Saturday, July 18, 2009

Ginter Box #2 Complete!

Finally caught a break with the kid sleeping tonight and had a good chance to finally do some serious ripping. It was getting a little touch and go with this box. It took me forever last night to find my first hit, a Magglio Ordonez relic. I made that my stopping point for the night.

Well tonight the packs were really playing tricks with me as I ripped pack after pack and and nothing but standard base cards and a few interesting mini's. I grabbed the final 7 packs and went though one by one, 7,6,5,4,3,2...each pack, no hit! I had a mixture of both excitement and possible anger. Excitment that maybe this would be a box that would hand me a rip card which I want soooo bad, and anger that possibly the manufacturer shorted the box of 3 guaranteed hits. Well, turns out by chance that the last two pack DID have a hit each...

yikes, these came out tiny. Still learning the scanner I guess. Anyways I received my second David Wright Jersey card after promising one to Dinged Corners. The second box was a very nice hit, a Clayton Kershaw auto card! This is perfect for my pitching phenom wing of the collection, so I was very excited to receive this card.

Here are a couple other highlights of a reasonably interesting box...

I am not a huge fan of the mini's, and most will be up for trade, but the Creatures of Legend are pretty cool, our company used to be owned by Enron, and a black border card is oh so fine. cool. Now the art sketches I am officially totally on board with and think I am going to make efforts to collect them all (25). Please keep these in mind for me if looking for trades. Mannys dreads are just insane in this card. Two Red Sox, not too shabby.

guess that is it for now. Thanks for the semi-heart attack Ginter on the last-second hits. One box to go, three more chances at that rip card, and then I will also know how close to a set I am and post all my dups available for trade!

Ginter Code Explanation: What's Next?

Hi everybody,

So now that I am a day seperated from the Ginter Code madness, I have had an opportunity to figure out a way to post an solution explanation for everybody. Here is kinda what I was thinking...

Since this was a team effort, I would like Nick to be able to work on the project with me, I think that I will set up a blog site specifically for the solution. That way Nick and I can both be editors on the blog since we have the small issue of being a couple thousand miles apart!

I originally thought about posting the explanation on this site, but I would prefer go back to the rubbish (is that word worth any ginter-cuff points) blog about random baseball card postings from a rookie collector who has no idea what the hell he is doing. I have lots of cards from my fellow collectors that I want to scan and thank them for, and I want to focus on completing sets (especially A&G). Not that its not cool to have 600 hits in one day (my computer started smoking, seriously...fake story) but I am OK with my usual 30 plus a couple comments! I just wanna have some fun!

So I will start building the blog immediately and my guess is within a few days or so, we should be able to open up the blog and post a link to it! Once again, you guys are awesome (that's for night owl) and thanks for the kind remarks! In the meantime, ponder this beauty... You read right...Chris Carpenter was absolutely lights out shutting out the Cincinatti Bengals for 8 full inning. Scoring went something like this...
So clearly you can see that the Cardinals scored a field goal, followed by an unlikely safety near the end of the first half. The second half was a bit more standard with a field goal for the Tig...I mean Bengals, and a TD for the Cards. however the Cards felt so bad about the whooping that they were laying, so they decided to let the kicker come out on the field and kick an extra point!

Friday, July 17, 2009

The Ginter story Part I

Hi Guys,

Just wanted to say thank you to all for the kind words and congratulations. Nick broke the news on a forum and did not get such a favorable response, in fact many people were pretty and being a bit nasty. I know that it can be perceived that we can be "rubbing it in", but really anything said was based off of pure adrenaline and excitement that the contest was officially closed. I would like to think that anybody would have done the same. It has been a long week of waiting and a little doubt was starting to creep in my mind. I kept going over the last steps over and over to see if we missed a tiny step. Both Nick and I kept sending "test" emails over the last several days to see if the auto-response changed. It did not until today.

