Thursday, January 28, 2010

Felix Inks Five-Year Deal to Stay a Seattle Mariner

Yes, I realize that Felix's deal was finalized over a week ago, but I had to wait (it only took about 14 days) until I received this card to use the word "inks" in the title for this post (I was legally obligated by the MLBPA). I never used the phrase "breaking news" did I?

As a Mariners fan, this is probably the best offseason since we signed Richie Sexson and Adrian Beltre (slaps forehead). Another season of Griffey Jr. and Felix staying with the team through 2014--yeah, it's a good time to be an M's fan. Throw in Cliff Lee and Chone Figgins, and heck, Seattle might even be a playoff contender this season.

The card itself is my first King Felix auto and one of my new favorites of the most talented 23-year-old in the game. The card comes from an insert set out of 2005 Topps Gallery titled "Penmanship". Hernandez has one of the best autos in baseball and the blue ink really pops off the card because of the muted colors in the background. The fact that the autograph is on-card just seals the deal for this sweet card. This one's staying with me for a long time (or until he's traded to the Yankees).

2010 Topps Tells It Like It Is: Daniel Murphy

You really want to know how bad the 2009 season was for the New York Mets? Just take a look at the back of Daniel Murphy's card from the latest Topps release:

"The Mets couldn't keep many players healthy in 2009 (Beltran, Reyes, Wright, etc), but Daniel was a constant, playing in more games than any other. He also paced the team in home runs (with a whopping 12), and was second in RBI (just 63) and doubles."


Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Card of the Week: 2001 Upper Deck MVP Ken Griffey Jr. Game-Used Cap

This was one of the most difficult Ken Griffey Jr. memorabilia cards that I've tracked down to date and that really showed in final price. I paid nearly as much for this card as I did for a beautiful 2003 Ultimate Collection Patch numbered to 99. Still, I was happy to get this card no matter what the cost, because Griffey game-used hat/cap cards show up on eBay less frequently than Sidney Ponson at a gym. The only other Griffey hat I have seen was from 2003 UD Vintage and was a bit out of my price range since it was numbered to only 25 (it wasn't a great looking card either).

It looks like a normal swatch of jersey from a distance but up close you can tell it's a hat swatch and the material feels like the bill of ballcap. I can only hope that Junior wore this hat backwards as was his trademark with the Mariners. Another great card and another step closer to everything Griffey. Next stop, game-used glove?

Sunday, January 24, 2010

Pack Attack: 2008 Topps Chrome Retail (x22)

I stopped by the baseball card alcove in Shopko the other day and was greeted with a very friendly sight---a box full of half-price 2008 Topps Chrome! Being a sucker for anything shiny I grabbed all 22 packs and raced home top bust 'em open. While I didn't pull anything major like an autograph, I was very happy with my results overall, especially since there was a total of 33 inserts in the 22 packs. Here's what I got:

Notable Base Cards: Ichiro and Evan Longoria RC

Base Refractors (7): Matt Holliday, Aramis Ramirez, Bobby Crosby, Torii Hunter, Brian Bannister, Troy Glaus and Cole Hamels

Base X-Fractors (6): Fausto Carmona, Dice-K, Dustin Pedroia, Matt Kemp, Jo-Jo Reyes and Denard Span RC

Blue Refractors (5): Ryan Theriot RC, Clete Thomas RC, Hunter Pence, Hanley Ramirez and Eugenio Velez RC

Copper Refractors (3): Livan Hernandez #160/599, Joe Blanton #525/599 and Justin Verlander #599/599!!

Trading Card History Inserts (7):
Jake Peavy '53 Topps, Alfonso Soriano '58 Hires Root Beer, Justin Upton '62 Topps, Hanley Ramirez '16 M101-4, Brandon Webb '27 W575-2, Troy Tulowitzki '52 Bowman and Ichiro Japanese Baseball Card

Mickey Mantle HR History (1): Homerun #480

Topps All-Rookie Team Insert (1): Manny Ramirez

Topps Heritage Chrome (2): Joey Votto RC #1415/1959 and Tadahito Iguchi #504/1959

Topps Heritage Chrome Refractor (1): Jason Bay #340/559

My favorites from the break have to be the Ichiro and Justin Verlander Copper Refractor #599/599. I was happy to pull an Evan Longoria RC even if it was just the base version. A bit surprised by the Topps Heritage Chrome cards but they were listed on the back of the pack so they must have been some sloppy seconds from Topps. Let me know if you wanted anything listed and we can work out a deal. Thanks for stopping by!

