzie Guillen

Pack 16:
254 - Greg Maddux Hardball Heroes

273 - Randy Johnson Hardball Heroes

221 - Jim Edmonds (Oh man. Yeah, I collect this guy. This card is terrible. How embarrassing.)
297 - Glenallen Hill
229 - Raul Mondesi
317 - Mark Carreon
339 - Wil Cordero
385 - George Williams Rookie
313 - Edgar Martinez .300 Series

357 - Todd Stottlemyre (Perfect way to finish off the post, with a Cardinal that I haven't pulled yet.)