Feb 27, 2010

Sharing the Love of Collecting: Valentine's Day Cards from Matt of the #5 Type Collection

Matt from the #5 Type Collection (probably one of the most unique collectors out there). He sent a great cross-section of Phillies cards: past, present, and future to help fortify the bonds between me, my team, and my collection (how maudlin is that?). Here's a sampling.

2008 Topps Opening Day Gold Cole Hamels: This is definitely a Valentine's Day card.

2001 Topps Archives Robin Roberts: This set is on my to-collect list. The smiling visage of Robin Roberts gives a good first impression.
One of the 1994 Ultra Phillies Finest Darren Daulton inserts.
1981 Fleer Michael Jack Schmidt: MVP....Third Base, now that's a position
2009 Opeechee Highlights and Milestones: That is an indelible image
2009 Opeechee Black Border Chase Utley: The black border is a nice frame for the portrait.
2005 Upper Deck First Pitch Ryan Howard: This was when Howard was an insurance policy for Thome.
1993 Ted Williams Chuck Klein: That's Triple Crown winner Chuck Klein to you.
1981 Fleer Star Stickers Bake McBride: I don't understand why his batting helmet is so small.

Thanks for the cards Matt!

Feb 24, 2010

Card Showcase: 2009 Topps T206 David Wright Silk

This is definitely not my first card made from a different material other than cardboard or foilboard or other types of printed board varieties in which they come. There was a time in the mid-'90s when making cards out of different materials or simulated materials was the innovation of the industry.

One set in which I never acquired a card (but always wanted to) was 1995 Leaf Statistical Standouts. This particular insert set had embossed red stitching similar to 2009 Sweet Spot base cards, but the rest of the card face felt like the surface of a baseball. Leaf/Donruss continued this practice with 1996 Leaf Limited Lumberjacks (wood grain) and 1996 Leaf Limited Pennant Craze (felt). Other companies added to this practice including Upper Deck (1996 Upper Deck Run Producers (rubber like a home plate) and Topps (1997 Stadium Club Firebrand (wood, but issued only as redemptions) and 1997 Stadium Club Patent Leather (leather)).

This idea really reached a pinnacle when 1996 Leaf Preferred inserted into every pack cards made completely from steel. Suffice to say, the packs were really heavy.

Then, there was a set that focused completely on this concept, 1998 Leaf Fractal Materials, featuring cards made from Plastic, Leather, Nylon, and Wood. This set, unfortunately, had quite possibly the worst possible parallel set EVER associated with it, Fractal Materials Die-Cut, an even more confusing version of 1997 Leaf's Fractal Matrix. Please don't make me explain it, it's confusing to even read about it.

Now, there are parallel sets made of silk and printing plates made of metal (though much rarer). The silk cards are especially high in aesthetic value because they have usually been accompanied by a framing border. Though they differ from these other parallels in that there is no card back.

Humans are a tactile species. There are essentially two senses that dominate when we open a pack of cards, touch and sight. Simulating various textures of known materials or printing cards on different materials is one way in which card sets can enhance the overall collecting experience....until the cards are put into boxes or albums.

Feb 23, 2010

non-HOF Profile Derby #11: Dan Quisenberry

Next, a closer with a unique delivery,Dan Quisenberry , (1979-1990.)

Place on the WAR chart: : Very low (24.3 career WAR) as expected for relief pitchers. Bruce Sutter had 25.0, Rollie Fingers had 24.4, Goose Gossage had 40.0. Other relievers in this area: John Hiller, Ron Reed, Billy Wagner, John Franco, Kent Tekulve.

WAR is a tough measure for relief pitchers because they pitch so little. Even in the 1970s and early 1980s when top relievers could surpass 100 innings, this paled in comparison to the workload of starting pitchers. The old intangible argument then ensues about Hall-worthiness, were they dominant? (Have you heard about sportswriters talking about dominance? Do they (as a whole) know what it means?). Can you quantify dominance? Well, with relief pitchers, I think the best you can do is effectiveness.

Career Overview and Some Numbers: Pitched for the Royals (79-88), Cardinals (88-89), and Giants (90). Finished with 244 saves, at the time, the 6th most in the game. Led the league in games 3 times, games finished 4 times, and saves 5 times. From 1980-1985 was probably the most effective closer in the league,winning the Rolaids Relief Man Award 5 times in that span. He also finished top 5 in the Cy Young voting 5 times (including 2nd twice).

