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Thursday, August 30, 2007

81 Topps Tournament

Blogger Thorzul is having a 1981 Topps Tournament to determine once and for all the greatest card from that set.

81 Topps is the set that really started it all for me. I would get packs for 35 cents each from Matthews' supermarket once a week or so and I would always be frustrated that the dollar I had wouldn't quite cover three packs. I didn't so much collect the cards as just play with them, and play in this context means horribly abuse. If you look through my 81 set, you can tell which ones I had when I was a kid and which ones I got more recently pretty easily. If there is a discernible corner on the card, I didn't have it when I was a kid. There was even one card where I cut the little baseball cap out with scissors, but that one got an upgrade a while back. It's actually a pretty nice little set, especially when compared to the Fleer and Donruss trainwrecks from that year. Plus since Harold Baines is the top rookie so it's pretty affordable. You can probably pick up a complete set plus the traded series for less than the price of a box of 2007 Topps if you look around a little bit.

The tourney just started, so there's plenty of time to vote for your favorites. Here are the matchups so far:

#1 Jack Clark vs #16 Mike Norris

#2 Dennis Eckersley vs #15 Joe Strain

#3 Ellis Valentine vs #14 Milt Wilcox

For what it's worth, my favorite from that set is #387 Phil Niekro. in '81 Dale Murphy and Bob Horner were really coming into their own as players, but Knucksie was still undoubtedly Mr. Brave. Plus look at that smile on his face. So warm and friendly, Phil looks like he really loves pitching. Ok, so it's probably actually a grimace of pain from his overworked 40 year old arm, but I didn't know about such things when I was 8. At any rate, go click and vote!

Allen & Ginter History Lesson: N1 American Editors

I know what you're thinking. Jeez, how much more can this joker go on about Allen & Ginter? A lot more, I can assure you. I'm going to get away from the Topps variety for a moment though and talk about the original Allen & Ginter cards. The one hundred and twenty year old ones that came in boxes of teeny little cigarettes.

I'm not an expert on nineteenth century cards and I'm not going to act like I really know a whole lot about these things. When I was a kid, I was fascinated by old tobacco cards and I liked to play with the Dover reprints I had. The numbering system confused the hell out of me though. T206 was the first ACC designation everyone learned, but I wanted to know what a T106 was. I knew what a T3 Turkey Red card was, but why wasn't there a T1 or T2 in the price guides? I thought there was a whole bunch of ultra-rare baseball cards out there that they just didn't bother telling us about since they were so scarce. And who knew what the hell an N-series card was, I just knew the Allen & Ginter cards from the reprint books. This is long before I had ever heard about Jefferson Burdick and his card catalog.

Ol' Jeff was the man responsible for all those weird numbers that got attached to the old tobacco sets. His American Card Catalog attempted to organize the massive number of trade and premium cards that were issued in America. Just about everything issued before his death is referenced in that catalog. Even well known sets have an ACC designation even if it's not commonly used. For example 1933 Goudey is R319, while 1952 Topps is R414-6. While the catalog was a great boon for baseball card collectors looking for information, the fact is baseball cards are just a tiny fraction of of the cards listed in that book. Burdick loved to collect cards, and he collected everything. Baseball players, actresses, automobiles, cowboys, quadrupeds, lighthouses, fish, Indians, G-men, ships... if it was on a trading card Jefferson knew about it and put it in that book.

Nineteenth century cards weren't originally designated with the N prefix, they had no prefix at all. The N stuck to them later on after hobbyists started using it regularly. While a lot of the numbering system is somewhat random, the nineteenth century has some semblance of order to it. The numbers start off with Allen & Ginter and go through their sets alphabetically, then go on to more or less do the same with other manufacturers such as Duke, Goodwin, Kinney and Kimball. Sets N1-N34 consist of Allen & Ginter issues that are traditional tobacco card size, N35 to N40-something are larger size versions of several of these sets, and I don't know what the hell the rest of them are because I don't own the book.

Now, nineteenth century baseball cards are a pipe dream for most collectors. They're insanely scarce and there is a large demand for them due to the fact that they are a piece of baseball history back in the formative years of the league. The Allen & Ginter ones are also sought after for the attractiveness of the lithograph design. Allen & Ginter had 68 sets in total, and of them only three featured baseball players, N28, N29 and N43. Even those sets were not all baseball and featured other sporting champions. While the baseball subjects are extremely costly, it is possible to find decent examples of the non-sport cards from A&G for less than the price of a box blaster. While most collectors would obviously much rather have an original Cap Anson card instead of some fish or a dude smoking a pipe, the non sports cards are just as beautiful and just as old.

The first 34 A&G sets are organized alphabetically from American Editors to World Sovereigns. I'll begin at the beginning and talk about the first set, N1 American Editors. This 50 card set (indeed, most sets of that period were 50 cards) featured the editors of major newspapers around the country. Many of the subjects are fairly obscure nowadays, although most people have certainly heard of Joseph Pulitzer. Henry W. Grady is at least known in Atlanta for the hospital that bears his name, if not the fact that he was once editor of the Constitution. The cards show a lithographed portrait of the editor in front of a mock up of his newspaper. The backs do have a card number, somewhat of a rarity for that time, and the set is numbered alphabetically by the editor's last name. The back states that this is the "First Series" of editor cards although I don't know of a second series unless they are talking about the N35 set, which is a larger size version of this set. A complete checklist of the set can be found here at the PSA registry, and Dave's Vintage Baseball Cards has a small gallery available here.

Now, do you think I would drag you through all this dry boring nonsense about moldy old trading cards and not throw you a bone? Hell no! I have used my 1337 M$P4int skillz to create specially for you, dear reader, one of my dream Allen and Ginter cards, Bert Randolph Sugar.

Bert Sugar is THE boxing historian, period. The former lawyer and advertiser took his love or writing and boxing and became editor of Boxing Illustrated in 1969. He went on to be the editor of The Ring and Fight Game magazines and has written a truckload of books. He can be seen on ESPN Classic Ringside, and in several movies and documentaries. He was inducted into the International Boxing Hall of Fame for his contributions to the sport in 2005. But we love him for his Dover baseball card reprint books. Those old reprint cards I mentioned about 20 paragraphs ago? Yep, Bert's the one responsible for 'em. The first Allen & Ginter card most people have ever seen (before Topps ripped 'em off at least) was probably a glossy, perforated King Kelly or Charles Comiskey from one of his reprints. Hell, even Ben loves Dover reprints. Certainly the man who first introduced me to A&G cards deserves his own card. I've created card #51 in the Allen & Ginter American Editors series for that man, Bert Randolph Sugar.

Wednesday, August 29, 2007

Cardboard Junkie: Embarrasing my Family Since 2006

Ok, I can't just let this Vick craziness go by without trying to cash in on it. Since that 'artist' got 7400 clams for some dog chewed Vick cards, I figure I'd better try to sell off some of mine while I can. Besides, the atmosphere is so toxic around this mess even owning one of his cards might prompt PETA to camp out on my lawn in protest. Maybe I can convince the vegans in the crowd to graze on the overgrown weeds in my back yard. With the mortal fear of angry hippies busting down my door spurring me on I grabbed one of my better Vick cards, a 2001 Fleer Legacy rookie, in the hopes I could sell it.

Ya know, now that I take a closer look at this card, it's really surprising no one saw all these problems coming. I guess everyone was too caught up over the Upper Deck jersey and auto rookies to notice a lowly Fleer product. Just one more example of the evil UD hath wrought upon the world.

