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Saturday, May 31, 2008

2008 Bowman - Box Break, Review and bonus PumpkinFractor

A little break from the Series Two till Monday to let the Fukudome 2012 furor simmer a bit. I bought a blaster of 2008 Bowman about a week ago and I've regretted it. As much as I'm nostalgic for the Bowman sets of the 90's there's been nothing interesting about the product for the past few years, especially since the prospects got segregated and chromed into insert sets. The real inserts in the set are the autos and refractors and they are hard to get. This isn't like '07 Topps Chrome where you got an X-fractor simply for pausing in front of the box at Target, it's more like one or two per hobby box and you're lucky to come anywhere near one in retail. Here's the odds from the back of the packs:

Blue Parallel - Hobby 1:14 Retail 1:32
Orange Parallel - Hobby 1:26 Retail 1:65
Red one of one - Hobby 1:4512 Retail n/a
Chrome Refractor - Hobby 1:34 Retail 1:88
Chrome X-fractor - Hobby 1:65 Retail 1:188
Chrome Blue Refractor - Hobby 1:126 Retail 1:350
Chrome Gold Refractor - Hobby 1:380 Retail 1:1040
Chrome Orange Refractor - Hobby 1:750 Retail 1:2075

None of this stuff coming up is even in retail packs:

Chrome Red Refractor - Hobby 1:3600
Chrome SuperFractor - Hobby 1:18,274
Printing Plates - Hobby 1:732
Auto Rookie - Hobby 1:233
Auto Rookie Blue - Hobby 1:620
Auto Rookie Orange - Hobby 1:1160
Auto Rookie Red - Hobby 1:243,648
Chrome Auto- Hobby 1:37
Chrome Auto Refractor - Hobby 1:113
Chrome Auto X-fractor - Hobby 1:226
Chrome Auto Blue Refractor - Hobby 1:372
Chrome Auto Gold Refractor - Hobby 1:1155
Chrome Auto Orange Refractor - Hobby 1:2495
Chrome Auto Red Refractor - Hobby 1:11,075
Chrome Auto SuperFractor - Hobby 1:55,000
Auto Printing Plates - Hobby 1:4700

Ok, back to the retail odds:

Signs of the Future Auto:
Group A - Hobby n/a, Retail 1:100
Group B - Hobby n/a, Retail 1:1200
Scouts Auto:
Group A - Hobby 1:176, Retail 1:525
Group B - Hobby 1:390, Retail 1:1225

As you can see it's not that easy to pull stuff out of hobby packs and really hard to pull anything out of retail. Plus all the good stuff is in Hobby anyway. Seeing as the price is the same for Hobby and retail, if you want to buy this year's Bowman I strongly suggest you look into getting Hobby wax. If the closest card shop is two states away UPS will still deliver stuff from the interwebs. Better yet, wait about 6 months - you'll thank me later. Anyway I bought the blaster and I can't take it back so I may as well show it off. Here's the stuff:

Base cards - 40/220 (18%)
Red Veterans - 37 (including Ryan Braun, Tim Lincecum, Frank Thomas, Hanley Ramirez, Miguel Tejada, Jason Varitek, Tim Hudson, Ichiro, Jeff Francoeur)
Green Rookies - 3 (Joey Votto, Troy Patton, Hiroki Kuroda)

I'm not sure how I feel about the base design this year. I like the plastic looking borders and the team name which reminds me of a film strip, but the foil is completely unnecessary and kind of hard to read. It scans good though. Photography is decent but nothing spectacular. There's a much better picture to card ratio than Topps at least. Backs are typical bowman with half the card dedicated to scouting reports. It's pretty much a variation on the same theme they've used since 1996. The veteran checklist is your typical MLB Top-200 list. Nothing special. The green RC Logo list is pathetic. Only twenty rookies for the supposed "Home of the Rookie Card" and I'm pretty sure every single one could be pulled out of Topps Series 1 save Kuroda. Seriously, twenty rookies? Awful. The base set should be 100 veterans and 120 rookies to be considered a serious Bowman set. If there aren't enough rookies to go around this early in the year due to the MLB rules, then delay the set till August. Better yet, combine it with Draft Picks and Prospects and have Bowman come out in November in an orgy of Rookie goodness. This... is pathetic. On to the Prospect "insert" cards.

Prospect cards - 16/110 (15%)
Chrome Prospect cards - 16/110 (15%)

I'd list some names, but I seriously don't know who the heck any of these guys are. Ask me again in about three years. When I first saw the design my initial reaction was "Oh my Lord, what IS this crap??" but I have to say it's grown on me. It's kind of futuristic looking and it does work pretty well. The concave borders squishes the photo but there are enough portrait cards in the set so it's not too bad. It's funny, the backs have the exact same curves and pinstripes motif as the front, but it's turned in such a way that is has more of a classical feel to it in contrast to the futuristic fronts. Well designed stuff, this. The scouting reports on the back are useful since I'm not familiar with most of the players. If you combine the Chrome and the base (and I do) there's 29% of the set in this box with no dupes. That was pretty nice since all three hobby packs I've bought this year all had the base and Chrome versions of the same player in each pack. If you add up the Rookies and Prospects, you get 130 cards to the Veterans' 200. Like I said before, this is pretty lame compared to past Bowman sets and Topps should seriously think about moving this set to later in the year to get it back up to snuff. Now for my least favorite part of the set, Gold Parallels.