Best Season:1983: 5-3 with a 1.94 ERA and 0.92 WHIP in 139 innings, leading the league in games, games finished, and saves, setting a short-lived record (broken by Dave Righetti in 1986). Also, had a career best 4.36 K/BB ratio

The Final Numbers: Pitched in 674 games (1043 innings) with 244 saves, a 2.76 ERA (146 ERA+), and 1.18 WHIP. He also had a 1.4 BB/9 (20th all time).

Why He Should be Remembered:He was the AL closer during his prime. He also had that distinctive submarine delivery and got by with getting hitters out on groundballs rather than flyballs. Also, he was a durable reliever with 6 seasons of over 125 innings. Key performer on the 1980 and 1985 World Series Royals.

HOF Balloting Performance:3.8% in 1996, then dropped from the ballot

Rookie Card: 1980 Topps 667
Modern Cards:2001 Topps Archives

Final Call: 2009 Topps Allen and Ginter

I am tantalizingly close to completing this set. Anybody have these cards for trade?


Base Set: 315-Andy LaRoche, 339-Jordan Schafer

National Pride: NP51-Albert Pujols, NP74-Yadier Molina, NP75-Alex Rodriguez


Base Set: 309, 306, 302, 300, 292, 290, 282, 279, 278, 275, 274, 270, 252, 236, 229, 225, 223, 209, 207, 205, 198, 188, 183, 171, 170, 167, 165, 156, 151, 148, 136, 134, 120, 116, 111, 108, 101, 100, 98, 94, 80, 79, 76, 75, 71, 69, 65, 60, 58, 57, 50, 49, 35, 30, 22, 20, 18, 13

National Pride: NP39, NP12, 13, 14, 15, 16, 17, 18, 19, 20, 21, 22

Please e-mail me for a trade.

Also, for those expecting packages from me, they will be sent by post this week. Sorry for the delay.

Feb 22, 2010

Group Break from Old School Breaks: Image Gallery

A couple of months ago, I participated in the group break hosted by John at Old School Breaks. There were 8 boxes broken from an era when I did not do much collecting: 2001-2004. I claimed the Cardinals and Phillies as my teams. We all know why I claimed the Phillies. I claimed the Cardinals because I was living in St Louis at that time and saw or heard practically every Cardinals game in those years. Plus Scott Rolen was on both teams.

2003 Donruss Elite Jimmy Rollins: Dust collects on the foil easily.

2004 Studio Stars Jim Thome: The signing of Jim Thome was an adrenaline shot for the franchise. This card has rounded corners almost like a credit card.

2004 Donruss World Series Steve Carlton:
2004 Donruss Studio Mike Schmidt
: Who misses the burgundy? Anyone?

2004 Donruss Studio Stars Jim Edmonds: He was the best diver in the outfield I've ever seen live.
2004 Donruss World Series Brett Myers: He always looks like he'll throw the ball at a bystander.
2001? Fleer Genuine Pat Burrell: The beginning of the years of the "Pat Burrell Grimacing"

2004 Donruss World Series Matt Morris
2002 Donruss Elite Darryl Kile: It was very sad when he passed away. Matt Morris was one of the pitchers who exhibited a proper tribute to him during that year.

2003 Fleer Rookies and Greats Bob Gibson and Albert Pujols: Gibson is menacing in sepia tones and Pujols was just entering his otherworldly phase at this time.

2001? Fleer Genuine Rick Ankiel: He was a true phenom pitcher who got "Steve Blass Disease". I'm glad he made it back to the majors after so much effort.
2002 Fleer Showcase Bud Smith: 2001 no-hitter! Traded to the Phillies in the Scott Rolen deal! Was already injured! That sums up his career.

Below are some of the inserts, numbered cards, and one of the jerseys I received in the break. Stan Musial cards are always great to see. The Mike Lieberthal is #d to 25; the only difference is the blue foil on the card. Remember Donruss parallels?

Thanks for the break John! It was really fun to follow the results and see the cards!