The big problem I have is that I don't have - nor do I want - a dog to chew up all the rookie cards so I can make mad cash. Still, there are apparently a lot of dog loving suckers out there willing to throw around a lot of money to protect the puppies. It took me a while to come up with an idea on how to appeal to their tender sensibilities, but I think I have it:

That's right buster, buy that card or the dog gets it. Bidding starts at One MILLION Dollars. And I'm not going through eBay to sell it either because "Dayf Needs a '53 Topps Willie Mays High Number in PSA Mint For His Set" is not listed as a valid charity. So dig deep dog lovers and save that pup. I'm sure if you can get Bob Barker and Betty White to chip in, you'll have a cool mil in no time. Sure you can pass on this once in a lifetime offer, as long as you WANT DOGS TO DIE. Your choice. I'm sure you'll make the right one.

Payment can be sent to:



Somewhere Larry Tipton is Smiling

Who says Michael Vick cards are worthless? Some screwball fed some Vick cards to her dog and put them up on Ebay with the promise that the proceeds would go to the Humane Society of the winner's choice. Since no good deed can go unpunished, eBay promptly yanked the auction because it was not tied to one of their approved charities (and because they didn't get their cut). Undaunted and with a fresh wave of publicity the seller relisted the cards and ended up with a whopping $7400 winning bid. Of course, now there are a truckload of copycat Vick auctions up for bid for anyone who likes a bit of dog slobber with their trading cards. Now, the seller claims that this auction was meant to help dogs, but I looked through those cards and there's a bunch of Chrome, Elite and SPX cards in there. That poor pooch will be crapping foil for months.

* For anyone who doesn't understand the title of this post check out The Guru's Grading Guide over there on the sidebar. Or you can click here for a gallery of examples. You see, $7400 bucks doesn't seem so bad when you realize all these cards are in Pristine Gem Mint 11 condition.

Monday, August 27, 2007

Cards of the Week 7/27

It's a darn shame I refuse to watch the Little League World Series. Even though I despise how ESPN whores out little kids for ratings, it's probably the only playoff baseball Georgia's going to see this year. Unlike the Braves, at least the kids know how to close the deal in the World Series. Georgia's teams have won the past two contests, besting Japan's team both years. Columbus took the title last year and Governor Perdue's Warner Robins team won it all this past weekend.

Bonus Baby Joey Jay was the first little leaguer to make The Show, breaking in with the Milwaukee Braves in 1953. Since then there have been a handful of little leaguers to not only play in the Little League World Series, but the actual World Series it was named for. The first two to do so are the subjects of this week's Cards of the Week.

In 1954 Jim Barbieri and little John Wesley Powell (yes even Boog was little once) traveled to Williamsport, Pa to play in the LLWS. Barbieri's team from Schenectady, NY beat the Colton, CA squad 7-5 to take the championship that year. A dozen years later the two would meet up in the Fall Classic to become the first Little Leaguers to face off in the World Series. Jim may have won the Little League title, but Boog got the best of him in this matchup. Powell hit .357 as his Orioles swept the Dodgers for the franchise's first World Series victory. Jim struck out in his only at bat in the series (sadly, his last in the majors as well) while Boog went on to win MVP and another ring in 1970. Boog also probably holds the record for best barbecue among LLWS vets.

Tuesday, August 21, 2007

On Vacation

Sorry folks, no card this week. I finally got some time off and quite frankly I just wanna be lazy. Besides, I ordered a mai tai and they gave me a pina colada. It's impossible to be creative under such conditions. Keep sending me A&G card suggestions though, I might get inspired and have a few up by Friday. Or, if you want to make your own, bug me for the blank templates I used. Or just go here for your A&G fix, see if I care. I'm on Vacation!!1

Sunday, August 19, 2007

I Have no Idea How I Forgot These Two

My mind is really slipping, I also forgot to watch Feasting on Asphalt last night. I'm not sure if the cards have infected my brain or if I'm just getting old and shouldn't be staying up so late. Probably a little of both. Anyway here's two additions to the Non-Baseball champions category (Bowling and Iron Chef) and a special treat for Chris.

2008 Allen & Ginter Checklist Suggestions

Poor Ben Henry finally broke down and succumbed to the goodness that is 2007 Allen & Ginter. His box review is much better - and funnier - than mine, mainly because he's not a drooling slobbering fanboy throughout. He actually has the guts to call the Alex Rodriguez mirror card the "A-Rod Home Run Bullshit Waste of Space", which is exactly what it is. And he's actually worked with Topps before. If Topps came to me asking for advice on a set I'd be such a sycophantic douche (think a cross between Grima Wormtongue and Comic Book Guy) I'd probably have one of those crappy ARods tattooed to my ass if they asked me to. At the end of his post, Ben suggested some cards for 2008 he'd like to see, assuming there is a 2008 set. And really, if Topps is going to drag out Turkey Red for one more year, why not?

This got Chris Harris of Stale Gum thinking who he'd like to see in a hypothetical 2008 set, so he posted his list. It's a very good list too. Fred Merkle's Boner, Shaun White, Hunter S. Thompson and Machu Picchu would all make great trading cards. The idea of putting Keith Olbermann and Bill O'Reilly on a dual auto card is is pure genius. Then Chris asked is anyone had any suggestions... Of course that set me off and about 5 hours later I not only have a list of suggestions but a few mock ups as well. If anyone from Topps is reading, feel free to steal any of these ideas. If you want to hire me on as a consultant, that would be great too, just give me time to make an appointment at the local tattoo parlor.

Seconded on Buck 'O'Neill
Willard Brown
Nino Escalera
John Irvin Kennedy - The first black player to play for the Philadelphia Phillies (the last NL team to integrate by the way) yet does not have a single baseball card to my knowledge.
Rube Foster
Bud Fowler
Fleetwood Walker
Welday Walker
Harry Wright
George Wright
Rube Waddell
Jim Bouton
Branch Rickey
Don Mossi
Oscar Gamble
Bow Wow Arft
Van Lingle Mungo
Sibbi Sisti
Pumpsie Green
Creepy Crespi
Casey Stengel
Yogi Berra (every set produced should have Yogi)
Roy Hobbs
Sidd Finch
Joe Schlabotnik
Eddie Gaedel
Moonlight Graham
Benny Bengough
Dave 'Soup' Campbell
Dave Campbell - 1977-78 Braves

Pele - if you don't know who this is, then you're an American. If you do know who this is, and you're an American, the NSA would like to have a word with you.
Richard Petty
Willie O'Ree
Happy Feller
Bobby Jones
Artis Gilmore
Sam Snead
Johnny Unitas
Jack Nicklaus
Peggy Fleming
Johnathan Wendel
Brandi Chastain
Jamie Hyneman's Blendo - BattleBots is a legitimate sport. Adam Savage is on the top of my 2009 A&G set wish list. Kari Byron is the only person in my proposed 2010 A&G set, which will have 4,872 cards plus parallels and relics. Scottie Chapman can be in the set too if she wants. Tory Belleci cannot be in the set, but we'll use a screencap of his bike jump over a wagon as the package art. Grant Imahara gets a card maybe around 2027.
Connie Hawkins
Bobby Orr
Garry Kasparov
Deep Blue
Jerry Rice
Brian Lara
Babe Didrikson Zaharias
Jim Thorpe
Wilt Chamberlain
Mark Spitz
The female pole vaulter whose picture is all over the internet
Venus and Serena Williams
Crystl Bustos
Dave Campbell - founder of Texas Football Magazine