Friday, January 22, 2010

New York Sinks To New Depths: Beloved Mascot Mr. Met Dealt to Cleveland in Shocking Deal.

I wrote this for my baseball blog,, over the summer and with the Mets continued miscues and misfortune it's as pertinent as it was four months ago. Enjoy.

In a move that sent shockwaves throughout the world of baseball, the New York Mets sent longtime mascot Mr. Met to the Cleveland Indians in return for a pair of minor league mascots. Mr. Met, a part of the organization since 1963, had a closed-door meeting with GM Omar Minaya over the weekend in which the upset mascot revealed his frustrations with the team's lack of direction, questionable off-season moves, hotdog prices at Citi Field, and David Wright's mysterious lack of extra-base hits. Mr. Met then proceeded to call Minaya "less competent than the captain of the Titantic" and "quite possibly the worst GM since Isaiah Thomas".

After insulting the rest of the Mets organization and destroying Minaya's prized ceramic egg collection, the mascot demanded a trade, stating that he "had a better shot of winning a World Series with the Pittsburgh Pirates". Minaya, already on the hotseat for New York's mediocre play, saw no choice but to deal the face of the franchise. The team inquired about Colorado's Dinger and the Mariner Moose before ultimately settling for a package from Cleveland that included the Akron Aeros mascot, Orbit the Cat, and the Mahoning Valley Scrappers dog-like mascot, Scrappy.

At the time of the trade the Mets were 44-49 and mired in a long losing stretch that left them 10 games behind Philadelphia in the NL East. Injuries to key players had decimated the team, the pitching staff was in shambles and the Phillies 10-game winning streak had all but eliminated New York from contention; Mr. Met clearly was not amused. Fans had noticed a change in Mr. Met as the season progressed, the once omnipresent smile had been replaced with frowns, grimaces and looks of utter bewilderment. The mascot ignored requests to hold babies, stopped throwing t-shirts to fans and even refused to celebrate when the Mets captured a rare win.

Queens resident Joseph Dahmer said he had seen a different Mr. Met then in season's past. "Yeah, that big-headed doofus just wasn't the same after Jose Reyes went to the DL," commented Dahmer, "he seemed depressed all the time, but I can't really blame him, the Mets stink". Another long-time Mets' fan, Cindy Goriglia, agreed with Dahmer, saying that "he really looked like a mascot on the edge...he didn't seem to enjoy what he was doing, and I even heard rumors of a suicide attempt." Mr. Met recently failed a random drug test, but denied the rumors of a suicide attempt through his publicist, stating the the copious amounts of narcotics in his system helped to numb the pain of working for a dead-in-the-water franchise.

Reaction to the move throughout the Mets organization was mixed. Star 3B David Wright seemed glad to be rid of Mr. Met, saying "that (bleeping) mascot wore out his welcome in the Big Apple a long time ago...he had been riding me all season long for not hitting homeruns and wouldn't stop making passes at my girlfriend...I hope that (bleep) rots in Cleveland." Starting pitcher Livan Hernandez was seen leaving the stadium in tears upon hearing the news, but between sobs mentioned that "Mr. Met was my best friend on the team. He was the only one who really got me, and he was always there to comfort me after another bad outing."

The Mets' minor league mascots, including the Buffalo Bison and Savannah Sand Gnat, were sad to see their mentor leave, but excited to have a chance to perform at the major league level. It is unclear at the time whether the Mets plan to call up a mascot from their farm system or use one of the newly acquired mascots to fill the void left by the departure of Mr. Met.

