Friday, September 25, 2009

Movin' and a Shakin': Trades with Kerry from Cards on Cards and Brian from Texas

I just completed my 4th and 5th trades since starting First Day Issue and I have got to say, baseball card collecting has never been more fun for me. The town I live in is about an hour away from the nearest card shop (which is on the way to nowhere), so I have been limited to eBay and stores like Target, Shopko and Walmart during the course of my collecting career. Even worse than that though, is the fact I have never had anyone to share my love of the hobby with. Most of my friends growing up stopped collecting years ago and though I don't feel like an outsider at all, it has been nice to discover a group of people who have a similar love and passion for baseball cards. Thanks to everyone who has stopped by my blog and encouraged me (yes Nightowl, I'm looking at you) and to all those who have been willing to trade with me. What can I say, I'm finally having a good time!

Now on to the trades. The first group of cards came from Kerry who can be found at Cards on Cards (the man loves birds; he is both a Cardinals and Oregon Ducks fan). Kerry sent me a great assortment of M's and Griffeys, here are some of my favorites:

2008 Topps Finest Ichiro Black Refractor #81/99 (shiny Ichiro! Refractorized! Serially # to 99! Yes please!)

2007 UD Masterpieces Roy Halladay Captured on Canvas Jersey (I have a feeling Doc Halladay will 2-hit the Mariners tonight...but at least I like the guy)

2008 Topps Stadium Club Ken Griffey Jr. (No matter what uniform Junior wears, my love for him never wains...uh, I mean, I like how he plays the game.)

The second batch of Mariners, Griffeys, Ankiels, Halladays and Mauers came from Brian out of Texas. Brian is on the cusp of starting his own blog, let's keep prodding him until he does. Here's some of my favorites from Bry-Guy:

2001 SP Game Used Edition Edgar Martinez Jersey (If you're an M's fan it is impossible not to love this guy; a consumate professional with a knack for clutch hits. Future HOF??)

2001 SP Game Used Edition Rick Ankiel Jersey (A game-used card of my favorite pitcher turned hitter turned pitcher again if he keeps hitting .230. Great fielder though.)

1994 Collector's Choice Ken Griffey Jr. (Brian sent me about 10 Juniors I don't have, which is no easy task, and this was a runaway favorite. Great photo, almost Goodwin Champions-esque.)

Thanks to both Kerry and Brian for these great cards! I will be sending some Cardinals and Rangers out to both of you soon...stay tuned.

Thursday, September 24, 2009

Box Break: 2003 Fleer Authentix Hobby (In Which The New York Yankees' All-Time Hits Leader Plays A Prominent Role)

I'll be the first admit to admit that the base cards in Fleer Authentix are, well, not very attractive. But I didn't get this box because I wanted to put the set together, I got it because it guaranteed 3 hits and was only $26 with shipping off eBay. I enjoy opening boxes from the early 2000s because they're usually much cheaper than current releases (I couldn't afford them when they first came out) and it's always fun pulling cards of players that have long since retired or hold a special place in your heart from days of yore (we hardly knew thee Ellis Burks). I wasn't going into this box with high hopes of a big hit, but I managed to beat the odds and was very pleased with my break. Here's what I got:

Ticket to the Majors RC (serially # to 1850): Termell Sledge #1659/1850 (Great name, mediocre player, crappy looking card. He did finish 19th in slugging in the Eastern League during the 2002 season for what it's worth.)

Ticket Studs (1 in 6 packs): Pedro Martinez, Alfonso Soriano, Derek Jeter (The Ticket Studs are a cool insert design as they fold out to the size of a MLB ticket. Unfortunately, I'm not really a fan of any of these players.)

Ballpark Classics (1 in 12 packs): Derek Jeter (Another insert of El Capitan, this one die-cut...will it be the last time Jeter shows up in this box???)

Balcony Parallel (serially # to 250): Jim Thome #229/250 (At one point in his career Thome had 229 career HRs making this a true eBay one-of-one!)

Club Box Parallel (serially # to 100): Jorge Julio #9/100 (I'm not sure if there was a less exciting player to pull as a parallel in this set...any O's fans interested in this clunker before it goes in my commons bin?)

Authentix Jersey Cards "Ripped" (1 in 8 packs): Josh Beckett w/teal pinstripe, Eric Hinske blue jersey swatch (It's always nice to get jerseys that are different from the usual grey or white swatches and that Marlins' teal is tough to top. I get the ripped ticket concept, but does anyone really want a card that is 3/4 the size of a standard one and has a serrated bottom edge?)