Historical Figures
Emperor Norton - Emperor of these United States and Protector of Mexico, 1859-1880. Dissolved Congress, abolished the Democratic and Republican parties, called for the creation of a League of Nations and ordered the building of a bridge and tunnel connecting Oakland and San Francisco. A great visionary and patriot.
Nikolai Tesla
Bert Randolph Sugar
Frank Zappa
Damon Runyan
Lenny Bruce
Harry Houdini
Kurt Vonnegut
Charles Schulz
Stephen Hawking
Malaclypse the Younger
Bill Hicks
Groucho Marx
Chico Marx
Harpo Marx
Not Zeppo Marx - no card for you
Sir Arthur Conan Doyle
Arthur C. Clarke
Buckminster Fuller
Jules Verne
Nellie Bly
Fusajiro Yamauchi
Ernest Thayer
DeWolf Hopper
Charlie Chaplin
Edward D. Wood
Malcom X
Guy Fawkes
Aleister Crowley
Dave Campbell - Oscar Winning sound re-recording mixer

Monuments, etc.
Elysian Fields
Polo Grounds
Ebbets Field
Notre Dame Cathedral
Sydney Opera House
The Globe Theater
The Big Chicken - everywhere in Atlanta is either on Peachtree Street, or is a mile from The Big Chicken. Look it up.
Nazca Lines
The Hindenburg

Special unannounced insert set 1:
WOF-1 Lou Costello
WOF-2 Bud Abbott
WOF-3 Who - First Base
WOF-4 What - Second Base
WOF-5 I Don't Know - Third Base
WOF-6 Why - Left Field
WOF-7 Because - Center Field
WOF-8 Tomorrow - Pitcher
WOF-9 Today - Catcher
WOF-10 I Don't Give A Darn - Shortstop

Special unannounced insert set 2:
TS-1 Harry Moses Horwitz
TS-2 Louis Feinberg
TS-3 Jerome Lester Horwitz
TS-4 Samuel Horwitz
TS-5 Joe Besser
TS-6 Joseph Wardell
TS-7 Emil Sitka

Friday, August 17, 2007

2006 Allen & Ginter short print list

Just in case someone might need it for reference (and I do, so that counts) here's the 2006 Allen & Ginter short print list. Now is actually a pretty good time to work on this set since everyone's still in a feeding frenzy over the 2007 edition.
5 Ken Griffey Jr. Cincinnati Reds
15 Austin Kearns Cincinnati Reds
25 Jason Giambi New York Yankees
35 Travis Hafner Cleveland Indians
45 Danny Haren Oakland Athletics
50 Alex Rodriguez New York Yankees
51 Ervin Santana Angels
52 Bartolo Colon Angels
53 John Smoltz Atlanta Braves
54 David Ortiz Boston Red Sox
55 Hideki Matsui New York Yankees
56 Jermaine Dye Chicago White Sox
57 Victor Martinez Cleveland Indians
58 Willy Taveras Houston Astros
59 Brady Clark Milwaukee Brewers
65 Jon Lieber Philadelphia Phillies
85 Mike Matheny San Francisco Giants
105 Andy Pettitte Houston Astros
115 Greg Maddux Chicago Cubs
125 Mariano Rivera New York Yankees
135 David Eckstein St. Louis Cardinals
145 Jorge Cantu Tampa Bay Devil Rays
150 Johnny Damon New York Yankees
151 Ryan Langerhans Atlanta Braves
152 Kris Benson Baltimore Orioles
153 Curt Schilling Boston Red Sox
154 Manny Ramirez Boston Red Sox
155 Robinson Cano New York Yankees
156 Derrek Lee Chicago Cubs
157 A.J. Pierzynski Chicago White Sox
158 Adam Dunn Cincinnati Reds
159 Cliff Lee Cleveland Indians
165 Derek Lowe Los Angeles Dodgers
175 Miguel Cabrera Florida Marlins
185 Tom Glavine New York Mets
205 Brett Myers Philadelphia Phillies
215 Michael Young Texas Rangers
235 Shawn Chacon New York Yankees
245 Matt Holliday Colorado Rockies
251 Josh Barfield San Diego Padres
255 Matt Cain San Francisco Giants
256 Josh Willingham Florida Marlins
265 Brian Bannister New York Mets
285 Yogi Berra New York Yankees
295 Jim Leyland Detroit Tigers
305 Danica Patrick Indy Car Driver
315 Jerry Bailey Jockey
325 John Lackey Angels
335 Queen Victoria Queen of England
345 John Rockefeller Businessman

'07 Football Card pack reviews Part 1: Donruss

Preseason is upon us, my fantasy football draft is next Wednesday, and for the first time since 2001 the impending doom of an inevitably disastrous Falcons season is crushing my soul. Thank goodness off the field issues aren't upstaging the NFL season, or so the commish says. Yeah Rog, in the space of three months I've gone from being upbeat over a good draft and excited about the new offensive system, to staring bleakly into the "Joey Harrington Era" and wondering just how long it will take for Arthur to pack the moving vans to Los Angeles. I'm soooo excited about this season I could just roll around in a pile of razor blades and dive into a pool of lemon juice. Which is actually less painful than watching our run defense or offensive line's pass protection. At least I can still be distracted by the new 2007 football cards that are out.

Over the past month or so, I've picked up packs here and there of 2007 football cards. I'm reviewing each set on the virtues of a single pack mainly because I don't like football cards enough to actually buy a box of all this stuff. It's much easier to swallow blowing 3 bucks on a pack rather than drop the $20 for a box blaster. Now is it really fair to judge an entire set by the virtues of one pack? No, not really. It's also not fair that packs are 3 bucks a pop for 5 to 10 cards when they used to be 15 cards for 35 cents.

I'm reviewing 3 packs per manufacturer. Three's as good a number as any. I'm starting off my reviews with Donruss products mainly because they got screwed out of their baseball license. They may as well get some football love.

Donruss Classics 2007
$2.99 for 5 cards (retail)
Spokesman: Joe Namath

The cards:
12 Lee Evans
69 Laveranues Coles
89 Marc Bulger
47 Fred Taylor
5 Alge Crumpler
A chunk of cardboard thick enough to choke a mule

Donruss Classics sports an attractive brown-orange-beigey horizontal striped motif, which looks better than it sounds. The player photo is inside an oval design that is found on the reverse flopped on its side containing a short factoid about the player. The player's name and team are contained in a stylized ribbon, which is also replicated on the back of the card. The design element gives short shrift to statistics by squeezing in only 2006 and career stat lines inside the top brown stripe. Foil is used judiciously on the logo, player name and two stripes bordering the bottom brown stripe on the front of the card. UV coating is limited on the front to the bottom stripe, orange border surrounding the photo and the player itself.

Donruss Classics is easily the prettiest of the cards I'm reviewing this week, but this pack also had one of the least bangs for the buck. It is somewhat disappointing to drop 3 bucks on a pack and get all semistars and a three card thick chunk of glaring white cardboard. Donruss could at least stick an ad on the thing if they insist on inserting it into packs. Every card in this pack can be picked up for a quarter or two at the local card shop. It's not really fair to judge Classics on one pack, it does have some decent stuff like autographed rookies, legends cards and the normal Donruss truckload o'inserts and parallels. All very nice if you're lucky enough to pull one. This pack wasn't a total waste though. I did pull a nice looking Alge card, I was forced to learn how to spell 'Laveranues' in order to write this review and you gotta love Broadway Joe on the packaging. Not a bad set if you're willing to take a risk and prefer quality over quantity.

