Thursday, December 31, 2009

Blowing Some Holiday Cash

It's New Years Eve and today I am at home, kickin it with J-Large. His daycare is taking the day off, so that means that I am too. We slept in this morning, ate some oatmeal and apple sauce, and headed out into the big city to run a few errands. First off was a stop at the bank to pay the mortgage (BORING!), then a quick jaunt over to the post office to mail off a nice stack of envelopes from yesterdays pick a team post. We rounded out the trip with stop off at my new favorite card shop.

I received some cash for Christmas that I have been trying to spend for the last week. I know that I want cards, but could not decide what to buy. I didn't really want another box of T206, although I had incredible luck on the first box...and I don't want a box of Topps High Numbers because I don't think I can do much better than the dual auto from the first box, plus I see a ton of dups in my future. What to buy, what to buy???

Then it hit me! The forbidden fruit!

A little history lesson. I used to frequent a lousy card shop on the other end of town. I found the business a bit shady, as Cranky is a big-time ebayer, and I always suspected pack searching. But I would buy from him because he was practically the only shop in town where I could purchase single packs of virtually anything.

My new shop has great benefits. For one, everything I purchase from the guy turns to GOLD. Secondly the place is clean and everything is behind glass...which makes it really easy for me to bring Jacoby in with me. Third, even though there are not a lot of single packs laying around, the owner is total open to opening up a box and pricing them out for me if I am just looking for a sample. Fourth, The owner does not Ebay. Fifth, he does not like you to open product in his store because if you get the big hit of the box, he feels guilty selling the other packs knowing that nothing decent is left. He wants happy customers who want to come back, and he has me hooked.

So what did I purchase with my Christmas roll? Remember way back when Cranky absolutely refused to sell me single packs of SP Authentic because they are too easy to pack search (now how would he know that??), but was totally willing to sell me a whole box for $130 bucks? Well, I did end up getting that box...but from a competing store at a much better price. So to you all I unveil....
Woo-Hoo! I finally have my hands on some SP Authentic! I am excited to see if my luck holds up on product from my new shop. I am going to bust this one slow, and post results for you. Wish me luck!

Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Pick a Team, Any Team.

Last night I intended to continue my series of 2009 "Best Of's" with a post on one of my favorite products of the year...Goodwin Champions.

Unfortunately, about 2 pm yesterday a freak snowstorm hit Portland, and if you don't know this already, this city cannot handle all. EVERY SINGLE Interstate and service road was at a standstill for several hours. I actually abandoned trying to leave downtown and just holed up at a bar and ate a burger and watched football for a couple of hours. By 10pm, my wife, kid and I were finally home after dashing through the snow. Check out some of our driving ineptitude...

So no Goodwin favorite cards review today, which is too bad, because I like LOTS of these. Instead I want to throw an offer out to my readers:

I have a bunch of T206 and Topps Updates and Highlights that I have no interest in collecting (minus the old-timers from T206 and the Turkey Reds from U&H). All you have to do is leave a comment and name your team and I will be happy to make this my project over the weekend and get the cards out to you. No reciprocation is required, but if you happen to have any Goodwin Champions, TR's or Heritage High Numbers that fit my needs are that are clogging up your collection, I would be happy to take them off of your hands.

Again, be sure to name your team and shoot me an email with your addr and I will get them out to you!

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Best and Worst of 2009: Allen and Ginter

Allen and Ginter came along in July and was an immediate sensation with the blogosphere. I definitely needed to get a hold of a couple boxes of these. I later determined that there was no stopping me from gathering the entire set. Below are a few of my favorites of the set.
/a> Jorge Posada - Yep, another Yankee makes the cut. This is a nice rendition of the most hated catcher in baseball (okay I made that part up).

Prince Fielder - America's favorite vegan pops with the red background and dark batting jersey.

Raul Ibanez - Had an amazing season, and has a deservingly smug look on his face. I love the shading in this card as well as the green background.
Pat Neshek - For personal reasons, my favorite card of the set!

