Sunday, August 29, 2010

Brush With Greatness: Mark Sanchez

With football season just around the corner and the New York Jets gaining nationwide attention on "Hard Knocks", I figured that the time was right to admit, that yes, I am friends with Mark Sanchez.

Now you may be asking yourselves: how does a small-town boy become friends with a quarterback of one of the biggest and most popular programs in all of college football? Good luck I guess. One of my best friends in college went to high school with Mark and whenever the Trojans played in the Northwest (Seattle, Pullman and Corvallis) we would make the trek to see Sanchez and U.S.C. blow their opponents out of the water.

The first time I met Mark he was serving as back-up quarterback to John David Booty (where art though now?) at a University of Washington game. After a surprisingly close USC win, Mark hung out with us for about 30 minutes, laughing at my jokes ("Have you heard about the corduroy pillows? They're making headlines!) and sharing some of the team pizza and gatorades with us. He was incredibly down to earth, friendly and more than anything, motivated to succeed. Mark was even nice enough to send me a text thanking me for being there to support him and the team.

I got to see him play a few more times the next year (a devastating loss at Oregon State and a blowout win at WSU), but by that time he was a starter and media darling, and there was always such a crowd around him that we rarely got to spend more than few minutes together. Still, he always took time to say hi and thank us for making the trip to the game.

We were a bit crushed when the Seahawks passed on Mark in the draft, but it was great to see him enjoy success his rookie season with the New York Jets. He might be one of the biggest stars in football now, but I'll always remember him as the back-up QB who was willing to hang out with a couple of admiring fans.

Good luck in 2010 Mark!

Mark and I following a win vs. UW 2007

Mark and I after a victory vs. WSU 2008

Monday, August 23, 2010

First Day Issue Visits Coors Field

I was down in Colorado at the end of July for a friends' wedding and was lucky enough to find the time to take in a Rockies/Cubs game at Coors Field. It was my first visit to a field other than Safeco or the Kingdome and I was very impressed with the Rockies stomping grounds. Colorado cruised to an early lead against Carlos Silva, but Huston Street and the bullpen struggled, and it took an amazing catch from Dexter Fowler to save the day for Colorado. Here's a few shots from the game:
Coors Field
Jorge De La Rosa

Troy Tulowitzki

Carlos Gonzalez

Blake Dewitt

Tyler Colvin
De La Rosa vs. Castro

Sunday, August 22, 2010

Most Recent Million Card Giveaway Redemptions

If you like the Million Card Giveaway, you should hurry over to Walmart and buy a "Topps Value Box". The box includes one code, one refractor (Strasburg, Ruth or Ripken), one Allen & Ginter hobby pack and six 2010 Topps Series II packs for $14.99. It's a great bang for the buck and a easy way to pull a few codes (I got three total out of my box). Here's what I redeemed:
1972 Topps Milt Pappas: Hailing from the "pyschedelic tombstone" set, this Milt Pappas card has brought lots of trade requests my way since it was redeemed. Besides looking like my J.V. basketball coach, Pappas also won 209 career games and was selected to the All-Star game twice. Nice.
1980 Topps Jim Sundberg: Meh...
1964 Topps Bob Buhl: Someone offered me this card for a '72 in my portfolio and it wasn't a difficult proposition to say yes to. Bob Buhl won 166 career games with the Brewers, Cubs and Phillies while posting a 3.55 ERA.
1957 Topps Lee Walls: Bingo! I just redeemed this card today and it instantly became the oldest card I had received in the promotion. The '57 design isn't particularly riveting, but it is old, and that has to count for something. Walls played 10 seasons in the bigs, with a .262 average and one All-Star appearance. This is one I definitely will pay the shipping for.

Sunday, August 15, 2010

Box Break: 2008 Bowman Chrome (WOOF!)

I bought this box about a month ago off eBay for a decent price hoping to pull an Austin Jackson, Brennan Boesch or Mat Latos rookie auto. The box took about three weeks to show up, and of course, was full of crap. Here's what I pulled:

Howard/Carpenter/Maholm/Jimenez/Thome/Holliday Refractors: While these are good looking cards of decent to great players, I was disappointed to not pull a single x-fractor or colored refractor in the box. Sometimes the baseball card gods just aren't on your side.