Gold Parallel Base cards - 6/220 (3%)
Red Veterans - 5 (Phil Hughes, Gary Matthews, Troy Tulowitzki, Hank Blalock, Edgar Renteria)
Green Rookies - 1 (Josh Anderson)
Prospect cards - 2/110 (1%) (Aaron Bates, Jason Stephens)

I have no idea why these cards are in the set except to just waste space. Gold cards at least used to be thick to fool people looking for jersey cards, but there are no relics in this product. These are just gold bordered cards with gold foil. I'd personally rather have 8 more cards for the set. Actually I just sort them into the set like I do with prospect base and Chrome. Other than maybe the gold foil signature on them they sure don't look any better than the base cards. I pulled my first Josh Anderson in a Braves uniform at least which is cool. Josh is up in the bigs now that Mark Kotsay's back finally went on him.

To sum up: The design is well done. The photography is mediocre but acceptable. The checklist is terrible and needs an infusion of rookies. The Chrome cards are fine, but the gold parallels have to go. Move this set back to November and double the amount of rookies and prospects and you might have a really good product here.

Now I didn't pull any refractors or autos out of the box, but I didn't want to just leave you with no good hits at all. I picked up a couple of retail packs on a whim at Target while I was picking up some some random grocery type stuff I forgot toget earlier in the week. Can you believe I pulled this out of a retail pack??

Orange Chrome Refractor card of Pirates farmhand Tom Hagan numbered 08/25. It looks like he's hitting pretty well in A-Ball so who knows, he might take over for LaRoche in a few years. What's really weird is that I pulled it just a day after Steve posted his own glowy Orange pickup on White Sox Cards. If you've never seen one of these before the sucker is really nice. I now understand why the prospecting Chromies chase after the entire rainbow of refractors. How I nailed a 1:2075 card when I just popped in the store to get Sweet & Low and toilet cleaner, I'll never know. For some reason I remember an article in Beckett or somewhere that had one of the guys from Topps discussing the Chrome products. He was talking about the decision to use Orange as one of the refractor colors and how they were nicknamed "PumpkinFractors" by his co-workers. This stuck with me since it was so goofy. I Googled PumpkinFractor before I wrote the post and found nothing, so either the article isn't online or I dreamed the whole thing. At any rate, not only do I have my own PumpkinFractor now, but if you Google it and click "I'm Feeling Lucky" It'll take you right here to this post. How cool is that? I guess Bowman isn't that bad after all but there's plenty of room for improvement.


just argh.

Fresh 2 U - Greg Olson

Now we have Greg Olson eating broccoli on the 7th card from the Florida Agriculture set. Or pretending to eat broccoli more like it. There's no ranch dressing on that sucker and you can just see it in Greg's eyes that he really wants no part of this charade. Commissioner Bob was handing out the produce, got to Greg and hands him a stalk of raw broccoli. "Where's the ranch dressing?" Greg asked. "You don't get any" Bob replied. "You'll eat that broccoli and you'll like it, or else we'll sic Jeff's tangerines on you." So Greg takes the broccoli and smiles and fake nibbles on the thing while making yummy sounds while everyone else gets oranges and mutant tangerines and other yummy fruit. Ok, so Glavine got a carrot and didn't get any ranch dressing either, but at least he could do his Bugs Bunny impression and pick up chicks. Poor Greg has to fake gnaw on raw broccoli. The real tragedy here is that the card don't even mention broccoli anywhere on it. The logo on the top and the factoid on the back is all about watermelons. Juicy sweet, delicious watermelons. 65% of the nations watermelons are grown in Florida and Bob hands Greg a freakin' broccoli. With no dressing of any kind. Catchers get no respect. No respect at all. Someone give poor Greg an orange or something. Or at least steam the broccoli and put some butter or cheese on it. The guy's an All-Star, he deserves it.

Friday, May 30, 2008


UD made amends for their colossal Hillary card f$@k up from Series 1 by inserting this into Series 2:

Card PP-7B. It ain't Morganna, but everyone's smilin' and happy and Hillary still has a big fat butt and it fills up that empty bottom left corner in a plastic sheet full of Presidential Predictors. There are also 10 more Predictors cards in Series 2, Five of Obama and McCain and the same five with Hillary and McCain. AND THEY'RE ALL FIGHTIN! I think Upper Deck realized that the most popular Predictor card was Jon Stewart and Bill O. scrapping like Nolan and Robin so they took the basebrawl theme and ran with it . And looking at the early eBay listings it seems that NONE of them are super short printed! HOORAY!!!!!!!!!!

Thank you Upper Deck for not bullshit gimmickizing this set any more than it already has been. That's more than I can say for a certain other company that shall remain nameless. In honor of your noble deed (and since I haven't found out about your actual gimmick yet) June 2008 is going to be Upper Deck Month on Cardboard Junkie. Each Card of the Week will be from an Upper Deck Product that I really like and that set will be featured on the blog for the rest of the week. In amongst the Topps wax rips of course.

