Saturday, May 31, 2008

2008 Upper Deck Baseball Series 1

This is not the pack that dayf was going to get from me if the Brewers had lost the series to Atlanta, but it's close.
Let's tear in.

Top to Bottom:
256 John Buck

61 Adam Wainwright
178 Freddie Bynum
136 Kenji Johjima
47 Edgar Renteria
164 Chad Cordero
242 Jason Hirsch
8 Casey Kotchman
111 Matt Cain
228 Mike Lowell

252 Zack Greinke
213 Joaquin Benoit
174 Denys Baez
328 Luis Mendoza RC

356 Prince Fielder Brewers Checklist

347 J.R. Towles
383 Chone Figgins Season Highlights

SQ-2 Ryan Braun Blue Starquest Rare

Grade: A
As a Brewers fan, I couldn't ask for much more than this. The Fielder card showcases how a human being can indeed be composed of greater than 50% thigh, and the Braun insert completed the pack in a way that a player from any other team would not have. Let me point out a few of the photographic highlights:
The photography on the Buck, Lowell, and Figgins cards are nothing short of spectacular. The scans above are poor representations of their high degree of quality. Upper Deck certainly upgraded to Blu-Ray while the competition is stuck at 420p. It looks as if Grady Sizemore chose the magic hour during which to make a run for the plate. And then there's boy Mendoza, who looks like he just passed a Boston pitcher's signal test, posed for his 8th grade graduation portrait, then was promptly traded to the Rangers.
What I wish I would have realized earlier in the year is that you're actually getting a premium product with a base set designation with 2008 Upper Deck. This may be my only pack this year, but who knows if I might take a run at it a few years from now.

2008 Topps Series 2 - A Full House!

While perusing Wal-Mart last night, I finally decided on a pack of 2008 Topps Series 2. After all, I "could" win a Dick Perez painted card... LOL, yeah, fat chance. Oh well, I wanted something to post on here, so I grabbed it up.

The first card in the pack is Austin Kearnes. He sure seems to have an affinity for Red, doesn't he? I like 2008 Topps, but this is a prime example of the picture being way too small!

There is also a Joba in the pack. Being that I am not a Yankees fan, nor do I really follow the life and times of Mr. Chamberlain, I have no idea what his current situation is. Is he still in a position to pull off this same expression?

The last card in the pack happens to be the same guy who appears on the pack wrapper. I always thought it was kinda cool when you pulled the player featured on the packs (yes, even when you pulled a Pete Rose 1986 tattoo).

As I was flipping through the cards, I noticed a LOT of blue and "gold" circles. After closer examination, I discovered I had drawn a FULL HOUSE! 2 Royals (Miguel Olivo and Matt Tupman) and 3 Padres (Callix Crabbe (can't help what your parents' last names are...), Brian Giles, and Scott Hairston). So, do all the Series 2 packs feature such poker-rich hands??

Other cards in the pack include: Tim Lahey, Mickey Mantle #62 (Look, I like The Mick, but come on, people, this has been played out WAY past its prime), Adrian Gonzalez (HOLY CRAP! I just realized I pulled FOUR-OF-A-KIND in Padres!!), Adam Jones, a Topps Town card, and a Topps All-Star Rookie voting card... Wow, nothing like getting two filler cards.. And I thought those days were long gone....

All in all, no Tribers, four blankety-blank Padres, two Royals, and a partridge in a pear tree. It's something like but not quite the same as Christmas...or the World Poker Tour...

2008 Upper Deck Series Two Hobby.

I paid a visit to Dr. Wax Battle's in Toms River to record a video box break. Originally, I told Dr. Wax that I wanted to bust a box of Topps series two. But after the bullshit Topps pulled with Kosuke Fukudome, I went with a box of the only product currently on the market that has a legit Fukudome RC: 2008 Upper Deck series two.

Here's one randomly selected pack...