When confronted by reporters, Omar Minaya refused to comment about his tumultuous relationship with Mr. Met but did release the following statement about the mascots acquired in the trade:

"We are really excited about what Orbit and Scrappy bring to this organization. They are two of the most talented mascots in all of minor league baseball and we feel that they both have the ability to contribute at the the big league level. Scrappy is full of energy, great with kids and loves being scratched behind the ears. Orbit has tremendous potential, is great with a T-shirt gun and can even do cartwheels! The city of New York has plenty of stray dogs and cats, you've all seen Oliver and Company haven't you, so it makes sense to bring them here to the Big Apple. I can't wait to see Orbit and Scrappy in action, this is an exciting day for the Mets' franchise."

With the trade of their mascot, Mr. Met, a strange season has gotten even stranger for the New York Mets. A team that came into the year with World Series aspirations finds itself unlikely to make the playoffs and forced to move on without one of the city's biggest icons. The organization was clearly in need of some change, but critics of the move wonder if it should have been Minaya or Jerry Manuel who got the boot, not Mr. Met. Many loyal fans are already calling this the darkest day in New York since the blackout of 2003. The difference between the blackout and the trade of their beloved mascot? While the power came back the next day, Mr. Met may never return to the city he called home for over 45 years. The Mets continue to play limbo as a franchise, and after this latest move, many wonder: how low can they go?

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Pack Attack: 2010 Topps Retail (x3)

Well, I had hoped to break the initial Topps 2010 cards to the blogosphere, but living on the West Coast and working until 10 PM made that a wee bit difficult. I still grabbed a few packs at Target on my way home. Here's what I got:

Pack 1: Max Scherzer, Kevin Youkilis, Anthony Swarzak, Josh Butler RC, Andrew Bailey ROY, Brewers Franchise History, Rickey Henderson (The Cards Your Mom Threw Out), Bill Mazeroski (Tales of the Game), Tim Lincecum TT, Yunel Escobar, Mat Gamel, Magglio Ordonez

Pack 2: Jonathan Papelbon, Neftali Feliz, Adam LaRoche, Nate Schierholtz, Daniel Hudson RC, Ernie Banks (TCYMTO), Vladimir Guerrero TT, Edwin Encarnacion, Jayson Nix, John Lannan, Diamondbacks Franchise History

Pack 3: Adrian Beltre, Jon Niese, Bobby Jenks, Tommy Manzella RC, Michael Dunn RC, Justin Upton, Vladimir Guerrero (Peak Performers), David Wright (Red Back Insert), Joe Mauer TT, Andrew Bailey, Andruw Jones, Zach Duke

Adrian Beltre Base Card

Joe Mauer Topps Town

David Wright Target Exclusive Red Back

Bill Mazeroski Tales of the Game

Intial Thoughts: The design looks better than I initially thought it would, but it is no match for last year's brilliant base set. The inserts, though easily obtainable, are boring and really bland (besides the David Wright). I realize that everyone doesn't like shine, but these cards are just retreads of ideas that have been done a million times and don't really stand out. The ToppsTown are still an inconvenience but they are improved over 2009. I might not be the best judge of this set because I usually don't collect the flagship releases of companies. Perhaps it's because where I live is landlocked and I would have no use for a flagship. Don't think I will be buying too many more packs, though I would happily take Mariners from the set.

What are your initial reactions to 2010 Topps?

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Trade with Sooz from "A Cardboard Problem"

Though I don't actually know Thorzul personally, it seems the blogging community has decided to annoy him by posting every trade post possible, so I will continue that trend by showing the card I recently got in a deal with Sooz. She had busted a box of 2008 UD Masterpieces and was lucky enough to pull a Ken Griffey Jr. Green Framed Parallel #18/75. Wanting to obtain every Junior ever made (completely unrealistic goal) I sent some Yankees her way and she was kind enough to send Griffey out to the left coast. Thanks again Sooz! It is a great looking card and will be well taken care of. More trade posts to come soon!

Saturday, January 16, 2010

Card of the Week: 2000 Upper Deck Ken Griffey Jr. Game-Used Baseball (Prime-Time Piece!)