Upper Deck, for not completely screwing up my favorite insert set of the year not having to do with Trading Card History, I say to you:

UPDATE: Ok, so there is a gimmick card. Upper Deck also created a card where Hillary is jumping into Obama's arms and UD decided to 'hand pull' the cards from the set and it worked about as well as last time. So there's yet another super rare Hillary card on the market for Series Two. I was convinced that Upper Deck wouldn't go to the exact same well twice in one year, but they did. Ya know what? I don't mind. I'll never get card PP-7 or PP-7A, but by all indications card PP-7B is inserted in normal quantities. And that's what I've been craving since the set came out in February. A card #7 that I can put in the lower left pocket of the plastic sheet in my inserts binder. That's all I wanted - a complete set of these great looking, funny cards. Not so much with Topps, who have made three of the most desirable rookies for Series Two into short printed WBC cards so we'll have to spend out the nose to chase these rookies. They also managed to screw up my '08 Campaign Candidate set as well with the stupid 2012? Aaahnold card. So Upper Deck is up 4-1 on Topps right now and as far as I'm concerned they are still (relatively) deserving of the "Good Job!" clip art. I'm not gonna run out and buy a box or anything but they still get their Upper Deck Month especially since I've picked out the sets and everything already.

2008 Topps Series 2 Box Break - Packs 5-8

Here's the next four packs. Let's get a-rippin'.

342 Matt Belisle
590 Mariano Rivera
471 Brian Schneider
652 Rod Barajas
531 Hiroki Kuroda RC
AR85 Aaron Miles All-Rookie
477 gold Ben Broussard
David Wright Topps of the Class
520 Vernon Wells
406 Takashi Saito
422 Erick Aybar

Former Brave prospect Matt Belisle has done pretty well for himself since moving over to the Reds. Well, until he got sent to Triple-A this week. Oops. Hiroki Kuroda isn't exactly Dice-K, but then again I don't have to chase 4 different variations of his card either (I hope). Both 50th Anniversary cards I've pulled so far elicited yawns. I'm sure I'll pull a good one eventually, but so far, meh. There's two blatant ads in the background of a couple of cards. Vernon Wells has a Mega Millions lottery ad and Erick Aybar has the AT&T Death Star looming behind him. Stats on the back time: Mariano Rivera had an ERA of 3.15 last year, which was the first time since his rookie year in 1995 that it was over 3.00. Pretty impressive.

Pack 6:
518 Ian Stewart
589 Dave Trembley
357 Jeremy Accardo
469 Brian Bocock RC
582 Dusty Baker
446 Randor Bierd RC
HCM-1872 Ulysses S. Grant vs Horace Greeley
ToppsTown garbage
358 John Patterson
523 Noah Lowry
605 Andre Ethier

Woohoo! My first campaign card. General Grant versus Benjamin Franklin being strangled by a ferret. This card is a Democrat's nightmare: A Republican matched up against a Liberal Republican. In other words, McCain vs. Hillary. This election was a slaughter for Grant, 286-3. It didn't help that Greeley died right before the electors voted. The three dingbats who voted for a dead guy were from Georgia. Imagine that! Ok, back to baseball. In other heated rivalries, Brian Bocock and Randor Bierd are both fighting for the "most awesomest rookie name" nomination for Series Two. The winner will face off against Radhames Liz in the general election. There are two managers in the pack, Dave Trembley who will probably get fired next time Peter Angelos gets a bad case of heartburn and Dusty Baker who is the worst good manager ever. John Patterson gets his 2008 Topps card a week after getting cut from the Rangers, who picked him up when he got dumped by the Nationals. When you get cut by the Texas and Washington, and you're a pitcher, it's time to look for that broadcasting gig. Andre Ethier saves this pack from oblivion.

Pack 7:
409 Jason Giambi
570 Homer Bailey
593 Randy Wells RC
558 John Russell
375 Fausto Carmona
609 Gold Parallel Ted Lilly #0203/2008
369 gold Luis Castillo
Checklist 1 of 4
461 Jacoby Ellsbury
380 Grady Sizemore
642 Mark Kotsay

First damaged card in the box - Jacoby Ellsbury got caught in the wrapper and now has a nice scalloped bottom edge. I'll set him aside. Once again the Checklist is the most interesting card in the pack. Card number 447 is a Classic Combo card of Chipper Jones and Mark Teixeira. Aaaaallll Riiiiight! So has Homer Bailey turned into Tom Seaver yet? He's in Triple-A you say? He just got passed over for promotion to the bigs in favor of Josh Fogg you say? Good 'ol Dusty Baker... Mark Kotsay has a bead on a ball tossed by the photographer's assistant. At least he didn't have to throw the ball up in the air himself like Grady Sizemore had to one card earlier. Oddly enough Jason Giambi is stretching for an actual throw in a rare appearance at first base for the Yankees. Yes, I definitely like the photography better in Series Two. I wish Topps would go back to the tight close ups they used in the 60's and 70's for the portraits instead of the medium shots they are using, but overall things are looking nice. The Topps Indent™ is wreaking havoc with the photo cropping though. PLEASE DON'T DO THIS AGAIN NEXT YEAR. Speaking of mugshots, John Russell's card could be featured on The Smoking Gun. I think they swiped this photo from the Pirates' media guide. Whenever you get depressed about bad photography though, just says these words to yourself: Fausto Carrmona. Make sure you roll the rrrs for the full soothing effect. Fauuusto Carrrmoona... Ah, that gets me in such a peaceful place. Now, if you pronounce it Foostow CARmuna you deserve the stress.