Here's pretty much how it unfolded for me. I was sitting at my work desk when I got a call from Nick. He wondered if I was at home since I had not checked my email in the last couple of hours. For some reason the phone was ringing off the hook today, so I just forgot to look (plus you get tired of those chest and abs and white teeth ads on Yahoo!).

I started to get excited and went to open up my email. He said "sorry dude, I dont mean to get you too excited, its not that big of a deal". We he was bluffing big because what he had sent me was an email from the ginter address that congratulated him for being the first, and only person to date, to crack the ginter code. They mentioned that a rep from Topps would be in touch to discuss the prize".

Then I tried the test email again and got the auto-response that the code was cracked! then obviously chaos ensued!

So whats next?

I spoke with Nick, who was going out of town for the weekend. Post of us agreed that we want to get the solution out there for you guys to read ASAP if you are interested in knowing. Just putting together a reasonable step-by-step is going to take a bit of time. There are a couple ways we thought about doing this. Either we can just spell it all out in text direction, or if you would like, we can break it into sections that will "guide" you on how to solve it. Its up to you. What do you think?

I will work on some steps over the weekend and wait for Nick to check in at the end of the week. Hopefully we can have something up by early next week, but I am always open to questions if you want to email me over the weekend.

In the meantime, I am going to start cracking my remaining two boxes of A&G and see if I can't complete the set!

Thanks again for being the "nice" group. It is kinda an awkward feeling, but you have all been great! On with the blog!

Ginter Code Crack Update!!

Well, Change my A&G review to a B+ because...............WE DID IT!!!!

Just heard from Nick about 5 minutes ago, still get the chills!!!

Obviously much more to come!!!!!!

My Allen and Ginter Post-Box Review

Well, last night after a 2-hour school conference call and rocking Jacoby to sleep again (he is in a bit of a phase where he is waking up every couple of hours wanting to be held), I finally had a chance to finish up my first box of Ginter. Two more came by UPS yesterday, so the party is just getting started, but here are my initial impressions:

Firstly, I love collating a set. I sit with my computer and my little excel spreadsheet (I love spreadsheets) that changes colors when I enter a card quantity (green is 1, red is more than 1). Nerdy, but it is an easy way to do a sort and figure out what I need and what I have dups of. Then I have my cardboard boxes strategically placed for base set, insert sets and hits, and dups. Then the penny sleeves for ALL cards. It is quite the arrangement, let me tell you.

So in regards to collation: it gets a bit difficult because the numbers are more difficult to spot on these cards (and are smaller I think) than my Topps 2009 set. A bit tedious, but so is collation. Just make sure that you have eyedrops, because your contacts will be cashed by the time you are done for the night.

The base cards themselves are pretty groovy. I have to say that staring a ginter code parallels all weekend takes a bit out of the fun of pulling a regular card, because I already have all of the player images etched in my memory. But there are some nice horizontal player shots scattered into the series that are really quite impressive.

The odd cards are pretty interesting, but by now I have seen most of these images on other blogs, so the surprise factor is limited somewhat. I do like the electron card though, and the bearded man was an instant classic.
(A sidenote on this card...again not at a scanner so I went to Ebay for an image and found this "auto". Is this a joke? Is Billy the Marlin fever now causing atomic particles to sign cards too? Whats next, is Bigfoot going to come out of the woods and sign a couple to make Ebay sellers rich)?

Mini cards are still pretty perplexing to me. I guess I am struggling with the big attraction to these. I thought it was pretty cool to get a hand-numbered Hertz mini, and last night I pulled a Randy Johnson black border card mini, but other than the desired parallels, I basically have a bunch of tiny cards!
Now kick me down a wood mini or a rip card and then I will be more excited. BTW I WILL NOT rip open a rip card, because at that point all I have is another mini. I wont keep it either though. That will be one of the rare cases where I sell the card or use it for bargaining power with the grouchy hobby shop owner.