Feb 19, 2010

2001 Topps Gold Label Brandon Duckworth: Spring Training is Here

I miss the "Duck Pond". There, I said it. I also miss the "Wolf Pack" and "Padillas Flotillas". The early 2000s were a wayward time for the Philadelphia franchise. They traded away their two biggest stars, Curt Schilling and Scott Rolen, for almost nothing. They were looking forward to the demolition of the only stadium to have a court inside, Veterans Stadium. (I always pictured the implosion of Veterans Stadium to be similar to a big bowl of rice krispies popping with a little too much milk).

For fans, it was a time of pessimism and low expectations. Honestly, it was pretty miserable. The end of the Terry Francona era into the Larry Bowa era was one of perrenial disappointment for Phillies fans. Not because they finished in last place like most of the '90s, but because they came so tantalizingly close to the playoffs in 2001, 2003, 2004, 2005....

But this is not a lament about times past. This is a reflection of Brandon Duckworth and the "Duck Pond".

Fans needed something to keep them entertained in those formative, transition years of the franchise. Enter the mixing of the love of animals with funny looks at people's last names.

Brandon Duckworth at this time was a pitcher with the potential to be a significant contributing starting pitcher. He had a promising 2002, wild around the edges, as evidenced by the 1.44 WHIP, but he did have 167 K in 163 innings. Plus, and most importantly, fans could wear swim trunks and wear duckbill hats sitting in the stands when he pitched.

The allure of grass (well, there was painful astroturf in Veterans Stadium) each spring training never goes away for those who play the game. Brandon Duckworth is back to try again with the Philadelphia organization. Though no longer looked upon with promise, he will probably get a heavy dose of playing time during the split squad games. It would be great to seem him make a triumphant return to the place where he began his career.

Spring training is a time of hope and flexibility workouts for those looking to make an impression, of both the too inexperienced and those left in the backwash of numerous roster crunches. I hope the sun continues to shine in FL and AZ as all roster and non-roster invitees pursue their annual dream.

Feb 17, 2010

non-HOF Profile Derby #10: Bobby Grich

Because someone commented on him, I choose Bobby Grich as the 3rd recipient of the profile treatment from the last, last poll.

An underappreciated all-around 2nd baseman of the Orioles and Angels by the name of Bobby Grich , (1970-1986.)

Place on the WAR chart: : Below Tony Gwynn and Luke Appling and above Carlton Fisk, Duke Snider, and Pee Wee Reese.

OK, WAR isn't the be all, end all of statistics, but it does cover many aspects of a plyaer's contributions on the field (offense and defense). For comparison's sake, here's the list of 2nd baseman in the top 100 of the WAR list, in order:

Rogers Hornsby
Eddie Collins
Nap Lajoie
Joe Morgan
Charlie Gehringer
Rod Carew
Frankie Frisch
Lou Whitaker
Bobby Grich
Craig Biggio
Roberto Alomar
Jackie Robinson
Ryne Sandberg

2nd baseman and 3rd baseman are probably the two most underrepresented positions in the Hall of Fame. As you can see, Grich falls firmly in the middle of the Hall of Fame 2nd baseman in terms of career contribution. Another non-HOF name that stands out in this list is Lou Whitaker. He'll be in a poll at some point.

Career Overview and Some Numbers: 6 time all star, Silver Slugger winner in 1981, and 4 time Gold Glove winner. He was known for both his abilities with the bat and the glove. He tied for the league lead in HRs once, SLG one, and OPS+ once. He also set the 2B fielding % record in 1985. He was widely considered as a great fielding 2nd baseman who also had some power and patience. He had 100 RBIs once and 100 BB twice.

Best Season:1981: Hit .304/.378/.543 (164 OPS+) with 22 HR, 56 R,and 61 RBI in 100 games (because of the strike)
The Final Numbers: Hit .266/.371/.424 (124 OPS+)with 224 HR, 864 RBI, and 1087 BB/1278 K.
Why He Should be Remembered:He is a classic case of the type of player that doesn't get noticed on the HOF ballot. A middle infielder with not very high averages who had a couple of down years during his prime (rebounding later). He also excelled at all facets of the game, but was not the best at any of them. In the 1970s, Joe Morgan, Rod Carew, Willie Randolph, and Frank White were the other principal 2nd baseman. Grich compared favorably to even the best of them (Morgan was incredible from 1972-1977). He also was considered a leader on the division winning Angels teams of 1979 and 1982.