Pack 8:
405 Travis Hafner
459 Mike Sweeney
496 Brad Lidge
481 Manny Parra
428 Jair Jurrjens
TCH59 Mick Markakis Trading Card History
530 gold Ryan Zimmerman
TS3 Justin Morneau Topps Stars
Checklist 4 of 4
434 Ron Gardenhire
438 Jay Payton

PRONK ALERT!!! Ok, more checklist fascination... One one more of these to go and you don't have to hear about checklists anymore. There is sadly no Chipper Jones Shea Stadium commemorative patch. Brian McCann has a 50th Anniversary relic card though, sweeeeeeet. Presidential Stamp Cards that I want: Teddy Roosevelt, James K. Polk and Chester A. Arthur. And finally, the best Dual Cut Signature in the set is Abraham Lincoln and George McClellan. The most expensive one will be the JFK/Nixon one, closely followed by Hillary/Obama. The coolest cut auto card in the set is Elbridge Gerry and DeWitt Clinton by far. If I knew what document they cut those autographs from I'd have a heart attack though. The one I would end up pulling if I were to ever pull such a card? Ralph Nader and Joe Lieberman. BLECH. Can you say the 2008 National League Rookie of the year Jair Jurrjens? I knew you could. This is a perfect example of the better photography in this set. Jair looks like a giant SuperPitcher about to crush the puny stadium underneath his mighty cleats. Favorite card of the set so far. If I have to pull a gold foil card I guess Ryan Zimmerman is a good one to pull. I remember when Tom Kelly retired and I thought no way could someone replace someone like him. Now I can't see anyone other than Gardenhire managing the Twins. Lidge has been lights out for the Phillies and that scares me. Once again there are two inserts in the pack. The Topps Stars card is shiny and glowy and gold and boring. It's a nice card but not my thing. I was all ready to mock the faux retroness of the bland Markakis photo fuzzed and photoshopped to make it look old when I pulled out my '61 Braves set to compare and realized that there really wasn't that much difference. Players did actually smile occasionally for the camera back in the 60's though.

The box so far:

Base cards - 63
Checklists - 3
Dupes - 0
Damaged - 1

Gold Foil - 4
Gold Parallel - 2 - Takashi Saito, Ted Lilly

Year In Review - 2 - Wil Ledezma, Chad Gaudin
Trading Card History - 2 - Francisco Rodriguez, Nick Markakis
All-Rookie 50th - 2 - Angel Berroa, Aaron Miles
Mickey Mantle Story - 1
Topps Stars - 1 - Justin Morneau
Campaign Matchups - 1 - 1872 Grant v. Greeley

ToppsTown - 4
All-Rookie - 1
David Wright - 1

Fresh 2 U - Sid Bream

Now if this were any other baseball player on the planet, I would be fairly certain that was a big honkin' screwdriver that Sid Bream was holding. This card would be more like a promotion for the Vodka Distillers of America then the Florida Agricultural Commission. But it's Sid Bream so I know for a fact that is 100% pure freshly squeezed orange juice made from oranges picked from a grove growing behind a quiet country church. No shenanigans occurred under Sid's watch, I assure you. Sid's one of those straight and narrow guys all the way. When you hassle him for an autograph while standing in line at Burger King, he's the type of guy who gladly signs, adds a bible verse or two to the signature, chats with you for a few minutes, buys you lunch and talks to the manager and convinces him to give you a job. The manager's job. Clean living all the way for Sid. You can't beat out a Barry Bonds throw to home plate if your head is all messed up from a stadium cup sized alcoholic beverage. Seriously, how big is that freakin' cup?? There's like three trees worth of oranges squeezed in that thing. Orange juice is good for you and all, but two gallons is a bit much. I'm beginning to wonder about these Florida Agriculture folks, I'm not sure their intentions are altogether good. I'm not worried about Sid though. He shared that OJ with the rest of the team, and even let the photographer have his portion because he looked hot and thirsty after shooting all day. That's just the kind of guy he is.

Thursday, May 29, 2008

2008 Topps Series 2 Box Break - Packs 1-4

Ok, I'm doing the same drill as last time. I'm ripping the box one layer at a time and posting those four packs. Then I'll do something else and then rip the next four packs. This way the box lasts about a week and I get 9 posts out of the deal. Here's the first four because I'm sure my readers are all frothing at the mouth in their lust for new wax. Last time I got two "hits" - a black parallel and a Presidential stamp card. Will I do better or worse this time? Let's find out.

