Saturday, February 27, 2010

Card of the Week: 2006 Sweet Spot Update Ken Griffey Jr. World Baseball Classic Quad Jersey

Though not as difficult to track down as game-used hat or shoe pieces, Griffey WBC jerseys rarely show up on the secondary market and I was thrilled to pick this card up for less than $10 with shipping. In theory I also need to pick up a WBC jersey patch, but good luck finding one of those for less than an arm and a leg (last one sold for $130). Junior was terrific at the plate for the US in 2006's World Baseball Classic, hitting .524 with 3 HR's and 10 RBI's, and was named to the All-WBC Team.

Yet another Griffey to check off my list, still in hot pursuit of a game-used shoe and game-used fielding glove swatch. Let me know if you find one, I've got a handsome bounty attached to 'em. Have a great weekend!

Thursday, February 25, 2010

Retail Topps Football Continues to Play the "Hits"

I don't buy football or basketball cards often but occasionally I get tired of whatever baseball offerings are at my local retailers and I try and branch out to other sports (even hockey when I'm really desperate). I read on the Blowout Cards forums that Topps Sterling retail had been providing some pretty nice hits (especially for retail) so I thought I would try my luck with a few packs. I didn't get much of note out of the first few but the last pack yielded the beauty you see on the left: a Juaquin Iglesias 3-color patch autograph RC #322/350. I realize he's not a star (he didn't even play a game last season) but gosh that's a pretty card. It's probably the nicest looking patch I've ever pulled from a pack (not difficult considering that I've only pulled two) and I think I'll hang onto it and see if Iglesias breaks out next season; he was a very good receiver at Oklahoma. Sometimes trying new things pays sure did this time.

If there are any Chicago fans interested in this card you can e-mail me to work out a deal. I'd like it to find a good home rather than selling it on fleabay.

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

This One's For (From) the Birds: A Trade with Kerry from Cards on Cards

My Pacific Northwest trading partner, Kerry from Cards on Cards, sent a great package of Griffeys, Mariners, Rick Ankiels and Stan Musials my way recently. The weather has been fantastic here lately after a few weeks of grey skies and these cards made my good mood even better. Spring Training just has a way of making things right in the world. Here are a sampling of the cards I received:

1991 Fleer Ken Griffey Jr/Barry Bonds: This card has it all; garish yellow borders, a small-headed Barry Bonds, a stadium I don't recognize (Wrigley Field?) and of course, Ken Griffey Jr. It sure is strange how differently their careers turned out.

1990 Topps Toys "R" Us Ken Griffey Jr: Believe it or not I never once visited a Toys "R" Us during my childhood. This card helps ease the pain, at least a little.

2000 Fleer Tradition Rick Ankiel Who To Watch: Since the time he was a young pitcher Rick Ankiel has always been one of my favorite players. I believed he was too talented to be out of baseball after acquiring Steve Blass Disease (or Chuck Knoblauch Syndrome) and sure enough he fought his way back to the majors as a hitter. A truly incredible player...I hope he has a strong season with the Royals.
2007-08 Fleer Kevin Durant RC: This card is a bittersweet reminder of the one year that Kevin Durant spent in Seattle as a Supersonic. I had the privilege of watching him play in the NCAA Tournament as a freshman at Texas, and though I could tell he was talented, I didn't think he would be ticketed for NBA stardom so quickly. He also owns the best current nickname in sports---"The Durantula". Please come back to Seattle, please!

2004 Topps Edgar Martinez All-Star Jersey: I like All-Star jerseys because they are at least somewhat limited (600-700 swatches?) and are tied to a specific event. I always give the Edgars I get in trades to one of my twin brothers and he is really starting to accumulate a nice collection of Gars. Martinez looks like he just smelled a fart in the photo.

Thanks Kerry! As always, any Cardinals I pull are headed your way. Good luck to the Blazers!