HOF Balloting Performance:2.6% in 1992, then dropped from the ballot

Rookie Card: 1971 Topps 193
Modern Cards: 2009 Tristar Obak (auto),2001 Topps Archives (Auto)

Feb 16, 2010

Swapping Cards: Trade with Thoughts and Sox

Adam of Thoughts and Sox did a team for team swap plus. He also included some ever-elusive cards from a couple of sets I'm collecting.

2009 Topps Allen and Ginter: I am still trying to obtain those last few elusive cards. An update post will be up sometime before the end of the month.


2005 Bowman
: This was one of my favorite boxes ever to open, so I should only do it justice by trying to complete it. It's hard to come by singles these days. For some reason, it's not on a lot of people's radars.

Adam also included a bevy of Phillies cards, here's a brief glimpse of some of the many highlights.

Base cards of sets I have never attempted to collect. Always welcome to my collection.

A die-cut Ryan Howard, Jayson Werth concentrating, and the pitcher who pitched the last no-hitter in Veteran's Stadium history.

Jimmy Rollins shadowing himself in a CoSigners pose, Bobby Abreu setting the short-lived home run derby record, and Ryan Howard floating in a hologram, 2007 Bowman's Best style.

Thanks for the trade Adam!

Feb 14, 2010

Valentine's Day Heartbreakers

This is just a public service announcement. On ESPN Classic, they are showing full replays of the following games:

1. 1997 World Series game 7
2. 1986 World Series game6
3. 2003 NLCS game 6

If you are fans of the losing teams of these games, do not watch. That is all.

Swapping Cards: Trade with Thorzul Will Rule

Thorzul (not his real name) of the infamous Thorzul Will Rule (Is it a bad thing that I think of undead deities when I think of his blog name, not that I know the reference?) made a nice trade when I realized that I had the last card he needed for his 2008 Topps Heritage set.

He sent me always appreciated Steve Carlton/Mike Schmidt cards, none of which I owned previously.

1984 Topps Steve Carlton: brings me ever closer to the all cards during his playing days collection. Yes, that is masking tape on the top loader.
2008 Upper Deck Heroes Schmidt, Banks, Robinson: 500 HR club heroes from different eras and different positions...is that the connection?

2008 Upper Deck Heroes Mike Schmidt and Steve Carlton base cards: Great cards from a set that I had zero cards of previously.

He also included a numbered parallel of the Carlton card...which looks exactly like the base card. Anyone have any idea what colored parallel it's supposed to be?

Thanks for the trade Thorzul!

Feb 13, 2010

Off-Season Perspective Part I: Cost Certainty at What Cost?: The Phillies Perspective

The reason for these moves is pictured above.

For those Phillies fans out there, as you know, three members of the 2009 pennant-winning team signed three-year extensions this past month.

Joe Blanton: 3 year- $21 million
Shane Victorino: 3 year- $22.5 million
Carlos Ruiz: 3 year- $9 million

This is in addition to the extension that Roy Halladay signed this offseason (3 year, $60 million).

At what cost does this cost certainty come?

The Phillies have locked the majority of their core (Halladay, Hamels, Utley, Howard, Rollins, Victorino, Lidge (2008 version only), Ibanez, Polanco) in place through at least the 2011 season. This season is an interesting turning point because Utley, Howard, and Rollins, probably three of the most important Phillies in terms of team contribution, will all begin to be on "the wrong side" of 30. At this point, a statistical decline from their peak is expected. This does not mean that they won't be good players in the upcoming years, necessarily. It's just that the level of production compared to their salary will not always be on the same level (see Todd Helton, Carlos Delgado, Vladimir Guerrero contracts for reference).

But that's looking too far ahead. Let's focus on 2010. They have a team built to compete for this year. The only unsettled pieces are left-handed reliever from the bullpen (Sergio Escalona and Antonio Bastardo are the top contenders) and 5th starter (the immortal Jaime Moyer and Kyle Kendrick are the top contenders). All other position player starters are essentially in their mid to late prime years (29-31 years old). The starting pitching staff is anchored by an ace (Halladay), a probable ace who needs luck and a 3rd pitch (Hamels), and a workhorse (Blanton).

