Saturday, February 28, 2009

2009 Topps Series 1 Fat Pack

What is the official terminology for these? It's the 36-card, two-section pack that hangs on the rack. Jumbo is the 50-card single-section pack, right? So is this a fat pack, or is that copyrighted by Upper Deck? Is it simply a rack pack, old-school style? Anyway, I bought it along with a second pack and a cereal box at Target last Tuesday. The big hits in the cereal box were a Chrome Refractor of Mickey Mantle (yawn), a Turkey Red David Wright, and a Lou Gehrig Legends of the Game. A few cards in the cereal box were a bit mangled, with the worst being an Omar Vizquel with a seriously bent corner. What's up with that? Anyway, let's check this bad boy out.

Top Section:

312 Ryan Sweeney - with fuzzy Phillies in the visitor's dugout.

195 Tim Lincecum - I read on that he sometimes goes two or three days without showering. Thanks for that, guys.

119 Craig Counsell - Do you realize he's been in the league for 13 years? Crazy.

262 Mike Gonzalez - According to the card back, the following hitters are all 0-for-their career against him (min. 5 ABs): Pat Burrell, Luis Castillo, Geoff Jenkins, Aaron Miles, Scott Rolen, Brad Wilkerson. Pick it up, fellas!

265 Carlos Zambrano - Love the photo of Z's home run swing.
bigz.jpg Carlos Zambrano picture by brotz13
143 Matt Joyce - Depicted with the Tigers instead of his new team, the Rays.

209 Alfredo Amezaga - The blurb on the back includes Dan Uggla raving about AA's defense. There's an easy joke here, but I like Uggla in spite of his lead glove.

83 Ryan Garko - There were rumors in the offseason that the O's would trade for him. But they fulfilled their ridiculously named corner infielder need by signing Ty Wigginton.
gark.jpg Ryan Garko picture by brotz13
275 Alex Rios - Looking at the list of his best pitcher matchups, he kills old men (Julian Tavarez, Jamie Moyer, Randy Johnson). You're next, John Smoltz!

314 Matt Treanor - Do you think he resents his wife's fame, even just a little?

TTT16 Ichiro ToppsTown - Three of the seven TT cards I've pulled were Ichiro.

267 Michael Bowden RC - Was born in 1986, when I already knew how to read. I'm SO. OLD.

191 Shane Victorino Postseason Highlights - Commemorating his NLDS grand slam against Captain Cheeseburger. May it lead the way to several more Sabathia meltdowns in the Bronx.

224 Max Scherzer - Is it possible to pronounce his last name without yelling like an angry German? NEIN!

102 Garrett Atkins - His OPS each season since 2006: .965, .853, .780. That's what we call a disturbing trend.

165 Matt Kemp - An anagram for "Matt Kemp" is "Kempt ATM". That's all I got.

281 Tug Hulett - His 6 Degrees of Mantle features four Orioles: Tug's father is Tim Hulett, who hit his 1st HR off Dennis Martinez, who was a teammate of Mark Belanger, who was a teammate of Woodie Held, who was a teammate of Mantle.

234 John Russell - Apparently he "hopes a foundation based on fundamentals will pay dividends". That's code for "The Pirates suck hard".

Section the Second:

159 Matt Antonelli RC - Does he have a nickname? I suggest "the pride of Peabody".

284 Luis Ayala - Good trade for the Mets. He went from a 5.78 ERA with the Nats to a 5.50 to the Mets.

150 Kosuke Fukudome - Shown taking a curtain call at Wrigley. That photo must have been taken in April.

288 Guillermo Quiroz - According to Night Owl, the O's backup catcher is Mr. Ubiquitous of Topps Series 1.

26 Jason Giambi - Between the goofy 'stache and even goofier face, complete with protruding tongue, this is my favorite photo from the set so far.
stachebino.jpg Jason Giambi picture by brotz13
110 Hideki Matsui - After playing in every game in his first three seasons in New York, Godzilla has missed almost 200 games in the last three. Uh-oh...

319 Brian Fuentes - If his card had a flavor, it would be grapity-purple.

50 David Ortiz - Does anyone actually hate Big Papi?

LG8 George Sisler Legends of the Game - I know dayf was a bit down on this player choice for the Legends set, but I like it. Topps and Upper Deck have done the usual suspects to death, and it's neat to see one of the few legendary St. Louis Browns get some props.
sizzler.jpg George Sisler picture by brotz13
12 Andrew Carpenter RC - He looks too much like Sidney Ponson for my tastes.