Autograph (1 in 576 packs): Derek Jeter 3rd Row #171/250!!!! Sweet jumping jehosaphat I almost had a heart-attack when I saw this beauty staring right back at me! This card came in the final pack of the box and instantly became the best card (or at least most valuable) that I have ever pulled from a pack. I noticed that Jeter had signed a good number of autos for Authentix, but at those astronomical odds (1 in 24 boxes), I never really believed I would get one in the box; I think I still have goosebumps from this card. While I have never been a fan of Jeter, and I wrote a rather tongue-in-cheek article about how overrated he is on my baseball blog (look at some of the vitriol in the comments section, people either really disagree with me or simply don't understand sarcasm), I respect the way he plays the game and his cards are always in high demand. Unless someone wants to trade a PSA 10 1989 Ken Griffey Jr Upper Deck RC for it or offer to pay of my college loans, this card is going right on eBay in order to fund future box breaks.

Needless to say, I loved opening this box. Two sweet jerseys and a Derek Jeter auto, I'll have a tough time topping 2003 Fleer Authentix for quite a while, but that won't stop me from trying...
UPDATE: The Jeter auto sold for $107 on eBay!!!! Success!!!

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Card of the Week: 2007 Topps Frank Thomas Trading Places Game-Used Bat

Never in my 22 years of life on planet Earth had I ever pulled a single game-used or autograph from the flagship set of Topps. This was despite the fact that I had been purchasing a large number of packs and boxes over the past 7-8 years; but that all changed when lightning struck outside of Wally World late last week. I know that Topps doesn't have the best odds for pulling "hits", but even a blind squirrel finds a nut occasionally, and I was quite surprised that it took this long for me to finally bring home the bacon...but it was worth the wait as you will soon see.

As a rule of thumb I try to steer clear or re-pack boxes, because even though you get 16 packs for $20, you're really just throwing your money away. There are generally a few good packs and then a load of junk wax or $0.99 Topps, and this box was no different. I usually open the crap packs first and convince myself that the premium packs hold something good (they don't), so I started this box off by opening a 2007 Topps Series 2 pack that contained just 6 cards (half of a normal Topps pack). The odds of pulling anything from these packs are exteremely difficult, and ipso facto, the odds of pulling a relic are just plain stupid. Yet, that's exactly what happened. After moving aside the first card in the pack I was greeted with the sight of a Frank Thomas Trading Places Game-Used Bat: odds....1:6,081!! I really hit the jackpot on this one; my first Topps relic and it's a bat-sliver from the "Big Hurt" who clubbed 521 HRs in his HOF career! I think the best part of this card was the fact that it was so unexpected...a six-card Topps pack in a re-pack box, who woulda thunk?

Sunday, September 20, 2009

Box Break: 2009 Upper Deck Goodwin Champions

Well, after much internal debate and many hours spent pouring over the budget, I caved and bought a box of 2009 Upper Deck Goodwin Champions (aka Allen & Ginter Jr.) from ($60 plus shipping). I really fell in love with the design of the base cards from previews of the set and even after seeing some not so stellar box breaks, thought I would give UD a shot to wow me. Overall, I was fairly happy with the cards I pulled from the box, but I don't think it's feasible for me to try and collect the whole set (too many super-short prints and not enough cards per pack), so this may be the only Goodwin I buy this year. Here's a look at what I got:

Short-Print Base Cards: Brooks Robinson, Kevin Garnett, Brian McCann, Cole Hamels, Kosuke Fukudome, Ryan Howard, Alex Hinshaw, Jonathan Albaladejo, Justin Verlander, Adrian Beltre, Gavin Floyd (I had a difficult time deciphering which cards were SPs, but apparently cards 151-190 in the set are short-printed, as are cards featuring a logo on the front).

Super Short-Print Base Cards (1:10 packs): Don Newcombe and Geovony Soto (I'm not sure that I would consider 1 in 10 packs super short-printed, but I've only been collecting for 16 years, so what would I know?)

Regular Minis: C.C. Sabathia SP, Lebron James SP, Rick Ankiel, Miguel Cabrera, Nolan Ryan, Chris Young, Buffalo Bill Cody, Aaron Harang, Jason Giambi, Joe Dimaggio, Ryan Sandberg, Rich Harden, Carey Price, Paul Maholm, Chad Billingsley, Ken Griffey Jr, Bucky "Effin" Dent, Prince Fielder, Ozzie Smith, Jim Palmer (I'm not sure that the Sabathia and James are SPs, but they are the only minis I pulled that had a logo on the card front).