The payroll is set at around $140 million for 2010. The farm system has immediate impact prospects expected to make an impact this year. The MLB ETAs for Dominic Brown, Phillippe Aumont, JC Ramirez, Tyson Gillies, Trevor May, and Anthony Gose are all 2011 and later. Therefore, they have less flexibility than last year for making a mid-year acquisition. The bright side of all this is that if everyone stays healthy, this will not have to happen.

The other bright side is that, outside of Lidge, all of the bullpen's salaries are small and fungible. The pickups this offseason, Danys Baez and Jose Contreras, are veterans who will join the bullpen and be at least as productive as Brandon Lyon or Kevin Gregg for a fraction of the cost. Why chase someone with an ex-closer label when all you need is to get people out? Contreras could be this year's Chan Ho Park, a starter turned reliever whose performance is significantly better from the bullpen.

Therefore, the Phillies for 2010 are depending on continued production from their core players plus improvement from the back end of the bullpen to springboard themselves to a hopeful 4th straight playoff appearance. They haven't hamstrung themselves completely, but if one of the principal players on the roster gets injured (Halladay, Howard, Utley), they will most likely have to rely on internal help to replace their output. That is unless they can persuade one of the unsigned veterans on the market (see Pedro Martinez or Jermaine Dye for example) to sign for a reduced price guaranteed MLB contract.

2010 can be bright, barring any significant declines or injuries. I think all the moves this winter, except for the still baffling Cliff Lee trade, were a net positive in terms of projected performance.

And that is my Phillies off-season perspective.

Feb 12, 2010

My first 2010 Cards..Finally

I haven't had the time lately to post my usual rambling thoughts, but sometimes it's just nice to share card images. Here's the first 2010 cards that I've been able to lay my hands on.

There has been a lot of talk about the Prince Fielder card, but it is definitely one of the most original poses for a single player card that I remember seeing.

Ian Kinsler is posing as if it's 1911, and I was pleasant;y surprised by the 1951 Topps style cards. As you can see, they are much smaller than the standard sized card; but they're too big for my mini-card top loaders. What do I do with it?

Here's a set of cards of pitchers pitching mid-windup. Pat Neshek has the classic submarine windup, which I've always loved to see. Ross Ohlendorf and Mike Gonzalez are following through with gusto. The horizontal orientation really expands the image zone. The Gonzalez card is kind of a zoomed in version of the 2009 Topps Jon Lester card.

And lastly, here are players doing other things. Vlad Guerrero has just impaled a pitch and sent it to the stratosphere for one of the last times as an Angel. I think he'll succeed in Texas, but he doesn't have the benefit of facing (before 2009) perenially below-average Texas pitching.

Akinori Iwamura is showcasing a bat flip after hitting a liner down the line and Cody Ross is trying in vain to not trap the ball. It's ok to crack your sunglasses, Cody!

You know, that Iwamura photo has definitely been photoshopped. He hasn't played a game for the Pirates yet.

I haven't bought a box of base Topps since 1996, and the reason is that there are other more appealing releases for me during the year that I prefer to collect. 2010 Topps is a good start to the card year in general. It's exciting to be able to get inserts in nearly every pack (not counting ToppsTown). It used to be 10 inserts per box was a huge amount, and Topps has put some effort into making the majority of the insert sets either topical or artsy. The retired player variations are interesting as well for me.

I'm not going to actively collect this set (though I do regret not buying 2009 Topps series 1), I would of course, put together what I get from trades and random packs and enjoy the cards. At least this year in series 2, there won't be 100 WBC cards....

2010 Topps kicks off the decade with a solid showing.

Feb 10, 2010

Olympic Contest at JD 's WildCardz

Check out and join the Olympic contest at JD's Wildcardz here. This will give you an excuse to not watch figure skating all the time. Choose a number and root for your chosen country!

Feb 9, 2010


Do you hear the voices, children
Of winter's silent fall?
Would you care to listen
If they called to you at all?

For they are echoing further
Senselessly without fail
Lamenting springtime shadows
Of which memories entail

Tell them to return with shame
To their stormy cells
We don't want them to intrude upon
What our happiness compels

To remember sounds of yesteryear
Of wistful summer days
When life was light and leather's bared
To catch the bounding rays

Spring training needs to come soon.