Card design: Touchdown!
Photos: First down
Stats: Sacked! 8 yard loss
Overall quality:Field Goal
Value of this pack: Run stuffed for no gain

2007 Playoff Prestige
$2.99 for 5 cards (retail)
Spokesman: Vince Young

The cards:
100 Jerricho Cotchery
58 Ahman Green
SBH9 Super Bowl Heroes Thomas Jones
205 Lorenzo Booker Rookie
145 Travis Henry
scoring drive fantasy football advertisement

Playoff Prestige has a full bleed photo with a logo bug on the top left corner and an information bar at the bottom of the card. The info bar looks kind of like a utilitarian version of Classics' frilly ribbon and includes the player name, team name, conference, position and number. Rookie cards get a big ROOKIE designation in all caps right above the bar. the only foil stamping on the cards is on the logo in the upper corner. One wonders why they even bothered with foil. I guess it's like that little sprig of parsley or arugula they put on the plate at fancy steakhouses. No one really wants it, but it would look cheap without it. The backs are quite attractive in their simplicity. The right third of the card is a close up of the picture on the front, in case we forgot since we flipped the card over. The left side has a table of personal info in the top left corner, the player's name in script underneath that, up to five years of stats in the middle and a large team logo on the bottom. The card number is in the top right corner of the stat box, and is fairly easy to read.

This pack certainly had more in it, even though it's still pretty mediocre. The 1-per-pack rookie is a mid-round running back who might have trouble making the team. The insert features a workhorse who is with a different team than pictured on the card. The rest of the pack nets two running backs that are getting long in the tooth and another Jets wide receiver with a difficult name to type. The one rookie a pack is kinda nice, at least you know you're getting something for the money. Including 100 rookies including 10 short prints dilutes things a bit though, you're more likely to get a late rounder with little impact. For anyone interested, here are the short prints:
158 Kenny Irons (out for the season)
161 Darius Walker (undrafted, already cut by Texans)
169 Anthony Gonzalez
176 Jason Hill
189 Patrick Willis
211 Paul Williams
239 Jared Zabransky
240 Chris Leak
241 Jordan Palmer
242 Garrett Wolfe
Overall a pretty nice set if you're into this sort of thing, but it seems like more of the same to me. A 150 card veteran set seems a bit skimpy and 100 rookies with short prints means a complete set is kind of difficult. I'm probably just wistful for the Playoff Prestige cards of old, with the metallic sheen and card stock thicker than this entire pack.

Card design: Field Goal
Photos: First down
Stats: Short pass, gain of 5
Overall quality: First Down
Value of this pack: Extra Point

2007 Score
$2.99 for 32 cards (Jumbo)
Spokesman: Whoever is the first card in the pack

The cards:
331 Jamarcus Russell Rookie
355 Joe Thomas Rookie
339 Sidney Rice Rookie
31 Sean Taylor
47 Roy Williams
62 Tarvaris Jackson
10 Roy Williams
27 Clinton Portis
44 Brian Urlacher
60 Nick Barnett
75 DeAngelo Hall
90 Marques Colston
106 Anquan Boldin
13 Jeremy Shockey
30 Chris Cooley
46 Kevin Jones
102 Jermaine Phillips
9 DeMarcus Ware
26 Jason Campbell
43 Mark Anderson
59 AJ Hawk
74 Alge Crumpler
89 Scott Fujita
105Edgerrin James
12 Plaxico Burress
29 Brandon Lloyd
Atomic 240 Vince Young
Atomic 18 Donovan McNabb
F-8 Maurice Jones-Drew Franchise
Glossy 191 Justin Smith
Glossy 278 Kirk Morrison
Glossy 19 Brian Westbrook

Score looks like the designers briefly considered an elegant understated look, then said what the hell and threw zigzaggy lines of clashing colors all over the place. The front features a full bleed photo that fades to white at the top. The left side has three white lines slanting towards the nameplate at the bottom. The first years get a Rookie designation above the slanty lines on the left in white. The right side has more slanty lines, this time in both white and team colors, pointing toward the logo in the bottom right corner. The back is a wonderfully gaudy mess. The team logo is segregated in the top right corner by more slanty lines. The card number and personal info takes up the top left. Another 5-year stat recap fills the middle of the card in alternating team colors. The bottom is filled up with the player name, position, a short factoid on the player and a useless white box presumably used for framing the serial numbers on the parallels. I swear I've seen this exact design on another set from a few years back, but I may just be befuddled by all the pretty colors.

Now this is a pack! 32 cards for 3 bucks! 3 rookies guaranteed! 3 inserts! 3 useless glossy parallels! Yeah it's Score, whose only chance for lasting value is if 30 years from now it's discovered to be as scarce as 1941 Goudey because everyone recycled it because it's so worthless, but still that's a nice chunk of cards for the money. If you want something you might actually be able to sell for a profit, try cracking a few boxes of Select instead. Besides, the only way you'll ever get rich with retail packs is by searching every pack for jersey cards with calipers, a geiger counter and a divining rod until Wal-Mart security throws you out of the store. These jumbo packs have a clear wrapper, allowing you to see the top card. The top card is always a rookie and I couldn't resist the Jamarcus Russell. There will be three rookies at least per pack, it is possible to get more if you happen to get a pack with high numbers in it. With 23 base cards per pack, there's bound to be somebody good in there somewhere. The pack netted Urlacher, Portis, Shockey and a couple of Falcons who have somehow managed to not embarrass themselves, their team, their city and their mommas this offseason. There is also three thoroughly useless glossy cards and an insert per pack, either a Franchise card, a Hot Rookie card or a numbered parallel. There is also two of an insert exclusive to this pack - the Atomic parallel. It's basically another lousy parallel set except this one is all freaky shiny matrix rainbow foil coolness. Card manufacturers have long known that collectors tend to act like deranged magpies when confronted with shiny things, and they once again exploit it here. I can't complain, Vince Young and Donovan McNabb are nice cards even without the mesmerizing foil.

Card design: Penalty: Illegal use of the 1988 Fleer design
Photos: First down
Stats: Short pass, gain of 5
Overall quality: Extra Point
Value of this pack: Touchdown!

Up Next: Upper Deck, because I can only find 2 '07 Topps packs

Wednesday, August 15, 2007

Holy Cow

God may have needed to call up a shortstop, but He also took one of the most entertaining broadcasters as well. Phil is one of the reasons why I am an old-time Yankees fan. Don't get me wrong, I hate those Damn Yankees of right now along with everyone else, but I love the old teams from the 20's, 50's and 70's. I may even love the teams of the 90's one day, assuming I can ever work through my Jim Leyritz trauma.

Those 50's teams are my favorite though. Any team with Zen masters like Yogi and Casey holds a special place in my heart, and Scooter was as Zen as any of them at times. I'll take a broadcaster like Phil any day over self-involved incompetent analysts like Morgan or McCarver. Sure, Phil had the occasional WW (wasn't watching) in his scorecard, but at least he was entertaining. Phil is one of those Hall of Famers that make stat geeks pull their hair out, but if being immortalized in both an Ogden Nash poem and a Meatloaf song isn't fame, what the hell is? Besides, he has championship rings coming out the wazoo and he was the 1950 MVP. Plus he came in second to Ted Williams in 1949 in a year his OPS was .710. Choke on it stat geeks!

My cards from the 50's are among the favorites in my collection. It hurts every time I look through the headlines and see another player whose card I've collected is gone. Rizzuto especially hurts, there's not many like him. Rest in peace Scooter, I'll eat a cannoli for you.

Tuesday, August 14, 2007

People Done Lost They Minds

Ya know that new Sport Kings retro set that's coming out? That really cool one with the autos and jerseys in every pack and such? Well, The Brill Report has some inside dope on the pack price. It's a wee bit on the high-end side. Like maybe FIVE HUNDRED FREAKING DOLLARS PER BLOODY PACK FOR SEVEN LOUSY CARDS high side. The thing ain't even licensed, they have to airbrush out all the logos or go to jail! Ok, maybe not jail, but anyone who charges 500 smackers for a pack of trading cards that isn't a) a 1952 Topps High Series pack b) an 86-87 Fleer Basketball pack c) a 1910 pack of Sweet Caporal cigarettes with WAGNER PITTSBURG peeking through the wrapper or d) a pack of 1988 O-Pee-Chee hand delivered by a 500 dollar hooker with a huge rack ought to go to worse than jail. Detroit, perhaps. Seriously folks, let's put this in perspective.

