I have no idea how to create pages but I'll figure it out eventually godammit

Sunday, September 30, 2007

One left to be decided

2007 National League East Champs:

Howwww sweet it is...

This is what we're rooting for

Brewers over Padres

Rockies over Diamondbacks

Phillies over Nationals

Mets over Marlins (that was hard to type)

These four things happen and we have a four way playoff. Let's have more baseball!

Update 1:58: Tom Glavine blew UP. Marlins lead 7-1 in the first. Tommy lasts 1/3 of an inning.

Chase Utley gets Jimmy Rollins home on a sac fly. Phillies 1, Nats 0.

The only thing on TV is football and I'm sad.

Update 2:39: Ryan Howard just hit a bases loaded single with two outs in the 3rd to put the Phils up 3-0.

Mets still down 7-1 and they are on their third pitcher of the day. Dontrelle just got run after loading the bases. What was I saying about a classic pitching matchup?

San Diego's up 3-0 on the Brew Crew in the 1st. Win and they're in.

The Braves game finally started, thank God. They're getting pounded, but I have to watch Craig Biggio's last game.

Update 2:43: Paul LoDuca grounds a dribbler to the pitcher to end the rally. 7-1 going into the fourth.

Update 3:25: The Marlins tacked on another in the fifth. Washington scraped up a run against the Phillies. Both games entering the 6th.

I just realized Matt Holliday passed Chipper in the batting average race. Chipper's 0-1 with a walk, Matt was walked in his only at bat so far. Sigh.

Update 4:14: Craig Biggio just got taken out of the game. Lat at bat: Ground out Chipper to Thorman.

Phillies are cruising 6-1. Rollins has an RBI triple, Howard has a solo shot.

Mets are floundering 1-8. They are on their 7th pitcher.

Milwaukee just put a 4 spot on the board and lead the Pads 6-4. Hope for the Rockies.

Snakes and Rocks scoreless in the 4th. Matt Holliday is 0-1 and down to .339. Too bad Chipper's 0-3 including a fly out where the fielder tripped and caught the ball while on his ass.

Update 4:33: 2 outs in the ninth at Shea. The place is deserted.

Update 4:35: Luis Castillo whiffs to (maybe) end the Mets' season. Phillies are three outs away from a division title.

Update 4:36: Braves end the season with a 3-0 loss to the Astros. Andruw didn't even play.

Update 4:40: Wily Mo strikes out. See the post above this one.

Update 4:44: Gabe Gross breaks it open with a bases loaded triple. 9-4 Brew Crew.

Arizona and Colorado scoreless in the 6th. Zona has one hit with a lineup featuring mostly rookies.

Joe Simpson just announced on the Braves' radio broadcast that there are 153 days until spring training games start. I just cried a little.

Update 5:02: Brad Hawpe with a two out RBI double givs the Rockies a 1-0 lead in the 6th.

Adrian Gonzalez boots in a run. 10-4 Brewers. It's not a 4 way tie, but I'll take a one game playoff.

Update 5:12: Carlos Quentin ties it up with an RBI single. Snakes still threatening with 2 outs in the 7th.

Update 5:19: Important tidbit from Mitch Evans on the Braves' postgame show. Chipper goes 0-3 today and ends the year at .337. Holliday is 0-2 with probably one more at bat in this game at least and currently stands at .339. If the Rockies win and force a playoff, the at bats from that game count and Chipper would still be in the running for the batting title.

Update 5:35:
All over in San Diego. They tried to make a comeback in the 9th, but fell 11-6. Even if the Rockies end up losing, this is no way to go into the playoffs.

Update 5:41: Matt Holliday singles. Goddamnit.

Update 5:45: Garrett Atkins singles in a run to give the Rockies the lead. Bases are still loaded with no outs and a rookie pitcher on the mound. The Padres are thinking about who to start tomorrow. Hawpe doubles in two more as I type.

Update 6:08: Two outs in the 9th, and the D-backs are making a comeback on closer Manny Corpas. Steven Drew up to bat with his team down by one with a runner on first.

Update 6:12: Drew grounds out weakly to the pitcher. We got free baseball tomorrow!

Update 6:17: Finally found the coin flip results. The Rockies host the Padres in a one game playoff tomorrow. Looks like Peavy will start... Awesome!

Saturday, September 29, 2007


Yep, just as I start crowing about the Mets' collapse, they damn near get a no hitter while the Phils fumble one away to the Nats. When I'm watching the Cubs and the Mets - my two least favorite teams - fight it out for the pennant in a couple of weeks it will serve as a reminder to keep my big mouth shut.

On the bright side, Dontrelle Willis vs. Tom Glavine could end up being a spectacular matchup for a Sunday afternoon. Football? What's a football? This is a PLAYOFF game!