Pack 1:
498 Matt Chico
408 Edinson Volquez
486 Javier Vazquez
601 Felipe Paulino RC
492 Harvey Garcia RC
333 Jayson Nix RC
YR83 Wil Ledezma Year In Review
ToppsTown code card
507 Mark DeRosa
339 Troy Percival
378 Ozzie Guillen

First pack I pull a Brave insert. Ok, so it's Wil Ledezma. IT'S STILL A BRAVE. Edinson Volquez is the first card to elicit a "cool!" reaction from me. The Reds picked him up from Texas in the Josh Hamilton Trade and he's leading the league in ERA. I'm pretty sure he's pitching against Tom Glavine tomorrow. I'm going to go out on a limb and predict that with the Braves' inability to hit on the road and Edinson's ability to pitch lights out at home, the Bravos are in for a long night. I'm surprised this isn't his rookie card though. I did get three RC's in the pack including what they are trying to pawn off as Jayson Nix's rookie card. I say Bull. I have a Topps Heritage card of him from 2002 for Pete's sake. I pulled my first ToppsTown junk card. It's got some kind of a code on back. Hooray, I get to register for Topps' website and forget the password after 2 months again. Troy Percival in a Rays uniform is kinda cool. Did you know he has 14 saves for them so far this year? He's also posing in the back yard of some dude apartment. I've seen this same apartment building on about 10 Topps cards now dating from last year at least. WHOSE APARTMENT IS THIS??? It's driving me a little nutty. Last card in the pack is Ozzie Guillen. I hope Ozzie manages the Sox for as long a time as Bobby Cox has managed the Braves. The second time around mind you, not the first time when he got fired by Ted Turner for no apparent reason.

Pack 2:
606 Jason Bergman
347 Chris Capuano
468 Gregor Blanco RC
658 Kerry Wood
TCH61 Francisco Rodriguez Trading Card History
AR90 Angel Berroa All-Rookie Team
445 gold foil Hideki Matsui
Checklist 3 of 4
660 Yadier Molina
473 Joe Maddon
356 Manny Corpas

If you were hoping that Topps would ditch the gold foil cards for series two, you were disappointed. The foil on Hideki is kind of scroungy like the cards from my last box, so maybe we'll see no foil errors again. The Gregor Blanco card is sweet. I've been waiting impatiently to pull his card this year. Kerry Wood's card is nifty looking, there's a beautiful cloudy Arizona sky behind him. Yadier Molina is card #660 for the second straight year. This I do not understand unless the Topps checklister is a Mets fan who tries to leave him out of the set but is forced to put him back in as the last card instead. Angel Berroa gets a 50th anniversary card. K-Rod's Trading card history card is going to inspire a post. The back says "1952 Baseball Card" but it looks like a Red Man tobacco card to me. The card looks great either way and it's going straight in the binder. The checklist card is the most interesting though, it has the Home Run Derby Checklist (Chipper's the only Brave), the Silks checklist (Chipper, Smoltz, Tex, Hudson and Frenchy) a bunch of autographs I'll never get and the tail end of the Campaign Matchup card. that's the really interesting part. The card for 2008 is Barack vs. Hillary and is labeled 2008D. No McCain at all. If Topps has to have a gimmick card in this set, sneaking in a super short printed McCain vs. Obama card would win back some of my lost respect from the Giuliani stupidity.

Pack 3:
423 Mike Scioscia
626 Mike Redmond
638 Juan Pierre
489 Joakim Soria
621 Denard Span RC
602 Lyle Overbay & Vernon Wells Classic Combos
YR64 Chad Gaudin Year in Review
ToppsTown junk
372 Matt Kemp
338 Matt Diaz
505 BJ Upton

Three packs, three Braves. Good start. So far I'll say this: The photography is better than in series 1. the action shots are a little more interesting than the "Pitcher throwing" "Hitter hitting" all from the exact same angle shots we've been getting. Juan Pierre's card is especially nice looking as he swings away with the crowd and the first base coach in the background. BJ Upton is chillin' by the batting cage. Even the posed portraits are getting a little better as they aren't slapped up against a blank wall or some Olan Mills dropcloth. Mike Scioscia has fluffy clouds behind him and is flanked by a palm tree and the Angels' Halo A on either side. Joakim Soria has an interesting pattern of seats as a backdrop. Denard Span has nothing interesting behind him and is pissed off about it. Another ToppsTown card, another Year in Review, another 9 cards for the set. Next pack.

Pack 4:
491 Cliff Floyd
414 Andrew Miller
624 Joe Torre
587 Chris Snyder
403 Nate Robertson
406 Gold Parallel Takashi Saito #1336/2008
MM64 Mickey Mantle Story
Topps All Star Rookie junk card
ANOTHER ToppsTown Junk card
571 Eric Gagne
564 Frank Catalanotto
382 Micah Owings

Cliff Floyd is still in the league?? Awesome! Topps is teaching me new stuff all the time. I'm starting to buy Joe Torre in a Dodgers uni. He'll probably get fired as soon as I'm really comfortable with it though. I got my first Gold Parallel, too bad it's a Dodger reliever. Could be worse, coulda been Gagne. I bet writers regret not giving Smoltzie his due back when Gagne was juicing up the world in '02 to '04. Four packs in and I'm tired of ToppsTown. The Mantle card looks good on the front, but the back was a bit of a shock. I'm used to seeing cartoons on the back of '56 Topps cards and there's just a wall of text talking about Don Larson's perfect game. I know people are kind of tired of The Mick in Topps products, but I really hope they continue this Mantle Story set through his '69 card design. I'm in kind of a pickle here, I pulled both Andrew Miller who is Mario's favorite and Micah Owings, beloved of Dinged Corners. Looks like I'll have to post them both!

