Wednesday, April 30, 2008

1995 Select

I've waited thirteen years to bust a box of 1995 Select.

Yep, thirteen years.

When 1995 Select was released card collectors everywhere went batshit over it. Why you ask? It's all because of the sticker sealing the lid of the waxbox.

of 24
of 4950

Only 4,950 24-box cases were made and each waxbox was serial numbered.

Big deal, right?

Well, armed with that information (and other variables such as pack insertion ratios and set size) mathematically-inclined collectors were able to calculate exactly how many copies of each card were made.

So even though none of the individual cards were serial numbered; nonetheless, you could figure out that there were 9900 copies of each Can't Miss, 4950 Big Sticks, and 3168 Sure Shots inserts printed. But more importantly, there were only 475 copies of each one-per-box Artist Proof parallel were made. 475 copies may not seem all that scarce -- at least to the collector of 2008 -- but in 1995 it was, and that's why The Hobby went batshit over '95 Select.


Just to make things, interesting, I will attempt to write one or two sentences about each player, as if I had written them in 1995. In addition, I will not use a period at the end of any sentence.

Mike Greenwell
Mike was shafted in the 1988 AL MVP balloting!

Randy Johnson
In 1995, Heather Roszell turned six!

Roger Clemens
In 1995, Roger was five years into a relationship with 20-year-old country music star Mindy McCready! Guys Do It All the Time, indeed!

While informed about the enfolding O.J. Simpson "White Bronco" chase, Man-Ram reportedly responded, "What did Chad do?"

Midre Cummings (Select Rookie)
Popular baseball card blogger Chris Harris once spent $20 on a lot of Midre Cummings rookie cards!

Chad Mottola (SR)
Chad was the Reds First-Round draft pick in 1992!

Brad Woodall (SR)
Brad was the International League's Pitcher of the Year for 1994!

Dave Winfield
On July 31, 1994 Dave was traded from the Twins to the Indians for a player to be named later! After the two teams failed to come to an agreement, the Indians "traded" Dave back to the Twins -- FOR A DINNER TAB!

You're supposed to get 10 cards in a pack, but as you can see, I only received eight. In the rest of the box, I received one pack that had nine cards, but the other 22 packs had the allotted 10 cards.

The video box bust is already on YouTube, and the full review will be on Stale Gum later this week.

1978 O-Pee-Chee Baseball

1978 O-Pee-Chee Short history – O-Pee-Chee was a candy company founded in 1911 by Canadian brothers. They first tried their hand at trading cards in 1933. From 1965 through 1994 they were a licensee for Topps baseball cards. For many of the years the Topps and O-Pee-Chee cards were very similar. The company was purchased by Nestle in 1996 and Upper Deck started using the name for some of their trading cards in 2006.

Ruppert Jones played from 1976 to 1987.

Sal bando played from 1966 to 1981 and his brother Chris played for the Indians.

Sixto Lezcano played from 1974 – 1985.

Steve Rogers played from 1973 – 1985 for Montreal, and was born in Missouri.

Willie McCovey, a HOF player, played from 1959 to 1980.

Dennis Eckersley, a HOF player, played from 1975 to 1998

Enos Cabell played from 1972 to 1986 and he and six others got in trouble because of the Pittburgh drug trials.

Ivan Dejesus played from 1974 – 1988 for 7 different teams, his son Ivan Jr. plays in the Minors.

Milt May played from 1970 to 1984 and his father, Merrill played for the Phillies.

Milt may (a double in a pack of 10 cards, yikes)

Card condition and layout – The centering is good and the corners are in great shape (for 30 year old cards). Except for the O-Pee-Chee copyright on back and some of the text being in French you could easily mistake this for a Topps card. It was nice that the card back that had contact with the adhesive was not damaged. Also you can’t beat the 15 cent sticker price. On the back of the wrapper it says if you send in 5 wrappers and 65 cents you will receive a pennant of your favorite team. The back of the card also has the “Play Ball” game that a couple of the bloggers have been talking about.

They're baaack! 2008 Topps Heritage

After being a cheapskate and holding off on buying cards for several weeks, I decided to resume my attempt to complete this here Heritage set. Submitted for your approval, three packs of eight.

Pack 1
132 Joe Koshansky Rookie Stars RC
275 Anibal Sanchez - It makes me feel so dirty when an idea for a Bermanism crosses my mind: Anibal "Crossing the Alps" Sanchez. At least it wasn't a 1970s rock reference.
366 Baseball Thrills: A-Rod Hits 500th Home Run - I like the triptych photo.

402 Dustin McGowan - Agh, a double.
270 Prince Fielder - And another.
291 Matt Chico and Jason Bergmann: Pitching Partners - Not that there's anything wrong with that.
450 Chipper Jones SP - How does this guy just keep hitting? We have to start talking about him as a Hall of Famer.
227 Shane Victorino black variation - "Shane is short of stature but big of desire." That's what we call a backhanded compliment, Mr. Card Back.

Pack 2
142 Rich Thompson Rookie Stars RC - Dang, I used up my Homer Thompson joke yesterday.
271 Andy Phillips - The former Yankee didn't make an error last year. But I'm sure New York's confident with Jason Giambi and Morgan Ensberg holding down first base this year. Heh.
367 Baseball Thrills: Troy Tulowitzki Turns Unassisted Triple Play - Already got it.
412 Jason Bartlett - Blurry, blurry, blurry. Ease up on the Photoshop, Topps.
207 Dave Roberts - Lots of Yankee torment to be had in this pack!
196 Jose Valverde - This guy shows off so much when he strikes a batter out that I soak up the schadenfreude whenever he blows a save.
488 Carlos Guillen All-Star SP - Sweet! Two short prints in two packs. Carlos is not what we call "TV-pretty".