Monday, February 22, 2010

Topps Million Card Giveaway Card of the Day

I was lucky enough to pull a code and redeem it over the weekend when Topps was handing out vintage cards like (enter clever anecdote here). I wish I had some more because it still looks like nothing but 1970's...which raises some real questions about how the redemption process works (does the code correspond to a specific card?) I've been happy with the cards I've received, but I think I'm going to hold off on buying more Topps until Series II. Here's the last card I got:

1969 Topps Moe Drabowsky

According to the web's most reliable source, Wikipedia, Drabowsky was known as a prankster who once had a teammate wheel him to first base after being hit on the foot by a pitch. Sounds like my kind of guy. He had a pretty successful career that included two World Series titles and a record of 88-105 with 55 saves and a 3.71 ERA. Ideally this will be the last code I redeem until Series II, but if the unthinkable happens and I buy some more Topps, I'll keep you up to date on what I get. Good luck to everyone who is redeeming codes!!

Sunday, February 21, 2010

A Wicked Sweet Trade Package

I can be so clever sometimes....

Just the other day I received a package in the mail from one of the most generous people in the blogosphere, Wicked Ortega. It was filled with Mariners, Griffeys and a hand-signed auto. Here's a look at what the man from Florida sent my way:

2008 UD Ballpark Collection Ichiro: This is actually a very nice looking card from a much maligned set. Then again, people weren't exactly looking to buy Ballpark in hopes of putting the base set together. I think this card might have pushed me over 100 total Ichiros--awesome.

1993 Upper Deck Ken Griffey Jr. Hologram: I'm glad the hologram showed up in the scan because it's a really cool early Griffey card. He already showed up at Spring Training down in Arizona and I think he wants to go out on a good note in 2010. By the way, I have no idea what this card actually is...any help?

2007 Topps Heritage Josh Johnson Hand-Signed Auto: This is only the second non-certified autograph in my collection (there's quite a story behind the other) and it's a real peach. Josh Johnson is my favorite young pitcher not named Felix Hernandez and Wicked was kind enough to get this card signed at me at a local Fanfest. I'm expecting huge things out of JJ this season (3rd in Cy Young voting) and I am glad that he's staying in Florida.

Thanks for the cards Wicked! They are truly appreciated.

Thursday, February 18, 2010

My Topps Million Card Giveaway Cards (Part Deux)

I couldn't believe how hooked I was on the Million Card Giveaway after redeeming just a few codes. Perhaps if I had the same luck as Night Owl I might have just given up, but the few vintage cards I revealed left me wanting more. I've grabbed 12 packs of Topps over the past two days and I was fortunate enough to pull 5 redemption cards (really beating the odds). Here's the latest cards in the order they were redeemed:

1988 Topps Andy Allanson: The first true junk wax card I've got.

2009 Topps Matt Harrison: Is a year-old card better than junk wax?

1995 Topps Barry Larkin 'Star Power' Subset: At least Larkin was a star, but I guess you already knew that from this card.

1971 Topps World Series Champs #323: That's more like it! A sweet black bordered card celebrating the Orioles World Series victory in 1970. Very nice!

1972 Topps Cleo James: Another psychedelic tombstone!

!sppoT erom yub tsum, sppoT erom yub tsum, sppoT erom yub tsum, sppoT erom yub tsum, sppoT erom yub tsum!

Sunday, February 14, 2010

My Topps Million Card Giveaway Cards

I have a feeling that the blogosphere will be running rampant with these posts today, but I don't mind being trendy every now and then, so here's a look at the cards I got with my five redemptions. It started off well enough but quickly went downhill and into the junk wax era (at least I didn't get any 1987's). I was happy to get a couple of "vintage" cards and the time spent waiting for the card to be revealed was quite exciting (yeah, you got me hooked Topps). Here's hoping someone I know lands a big one like the 1961 Mickey Mantle; can't wait to see what everyone else got!