Insert sets have told me two things 1) most of these sets are going to be HIGHLY difficult to complete, minus the National Pride set, and 2) the mini creatures of legend, the secretive future inventions cards, and other mini's are going to be HIGHLY difficult to complete AND most likely rather expensive to obtain.
Too bad too, because those creature cards look fun, but I did not even have one of them in my first hobby box. I will say that of the inserts, I am most interested in the sketch cards, they are pretty interesting looking and I got four of them out of the first box, so I may try to pursue the rest if I don't get them in my next two boxes.

Relics: I am starting to get a bit worn out on the whole Jersey/Pants relic. Especially if it is just solid colored material. These would be cooler if they were signed or serial numbered or something, or if the photo of the player were different from his base card.

I have received three of these and already traded two away. Looks like Lincoln has already been found and up on Ebay for ungodly amounts of money. But I am holding out for a rare relic that most likely wont appear.

I think another issue I have with Ginter is that there seems to be few surprises in the packs (at least thus far). What I mean is that when you open a pack, you know that you are going to get 6 base cards, a mini, and a national pride card, or maybe a relic and subtract one base card. They are always in exactly that order, and there are no little surprises in between.

For example, when I was opening up Topps 2009 Flagship, There would for the most part always be hit card after the stupid Toppstown cards. But you never knew what it would it a relic, an auto, a gold parallel, a black parallel (I had one), a silk card (one as well,) or just another base card, which was also a possiblity. the other cool part was random locations of special prints. I opened up on pack and the third card in was a Jackie Robinson SP. Also the Rookie Redemptions and WBC redemption cards were scattered throughout. It really created an unknown when opening up a pack.

I think the main attraction on these packs is what version of mini card you will get, and the rest is pretty much 6 base and 1 NP. Keep in mind that I have only done one box so far, so this whole review might change, but I suspect the other packs are going to follow this pattern.

All of this being said, I still like the product and its fun to be collating again and going for that base set, but overall the experience has been a bit underwhelming, kinda like when you build yourself up so much for a blockbuster movie, and then Shea Lebeoufe (I refuse to spell-check this) is swinging through the trees with a bunch of monkeys.

JD's Grade - B- (If Topps would call and acknowledge that we broke the ginter code, then I might be willing to bump this up to a B+) :)

Thursday, July 16, 2009

I Feel Like the Milky Way Card

It's cold and dark (and quiet) in space. Man, what a long, non-eventful day.
  • No word yet from Topps regarding whether the Code is officially cracked

  • My partner in crime has gone MIA, hopefully finding is happy place while we wait in anticipation.

  • I am having a standoff (well not really) with a second codebreaker that submitted his answer today. Obviously we cant share details yet, so welcome to the waiting room, bud!

  • No emails

  • No trades in the works

  • No envelopes in the mail yet this week.

Well, heck. In the meantime I guess I can share with you my Triple A All-Star game experience from last night at our own PGE Park in Portland Oregon. As I mentioned yesterday, I was actually a volunteer at the event, and had the honor of being one of about 100 people (odd 1:212 packs) who actually got to carry the huge flag onto the field. This flag was presumably the same flag that his been used at Super Bowls, Pro Bowls, and POSSIBLY at the MLB All-Star game the night before. The guy who coordinated the practice just got in town yesterday, so who knows, maybe some great people have held this flag. pre-game flag at the ready. Not exactly officially folded, but what are you gunna do with a 300 foot flag?
this was my post.

So at around 650 pm we march onto the field, which is not astroturf, but that weird short grass that is kinda like the grass that you hit off of at driving ranges, except about and inch long? Anyways I do know this, it really reflects and radiates the heat, as gametime temperature was in the low 90's.

Coming out of the centerfield gate made me kind of feel like a closing pitcher coming into the game, felt like I should charge out to the mound or something. I totally nailed who would sing the national anthem (portlands Storm Large) best know for being a part of the Rock Star competition a couple years back.