338 Justin Verlander black variation

Pack 3
26 Fausto Carmona - How many hacky journalists made reference to the Indians' pitcher having made a deal with the devil during his great 2007 season? Plenty.

308 Daisuke Matsuzaka - He's only two years older than I am. Time will tell which of us is the better pitcher, though. I'm working on a knuckleball.
257 Jarrod Washburn - The O's have beat up on him twice this year, making him one of my new favorite players.
163 Brad Ausmus - "No catcher helps his hurlers more than Brad." Y'know, except for the whole "offensive contribution" thing.
411 Sergio Mitre - By the by, this is my third straight double in this pack.
337 Lyle Overbay - Not to be confused with Dana Carvey's character "Lyle the Effeminate Heterosexual".
461 Chone Figgins SP - I'm surprised by his .293 career batting average...he sneaks up on you.
60 Andy Pettitte black variation - Andy kills the O's, HGH or no.

Not bad, three-for-three with short prints. A few more doubles than I'd like, but more to trade!

Monday, April 28, 2008

2004 Fleer America's National Pastime

Remember way back here when I thought I had ripped the 2004 version of a crappy product, but I ripped the 2005 version instead? Well I found a pack of the 2004 version and bought it so I could rip it here. That's right, I paid money for a pack of cards I hate just so I could complain about it on the internet. That's just the kind of guy I am. An idiot. Let's open this sucker as long as I got it.

16 Mike Piazza
49 Kerry Wood
26 of 30 HM Jose Reyes History in the Making
13 Alex Rodriguez
20 Richard Hidalgo

Yeah, an insert! I'm old-school enough so I'm still impressed by such things. It's a little busy, but I dig the baseball morphing into a stadium thing going on. I'm a fan of Jose Reyes even though he's a Met. I like Reyes because he's kicked ass for me on fantasy teams before and because he seems to piss off a certain percentage of the Met nation for some reason. You have one little slump during a collapse of epic proportions and fans get tetchy I guess. This is the easiest insert to pull at 1:4. There's also an American Made insert at 1:12 packs and National Treasures numbered to 500 at 1:240 packs. Game used fall at 1:24 while numbered rookies are 1:48 packs. Once again jersey cards are easier to pull than one third of the set. That's right, the base set is 60 cards with 30 numbered rookies. So, if my math is correct, if you rip 48 packs and get your one rookie card, you'll also have 3 and 2/3rds base sets, 12 History in the Making, 4 American Made and two gamer cards. Now you only have 29 more rookies to go!

Ok, enough about the crappy checklisting, now onto the crappy base cards. The design is full of the normal excesses, spot UV coating, silver ink, too much stuff going on in the background. I'm a sucker for black borders though and the baseball diamond and freakishly large home plate doesn't look too bad. This wouldn't be that terrible a set had Fleer just not decided to have the players embossed on all the cards. The only two sets where embossing worked at all are Action Packed and maybe Ovation and both of those sets are dead and gone. Here it's just excessive and makes the cards that much clunkier. I got an A-Rod though and one of probably a thousand Piazza cards in my collection. If I had a nickel for every Piazza card I've pulled, I'd probably make out better than if I tried to sell 'em all on eBay. So there's the short, sad run of National Pastime. One of the most useless card sets on the planet. And I just bought a pack of both of 'em in the past couple of months. I am an eeeediot.

Sunday, April 27, 2008

The 20 for $40 re-wrap: The Final Pack. 2000 Fleer Showcase

All good things must come to and end, and so this experiment in baseball card gonzo journalism does as well. Was it successful? Was it a failure? More experimentation is needed.

We finish up The 20 for $40 Re-Wrap with a really bad pack from a really, really, bad product: 2000 Fleer Showcase. With this set, Fleer took the one thing that made Flair Showcase unique -- the multi-tiered, multi-fractured base set -- and disposed of it with a formulaic 140-card set with 40 short-printed "rookies."


On the other hand, there are autographs to be had. You get a 1:24 chance of pulling an on-card "Fresh Ink," and a 1:250 of hitting an on-leather "Sweet Sigs."

And now, for the final time, here's the video.

Fernando Tatis
Did you know? Fernando Tatis was the first player in Major League history to hit two grand slams in the same inning?

Preston Wilson

Did you know? Preston Wilson's step-father AND uncle are Mookie Wilson. (Mookie's brother is Preston's father, but then Mookie married Preston's mother.)

Greg Maddux

Did you know? Greg Maddux shares the same birthday (April 14th) with his one-time teammates David Justice and Steve Avery.

Mike Piazza
Did you know? Mike is the godfather to Zakk Wylde's youngest son Hendrix. His full name is Hendrix Halen Michael Rhoads Wylde.

Fresh Ink (1:24) Kip Wells
Alright! An autograph of a career 64-91 pitcher!

Well, there it is; 20 packs o'junk. I did pull a pair of autographs and a few inserts, but I didn't get any RCs. All-in-all, these were cards I did not have a need for. Hopefully, Mr. Andrew Schmidt of Brighton, Michigan (the winner of my contest) will have a better use for them.