A quick search for "Sport Kings" among completed eBay auctions shows that for less than the price of one pack (that's 7 cards printed in 2007) you could have gotten:

An Original 1933 Sport Kings Ty Cobb graded PSA3


An Original 1933 Sport Kings Gene Sarazen graded PSA5


An Original 1933 Sport Kings Jack Dempsey graded PSA7 Near Mint.


An Original 1933 Sport Kings Max Baer and Joseph Lopchik and Howie Morenz and Ace Bailey and Carl Hubbell and Jack Dempsey and Bill Tilden (that's 7 cards printed in 1933)

And with all that you get some change back in the transaction. Still, I can see you're not convinced. "But Dayf..." you say, "Those cards are old, and not in mint condition, and these are brand new shiny packs with parallels and relics and autographs, oh my!" Ok then. One last whiff of reality for you.

Imagine you're this guy. You just bought 3 whole packs (21 cards!) of the most sought after super premiest, ultra dreamiest, pantsy creamiest high falootin top-end product on the market. Period. It's all yours. And there's only 4500 packs of this stuff in existence! You have .00067% of ALL the '07 Sport Kings cards IN THE WORLD in your hot little hands! However, for the same money or less you could have gotten a PSA6 Hank Aaron rookie card instead. Or a PSA8 Jim Brown rookie. Or perhaps a PSA5 Christy Mathewson T206 card. Or even a BCCG10 graded Michael Jordan rookie.

But if you really had your heart set on Sport Kings, then for just a little more than those three packs, you could have instead gotten an Original 1933 Sport Kings Babe Ruth. That's right, the Babe. Vintage. From 1933. Think about it.

Yet, I'll be willing to bet not one of those Sport Kings packs goes unsold. People done lost they minds.

Monday, August 13, 2007

Card of the Week 8/13

One joy of being a card addict is getting The Big Pull. Opening up that pack and getting a card that really knocks your socks off. Back in the olden days a Big Pull was much more simple than it is today. If you were a kid in the 50's and your favorite player was the Brooklyn Dodgers' third baseman, Billy Cox would certainly count as The Big Pull. In the 60's it could be that one lousy Joe Pepitone card you needed to complete your set that your ex-best friend refused to trade you even though he had four of them. Once 'hobby' turned into 'industry' Big Pulls morphed into rookie cards, chase cards, autographs, jersey swatches, 1 of 1s, and all sorts of manufactured nonsense designed to keep us junkies opening those packs. This has resulted in somewhat of a glut of Big Pulls and now to keep people interested companies are inserting Really Big Pulls, which practically have to be a cut signature card of Secretariat's hoof print over William Shakespeare's autograph on Jesus' birth certificate with Plutonium foil stamping. This doesn't mean the artificial Big Pulls have gone away though, there needs to be a consolation prize for all the suckers collectors who didn't hit the jackpot and get their picture in the latest Beckett.

The problem with this is that now not all Big Pulls are all that good anymore when you really think about it. Yeah, getting a press plate is fine, but what if it's of J.C. Romero? What's so special about pulling an autograph rookie card if the guy never makes it past double-A? Sure, a card may be technically more scarce than a T206 Wagner, but that doesn't mean Wayne Gretzky will pay you 451 thousand dollars for it.

I've opened enough packs to get my share of Big Pulls. Some of them were good, some of them were meh at best. A recent Not So Big Pull was from '06 Updates and Highlights. A dealer I know had a box of Jumbo update packs that he decided had collected dust for too long so he discounted them to 2 bucks a pack to get rid of them. I still needed a good chunk of cards from that set, so I bought up his last five packs and started opening. I got the usual assortment of Mantles, Bonds and Rookie Debut inserts when I stumbled across a parallel card that didn't quite look right. Woohoo! A Black parallel! I hadn't gotten one of those before. I check to see who it is... It's a Bobby Jenks All star card. With a dinged corner and a weird yellow scuff on the back that I had to wet down with spit and rub it with my shirt before it would come off the card. Oh well, it's numbered out of 55 at least. Nothing against Bobby Jenks, he's a good closer for a championship team, but closers aren't exactly sought after hobby-wise. I stuffed it in a top loader, put it in with the rest of the set and put it away. Maybe my great-great-grandkids will find it valuable, maybe as fuel for the fire in the post-apocalyptic hell they are forced to live in because twenty-first century idiots were far more interested in the pull ratio for Allen & Ginter Emperor cards than they were in climate change, antibiotic resistant bacteria strains and nuclear proliferation.

So yesterday I'm surfing around the sports sites looking for a good subject for Card of the Week. I could always fall back on Bonds. I was able to dig up a Mike Bacsik Bowman rookie card, but he's getting too much publicity as it is. The A&G Torii Hunter would be a good choice, but I think this blog has overdone that set for the time being. Jim Thome just got his 2000th strikeout, that's pretty damn cool... Then I saw it. On Sunday, Bobby Jenks got his 41st straight batter out in a game against the Mariners to tie Jim Barr's Major league record. He needs just one more out to not only break the record, but have the equivalent of two perfect games, assuming one of them was rained out right after the fifth inning to make it an official game. Now that's a feat worthy of an honor. Problem is, I have stacks of Jim Thome cards, not a whole lot of Bobby Jenks. I was trying to think were I should even start looking for a Jenks card when I remembered that lousy pull from those Updates and Highlights packs. Not so lousy anymore, eh!

So here we go, this week's Card of the Week is the 2006 Topps Updates and Highlights Bobby Jenks All-Star Black parallel, complete with dinged corner and weird yellow scuff remnants. Good Luck Bobby, get that record in Oakland this week.

Wednesday, August 8, 2007

Unconfirmed A&G SP list

This hasn't been confirmed anywhere yet as far as I know, but a list of Allen & Ginter SP's has popped up on a couple of forums. I'll update this post once a confirmed list is released. The list is only 37 cards, so there may be more SP's to add to the list. Looking over the list and the pulls from my box it seems pretty legit, but use with caution for the time being.

Update: A new SP list has popped up, this time with 50 cards. This one looks to be correct. The updated cards are highlighted in blue, I'll update again once everything is confirmed.

UPDATE: It's confirmed now, I've fixed the list. Matt Kemp was not an SP while Michael Bourn was. Topps released this just in time for the National. Oh wait, whoops.

#5 Stephen Drew Diamondbacks
#43 Scott Rolen Cardinals
#48 Gary Matthews Angels
#58 Mike Mussina Yankees
#63 Bengie Molina Giants
#107 Jason Varitek Red Sox
#110 Michael Young Rangers
#119 Hunter Pence Astros
#130 Jason Schmidt Dodgers
#137 Jason Isringhausen Cardinals
#152 Carlos Lee Astros
#159 Michael Barrett Cubs
#178 Juan Pierre Dodgers
#193 Rich Hall Cubs
#194 Francisco Cordero Brewers
#203 Justin Verlander Tigers
#219 Dan Uggla Marlins
#222 Rocco Baldelli Devil Rays
#224 Josh Bard Padres
#243 Brad Hawpe Rockies
#263 Jim Edmonds Cardinals
#301 Chris Duncan Cardinals
#302 Augie Garrido Champion Baseball Coach
#303 Tyler Clippard Yankees
#306 Morgan Ensberg Astros
#307 JJ Hardy Brewers
#308 Mark Zupan US Quadriplegic Rugby Captain
#309 Laila Ali Boxer
#310 Greg Maddux Padres
#316 Dan O'Brien Olympic Decathlon Champion
#317 Michael Bourn Phillies
#318 Johnny Gomes Devil Rays
#319 Ken Jennings Jeopardy! Champion
#320 Barry Bonds Giants
#321 Gary Hall Jr Olympic Swimming Champion
#322 Kerri Walsh Olympic Beach Volleyball Champion
#325 Grady Sizemore Indians
#326 Alex Rios Blue Jays
#327 Ted Toles Pittsburgh Crawfords Negro Leagues
#330 Bob Geren Athletics
#331 Dennis Rodman Iconoclast
#334 Gustavo Molina White Sox
#335 Bartolo Colon Angels
#336 Misty May-Treanor Volleyball Champ
#339 Jason McElwain Basketball
#340 Placido Polanco Tigers
#345 Sammy Sosa Rangers
#348 Roger Clemens Yankees
#349 Jesse Litsch Blue Jays
#350 Adam LaRoche Pirates