Again, I really enjoyed the landscape shots and here are a couple of my favorites. I think the coloring and the closeup of Matt Holliday makes for a classic card, and the creative angle on Clayton (Matt Damon) Kershaw takes advantage of the layout nicely.

Of course it would not be Ginter without a few oddball cards. how could you NOT like electron? Also, Michael Phelps on any card is going to be an instant classic.

Now for some of the lemons of the set...

Ervin Santana - Flexing his guns with a ridiculous pose.
Jonathan Papelbon - The whole world knows of the Papelbon staredown, but some cards just choose to beat it to death.

Chris Davis - Look into the ghostly whites of his eyes
Gil Meche - Nothing against Gil, but this particular card has a pretty creepy vibe to it.

Manny Ramirez - While some of Manny's cards look fantastic, the dreads just were not up for photo day in this set.
Donkey Kong Dude - Alright, so you get your own card and are the Donkey Kong Master...but sitting down? Come on Dude, thats just lazy.

Monday, December 28, 2009

Best and Worst of 2009: Topps Flagship Series 2

Topps series 2 continued to impress with it's wide variety of inserts and hits. To this day, I still have had the most fun cracking boxes of Flagship and look forward to the 2010 set coming out soon. Here are some of my favorites from Series 2...

I think Alfonso might have one of the nicest cards in the set. Again, the photographer of the A's did an excellent job as here are another couple of nice A's cards. The Soria is a nice, sharp card of one of the most under appreciated closers in the game.

A lot of the Diamondbacks cards looked great with the gold dirt popping off of red jerseys. This Whitesett Rookie really stood out. Cust in full, majestic swing. Jose Contreras and Bengie Molina also are sharp images with a great color-scheme.

Here are a couple of my favorite action shots. I don't think I have ever seen a normal Jered Weaver card, but at least this one takes advantage of his anti-gravity epic hair. Russell Martin about to feel a whole lotta hurt also is captured nicely.

Again, the vertical cards were my favorites of the set. Most of the manager cards in this set are terrible, but these two of Girardi and Macha are pretty well done. I had to include Varitek and Fernando Rodney. And as much as I hate to admit it, yet another Yankee image (Alfredo) really looks the best of the bunch and takes full advantage of the horizontal frame.

And here are my favorites of the set

The Sung Baek is an instant classic, right up there with the David Price of series 1.

Ramon Hernandez has a throwback look to it. It's borderline creepy, but also brilliant all in one.

And card #660 goes to Jacoby Ellsbury. A nice horizontal shot with a red color scheme.

So what about the bombs of the set? Here are but a few...

Mark Henderson is one of MANY of posed shots that just look awful. many are overexposed or just plain goofy looking. They remind me of the O-Pee-Chee curtain background shots. Ian Snell signing autographs is just a lazy choice. Luke Scott bent over....and another superstar Jeter in a less than impressive choice.

I left most manager cards alone, but this Charlie Manuel is just horrible. I am not exactly sure what is going on in the Carmona card, and most of us don't picture Joey Votto in a lunging bunt attempt.

Saving the absolute worst for last, here are a couple of AWFUL posed shots of Marcum and Redding, as well as an unfortunate scoreboard shot of German, and a Gary Matthews in a very poorly placed angle behind the mystery pitcher.

That wraps up Flagship. A lot of hits and misses in this set. It was fun to go through them all once again now that I have a bit more collecting and product knowledge under my belt. Overall, I still think flagship is the most fun to collect, but I am hoping for a much kinder numbering system for 2010. I don't know how much more my eyesight can take of tiny numbers in the corners.

Saturday, December 26, 2009

Trade with Priceless Joe!

As the year winds down and I am enjoying going through some of the sets that I have collected throughout the year and as well as the friendships that I have made. Today I went out to collect the mail and found a nice brown envelope waiting for me from my friend Joe at Priceless Pursuit
Joe and I have exchanged plenty of cards up and down I-5 throughout the summer and fall, as he passion for the Yankees is as strong as my passion for the Red Sox. A match made in heaven. Joe also welcomed in little Joe Jr into the family earlier this month, one day before my little Jacoby turned one. Who knows, maybe some say Joe Jr and Jacoby will be trading baseball cards.