Josh Kreuzer Rookie Auto: Before I bought this box I hoped aloud that I didn't pull an auto of the murderer (Angel Villalona) or the guy who wasn't in baseball anymore (Josh Kreuzer). So what did I do? Pull a Kreuzer auto of course. He was 26-years-old when this card was released and never progressed past Double-A. Thanks Bowman...thanks a lot.

2008 Bowman Chrome Sticker: This hit really saved my break, as I can use it on the end of a box to help me organize my collection. I haven't seen any on eBay yet, but I'm conservatively guessing it's worth around $800.

Overall Thoughts: There aren't that many great names in the autograph checklist and colored refractors are few and far between. After a couple of great boxes of Bowman in the past few months, my luck finally ran out and I hit the wall in a bad way. I don't think I would open another box of this, even if I could get it for around $40 again. My advice? Stay away!

Friday, August 13, 2010

A Nice Swap With My Favorite Nocturnal Bird

It was just over a year ago that I made my first trade with the aforementioned Night Owl, which eventually got me plugged into this crazy and wonderful thing called the baseball card blogosphere. I've completed a handful of trades with Night Owl and each one is as thoughtful as the last. Here's the latest bunch:

1996 Denny's Hologram Jay Buhner: Since going retro is cool again (see every Indie person ever), isn't about time that Topps brought back the hologram? I'm sure the technology exists to make them even better looking than in 1996, and it sure would be a pleasant escape from yet another vintage themed insert set. Also, I miss Jay Buhner.
1995 Score Select Alex Rodriguez "RC": Yeah, I said it. I'm an Alex Rodriguez fan. Well, at least when he was with the Seattle Mariners I was, although I wasn't totally disgusted to see him win a World Series last year. I wonder if he will come back to Seattle for a reunion tour a la Ken Griffey Jr?

2010 Bowman Chrome Dustin Ackley RC: Dustin Ackley was the player drafted directly after Stephen Strasburg (yes, I know how dumb the M's were to not lose one more game) in last year's draft, so while it's easy for him to be overshadowed, he's been putting together a solid minor league season after a slow start. He looks like he might be right to start at second base in 2011, which would allow Chone Figgins to move back to third and maybe remember how to hit.

2010 A & G Tony Hawk Black Border Mini: Although I was a BMX'er growing up, I still idolized Tony Hawk and spent countless hours of my life playing his very fun video game. This is a great looking card from one of my favorite sets and the impetus for this whole trade.

Thanks for the great cards Night Owl. I've got a feeling there will be a few more trades between us in the future.

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

A Great First Trade With Thoughts and Sox

I was lucky enough to pull an Adrian Beltre SP Black Border mini (1:130 packs) from my box of Allen and Ginter, which opened up a whole new can of worms when I finally found someone to send all my Red Sox to (and there's a lot of 'em_. Adam from Thoughts and Sox got ahold of me and we worked out a Sox for M's trade. Here they be:

1934 Goudey Jimmy Foxx Reprint: Though this card looks legit (in what would have been the most lopsided trade since the Indians sent Bartolo Colon to the Expos for Cliff Lee, Brandon Phillips and Grady Sizemore) it turns out Adam isn't actually a billionare, and it's just a really good looking reprint. Still, it's a cool card and it fills a page in my player collection binder which is always a good thing.

2007 SPX Felix Hernandez: Though this is a just a base card, it looks like a case hit with the die-cut borders and world class shine. I miss Upper Deck and so can you.

1995 Skybox Premium Steve McNair Pay Dirt: Growing up Steve McNair was my favorite player and the Houston Oilers/Tennessee Titans were my favorite team. Don't ask me why, I've never been to Tennessee and have no personal connection to the state. Adam was kind enough to send along about 30-35 nice McNairs which basically quadrupled my collection.