The SP list has 39 MLB players, 1 Negro Leaguer and 10 Champions cards.
If you're a team set collector, 8 teams have no short prints: the Braves, Mariners, Mets, Nationals, Orioles, Reds, Royals and Twins. If you see an auction on eBay advertising the complete team set with SPs really cheap for one of these teams, now you know why. Cardinals fans get screwed, their Championship team was rewarded with four short prints, the most of any team. The Astros and Yankees are next with three short prints apiece. The Angels, Blue Jays, Brewers, Cubs, Devil Rays, Dodgers, Giants, Padres, Rangers and Tigers get two short prints. The A's, Diamondbacks, Indians, Marlins, Phillies, Red Sox, Rockies and White Sox have one. Pittsburgh has one or two depending on whether you count Ted Toles of the Pittsburgh Crawfords. I would, but that's just me.
Bonds and Clemens are the biggest names among the short printed, followed closely by Maddux and Sosa. Justin Verlander and Grady Sizemore are the best of the young stars, and there are a bunch of short printed minor stars like Mussina, Rolen, Varitek and Colon. Five rookies are shorted, Hunter Pence, Jesse Litsch, Michael Bourn, Gustavo Molina and Tyler Clippard. Of the five, only Litsch and Molina might be true rookie cards. Pence, Molina and Clippard can be found in sets from 2006 and older.
No historical figures are short printed, so bridges, ferris wheels and assorted dead dudes are plentiful whether you want them to be or not. The aforementioned Ted Toles is the only Negro Leaguer short printed. This makes him the one SP that I will be willing to spend more on shipping than on the actual card in case I can't pull one from of a pack and I am forced to buy it online. Of the short printed Champions, Dennis Rodman is easily the most (in)famous, and Ken Jennings wins the 'people my wife has actually heard of' prize among the rares. Well, other than Laila Ali. Speaking of Laila, it's interesting to note that of the six women featured in the set (seven if you subscribe to the 'Jill the Ripper' theory) three of them are short printed including both beach volleyball players. This is why Topps eats Upper Deck's lunch when it comes to marketing. What other cards would this product's target audience of middle aged men open more boxes chasing than the cards of girls in bikinis? You don't get this kind of thinking outside the box in the Carlsbad, California Corporate Compound. Mia Hamm is the only contemporary female champ who didn't get short printed, probably so Topps could avoid the awkward conversation with Nomar explaining how Mia is probably the bigger star.

That's it for the short prints and it's probably time to take a break from Allen and Ginter for a while unless Topps puts me on the payroll. I have broken some retail boxes though, and I actually did better with them than the hobby one. If anyone reading wants me to do a review of them in the manic style of the hobby box just let me know in the comments. Otherwise A&G will get a rest for the time being.

A&G Box Break Recap

Ok, now that I've forced you to slog through the Allen and Ginter box break card by card, it's time to recap in an easily digestible summary. Since boxes are already up to $120 if you can find them, this probably won't inspire anyone to rush out and buy one. It might serve as a warning, however, to the high-stakes gamblers out there once they see my big hits. Then again, who cares about reality when the whole point of gambling is trying to be the next to hit a jackpot. For anyone interested, you can get the card by card breakdown by clicking the links.

Box Topper and first pack
Packs 2-8
Packs 9-16
Packs 17-24

For everyone else, here's the breakdown.

Base set: 350 cards
143/350 41%

50 short prints (1:2)
12/50 24%
#110 Michael Young
#119 Hunter Pence RC
#152 Carlos Lee
#194 Francisco Cordero
#203 Justin Verlander
#222 Rocco Baldelli
#318 Johnny Gomes
#319 Ken Jennings
#320 Barry Bonds
#325 Grady Sizemore
#330 Bob Geren
#340 Placindo Polanco

Dick Perez Sketch Cards: 30 cards, one in every pack without an insert
22/30 73%

Mini cards 1 in every pack without a mini insert
Mini Short Print (1:13)
#319 Ken Jennings
#350 Adam LaRoche
Mini A&G back (1:5)
Mini A&G Short Print (1:65)
#58 Mike Mussina
Mini Black border (1:10)
Mini Black border Short Print (1:130)
Mini No Number (1:106)
Mini Bazooka back (1:213)
Mini Wood (1:3507)
Mini Flags (1:12)
Mini Emperors (1:48, maybe)
Mini Snakes (1:288)

Continuity insert:
Alex Rodriguez Road to 500 (1:24)
ARHR267 Alex Rodriguez Home Run #267
Alex Rodriguez Road to 500 Autograph (1:64,496)

Inserts (two per box):
Autographs (odds vary by group)
Relics (odds vary by group)
AGR-EG Eric Gagne Jersey (Group J 1:25)
AGR-MC1 Miguel Cabrera Jersey (Group J 1:25)
Rip Card: (1:285)
Printing Plate: (1:778)
Framed Original (1:17,072)
Cut Signature (1:145,116)


Box Topper:
National Pride
NP3 Venezuela

Favorite Card pulled:
#261 Torii Hunter

For someone busting open case after case trying to find the George Washington card that will get their picture in next month's Beckett, this box would be an annoying speed bump while ripping through packs for that big hit. Even though selling the relics on eBay might not make enough profit to pay for a pack - let alone another box - for someone who just likes the cards however this was a very good break. For one, there were no doubles in this box. Not one. There were a couple of packs that had the same player on a base and an insert card, but there's nothing wrong with that especially when the players were Ryan Zimmerman and Jeff Francouer. From what I've heard the collation in this set is superb. One customer at the place where I bought my box got two boxes out of the same case and did not get a base set douple at all between both boxes. Now that's good collation, just the ticket for set collectors. I also pulled a short print every other pack like clockwork, including Bonds, Verlander and Sizemore.

I did OK with the inserts even though the relics were unspectacular and there were no Bazookas or press plates or anything in there. While there were no Bazooka or no number minis, there was a nice assortment including short prints of Mussina and LaRoche. I also got my fair share of black borders and A&G variations. The throwback insert cards are beautiful, the flags are mini works of art and the National Pride box loader looks spectacular. There was most of a Dick Perez sketch set in there and it should be fairly easy to complete. The set has a couple of odd looking cards, but now that Donruss has had it's license yanked, it's the closest we'll get to a Diamond Kings set.

Between the beauty of the cards, the challenge for set collectors and the insane big ticket inserts, it's no wonder Allen & Ginter is so dang popular. Now that I have a good leg up on the set, I can now start scrounging around in the big box stores to try to find some retail packs before the dealers snatch them all up. I hope you all enjoyed your box as much as I enjoyed mine.

Tuesday, August 7, 2007

Monday, August 6, 2007

Completely random thought

When Barry hits #756, I really hope he hits it to left field. That way when we are forced to watch the replay 800 zillion times, at least the Chevron Cars will be smiling at us each time.