Six in, Two to Go

2007 National League Central Champs:

2007 National League West Champs:

This is why I hate expansion teams. It's hard as hell to find a decent logo on a baseball card anymore without it being microscopic. There are no huge logos for these teams from the Topps cards of the fifties, and Fleer inexplicably quit doing stickers in 1992. The only decent logo I could find for the Diamondbacks is on the 2007 Heritage set, but it's kind of small. I tried scanning it at 1200 dpi, but that made my computer explode. Literally explode. Boom. I think I weakened it first by trying to scan their logo card from 1997 Upper Deck. You remember that one, right? Gold print on gold foil? How King Midas got a job in UD's art department I'll never know. Once I get my act together I'll post it, but it's the weekend and you can't expect too much effort from me. Update - Got it. Logos from the 50's are better. They would have had a snake swinging a baseball bat with its rattling tail or something.

The Cubs logo is off Hank Sauer's 1954 Topps card. The cubbie would be cute if it weren't for those vacant, unblinking eyes. Were these stoned bears, sock monsters, big head Redlegs and St, Louis Browns pixies that Topps put on their 50's cards the teams' actual logos, or did Topps just make these things up?

AL's Set

2007 American League East Champs:

American League Wild Card:

Boston's old timey Bug Eyed Sock Monster is one of my favorite logos of all time. Why they changed the symbol of their franchise to a couple of dirty old socks I'll never know. The Yankees didn't win the division for the first time since Ron Blomberg was an active player. They are represented by the logo from Tony Kubek's 1960 Topps card with the lovely pink and baby blue tones so they can truly feel the shame. The Red Sox, who have spent about 18 trillion dollars just to finally win this crown, get an added bonus in honor of their hard earned achievement: the bug eyed sock monster from the '52 Topps set, presumably drawn by Sy Berger's 3 year old nephew.

Friday, September 28, 2007

All Alone in First

All of a sudden, every single player in this post has an enormous smile on their face.

You were right, Jimmy. We didn't believe you, but you were right.

I Love New York

RIP 2007 Atlanta Braves

It was a good run, but the series this weekend against the 'Stros is for pride only. I'm actually kind of impressed that they stayed in the race as long as they did considering they only have 2 1/2 starting pitchers. If Schuerholz can manage to find a decent arm in the offseason (with every other team desperately trying to do the same thing) things look good for the home team. There are good young players all over the lineup and if Mark Teixeira can hit over a full season like he did in just a couple months since the trade, Hack Wilson will have to watch his back. On the flip side, Smoltz and Chipper are another year older. Lord knows what happens with Andruw and it's entirely possible that a long term deal to keep him - something I desperately wished and prayed for at the beginning of this season - could end up being the worst case scenario. It also remains to be seen whether the new owners loosen the purse strings and allow JS to get an impact player. If not it might be another offseason scrounging for more washed up castoffs like Craig Wilson and Tanyon Sturtze while trying to fleece the Bavasis and Littlefields of the world. I don't know if it will be a fun offseason, but it sure will be an interesting one.

In the meantime I have these things to watch intently over the next few days:

1) Chipper's race for the batting title.

I'm rooting like crazy for this to happen. It would be one more accomplishment that Hall of Fame voters couldn't ignore, and Chipper needs as much of them as possible. I'm not sure if he's got enough left in the tank to reach 500 homers, and that milestone isn't quite what it used to be anyway. I'm sure someone reading this is thinking "What are you talking about? Chipper's a lock!" Well, yeah, just like Dale Murphy was a lock and Andre Dawson was a lock and Jim Rice was a lock and a couple dozen other players sitting on the outside looking in were locks for Cooperstown. I will never underestimate the ignorance of the BBWA and frankly with the steroid hysteria I only see things getting worse for Hall of Fame voting. Not that it's good now... Sutter's in but not Goose? Effa Manley's in but not Buck and Minnie?? Santo's still not in??? Every person who cast a vote for the Hall of Fame over the past twenty years needs to be loaded on Golgafrincham Ark B and shot into the sun.

Now that I have my monthly "Hall of Fame voters are morons" rant out of the way, I'm also interested to see how serious this Chipper Jones Gold Glove talk is this year. Chipper is a better fielder than people give him credit for, but I'm not sure how much love he'll get from the voters. Then again, leading the league in OPS somehow has the added effect of making a player look like a much better fielder than he really is, so who knows.

2) Watching a beautiful trainwreck unfold before my eyes.

Who would have ever thought the Phillies would be on the right side of an epic collapse? I'm loving the hell out of this, seven games down the drain. Pedro pitches a gem and they get shut out, how wonderful! It's just a shame the schedulers couldn't have had them going head to head the last series of the season instead of having the Marlins and Nationals deciding things. Those fools in New York are calling for Willie Randolph's head as well. That's fine with me, I've always liked Willie and I hate seeing him in that terrible uniform. Trade Wright and Reyes while you're at it, ok?

3) The National League playoff insanity.

The AL has been locked up for a while now, meanwhile the National League could be staring down a FIVE way tie. Almost every NL game this weekend is desperately important for someone's playoff hopes which is exactly the way it should be. A five way tie will never happen, we couldn't possibly be so lucky. Still, who doesn't want an extra week of playoffs?