Feb 7, 2010

Swapping Cards: A Trade with On Card Autos

A couple months ago,I made a basic team for team swap with Chris from On Card Autos. The actual impetus for the trade is that I've decided to start hand collating the first packs I bought when I returned to collecting, 2006 Topps Series 1. Here are examples of the varied, colorful, and welcome additions to my collection he sent to me.

1994 Sportflics Terry Mulholland: This is about as well as I can get it to scan. Mulholland is remembered for two singular events in his career, throwing out a batter at first base with the ball stuck in his glove and throwing the only Phillies' no-hitter in Veterans Stadium's history on Augut 8, 1990.
2008 Upper Deck Jimmy Rollins: Talking to the fans after winning the 2007 NL East Division.
1984 Topps TonyPerez/Rusty Staub/Al Oliver NL Active RBI Leaders. Also on that 1983 Phillies "Wheeze Kids" squad were Pete Rose and Joe Morgan.

2008 Topps cards of Carlos "Chooch" Ruiz and "Kentucky" Joe Blanton. I definitely have almost no cards from this set.
2009 Topps Black Variation Pedro Feliz:
I love this concept as a parallel. Too bad it's impossible to actually collect because there's only two packs per blaster box.

Here's a trio of 2006 Upper Deck Phillies, the ever-popular Sal Fasano (seriously, have you seen his Fu Manchu?), Geoff "Gascan" Geary, and Shane "The Flyin' Hawaiian" Victorino. How do you collect a set with 1250 cards?

Thanks for the trade Chris!

Feb 5, 2010


The winner for the mini-contest is all four commentors! Really, thanks to dayf for answering first and also to Captain Canuck for taking advantage of the loophole. E-mail me your addresses and any general requests. Most likely, it will be a team lot (except for dayf, who will also receive the requested 01 Bowman Heritage cards). I will have to search this weekend. I appreciate the comments and thanks for reading.

Now back to your regularly scheduled programming.

Feb 4, 2010

Shiny Interlude and Reminder

While preparing the next few posts, I would just like to remind everyone about one reason why we collect cards. They're shiny and reflect light in a pleasing manner. (Please excuse the Mets posted, these are the only refractors I can find on short notice). Also, for the mini-contest here, there has been one entry...feel free to copy the entry to enter the random drawing or just say ditto.

Feb 2, 2010

The Year the Retro Craze Began: A Look at 2001 Bowman Heritage and Mini-Contest

2001 Bowman Heritage was released after the grand fanfare of 2001 Topps Heritage, (in which the 1952 Topps design firmly cemented itself as the go-to design for retro vintage sets) with a decidedly different feel.

Whereas, Topps Heritage was all about design and paying direct homage to the granddaddy of card sets through exact copying of back variations and shortprinting of the same numbers as the original, this first Bowman Heritage went more for an indirect approach in honoring this first Bowman set (1948). Also, Topps Heritage had practically zero of the impact rookies from that year, while Bowman Heritage included those such as Ichiro, Pujols, Hafner, and Utley in the checklist.

The 1948 Bowman set was only 48 cards, of which 12 were shortprinted (25%). The 2001 Bowman Heritage set was 440 cards of which 110 were shortprinted (25%). The 1948 Bowman set was smaller than the standard card size (picture 2007 Goudey as an approximation) and the 2001 Heritage set was standard size.

The design is very sparse in general. It is a black and white posed player portrait with no text on the front. There are no stats on the back in linear form, but only a bit of prose about the pictured player. I've never held a 1948 Bowman card, but the 2001 Bowman Heritage set was made from a cardboard stock and has no gloss.

It is not an artistic set by any means, and the attempt to include a chrome insert set with this design did not enhance the general aesthetics of the offering.

But it was Heritage and it was retro, and that's all Topps has needed in the decade of the '00s, including in 2001 when the retro craze began.

Let's see what a pack gets you. (I don't know why, but the scans are all different sizes; the cards are really all the same size)

This is the pack wrapper, a bland yellow color. I don't think this paid homage to anything. This is the gum...that I threw out.

You know what? I don't have the cards in front of me at this moment, and I'm feeling lazy. Whomever can name all the players pictured in the comments will be entered into a random drawing to receive a yet to be detemined prize (team lot/set needs, etc). Entries should be received by 12:01 AM PST this Friday because that is the time of the witching hour.