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Wednesday, January 24, 2007

'52 Rookie Card Short Prints

Topps sure has had an obsession with the '52 Topps design lately. Football Heritage swiped the design this year (although admittedly they used up 6 of the nicer football designs last year) and Basketball got their own '52 themed set. Now the 2006 rookie class get their own retro cards in the 2006 Topps Rookies - 1952 Edition set.

When I first heard about this set my first reaction was a stifled yawn - how many more times do they need to rehash that design? Actually seeing it for myself changed my opinion. Instead of simply fading the player photographs to make them look more retro like they did for the Football and Basketball sets, Topps airbrushed/photoshopped the pics to make them look more like the original set. The results are quite attractive, most cards I've seen do have an original '52 feel to them. Concidering a number of the subjects probably debuted in September for a late season cup of coffee, the fact they were able to turn this set around so quickly is impressive. Even more impressive is the fact that 311 players made their major league debut this year. That's a lotta rookies.

The set has 312 cards, 311 rookes plus a Mickey Mantle rookie reprint. Parallels include Chrome (numbered to 1952), refractors (numbered to 552) and Gold refractors (numbered to 52). There are two insert sets, Dynamic Duos featuring two prospects on one card (but no Braves - booooooo) and Debut Flashbacks where a veteran's Topps rookie card photo is transmogrified into the '52 design. the Flashbacks also can be found with the Chrome, Refractor and Gold parallels. Finally there's a healthy bunch of Autographs to be found and a Relic set featuring a ticket stub from a prospect's debut game. Don't count on finding one of these relics at Wal-Mart though - 16 subjects numbered to 10 each means very long odds.

Of course, since it's a heritage set that means there's short prints. SP's pack out at a 1 in 5 ratio, not bad concidering a 300+ card set is being sold in 6 card packs. Anything less would make the SP's more common than the commons. There are also 15 variation cards in the set. Ok, ok, Bowman Heritage collectors calm down... these variations aren't slight differences in the dithering algorithm used when printing the cards. No, this time they have 10 rookies with the old 1952 logo and 5 Mantle cards with different colored backgrounds. OBVIOUSLY different backgrounds that is. The short prints are also mercifully segregated to the back of the set, numbers 276-312 to be exact.

Beckett has the SP list here, but I'm gonna list 'em out anyway.

2006 Topps Rookies - 1952 Edition set Short Prints
276 Miguel Perez
277 Paul Phillips
278 Omar Quintanilla
279 Guillermo Quiroz
280 Darrell Rasner
281 Kenny Ray
282 Royce Ring
283 Brian Rogers
284 Ed Rogers
285 Danny Sandoval
286 Joe Saunders
287 Chris Schroder
288 Mike Smith
289 Travis Smith
290 Geovany Soto
291 Brian Sweeney
292 Jon Switzer
293 Joe Thurston
294 Jermaine Van Buren
295 Ryan Garko
296 Cla Meredith
297 Luke Scott
298 Andy Marte
299 Jered Weaver
300 Freddy Guzman
301 Jonathan Papelbon
302 John-Ford Griffin
303 Jon Lester
304 Shawn Hill
305 Brian Myrow
306 Anderson Garcia
307 Andre Ethier
308 Ben Hendrickson
309 Alejandro Machado
310 Justin Verlander
311 Mickey Mantle
312 Steve Stemle

2006 Topps Rookies - 1952 Edition Variations
37 Jeff Karstens Old Logo
52 Willy Aybar Old Logo
88 Matt Cain Old Logo
107 James Loney Old Logo
163 Paul Maholm Old Logo
178 Shane Komine Old Logo
216 Melky Cabrera Old Logo
217 Jonathan Broxton Old Logo
225 Cole Hamels Old Logo
233 Chris Duncan Old Logo
311 Mickey Mantle Yellow Background
311 Mickey Mantle Red Background
311 Mickey Mantle Green Background
311 Mickey Mantle Orange Background
311 Mickey Mantle Black Background

I'll never figure out the new rules and regulations on rookie cards. How exactly does Kenny Ray get an official MLB rookie logo when he played 13 games for Kansas City in 1999? Surely Bowman or somebody put out a card of him back then. Oh well, mine is not to question why, mine is but to go and buy. Speaking of buy, it might be best to pick this up sooner rather than later. I'm not seeing much of this stuff out there, and they do have a tendancy to create shortages of 'hot' products like this (Allen & Ginter, anyone?). It depresses me that I've been thoroughly trained by the marketing weasels though. Oh well, worst case scenario I eBay the Braves and save my pennies for the 2007 Topps release.