Speaking of playoffs, I need to decide who to root for. I really like the Brewers, but it's probably too late for them. The Rockies are a nice story, but I don't care for expansion teams that are younger than I am. Right now I'm probably leaning towards the Indians and the Phillies, which means I have effectively doomed any chance they may have had. Sorry about that! At any rate, the playoffs will be fun this year, plus since the Braves are out of it I don't have to listen to our shitty sports talk stations whine and kvetch about the Braves' playoff failures. A few years ago one station actually mocked the Braves for clinching the division while on a plane to the next city on their road trip. Good thing we don't have to deal with that disgrace this year huh? Oh well, good job Braves. You didn't quite make it, but ya still did good. In the immortal words of Linus Van Pelt:

Just wait till next year!

Wednesday, September 26, 2007


No moon for #756. The only person who should be putting asterisks on anything is this guy:

Tuesday, September 25, 2007

2 In, 6 to Go

2007 American League Central Champs:

2007 American League West Champs:

Ok, so I'm a little late on these two. I just got the Jim Hegan card that provided the Indians logo today so it was worth the wait. The rest of the races may take a while, it looks like the the frontrunners are all losing today. Frankly, I'm just amazed my Braves are still playing meaningful games the last week of the season! I have more than Chipper's race for the NL batting title to follow and that's just fine with me.

A quick note on the '82 Fleer sticker card that gives us the Angels logo: 480 to center field? Four eighty?? That's a major league outfield. Not even Shibe park had those kind of dimensions.

The Big Refractor Mountains

(with extreme apologies to Harry McClintock)

One evening as the sun went down and my auctions were all ending
On the message board came a cardboard junkie and he said boys I'm not trading
I'm headin for a land that's far away where autograph ink flows like fountains
So come with me we'll go and see the Big Refractor Mountains

In the Big Refractor Mountains there's a land that's fair and bright
Where the short prints grow on bushes and your pulls are out of sight
Where the want lists are all empty and the sun shines every day
On the waived shipping fees and the jersey card trees
No more corner dings on your Diamond Kings
In the Big Refractor Mountains

In the Big Refractor Mountains all the snipers never beat
Your bid for the Phil Rizzuto card with the piece of Yankee seat
The cases are all full of vintage cards that you need for your set
And the dealer guy says you can buy
Them all half off, he's got to fly
To the Big Refractor Mountains

In the Big Refractor Mountains Paypal's server doesn't crash
They'll never lock out your account and swipe your hard-earned cash
The feedback is all positive and the eBayers are all kind
There's a lake of Yoo-hoo and of Mountain Dew
You can paddle all around 'em with Rod Carew
In the Big Refractor Mountains

In the Big Refractor Mountains you never pull a double
Unless you can flip it for twice the cash without any trouble
There ain't no PSA Qualifiers, no OCs, STs or MKs
I'm a goin to stay where you rip packs all day
Where they hung the schmuck who outbid you by a buck
On those Big Refractor Mountains

I'll see you all this coming fall in the Big Refractor Mountains!

(this bit of silliness was inspired by this post by Ben)

Monday, September 24, 2007

Card of the Week 9/24

Not all early 90's stuff is worthless crap. Yeah it was almost universally overproduced, quality is dicey in most cases and that Stadium Club you once bought for hundreds is now worth tens. Still, if you discount the book value, a lot of interesting stuff can be found from that time period. Leaf, Bowman, SP and Finest were introduced and all changed the hobby. The first autographed inserts started appearing with Upper Deck' s Reggie Jackson Heroes set, and Donruss jumped in a year later with a Ryne Sandberg Elite auto. The 91 Topps Desert Shield set is a pretty fascinating bit of history. For sheer kitsch value, '91 Studio and Topps Kids are fun. Almost none of this stuff will ever put your kids through college, but that doesn't mean it's not worth collecting.

1991 is an interesting year for baseball cards. Upper Deck's 'premium card' concept was expanded upon by Donruss with their Leaf product in 1990 and Topps jacked things up to a whole new level with Stadium Club in '91. People went berserk over the full bleed, Kodak quality photos and packs were running 5 bucks and up in a time when you could still find a wax pack of regular Topps for 35 cents at your local supermarket. It was also the last time you'd see the traditional Topps cardboard stock on their cards, at least until they resurrected it for the Heritage lines. It was a great time for baseball, the World Series was one of the best ever, labor pains were still a few years away, steroids were for football players and wrestlers and the league was packed with stars. Vets Ryan, Clemens, Ripken, Brett, Boggs, Gwynn, Sandberg, Rickey, Ozzie, Puckett, Mattingly, Trammell, Molitor, Yount, Fisk, Murray and Winfield were all going strong. Young stars like Griffey Jr, Bonds, McGwire, Justice, Thomas, Glavine, Maddux, Smoltz, Sheffield, Grace, Vaughn, Palmeiro, Galarraga and Grissom were coming into their own. The rookie card selection from that year is utterly fantastic. Pedro Martinez, Chipper Jones, Jim Thome, Ivan Rodriguez, Jeff Bagwell, Mike Mussina, Luis Gonzalez, Jason Giambi... Hell, even Michael Jordan's first baseball card is from 1991. Just check out the Studio checklist and tell me that's not worth having. Who cares if the set costs less than a single pack of 2007 SPX.

