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Friday, March 30, 2007

#3 '07 Topps Heritage vs #6 '06 Topps '52 Rookie card

Straight up Heritage vs. weird mutant Heritage we won't know what box to file in 5 years from now in our second matchup.

The packs:

2007 Topps Heritage
30 Ichiro
160 Richie Sexson
368 Travis Hafner
79 Cory Patterson
280 Mark Grudzielanek
11 Rob Mackowiak
453 Akinori Otsuka
55 Felipe Lopez

2006 52 Rookies
190 Cory Morris
170 Bill Bray
182 Emiliano Fruto
TCRC85 Jim Johnson
215 Eude Brito
227 Shin-Soo Choo

Number of Cards:
Heritage edges out 52 Rookies eight to six.

Heritage 8, 52 Rookies 6

Number of cards that are actually good:
Heritage charged out of the starting gate and then completely derailed. Ichiro, Sexy and Pronk aren't bad though. The Rookies pack had a bunch of people I never heard of before, but according to this thread the Morris, Fruto and Johnson are true rookies. Well the Johnson would be if it weren't an insert, that is.

Heritage 11, 52 Rookies 9

Inserts and Short Prints:
This is literally the first Heritage pack I've seen without an insert or a short print. To add insult to injury, Grudzielanek is in the money spot of the pack. Rookies delivers with a Chrome card of Jim Johnson numbered 0836/1952. Ut oh, 52 Rookies is threatening an upset...

Heritage 11, 52 Rookies 12

Attractiveness of the design:
1958 Topps is a brilliant design, simple and eye catching. 1952 Topps is a classic design more for the historical value than anything else. It doesn't help that the design has been waaaaay overused lately. The design on the back are remarkably similar, except that the 58 version is much more efficient. 58 manages to fit in the exact same amount of information while still adding a cartoon that takes up about a quarter of the card. Plus '58 has fielding stats, beat that!

Heritage 16, 52 Rookies 14

Best card in the pack:
Heritage: 30 Ichiro
Rookies: TCRC85 Jim Johnson
Ichiro takes the crown in Heritage, good looking card of a great player. Mr. Suzuki normally ends up short printed in these sets, so it's nice to actually pull one. Oddly, Suzuki is the only card in the pack whose background color is not Yellow. Johnson Chrome wins for the Rookies pretty much by default.

Heritage 20, 52 Rookies 19

Spokesman on the pack wrapper:
No spokesmen because they didn't do that sort of thing back in the 50's. Heritage has a faithful reproduction of the original '58 design, while 52 Rookies has a weird evil shadow version of the 1952 wrapper. Seriously, that thing looks sinister. Bonus points for 52 Rookies.

Heritage 22, 52 Rookies 23

Topps must have wanted to get a little more use out of the photo transmogrification program they use to retro the players' mugshots. They use it more subtly on the Heritage cards, Ichiro looks like he got put through the soft focus lens they used on Bette Davis in the 40's. Not sure why this is necessary, since Topps was using real live photos on their cards in '58. The job on the 52 Rookies is a bit more hit and miss, the Morris card looks very much like it could pass in the original set, while the Bill Bray card just looks like crap.
While the two packs are at a dead heat (more due to the lousy pack I got than anything else) Heritage has one last trick up their sleeve. The little smiling baseball dude that holds the card number on the back of the 58 design has been a favorite of mine since I was a kid. Besides, Heritage has gum.

Final score:

2007 Heritage 25 52 Rookies 24

Thursday, March 29, 2007

#1 '07 Topps vs #8 '06 Topps Updates & Highlights

Old vs. new in our first battle, as Topps faces off in a fight to make the final four.

The packs:

2007 Topps
124 Huston Street
26 Jason Jennings
103 Pedro Feliz
330 Ryan Howard
106 Ryan Garko
130 Albert Pujols
WM16 Albert Pujols
204 Juan Rivera
42 Livan Hernandez
160 Justin Verlander
76 Lastings Milledge
275 Greg Maddux

2006 Topps Update & Highlights
UH142 Anibal Sanchez RC
UH158 Russell Martin RC
UH150 Stephen Drew RC
UH138 Matt Kemp RC
UH170 John Maine RC
UH130 Dave Bush
UH122 Ronny Cedeno
MHR183 Mickey Mantle
UH255 Scott Rolen All Star
UH216 National League Strikeout Leaders
UH294 Braves Team Leaders
UH310 Orioles Team Leaders

Number of Cards:
Both packs have 12 cards, so this is a push.

07T: 12, 06TU&H: 12

Number of cards that are actually good:
The 06 pack netted a Mantle Home run insert, a Scott Rolen All Star card, 2 team leaders (Orioles & Braves), National League strikeout leaders, 5 Rookies (Anibel Sanchez, Russell Martin, Stephen Drew, Matt Kemp & John Maine) and 2 boring ol' commons.
The 07 pack turned out to be the Pujols pack. Albert's base card turned up along with his Wal-Mart Baseball history insert. Other notables include Ryan Howard, Greg Maddux and Justin Verlander (with rookie cup!).
06 Topps gets credit for 2 Smoltz cards (team leader & league leader cards), the Rolen All-Star, Mickey and one of the rookies. I'm too lazy to check if any of them are legit rookies so I'll assume 1 of the 5 probably is.
07 Topps gets 5 for the stars listed above, unfortunately the rest of the pack is commons and minor stars that just don't quite cut it in this tourney. Sorry Lastings Milledge, call back when the Mets trade you or actually gives you some PT.