The box so far:

Base cards - 33
Checklists - 1
Dupes - 0

Gold Foil - 1
Gold Parallel - 1 - Takashi Saito

Year In Review - 2 - Wil Ledezma, Chad Gaudin
Trading Card History - 1 - Francisco Rodriguez
All-Rookie 50th - 1 - Angel Berroa
Mickey Mantle Story - 1

ToppsTown - 3
All-Rookie - 1

It's Heeeeeere.....

It's in my hands right now. I softly caress it's plastic shrink wrap. The wrap that will momentarily be ripped from the box and discarded on the floor as I tear into this box. Watch this space, I'll post the wrappings and box toppers and such in a little while. I just need a little alone time with my box first.

All right, I'm back. Here's all the wrappings and stuff from the box. Once again I got screwed on my set sticker and there were no box toppers at all. I thought there was supposed to be a rookie redemption card in there? Maybe they stuck it in a pack. Here's the box bottom with typical legalese.

No Barry Bonds logo, thank God. Hopefully we're done with him. Mantle's back in full force though. I never noticed it before but Mickey's logo says "BRAND MANTLE". Mickey was a MAN, not a brand! How do you think his kids feel knowing their daddy was a brand. Then again they're getting all the licensing fees so brand away I suppose.

I scanned the box bottom in a little higher DPI this time, so just click on it to read the autograph and relic groupings. Looking at the autograph list I see that there are some big names in there. David Wright, Chein Ming Wang, David Ortiz, Vlad Guerrero and Joba lead the pack. Mark Teixeira and Jo-Jo Reyes represent the signing Braves. The relic list is fantastic, there are hardly any clunkers at all in there. Scott Thorman is easily the most terrible relic of the bunch. At least if your guaranteed autogamer is a relic you're very likely to get somebody good.

There is also a serial number stamped on the inside of the flap. I shall scan it and post it, for I am insane.

Here's the wrapper:

The sell sheet prominently featured A-Rod so I'm pleasantly surprised to see Pujols as the Series Two spokesman. No circles on the wrapper this time, just Albert in front of a solid field of red. Topps is really pushing the red this year. Red belongs on wrappers and not borders so I'm cool with it. I tried about ten times to scan the odds on the back of the wrapper, but this is the best I could do:

It's a pretty terrible scan, don't even bother clicking. I'll type out the odds instead:

Gold Parallel 1:5 (about 7 per box)
Black Parallel 1:63 (a little better than 1 in every other box)
Platinum Parallel 1:12500 (fuggedahboutit)
Printing Plates 1:900 (1:25 boxes)
Mantle Story 1:18 (2 per box)
Trading Card History 1:6 (6 per box)
Topps Stars 1:6 (6 per box)
Year in Review 1:6 (6 per box)
FatHead Instant Win 1:52,718

Ok, a brief pause here. FatHead instant win cards? You mean those things you stick on the wall? The ones with the goofy commercials that air at 3am on ESPN? I hadn't heard of this before now. Maybe Topps is accepting ads in their packs now? It's one way to generate revenue I suppose. As long as they don't chop one up into one inch squares and put it in cards I'm cool with it. You're looking at about one in every 1500 boxes so you'll likely never see one.

All-Rookie Team 50th Anniversary 1:5 (about 7 per box)
All-Rookie Team 50th Anniversary Gold Parallel 1:740 (about 1:20 boxes)
All-Rookie Team 50th Anniversary Relic 1:2378 (about 1:66 boxes)
All-Rookie Team 50th Anniversary Autograph 1:13017 (it's harder to pull an autograph than a 1:1 Platinum card?)
Silk Collection 1:300 (about 1:8 boxes)
Presidential Stamp Collection 1:600 (about 1:16 boxes)

Here's all the Highlights autogamer odds. Add 'em all together and you get 1 per box somehow. Is there anybody with a statistics degree out there that can confirm this?

Group A 1:28,927
Group B 1:923
Group C 1:2550
Group D 1:15,370
Group E 1:814
Group F 1:3254

Autographed Relic 1:17,356 (easier than autograph group A which is the best group of the bunch)

Group A 1:85
Group B 1:108
Group C 1:651
Dual Relic 1:6354

I can forget about a Teixeira autograph, but maybe the Jo-Jo Reyes and Thorman cards will be easy to find. There's gotta be a WHOLE lot of Oswalt and Reyes relic cards out there if those two alone pack out a 1:85 packs. Methinks Topps messed up the odds again. Or the groups. Or just makes them all up thinking no one will notice.

1956 Mantle Reprint Relic 1:43,030 (!!!)
Historical Campaign Matchups 1:6 (6 per box)
Historical Campaign Matchups Cut Signatures 1:80,000 (one cut sig in every 2,222.22repeating boxes. I might have to buy a second box at those odds)
Commemorative Patch Relic 1:792 (down to 1:22 boxes for this one)
Campaign Letter Patches 1:2642 (about one in 73 boxes)

I forgot about the Letter Patches cards. Thing the fake Letters Upper Deck puts in SP that people collect the whole name of their favorite player and then scans them and puts it in their .sig file on the Beckett messageboards. Now think about them doing it for Obama and McCain. It'll take about 400 boxes worth of packs to spell out either one of their names, so good luck with that. Imagine if Richardson and Huckabee won the nominations. Oy!