Card of the Week 8/6

The Card of the Week this week was originally scheduled to be my favorite card from the Allen & Ginter Box I busted ( Torii Hunter, if you're interested) but Tom Glavine got one of those round number milestone thingys over the weekend. Ok, so this is a BIG round number milestone thingy. Home run milestones are being passed right and left and the most hallowed record in sports is about to fall. In the age of bulked up bodies, Quad-A pitching staffs and bandbox ballparks, homers are easy. 300 wins is hard.

Tom became the twenty-third member of the 300 club with a victory over the Cubs on Sunday night. There may not be a twenty-fourth for quite some time. The closest active player to 300 is randy Johnson with 284. Unfortunately Randy's not so active right now with a bad back and at 43 years old, time is not on his side. Behind Randy is Mike Mussina with 246 wins, and at 38 he has an outside shot if he can stay healthy and effective for at least three or four more years. After that is a collection of pitchers the wrong side of 40 and Pedro Martinez who is still 94 wins shy at 35. You'd think an Atlanta fan would be more excited about this, but sadly, I'm not.

Even though most people find it to be inconceivable, there are a subset of die-hard Braves fans who just can't stand Tommy Glavine and I'm one of them. This isn't the time to go into a diatribe on why I'm no longer a fan, this is a great baseball achievement and it's time to honor it. 300 wins is one of those 'automatically punch your ticket to Cooperstown' numbers (and sadly, unfairly keep them out as well) so I have to tip my hat to him. Besides, Tom might be up at 350 wins if not for the ineptitude of his bullpen over the years. This card from 2004 Fleer Hot Prospects isn't really my favorite card of Tom (Topps Gallery Heritage rookie reprint) but it's certainly my most expensive, which Tom would appreciate.

See? The Onion agrees with me.

Saturday, August 4, 2007

Allen & Ginter: Caesars and Snakes

Those sneaky devils at Topps have added two unannounced mini insert sets into 2007 Allen & Ginter. Like the Flags of All Nations insert set, Topps has created two more tributes to the original A&G non-sports sets. The unannounced sets appear to be 'sets that never were' that mimic the style and subject matter of the original A&Gs while the Flags set is based on the original N10 set from Allen & Ginter. Topps didn't include these sets in the checklist inserted into each box, so I have compiled these checklists from current eBay auction listings for reference.

The first set is Roman Emperors. I haven't seen any confirmed odds but looking through a few case breaks on the forums they seem to be inserted 6 per case, or 1 every 2 boxes or so.

The Checklist:
E1 Julius Caesar
E2 Caesar Augustus
E3 Tiberius
E4 Caligula
E5 Claudius
E6 Nero
E7 Titus
E8 Hadrian
E9 Marcus Aurilius
E10 Septimus Severus

The second set is Deadliest Snakes. This set is inserted 1 card per case or 1 in every 288 packs.

The Checklist:
S1 Coral Snake
S2 Copperhead
S3 Black Mamba
S4 King Cobra
S5 Cottonmouth

Assuming the Emperor's pull rate is actually 1 in 48 packs here are the odds of pulling any individual card from a pack, or how many packs it would take to get a complete set with perfect collation and no doubles.

Flags : 50 cards inserted one in 12 packs = one in 600 packs
Emperors: 10 cards inserted one in 48 packs = one in 480 packs
Snakes: 5 card inserted one in 288 packs = one in 1440 packs

Basically, if you are simply looking for a type card so you can say you have one of each type of card, Flags are the easiest. However, if you are going to try to complete the set the Emperor cards are just a little bit easier to complete. Snakes are just plain tough all around.

Emperors may only be 5 per case, I've seen both 5 per and 6 per listed on various forums. Packing out at exactly 5 per case would be a probability of 1 card per 57.6 packs, which is not exactly a usual ratio. It is probably somewhere in between which would account for why some cases have 5 and some have 6.

Also, while searching for mini cards on eBay, I have found several auctions that have individual Flag cards listed as SPs within a lot. So far I have only seen a few, and I haven't seen any rhyme or reason for the SP designation, but there may very well be short print flags floating out there as well. If that is the case, then forget about having an easy time finishing that set.

Bottom line is, see all those odds up there? Forget about them. They are completely useless. Right now the only thing sure is that Snakes are 1 a case. I'll continue to update If I find anything concrete on all this, but since we're still waiting on an official SP list for Topps, who knows when that will be.

Allen & Ginter Box Break Part 4: The Rest of the Packs

Ok, it's time for the nitty gritty. The big hits have been pulled. We have a mostly trustworthy SP list to work from. No more linking to disgusting CSI: Whitechapel sites, just opening packs of good 'ol baseball cards. And it's all baseball this time, folks, I promise. In a weird collation twist I only got one Champion/Legend/Historical Figure/Architectural Structure/Assorted Rodent or Other Politician card in these last 8 Packs. And the one I got I refuse to talk about because, well, his hair scares me. And that's all I'll say about that. So off we go, let's kill this box.

Pack 17:
167 Jeff Weaver
21 Adam Wainwright
Mini 172 Joe Torre
Dick Perez 14 Gary Matthews
184 Pat Burrell
27 Jonathon Papelbon
284 B.J. Ryan
129 Craig Monroe

Did Jeff Weaver always have that hangdog look on his face or have I only noticed it recently? The poor guy looks like life has just beat him in the ground in all his recent cards, which doesn't make any sense since he just rejuvenated his entire career with last year's playoff run and he's still able to land a big contract. Then again, getting waived so your little brother can take your roster spot could be more traumatic than I realize.

Three questions I need answered: Is this really the same Gary Matthews Jr. that the Braves cut in spring training a few years ago or did the Pod People get him and replace him with someone who could play? With all the good relievers Boston is stockpiling, will Papelbon end up a starter like Wainwright and is that even a good thing? How the hell can Steinbrenner even consider firing Joe Torre for even a nanosecond?? My best guesses: 1) Pod People 2) Yes and Yes 3) The bastard fired Yogi, so he'll probably fire damn near anyone.

Pack 18:
315 Corey Patterson
31 Kenji Johjima
340 Placindo Polanco SP
Mini 350 Adam LaRoche SP
Dick Perez 8 Grady Sizemore
226 Chris Carpenter
201 Freddy Sanchez
184 Phil Hughes RC

Attack of the Minor Stars! Well, Grady's a star, and Carpenter probably would still be one had his arm not fallen off. The rest are all definitely players you only think of when you are pleasantly surprised that you were able to snag in the late rounds of your fantasy draft. Well what about Hughes? He's a hot phenom for the Yankees, and he's probably starting today against the Royals! Yeah Hughes is nice, but it would be nicer if he didn't have a bunch of real rookie cards in 2004. Two short prints are not bad at all though.

Pack 19:
95 Hanley Ramirez
300 Ichiro
Mini A&G 80 Chase Utley
Dick Perez 21 Ryan Howard
199 Alejandro De Aza RC
279 Brandon Inge
70 Jermaine Dye
190 Scott Kazmir

OK, real stars here. MVP, Rookie of the Year, All Star, and two who are all of the above. So Dye's a World Series MVP. It still counts. I recently read an article lamenting what could have been had Ichiro actually played his entire career in the states. I'm pretty happy seeing what he's done so far, he just got his 1500th hit and he's still only 33. That makes for a pretty good run at 3000, plus he may pull a Rickey and just keep on playing until he's forcibly ejected from the stadium. If Ichiro can get some tips on longevity from Julio Franco, we may yet see a run at Ty and Pete.