Joe also knows of my passion towards finishing sets. I admit that over the course of the last few months I have veered away from this, but intend to right the ship and finish up some boxes. One of the first sets I ever really fell for was the Turkey Reds in 2009 Flagship. I fought long and hard to get all 100 only to be mortified to learn that there were going to be 50 more in U&H. Joe recently cracked a box of U&H and checked out my needs list and sent me the following...
Without a doubt, the Martinez is my favorite of the bunch. I am starting to feel a little guilty about liking V-Mart so much because Jason Varitek is probably my all-time favorite Sox. But father time keeps on ticking and teams change. I hope he stays on with the organization in some capacity or another.

I also have developed quite the liking for the old-timers lately. I can't really explain why the sudden fascination with the greats of the game, but I just can't seem to get enough of the retro cards lately. Joe sent me a handful of Legends of the game...

Without a doubt the highlight of the package was Joe's hit from his hobby box, a Roy Campenella Legends of the Game Team Letter Patch. And yes, Joe was right, this patch is certainly more stunning in person.
It is serial numbered 5/50 and features the old school Brooklyn Dodgers lettering. Joe has had some mad luck with hits lately and I am thrilled that he was able to part with this one to scratch my old-timers itch. In return I shall be showering Joe with Yankees galore to start a treasure chest for Joe Jr.

I highly recommend the Priceless Pursuit as a daily perusal, and if you are into the whole "Drewbie" awards scene, I urge you to place a vote for Joe. He is a stand up guy, and has a highly-entertaining blog. Check it out and thanks again Joe!

Best and Worst of 2009: Topps Flagship Series 1

For the last week of 2009, I thought it would be fun to go back through some of the sets that I have collected and pick out some of my favorites of the set, and well as some bombs. I had a great time going back through Topps 2009 Flagship. This was the first set that I collected since starting my collection last spring, so there was quite a bit of nostalgia going through the 660 hand collated cards.

My first impressions were "damn, these numbers are STILL hard to see". The black numbering on dark blue triangles, and even the green triangles was a bear to read, and I still remember staying up into the late hours collating the set and going to bed with a throbbing head. Here's to a better numbering scheme in 2010. I was also surprised at the wide variety of blurry cards, sharp cards, tacky cards and stunning cards. Truly a hit/miss on photography.

The following are cards that I like the best out of Series 1. The picks have nothing to do with the player, but purely how much the card grabbed my attention when flipping through the set of 330. Mickey Mantle - While I learned quickly that Mantle being the #7 card was a common Topps gimmick, I still remember my heart skipping a beat when I pulled it. Love the washed out grey on light blue scheme. I later pulled this same card in Chrome and it really pops.

Frank Thomas - You will notice quite a few A's in my choices. I don't know how they choose photographers for each team, but whoever did the A's did a fine job. Nice, clear photo.

Ken Griffey Jr. Classy Shot of Jr Acknowledging the Chicago Faithful

David Price - I mentioned this one earlier in the year. This is one of my favorites of the year. Great shot, great colors, great clarity, and a rookie card to boot.

I really fell for the horizontal shots of the series, as they really can add more drama to the card.

A-Rod. What? Why choose a notorious Yankee scum? Well, again, this is not biased towards players, and I have to admit that if you needed an attention grabbing card to lead off your set, Topps chose a great shot.

Justin Verlander - Topps takes full advantage of Verlanders classic pitching motion with a crystal-clear shot that spans the length of the card.

Albert Pujols - I would say this shot one of, if the THE best of the series.

Edgar Renteria - I really dig the airborn action shot here.

David Ortiz - A classic pose post-home run shot of Big Papi

The Phillies - This is probably the best card each season. Just pure elation caught on a card.