Orlando Hudson
Chipper Jones
Sean Casey
Josh Fields
Aaron Cook
Mark Hendrickson
Joey Gathright
Tony Gwynn, Jr.
Craig Monroe
Ramon Castro
Justin Duchscherer
Matt Morris
Raul Ibanez
Mike Morse
Akinori Iwamura
Steve Holm (RC)
Derrek Lee (Season Highlight)
Jim Edmonds (Padres Checklist)
Johan Santana (Season Highlight)

National Team Jersey: Tommy Medica (1:8)

Dr. Wax told me that the full video box break should be posted to YouTube sometime tomorrow. As usual, I'll have my box break analysis and product review on Stale Gum later in the week.

Friday, May 30, 2008

A Different Kind of Pack (2006 Parody Playing Cards)

While finding images of cards for my Indians Uniform countdown, I came across a card of Ken Keltner that showed him in caricature on a playing card. After searching the 'net for a while, I discovered the source of the oddball: Hero Decks by Parody Productions. Specifically, this is called "Hero Decks presents Cleveland Baseball Heroes."

Players are featured on standard playing cards, each featuring the years they played with the Tribe and a tidbit of that player's history with the Indians.

There are 52 different players, which surprised me because I figured the deck would simply repeat after the first suit. Wrong!!

Some of the information is funny, while some of it is simply a list of facts. I personally liked the "Nap" card blurb...

As you can see, the deck represents players from the team's beginnings up to 2006, including heavy hitters, all-star hall-of-famers and fan favorites.

You might want to see if they make a variation for your favorite team... It's one of those weird oddball things that you can show off to whomever it is you show your collection off to...

Thursday, May 29, 2008

2008 Upper Deck Series Two

Did you know that Upper Deck Series Two had the same release date as Topps Series Two? Neither did I! I bought a pack of the former and a box of the latter. Here's the pack for your viewing pleasure, you can see me slowly rip the box to shreds over the next week or so on my blog.

751 Torii Hunter Checklist
713 Masahide Kobayashi RC
799 Prince Fielder Season Highlights
731 Andruw Jones Season Highlights
444 Matt Murton
490 Nate Robertson
413 Jeff Francoeur
428 Steve Trachsel
466 Alex Gonzalez
USBJR-7 Kyle Buchanan USA Baseball
very thick Upper Deck 20th anniversary ad
509 Matt Treanor
575 Endy Chavez
658 Adam Kennedy
590 Alex Rodriguez
533 Howie Kendrick
686 Rod Barajas
414 Mark Kotsay
657 Cesar Izturis
493 Dontrelle Willis
514 Darin Erstad

Two Braves and an Andruw Jones card in a Braves uni. Not a bad start to Series Two. The sole rookie is Masa Kobayashi who is turning out to be a nice reliever for the Indians. When I hear Kobayashi I think about Star Trek and hot dogs though. Upper Deck has gotten wise and is putting in thick ads again to deter searchers. Don't think this crap only happens at Target, folks. A-Rod and a Prince Highlight card are the only other cards to write home about. The insert is a Team USA card of Kyle Buchanan. I'm not sure how I feel about pulling a card of an 18 year old high schooler out of a pack of Upper Deck. Well, It's almost June, maybe he's graduated by now. Either way, the kid's on a freaking Upper Deck card, he coulda smiled. A decent pack to start off with, but I think I still prefer the retail packs of this stuff. I'll probably wait for the blasters to arrive to buy any more.

And just for Thorzul, whose beloved Brewers took two of three from the Braves even though they got outscored 10-4 in the series, here's Prince.

Wednesday, May 28, 2008

2008 Bowman

I was supposed to be opening a pack of Topps Series two here tonight, but my regular card shop hadn't received them yet when I was there today. I wasn't going to wait around for a UPS truck just for base Topps but I had to buy a pack to get my free Trading Card History card. I used to just get a pack of Opening Day since it was a buck but they ran out. Bowman was the cheapest pack they had so I got it. I may as well rip the sucker here...