1965 Topps Roy McMillan: I don't own many vintage cards so I was excited to pick this one up.
1985 Topps Jerry Reuss: I stole your card and then I stole the picture from your blog! Sorry Night Owl, I'll send you some Dodgers soon to make up for this egregious offense.

1972 Topps Luis Alvarado: Psychedelic tombstones!!

1993 Topps Jeff Tabaka: I feel like his last name is how I would say "tobacco" if I were an Atlanta Braves fan.

1995 Topps Jeff Branson: Back-to-back Jeffs is rarely a good thing.

This might have been on of the most fun things I've done in a long time. I was skeptical about Topps' endeavor, but it sure looks like a success after day one. There have been some great vintage cards showing up, as well as a few surprise autographs. I gotta get more Topps!!!

A Bountiful Trade with Field of Cards

I've seen Gary from Field of Cards fame open a number of boxes on his blog and reasoned, ipso facto, that he must have a bunch of sweet cards of my favorites players and the Mariners. Sure enough, he sent me some great M's and Griffeys in return for some Orioles. I was really overwhelmed by wait he sent my way and felt bad I didn't have more cards to trade him, but as karma would have it Gary just won the 2010 Topps Givewaway Contest, so his generosity was rewarded. Here are my favorites from the swap:

2004 Donruss Elite Ichiro Career Best #373/1000: A great looking card of the masterful Ichiro, the serial number for this card is only one off from his .372 average in 2004, making this a true eBay one of two (alongside 374).

2003 Donruss Diamond Kings Ken Griffey Jr: Not all painted cards of Griffey have turned out great but this one certainly captures the essence of Junior. If National Chicle looked a little more like this there might not be such an uproar over the set.

2001 SP Game-Used Bat Edgar Martinez Bound for the Hall: Hopefully this card didn't jinx Edgar as he only received about half of the votes necessary for induction in his first try on the HOF ballot. First Edgar bat card though, so it's more than welcome.

2006 UD Future Stars Josh Johnson RC Auto: A cool looking rookie autograph of one of my favorite players, Josh Johnson was the stud of my fantasy teams staff last season. I was hoping he might wind up with the Mariners, but I was happy he re-signed with the Marlins instead of heading to the Yankees or Sox (for now at least). The portait of Johnson on this card is see-through, using what leading baseball card scientists call "acetate technology".

Thanks for the great cards Gary! I will get your contest winnings in the mail soon.

Saturday, February 13, 2010

The 2010 Topps Card Giveaway Winner Is.....

Field of Cards!

I'm not smart enough to show a screen grab, but I assigned everyone who left a comment a number and then had choose one (presumably at random). Field of Cards was assigned the number five and the fates decried that the number five should be chosen. Rod, tell him what he's won!

"Well Bud. Gary is going to be walking away with a stack of 2010 Topps Base cards, an assortment of inserts and a random relic/autograph of his favorite player, team or Angel Berroa!"

Thanks to everyone who entered the contest and congratulations once again to Gary from Field of Cards. Make sure to check out his blog for a great assortment of box breaks and baseball card talk.

Thursday, February 11, 2010

Box Break: 2009 Bowman Draft Picks & Prospects (Blaster)

So much for avoiding blasters in 2010. In my defense, I was feeling under the weather and there is no better panacea than a box of baseball cards. I'm not usually much of a prospector, but 2009 Bowman Draft Picks and Prospects seems to be providing pretty good value (the only real caveat being the overdone WBC cards) with two purple refractors in each box and a decent shot at an autograph. I opened the box and let each of my twin brothers take turns picking a pack for me to open. One of the brothers picked all four packs that had an insert, the other brother picked none (needless to say, I won't be to taking him to Vegas with me). It was a decent box, but the real fun was sharing it with my brothers. Here's what I got:

Drew Sutton Purple Refractor: The purple refractors are exclusive to retail packs and look great in person. They are a nice addition at 1 in 4 packs to a product that until this year had terrible odds for pulling anything other than base cards from packs.
Ryan Perry Blue Base Card #31/399: A sharp looking parallel to the base cards, these fall 1 in every 45 packs and feature a nice blue border (cerulean? sky blue? I think we need to consult resident crayon expert Night Owl). It helps that Perry is a known commodity.