2004 Leaf Second Edition

Here's a disappointing pack for a disappointing weekend. My ex-NFL team's first pick in the draft was so spectacularly bungled that even when they sort of rectified the situation by moving back into the first round to finally pick a lineman it was far too late for me. I'll be watching SEC football next year thanks to owner meddling. The Braves dropped two of three to the Mets even though they had Hudson and Smoltz starting. To top it off I just made pizza and I can't find my bottle of hot sauce anywhere. Well, I do have a bottle of Dave's Gourmet Insanity Sauce handy but the Braves and Falcons haven't driven me to suicide yet. Here's a pack of more disappointing crap, 2004 Leaf Second Edition. What's wrong with a series two of Leaf, you may ask? This isn't series two, this is Second Edition. Basically Donruss released Leaf as a Hobby only product, then a few months later put out a retail version called Second Edition. The big difference is that they put a Second Edition logo in the bottom right corner so the entire set is essentially a parallel of the Hobby version. Blech. Should I even bother opening it, or should I just chug the insanity sauce? Nah, I'll open.

134 Josh Beckett
186 Scott Rolen
110 Javy Lopez
288 Sammy Sosa Checklist
Big chunk o' cardboard
81 Aubrey Huff
21 Esteban Loaiza
72 Bret Boone
95 Brian Bowles

As you can see it's not a bad looking set. It's got a decent action shot, the black & white bottom border is nice and the little splash of team colors pulls it all together. It's just... I don't know. That little Second Edition logo screams out "second class citizen" to me. You could only afford the retail product? Wear your badge of shame! It really sucks when you have a set half full of hobby and half full of Second Edition. The whole thing looks bootleg. This is a really craptactular pack too, the big hit is a Sammy Sosa Checklist, hooray. Josh Beckett is still in his Marlins uniform to remind us of the south Florida fire sales. depressing. Scott Rolen mouthed his way out of Philly just to mouth his way out of St. Louis and is now up in the Frozen North. depressing. Aubrey Huff has his sexcapades and Bret Boone had his mysterious little career bump in Seattle. depressing. Ok, so I like the Javy Lopez card, but I'm going to gloss over that to focus on the depressing angle. That's right, A Pack A Day contributors use journalistic bias to twist the story and make the readers think what they want you to think. Isn't that depressing? Now I'm depressed. It's Nine Below Zero. I'm going to go watch some Young Ones and find a happy pack to open tomorrow.

The 20 for $40 re-wrap: 1998 Pinnacle Performers

1998 Pinnacle Performers was not the last baseball card product released by Pinnacle Brands (that would be Pinnacle Plus), but it might as well have been. Towards the end, just about every Pinnacle Brands set -- with the notable exception of Score -- followed the same predictable formula: A 150-200 card base set, 100-150 of the same veterans, 25-30 "rookies," double-up the superstars with a meaningless subset; throw in a few equally meaningless inserts and a parallel or two, and wah-lah!

'98 Performers followed this formula to a Tee. The 150-card base set has 100 veterans, followed by a 37-card "Rookie" subset, 10 "Far & Away" subsets, and three checklists.

Here's a vid of me opening a pack of this stuff, and inadvertently calling a phone sex line.

The stats on the back of the regular player cards are broken down by month. Give 'em credit, it is different.

Larry Walker
Larry is shown here rounding third, trotting home after one of his 1997 National League leading 49 homers.

Shawn Estes
Shawn Estes won 19 games in 1997.

No, really. He did.

Charles Johnson
Although picture here as a Marlin, the card denotes -- on gold foil, no less -- his trade to the Dodgers.

Derek Jeter (Far & Away)
"The igniter for the high-powered Yankees' offense that finished second in the AL with 891 runs scored in 1997, Derek also helped the pitching staff past the circuit's lowest ERA with his terrific defense at shortstop. The team's youngest regular, Derek led the '97 Yankees in runs, triples and steals."

Travis Lee (Rookie)
"Travis recorded the first hit in Arizona Diamondback history when he singled to center field in his first major-league at-bat in the bottom of the first inning on March 31 against Colorado."

David Ortiz
"Formerly in the Mariners' organization, David made the Twins' roster in 1998 thanks largely to his great performance in spring training when he hit .354 (17-for-48) in Grapefruit League action."

OBTW, Ortiz was sent to Minnesota as a PTBNL for '93 Phillie Dave Hollins.

Jay Buhner

Peak Performers (1:7) Jeff Bagwell
Peak Performers was the generic "foil-fronted" parallel that was standard issue in every Pinnacle Brands set. Other than the words "Peak Performers" printed on the side of the card, there is nothing mentioning WHY this particular athlete was a Peak Perfomer.

Swing for the Fences (1:2) #39
Swing for the Fences is an "Interactive" insert. Each pack contained either one of 50 player cards or one of 50 number cards. The object of the game was to match either the 1998 American League or National League home run leaders with the number card of home runs hit that player hit in 1998. If you've got both the player and the correct number, you can then send them to Pinnacle and they'd send you either an autographed Juan Gonzalez card, or a 10-pack of Swing for the Fences "upgraded" (read: parallel) cards. You were then entered into a drawing for a trip to the '99 All-Star Game.

Since Pinnacle went out of business, none of these prizes were ever fulfilled.

One last pack to go!