In contrast, the football releases for that year are terrible. Overproduced, uninspired and downright boring. Even the rookies from that year are lackluster. Russell Maryland went #1 overall and Herman Moore is arguably the best first rounder. Other rookies from the class include Ricky Watters, Ed McCaffrey and Bryan Cox. Oh, and some quarterback from Southern Miss the Falcons picked up in the second round. Brett Favre's rookie cards are by far the best football cards from that year. For the price of his Stadium Club rookie alone you can probably pick up the complete Topps, Upper Deck, Fleer, Score, ProSet and Pacific sets and if you're a smart shopper you might even have enough left over for a set of Action Packed. Other than Barry Sanders' '89 Score rookie or Emmitt Smith's '90 Score Supplemental cards (which aren't worth what they used to be) no other football card from that period books anywhere near the Favre Stadium Club rookie, save a few autograph issues. That is, until an eBay auction from last week blew everything else from that period completely out of the water.

1991 Wild Card was an oddball football set with a gimmick: base cards had parallels with a stripe on them with a denomination of 5, 10, 20, 50, 100 or 1000. If you pulled a card with a 5 stripe, you could trade it back to the company for 5 cards of that player. if you collected ten cards of a player, you could trade it to the company for a single card with a 10 stripe. These cards are nothing special, they are kind of gaudy and don't have a big following since the company didn't last that long. Favre had a rookie card in that '91 set, and had all the parallels just like every other player. An auction for his card with the 1000 stripe just sold for over two thousand dollars. That's right, TWO GRAND. For a football card from 1991!

There are a lot of reasons for such an insane sale price for this card. First, the card is legitimately scarce. No matter how long the presses were allowed to run, it's still not a good idea to have collectors sending in loads of redemptions for an entire longbox full of cards, if for no other reason than to control shipping costs. Favre is the franchise for one of the most popular NFL teams and has no shortage of people collecting his cards. He is also breaking records right and left, and not piddly records either. All time Win leader? All time Touchdown Passes leader? Those are just as special a feat in football as Barry's accomplishment this year. Plus the Packers are 3-0 and Favre looks like he might want to play forever. All this adds up to a perfect storm that sent the bidding in this auction to new heights for a card from that era. I don't even think a Frank Thomas no name error has sold for such a lofty price.

Brett's accomplishments on the field combined with his new found hobby renown as the King of the Early 90's demands that he be honored with the Card of the Week. Problem is, I don't have his Wild card rookie, stripe or no. I also don't have his Stadium Club rookie. For some reason this rabid Falcon fan decided in '91 that having a handful of Pro Set and Upper Deck rookies of this obscure backup QB were enough. Yep, I'm a moron. Not as dumb as the franchise that traded him off for a used tackling dummy and a case of Stickum, but still pretty stupid. The three I have are more common, but each have their own charm. His Ultra Rookie shows a good action shot of Brett in his Southern Mississippi uniform. Upper Deck's Star Rookie card shows Brett languishing on the sidelines, a good summarization of his Falcons career. My favorite is also the most dirt common of Favre's rookies, the Pro Set draft pick card. This one actually shows Brett in a Falcons uniform about to throw a pass! I like to think that this is a picture of Brett throwing his only NFL incomplete pass in a Falcon uniform. His other three passes for the Falcons resulted in a sack and two interceptions. I wonder if Brett will ask Jerry Glanville to introduce him at his Hall of Fame induction ceremonies? I can't choose between these three icons of card collecting, so I'll let the readers decide which of Brett's rookie cards deserves to be honored Card of the Week.

Sunday, September 23, 2007

What a Game

Games like this is why baseball is the best. Chipper bashing a homer and increasing his NL Batting lead. Smoltz taking a no hitter into the 6th before JJ Hardy ruined his day. A Canadian pop star taking the lead late in the game with a homer. Scott Thorman tying the game on the Braves' last out. Joey Devine facing a bases loaded situation and not giving up a moon shot. Mark Teixeira - whom I officially have a man crush on now - winning it in the 11th after Ricky Weeks butchered a potential double play ball. Why oh why does the season have to end in a week?

Saturday, September 22, 2007

Keep on Votin'

Don't forget to vote for the greatest 1981 Topps card of all time at Thorzul Will Rule. The tourney is in the quarterfinals now and the competition is heated. Go vote now and make your voice heard.

In honor of the competition I submit another classic specimen from 1981: the immortal Mario Mendoza.

There's a lot to love about this card. The huge glasses. The stylin' Mariners Trident cap. The Kirk Douglas cleft chin. The chipmunk cheeks. A portrait of a defensive specialist so committed to the craft that he even worked on getting outs while batting.

Friday, September 21, 2007

2007 Turkey Red Short Prints, Maybe

Some guy posted a possible SP and variation list for '07 Turkey Red on the Beckett message boards. This is all extremely unconfirmed, but I'm posting it anyway for reference. Take this list with a grain of salt. Like I did with the A&G SP list, I'll add and edit if there are any changes. I don't have a reliable checklist at this time, so only the card numbers for now.