54 Chris Young
38 Garrett Atkins
97 Matt Cain
216 Nick Blackburn RC
162 Rocco Baldelli
BP40 Jose Duarte
BP88 Luis Munoz
BCP99 Brad Harman
BCP88 Luis Munoz Refractor #332/599
191 Curtis Granderson gold

I have bought three hobby packs of 2008 Bowman and every pack had both the base and chrome version for one of the prospects in it. At least this time the Chrome was a refractor. Luis Munoz was signed out of the Dominican Republic in 2000 and is currently pitching for Triple-A Indianapolis. He's on the Pirates' 40-man roster so that's something I guess. The veteran players are a really hard luck lot. Granderson's production is way off from last year's just like of the rest of the Tigers. Atkins is fighting a stiff neck and back spasms. Matt Cain pitches for the Giants which is terribly unfortunate. I don't even want to talk about poor Rocco Baldelli's plight. Nick Blackburn is doing pretty well for himself though, he's locked down a spot in the Twins rotation and is doing quite well for a surprisingly competitive team. I'm not too concerned with the base cards though, I just want to stare at my refractor.

Wooooooooooo........ Shiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiny!

Hometown Showdown: Thorzul vs. dayf

Last night I had the pleasure of taking in a mid-week Brewer game. While the ticket price reads $1.00, I actually got in free of charge after my friend scored some complementary tickets from his dad. When I saw that the Braves were going to be our opponent, I got in touch with dayf to see if he wanted to place a friendly wager on the series. We agreed to an arrangement wherein the fan of the team that loses the three-game series sends the fan of the winner a pack. The rules stated that it has to be a pack of 2008 cards. Before game time, I headed off to the store and picked up a couple of packs. The one I'm risking will remain confidential until the end of the series, but I will be opening a few others as the games progress.

Things are looking good for me after the Brew Crew came out ahead in a 3-2 squeaker. It was the second game in a row that I attended during which Milwaukee won the game in the final at bat. Last night's hero: Bill Hall. He hit an 0-2 pitch to right for a single, advanced to second on a perfect bunt by Rickie Weeks, stole third without even soliciting a throw, and then sprinted home on a short sac fly by Mike Cameron, beating a pretty good throw. On the downside, lots of one-run victories are the hallmark of a bad team. We'll see what happens in the next two games.

Here's a for-kids pack I picked up.
Let's tear in.

Top to Bottom:
114 Ichiro (Off to a good start.)

179 Hank Blalock
246 Brian Bruney
49 Corey Hart (Sweet! Good player, bad entrance up-to-bat music. He approaches the plate with some really awful country crap that in no way gets me hype. A change is needed.)

133 Shawn Hill
69 Scott Dohmann (D'oh! Man!)
113 Richie Sexson (Always a disappointing pull.)
262 Willie Collazo RC
283 Josh Newman RC

SQ-5 Vladimir Guerrero Starquest (Although it's listed as a "common," I love the green.)

I hate to admit it, but that's a good-looking pack of cards. Upper Deck easily wins the kid demographic this year.

Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Two Thousand and Eight Topps Heritage

It's high time I ripped a few more packs of those cards with the lower-case fonts and the purty solid colors and the circle cutouts. Soon a gallon of gas will cost me more than a pack of this stuff. $4 is just plain criminal...on both counts.

Pack 1
124 Armando Galarraga Rookie Stars RC - This reminds me that I miss Andres Galarraga. Where have you gone, Big Cat?
340 Hank Blalock - The card back talks of his appearance in the "All-Star Game exhibitions". But don't they know that This Time It Counts?!
217 Jered Weaver - "Jered and Jeff are the only brothers ever to pitch for the Angels." Oh, how soon we forget about Nolan and Shecky Ryan.
364 Fred Lewis
316 Melvin Mora - Melmo is my first double of the pack. He's also grimacing, which is as close to a smile as he usually gets.
65 Jason Giambi - So, um, he still pretty much gets a free pass for the years of steroid abuse, doesn't he? That seems fair.