22 Classic Combos: First Rate (Evan Longoria and David Price) - Thanks guys, for making it that much harder for my O' s to climb out of the AL East cellar. Isn't it time for more realignment?

282 Chris Lambert RC - Career ERA of 4.60 in the minors? Hold on to your socks, kids.

242 Ricky Nolasco - One of the more anonymous 15-game winners around, I'd say.

158 Ray Durham - I'm surprised no one signed him this offseason.
durhamt.jpg Ray Durham picture by brotz13
207 Joe Blanton - His World Series home run was one of my favorite non-Baltimore moments of 2008.

40 Carl Crawford - Have I mentioned that Carl and I share a birthday? Yes, probably I have.

329 Gil Meche - How many "What a Meche" headlines has he inspired?

151 Carl Pavano - "It was a welcome sight to see Carl (elbow) back on the mound again in 2008." For whom?

Thursday, February 26, 2009

2009 Upper Deck Series 1

I had struck out in many attempts to find Upper Deck cards until last Saturday, when I saw that a local hobby shop was selling boxes for $89. Did I have $89 to blow on cards? Of course not. They didn't have packs for sale, but I later found myself in a Fred Meyer store. There it was... by the customer service desk... behind a box of Score football... completely untouched... could it be? I could have... any pack that I wanted!

How do you pack search again?

I ended up buying three packs, and here's the first one I opened.

32 - Ramon Hernandez (Hernandez gets a horizontal card because he's sticking his leg out.)
4 - Dan Haren
67 - Geovany Soto (Last year's NL ROY.)
161 - Brandon Backe (I don't like him. And he's lousy.)

YSL6686 - Andy Pettitte Yankee Stadium Legacy (If I collected this set, I'd be really annoyed. Why did they change the YSL logo at the top? There's no reason to do that. Did they forget what it looked like last year? I'm a stickler for consistency in design.)

GJ-PE - Jhonny Peralta UD Game Jersey (I swear I have no idea how to search packs. Not to mention the fact that the whole process seems to result in stuff getting damaged, and no one needs that. The only piece of jersey in the card is the navy blue "J")

434 - Yankees Team Leaders (I like these cards. They're very... Topps.)

482 - Adrian Gonzalez Team Checklist (Here's the Padres Series 1 checklist, Pads fans.)

211 - Greg Maddux (The last Greg Maddux card ever? Nah, not with the way things are now. He'll be in sets until 2089, when we run out of resources to make paper.)

228 - Justin Morneau (Morneau is trying not to look like a huge dork with his Home Run Derby trophy. Trying.)
245 - Luis Castillo
262 - Robinson Cano (Pretty good shot of Robinson Cano making the turn over a sliding pre-Dodgers Casey Blake. This post is already too Yankees-heavy, though, so you don't get to see it.)

332 - Felix Hernandez (King Felix. Who crowned him, exactly? I'd want him on my team, though.)
400 - Jesus Flores (Part! Time! Catcher!!)

349 - Jason Isringhausen (And here's Izzy to top it off. He brings his 293 saves and busted career to Tampa Bay. I wish him luck.)

Monday, February 23, 2009

$6 Wal-Mart repack box - 2007 UD Masterpieces

Second pack from the Wal-Mart special. These came out of the pack in good condtion. I know these get a lot of screen time online, but this pack was an interesting mix to me. It's the New York pack!

#1 - Babe Ruth, Yankees. King of the Bronx Bombers.

#26 - Sandy Koufax, Dodgers. Brooklyn's Ace.

#11 Bucky Dent - Yankees. Newer Yank meeting a bigger crowd at the plate, like his counterpart above.

#40 - Mike Piazza, Dodgers. OK, technically not a New York card. But it's really a 2007 card of a Padre in a Dodger uniform who was a Met most of his career. Call it 6 degrees of NewYorkdom.


Sunday, February 22, 2009

2009 WWE Heritage IV: A Purchase Made Out of Spite

When I posted a pack rip from 2009 Topps last week and mentioned that I had to go across the country to get those cards, I was half-joking. But this weekend, I again went to my local Wal-Mart and Target, and AGAIN I found no 2009 baseball cards. No Topps, no Upper Deck. No packs, no blasters, no cereal boxes, nada. I was taunted by Timeline, Stadium Club, Documentary, Updates and Highlights, 2008 Topps Series 2, and Heritage High Numbers. What the heck is wrong with my jerkwater town?