Saturday, January 13, 2007


Congratulations to new Hall of Famers Cal Ripken Jr. and Tony Gwynn. Here's hoping you get some company this summer.

Friday, January 12, 2007

More 2007 Topps schtuff

Sorry I'm being slow on the Bownam Heritage posts, but work is kicking my butt this week. Here's some neat info from the Beckett Forums on 2007 Topps baseball.

Inserts look nice, but the checklist scares the hell out of me. With that many insert sets my guess is that it would be pretty good odds to pull one out of a pack, and maybe will even have Fleer-like 'insert per pack' odds. I really like the fact that Josh Gibson is getting his own insert set, even if the HR sets are starting to get out of control. Mickey's set is continued, A-Rod starts his own HR set and Generation Now appears to list several players' HRs including Ryan Howard, David Wright and Justin Morneau. Barry Bonds is conspicuously absent, but to be fair, he hasn't hit any more home runs since the Update and Highlights set was released.

The Distinguished Service insert set, honoring players who served in World War II, also looks great and will probably be one I'll try to complete.

Sell sheets are up at Georgetown Card Exchange, check 'em out.

Saturday, January 6, 2007

2006 Bowman Heritage Short Prints

OK, it looks like the even numbered cards from 202-300 are the short prints and not the list given to Beckett by Topps. Pretty odd decision there, looking at the checklist the top 50 cards would have made a good selection of SPs. Numbers 251-300 include 25 stars and 25 top rookies. Maybe there was a mixup at the printers. Maybe the Topps design team needs to quit taking so many 6-martini lunches. Maybe Al-Qaida has a sleeper cell in Brooklyn dedicated to confusing set builders. Who cares, at least now Mickey Mantle's not an SP.

SPs are seeded 1:3 packs, the White variation is 1:6 packs, plus the Prospects insert set is also listed as having White variations at 1:6 packs as well. The average per box is 6 SPs, 4 White main set parallels and 4 White insert set parallels. That is assuming you can figure out exactly which ones are the parallels. To help things out a bit, the SP/variation/autograph card has been located right behind the foil or relic card in all the packs I've seen. If in doubt, sleeve that card and try to convice someone that it actually is a White variation. It's not like they'd know in any case. Your guess is as good as mine on the Prospect insert variations, I haven't actually recognized one as such yet, so I couldn't say for sure if it would be the first or second one in the pack.

Here is the complete list of SP's for 2006 Bowman Heritage:

202 Alay Soler
204 Mike Napoli
206 Mike Pelfrey
208 Josh Willingham
210 Willie Eyre
212 Scott Thorman
214 Boof Bonser
216 Justin Huber
218 Jason Bartlett
220 Francisco Liriano
222 Ricky Nolasco
224 Scott Olson
226 Martin Prado
228 Kevin Thompson
230 Josh Johnson
232 Tony Gwynn, Jr.
234 Taylor Tankersley
236 Jeremy Sowers
238 Adam Wainwright
240 Russ Martin
242 Tony Pena
244 Darrell Rasner
246 John Lester
248 Chad Billingsley
250 Justin Verlander
252 Hank Blalock
254 Mike Mussina
256 Jason Giambi
258 Carlos Beltran
260 Pedro Martinez
262 Melvin Mora
264 B.J. Upton
266 Gary Sheffield
268 Ryan Zimmerman
270 Johan Santana
272 Brandon Webb
274 Michael Young
276 Jonathan Papelbon
278 Melky Cabrera
280 Josh Barfield
282 Lastings Milledge
284 Jose Capellan
286 Jason Botts
288 Sean Marshall
290 Stephen Drew
292 Kuo Hong Chih
294 Angel Guzman
296 Fausto Carmona
298 Matt Cain
300 Kenji Johjima

Pretty nice selection of players in that list, although it would be interesting to see just how many of those rookies are actual rookie cards and not just 'MLB approved' rookie cards.