Short Prints:
7 Mickey Mantle
22 Adam Lind
33 Kurt Suzuki
43 Jarrod Saltalamacchia
47 Rich Harden
62 Carlos Lee
63 Carlos Zambrano
66 Chase Utley
71 Mike Piazza
73 Mark Buehrle
74 Torii Hunter
82 Dallas Braden
83 Dan Haren
89 Johnny Damon
94 Josh Fields
101 Orlando Hudson
103 Eric Byrnes
106 Felix Hernandez
121 Hunter Pence
123 Josh Willingham
124 Tom Gordon
128 James Shields
134 Scott Kazmir
135 Jason Isringhausen
136 Jason Marquis
139 Jeff Francoeur
143 Todd Helton
146 Tom Glavine
152 Sammy Sosa
165 Kei Igawa
171 Kelly Johnson
174 Khalil Greene
179 Marcus Giles
182 Mark Teixeira
183 Matt Chico

Variations (have Turkey Red advertising back)
1 Ryan Howard
15 Ichiro
20 Alex Rodriguez
25 Albert Pujols
40 Chipper Jones
56 Chase Utley
95 Derek Jeter
105 Phil Hughes
106 Felix Hernandez
110 Daisuke Matsuzaka
130 David Ortiz
150 Ken Griffey Jr
159 Johan Santana
180 Miguel Cabrera
185 Vladimir Guerrero

Update: Confirmed.


Looks like the Topps sale to Michael Eisner's group is going to happen, although it's not official yet. Reaction seems to be positive as no one really wanted Upper Deck to get a stranglehold on the industry. With any luck things will get back to normal soon and they can concentrate on the cards and not whether they'll have a job in a few months.

My advice for Michael Eisner:

1) No more 1952 Topps sets. Seriously, give it a rest.

2) 1953 Bowman Heritage. You HAVE to do this.

3) No more massive insert sets where every card looks exactly alike except for the number. If you feel absolutely compelled to do an insert set commemorating each of Roger Clemens' 4672 strikeouts, then at least have the decency to find 4672 different photos.

3a) If you won't do that at least use a different Topps design for each year. For example, if you decide Hank Aaron gets the home run countdown next, put the homers he hit in 1954 in a 1954 design, the ones in 1955 in a 55 design, etc.

4) Pay attention to the Topps base brand design. Don't half ass the details, because that's the stuff we really notice. No one cares about the design of Triple Threads or that other expensive stuff because people who buy that just want the big hits. People who buy the base brand want the CARDS so pay attention to what you're doing.

5) If you make a mistake, fix it. I know you do the printing based on the total orders, but if you catch a blatant error once the presses start running, stop them and fix it. The planned variations with no auto or a different photo are confusing and lame. Stop doing them. Remember the freakout over the photoshopped Jeter card? You know how packs flew off the shelves? If people started pulling corrected cards out of packs a few weeks later it would have been even bigger.

6) Heritage, Finest, Allen & Ginter and Chrome ain't broke, so don't try to fix it.

6a) Bowman is broke, and I don't know how to fix it. Maybe just give up on the pretense of putting veterans in the set and go with all rookies and prospects. It seems to me Bowman draft picks is always a much better set than Bowman anyway.

7) Since it looks like Turkey Red is just about finished, how about going for a 1930's Retro set next. Maybe DeLong, Tattoo Orbit or George C Miller. Or hell, do a convoluted set with all three plus Batter Up and US Caramel for good measure. This will help avoid the inevitable T207 "Brown" set, plus it will annoy Upper Deck by invading their 30's Goudey turf. You could also do a Gypsy Queen set in case they decide to bring their Old Judge cards out of mothballs.

7a) Annoy Upper Deck as much as possible. It seems to spur them on to do things like 2007 Goudey, which is a good thing.

8) If you want to bring kids back into the hobby, do a well designed inexpensive set. Opening Day is not it. Maybe bring back Topps Total or Bazooka. Do some kind of game to make it fun. Perhaps an online game where kids can register their cards and play a simulated game with their players. For God's sake don't charge 3 bucks a pack. Make it a buck for 10 cards and some gum. Kids don't care about relic cards. There has not been a single relic card inserted into a Pokemon, Yu-Gi-Oh or Magic: The Gathering card EVER and they're doing all right for themselves.

9) If you don't listen to any of the other suggestions, please just listen to this one. Do a Negro league subset or insert set now, while there are still Negro league veterans around. If you can pull off doing an entire set of just Negro leaguers, do it. Lots of autographs. Lots and lots of autographs. Do special appearances of players to promote the set too. Give Dave Winfield a call, he can probably help. Publicize and honor these forgotten players before it's too late.

If I can think of anything else, I'll be sure to let you know. In the meantime, you've got a good thing going on over at Topps, try not to screw it up.

Wednesday, September 19, 2007

Loot, Pillage and Plunder

Arrrrrrr, twas good to be a Pirate...