Saturday, April 26, 2008

The Long March Onward: 2006 Topps Series Two Jumbo Box Break

I am feeling lucky, folks. The NFL draft is in about an hour, and yesterday I won a photo caption contest on local radio station 98 Rock. Because in-studio guest Ric Flair appreciated my "Figure Foreplay Leglock" pun, I am now the proud owner of four front-row tickets to tomorrow night's WWE Backlash pay-per-view at the 1st Mariner Arena in Baltimore. If nothing else, it cements my status as APAD's resident wrestling geek. Let's commemorate this happy occasion by blogging pack number 9...number 9...number 9...of 12.

541 Oliver Perez - Showing off the high socks.
538 Mark Mulder
559 Jerry Hairston, Jr. - Psst, the steroids didn't work, Jerry.
525 Zach Duke
572 Todd Jones - I approve of the mustache, but not the homophobia.
516 Derrick Turnbow
375 Brady Clark
357 Orlando Hernandez - You may know him as "El Duque", which is Spanish for...the Duque.
367 Ray Durham
466 Jay Payton BLACK 22/55 - It looks neat and it's very rare, but it's still Jay Payton.
391 Casey Blake
338 Livan Hernandez
483 Jose Guillen - I read a hilarious book called Fantasyland. The author organized a three-man picket of the Angels facilities when the team suspended Guillen. He found out very quickly that the Angels hated the outfielder almost to a man.
484 Aaron Hill
563 Brad Ausmus
540 Gustavo Chacin Topps All-Star Rookie - Who wouldn't want to smell like him?
570 Todd Helton
636 Jim Edmonds
588 Ken Macha
464 Nick Swisher - He's no Steve Swisher...which is a good thing. He got lucky with recessive genes.
399 Joe Crede
373 Woody Williams - Shown practicing his bunting. Oookay.
MHR5 Mickey Mantle Home Run History #5
556 Rob Mackowiak
564 Yorvit Torrealba
498 Brad Thompson - Hello, Mr. Thompson.
634 Reggie Abercrombie RC
431 Julio Franco - Not pictured: The Ark of the Covenant.
579 Javier Vazquez
418 Johnny Estrada
618 Craig Hansen RC
654 Power Rays: Travis Lee and Rocco Baldelli - Let's see. In 2005, Lee hit 12 homers and Rocco missed the whole season with injuries. Feel the power!
605 Marlins Team Card
646 Bronx Zoo: Jason Giambi and Johnny Damon - I guess they represent the Monkey House of the zoo.
606 Astros Team Card

Friday, April 25, 2008

The 20 for $40 re-wrap: 1999 Bowman Series One.

1999 Bowman Series One is NOT the series with all those RCs. But, there is an RC of Pat Burrell. And if I pull one..., well, just watch the video.

Matt LeCroy
As of the end of last season, Matt led all active players in most career plate appearances without a stolen base.

Ron Belliard
'99 was Belliard's first full season in the Majors. He's now with the Nats.

Scott Randall
Scott went 2-5 in 12 appearances for the Reds in '03. Last seen playing with Triple-A Colorado Springs in '05.

Chuck Knoblauch
Did you know that knoblauch is German for garlic?

Mark McGwire
In 1999 Mark McGwire was on top of the world and on top of The Hobby. Hard to believe, huh?

Eric Valent
This was the guy the Phils drafted with the pick they received for not signing J.D. Drew. 1 RBI in 51 ABs later, he was shipped off to Cincinnati for backup catcher Kelly Stinnett.

Freddy Garcia
Not to be confused with the Freddy Garcia who stole $10 million from the Phillies last year, this Freddy Garcia was the opening day third baseman for Pittsburgh in '98. Was last seen playing for Pawtucket in 2000.

Kerry Wood
After McGwire and Sammy Sosa, there may not have been a hotter player in The Hobby than Kerry Wood. 20 strikeouts will do that to a guy's cards.

Mike Frank
A 7th round pick of the Reds in '97, he was called up to the big club in June '98. 89 ABs and a .225 BA later, he was sent down and never played in the Majors again.

International (one-per-pack) Nate Cornejo
The 34th pick overall in the 1998 draft, Nate pitched four seasons for the Tigers (2001-04). Lost 17 games for the Tigers in '03. Retired halfway through the '06 season.

Tri-Star "Uncover the Babe" 20-for-$20

I don't know why I did it. The box was just there, sitting on the shelf - ignored. I picked it up, turned it over in my hands a few times, and decided to buy the silly thing. It was a "20 packs for $20 plus a free autograph" box of Tri-Star Hidden Treasures "Uncover the Babe" repacks. 5 cards (giver or take) per repack. Well, they don't come much odder than Tri-Star, so I thought it would be a fun project for P-A-D. Guess we'll see. Now, before you roll your eyes and skip past this, don't worry - I am NOT posting all 20 packs. I'll open the first 3 and post my findings, then post the rest of them over on my Indians Cards blog (I really got take the "Always" off there...):

First, we have the wrapper:

Next, we have the "free auto:"

I have NO idea who this guy is/was. Want the auto? Let me know - 1st come, 1st get.