So at Target, I found myself staring at a single $10 blaster of WWE Heritage. Though my wrestling geekdom has been well-established, I've resisted the urge to by freaking wrestling trading cards time and again over the past few years. Finally, I had a moment of frustration and weakness. Five five-pack cards and a BONUS four-card pack? Sounds great! Allen and Ginter inserts, and the potential for match-used relics? Who wouldn't want a swatch of Hacksaw Jim Duggan's tights? Okay, never mind. With The Wrestler in the running for a few Oscars tonight, today seems like an appropriate day to rip some rasslin' cards. Ring the bell!

27 John Cena - Ugh, one of the most annoying guys out there. He's got this moron jock aura about him, and a hip-hop gimmick that's like nails on a chalkboard. Because snot-nosed little kids buy his t-shirts, WWE keeps shoving him down our throats, regardless of the fact that obnoxious adult males like myself boo and mock him at live events. Go away, John Cena.
John Cena by you.

46 Shelton Benjamin - A former amateur wrestler from the University of Minnesota. In case you're curious, he's got bleached hair because his nickname is "The Gold Standard". Get it? That's not even the worst thing the writers have done with him. Despite being an incredible athlete, he's never been treated like a big star because he doesn't have enough charisma. To this end, he was briefly managed by his overbearing sassy momma, as portrayed by obese former sitcom star Thea Vidale. Why do I watch this stuff again?
Shelton Benjamin by you.

67 Melina - Consider this scan your reward for putting up with a wrestling post. In case you're curious, she's famous for doing a full-extension split as she enters the ring. Don't make me get the hose...
Melina by you.

85 Junkyard Dog - The Legends subset is the real gem of this set. Sadly, JYD was killed in a car accident a decade ago. The other Legends I got in the box were Superfly Jimmy Snuka and Brian Pillman.
Junkyard Dog by you.

25 Jeff Hardy - Just your standard poetry-writing, North-Carolina-born, ex-druggie, raver-looking, ladder-jumping former World Champion. Rumor has it that he once gave his brother, fellow WWE talent Matt, a dead fish for Christmas. Like you do.
Jeff Hardy by you.

So I did get one Allen and Ginter mini in the box (CM Punk, for those who actually care). It was right purty. There was also a die-cut magnet of Batista, which seems like an odd choice for an insert. And the bonus pack? Four cards that I'd already gotten in the other packs in the box. I realize that the entire base set is only 90 cards, but come ON. Whoever packed that box deserves a good powerbomb.

Saturday, February 21, 2009

$6 Wal-Mart repack box - 2004 UD Diamond Coll.

Went into Wal-Mart for some supplies and stopped by the card aisle (well, ya can't just go in there and walk by it now, can you?). The only thing that appealed was this three pack rewrap box hanging on a peg hook. It had these UD Diamond Collections pasted on the back of a 2007 Topps Opening Day and a 2006 UD Masterpieces. Although heavily covered, the Masterpieces pack was an interesting mix too and will probably show up here in a few days. (Especially since there seems to be a drought of APAD posts lately.)

59 Jason Giambi - These would be nice cards if they hadn't been beaten up when the pack was turned and glued to the back of the others and sealed in the box. They're all a little wavy and this one took the worst of it. It ended up with roller marks and a couple angled notches in the side.

64 Bobby Abreu - (pre-Yankees). The last name above the "Diamond Collection" gets lost in these, I think. This one's nice with the red and bronze.

92 Colby Miller Freshman Class - Hasn't made it past AA ball yet. Spent 2008 with Marlins affiliates.

FG-IS Kaz Ishii GU - Imagine that! A jersey in a $6 repack retail box. A dinky little swatch, but nice looking card....

43 Hideo Nomo - Started with Dodgers, then went through four teams in four seasons until ending up back in LA.

77 Ichiro - Ichiro completes the "base cards of players whose names end in vowels" subset of this pack.

AS-HB Hank Blalock game card - I never know whether these are keeper cards or not. Usually I keep 'em and they stay in the dupe box forever.

Another nice design from Upper Deck. Too bad the Wal-Martization process beat 'em up so bad.

Brad Van Pelt 1951 - 2009

From Feb. 17

Friday, February 20, 2009

2005 Topps All-Time Fan Favorites

Man, it's called A Pack A Day, not A Pack Every Few Days, right? You're probably wondering if we kicked the habit or something. Here's a pack of 2005 Topps Fan Favorites, which was showing on the outside of a W**-Mart repack cube. It was the primary reason I bought the cube, despite it's noticeable flaws (the hard plastic case was cracked on both the top and the bottom and there was tons of shipping tape stuck to it.)