Cap'n Staarrrrrrgell

Robaarrrrrrto Clemente

Ralph Kinaaaarrrrrr

Adam LaaaRRRRRoche

Bill Mazaarrrrrroski

Honus Wagnaarrrrrr

Omaarrrrrrr Marrrrrrreno aaarrrrrr

Baaaarrrrrrrry Bonds

Dave Paaaarrrrrrker

Maaarrrrrrrrrvell Wynne

Ted Kluszewski

Jason Bay All Staarrrrrrr

Rafael Belliarrrrrrrd

Phil Garrrrrrrrrnaarrrrrrrr

Joe Aaaarrrrrsulack

Happy International Talk Like a Pirate Day you scurvy dogs!

Tuesday, September 18, 2007

Bang, zoom, straight to the moon!

The Barry Bonds ball has been sold. Luckily, unlike The Card it didn't vanish in a behind door transaction to some anonymous buyer who will flip it to another guy with too damn much money on his hands in a year or two. Nope, Like McGwire's #70 the ball went to an artist who wants to make a statement and get a little publicity on the side. Fashion designer and graffiti enthusiast Mark Ecko is the lucky bidder who won the ball. He's the guy from the viral video spraying graffiti onto Air Force One. Unlike McFarlane, Ecko has no intentions of keeping the ball. He has a website where you can vote on what happens to the ball. Here are the choices:

1) Give it to Cooperstown

2) Give it to Cooperstown after branding it with an Asterisk

3) Shoot it off into space

I've been pretty conciliatory towards Bonds in his home run chase considering I damn near worship Hank. No matter what he did 5 years ago it's still incredibly hard to hit home runs when you're in your 40s. Besides, the record was going to fall eventually anyway and at least Hank got some well deserved accolades. I don't think the ball should be branded with an asterisk. It's time to let it go and move on.

Thing is, I've been a fan of the space program longer than I've been a baseball fan. Shooting the thing up into space would give much needed publicity to the space program. Besides, I want to see how he's going to get the ball up there. Forget the steroid scandal, how shameful would it be if America had to shoot the home run record ball up into space on a Russian or Chinese rocket because our own space program has been so woefully neglected? I say send that sucker to the moon. Maybe the Home Run Derby champ up there will assist. I'm so committed to this cause I'm willing to obnoxiously embed video into my blog to support it.

If you're not an Eva fan, here's some other moon music to enjoy.

Dean & Britta: Moonshot

Tom Waits: Drunk on the Moon

B52s: There's a Moon in the Sky Called the Moon

Don't be like this guy, go out and vote!

Finally, in the immortal words of Allan Sherman:

My name is Mr. Bloom, and I'm from New Rochelle,
And I sing this happy tune,
Because my son, the astronaut, young Harvey Bloom,
Has landed on the moon.
My wife and I, we miss our little Harvey so,
Back here in New Rochelle,
That every single night,
In the pale moonlight,
We walk out on the patio and yell:

Shine on, shine on, Harvey Bloom-- up in the sky.
You have been in orbit since January, February, June and July.
Don't come back too soon, we rented out your room.
So shine on, shine on, Harvey Bloom-- up there on the moon.

We'll miss you on the holidays, this year they're coming later.
We hope you have a very lovely seder in your crater.
Your mama sent the astronauts some chicken soup at school.
They're using it instead of rocket fuel.

If you like outer space, you oughta see your sister Janet.
She came in with a hairdo that is from another planet.
Your girl friend Shirley misses you, the Air Force says she had
A temper tantrum on the launching pad.

Shine on, shine on, Harvey Bloom-- up in the sky.
Under separate cover, I'm sending you some pickles and a corned beef on rye.
You brought Bromo Seltzer with you, I presume.
So shine on, shine on, Harvey Bloom.

Harvey Bloom Barry's ball is on the moon, oh yeah!


Well on their way to 3-13, The Atlanta Falcons finally wised up and fixed a glaring need on their team. No I'm not talking about Byron Leftwich, although he'd be an upgrade on Joey Harrington at this point. Hell, David Archer could leap out of the broadcast booth and perform better than the human tackling dummy. No I'm talking about this guy:

The Idiot Bobby Petrino decided to be cute with his kicker this preseason and dump Billy Cundiff for some rookie scrub who has blown 3 of 4 field goal attempts this year. The Falcons have scored exactly 10 points in two games, and Prater has wasted another 9. Against Jacksonville, he missed two in a 6 point loss while John Carney (who was picked up by Jacksonville off the waiver wire before the game, imagine that) hit his shots for the difference. No more of that! The Falcons just re-signed Mort who should have never been let go in the first place. The big knock on Morten is that he doesn't have the leg to kickoff anymore, but the punter Michael Koenen is already in charge of the kickoffs. Mort's not taking the Birds to the Super Bowl like in 1998, but at least he can hit a goddamn 25 yarder. Plus it's fun to have guys old enough to be a grandfather playing professional sports, it makes me feel not quite as old as I am. Atlanta has two aged wonders right now, Julio Franco on the Braves and Morten for the Falcons. If the Hawks go out and sign Kevin Willis to fill their glaring need at center, I'll be as happy as Billy White Shoes.