07T: 17, 06TU&H: 17

Inserts and Short Prints:
No short prints in Topps, so the Mantle and Pujols inserts go head to head. Mickey hit his 183rd home run against Pedro Ramos of the Washington Senators on May 29th, 1957. Unfortunately it was a meaningless solo shot in the 9th inning of a 6-2 loss by the Yanks.
Pujols' insert is a replica of the 1949 Bowman set and is just as blurry and off-register as any in the Bowman heritage set. Advantage: Albert.

07T: 22, 06TU&H: 20

Attractiveness of the design:
Weird squares notwithstanding, black borders kick ass. Plus the more I look at it, the more I think Topps went overboard on the foil last year. 06 gets bonus points for having cartoons on the back. I really like the grass & dirt motifs on the back of the 07 Topps cards though. 2007 gets major points for actually having the card number being the same size on every card. I hate the weird random font changes on the card numbers on the 06's. And c'mon, dude, black borders.

07T: 27, 06TU&H: 20

Best card in the pack:
06: Atlanta Braves Team Leaders #UH294
07: Albert Pujols #130
I'm a diehard Braves fan, so any card with Andruw and Smoltzie wins. Dear Jesus, please let Liberty Media open the pocketbooks enough to keep at lease one of them here next year...
The Pujols card is pretty sweet though, the only way it could look any better is if Stan Musial and Scooter Libby were photoshopped into the stands.

07T: 30, 06TU&H: 25

Spokesman on the pack wrapper:
07 Topps has the MVP, Ryan Howard on the front of the pack. Interstignly, the photo is the same one used on the base card.
06 Topps gets a needed boost by having not one but three players on the front of the pack, Pujols, David Wright and Big Papi. Sorry Ryan, three is better than one in this case.

07T: 32, 06TU&H: 30

Poor 06 Topps. They claw their way back in the game only to be slaughtered in the last 2 minutes. First of all it's Topps TRADED, not any of this Updates and Highlights gibberish. And the UH prefix on the card numbers is just silly. Just make this Series Three this year, number the cards 661 to whatever and do us all a favor. Five rookies in a pack is nice, but it would be nicer if they were legit First Years and not the new 'maybe' RCs. It's gonna take 5-10 years before you can be reasonably sure a card with a MLB Rookie Card Logo is really the guy's first card. Assuming you just ignore all the Bowman 'Insert' cards, that is. It was actually a relief to not see any Rookie logos in the 07 pack. Plus Huston Street has an awesome looking signature. This category is uglier than the Georgetown - North Carolina overtime.

Final score:

2007 Topps 40 2006 Topps TRADED 30

March Madness

For the first time ever, I've managed to pick the final four correctly in my bracket. If Florida can beat Georgetown in the championship game, I'll have my own trophy to put up on the shelf. Now as long as no one finds out I filled out my brackets 15 minutes before the tipoff on the first game (and actually flipped a coin on about half the first round's games), I can play it off like I actually know what I'm doing. Good thing no one reads this blog!

So, inspired by my dubious achievement and by the Baseball Card Blog's live pack blogging and team card bracket, I've decided to have my own baseball card mini-tourney to coincide with the fun in Atlanta this weekend. I've got 8 packs of cards lined up to go head to head to see which one takes the prize as the best product released by opening day that I could actually afford. And no, I don't have 40 bucks to drop on a mini box of Finest right now, and I sure as HELL ain't buying a box of Upper Deck Ultimate for whatever ungodly amount that costs. Ok, so a few 2006 packs got shuffled in the mix. Not my fault they stopped releasing the next year's product weeks before thanksgiving.

Here are my contenders:

#1 seed: 2007 Topps (Wal-Mart pack)
Jeter photoshop freakout cements Topps' #1 ranking.

#2 seed: 2007 Upper Deck First Edition
I'm dubious about this First Edition/Predictor Edition stuff, but it's Upper Deck, so they get a bump in the polls.

#3 seed: 2007 Topps Heritage
It's Heritage, so automatically a favorite to make the championship game.

#4 seed: 2007 Fleer
I have to give Upper deck credit, their take on the Fleer brand is very... Fleery. That's a complement, I think.

#5 seed: 2006 Bowman Heritage
Surprisingly high seed considering what a mess this product turned out to be.

#6 seed: 2006 Topps '52 Rookie card
Would have rated higher if most of the 'rookies' didn't have legit cards floating around already.

#7 seed: 2007 Topps Opening Day
I wonder it Target will have the monster packs of Opening Day with the Jersey card inserts again this year. Or was that Topps Total? Man, all these cheapo products kinda blend together after a while.