58 - Gregg Jefferies (Jefferies was the Alex Gordon of his era, minus the gimmicked "rookie card". Oh, and he played in New York, too, but was soon dealt to KC after several seasons of intense media pressure and failing to meet expectations. He actually went on to be a two-time All-Star for the Cardinals, but hardly anyone paid attention at that point.)

90 - Clem Labine (I'm embarrassed to say that I don't know who Clem Labine is. If I had more time, I'd read up on him on Wikipedia.)

45 - Dwight Gooden (Gooden was THE card to get when 1986 Topps came out. One of the coolest things about this set is that they use different photos from the same era on the card. It's kind of like being in an alternate universe, only in that universe only Topps cards exist and they all have shiny gold stamps on them.)

118 - Steve Garvey (Here's a former Dodger that I do know. Of course, by the time I was getting seriously into baseball Garvey was best known for being quite the ladies' man and an occasional tv personality.)

81 - Michael Kay (This set is also fun because it throws you a few curve balls. I have a couple of Fan Favorites cards in my collection of Walt Jocketty, the now former Cards' GM. Here's Yankees YES Network announcer Michael Kay. I can't decide if I hate him or like him. His voice is certainly distinct.)

47 - Ernie Banks (Here's a man who needs no introduction, so I won't give one. My girlfriend likes the Cubs logo here, but lamented that it was too bad because of the team it represents. It also looks like Mr. Cub is being erased or is somehow trying to avoid sliding into a soul-sucking tornado.)

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

2009 Topps: At Last.

Jarrod Saltalamacchia by you.
Believe it or not, I had to go clear across the country to get my first few packs of 2009 cards! It's true. Last week it was mid-February, and it had been at least a week since the official release of Topps and Upper Deck. Here in Maryland, I went to my local Wal-Mart: nothing. Target: nothing. Wal-Mart in particular had a pathetic slate of offerings. A feeder box of Timeline and a few blister packs of Stadium Club. The rest was football and basketball, including blasters of 2007-2008 Topps basketball. W. T. F. So I visited some friends in San Diego over the holiday weekend, and Saturday night they took me out to get my first In-N-Out Burger (delicious, by the way. Burger and fries were both top-notch.), and we stopped at Wal-Mart on the way back to the house. FINALLY. They had a feeder box of 2009 Topps, with A-Rod's chemically-enhanced visage plastered all over it. I picked up four packs, and got no Orioles. But the first card of the first pack I opened was a Padre - Chris Young, to be exact. Neat coincidence. So here's the fourth pack of the four.

52 Marco Scutaro - Did you know he was from Venezuela?

316 Brian Stokes - Not to be confused with Brian Stokes Mitchell, though this Mets righty does have a heavenly singing voice.

68 Kyle Lohse - Seriously dude, Kyle Lohse won 15 games last year. He hadn't racked up double-digit wins in a season since 2003.

124 Reed Johnson - Had the rare honor of being heckled mercilessly by yours truly when he played right field for the Jays as a rookie in 2003. The joke was on me, as he delivered a crucial hit in Toronto's win over the Orioles. But I did get the t-shirt giveaway, so it's not all bad.
Reed Johnson by you.

65 Mike Pelfrey - Big Pelf had a solid '08, going 13-11 with a 3.72 ERA.

61 Classic Combos: Lance Berkman & Carlos Lee - "Bash-stros". That's cute. I see they're using the combo cards as checklists this year. That's a pretty good idea, I'd say.

LG19 Bob Gibson Legends of the Game - I assume this is the Wal-Mart exclusive version of the insert. Great action photo, which you don't get to see often from old-timers.
Bob Gibson by you.

TTT22 Tim Lincecum ToppsTown - Does anyone actually use these cards? Is it worth your while?

317 Jarrod Saltalamacchia - Great photo showing Salty's back, so you can see all 14 letters crammed onto his jersey.

220 Jay Bruce - Rookie Cup! Do you know why I love Six Degrees of Mantle? Because it's your only chance to see Manny Trillo's name on a 2009 baseball card.

48 Mike Napoli - I just read that his shoulder might make it necessary for him to DH at the beginning of the season. Just what the Halos need...another DH.

42 Jeff Francoeur - "...many believe he's still far from reaching his potential." That's sugar-coating it, huh?

I love the minimal design, the extra stats on the back, and the improved photography. As long as Topps doesn't get obnoxious with the "error cards" again, I might be set-building.

Monday, February 16, 2009

Alright, Get Me Hamm on 5, Hold the Mayo...

There has been a lot of griping about this set so far, and there's also been a lot of praise. I decided to see what all the fuss was about and picked up a retail pack.

Let's tear in.