Black-Bordered Minis (1:4 packs): Dennis Eckersley SP, Carlos Zambrano SP, Conor Jackson, Carl Crawford, Joe Mauer (The black borders are cool, but how can they compare to the ornate black-bordered minis for Allen & Ginter? Simple, they can't).

Foil Mini (1 per box): Carlos Gomez #248 (I really like the look of this card, but it's Carlos Gomez, so the excitement of pulling it was rather short lived. If any kind person wanted to send me a foil mini of one of my favorite players, I certainly wouldn't object).

Citizens of the Century/Day (1 in 10 packs): Winston Churchill and Will Rogers (These are kind of a boring insert set, but maybe that's just because I wasn't alive in mid-1900s).

Autograph (1 per box): Alex Hinshaw (At first I was glad to get an auto of a baseball player and not a marathon runner, even though I didn't know much about Hinshaw. A little research showed that he is a 26-year-old relief pitcher with a career 4.53 ERA. Maybe I wanted that runner after all. How did this guy make the checklist?)

Game-Used (1:10 packs): Cal Ripken Jr. and Cole Hamels (I was very happy with the game-used I pulled from this box, especially after I took a gander at the checklist. Hamels is one the game's brightest young stars and Ripken was my favorite player besides Griffey Jr. growing up, so both jersey cards were good pulls for me).

Final Thoughts: There is a lot to like about this set, and it is definitely one of Upper Deck's finest offerings in quite a while (apologies to "X"). Personally, I enjoyed the base cards (far superior to A & G base cards in my opinion), the hand-signed autographs and the design of the memorabilia cards (built around the swatch, a nice clean look). I don't like the fact that there are only 5 cards per pack and 20 packs per box; it makes completing the entire set a tall task. Additionally, I think just about everyone has had enough of the UD 20th Anniversary Cards, I pulled 10 in this box (thats 10% of all cards in the box!!!) If you like A & G, but are burnt out like me and looking for a nice alternative, this is a fun box to open.

Like any of the cards you see? Just email me and we will try and work out a trade!

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Trade with Greg from Nightowl Cards

Just the other day I received another stack of Mariners' cards and Ken Griffey Jr.'s from Greg at Nightowl Cards. The highlight of said lot was a 2008 Topps Allen & Ginter Ichiro Suzuki relic with a navy swatch of M's jersey. This is actually the only Ichiro game-used card in my collection right now, and I love the look of the framed A & G inserts, so I was thrilled to get it; hopefully it won't be my last of the first player in the history of baseball with 9-straight 200+ hit seasons. Greg was the first blogger I ever traded with and it was his blog that inspired me to start my own. He recently celebrated the 1-year anniversary of his blog, and to celebrate, I sent another big stack of Dodgers his way (with plenty of his favorite, Hideo Nomo). Hope you enjoy Greg! Thanks for the great cards!

Friday, September 11, 2009

Card of the Week: 2000 Upper Deck Roger Clemens Game Used Ball

Let me start this post off with the disclaimer that I absolutely despise Roger Clemens. I hate that he played for the Yankees (by the way, if there are any Yankees fans who read this blog, god forbid, I have a few hundred Bronx Bombers cards I can send your way), I hate that he beaned Mike Piazza and threw a jagged bat barrel at him, and I hate that he used steroids but doesn't have the cajones to come clean about it. Why then, you might ask, with all that unchanneled anger, would Bud want to feature a Roger Clemens as the Card of the Week (besides of course the fact that Aubrey Huff was featured as card of the week before, so it can't be that hard)?

Well, this card is about so much more than just Roger Clemens. For one, I have always been a fan of game-used ball cards. Granted they can't be connected to a single player, which actually may be a good thing in this case because Clemens might not have got his dirty mitts on this particular baseball, but they are still a unique game-used item and one that you don't see in sets very often (or ever) anymore. Another unique thing about this card is the fact that it shows actual game use and dirt stains, and more importantly, a logo that shows this ball was not used in just another regular season game. After a little research I was able to determine with some certainy (say, 70%) that this swatch of ball came from a game of the 1999 Fall Classic that featured the Yankees against the Atlanta Braves. That's right, an authentic game-used World Series baseball! Sure the series was a snoozer (the Yankees swept the series in 4 games), but that just means there are less baseballs from this series are available. Compare the logo on the ball swatch with the logo on the complete baseball, they look the same don't they?

Not too bad for 75 cents plus shipping on eBay...