I just broke a box, so as soon as I can start scanning I will share some examples of the White parallel variations. When you see them side by side it's pretty obvious, but by themselves it's diffcult except in some situations (you'll see what I mean when I post the A-Rod White variation). I looked all over the front and back for any indication that the card was a variation, but no dice. Disappointing, as there are several different variations in the original set that could have helped out with this, including the obvious 'name on front' variety and the script/print variations of the names on the back. Or they could have even switched up the placement of the logos on the back in homage to the ads on the back of the original '49s. Or, heck, even put ads for MLB rings and baseball banks on the back! I don't really want a ring, but I wouldn't mind sending Topps all my wrappers for a plastic MLB game with mini players that can be ued as a bank. Oh well, at least now sharp-eyed scroungers might be able to find a few White variations in common bins.

Friday, January 5, 2007

2007 Topps

Designs for the '07 Topps products are trickling out. Apparently Ryan Howard is the company's spokesman this year.

2007 Topps looks quite interesting. I actually prefer the traditional white borders for Topps' base set, but the black (or is that navy blue?) could be very nice. Topps hasn't done black on a border since 1986, and no full black border since '71, so they are overdue (the past decade of Bowman designs notwithstanding).Of course if it is navy, then we got a '94 Score thing going on, which is a bit more dubious if you ask me. I'm also not too sure about the little colored squares or the foil though, although it probably looks better than that squinty little picture would make it seem. And why no position on the front of the card? It's no fun to sort that box into little fantasy teams when you have to flip the card over to see if Aubrey Huff is deemed a third basemen or outfielder by Topps' crack statistician. All these nitpicks are overshadowed by one single bit of awesomeness: the replica autograph! When's the last time you saw a pre-printed scribble on a Topps card, 1982?

2007 Heritage is just... oh my God. Click on that link. Click on it now. Just look at that. Look at it! Even though the image is squished down to a quarter size that is one gorgeous card. Bright colors, good head shot of a great player, and a design that absolutely nails the 1958 set. The '57 Heritage set, while good, did have problems, and the '49 Bowman set is looking like a bit of a mess, but Topps may have knocked this one out of the park. I can't wait to see the sell sheet on this one and hopefully they don't mess up the short prints or variations. A little hint, you Topps designers, the original set had Yellow and White team name variations. Don't just make the background a little bit pastel looking when compared side by side to a regular card. The original 1958 set took a long time to grow on me (I preferred the 1956 and 1960 sets to be honest) but I'm really looking forward to this one.

Hall Of Fame Ballots Rolling In

The annual 'look at me, I can vote for the Hall Of Fame' columns are starting to trickle in as Election day is less than two weeks away.

The big brouhaha on this year's Hall of Fame ballot is whether Mark McGwire gets in or not. CBS Sportsline has takes on both sides of the issue, yea and nay. The big knock on McGwire? He has the audacity to be on the ballot for the first time right in the middle of a steroid hysteria. Ok, fine, he crapped the bed during the Congressional hearings. You go in front of Congress during a full blown witchhunt with Jose Canseco insisting to anyone who will listen that you turned him into a newt and a team of lawyers jabbing you in the ribs if you even think about answering any question and see how calm and collected you are. The man has a ring, 583 home runs, is a 12 time All Star, 3 time Silver Slugger and a Gold Glove winner. Even his detractors have to admit that he was a big part of the game's recovery from the '94-'95 strike.

I personally think he should get in eventually, but I'd like to see quite a few others get in first. If there's any silver lining to the paranoid pharmeceutical phreakout happening in the sport right now, hopefully it is that more 70's and 80's players will finally get their fair due. Of course, they might have used greenies at some point (oh noes!) so the drug panic might zap them as well. Realistically there's not much chance of anyone snubbed in the past actually getting voted in anytime soon unless there is a sea change in the thinking of the current voters. Too much elitist snobbery among the voters for that to happen. At least this year we have two locks in Gwynn and Ripken and won't have to sweat that no one will get voted in this time around. It would be nice if one or two more got swept in on their coattails, but I'm not holding my breath. At least we'll get the Frick award winner and maybe a veteran's committee selection or two as well.