Top to Bottom:
105 Sterling Sharpe (Great, a Packer right off the bat. It's interesting to see that the artists left in the little strap thingy that kept Sterling's head from bouncing forward too far. I actually got to see this in use this weekend when the NFL Network replayed Favre's first game as a Packer when he came in for the injured Don Majkowski against the Bengals. Good stuff.)

1 Drew Brees (Good QB. I'm shocked to see the back of this card and recall that he slipped to #32 in the 2001 Draft as only the second quarterback picked after #1 Michael Vick.)
120 Heath Miller (SP)

231 Kevin Walter Mini (My fantasy team sucked so bad last year that Walter was getting major playing time from Coach Thorzul.)

205 Jabar Gaffney
216 Ernest Graham

Kind of a "meh" pack. Actually, I got the Sharpe I had seen before and really wanted, so no more of this for me.

Sunday, February 15, 2009

1988-89 Fleer Basketball Wax Pack

I'm really not much of a basketball fan - how many of us really are these days? But oh, twenty years ago... Now THAT was a great time to follow big-league hoops. Vets like Julius Erving and Kareem Abdul-Jabbar were passing the proverbial torch to young stars like Isaiah Thomas, Charles Barkley and some dude named Mike. In honor of this great period of NBA history, and the 2008-09 All-Star Game, let's go back exactly twenty years to the land of Fleer!

Everyone knows that Fleer released a scarce basketball set for the 1986-87 season - a set that contained some seriously desirable and expensive rookie cards. Fleer continued to print small quantities of basketball cards the following two seasons, and the three sets were complete at a mere 132 cards each. Since these wax packs contain twelve cards each, you technically have a one in eleven chance of getting any card in the set.

If you're a gambler like I am, you can't resist opening these packs because the odds ain't too shabby. Let's deal:

Charles Oakley, Knicks -- Oakley's third-year card. He went on to play a total of nineteen years in the NBA at forward and center.

Charles Barkley, 76ers -- Sir Charles was quite a forward in his day, securing a spot in the Hall of Fame in 2006. This is also his third-year card.

Mark Price, Cavaliers (rookie) -- A solid twelve-year performer, Price made four All-Star teams at the guard position.

Mark West, Suns (rookie) -- West is probably the most famous NBA player you've never heard of, managing to stay in the league an incredible seventeen years!

Sam Perkins, Mavericks -- Another seventeen-year vet of the NBA, Perkins was a teammate of Michael Jordan in college - and arguably better than Jordan in college. Not so in the NBA.

Joe Kleine, Kings (rookie) -- Kleine saw plenty of action during his fifteen-year NBA career. This is Kleine's rookie card, even though he'd started at center or forward all of three prior seasons. Oh, the unappreciated life of a Sacramento King.

Dan Schayes, Nuggets
-- An eighteen-year vet of the league, it's looking like everyone in this set went on to play until the Lions finally made the Super Bowl (Ok, that's just a silly thing to say...)

Frank Brickowski, Spurs (rookie) -- I thought that perhaps our longevity streak had come to an end with the appearance of Frank, but no - this guy hung around the league for twelve years. Or so says the internet.

Dennis Rodman, Pistons (rookie) -- Yaaayyy... One of the "big" pulls of the set! Of course, owning this card ten years ago would have been a great time to sell it (for about thirty bucks). Thirty bucks would've then bought two good Beanie Babies. I'd have chosen the turkey, and cat with a black patch on his face.

Derrick McKey, Sonics (rookie) -- Derrick was a fan-favorite for many years, first in Seattle, then in Indiana. He'd hang up the shoes for good after the 2001-02 season, which he spent playing for Philly.

Joe Barry Carroll, Rockets -- Finally... A guy who played just ten seasons in the NBA... What a loser!

John Stockton, Jazz (rookie) -- Well looky here at what we just found! The fella who spent nineteen years "passing the love around Utah" (and other various NBA courts around the country). Oddly, Stockton had played a full four years with the Jazz before his rookie card was finally issued. Like the Rodman rookie, this card is easily one of the most valuable in the set.

Isaiah Thomas, Pistons (Star Sticker) -- inserted one per wax pack, the card-like stickers were always cool (and cut off-center). There were eleven Star Stickers in the set, meaning you also had a one in eleven chance of getting any player in that set, too.

Here's to the next twenty years of NBA basketball! At the rate technology is advancing, I'm sure twenty years from now I will have figured out a way to fully delete any mention of the sport from my television, internet monitor and hovercraft dashboard radio. Unless, of course, Frank Brickowski is still playing.