Miguel Cabrera WBC Purple Refractor: At least this WBC card is of a good player. Earth to Topps, no one wants these cards. No one! Cabrera should drop about 50 pounds this offseason if he sticks to the strict guidelines of the Lendale White "no tequila" diet.

Bud Norris X-Fractor #180/199: I think I'll hold onto this card because Mr. Norris and I both share a fairly uncommon (at least since the 1950's) first name. He's a pretty good prospect for the Astros and I beat the odds on this card at 1 in 92 packs.

Seiichi Uchikawa Blue Refractor #84/99: Nevermind that this card was more difficult to pull from a pack (1:180) than a chrome auto, I was thrilled to add another Seiichi Uchikawa card to my collection. Who wouldn't want that completely non-creepy smile staring back at them from a binder of cards? D'oh!

Overall Impressions: Despite the overabundance of WBC cards and no autograph, this blaster was still fun to open and featured plenty of color to make things exciting. Other notable chrome cards included Aroldis Chapman, Derek Jeter WBC, Phillipe Aumont and a Chris Tillman RC. There's one blaster left at Target that I am planning to split with my lucky brother (while having the unlucky brother divide the packs between us for a no-holds barred "pack wars"). I'll make to update you on any big pulls. Have a great weekend!

Monday, February 8, 2010

Catching My White Whale (And a Contest!)

Alright, that title is extremely misleading. I didn't pull a one-of-one from Topps Triple Threads (nor will I ever purchase the product) or complete any other collecting goals worthy of being compared to Ahab's tireless pursuit of Moby Dick (not to be confused with the venereal disease). However, I did pull my first 2010 Topps Gold Bordered card, a feat that had eluded me for far too long. So it wasn't exactly a white whale, more like a white fish--maybe a cod or tilapia? Something that's good with ketchup.

The gold parallels in this year's Topps fell 1 in every 14 packs--the most difficult rate I can ever remember for the gold parallels. After 10 regular retail packs and one rak-pak, I still had not tracked down an elusive gold card, and the frustration mounted with each passing day. I couldn't eat, I couldn't sleep and I couldn't stand the sight of another bland white-bordered card. I don't know whether it was stupidity or hubris that caused me to continue to buy Topps, but I knew I couldn't stop until I landed my prize.

Finally, after weeks of a tortured existence, the baseball card gods freed me of my overwhelming burden. Before work on Monday I had enough time to stop by Shopko and grab a few packs. The first pack yielded nothing and I began to feel myself turning from mild-mannered Bud Bareither into the green ball of rage known as the Hulk. I opened the second pack in a frenzy, ready to rip a phonebook in half if I didn't strike gold, but just like an old prospector heading out North I found my fortune--a gold bordered parallel of Luke Scott #422/2010 (the number 422 is of course significant to Scott because it is equal to his slugging percentage in 2009 minus his HR's + 2B's in 2009 minus his total hits for the Astros in 2005). I let out a long overdue sigh of relief, knowing that I would never again be haunted by gold least until 2011.

Now, if you've managed to read through my boring account of pulling an absolutely worthless card, you're probably hoping the contest will make it worth your while. Well, it might. Since I really only continued buying packs of Topps in the hopes of pulling a gold card and I don't collect the base set, there are plenty of cards I don't need. So, everyone who comments on this post will be entered into a contest to win the 100+ base cards I pulled plus a random relic to sweeten the deal. The contest will run through Friday, 10 PM Pacific. Good luck and I pray that none of you ever suffer through what I have with 2010 Topps...I may never fully recover.

PS: Thanks for mailing it in on the serial numbers Topps.