456 Corey Patterson SP - Leave it to Dusty Baker to let this guy bat leadoff.
41 Kelvim Escobar black variation

Pack 2
288 James Loney - I can't wait until Chris Berman starts calling him James "One is the Loney-est Number". You know he will. It's long and unwieldy, it's unfunny, and it's a forty-year-old song.
106 Troy Glaus - Paging George Mitchell...
349 Erik Bedard - This card smells like gum. Gum and an injury-prone smartass who may some day be mentioned in the same breath as Ernie Broglio. But I'm not a homer or anything.

402 Dustin McGowan
270 Prince Fielder - Why do I dislike ESPN? It might have something to do with their talking heads shrieking about stupid crap like whether Prince Fielder's new vegetarian diet has sapped his power.
187 Carlos Silva - Was instrumental in the longest game I ever sat through in person.
465 Augie Ojeda SP - I saw this card and thought of Augie Doggie. How old am I?
40 Tim Hudson black variation

Pack 3
100 Jack Cust - a.k.a. Rob Deer 2008
272 Aaron Harang - Eek!
48 Baltimore Orioles Team Card - The entire front row (ten guys) is coaches and instructors. Overkill, no?
250 Felix Pie - Suddenly, I'm having sympathy pains all over again.
218 Rafael Soriano - dayf talked this guy up so much, I drafted him for my fantasy team. Well, someone had to hold down my DL spot, I guess.
227 Shane Victorino - Superfly!
C27 Adam LaRoche Chrome - Bah.

284 Luis Gonzalez black variation - This entire pack (save for the crummy Chrome card) was doubles. I'm nearing the end of my pack-buying for this set.

1994 Fleer Ultra Series 1 pack completely unharmed by any trucks or other motorized vehicles

I seem to be running across a bunch of '94 Ultra packs lately. I'd wouldn't bother posting if I got a lousy one. This pack is not lousy however.

151 Tom Glavine
75 Doug Henry
226 Darrin Fletcher
173 Kevin Mitchell
9 Cal Ripken Jr.
104 Kurt Abbott
261 Paul Wagner
98 Bobby Munoz
161 Mike Harkey
289 Royce Clayton
47 Eric Plunk
87 Ken Hrbek
273 Mark Whiten
238 Jeff Kent
275 Andy Ashby
39 Frank Thomas
15 of 25 Barry Bonds Award Winners

Gotta like this pack. One certified Hall of Famer, two more who will be in not too long after they retire and one guy who obviously belongs in the Hall of Fame, but will have to wait until the voters are no longer mad at him to get in. Or until all the voters die and are replaced by Sabermetric robots. I, for one, welcome our new Sabermetric robot overlords. That's potentially four Hall of Famers in one pack. Oh, and Jeff Kent. I don't even know what to think of Jeff Kent. I mean, the numbers are certainly there - his stats are most similar to Yogi Berra's for Pete's sake - but it's still. Jeff. Kent. I'm not sure how I'll be able to live in a world where Jeff Kent is in the Hall of Fame but Dale Murphy is not. I mean, Gary Carter has already messed up my world view pretty badly. Kent is still plugging along, so I don't have to worry about it for 6 years at least. Maybe they'll at least get Ron Santo or Minnie Minoso in by then.

None of this really matters because the best card in the pack is Royce Clayton by far. It's so good I've written a second paragraph to this post entirely dedicated to this card. Yeah, the Thomas and Glavine photos are really nice shots of them doing what they do best, but they didn't lay out in a full dive on both the front and back of their cards like Royce has. This is just a very well designed, good looking card. I wish someone would make a card like this today.

Monday, May 26, 2008

2006 Topps Heritage Football

Yesterday I got to Target on just the right day. A new batch of past-due cheapie packs had just hit the shelves with their former $2.99 retail price slashed to $1.59. And with my 10% off card, they came to about $1.43 apiece. Here is the first of my packs.

Yes, it's football, but it's not from this year, so it doesn't fall under my "two-football-packs-a-year" rule.

Let's tear in.