Now, the first pack of cards includes 1982 Donruss Leon Durham, 1992 Topps Brent Mayne, 1988 Donruss Rookies Shawn Abner, 1991 Upper Deck Rich Green, and 1987 Topps All-Star Send-in Rickey Henderson:

The second pack gives us 1986 Fleer Britt Burns, 1994 Bowman John Courtright, 1987 Topps Jim Presley, 1987 Topps Chris Codiroli, and 1993 Leaf Crime Dog:

The third pack out of the box includes 1989 Donruss Ricky Horton, 1990 Upper Deck Mark Portugal, 1991 Score Jack McDowell, 1989 Sportflics Dave Righetti, and a 1990 Upper Deck Dave Winfield:

As I said, I will be posting the remainder of the box on my blog (Indians Baseball Cards) over the weekend... Come join the fun, or run far, far away - the choice is yours...

2008 Upper Deck NFL Draft Edition

Since the NFL Draft is tomorrow (and I already ripped this pack on my own site so it's an easy post) here's a pack of Upper Deck's NFL Draft Edition product. This is a retail pack, hobby packs have 10 cards and cost three times as much, but you get 5 autographs a box. Let's open this sucker.

93 Tashard Choice RC
70 Mario Urrutia RC
10 Brian Brohm RC
SOD7 Keith Rivers Stars of the Draft
103 Larry Fitzgerald
184 Patrick Willis

For years people who wanted cards of brand new draft picks had two choices. The College oriented Draft Pick sets from companies like Press Pass and Sage, or early NFL products from the mainstream manufacturers that doled out one rookie a pack. Upper Deck makes a hybrid of the two with this set which has the NFL Draft logo prominently displayed on the wrapper. The cards are kind of goofy looking with spot UV coating and foil Rookie Card stamps even on the veteran cards. However, the fact that UD is not short printing the rookies is a welcome change. I like cards of players in their college uniforms and for once, UD isn't showing the players in NFL unis from an "NFL Rookie Shoot" photo session. I guess they ponied up for a license to use the college logos. I'm surprised no one else thought to do this before now. I like football, but I've gotten to the point where I'm not really interested in collecting a dozen different sets every year. This is essentially two sets in one, and the packs aren't outrageously priced at two bucks a pop.

This isn't the greatest pack in the world, but it's not bad. Larry Fitzgerald and Patrick Willis are solid players but they'll never be considered superstars. Out of the draft picks, I've heard of three of them which ain't bad for someone who only really follows SEC football. Tashard Choice is huge news in Atlanta, but I'm not sure how he'll be as a pro. He could be a stud in the right system. Keith Rivers will go in the top 10 and will anchor a defense one day. If Brian Brohm is wearing a Falcons hat by tomorrow evening I'll be dancing naked in the streets. Mainly because we didn't waste our #1 on Matt Ryan, but dance I shall until they come to take me away. Urrutia sounds like a skin disease or a type or lettuce. He'll probably make me look stupid now and end up in the pro bowl.

Thursday, April 24, 2008

The 20 for $40 re-wrap: 2002 Fleer Tradition Update Hobby

At 400 cards, 2002 Fleer Tradition Update was the largest Fleer/Fleer Tradition Update ever. It was also the first Update set issued in pack form since 1996.

Barry Wesson (Prospects, one-per-pack)
Barry had a cup-of-coffee with the Astros in '02, and a second cup with the Angels in '03. Your classic AAAA player, Wesson's been kicking around the PCL the last few years. Surprisingly, I actually need this card for my set.

Juan Diaz
Juan had his cup-of-coffee with the Red Sox in 2002. He finished his career with seven at-bats in four games.

Tony Clark

Tony "The Tiger," was the second player selected overall in the 1990 draft -- one pick after Chipper Jones -- but did not start his professional career until 1992. (He delayed his baseball career to play basketball for San Diego State.)

Odalis Perez
Odalis won a career-high 15 games for the Dodgers in 2002. He now pitches for the Nationals.

Bobby Kielty

Kielty finished fourth in the 2002 AL ROY balloting.

Chipper Jones (Curtain Call)
"Curtain Call" is you typical double-up-on-the-superstars-with-a-meaningless-subset subset. This one commemorates Jones' 8th-inning three-run home run off Billy Wagner on October 9, 2001.

Mike Williams
Mike had a career-high 46 saves for the '02 Pirates, and made his first All-Star team. He made the All-Star team again in '03, was traded to the Phillies at the deadline, then retired after the season.

Williams came up with the Phillies in '92 and pitched 17 games (including four starts) for the pennant-winning '93 Phillies. On July 7, 1993, he pitched six innings of relief -- getting the win in the process -- in a 20-inning marathon against the Dodgers.

Robb Nen
There aren't a whole lot of guys who can say that their final pitch in the Majors was in game six of the World Series. There aren't a whole lot of guys who can say that their final pitch in the Majors was in game six of the World Series, with a torn rotator cuff AND a torn labrum.

Jim Edmonds (Diamond Standouts)
Another blah subset card; this one celebrating Jim's hot start to the '02 season. Next....

Shea Hillenbrand (All-Star)
Shea Hillenbrand was not only an All-Star, but was the starting third baseman for the American League. Who knew?

2002 Upper Deck Prospect Premieres

This pack was showing on the side of one of those 8 for $10 repack boxes and I had to get it. This set was full of a bunch of good draft picks like Prince Fielder, Khalil Greene, Brian McCann and Scott Kazmir so it was worth a gamble. Autographs are only in Hobby packs, but I can't tell if this is retail or hobby. At two autos a box it's not the worst odds in the world. This pack has Prince Fielder and two guys I completely don't recognize on the wrapper. Let's see who's inside.