Over the next couple of weeks, I'll post any ballots made public that I can find and bump the post as needed. It would be refreshing if one was written by one of the idiot fools more discerning voters who left his ballot blank. Seriously, I'd like to hear the rationale...
"Ripken was no Phil Rizzuto and Gwynn was just too fat. How could I possibly vote for them with a clear conscience?"
I'd definitely link to that and also the followup article describing the resulting lynch mob.

The Ballots:

Bill Madden
The article illustrated with cards gets the top spot.

John Heyman
The Good: Nine players on his ballot. Hooray! The Bad: No Bert Blyleven. Yaargh!

Scott Miller
Note to Scotty: Since you would have loved to have voted for Fernandez and Caminiti, guess what? You had three choices left on your ballot! You could have done so and thrown on Andre Dawson for good measure!

Ken Rosenthal
Solid ballot, one of the few I can't make fun of.

Tom Verducci
The 4 players most likely to get in plus almost 2 pages of McGwire Congressional Testimony hand wringing.

Joe Posnanski
Murphy and Buck O'Neil love, no Rice or Hawk.

Mark Bradley
Big Mac gets a vote, not sure who else does. I'll try to find a better link.

Bob Smizik
Another vote for Mac and not much else.

Mike Nadel

No Blyleven plus Rex Grossman is the jock of the year. Wait, what??

Dan Shaughnessy
Rice, yes. Dawson, no. Homer.

Joe Gross
Harold Baines gets some love. Another ballot with 9 checkmarks.

Peter Kerasotis
Over-reverential first-timer with a sparse ballot.

Ann Killion
The 4-vote ballots aren't bugging me as much as the fact that on every one the non-lock votes are completely different from all the other 4-voters.

Mike Lopresti
Respect for closers, but why is Rice handcuffed to Parker?

Andy Call
A no vote for Mark, but non-disclosure on his other selections. If any blank ballots show up, this is the guy. In related news, Jim Souhan voted for Denny Hocking?

Don Bostrom
Hot and heavy for a unanimous election, so I'll go out on a limb and assume he voted for Tony and Cal.

Steve Kelley
Another anti-McGwire voter too chicken to say who did make the ballot.

Pedro Gomez
Goose & Rice yea, Bert & Mac nay. #5 on the all time strike out list isn't good enough, but Jack Morris might make his ballot. Guuh.

Mike Downey
Oh Mike, you're so coy. At least Hawk gets another vote even if the other votes are obfuscated.

Bill Ballou
Minimalist Hall voter, but he at least has the stones to post an actual scan of his ballot for all to see. And point and laugh at. Ha Ha!

Jerry Green
Nine votes on your ballot means you are GUILTY!!!!! of being AWESOME!!!!!

Drew Olson
I can always respect a procrastinator.

Jack McCaffrey
Busts on self-important moralizing voters: Yaaaay! Submits a FULL 10 player ballot: JOOOOY! Leaves off Goose Gossage to write in... Pete Rose?!? AAAAAAAAAAAAARRRRRRRRRRRGGGGGGGGGGHHHHHH!!!!!!!!!!!!!!11

Lynn Henning
When a Detroit sportswriter refuses to vote for Jack Morris and Alan Trammell, you can forget them getting elected this year.

Dan Coughlin
No on McGwire. If he votes for everyone else in the article it would be a good ballot.

No unanimous election due to this asshat in Chicago.

MLB.com lists out all their votes, it looks good for Ripken, Tony and Goose. Hawk's got a chance while Rice and Bert are still getting shafted.

David O'Brien of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution has a ballot, but is not allowed to vote due to the AJC's asinine policies.

Gregg Patton voted for Big Mac, but Knoxville News Sentinel is a subscription site so no article for you.

Cleveland Plain Dealer gives their voters' up or down on Mac votes.

Thursday, January 4, 2007

2006 Bowman Heritage

I am a sucker for all the various retro and heritage sets that have been steadily pumped out in the past few years. I absolutely love vintage cards, and any set that blatantly panders to that love will get my cash. In fact, Upper Deck's decision to make Origins a high-dollar gambling set was the final straw that really put me off their product and got me to finally focus on Topps sets.