So after the anthem we had a couple F-15's do a flyby and it was time to play ball. Each of us got a couple free tix, so I thought I would hang out for awhile. My first surprise was how ungodly expensive the food and souveneirs were. 22 bucks for a toddler T-shirt? Sorry JD. Then there was the wheel you could spin and win a little bat or poster or I won a high five from the spinner...ridiculous.

So I get to my seats and try to soak in some Triple A ball, but honestly I am not that big of minor league fan (SHOCK!!!). My reasons are legit. A few years back, Portland had a very good AAA team. We had Headly, and Cust, and I want to say that Khalil Greene was even here in town. Tore it up all year. Problem was, that same year San Diego (our affiliate) was also having a good season and right about the time for AAA playoffs, San Diego called up all of our good players. Portland the preceded to get blown out of the playoffs in the first round. Talk about a ripoff to the fans who spent good money, and apparently a TON of money of food and drinks (seriously PGE Park, your food prices are higher than the Seattle Mariners for cripes sake).

ANYWAYS, I watched about five innings, and got some joy watching the yankees Shelly Duncan struggle. Are the Yankees so bland that even their farm team is called the Yankees? Yeah yeah, Paw Sox aint much better, but at least we have the Sea Dogs...ARGGGG. And on anoter note, since when do the yankees even have a farm system? Ba-da-bum.

I will say this. Milwaukie certainly has a great system though, as their dude (don't even know his name) absolutely cracked one off of the top of the centerfield scoreboard. If that board was not there, I estimate at least 450. He nailed that sucker. Fielder, Braun, Gamel, and now this guy? Brewer fans should be proud.

Got a little bored though and wanted to beat the traffic outta there, so I wandered around a bit more looking for Johnny Pesky (threw out the first pitch) hoping he could sign my stub or something since Johnny signs practically anything. He is one of the most unselfish people, a true gentleman. Nowhere to be seen though, so I hit the road.

Thats where the story ends. Oh after the flag practice a bus pulled up with one of the teams. The only guy I recognized was Esteban German, but the guys were clearly on a mision to head in from the heat and left the few auto trollers in their dust.

I just wanted to see Buchholz pitch, but he got called up the day before to start in Toronto on Friday. I am going to have to call Terry about that...

What have I got?

One of the beauties of this set is the absolute confusion surrounding the value of the cards. They are so new that not even Beckett can place an initial value on items. Just a bunch of N/A's appear next to the card. That is why I always make a point to penny sleeve everything I pull, and let the dust settle later. I'll get to the card in question in a moment, but first I present... This was another relic that I pulled last night. Now here is the deal...I have pulled three relics out of the first twelve granted I was just reaching in and grabbing a random pack, but either the last 12 contain absolutely nothing cool, or this box is going to end up defying the odds. I dont know yet, but I am starting to wonder because of this next card.

Now keep in mind this is pulled from Ebay since I am not at my scanner this morning, but I pulled a Hertz mini, no-number hand-numbered to 50 (mine is #37). I have to assume that there is something KINDA special about this card, but really have no idea how to gauge that. This would be one of those rare instances where I would consider selling or trading with the card shop for some product simply because it does not really fit into my collection mold.
So I reach out to the blogosphere to help me figure out the value of this card so I don't get stiffed by the grouchy card shop owner or his lackey. Is this a good card?

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

To Save Your Eyes Some Wear and Tear...

...I have created an excel spreadsheet with tabs for base cards 1-350, creatures of legend, bamboozles, National Pride, and National Heros. I dont know about you, but that tiny little checklist that comes with the box was killing my eyes, and the only online version I have found is incomplete with lots of TBD's. This is also a good way to do a sort and figure out the cards you are missing and the cards you have dups of. My gift to you. Just send me an email and I will send you a copy of the checklist

If you want to add the additional series inserts, go for it, but I figured they are so rare that if I do get one, I can just cross it off the teeny tiny tiny list.