MM103 Tribute to McGwire
Blech. A hero worship card of someone who is no longer a hero. That's one card wasted...

28 Chris Snyder
The Diamondbacks' starting catcher. He's got the potential to be a 20 home run hitter, but he's slumping so far this year.

45 Rich Hill
Another big leaguer! Rich is currently the fourth starter for the Cubs and could win at least 10 games this year if he can keep his spot in the rotation.

HJM1 Joe Morgan Heroes of Baseball
Ugh. I don't like Joe Morgan. The man irritates the crap out of me.

I didn't get a relic or autograph, but I did get two major league caliber rookies and a couple of superstars I just don't care for. I'd buy this pack again if given the chance. Anyone know who those two guys on the wrapper are? It's starting to bug me.

Update - Mystery solved. I dug up the prospects I had (can ya believe I actually needed both Snyder and Hill?) and thanks to John Farrish was led straight to James Loney here:

And Chris Harris had it right with Royce Ring. Royce is in the Braves' bullpen and I still didn't recognize him. Thanks guys!

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

The 20 for $40 re-wrap: 1997 Score Series Two Hobby Reserve

1997 Score Series Two Hobby Reserve. That's a mouthful, huh?

So what the hell is this "Hobby Reserve" anyway?

In 1997 Pinnacle Brands reconfigured their base brand Score into two separate, but similar, sets: The retail-exclusive Score, and Hobby Reserve -- which as the name suggests, was Hobby only.

Hobby Reserve is a "parallel brand," similar in concept to Bowman Chrome. Hobby Reserve has the same design as retail Score, and the same 551-card checklist. The only difference was that Hobby Reserve -- known as "Premium Stock" in the first series -- was printed on thicker card stock and hit with a gold foil stamp. There were also inserts that were exclusive to each pack type.

(Sorry, no video today.)


One thing that rocked about mid-90s Score, was that the reverse sides were chock-full of text and stats. (They had fielding stats, for Christ's sake!) To share with you the awesomeness of 1997 Score's backs, here are the reverse sides of each card.

Roberto Kelly
"Roberto delivered a .323 average in his first season with the Twins. A one-time 20-20 man who's been an All-Star in both leagues, Roberto first reached the majors with the '87 Yankees after establishing a reputation as a minor-league speed merchant. After stealing 51 bases for AAA Columbus, he produced a 42-steal season in the Bronx. He's played for five teams since."

Terry Steinbach
"Terry set an AL record last season with 34 home runs as a catcher. He also became the first Athletics' catcher with 100 RBI since Mickey Cochrane in 1932. With 35 homers last year, Terry more than doubled his previous best in that department. He batted .308 with runners in scoring position and .450 with the bases loaded, increasing his career mark in that category to .369."

Mariano Rivera (Rock and Fire)
"Mariano allowed just a .189 BA and 9.1 baserunners per nine innings in 1996, earning the closer's role in New York with John Wetteland's departure."

Ivan Rodriguez (True Grit)
"Pudge led the AL in innings caught (1,222.2) and threw out a career-best 49 percent of baserunners in '96 to win his fifth consecutive Gold Glove. Still just 25, he's still improving, particularly offensively. He also had career bests with 19 homers and 86 RBI last season."

Bubba Trammell (Rookie)
"Bubba, who led Tennessee to an SEC championship as a senior in '94, could be the next great Trammell in the Tigers' lineup. He batted .316 with 33 HR and 99 RBI between Double-A Jacksonville and Triple-A Toledo in '96 and was named the Best Power Prospect in the Southern League in Baseball America's annual managers poll. He was an 11th-round pick in '94 and his exceptional power surfaced with Class-A Lakeland in 1995 when he drilled 16 homers. Already 25, the Tigers took a long look at him this spring and he impressed them with his power and patience. In addition to batting .304 with three homers and 17 RBI, he also drew a team-leading 14 walks in the Grapefruit League."

Graeme Lloyd
"Graeme, a 6-foot-7, left-handed throwing Aussie with a big, rainbow curveball, won the hearts of Yankees fans the hard way in 1996. He started off with a rocky West Coast road trip after the August 23 trade that brought him from Milwaukee and finished up with clutch, late-inning effectiveness in the postseason for the World Series champions. Graeme is the kind of pitcher managers like to use in late innings to get one or two left-handed batters out. Over his career, he's been most effective against left-handers (.221 BA) and although he can be used often, he's noticeably better with at least one day of rest between appearances."

Randy Johnson (R&F)
"Randy is a terrifying sight to hitters with his 6' 10" frame and 100-mph heat. The Mariners have won 38 of the last 43 games the `Big Unit' has started."

Dave Martinez
"Because his average has risen three years in a row, Dave reached a personal peak in games played last summer (146). Highly-regarded for his defensive skills, Dave plays all three outfield positions and first base. He's even made two mop-up pitching appearances. Dave began his career after the Cubs drafted him off the campus of Valencia (Fla.) Community College."

Scott Rolen (RC)
"After streaking through the upper minors last season, Scott was practically handed the starting third-base job in Philadelphia. Baseball America later named him the club's top prospect, while Eastern League pilots picked him as the No. 2 prospect and best third baseman in that Double-A circuit. He made his big-league bow August 1 and hit his first homer vs. Hideo Nomo during a two-homer game Aug. 21. He had two three-hit games, a four-RBI game, and a .325 average in his first 23 NL contests. Scott still qualifies as a rookie because he did not exceed 130 at-bats. (Ed. Note: He had exactly 130 ABs in 1996) He was the Phillies' second-round amateur draft choice in June 1993."