Card of the Week: 1993 Upper Deck Jay Buhner

I'd be awfully sad if all the lawsuits that Upper Deck are (is?) embroiled in eventually cause the company to file for bankruptcy and stop producing baseball cards. I'm not trying to defend their unscrupulous business practices, but as a Ken Griffey Jr. collector Upper Deck has always played a large role in my collecting. I really believe that collectors will be the ones to suffer if Topps is allowed to monopolize the "licensed" card market, especially since Junior has an exclusive memorabilia/autograph contract with UD. How cool would a Ken Griffey Jr. Allen & Ginter autograph be?

Competition is always a positive force because it requires companies to innovate and make a better product or risk getting left behind by companies that push the envelope (it's hard not to get lazy if there is no one to compete against). I sure hope that Upper Deck and the MLBPA are able to reach some sort of compromise so that collectors can continue to create new memories with both Topps and UD.

Speaking of baseball cards evoking memories, this 1993 Upper Deck Jay Buhner card is very special to me and brings a smile to my face every time I look at it. 1993 Upper Deck was the first pack of baseball cards I ever opened and I remember this being my "first" Ken Griffey Jr. card. Sure the name on the front says Jay Buhner, but the Kid is pictured with his trademark backwards cap, and this card meant the world to me. I can never forget running over to my friend's house and showing this card off; my favorite player, from my favorite team...what six-year old could ask for more?

Upper Deck will always hold a special place in my heart because of cards like this. Let's hope that the young collectors of this generation will be able to say the same thing one day.

Saturday, February 6, 2010

Collective Troll Delivers Some Kids (A Plethora of New Ken Griffey Jr's That Is!)

With all the Ken Griffey Jr. cards currently in my collection (450+) it's not always easy for me to find Juniors that I don't already have doubles or triples of (or in the case of his 1990 Topps card...42nds of). Thankfully, the world's most prolific pack buster (I'm fairly confident he has some blisters from all the 1990's wax he has been opening), the Collective Troll, came to my rescue, sending 37 new Ken Griffey Jr. cards my way in a recent trade package. And as if the Griffeys weren't enough (they were), Troll also threw in some sweet M's including Russell Branyan and Felix Hernandez. Here's a gander at some of my favorites:

1993 Upper Deck SP Ken Griffey Jr.: One of the top five Griffey base cards of all-time (I'll release the full list sometime soon), this sweet card from Upper Deck's inagural set of SP shows off the Kid's mad hops. I'm not sure if anyone kept track of how many homeruns he robbed in his career, but I think it's somewhere in the 1,000's.

2000 Fleer Tradition Ken Griffey Jr: At first glance I thought I already had this card, but it turns out I had the "Twizzlers" edition and this was from the regular Fleer Set. This is a really good looking card.

1999 Upper Deck HoloGrFX SAMPLE: I don't even want to know what Troll had to do for Upper Deck to get this rare sample card, but I'm glad he did it.

2009 Topps Heritage Russell Branyan Chrome Refractor #448/560: Though Russell "the Muscle" Branyan is likely out of Seattle, he made the most of his time there with bunches of moonshot homeruns that might still be in the air. Topps Heritage Chrome and Chrome Refractors are one of my favorite inserts of the decade.
2009 Bowman Chrome Felix Hernandez X-Fractor #45/250: The shine off King Felix's crown is so bright I can hardly look at this card. Oh wait, that's Topps' patent pending refractor bad!

2008 Sweet Spot Felix Hernandez Sweet Spot Jersey: Pieces of King Felix's jersey have become much more scarce since he slimmed down and much more valuable since he finally became the dominant pitcher we all expected. I'm so happy he's staying in Seattle.

Thanks for the amazing cards Troll!

Thursday, February 4, 2010

My Heart Just Stopped...

...when I saw this card

It's already at $600 with almost 10 days left so it's just a wee bit out of my price range. If any of my loyal readers feels so inclined and wants to purchase this beauty for me, I would agree to name my first born child after them as well as autographing any item of their choice (perhaps my game-used high school baseball cap?) This card is going to sell for more than my car is worth.