This absolutely stunning card came my way via eBay, and considering Junior's following and the quality of the card, was reasonably priced in my opinion (a fortnight's dollars plus two shillings). Yet another piece of game-used memorabilia in my never ending quest to accumulate everything Griffey, this card features a sweet swatch of rawhide that prominently showcases the MLB logo. Though it's difficult to connect a piece of game-used baseball directly to a player, I'd like to imagine Griffey using this particular ball to gun down a runner trying to score from third on a flyball. Regardless of the story behind the ball, it's one more step towards completing my National Griff-ography (still waiting on that M's patch) and a card that I plan on enjoying for quite some time.

On a completed unrelated note I saw Avatar tonight, and Native American allegories aside, enjoyed the movie. It certainly has some shortcomings but the visual effects are quite spectacular and the action sequences are a sight to behold. I wouldn't consider it a "must see", but then again I don't consider anything but The Natural a "must see". Make sure to catch it while it's in theaters (which will likely be until June). Enjoy the rest of your weekends!

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Play at the Plate's One Trade to Rule Them All

Recently I had the privilege of opening the greatest trade package in the history of First Day Issue. Brian, from the outstanding Play at the Plate, send me an amazing collection of cards in return for a couple of Rangers and catchers that I sent to Texas. I am constantly amazed by the generosity of everyone in the blogosphere and this trade really went above and beyond the call of duty. Here's a smattering of my favorite cards from Brian:

2000 Skybox Metal Ken Griffey Jr. Hit Machines: It doesn't get any better than a Griffey that's shiny and diecut. I am nearing 400 unique Juniors on my Zistle page, but there are plenty of missing ones that I still need to upload. Why did diecuts disappear, I loved these!

2001 Topps Ichiro Suzuki RC: Ichiro! This is only the second Ichiro rookie in my collection (the other is the Fleer Fanfest card) and a most welcome addition. I like the design of 2001 Topps, simple yet elegant with plenty of room for the photos.

2000 UD Century Legends Eddie George Parallel #97/100: Despite the fact that I have never been within a 1,000 miles of the state of Tennessee I am a loyal Titans fan for reasons I can't explain. Brian was kind enough to send some my way, including this sweet diecut of workhorse Eddie George, who announcers liked to call "a throwback".
1999 Donruss Steve McNair X-Ponential Power #194/2500: If you thought the last diecut was cool take a look at this! A sweet card of one of my favorite players of all-time, this insert reminds me of a beautiful and delicate dragonfly wing. It's incredibly thin and made out of some sort of plastic. Awesome.
1999 SP Signature Edition David Segui Auto: Before you laugh, don't forget that Segui did receive one vote for the Hall-of-Fame this year (probably from someone who didn't vote for Alomar). These on-card autographs are really sharp and Segui has an intricate if illegible auto. He spent two years in Seattle, compiling an even .300 average in 867 AB's (but hit only 28 HR's).
2001 Upper Deck MVP Kerry Wood/Rick Ankiel Dual Bat Card: I've always thought that game-used bat cards of pitchers are cool because, well, how often does a pitcher even use a bat? Few used one as well as Ankiel, which sure helped in his transition to the outfield. I hope he signs with a team I like, because I've always rooted for Ankiel.
2000 Topps Stars Rick Ankiel Auto: Schwing! A well designed on-card auto of my favorite pitcher turned hitter, this was my second favorite card of the trade (just behind the one listed below). I think I am drawn to Ankiel because his story parallels that of Roy Hobbes from The Natural, except with uncontrolled wildness instead of a gunshot wound.

2001 UD Gold Glove Ichiro/John Olerud Game-Used Ball: My jaw literally dropped when I saw this card. It contains a piece of game-used baseball from a Mariners game during the teams historic 2001 season in which they won 116 games (but of course, not the World Series). It's a nice swatch of ball that shows game use and a couple of stitches, and it's also technically an Ichiro rookie card. A winner all around and a card I will hold onto for a long time.

Thanks for everything Brian! I will do my best to match this amazing trade package. Expect to find some Rangers in the mail soon. Good luck Cowboys!