Glendon Rusch (RC)
"Some prospects need adjustment time as they move from level to level. Not Glendon. A 17th-round draft in June 1993 out of a Seattle high school, he overmatched the competition at every level on the way to Kansas City this year, where in his MLB debut on April 6 he allowed just four hits in eight innings, retiring 19 consecutive Twins in one stretch. He first caused a stir in 1994 with only a two-out, seventh-inning walk kept him from throwing a perfect game against Kane County in the Class-A Midwest League. He skipped Double-A ball last season and posted an 11-9 record for Triple-A Omaha in the American Association, whose managers rated him the league's best pitching prospect in Baseball America's midseason poll."

Edgardo Alfonzo
"Edgar started at three different positions for the 1996 Mets: 56 times at second, 21 at third, and eight at shortstop, his original spot. He knocked in six runs in five games from July 23-29. He's had a four-RBI game and two four-hit games during his two-year career in the majors. Edgardo's first big-league homer was an inside-the-park shot vs. Cincinnati's Matt Grott on May 6, 1995. Always considered a good hitter, Edgardo hit .312 over his final 44 games last season. He then hit .340 in the Venezuelan Winter League. He was second in both the league batting chase and its MVP voting. He was signed as a non-drafted free agent in 1991."

Ryan Klesko(TG)
"Ryan, who turned 26 in June, got 500-plus at-bats for the first time last season and led the NL champions with 34 homers while placing third on the team with 93 RBI. A power specialist, he sits on fastballs and gets plenty of loft in his swing."

Rusty Greer (TG)
"Rusty has endeared himself to Texas fans with his competitive nature, clutch hitting and diving catches. He also hits left-handers almost as well as he does right-handers, against whom he batted a sixth-in-the-AL .337 in '96."

Norm Charlton
"Norm led the '96 Mariners in saves (20) and games finished (50) while working a career-high 70 times. He ranked second on Seattle's lifetime saves list (52) when the 1997 campaign opened. He's especially tough on left-handed hitters, who managed a .187 average against him last year. IN his final 23 games of the '96 season, Norm posted a 1.63 ERA. An All-American at Rice, he graduated with a triple major in political science, religion, and physical education."

Ariel Prieto
"The Athletics were encouraged by Ariel's strong finish last fall. While splitting eight decisions over his final 12 starts, the hard-throwing Havana native held hitters to a .248 batting average and recorded a compact 3.08 ERA. The former first-round draft choice (1995) is best in the clutch: with two outs and runners in scoring position last year, he held AL hitters to a .170 average. A member of the Cuban National Team from 1990-94, Ariel had a 20-strikeout game, an 11-0 mark in international play, and a nine-inning average of 9.3 strikeouts, third best in Cuban history. He holds a physical education degree from Cuba's Fajardo University."

2008 Upper Deck Yankee Stadium Legacy promo pack

I found four of these packs in the dollar grab bag bin of the card store I went to yesterday. They often have promo stuff like this in there and I like these cards so I cleaned 'em out. I'm not even sure what these are... box toppers? promos? giveaways? Who knows, I got 'em cheap at any rate. I know it's not hip to like such a ridiculous set (six thousand cards!!!) but I really like cards of players from the '30s to the '60s so I don't mind being uncool in this case. I'll pick one of them at random and rip the rest on my own site so you don't get Yankee fatigue. (shuffles the packs) I'll choose... this one.

Oh boy, Kevin Maas. There will be ample opportunity to mock this set after all!

YSL 5275 Kevin Maas
250 at bats in 1990 does not a Yankee Legend make. He did inspire a cool blog though. Let's see if he played in this game. Hey, Maas had a pretty good game. 1 for 2 with two walks and he scored on a Mel Hall home run. Why isn't Mel Hall on this card? Guess who got the win? Steve Howe. Yipes.

YSL 3048 Elston Howard
Now this is more like it. The player who integrated the Yankees, pushed Yogi to left field, won the 1963 MVP and invented the batting donut. This is a Yankee legend. He went 4 for 7 in this 15 inning marathon and then caught the second game of the doubleheader that evening! Mickey Mantle went nuts that day and had 3 home runs in the double header.

YSL 2940 YOGI!!!
Maas was just a decoy for the good cards in this pack apparently. Yogi transcends explanation. Yogi is Yogi. Yogi hit a homer in this game too, so bonus. Hey, so did Elston! Kevin Maas wasn't even born yet so no homer for him.

Ok, mock away at my mirror cards, but I got a got a Yogi so NYAAH NYAAHH.

Letting in the oddball... (1986 Topps Tattoos)

When Ben Henry sent an "open cast call" to join P-A-D, I jumped at the chance. Little did I know that when my confirmation came, I would be heading to the Urologist to "have some work done." In a twist of fate, the doctor performing the procedure (yes, the same one Bob Barker recommended for pets) was named Dr. Pickelman. I digress for the sake of making as many folks on here wince as possible. If you happen to stop by my place (Indians Cards), you know that I am fond of the oddball items that are offered up in the name of collecting. Naturally, my first foray into the P-A-D family will be a reflection of myself - an oddball:

Yes, that is the unopened wrapper of a 1986 Topps Tattoos pack, featuring the banned-from-the-hall-forever, i-did-not-wait-yes-i-did-bet-on-baseball Pete Rose.