Topps has done wonderful stuff with their back catalog. When you have close to 60 years worth of material to build on, it's not hard to put out great cards that pay homage to vintage sets. Bowman Heritage has always been the red-headed stepchild of the heritage sets however. Stuck as one of the last sets of the year, it sometimes seems as just an excuse to pack as many last-minute rookies as possible in a set to 'scoop' the competition. However, after the blah Black & White initial set and the lackluster '54 model (pastel did not look right on baseball cards in the 50's and it doesn't look right now) the Bowman Heritage line had some winners with the '55 set, the what if? '56 set and last year's excellent '51 tribute. Another plus for the Heritage set in recent years has been the fact that unlike Topps Heritage, it was fairly reasonably priced, and you didn't have to pay a ridiculous mark up if you were unlucky enough to miss grabbing a box the moment it was released. Plus, the boxes were loaded, netting 2 relics and an auto, when other products couldn't even promise one big hit a box.

This year they update the 1949 set, and unfortunately a promising set has been hampered by some bizzare coices by Topps. Once again, the set has short prints, but no one can quite figure out which cards are actually short printed. Beckett reports from Topps that high numbered cards are short printed, but case busters report otherwise. This means that either cards 251-300 are shorted or that even numbered cards from 202-300 are. To further confuse matters, there is a 'White' variation inserted 4 per box. The sell sheet shows an example of a 'Black' which shows the card has a black background. However, no one is finding any cards with white backgrounds, only slight color variations that could only be spotted with the two versions side by side. I haven't actually seen any hobby packs yet, but I'm assuming the 'white' variation doesn't refer to the card stock as surely that would have been reported on by now. This choice on Topps' part to make a virtually invisible parallel set is bewildering considering that the '49 set already has the 'name on front' variation built in to the original set.

Nevertheless, it's a Heritage set and I gotta have it. After checking several different places, Bowman Heritage finally hit the local Wal-Mart, so I snagged a couple of packs to hold me off until I can finnally pick up a hobby box. Here's what I got in my first pack.

First off, I have to stress that this is not a typical pack. The retail packs have the mini parallel in the front of the pack and it was quite obvious that this pack had an extra mini when I picked it up.

I absolutely adore these kinds of mini parallels and I wasn't going to pass up on an extra. My pack had Brian Roberts, who would be a Brave right now if not for Peter Angelos meddling in his GM's affairs, and Tony Gwynn Jr., who gets to see his dad elected to the Hall of Fame next week.

Next in the pack are the two 'prospects and draft picks' cards that are now banished to their own seperate insert set due to the MLB marketing deal that put that tiny little logo on Tony's card up above. I got Wyatt Toregas, a catcher for the Indians and Andy Sonnanstine, pitcher for the Devil Rays. Lord only knows if these will eventually be considered rookies or XRC's or whatever when the whole rookie card debate is finally settled.

Next up is the 'rainbow foil' parallel card which I suppose would be rainbow if you held it up to a TV test pattern or a gaudy sweater. It looks like easily dingable boring plain ol' foil to me, but hey, I'm not a marketing manager for Topps Inc. I have Bobby Livingston, a rookie pitcher for Seattle who is labled as an outfielder on the reverse. Maybe Topps has openings in their proofreading department if not the marketing department...

Hot Dog! A redemption card! I guess that extra mini was to tip off the hot pack. With my luck it was meant for a spy and I'll end up getting a shipment of Polonium nibbles instead of my auto. Good luck convincing the interrogators at Gitmo that all you wanted was an autograph of a minor league catcher...

Yawn. Here's the boring common part of the pack. Of course between parallels and the prospect insert set you only get 4 boring commons per pack. Three if you're unlucky enough to pull an auto. My commons are boring indeed with Alou and Pierzynski.

Now we get to the fun mysterious part of the pack. Is this a short print? A boring old common? A washed out parallel? At the very least it's a Jared Weaver O-Fish-Al MLB rookie card (2005 sets be damned!) and a pretty good cap to my weird mutant pack.