These next four really grab my attention with the fantastic color schemes.

And I'll top of series one with my favorite action shot of the set. Reed Johnson making an impossible grab at the ivy.

Of course with every set of great shots, there are the cards that make you wince when you see them. Below are my "razzie"nominations for series 1...

Brad Ziegler and Jeremy Guthrie display disgustingly contorted body parts mid-pitch. I am aware that some pretty funky stuff is going on when guys through the ball, but I mean, good god,it looks like Zieglers are is on inside out and Guthrie's ribs look like they are going to burst along with all the veins in his neck and arms.

I was not impressed with Big Z swinging a bat, nor any of the several "Met-Life" blimp cam shots of pitchers in motion. The closest to a decent blimp shot was of Greg Maddux, but even that one did not look quite right. Harden takes the cake for the worst though.

Hunter Pence - Looks way too strained for taking a warm-up swing.

Jason Giambi - With Porn Stache and a highly uncomfortable looking cut.

Ryan Braun - Is this really the best Topps could do with one of the game's top stars?

Chase Utley - Same goes for Utley, who is also a coveted #200 card (elite players seem to get the 100's spots) this the best they could come up with for superstar Utley?

And finishing off with my least-flattering shots of the set...I'll let you add your own caption on these less-than-stellar photos.

Tomorrow we'll continue on with Series 2!

Thursday, December 24, 2009

Have a Happy Holiday

Well, best intentions as always, but it turns out that returning from a week's vacation the week before Christmas does not allow a lot of free time for blogging! I will definitely return full-time next week with some "best-of's" to close out the year as well as introduce a couple new weekly features for 2010. I already have one figured out, so I still have a few days to invent the other!

In the meantime, everybody enjoy your holidays with all of your friends, families, and loved ones. Here is a list of a few things you can do to pass the time over the long holiday weekend...

1. Watch 24 hours of "A Christmas Story" in bits and pieces and no discernible order. Am I the only one that ends up seeing the same three scenes every year?

2. Turn the "Poinsettia" Bowl into a drinking game by taking a shot every time the announcer botches the name of the plant. Also works well with Viking or Colts games everytime you hear the name Favre or Manning.

3. Spend several hours finding the one light bulb that is causing the entire strand of lights to go out.

4. Head out to the stores today and watch people totally freak out and grab the most random items in a last ditch effort to show somebody that they care! This becomes even more amusing with the invention of the cell phone, as you can now make panicked calls to relatives who have even less of a clue than the caller.

5. Watch the Yule Log on HDTV. We have one here in Portland that is a live feed from a fireplace up at Mt Hood Lodge. Every now and again you see and hand come in the screen and poke the fire...classic.

6. Sit back and ponder how the Blazers won 3 of 4 on a road trip with half of an actual NBA team out due to injuries.

7. Go see a holiday flick. I am getting "Wild, Wild West" vibes out of "Sherlock Holmes" but might be worth checking out. There is always "Avatar", but take Dramamine first.

8. Set up blog drafts (okay, maybe this is a hint to myself).

9. Something about Lebron v Kobe. Doesn't ring a bell though.

10. Hobby Box Break! Hey, you owe it to yourself. Go indulge on a product you really like.

11. Convince the wife to take the kid "boxing day" shopping so you can have the house to yourself and play Call of Duty.

Happy Holidays!

Monday, December 21, 2009

Horse Face and Crooked Hat

Well, back from vacation and time to get back at the blogging in a big way. No more school to get in the way of good old fashioned goofing off so I am looking forward to so good posts and pack rips to come.

One of my greatest pleasures on my trip was to go snorkeling in the morning, followed by collapsing in a lounge chair poolside with the latest edition of the Maui news in-hand. One of the great things about an island newspaper is that it is very little concerned with the ridiculous mainland issues that our culture is obsessed with. All of the shootings, maiming, infidelity, and pilots playing on laptops are all omitted from the Maui news. A great deal more attention is paid to reef damage, rooster problems, and Christmas tree shortages. It is very refreshing.