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Trade with Baseball Dad from All Tribe Baseball

I recently completed a trade with Baseball Dad from All Tribe Baseball and let me tell you, I got some serious Mariners loot. As his blog's title would dictate, Baseball Dad is a Cleveland Indians collector and I was able to scrounge up a couple hundred of Chief Wahoo's finest to send his way. It didn't take long for him to return in kind, with about 10 pounds of Mariners' cards in a priority mail box! I had a blast sorting through all the cards (including a sweet Bret Boone bat card from 2004 Topps CrackerJack), relieving some great memories of the M's glory days and laughing aloud at some of the former Mariners I had forgotten about (or simply blocked out from my consciousness) like Jose Mesa, Aaron Sele and Brian L. Hunter. I have twin younger brothers who also collect Mariners, one's favorite player is John Olerud and the other's is Edgar Martinez, and there were plenty of those two to go around. All in all, it was a great experience for me and my brothers and I truly appreciate the generosity of the fellow collectors that I have meet through the blogosphere. Thanks again Baseball Dad, I'm sure it won't be our last trade.

My Favorite Card from the Trade: 2006 Topps Turkey Red Ken Griffey Jr. Red Border SP (What a Beauty!!)

Friday, September 4, 2009

Card of the Week: 2001 SP Game Used Edition Aubrey Huff Jersey

Now I'm sure at this point most of you are wondering: "Aubrey Huff as the card of the week?", "Was Luis Castillo unavailable?", "How many bats does Bud have in his belfry?" Or more than likely, "Who cares if it's a jersey patch MLB logo superfractor auto printing plate #1/1, it's Aubrey bleeping Huff!" And those are all valid points; if I stumbled upon a blog and Aubrey Huff was featured as the card of the week I'd get out of there quicker than you can say "the Mariners will contend for a World Series in my lifetime." (a boy can dream) This isn't meant to be offensive to Mr. Huff, he has been a solid major league player for the past 7-8 years (capped off by a .311-34 HR-107 RBI season in 2003), but he's about as exciting as bran flakes and just not all that collectible.

So then why does a nondescript jersey card of Aubrey Huff from 2001 deserve to be named the card of the week? Because with this card, just like Transformers, there is often more than meets the eye. 2001 SP Game Used Edition was the second product behind 2001 Pacific Private Stock to feature a one-per-pack jersey card insert. The set had a huge checklist and featured stars like Ken Griffey Jr, Alex Rodriguez and Frank Thomas, up-and-comers like Rick Ankiel and Dmitri Young, and Hall-of-Famers Mickey Mantle, Joe Dimaggio and Tom Seaver. Huff apparently fit into the up-and-comer category as he was a top prospect for the Tampa Bay Devil Rays in 2001. Now, take a closer look at that piece of jersey swatch, does that look like a piece of a Devil Ray's jersey? Do you ever remember Tampa Bay sporting pinstripes?

It didn't look right to me, so I scooped it up off eBay for a couple of bucks with shipping. Upon closer examination not only does the card feature a pinstripe, but it also shows considerable wear and aging. It's fairly common knowledge among collectors that manufacturers often make mistakes when creating game-used cards, there have been instances where jersey swatches from one team have ended up with a player from a different team or sometimes swatches are missing altogether. So is that what happened here? There are three old-time Yankees featured in the set: Mickey Mantle, Joe Dimaggio and Roger Maris. Is it possible that UD accidently put a swatch of one of these players in a Aubrey Huff card? It sure looks like it to me, what do you think?

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

Stadium Scenes: Safeco Field

I was lucky enough to get some time off from work and head over to Seattle to catch three Mariners' games over the weekend, two against their bitter rival the Kansas City Royals and one against the L.A. Angels. The first game at Safeco was a slugfest that featured six HR's and an eventual 8-4 win for the Mariners. The tables were turned the next day, as a classic pitcher's duel was staged between Ryan "the Hyphenator" Rowland-Smith and the odds on favorite for the AL Cy Young Award, Zack Grienke. Predictably, a Mariners' offense more anemic than Kate Moss could muster only one hit against Grienke, and the Royals took the game 3-0. The final game of the series featured more of the same for Seattle, as Joe Saunders (who came into the game with a 5.27 ERA) scattered 3 hits over 7 innings and Vladimir Guerrero crushed 2 longballs on the way to a 11-0 Angels victory. Despite the rather poor play of the Mariners, and the fact that neither Ichiro, Ken Griffey Jr., Russell Branyan or Adrian Beltre played in any of the games, I enjoyed my time there; Safeco Field is an absolutely beautiful stadium and the weather was great. Since I did title my blog "First day Issue: Baseball Card Collecting & More", I though I had better figure out what the "and more" portion of the website would be. I'll start with some of my favorite pictures from the games: