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Tuesday, April 24, 2007

Barry's Back

Topps signed him up for 2007, so it looks like we'll get more Home Run cards in the series 3 Updates & Highlights set. Oh goody.

Thursday, April 5, 2007

Round Two: #1 2007 Topps vs #4 seed: 2007 Fleer

Topps vs Fleer base set brawl.

The packs:

2007 Topps (Target)
309 Mark Teixeira Gold Glove Award
287 Jose Garcia RC
34 Paul Konerko
284 Jerry Owens RC
235 Reed Johnson
169 Todd Jones
ARHR15 Alex Rodriguez
OTG6 Jermaine Dye
Checklist #2 of 3
42 Livan Hernandez
76 Lastings Milledge
160 Justin Verlander
275 Greg Maddux

2007 Fleer
243 Jason Michaels
256 Freddy Garcia
166 Julio Lugo
112 Bobby Crosby
334 Vinny Rottino mini
354 CarlosMaldonado RC
356 Phillip Humber RC
6 Brian Schneider
RS-JH Jeremy Hermida Rookie Sensation
CA-FT Frank Thomas Crowning Achievement

Number of Cards:
Topps has slightly more cards, but is slightly more expensive as well. They threw in a checklist and a head of the class card as well so let's just call it even.

Topps 10 Fleer 10

Number of cards that are actually good:
Topps delivers 2 inserts and a handful of stars. Other than the inserts and rookies, Fleer is pretty lackluster.

Topps 17 Fleer 14

Inserts and Short Prints:
Both packs deliver 2 inserts, Topps by chance, Fleer by design. Fleer adds a mini parallel to the mix. Topps wins on quality over quantity however, as Thome & ARod trump The Big Hurt plus two rookies.

Topps 25 Fleer 21

Attractiveness of the design:
Both sets have a really nice look to them, I especially like the symmetry of the design between the front and reverse on the Fleer card. I actually prefer Fleer's simple design, but black borders, better stats and shinier inserts help out Topps.

Topps 30 Fleer 26

Best card in the pack:
Topps: 309 Mark Teixeira Gold Glove Award
Fleer: CA-FT Frank Thomas Crowning Achievement
Jason Michaels' art of the bunt might have won were it not for Big Hurt. The sad thing about Frank's card is now that he looks so natural in an A's uniform (I know it sounds like blasphemy, but he does) you look down and see... a Blue Jays logo. I'm sorry but there's no way I'm going to ever get used to that. Teixeira's card can be described in 4 words: "Holy crap! a UFO!"

Topps 35 Fleer 30

Spokesman on the pack wrapper:
Ryan Howard vs. Ken Griffey Jr. This one is tough. I gotta give it to The Kid. Sorry Ryan, call me when you have 500 home runs.

Topps 38 Fleer 35

Topps' pack reminded me of a few things that irritate me about them. First of all check the last 4 cards of this pack and the last 4 of the first Topps pack I opened. I can think of worse doubles to have than Maddux, Milledge and Verlander, but still. Not cool. Secondly, while the A-Rod card is nice and shiny and all, how many freaking Home run countdown cards do you really need? At least the Ted Williams set is tracking batting average. Finally, thanks to the Jeter photoshop freakout the Konerko card makes my head hurt. I'm almost positive someone stuck in a photo of their girlfriend or brother in law in that crowd somewhere and now I have to find them. This coming from the company that feels compelled to add a freaky black Wall O' Doom to all their team cards so they don't have to get permission to show the batboys on the card. Those faces in the crowd are pretty darn clear, I hope you got signed release forms. Now that I have that off my chest, I must say Fleer didn't really impress me with this pack. Not much star power and inserts get a bit cheapened when they are in every pack. Not even the doubles can save fleer this round.

Final score:

2007 Topps 38 2007 Fleer 36

Wednesday, April 4, 2007

Round Two: #2 '07 Upper Deck Hobby Edition vs #3 2007 Topps Heritage

Upper Deck overpriced hobby edition vs the best set concept in the history of trading cards. Yep, we're fair and balanced on this here blog.

The packs:

2007 Upper Deck Hobby
8 Josh Fields RC
290 Brandon Phillips
93 Travis Hafner
158 Joe Nathan
468 Chad Cordero
143 Jered Weaver
344 Dan Wheeler
205 Jorge Cantu
247 Stephen Drew
115 Justin Verlander
89UD-DR Don Drysdale
333 Aubrey Huff
485 Brandon Webb \ Diamondbacks Checklist
69 Dustin Pedroia

2007 Topps Heritage (Hobby)
412 Billy Wagner
215 Ben Broussard
241 Mike Gonzalez
275 Jorge Posada SP
MHRC4 Mickey Mantle
84 Kazuo Matsui
220 Shea Hillenbrand
120 Greg Maddux

Number of Cards:
Upper deck had 7 more cards but the hobby pack also cost 2 more bucks.

Upper Deck 15 Heritage 14

Number of cards that are actually good:
Upper Deck's pack would make a good rotisserie team. You'd at the very least win the saves category and it has quite a few Keeper league gems. Heritage sports a Brave, an ex-Brave, a hall-of-famer and two all stars. Not bad.

Upper Deck 22 Heritage 19

Inserts and Short Prints:
The Don Drysdale 89 Upper Deck retro card is nice and all, but for 5 bucks I feel a little cheated. Heritage has an insert and a short print, and the short print is actually someone good. Every pack I've pulled a Mantle Home Run card (or an A-Rod home run card for that matter) from had a bonus SP card in the pack. I guess Topps is starting to feel bad for inserting so many Home Run countdown cards that all look alike and decided to throw us a bone.

Upper Deck 23 Heritage 24

Attractiveness of the design:
The silver borders on UD's regular design doesn't look as good to me as the gold ones in First edition. Using foil for the names also looks blah and is very hard to read. When the 5 buck a pack product looks worse than the buck a pop cheapo knockoff, you've got problems. 58 Topps is 58 Topps. Contemporary UD is no match for Classic Topps.

Upper Deck 24 Heritage 29

Best card in the pack:
Upper Deck: 333 Aubrey Huff
Heritage: 120 Greg Maddux
The second I opened the pack, I knew Aubrey Huff in the retro Rainbow Astros uniform was the winner hands down. Poor hassled Greg Maddux in his heavily (and badly) airbrushed Padres duds can't even compete with that.

upper Deck 29 Heritage 32

Spokesman on the pack wrapper:
Upper Deck has Cal Ripken Jr. up for a standing O on the front of their pack, while Heritage features a nondescript line drawing of a pitcher, possibly from the Kansas City A's bullpen.

Upper Deck 34 Heritage 33

I realize I've whined incessently about this, but when you open a five dollar pack of cards, you shouldn't end up bored. Sure, I'd be a lot more excited if I pulled a jersey or auto or something, but the cards are still bland and as nice as the Drysdale insert is, it wasn't worth the money. I like collecting more than gambling and the Heritage pack had a lot more value in my opinion. UD would probably beat Heritage if I was opening boxes with their guaranteed hits, but individual packs are much more of a crapshoot. Upper Deck goes out with a yawn.

Final score:

2007 Upper Deck 35 2007 Heritage 38

Tuesday, April 3, 2007

#2 '07 Upper Deck First Edition vs #7 '07 Topps Opening Day

Upper Deck retail gyp product vs Topps cheapo 'ya know, for the kids' product match up in the final battle of the first round.

The packs:

2007 Upper Deck
234 Jonathan Broxton
4 Devern Hansack RC
40 Cesar Jimenez RC
90 Todd Jones
52 Brandon Fahey
277 Ray Durham
178 Adam LaRoche
176 Luis Vizcaino
136 Willie Bloomquist
FPA-BW Brandon Webb

2007 Opening Day
76 Rocco Baldelli
124 Mark Teixeira
58 Miguel Cabrera
2 Mike Piazza
61 Alfonso Soriano
184 Jeff Salazar RC
Meet Mr. Wright contest card

Number of Cards:
Even with the bonus David Wright Contest card, Opening Day comes up short to First edition.

UD 10, Opening Day 7

Number of cards that are actually good:
UD has Adam LaRoche, a Webb insert and a couple of rookies I've never heard of before. Opening Day is packed with stars, including heavily airbrushed Piazza and Soriano cards.

UD 12, Opening Day 12

Inserts and Short Prints:
Upper Deck's insert per pack nets a Brandon Webb First Pitch Aces card. UD encroaches on Topps' turf by sneaking in an insert set dedicated to opening day starters. Opening Day had no inserts except for the David Wright contest card. It's a neat looking card, but will probably get annoying once you've pulled your twentieth copy.

UD 15, Opening Day 13

Attractiveness of the design:
Both sets basically swiped the base set's designs and tweaked them slightly. Topps reversed the background from white to black and added gold foil and an opening day logo. Upper Deck changed the Borders from white to gold and slapped a first edition banner on the bottom. The UD design is actually much better than the white bordered product, the gold frames the design more effectively. Opening Day looks more like a traditional Topps design, although the floating tiny squares are a little more eye bending with the white background. The backs are a push, UD has a bunch of wasted space, but at least they didn't recycle the front photo for their tiny headshot.

UD 19, Opening Day 16

Best card in the pack:
Upper Deck: 4 Devern Hansack RC
Opening Day: 2 Mike Piazza
The rookie with the All-Star name started a couple games for the Sox last year and managed a 1-1 record. He also had a much more respectable ERA than Cesar Jimenez's 14.73 scorcher. Yipe. Mike Piazza looks like a deranged leprechaun in his beautifully airbrushed Kelly green A's uni.