I got my 5th A&G mini in this pack, with 5 packs left to go, not bad. I swear this is the first time I have ever heard of Alejandro De Aza in my life. After a quick Google, I see why. A former Rule V pick who's been out almost all year with a broken ankle. At least this is a true rookie card. Finally, can we please disband the Devil Rays if for no other reason so that Scott Kazmir can go to a team that is actually good? It's painful watching him waste time pitching for that rotten team. I'd almost (almost, mind you) rather see him pitching for the Mets just so we can see some of that potential come to fruition. Tom Seaver at his prime couldn't win more than 11 games for Tampa.

Pack 20:
89 John Lackey
119 Hunter Pence RC SP
Mini 257 Curtis Granderson
Dick Perez 19 Derek Jeter
304 Ramon Hernandez
281 Marcus Giles
290 Prince Fielder
7 Mickey Mantle

Gotta love Jeter and Mickey in the same pack. Any card of Prince is a good card. The short print Hunter Pence rookie ain't too shabby either. I think this is his true rookie card, he does have a Bowman from last year but those are technically inserts aren't they? Maybe those will end up like the old Traded set XRC cards. Or maybe the entire artificial construct of rookie cards cynically designed to inflate card values will collapse resulting in the hobby reverting to Jefferson Burdick's idea of collecting for collecting's sake without regard to player or team or manufacturer, where the only premium is for truly rare cards. Or maybe I could be crowned Queen of Sweden and rule with an iron fist from an abandoned Volvo plant, served by my magical monkey-elf minions who obey my every command. Probably the XRC thing is most likely to pan out, although I'd surely love some monkey minions.

Pack 21:
198 Frank Catalanotto
220 Ryan Zimmerman
Mini 299 Mark Buehrle
Dick Perez 30 Ryan Zimmerman
139 Bob Baffert
49 JJ Putz
270 Alex Rodriguez
204 Alex Gordon RC

Ryans and Alexes rule this pack. For some reason, even though they are completely different cards, I still feel weird when I get two of the same player in a pack. It's probably just flashbacks to busting open packs of 1991 Upper Deck, where you knew there were massive collation problems if there weren't two of the same card in a pack. The exception to this rule is the pack that had both Jeff Francouer's base and mini card from earlier in the box. I'd take whole cases of Frenchy cards if I could get them. ARod's card looks much better in person than it did on the sell sheet where it was all squished up on the card. This action card actually has some action on it, unlike most of the others from this set. I'm not sure how I feel about Alex Gordon's cards yet. On one hand I'm resentful that I will always have a card #297 shaped hole in my 2006 Topps set, on the other I like good hitting third basemen and Alex looks pretty good at the hot corner so far. Considering I was lucky enough to pull a Gordon Auto card out of a Topps Rack Pack last year, I should probably be rooting for the guy.

Pack 22:
314 Yadier Molina
325 Grady Sizemore SP
Mini A&G 1 Ryan Howard
Dick Perez 12 Carlos Lee
116 Ryan Braun RC
150 Derek Jeter
250 Brandon Webb
313 Moises Alou

Dang, I'm getting swamped with Ryans here. the next pack will probably have Ryan Langerhans, Nolan Ryan, Ryan's Grill and Ryan O'Neal at this rate. Which is fine with me as long as there's no Ryan Seacrest. Howard is my 6th A&G mini card. Six cards at a rate of one in 5 Packs in a 24 pack box means I have officially beat the odds. I would have actually preferred the one in 17,072 framed original A&G card type beating the odds, but I'll take Ryan Howard with no complaints. Ryan Braun is a nice pull as well, even if there are 2005 rookie cards out there for him. This card caused my scanner to get weirded out again, but there does seem to be a sort of a logic to the skewed angle this time.

You all have already figured out my brain tends to work in slightly offbeat ways, so it's probably safe to tell you that there are several baseball players whose names are permanently associated with a popular song in my mind whenever I hear it. Whenever I hear the name Luis Sojo, for example, I automatically start singing it to the tune of Rancid's Ruby Soho in my head. Try it, It's fun! Destination uuuuuunknown! Luis Luis Luis Luis Sojo! However once you do it, you can never undo it. Same thing happens with Edgar Renteria and Sublime's Santeria. I don't know why, it just does. The latest earworm to insinuate itself into the section of my brain reserved for baseball is Daddy Yankee's Gasolina, which has latched onto Yadier Molina. It doesn't work with Bengie or Jose, just Yadier for some odd reason. Problem is, while I really like Rancid and Sublime, Daddy Yankee is on my annoying meter somewhere in between 'My Humps' and the Theme from Titanic. Thank goodness I'm not a die-hard Cardinals fan. That would be torture akin to hearing the Everly Brothers in my head every time I thought of Sid Bream sliding home in the 1992 NLCS.


Oh dear God what have I done.

Pack 23:
34 Mark Grudzielanek
100 David Ortiz
Mini Black 17 Jhonny Peralta
Dick Perez 16 Prince Fielder
22 Huston Street
285 Nick Johnson
102 Preston Wilson
105 Lance Berkman

Is there a Twins fan out there that can tell me why Minnesota gave up on David Ortiz just when he was getting it all together? If this is a sore subject I apologize, I seriously don't understand why they did that. My third mini black means I beat the odds again. I should go to Vegas and do some high-stakes gambling. (insert Upper Deck tin joke here) Anyone who is not as great a ballplayer as Carl Yastrzemski should not be allowed to have a last name as grand as his. Mark G. and Doug M., that means you. Huston Street is one of those players I wouldn't care anything about were it not for the fact that I pulled one of his cards one time. I got a Team USA jersey card of Street out of an Upper Deck pack a few years ago and the name stuck with me. That was a lucky pull for me, the card may not be worth much but the saves I've gotten since I grabbed Street off fantasy waivers before anyone else knew about him have come in handy.

Last one:
46 Cole Hamels
218 Johnny Estrada
222 Rocco Baldelli SP
Mini 67 Ryan Shealy
Dick Perez 5 Alfonso Soriano
35 JD Drew
78 Carlos Guillen
287 Travis Hafner

Well here it is, the last pack. Let's go through each card to prolong the box as much as possible.

Cole Hamels is a damn good pitcher. I really hope the Phillies don't screw him up.

I'm really surprised that Johnny Estrada has been able to come back and be as productive as he has after Darren Erstad tried to murder him. Good for you Johnny.

The SP's skip every other pack like clockwork. Remember that if you manage to get your hands on a box that hasn't been picked through or mixed up. Baldelli is another player I learned about through a good pull, I got his auto from some oddball Topps set a while back. Topps Fusion or something like that. He hasn't panned out quite as well at Street, although the local beat writer's blog was filled with calls for John Schuerholtz to trade for Rocco this past offseason.

Yep, I knew there was going to be at least one more Ryan in the box. I did a search for Ryan Shealy on eBay and a full third of the listings has Alex Gordon instead of Ryan Shealy in the title.

Dick Perez must be a Cubs fan. That's the only explanation for why Soriano looks like the second coming of Ernie Banks and Edmonds looks like he just lobotomized himself with a stick blender.

With such dead arms as Mark Redman, Kyle Davies, Jojo Reyes and Lance Cormier filling out the 5th starter spot in the Braves' rotation, there are a lot of Braves fans regretting sending Adam Wainwright to the Cardinals in the JD Drew deal. To be fair, though JD did have a pretty good year. Too bad it was just one.

I'm really surprised that Johnny Estrada Carlos Guillen has been able to come back and be as productive as he has after Darren Erstad Tony Phillips tried to murder him. Good for you Johnny Carlos.

Last Card:


Not a bad box overall from Rollins to Pronk. No massive hits, but a good bunch of cards overall. I need to get all these cards in sheets and then take a nice long nap. Maybe later this weekend I'll do the traditional listing out of percentages and such. I hope you enjoyed the box break, and sorry again about the Jack the Ripper link.