Monday, September 17, 2007

Card of the Week 9/17

Well, Jim Thome and Brett Favre decided to go all historical on me this weekend. Jim hit the magic 500 home run milestone with a walk-off of all things, while Brett is now the all time leader in wins after pounding on the Gints in the Meadowlands. Normally I save the Card of the Week for a big event or milestone like this, but how do you choose between Brett and Jim? Answer: I don't. Brandi Chastain's 2006 Allen & Ginter card gets this week's nod.

I can hear the protests now. A female soccer player over two Hall of Famers? (and yes, Thome's a Hall of Famer despite all the hand wringing by douchebags on ESPN) There is a method to my madness. First of all, Brandi is responsible for one of the most indelible images in all of soccer, right behind Maradona's "Hand of God" and the picture of that guy getting kicked right in the nuts. Her big moment was from the 1999 World Cup, where the United States defeated China in the finals on Brandi's penalty kick. Meanwhile the 2007 World Cup is going on right now in China. The US squad plays Nigeria tomorrow morning in Shanghai assuming Typhoon Wipha doesn't wipe out the match. The result can determine whether they play England or cup favorite Germany in the knockout round so it's a pretty critical match. Brandi and Mia Hamm are gone, but Abby Wambach seems to have jumped right in to fill the void and has three goals in two games.

I don't really know why I'm so excited about this. Normally I find soccer boring as hell, but World Cup matches fascinate me. Just like the W-20 cup in Canada earlier this year I didn't have any clue it was going on until I caught a match while randomly flipping through ESPN (the brilliant US-Brazil match). I got up this morning, looked for SportsCenter and inexplicably found myself watching the entire England-Argentina match. I'm certainly not an expert on soccer either. I couldn't explain tactics or strategy, or hell, even what the names of the positions are, but I do appreciate the teamwork and watching scoring opportunities develop is exciting. My ignorance may be part of why I enjoy World Cup matches. Early rounds have a lot of high scoring blowouts that I can enjoy because I don't realize how lousy the play is. Later matches feature the most elite players in the world resulting in great matchups. I do know one thing for sure though, Yellow Card ejections suck. The fact that a player can get a card for a mincy little tackle as long as the opposing player puts on an Oscar performance is bad enough, but to be suspended for a match for getting two of them is crap. A player should have to pull a Kermit Washington in order to get suspended from a World Cup match. Materazzi lived, so no suspension for Zidane in my world.

The other reason I chose Brandi is that she was on the team that won the 1996 Olympic gold medal in Athens, GA. And I was there! Well, not actually in the stadium, I was a semi-poor college student at the time with a full time job and premature college loan payments. No Olympic finals tickets for me. But I was right there on campus outside Sanford Stadium that day and I watched the second half of the game from the brand new Classic Center downtown. There was a really awesome vibe in town that day and the women brought home a championship Between the Hedges which is a hell of a lot more than the Bulldogs ever did when I was there. So if you happen to be up tomorrow morning or if you find one of the elimination round games while flipping through channels, give it a try. You might find it interesting.

Saturday, September 15, 2007

2007 Goudey Review

My impression of Upper Deck Goudey has not really changed much from my previous post on Goudey now that I actually have some of the stuff in my hands. The set looks fantastic. The photos are almost all portraits slightly touched up to look more like the paintings on the original cards. The backgrounds are all in the style of original 1934 Diamond Stars and 1941 Play Ball cards. Many are taken directly from the vintage cards, as seen with the Glavine/Rice cards above. The Heads Up cards look great as well, and also use the poses from the original set. It appears that SPs are inserted 1:2 packs which makes completing a set with 88 short prints possible, if not easy.

The inserts are typical of recent retro style sets. There are two relic sets, one which is basically the base set with a jersey piece slapped on. The is also one other relic set, The Immortals, that appears to be inserted one a case. The big pull from that set is a Babe Ruth Jersey. I'm not sure if it's a hobby only insert or not. There are lots of autos from a wide range of players. The color scheme from the auto set could be headache inducing if you had pages of them, but if you land one or two it's worth it for the good pull. The rest of the inserts I think can only be obtained in the box topper packs, but I'm not really sure to be honest with you. Double Play mimics the 1941 set with 200 subjects over 100 cards numbered to 15. Diamond Stars is supposed to be an homage to the original set from the mid-thirties, but since the design was already taken for the base set, they don't really look like them except for the back. Most of the ones I've seen have a solid background or are an action shot. The set has three tiers of rarity, one numbered to 15, one numbered to 5 with a variant pose, and one numbered one of one and autographed. They are all pretty darn rare and the extreme short printing of these and the Double Play cards are the biggest disappointment to me about this set. There is also a Sport Royalty Box Topper card that mimics the 1933 Goudey Sporting Kings set in the design and in its subjects from a wide range of sports. This set also has an autographed variety, but none of them appear to be serial numbered. Buyback cards can also be found with a UD certificate at about one a case. Other than the base relic and auto cards, I do not believe any of the inserts can be found in retail packs.