Interesting Cards for Last Night

Well, I said that I would get back to you with any interesting cards to speak of. I opened up seven packs last night, but all that organization and collation took a lot out of the big guy, so thats as far as I got last night. Eight cards per pack! Thats a lot of responsibility! Plus now I need to go buy another cardboard box for my "hits" and I never get out of that hobby store with just supplies. Doomed.

Here are my unique cards of the eve... The Milky Way...much smaller than I first thought. Once we nuzzle up to Andromeda, then things should get interesting.

A cross between Dr. Who and Kelso from "that 70's show"

I had no idea that David Wooderson stacked cards in between going to Aerosmith concerts and hookin up with high school chicks.

Ah the hits...I know i am doomed to meaningless swatches of players I don't really care about. Make me an offer and you too can have a David Wright Jersey or a Mark Mulder PANTS swatch. Don't know why Mulder scan so tiny, but rest assured this is just your run of the mill, normal sized pants swatch.

I did pull a couple highlight sketch cards that were pretty interesting

Mr Pujols (hehe) before cracking one out of the park. When finding this scan I ebay I noticed some sucker bidding 20 bucks on a pujols hat swatch??? No auto, no nothing. Pujols mania has gripped the nation apparently. Me? I will give you this card in trade if you really want it.

And of course my run of pulling Chipper Jones cards continues. This one is considerably goofier looking than Pujols.

And then to wrap it up, I had 7 mini cards, 3 of which were ginter-backed rookie cards, 3 regular backed player cards, and then the London Bridge Bamboozle Cards. I am still at a loss over 1) how to store these cards 2) all the different variations available and which are more rare, and 3) WHY everybody goes nuts and spends a ton to get them. But I will plow forward and by the end of my boxes I will have 72 little confusing cardboard pieces to ponder over.

Tonight I volunteered for the Triple-A All-Star game. I will be one of the dudes holding the huge american flag during the National Anthem. That is pretty cool, though in Portland, we will probably be lucky if we can get a Cessna to do the flyover. I am unsure who is singing the national anthem, but my money is on either Storm Large (local singing talent) or Art Alexakis from Everclear. Those are just my guesses.

Might stick around for the game to see Buchholtz pitch, but other than that probably grab a dog and sneak out early. Will report more later.

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

My First Ginter Pack Break!

This one goes out to some dude named Andy who LOVES watching all of us break open packs of Ginter! I got my first box tonight and am ready to pull out some beauties.

I actually am going to pace myself, and will be collating in hopes of getting an entire set for the first time since I started out with Topps a month or so ago (I still have an entire extra set and am entertaining any offers).

After the frantic push over the weekend to crack the code, I am strangely at peace with the situation of not knowing officially if Nick and I won. I know for fact we got the right answer, and it does not sound like there are any others out there that have solved it. But I can't argue that it makes good business sense for Topps to keep it on the down low for awhile, so if we got in first, gravy. But for now its just time to kick back and have some fun!

Great things about this box:

Time to collate! This will be the second full set that I am going to try to complete since collecting again.

Crazy, weird cards! A nice break from boring ol baseball players (kidding). But who does not want to pull a crazy creature of myth.......thought so.

Eight cards per pack! Are you kidding me, this is the most cards of ANYTHING I have opened since completing Topps Flagship. I was paying 3 bucks for three cards, 4 bucks for 5 cards. Lets get some cardboard out of this deal.

Mini cards! My first mini collection! How the heck do you store these things though? Regular penny sleeves? MINI Penny Sleeves? Bwa a a a ahhhh!

Well, anyways, enough of the chatter, lets rip a pack!

N43 Boxloader. Weird. all of the Ginter previews showed a signature on this card. Must be a misprint, I will call Topps in the morning!

Vernon Wells, George Posada (a yankee, of course) and sheep sheering champion Opstedahl. That sheep on the Ginter box better watch his back!