Sunday, January 10, 2010

Box Break: 2007 UD Masterpieces (Hobby)

This is the second of two boxes that I purchased from Atlanta Sports Cards with some hard earned Christmas cash. I've wanted to collect 2007 UD Masterpieces for quite some time, but besides an odd pack here and there from a repack box, I had not busted much of the product. I love the design and feel of the base cards and the fact that each box yields three jerseys and one on-card auto is just icing on the cake. Though I didn't hit any homeruns, I was happy with what my packs yielded and I will likely get another box or two in order to finish up the set. Here's what I pulled:

Derek Jeter 4 x 6 Boxtopper: A great looking card of El Capitan and a great way to start the box. Up for trade if someone wants it.

Joe Mauer Green Linen Parallel: The base set by itself is incredible, but throw in a raised frame border and "shazaam" you have, well, a masterpiece. The Mauer is my favorite, but I also pulled a Billy Butler RC, Michael Jordan, Sandy Koufax and Reggie Jackson.

Victor Martinez Black Frame Parallel #88/99

Bucky Dent Shiny Green Frame Parallel #37/50: I'm not sure exactly what frame this is but I know for certain I didn't want it to be a Bucky "Effin" Dent. Not only is it a Yankee, but it's a marginal one at that. Will a Yankees' fan or Red Sox's fan just looking for kindling trade me anything for this?

Curt Schilling Captured On Canvas jersey card: Yawn.

Rich Harden Captured On Canvas jersey card: Double yawn.

Roy Oswalt Captured On Canvas jersey card: Will there ever be a day in my life when I don't have to constantly live in fear of pulling yet another Roy Oswalt hit from a box? How long will he haunt my dreams? Does anyone collect the Astros?

Ryan Zimmerman Stroke of Genius Autograph: Whew, this card really saved the box from being a complete stinker. These are some of the best on-card autographs of the past few years and I was happy to pull one of an up-and-coming star like Zimmerman. I've always wanted a Stroke of Genius for my collection, so I don't think I will be trading this one. A real beauty.

Overall Thoughts: Loved the cards and enjoyed opening every pack of this box. It's nice when a product delivers base cards that aren't throw-aways because a box isn't a complete failure if you don't pull good hits. I got about 65 of the 90 base cards in the set and if I don't get another box (or do and don't pull what I need), I will post a needs list in the near future. Thanks for tuning in and email me if you are interested in any of the cards.

Saturday, January 9, 2010

The Long and Winding Road: A Trade with Beardy

After weeks of wheeling and dealing (mainly due to the fact that I never return emails, sorry) I finally managed to pull off a trade with one of the blogosphere's most respected members, Beardy of Beardy's Baseball Blog. He showed some interest in Cal Ripken and Willy McCovey jerseys that I had posted as tradebait and after I put him through a Scott Boras-esque negotiation we were able to strike a deal. He sent me the following Mariners plus a card to be named later (likely an Ichiro T206 jersey):

2009 Topps Chrome Felix Hernandez Blue Refractor #47/199: I love the color-bordered refractors from this year's Topps Chrome set, and the blue variation looks phenomenal when paired with a Mariner. My Felix collection has grown by leaps and bounds since I started this blog; now I just hope he doesn't leave Seattle in the next year or two.

2003 Finest Travis Blackley RC Auto: The left-handed Blackley used to be the number three pitcher in the Mariners organization behind Felix and Clint Nageotte (who?) before shoulder issues led to his release from the team. I remember him struggling in a brief cup of coffee with Seattle, but always assumed that he would be a fixture in the organization because he had such strong numbers in the minors. Apparently he was with the Diamondbacks Triple-A club last season but is a free agent as of now. I'm always intrigued by talented prospects like Blackley who just disappear into thin air.

2009 Finest Ken Griffey Jr. Blue Refractor #338/399: If I've said it once, I've said it a hundred times; there is no better way to my heart than a shiny Griffey. Love the design and refractor sheen on this card despite the fact that it lists Junior with the White Sox even though he is clearly pictured in Mariners' uni. Puzzlin' the things Topps does, but it won't ruin this great card for me.

Thanks for the cards Beardy. Hopefully the package I sent you made it safely to Maryland. I'm sure we will swap again. Good luck Ravens!