Still overall I'm impressed. The set looks great and these packs delivered some good stuff. The cards are the original 30's gum card size at 2 3/8" by 2 7/8". This set isn't doing a pack with 7 modern size cards and one mini parallel, these are all minis. There are 2 back variations, the first 4 cards in the pack are printed with green ink like the original Goudeys, the other 4 cards are printed with red ink. I suppose this is so obsessive compulsive master set builders have to bust twice as many boxes for a set, but I don't think you'll get your membership in the Card Collecting Guild revoked for building a mixed color set. I was lucky enough to pull a SP card my first pack, it looks like they will be seeded as the 4th green card in the pack. The cards have a real vintage feel to them, the only way they could feel more authentic is if the corners were well rounded.

The two main beefs I have with the set is the price point for hobby packs and the inserts numbered to 15. Goudey Hobby packs retail for $4.99 each, but it's hard to find them at this price. I bought mine for $5.50 each or 4 for $21, and I've seen them as high as 7 dollars a pack. I did pretty well with mine as you can see below, but other than the 1 auto seeded a box the packs are indistinguishable from the retail packs that can be found for $2.99 each everywhere now. The packs have the same number of cards, and both have the Green/Red back variations at 4 per pack. You can't tell me that a 1 in 24 chance at an autograph card is worth paying literally twice as much per pack for the exact same cards. The inserts are all seeded in the bonus box toppers as well, so there's no chance at getting one of them unless you drop $120+ on a box. It really doesn't make any sense to buy individual packs at all in a hobby shop, especially since the ones I've gone to wouldn't sell a box topper pack at any price. For $120, you'd be better off buying three Box Blasters at Target for 60 bucks and using the leftover money to buy individual insert cards on eBay. I'm guessing with a little digging you could probably get a Sporting Royalty, one of the serial numbered cards and maybe even a buyback of a common player for that money. Allen & Ginter Hobby packs are also about two times the cost of a retail pack, but in the hobby version you get a Dick Perez per pack plus 2 more cards than in the retail pack.

Like I said before, the inserts numbered to 15 are the thing I'm most unhappy about. I just don't see the point to putting in the effort to recreating (very well I might add) a set like 1941 Double play, making it really faithful to the original set, then making it completely impossible to come even close to building a set. A collector literally has a better shot at building an original 1941 set than these new cards. What's the point? A better solution in my opinion would have been to make the serial numbered case loader inserts all autographed and then insert one Diamond Stars and one Double Play card per Hobby pack. That way, the tough serial numbered cards actually have some value other than their artificial scarcity, there is a bonus for those spending the extra money on Hobby packs and the inserts can be enjoyed by people other than the hard core collectors. I collected the 1941 Play Ball reprints from UD's earlier Play Ball set, and I certainly would have collected these sets had they not been rendered unobtainable.

Still, I love the set and I'll be trying to complete the common set albeit through retail packs. I've taken way too long to get this review out, so I'll post it as is and come back later this weekend to post more pics and go over the packs. Here are the pulls from my 4 hobby packs, you can see my first retail box on A Pack A Day.

-No.38- Eric Chavez
-No.121- Brad Penny
-No.145- Luis Castillo
-GG-JB- Jason Bay Auto
-No.91- Scott Rolen
-No.42- Gary Sheffield
-No.149- Raul Ibanez
-No.173- Paul Konerko

-No.73- Livan Hernandez
-No.3- Aaron Rowand
-No.130- Matt Cain
-No.172- Rickie Weeks
-No.51- Jason Bay
-No.2- Aaron Boone
-No.139- Brandon Phillips
-No.163- Ryan Langerhans

-No.19- Brian Roberts
-No.54- Jason Varitek
-No.189- Noah Lowry
-No.101- Alex Rodriguez
-No.24- Carlos Zambrano
-No.43- Grady Sizemore
-No.157- David Eckstein
-No.143- Luis Gonzalez

-No.47- JD Drew
-No.110- Ray Durham
-No.134- Michael Cuddyer
-No.201- Mike Schmidt SP
-No.97- Trevor Hoffman
-No.27- Chipper Jones
-No.113- Brandon Webb
-No.137- David DeJesus
Not a bad 4 packs at all, Jason Bay auto in the first pack plus a Schmidt SP. Plus I got a little added value as the shop I bought the cards from had a promotion where if you bought $20 worth of Upper Deck product, you got a ticket for a free autograph from Braves prospect Yunel Escobar. I know it's Yunel since I saw him sign it in person, but future generations may never be able to decipher that auto. You can kinda see Yun, but there's no way the second word is Escobar. To complicate matters all his authenticated autos from card sets not only do not look like mine, but none of them looks remotely like each other, even among the same set. He adds his #19 to the autograph so as long as no other player ever uses that number I'm set for authentication. Since it looks like I've used up all my luck on the Bay card, I'd better stick to retail from now on.