Home Run Derby 1:125
Topps FatHead Sweepstakes 1:107,600 (I'm not sure how this is different from the instant win card above)

Well that's what could be in this box. What will I get? Who knows. We'll all find out soon. Here's the first card from the first pack in the meantime:

Matt Chico of the Washington Nationals. Oops, make that the Columbus Clippers. This box is starting off hot!

Trying again

Ok, now I'm going to get my box of Series 2. Unless it's $70 like Brian said it cost near him in the last post. If I pay $70 for a box of Topps it better be at least 25 years old. Especially since you can find boxes of 2007 Series two for $25 online if you look hard enough. Assuming I get the box there will be the beginnings of the break tonight. You know the drill. In the meantime here's an Allen & Ginter card I need to post in honor of Thorzul, who pwned me in a bet on the Braves/Brewers series. That reminds me, I need to buy a pack for him as well. You'll see more A&G cards soon, June is officially my "catch up on all my old posts month" and I finally got another for the set. In the meantime enjoy a quadruped.

Fresh 2 U - Tom Glavine

Here's card number five of the Florida Agriculture set. I don't have any wacky conspiracy theories about this card because it's hard to blame the Illuminati for Tom Glavine looking like a total dork. I'm sure Tom was in the middle of a brilliant Bugs Bunny impression but when the photographer snapped the pic, he captured "goofball eating carrot" instead. Tom is the only player not obviously wearing any Braves gear either so it's entirely possible this photo was not posed but was instead Tom working his patented Looney Toons move to pick up a chick at a party. It's all rather silly, but significant in that the Fresh 2 U logo is the only one where the produce featured in the logo is not circular. You may think this fact is meaningless, but I shall be pondering it the next time I meditate on the Florida Agriculture Koan for sure. The back of Tom's card does not specifically mention carrots, but it does say that Florida farmers produce everything from avocados (which is misspelled as avacados) to zucchini. I'm glad now that I don't have the Marlins half of this set, because I really don't want to see any baseball players doing funny poses with a zucchini.

Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Actual Trading Card History - I actually figured this one out

Remember what I said last time about Insta-Post? This card is a Brave and an obscure design that I sort of recognise but don't remember exactly what it is. So yeah, Insta-Post applies even though this card was released last week and I didn't go to the shop to pick it up until today. This is card TCH44 a "1908 Baseball Card" of former Brave Andruw Jones.

Pretty funky looking card eh? So what is this sucker? Extensive research (ie. look it up in the SCD) tells me this is the design of a Rose Company postcard. The Rose Company was a major manufacturer of novelty postcards at the time and had a variety of subjects. Baseball was a popular subject for postcards in the early 1900's and the ones from Rose Co. were one of the more elaborate and distinctive designs. The card's elaborate design was embossed on the card and a high quality studio portrait was affixed to it instead of being printed directly on the card. There are about 200 subjects in the set including major and minor leaguers and a few rare "do it yourself" cards have also surfaced. The big cards include Ty Cobb, Honus Wagner, Cy Young, Christy Mathewson and Walter "Big Train" Johnson. These cards can sell for $5,000 and up, but even low grade common cards can go for several hundred. Team collectors like Blue Heaven and myself will have to admire these from afar unless a bargain pops up out of the blue. The cards don't show up for sale that often either. There has been exactly one on eBay in the past month or so. If you like the design, but can't swallow the expense, Perez-Steele galleries included the design as part of their Masterworks collection. There are ten Rose style cards in the set including a Warren Spahn that I really need to get my hands on.

Topps did a good job on this design although the card I received is oddly miscut. It adds an air of authenticity to the vintage style card though so I won't complain. this is the last Brave in the set as far as I can tell from the checklist. Maybe Topps will continue the set to Updates and Highlights and make it an even 100 card set?

No Box Today

They hadn't arrived at the shop when I was there and I'm not quite enough of a card addict to sit around all day waiting for a UPS truck. At least not for Topps Series 2 at least. If it were Allen & Ginter, yeah, I'd be at the UPS terminal demanding answers and trying to get people fired for incompetence. Not enough urgency on this product, I'll have a box tomorrow or Friday probably.

In lieu of a box break, here's a random Chipper Jones card to brighten your day.

Sweet Redemption

I told you I'd get one...

Now I just need to send it to Topps and wait for the turnaround. I also found out there is a Bert Sugar card in the old Kayo Boxing set from the early '90s. Maybe I need to get that one too and become the official Bert Sugar SuperCollector?

I'm off to the card shop to hopefully pick up a box of Topps Series 2. I'm really counting on that UPS truck to bring the goods. I don't want to return with a storage box and broken dreams.