#8 seed: 2006 Topps Updates & Highlights
The basement dweller came down to a choice between this pack and a pack of '06 Fleer Tradition languishing at a Quik Trip. The Topps pack was dustier and had a bit of sticky schmutz on the side so it got the nod.

Winners will be determined using the following criteria:

~ Number of cards in the pack
~ Number of cards that are actually good
~ Number of inserts and short prints pulled
~ Attractiveness of the design
~ Best card in the pack
~ Spokesman on the pack wrapper
~ Intangibles, so I can screw over Upper Deck, whom I hate

When a pack advances to the next round I'll buy another pack to open for the next matchup. This gives me a convenient excuse to buy six more packs of cards. Like I really needed one. Plus I can milk this for 8 more blog posts! It's a win-win for everybody.

Friday, March 23, 2007


No, I didn't really pick Kansas City to win the World Series. It's just a joke. To reward you for clicking however, here's a 2008 Allen & Ginter prototype card of Kari Byron.


Sunday, March 11, 2007

2007 Heritage short prints and variations

Beckett has the list of '07 Topps short prints and variations up on the site. Short prints appear to be one in two packs, variations are one in six.

2 Roger Clemens YT
4 Ronny Paulino
5 Derek Jeter
8 David Eckstein YN
11 Rob Mackowiak YT
13 Wilfredo Ledezma
13 Wilfredo Ledezma YT
14 Bobby Abreu
20 Robinson Cano YT
22 Jason Kendall
23 Mark Kotsay
23 Mark Kotsay YN
24 Yadier Molina YN
30 Ichiro YN
31 Beltran Perez
32 Brad Hawpe
33 Jim Thome YT
35 Woody Williams YT
40 Francisco Cordero
41 Anthony Reyes
46 Joel Zumaya YN
49 Willy Taveras
50 Mark Buehrle
50 Mark Buehrle YT
52 Jason Bay YT
53 Jose Valentin YN
57 Kelvim Escobar YN
58 Nick Swisher
58 Nick Swisher YT
59 Kevin Millwood
60 Preston Wilson YN
61 Mariano Rivera YN
65 Chris Narveson YN
67 Melvin Mora
68 Jason Jennings
70 Magglio Ordonez YN
76 Cole Hamels
76 Cole Hamels YT
77 Rafael Furcal
77 Rafael Furcal YT
78 Ryan Theriot YN
79 Corey Patterson YT
81 Stephen Drew YT
85 Omar Vizquel
85 Omar Vizquel YT
86 Fred Lewis
87 Shawn Chacon YN
92 David Wright YN
94 Xavier Nady
95 Bill Hall
97 Jeff Suppan YN
98 Ryan Zimmerman YN
100 Jose Contreras YT
101 Miguel Cairo YN
103 Carl Crawford
104 Mike Lamb
108 Hanley Ramirez YT
112 Marcus Thames
113 Brian Burres
121 Jay Payton
122 Jacque Jones
130 Manny Ramirez
131 Howie Kendrick
139 Ryan Braun
140 Johnny Damon
149 Jose Vidro
150 Alex Rodriguez
158 Cleveland Indians
159 Chris Ray
167 Brian Stokes
168 Albert Pujols
176 David Weathers
177 Jermaine Dye
185 Aaron Hill
186 Scot Shields
194 Derek Lowe
195 Russell Branyan
203 Kendry Morales
204 Rafael Soriano
212 Ty Wigginton
213 Brandon Inge
221 Josh Fields
222 Pat Neshek
230 Chase Utley
231 John Nelson
239 Doug Davis
240 Jason Giambi
248 Adam Wainwright
249 Matt Thornton
257 Aaron Cook
258 Cliff Lee
266 Andy Pettitte
267 A.J. Pierzynski
275 Jorge Posada
276 Jeff Conine
284 Doug Mientkiewicz
285 Ken Griffey Jr.
293 Ryan Garko
294 Miguel Batista
302 Angel Sanchez
303 Freddy Sanchez
311 Aaron Harang
312 Boston Red Sox
320 Kenny Lofton
321 Vladmir Guerrero/Ivan Rodriguez
329 Craig Monroe
330 Paul Lo Duca
338 Todd Walker
339 Jarrod Washburn
347 Boone Logan
348 Jimmy Rollins
356 Bernie Castro
357 Eric Stults
365 Fernando Rodney
366 Chris Duncan
374 Jose Mesa
375 Michael Young
383 Eduardo Perez
384 Scott Moore
392 Shane Youman
393 Melky Cabrera
401 Jose Reyes
402 Juan Encarnacion
410 Francisco Rodriguez
411 Ian Kinsler
419 Scott Kazmir
420 Norris Hopper
428 Cincinnati Reds
429 Ramon Hernandez
437 Vernon Wells
438 Vladimir Guerrero
446 Franklin Gutierrez
447 Mark Redman
455 Chien-Ming Wang
456 Shawn Riggans
464 Jose Garcia
465 Pedro Martinez
473 Lastings Milledge
474 Brian Sanches
482 Edgar Renteria
483 Derek Jeter
491 Ivan Rodriguez
492 Brad Penny

YN = Yellow Name Variation
YT = Yellow Team Name Variation