Each pack featured a piece of Topps gum, and this particular piece is now 22 years old. I had to stop my 5 year-old from popping it into her mouth! Naturally, the temptation to take a nibble of nostalgia pulled me in, but somehow that college degree in stupidity that I earned so long ago stopped me from a probable trip to the local poison control center... Then again, how bad could a 22 year-old piece of gum be for you?

The tats come on long two sheets of nine rows. Through the magic of digital image manipulation, I present half of the tattoos above, flipped so you can see what they might look like when applied to your arm, or forehead, or other preferred portion of one's anatomy. In addition to various named players, each sheet also features non-descript players in a variety of poses. After all, what kid wouldn't like to have a no-named player fielding a grounder on the back of his hand, right? This first set shows the likes of Charlie Leibrandt, Dickie Thon, Lee Smith, Dave Winfield, Julio Franco, Brian Fisher, Dale Murphy, Shawon Dunston, Bret Saberhagen, and Jesse Barfield. I may need to volunteer my daughter's arm in the name of research to see if these will still actually serve their purpose twenty-two years later...

The second (flipside) example from the pack has a lot more of the no-name poses than of named players. However, at least the players include Keith Hernandez, Goose Gossage, and Eck! Plus, there is a Moose to go with our Goose. Throw in Perconte and Moore from the Mariners to round out the pack.

I have an nearly full box of these unopened packs, so if you are interested in trading, by all means drop me a line and I'll send ya a pack. In return, send me whatever you feel gives the equivalent amount of collecting joy.

What's Old Is New: 1992 Triple Play

I dropped into the local hobby shop for three packs of Heritage yesterday (coming soon), and just couldn't pass up an impulse buy from the cheapo rack. 25 cents for 15 cards? Count me in! Let's rip my first-ever pack of 1992 Donruss Triple Play. I do have a small stack of these that were passed on from my friend Joe, who had a brief collecting phase around the age of ten. I remember him complaining about all the Jay Bell cards he used to pull. Are there any Jays lurking in this pack? Let's find out!

Triple Play Game scratchoff - Single, Home Run, Triple Play, Triple Play. Sweet! I won three packs of Triple Play. Now to set my time machine for March 1993 and cash this baby in...
149 Carlton Fisk - Starting off with a Hall of Famer is always nice.

123 Royce Clayton - His brother Royal was a Yankee minor leaguer. What an awesome name.
27 Chili Davis
142 Todd Van Poppel - In reference to the huge contract he signed after being drafted #1, I remember reading an article that used the phrase "Todd Van Poppel money". I try to work this into everyday conversation as often as I can.
148 Andy Van Slyke - "Don't ever try to be somebody you're not. The real you is the one people will like." That's an actual quote on the card back. Aww, I didn't know he cared.
154 Bobby Witt
160 Shawon Dunston - That's Shawon, not Shawn. Or Shaun. Or Sean. Or Shawne. Or even Chone.
75 Felix Jose - Holy jheri curl, Batman!

81 Robin Yount - As a kid, I pronounced his name "YOONT". Ah, the innocence of youth.
87 Fred McGriff - An action shot, with Crime Dog catching a pickoff throw as Milt Thompson lunges back to the bag.
93 Jeff Johnson
87 Fred McGriff - Aww, dip!
121 Awesome Action! - White Sox first baseman Matt Merullo catches a pickoff throw, nabbing a Toronto runner leaning too far.
115 George Brett - Third Hall of Famer in the pack. This would've been a fine showing in a Pack War.
109 Reggie Sanders - This is when he was a rookie with the Reds, the first of his fifty-four teams.

I can honestly say that I got my quarter's worth from this pack. And no Jay Bell!

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

2007 Bowman Draft Picks and Prospects -- PA Primary Edition

Today is the Pennsylvania Democratic primary, so I'll rip a pack to see if I can pull some Jimmy "The Greek" magic and prognosticate the results. Here's how it will work. The player's home state will count as 1 Thorzul "The Prussian" vote. If Obama already won the state, he gets a point; if Hillary won the state, she gets a point. If the state hasn't had a primary yet, or if one of the candidates was not on the ballot in a state, neither candidate gets a point. If the player was not born in the U.S., Vampires, Witches, and Pagans Party candidate Jonathon "The Impaler" Sharkey and perennial last-place candidate Lyndon LaRouche split the point.

Let's tear in.

BDP4 Chase Wright (TX, Clinton)
BDP10 Glen Perkins (MN, Obama)
BDPP50 Sean Doolittle Chrome (VA, Obama)

BDPP58 Jarrod Parker Chrome (IN, primary to be held on May 6, Sharkey and LaRouche split)
BDPP53 Mike Moustakas Gold (CA, Clinton)

BDPP66 Pedro Beato (D.R., another outsider split)
BDPP71 Joba Chamberlain (NE, Obama)

Grade: B+
I haven't seen the Joba "pajamas" card yet, so that's cool. Plus, his corn-belt brethren helped put Obama over the top with the last delegate. Look for history to repeat itself tonight. Obama will triumph, prompting Clinton to throw in the towel. Lyndon and "The Impaler" follow suit and help throw their massive bases' support behind Obama which will carry him all the way to the White House in November.

Then again, I could be wrong.