Fresh 2 U - Jeff Blauser

On card three of the Florida Agricultural Commission set we see Jeff Blauser holding up a top-secret experimental tangerine. A tangerine orchard just outside of Ocala was infected with a special strain of mold commissioned by the Department of Defense and then irrigated with tritium contaminated water for 8 months. The radioactivity caused the DNA of the two organisms to combine to create a highly suggestive symbiote that lived in the peel that would form messages at the urging of a gardener, farmer or Federal agent dressed in overalls. The 'official' story was that the fruit was to be used for innocuous advertising purposes, but the CIA saw them as a propaganda tool that could be sent in aid packages to unfriendly nations to promote anti-government sentiments through slogans written on the peels. Unfortunately Fidel Castro's cousin Jorge was employed as a migrant worker on the farm and was acting as a spy for the Cuban Government. Two weeks before the Orwellian citrus was scheduled to be sent to Guatemala, Jorge had convinced over three quarters of the orchard to become Marxists. The fruit rejected their capitalist propaganda and instead wrote socialist agitprop and portraits of Che Guevara on their skins. A particularly patriotic tree reported the traitors to the Feds and after a protracted battle where many agents were knocked senseless by falling fruit an airstrike had to be called in to quash the uprising. The orchard was razed, the project was canceled and the remaining loyal tangerines were transferred to Disney World where they were used as heads for the dolls in the "It's A Small World" ride and can be found smiling vapidly even today. Jeff never knew just how dangerous that innocent looking little tangerine that he was holding for this photo truly was.

Tuesday, May 27, 2008

2008 Topps Series 2 Live

How do I know? The case busters are hard at work ripping and posting to eBay. One thing you can't do before the product is live is start posting auctions for 1/1 printing plates. Looks like it's now or never for my set preview. The Braves vs. Brewers game is on though so I'll get to it in between innings throughout the night so stay tuned... they blew it in the ninth. Argh.


You know how I feel about the base set design. I really like the circles motif, the foil is unobtrusive and I'm slightly disappointed in the photography. The set is 330 cards numbered 331-660. It looks like Johnny Cueto is the hot rookie in the early goings. I haven't seen any Jay Bruce cards yet so it looks like Topps jumped the gun on the sell sheet. I also haven't seen any weirdness, short prints or gimmicks yet, but give it time. It's Topps base cards. Ya like it or ya don't. I like it.


There's new stuff, old stuff and stuff that's gone. I'll tackle each group separately.

Stuff That's Gone:

Own the Game is gone, but it's usually a Series 1 only insert set. Campaign 2008 cards are gone, but don't worry, there's plenty of politics in the set. The strange patch cards that look like jerseys are gone, but they've been replaced by something else you don't want. I'm not sure if the gold foil parallel cards are gone or not.

Conspicuously absent are the Opening Day Matchup cards that have haunted Series Two sets for the past few years.

Stuff That's Back:

Trading Card History is back with 25 more cards, numbered 51-75. Cards 26-50 are giveaways at hobby stores and have about a month and a half to go to complete the set.

The Year in Review continuity set returns with cards 61-120.

All Rookie Team 50th anniversary continues with cards 56-110 along with the related parallels autos and relics.

The Mickey Mantle Story is now in the 1956 design with 10 more cards and a bat relic version numbered to 56.

2007 Highlights Relics and Autographs. These are the one per box things that are required nowadays.

Presidential Stamp Collection. Those plastic cards holding a postage stamp with a president's face on it are back. They book pretty well and are something different so good for Topps on bringing this strange set back.

Cut Autos are also becoming standard operating procedure for Topps. This time instead of Obama and Hillary, there is JFK and Nixon. No regular collectors ever see any of these cards.

Parallels - Gold numbered to 2008, Black numbered to 57 and Platinum numbered one of one. Press plates too.

Dick Perez inserts - I thought these were Wal-Mart exclusive, but I've seen two or three auctions for the suckers. Maybe some blasters fell off the back of a truck. Part of me wants to run out to the store to see if they're in, but it's seriously too dang late to be doing that. My guess are T205 cards come back at Target as well. There better be a Brave in one of these sets or I'm gonna cause a ruckus.

Brand New Stuff:

Topps Stars - a 25 card set on shiny foilboard. This is the insert set that always replaces Own the Game.

Home Run Derby Contest - 50 cards of potential participants in the Home Run Derby numbered to 999. If you pull the winner you have a chance to win the Jersey the player wore.

Historical Campaign Matchups - 55 cards with the two rivals for each presidential election. This continues the political theme in Topps this year. If there is an Obama - McCain card, Hillary's gonna be PISSED. There's also a junk card encouraging kids to vote on Topps.com.

Commemorative Patch Relics - More manufactured patch cards, this time commemorating the last seasons at Yankee and Shea stadium. There better be a Chipper Jones Shea Stadium patch.

Silk Collection - For some reason Topps reprinted 100 cards from the first 660 on tiny pieces of silk and encased them in the same kind of plastic holders they use for the stamps and the Allen & Ginter relics. They are numbered to 50 so don't worry about pulling any.

ToppsTown - Garbage fillers.

Also new is that hobby boxes finally have one "hit" per box. Most will be low-tier relics and the occasional prospect auto but they are there. Topps had to do something to counter Upper Deck's multiple hits per box strategy this year.


If you collected Series One, you'll likely collect Series Two. The best insert sets are back so you can continue to collect that cool set from Series One if you wish. The Campaign Matchup cards won't appeal to everyone, but they look very well done and will win over a history buff like me. There are strange, low numbered insert sets to chase with various bells and whistles but they don't detract from the essential Toppsness of the set. For the first time in a long time there are no common inserts that will incite groans like the Home Run monotony or pictures of Opening day. Also NO MIRROR CARDS PERIOD. I'm dreading discovering the stupid gimmick of this set because so far I like it a lot. At least when the gimmick pops up I'll be able to complain about it.