K-Rod, Geronimo lookin MEAN. He may be on the run, but he is taking a few settlers out with him. And our latest no-hit hero Jonathan Sanchez. MINI Matsui....Bwa a a a ahhhhhh!

Carlos Pena national pride

And of course the ginter code rules...hope somebody I know cracks it.

All of this scanning has me tuckered out. I will rip a few more, and report any hits tomorrow.

The Mystery Topps Letter

So if you read the blog earlier today you will know of the story that the post office left a note in my mailbox saying I had a certified letter from Topps that I needed to sign for. My curiosity was peaked all day as I tried to figure out what was so important that I needed to sign for it. Well (my first scan!!) here is what came in the mail...
This is a Dae Ho Lee WBC Redemption Rookie Card. Apparently this is WBC card 7. What you can't tell for the scan is that this is a refractor, and a damn nice looking one at that. I have no idea what I have here, don't know if it is rare or what, or why Topps decided to send me THIS card when there was no code on the back of the redemption card. Does anybody know about this card? Let me know!

We Now Return You to Our Regularly Scheduled Blog

Well, it's a new day. Yesterday was pretty exciting with all of the code talk. I did a little more checking and double checking and am convinced that Nick and I did submit the right answer. Some people know some people at Topps who could not check immediately because they were covering the Home Run Derby, so that alone leads me to believe that nobody has guessed it correctly yet, so feeling really confident, but definitely anxious about it!

But enough on on for now, since it is all just speculation at this point...I had another interesting event yesterday. As I checked the mail (no brown envelopes today :(, but I did have an interesting message from the post office that they have a certified letter that I need to sign for at the post office. The interesting part is that it is from Topps!

Now, the only things that I can think of is that it is my order of A&G cards, finally arriving for my ripping pleasure...but those are not being sent from Topps, but rather D&A and Atlanta Sports Cards.

So do you remember way back when I had three WBC Rookie Redemption cards. Well I could not seem to trade them away, so I decided to enter the numbers in. I then discovered that there was more than on Rookie Card (depending on the code you enter). But the catch was that on the back of the 3rd card there was no code in the box to enter.

So I decided to go ahead and just mail it into Topps to see if I could redeem SOMETHING with it. So I now wonder what it is that Topps sent me that would possibly require me to sign for...hmmm...I am going to the Post Office after work today and will definitely blog about this tonight.

In other matters, due to my obsession with cracking the code, I have been really negligent in (A) sending out packages, (B) responding to trade requests, and (C) spending money at the hobby store (actually I am happy about this one). I will do my best to get caught up and to tell you the truth it is quite nice to not have to think anymore about code cards and symbols. It can drive you batty! I have four packages to mail out today, and I will be in contact with those of you who wanted to trade.

Good to be blogging again!

Monday, July 13, 2009

Some Big News!

Hi folks,

I have a scanner now! So now you will see the actual images as I get the cards!

Well, that is kinda big news I guess, but I have something else that I need to get out there before you start hearing rumors.

You may notice that I have not blogged in the past couple of days. Reason being that I was dedicating 100% of my time working on the Ginter Code (just ask my wife)! Well, Saturday rolled around and I was contacted by a blog read, Nick Jacoby (go figure on the last name), who was looking to work as partners to solve the code. We both had made an interesting discovery about the code cards and decided to combine our efforts.

Long story short...late this afternoon we cracked the was puzzles inside puzzles inside puzzles...and NO, we don't know officially if we are first, but I figured I would tell you before you hear it one some message board somewhere. Keep your fingers crossed!

Cardboard Junkie, while not officially submitting some scans, I used your scanned base list quite a bit, and if I won, you are gunna get that Dominique, thats a promise.

There was one other guy that sent me a scan (I have your email) and I will kick you down something as well.

So there you have it. Time to wait and see, but believe me when Topps says they made it extra tough this year, the were not lying!