The sports section is fairly minimal as well, although there were a few box scores each day and a few headlines from the winter meetings. Now keep in mind I don't know all of trades that went down, but a couple blew over in the trade winds that I found pretty interesting...

John Lackey AKA "Horseface". Sure it it childish to give nicknames to players, especially condescending ones, but I am sure at one time or another we have yelled nicknames towards our televisions when our players strike out of commit an error...and they are most likely a lost more profane at that! So Horseface comes from Lackeys sheer grit (literally) that seems to grow with each passing inning. I have absolutely no problem with him becoming a Red Sox, in fact, he is one of the pitchers that I always feared Boston going up against, so mo betta for having him on our side.

Mike Cameron, AKA "Crooked Hat" is fairly obviously...the dude practically invented the slightly-skewed baseball cap bill. I have not seen a player image of him where he has his hat on straight...mind you it is not Dontrelle Willis out-of-control, but still obviously an intentional style. Now I am a bit excited about this acquisition because I feel that Cameron still has a lot of pop in his bat and some good speed to go with it. I am a bit concerned WHERE he is going to play. I have to assume that Bay is gone (again I have not had time to get caught up yet), which is really unfortunate because I was definitely fond of the guy...but that's free agency for you.
That's about all I heard over yonder other than the Roy Halladay sweepstakes. Barring any injuries, I think a lot of NL batters are better setting down the bat and hoping he walks them rather than taking cuts at his stuff. Halladay should excel in the NL (health pending).
Also, congratulations to the Seattle Mariners for snagging Cliff Lee in the deal. THAT is going to pay dividends for Seattle and may just be the greatest acquisition I have seen yet. Don't let the Moose hit ya with the ATV, Cliffy.

Monday, December 14, 2009

Technical Difficulties

Your regularly scheduled blog is experiencing technical difficulties of a tropical kind. We appreciate you patience. Mahalo.

Thursday, December 10, 2009

T206 - Keep Spinning the Hits

Sorry I am a day late getting to the rest of the good stuff of my T206 break. I am trying to get ready to get out of town, but I will make it up to you with some pretty cool stuff, and this will probably be my last post for about a week unless I end up figuring out a none-clunky way to do a blog on my iTouch.

This is about the easiest way to show all of my minis. I have never been super high on minis, but I will be hanging on to the Red Sox (even though it sounds like Mikey is headed out of town), everybody else is up for grabs. FYI, these are are Piedmont backs except for the Cliff Lee (Polar Bear), Aramis Ramirez (Old Mill), Juan Pierre (Old Mill) and Scott Rolen (Cycle #94/99). This was my first hit of the pack, and also one of the more prominent players that I have pulled a relic for. I was very happy to see the dark colored Old Mill base and slowly slid the card out to find Tickle Me Ichiro. Not so shabby. I think that the framing is way beyond the Ginter Frames. It is very stylish.

A few packs later my second hit reared its ugly Yankee head. Here is Robinson Cano looking rather smug indeed. Still I have to give Topps credit, the colors on this relic blend beautifully and overall it really works.

oh...I almost forgot about the hit that I snagged from my random packs last weekend. Here you go...
This was my first overall hit of this product and I was pretty excited about the bat relic. The colors don't work quite as well on this one, but its a nice pull nevertheless...

But I did save the best for last. Now keep in mind that this may be a completely common card. I really have no idea what is UNCOMMON in this set. All I know is that I have not seen the mini version anywhere on Ebay, so I have no idea if these are unique and rare....I am just going to pretend it is because it is a pretty kick-ass mini...

Cy Young T206 Mini.

So there are the main hits of the box (minus the Michael Young that came prior to the box) and the Evan Longoria that snuck into the box. I definitely enjoyed this rip and look forward to showing off some of the nicer base as well as the old-timers that I have become smitten with. Definitely more to come in future posts, but I am interested to see if any of you have any information of Mr Cy young up there.