Top to Bottom:
137 Joey Harrington (Right away I know why no one bought this pack. Any prospective buyer must have gotten a bad vibe from holding it, came to their senses, and put it back. Have you ever seen a player look more scared shitless on a card?
Dolphins Coach: Harrington, you're in!
Joey Harrington: XXXXXXXXXXXXX

273 John Lynch
TN2 Then and Now Chuck Bednarik/Brian Urlacher
TN3 Then and Now Y.A. Tittle/Drew Brees (Wow, two inserts, one pack. Makes me wonder what Drew's views on soft-serve are.)

306 Peter Boulware
291 Courtney Anderson
42 Ben Watson
41 Isaac Bruce
389 Matt Schaub

Grade: B
Two more-or-less scrub QB's bookend this pack. Eerily enough, while Schaub now plays for Houston, Harrington took his place in Atlanta. The two inserts were a nice surprise, especially since they were seeded 1:8 packs. Everything else is kind of blah, but I did get 9 cards in an 8-card pack. Ned Flanders would have returned one of the cards to the store. I won't. I'll just be content with this sticker book.

2008 Topps Series 1 Value Pack

Topps Series Two is due to be released in the next week or so and I'm still trying to finish my Series One set. This is all my fault of course, because I wanted to see if I could complete the set by only ripping wax. After opening three straight blasters all completely full of doubles I say never again. I still have 8 cards to go (29, 86, 92, 93, 154, 214, 232, 266) for my set though. How to complete it? Go crazy on the blasters? Search all over town for a shop that sells commons? Buy 'em on eBay with $5.00 shipping per card? Find a 10 year old who collects and beat him up and swipe the cards I need? I don't need to do any of that because Topps has these!

After Topps screwed up their rack packs last year with lame inserts, they decided to copy Upper Deck's Fat Pack model and sell a 30 card pack for five bucks. I think it's five bucks, might have been three. I snuck it in the shopping cart when I got groceries so I don't remember. Some card journalist I am! If you want to know for yourself just take a pack to the counter, hand the cashier a four dollar bill and if they give you a dirty look you'll know that packs are five bucks each. But forget all that, the reason I had to have this particular pack is this:

Card 93! I need card 93! Hooray! A Topps card I need! Now, I know what some of you out there are thinking right now.

HEY. HEY. You just wait a goshdarn second there. First of all these are rack packs using flimsy see-through plastic wrapping, and it has been a tradition from time immemorial that collectors may root through rack packs and cello packs looking for good players. Number two, I'm looking for a Kenny Lofton base card, not a jersey card or something I can flip on eBay. There is no number three 'cause you're a jerk, Donald Sutherland. Trying to ruin my joy of pulling the first Topps card I've actually needed in a couple of months over message board politics drama is just wrong. Oh well, in the spirit of the holidays, I forgive you but don't let it happen again. Let's open this beast. Every time I hit one of the elusive 8 I am going to link to a march by John Phillip Sousa to express my joy.

105 Roger Clemens - blech
207 Jeff Kent
65 Billy Wagner
217 Josh Beckett Postseason Highlights
161 Matt Garza
8 Stephen Drew
64 Mike Lowell
148 Gerald Laird
142 Chris Duncan
242 Manny Acta
C08-JM John McCain
YR3 Ian Snell Year in Review
72 Mike Piazza
115 Johan Santana
250 Jonathan Papelbon
210 Mark Teahen

No joy in the top pack. I even got another McCain card when I'd rather pull Huckabee. The bottom pack is the one with the goodies. Or perhaps goody. I'm counting on Topps' weird collation to get all 8 I need in a row.

289 Justin Ruggiano
302 Horacio Ramirez
129 Kevin Hart
134 Matt Stairs
247 Edgar Gonzalez
82 So Taguchi
296 Paul Konerko
201 Matt Capps
319 Joey Votto RC
OTG10 Own the Game Miguel Cabrera
Checklist #3
29 Anibal Sanchez

92 Ross Detwiler RC

86 Scott Podsednik

93Kenny Lofton

Hooray! Halfway home! Four cards I needed all in a row. Thanks strange Topps collation! Now I just need to find four more cards. Ugh. Time to go scrounging through rack packs again.