UD 20, Opening Day 21

Spokesman on the pack wrapper:
Poor Topps. They put David Wright on the pack and even hold a contest to let a fan meet the guy, and he still gets bumped off the back of the tabloids by Derek Jeter.

UD 25, Opening Day 24

This one's tough. Opening Day is a nice pack, but it's still the product you blow a 10 dollar bill on in April and forget about by May. Upper Deck First Edition is actually what I wish Upper Deck regular edition would be. Paying a buck for 10 cards from a 300 card series is much more appealing to me than dropping 3 bucks for 8 cards out of a 500 card series. If Opening Day had netted a puzzle piece or a mascot it might have pulled this one out.

Final score:

2007 Upper Deck First Edition 27, 2007 Opening Day 26

Monday, April 2, 2007

#4 '07 Fleer vs #5 '06 Bowman Heritage

Classic Fleer brought back from the dead by Upper Deck vs. classic Bowman brought back from the dead and susequently beaten right back to death by Topps in our third contest.

The packs:

2007 Fleer
224 Jeff Francis
238 Jhonny Peralta
115 Frank Thomas
25 Hank Blalock
306 Adam LaRoche Mini
367 Shawn Riggins RC
331 Ryan Sweeney RC
RS-RG Matt Garza Rookie Sensation
RS-JW Jered Weaver Rookie Sensation
391 Ryan Howard Checklist

2006 Bowman Heritage
193 Jose Valentin mini
BHP96 Pedro Beato
BHP97 Kyler Burke
167 Zach Duke foil
292 Hong-Chih Kuo RC SP
74 Ronnie Belliard
162 J.D. Drew
241 Joe Inglett RC
Checklist 1 of 3

Number of Cards:
Fleer not only has 10 cards to Bowmans 8, but the pack is half the price.

07 Fleer 10, Bowman 4

Number of cards that are actually good:
Fleer nets a Ryan Howard checklist, a LaRoche mini, Big Hurt, and even an extra Rookie Sensation as a bonus. Bowman thanksfully has a short print as the Zach Duke foil, Jose Valentin mini and JD Drew are kinda lackluster, to say the least.

07 Fleer 15, Bowman 6

Inserts and Short Prints:
Fleer has not one but TWO Rookie Sensations and Weaver and Garza aren't bad ones at that. A mini Parallel ups the count to three out of 10 in the pack. Bowman has the two 'insert' draft picks, two different parallel sets and the Kuo short print. While the extras are nice, it's hard to build a 300 card set when half the pack are inserts.

07 Fleer 19, Bowman 9

Attractiveness of the design:
Like I said before, Upper Deck has done a good job making their Fleer product look and feel like a Fleer set. Clean, simple design on the front and decent info on the back, even though there's a lot of wasted space. Bowman enlists cutting edge 1949 technology with their design. While Topps went overboard (or underboard as the case may be) in creating faded, off register fronts with random printing glitches in an attempt to look like an authentic '49 card, it actually works really well on some cards, especially on the minis. If only thay had put an ad for an official Major League Baseball Game and Bank on the backs. Oh, and not butchered their White Parallel cards. Seriously, Topps, what were you thinking??

07 Fleer 24, Bowman 11

Best card in the pack:
Fleer: 306 Adam LaRoche Mini
Bowman: 292 Hong-Chih Kuo RC SP
I don't know what it is, but these Fleer mini cards fascinate me. We've all seen cheesy parallel issues where a little divot was die-cut off the base card to make it special, but I don't think there's even been a case when the entire border was hacked off. An enterprising soul could make an entire mini set with a pair of scissors and a steady hand. I really wanted to give the best card award to the mini card in Bowman, but I can't give it to Jose Valentin. The SP wins by default once again.

07 Fleer 28, Bowman 13

Spokesman on the pack wrapper:
Fleer sports Ken Griffey Jr., still a Hall of Famer despite the DL stints. Bowman has a couple of refugees from a Monopoly Community Chest card playing a game of catch that defies the laws of physics. You have been drafted by the Pirates, collect $10.

07 Fleer 35, Bowman 14

Ok, even if Bowman hadn't already been lapped by Fleer, Intangibles is really not their category this year. Seriously, your 1:4 pack parallel set is marked by a slightly different shade on the background color? When the actual '49 had no less than 3 different variations to choose from?? C'mon how hard is it to put a name on the front. And don't give me that "printer error" crap, you guys half-assed this one. I really hope there is a 2007 Bowman Heritage set because it would suck to end on this note. Fleer doesn't even mind it loses points for not numbering their insert sets.

Final score:

2007 Fleer 33, 2006 Bowman Heritage 7