1995 Pinnacle Team Pinnacle Steve McNair/Kerry Collins: Maybe it was McNair's toughness that drew me to follow his career--dude played football with a broken sternum. This card is a bit ironic because both quarterbacks on this card would eventually play for the Titans, even though neither did at the time this card was made (yes I know the Oilers became the Titans, but still). Classics 90's, this card has dufex on one side and shine on the other. Boss.

Thanks for the great cards Adam!

Sunday, August 8, 2010

Recent eBay Acquistions: Mariners and Prospects.

I won this handful of cards on eBay over the last month or so. After a couple of shaky starts Brad Hand has begun to pitch at a high level again and I have big expectations for the 20-year-old left hander. Michael Saunders is finally getting a shot at playing everyday for the Mariners and is showing an exciting blend of power and speed. The Ken Griffey Jr. is just plain beautiful. Here's the stuff you've been waiting so patiently for:
2008 BDPP Brad Hand X-Fractor Auto #222/225

2008 Donruss Elite Brad Hand Aspirations Auto #32/50

2009 BDPP Michael Saunders Blue Refractor #47/99

2007 Bowman's Best Michael Saunders Blue Parallel #22/99

2009 Bowman Sterling Michael Saunders Gold Refractor #33/50

2009 Bowman Chrome Ken Griffey Jr. Blue Refractor #30/150

Thursday, August 5, 2010

Card of the Week: 2002 Donruss Rookie Year Materials Jersey Stan Musial #12/50

Stan Musial has always been my favorite "old-time" player (there's a great read on him in the newest Sports Illustrated) and I jumped at the chance to pick up this incredible card of one of the game's all-time (and criminally underrated) greats.

Not only is it the first Stan Musial jersey card in my collection, but the swatch is from Musial's rookie year of 1942. That's right, that little woolen square of fabric is over 68 years old! If it's possible, this card gets even cooler because Donruss showed a picture of the actual jersey from which the swatch was taken on the back. Why can't Topps do that?

Cardinals' fans can drool all they want, but this card is staying in my personal collection for a very long time. Did I mention that I got it for less than the price of a blaster? Hazaa!

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

Box Break: 2003 Flair Hobby (Reds Hot)

I bought this box about a month ago with my Gint-a-Cuffs entry and after seeing the results from that break, it's not hard to believe that this one was slightly better. Despite the fact that 2003 Flair is nearly devoid of anything other than "hits" it's a fun and affordable break that I would highly recommend. Here's the loot:
Mike Piazza Diamond Cuts Jersey: This is the second Mike Piazza jersey card I've pulled from a box of Flair, and yes, it still looks like he's smelling a fart in the picture. I used to like Piazza in the late-90's before he returned a TTM request with a bent card. Never again Mike, never again.

Pat Burrell Diamond Cuts Jersey: Is there any player who is more just there than Pat Burrell. He's not bad, he's not good and no one seems to care much about him either way. Would a Phillies fan even want this card? Let me know...

Adam Dunn/Austin Kearns Dual Power Tools Bat #175/200: I wish a Reds' fan had purchased this box, especially for this hit and the next one in line. I've always like Adam Dunn, and he's incredibly consistent, but Austin Kearns doesn't do much for me (especially since he's with the Yankees now). Not a bad card though; bat slices are always nice.

Austin Kearns Wave of the Future Patch #8/100: Alright, I just mentioned that I don't much care for Austin Kearns, but I do really like this card. This beauty is only the second patch card I've ever pulled from a pack and it looks great in person. I would prefer to keep it, but if a Reds' fan would rather have it, shoot me an email.

Vladimir Guerrero Jumbo Sweet Swatch Jersey #44/46: The curse is broken! Alright, it wasn't really a curse, but both the previous boxes of Flair I opened contained Pedro Martinez jumbo jersey swatches numbered to 10,000. Although I was hoping for a jumbo patch, a low numbered card of one of the game's best sluggers (and the Mariners' most hated rivals) isn't a bad consolation prize.

Overall Thoughts:
Cheap. Fun. Action packed. End o' story.