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Holy Moses! A T206 Hot Pack

Well, I decided to rip open the remainder of my T206 box. I just could not show any restraint. I have this unspoken rule that as soon as I pull a hit, I call it a night, but the hits were buried pretty deep, so I figured "what the heck, lets rip em up and start posting results for my five readers"! This set was actually quite a bit of fun to open up, so I should have all sorts of retro to display over the next couple of days.

Back to the blog title. So I was down to pack #24, I had already pulled my two "on average" hits (one of which I am pretty proud of...but I will keep you waiting on that one) and the other...meh, not so much, but if you are into "evil" then its right up your alley. So I went into the last pack just pretty much going through the motions...
card #1...Dan Uggla....I have seen this image time and time again, and in fact I remember it most from the Ginter Code cards that are forever engrained in my head. It's a nice card, but the image is starting to wear thin... Jackie Robinson. Now we are talkin. I LOVE the old schoolers in this set a whole lot and need to do an inventory soon to see if there is anybody missing. Jackie Robinsons SP pull in Topps flagship still remains one of my favorite cards since I started collecting.

Card #3 is Alex Rios in White Sox gear. Meh at best...

#4...Roy Campanella. Another old timer haulin lumber.

#5....heatin up...the standard pack parallel goes to none other than CEO namesake Jacoby Ellsbury. Love this card.

#6 Rick Porcello RC. I am warming up to Mr Porcello and apparently so are a lot of collectors. His cards are smoking hot right now. Just a standard back on this one, but still a classic.

#7 mini time! This is my one and only Cycle back serial-numbered mini!

#8 goes to the "Fons"

But card #9 (was actually in the middle right after Jacoby, but gotta save the drama for the end) threw me for an absolute loop. Just like in Heritage High Numbers on my extra hit, this was about the last thing that I expected to see, but I am was absolutely thrilled when I looked underneith the Ellsbury card to see this...

I could not find a top-loader fast enough. I am absolutely thrilled to have my very first Evan Longoria auto card. I would actually go as far as to say this is the biggest Star player auto that I have pulled yet next to my Tommy Hanson Chrome auto.
Well, enough for tonight. I have PLENTY of cards to show you all, lots of mini's, i'll get to the relics, and no numbers (another star player NNO?) and a classic mini SP. More to come.

My T206 Plans (I Think)

Yesterday I mentioned that I snagged a box of T206. I did so without any particular idea of what I want to do with the cards. I definitely am not looking to complete the set, as it sounds way too tedious and annoying to even attempt it. I just picked up the box because the contents look kind of fun.

I am starting to think that after opening about six packs (no hit yet), that I am leaning towards the retired players cards. I think they are pretty jazzy looking and I think that I would like to collect at least each of those as well as the usual suspects that I already collect. Most likely everything else will be up for grabs. I am really looking to convert T206 cards into either:

1: Turkey Reds from Updates and Highlights
2: Topps High Numbers base and short-prints
3: Goodwin Champion Base and short prints (I forgot that I am shooting for that set).

Either way, I will start posting up some stuff tonight starting with some minis and my hit from the random packs I bought the other day.

A hint? Think Chuck Norris.

Monday, December 7, 2009

Famous Masters

Master Chief
Master Shredder

Master Yoda

Master Larry Hagman

Mix Master Mike with the Beasties

Master Palpatine

Master and Commander

......Jon Arbuckle

Master Mike and CEO Jacoby!

Good to say that I am officially calling my school career done. My professor asked me today if I intended on going for my Doctorate...I laughed.
It is going to be nice to get back to doing some legitimate blogging again. I apologize for the lacking quality over the last few months, I just did not have the energy to properly put into it, but I am ready to get going. As a gift to myself, I went out and purchased a full hobby box of Topps T206, so I will definitely be sharing some pack breaks with you. I also need to finish sorting my Topps Heritage High Numbers, so I will be posting a needs list soon. If you can help me out with some Heritage High Numbers, I will be happy to help you out with some T206!
Much more to come!