There are so many incredible Griffeys in Ultimate Collection that my brain might explode. I'm trying to sell some cards in order to pool enough money for a different patch, but it won't be easy.

Good gravy that is one amazing card!

Box Break: 2002 Topps Gallery (Hobby)

Instead of waiting for the increasingly hideous looking National Chicle Baseball to be released, I thought I would get a box of cards from when men were men and more importantly, when Babe Ruth was not wearing a Braves uniform. 2002 Topps Gallery (6 cards per pack, 24 packs per box) was advertised as the "Museum Edition" and indeed the cards are quite worthy of their own little frames. The box was only $30 with shipping on eBay (there are still some available if anyone likes what they see in this break) and while I didn't pull any "hits" (they fall one in every other box--and by that I mean every other box that I don't buy--ba da chi!) I still enjoyed the box. Here's what was inside:

Base Set Completion: 129 of 200 (64.5%)

Duplicates: 8 (Eight dupes in one box is disappointing, especially since two packs only contained five cards instead of the advertised six, but it is Topps after all.)

Rookie/Young Stars Subset (1 per pack): 18 (This set is utterly devoid of rookies other than Joe Mauer. I did not pull a Joe Mauer. The "rookie cards" feature a red streak across the name whereas the young stars look just like the regular base cards.)

Retired Star Subset: 6 (There are just 10 retired stars in the set, numbered 191-200, I pulled Harmon Killebrew, Frank Robinson, Kirby Puckett, George Brett, Ryne Sandberg and Nolan Ryan).

Veteran Variations (1:24 packs): 1 (Derek Jeter Solid Blue--can't complain about this one, most valuable card in the set.)

Topps Gallery Heritage (1:12 packs): 3 (Mark McGwire 1985, Alex Rodriguez 1998 and Tsuyoshi Shinjo 2001--a painting of a year old card of Shinjo? It's a good thing I beat the odds and pulled an extra one of these.)

Overall Impressions: I always liked Topps Gallery but before this box had only opened a few packs here and there. The base cards are phenomenal except for a small number where the painting doesn't resemble the player at all and the Topps Gallery Heritage cards look great. Personally I would have enjoyed it more if there had been another insert set but from a base set collecting standpoint I guess it's good there wasn't. I'm not sure whether I will collect the entire base set because the rookie crop is so weak (the second best rookie besides Mauer is Kaz Ishii) so maybe I will just go after the 150 veterans and 10 retired players in the set. If someone else is trying to build this set I would be happy to help, or if someone else buys a box I would be interested in trading for your base cards. The inserts are all up for trade. Thanks for looking!

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

Pack Attack: 2009 Topps National Chicle Football

I stopped by Target after work in hopes that I might find a blaster or a few packs of 2010 Upper Deck. Alas, it seems these things take a while to make their way to Central Washington and there was no UD in sight. Well obviously I couldn't leave empty handed (I had to spend money!) so I grabbed a 2010 Topps Rak-Pak (pulled a Ken Griffey Jr., Ichiro and Josh Johnson--quite happy with that pack) and a single pack of 2009 Topps National Chicle Football from a fresh box. The preview images from the baseball set had caused quite a stir and I wondered if the football set would be met with the same response. Well, here's what I got (not including a Mahamed Massaquoi mini rookie and a Caroline Mikkelson "Era Icons"):

Adrian Peterson base card

Tom Brady base card

Amelia Earhart Era Icons Relics: What! Well, not having any idea what was in this set, I was quite shocked to pull a card of the first lady of flight, especially one embedded with a 1935 stamp. Era Icons relics fall 1 in 177 packs and, oddly enough, packs with those relics are only supposed to contain one card (this one certainly had a few more than that). I don't think I will buy any more packs of this set but I'm certainly happy with the one I got; this card has been selling for around $30 on eBay (new Griffeys ahoy!)