Thursday, January 7, 2010

Box Break: 2003 Flair Hobby (Five Hits)

Since I didn't really get any baseball cards for Christmas (except for a sweet "card" from my girlfriend which I will show later) I decided that my X-Mas cash would best be spent on a few hobby boxes of cards. Was there really anything else I could do with it? I perused the big name sites (Dave and Adam's & Blowout Cards) before discovering a hidden gem of the collecting world, Atlanta Sports Cards. While they don't have the same selection of the bigger sites their holiday prices were tremendous and my little brother and I each got two boxes of 2003 Flair ($30/each) and two boxes of 2007 UD Masterpieces ($35/each). If we had been doing pack wars my brother would have kicked my butt (more on some of his pulls in a later post, including a case hit) but for the amount of money I spent, I was fairly happy with what I got. There's nothing extremely special about 2003 Flair, the base cards are decent and there really aren't any inserts, but I really got the box because it promised four game-used cards plus one jumbo game-used card for only $30 bucks. How could I possibly go wrong? Well, take a look and find out:

Ken Griffey Jr. Base Card

J.D. Drew Diamond Cuts Game Used Jersey: I would equate pulling a JD Drew jersey card to jamming a finger. It hurts like hell and the rest of your day is ruined. Eff word.

Austin Kearns Power Tools Game-Used Bat #301/500: If J.D. Drew is like jamming a finger than Austin Kearns is a paper cut that gets infected. Seriously, this box is jammed full of unfulfilled potential and broken promises. Cue the emo music!

Mike Piazza Diamond Cuts Game-Used Jersey: It's always nice to pull a non-white jersey swatch, and this black piece of Mets jersey was a nice surprise. I guess Piazza is considered a star player, although in his photo on the card it looks like he just smelled one of Al Leiter's farts. I didn't watch much Mets baseball (thank God) but that looks like classic "Piazza Face" to me.

Jason Giambi Power Tools Bat Card #300/500: I was really excited when I first pulled this because I thought it was a Derek Jeter. No, it's just a guy with lumps on his organs from steroids. I like the design of the card and bat chips are a nice change of pace from the dreaded white jersey swatch. The "Power Tools" name seems very fitting for someone like Giambi.

Pedro Martinez Sweet Swatch Jumbo Jersey #150/1480: I guess this is the big hit of the box, although more physically than financially speaking (the actual card is about 5" x 8"). I really feel like this card was designed for old people with large type on the back and the oversized's just like a large print novel of the newest Agatha Christie mystery. I always like getting box-toppers and I won't complain about a decent sized chunk of jersey, but 1,480 seems like quite a big number of pieces to get from just one of Pedro's jerseys (at least during his slender days). There were also oversized patches and autos to be pulled from the set. Instead, I got this. Oh well, at least he's a future Hall-of-Famer.

While I might not have pulled the greatest cards from this box it was still a lot of fun to open and it's tough to beat five hits for $30 (I just had some bad luck). I would certainly consider buying another one of these boxes in the $30-$40 dollar range, although I'm sure they won't be getting any easier to find. If you see any cards you would be interested in just let me know ( Thanks for tuning in, I've been great!

Trade with Tim of GSNHOF---Fame

I recently posted a few cards as trade bait and Tim put in an offer for a Jake Peavy red refractor numbered to 25. He said he had some Griffeys to send my way and I was happy to take them off his hands. All told I got 9-10 new Griffeys, which isn't easy at this point, and Tim was also nice enough to throw in some Edgars for my brother and some random cards from some of my favorite sets. Here are my favorite Griffeys from the trade:

1995 Pinnacle Zenith: This is the first card I've ever seen from this set, and despite the fact that it makes it look like Junior has no ears, I like it. The back was kind enough to inform me that Griffey had three hits to the left infield off righties in 1994, so there's that.

1993 Bicycle Playing Card: This is a great picture of The Kid about to send a ball into the stratosphere, although I am quite troubled that Junior is only a "4" in this deck of cards.

2000 Pacific: This card is very bittersweet. I mean just look at the pain and longing in Griffey's eyes. It's clear that he loves Seattle but his heart aches for his family on the other side of the country in Cincinnati. He's torn about what to do, and knows that whatever decision he makes, he will hurt those who love him most. Don't worry Ken, I've already forgiven you.

Thanks for the great Griffeys Tim! They are always welcome here!