Feb 28, 2011

The Last Packs I've Seen: 2010 Bowman Hobby Two Pack Break

I was a huge fan of Bowman products. The 2010 base version stoked the old prospecting engine, but I'm typically in it for set completion and having a rookie of everyone...ever.  I do like that the fronts had the team logo on the card,  I like the inclusion of the insert sets, and if this were the only incarnation of Bowman that were released during the season, the numbering would almost make sense. 

I bought a lot of Bowman Chrome Prospects from ebay once and thought it was the chrome prospects from "Bowman" that I was purchasing, but it actually ended up being the Bowman Chrome Prospects from "Bowman Chrome".  I did not get the players I thought I was getting, though it was what I purchased.  It's more than confusing, it makes collecting and keeping track a chore rather than a joy.  All these prospect sets have the same design and numbering and there's no rhyme or reason or logic or cohesiveness. 

In any case, it was exciting to receive these Bowman packs as a gift a few months ago because they were and are extremely difficult to find.  What did the inside of the wrappers reveal?
211 Michael Dunn RC
172 Ichiro

26 Jeff Niemann
181 Naftali Feliz
BT77 Hanley Ramirez

BCP79 Eric Farris: #4 Brewers 2007
BCP 97 Blue Refractor Patrick Schuster:DBacks #13 2009 175/250 1:121 packs

BP27 Craig Clark Giants #14 2007
BP32 Eric Niesen Mets #3 2007

40 Ken Griffey Jr Gold

85 Dan Haren
121 Nate McLouth
BT13 Joe Mauer

BCP57 John Lamb Royals #5 2008

BCP49 Brian Baisley Yankees #24 2006
BP30 Ryan Dent Red Sox #1 2007

BP60 Neil Medchill Yankees #11 2009
Auto: Dusty Coleman

191 John Raynor Gold

Actually, these were probably the best two packs pulled from the box.  A hard to pull refractor and an autograph were great finds (if they were of better prospects, they would be amazing finds).

There is just one question.  Who is Dusty Coleman and what happened to him?  There are no statistics for him for the 2010 season.  Did he retire or get injured and no one report it?  Anyone know?

Feb 25, 2011

Feb 22, 2011

Stat Anomaly: 20 Losses in a Season: Clyde Wright

Clyde Wright was a pitcher for the Angels from 1966-1973.  They may have seen the writing on the wall for the end of his career since in 1973, at the age of 32 he was 11-19, though still with a respectable 3.68 ERA. The portent for what was to come came in the figures of his WHIP rising from 1.23 to 1.36. His K:BB ratio falling below 1 at 0.87 and his K/9 falling to an incredibly low 2.3 K/9 (65 K in 257 innings). He seemed to succeed because he didn't allow many HRs, suggesting he was a sinkerball type pitcher (I have never seem him pitch).

In 1974, he left for greener pastures in Milwaukee to be a part of the cult of the yellow "M" under the young Bud Selig and suffered a fate that all pitchers strive to avoid, a 20 loss season.

In retrospect, 1974 was a better season than 1973 with an improved K/9 and BB/9. However, he did allow 264 hits in 232 innings, keeping his WHIP at an unsustainable 1.37. Let's examine which games pushed him through the veil of 19.

On closer examination, he was a hard-luck loser in terms of which games he earned losses. There were 7 starts in which he pitched 8 or more innings and allowed 3 runs or less and received a loss. He had 15 complete games, 4 of which ended with his offense being shut out.

On the other hand, there were also 4 losses in which he did not make it out of the third inning without being chased from the mound. Like many pitchers of the time period, unless he had been stung unusually hard at the onset of a start, he pitched as many innings as he could until his tendons were screaming for ice. Clyde Wright was a gamer and some days he had his stuff and some days he didn't. But, his record for the days in question didn't always match how well he pitched.

Feb 21, 2011

The Bounty of the Troll Revealed......Finally

Presented in scanned form is just a small part of the cards sent by the hale and hearty Collective Troll of cyberspace fame.  He held a group break many moons ago, and this has been the first lot that has been scanned with my newly fixed scanner.

Behold!  There will be cards and there will be superfluous commentary!
For the vintage lover, here's a 1965 Topps John Boozer.  I think he was asked to pose like that, don't you.

Here's a 1971 Topps Oscar Gamble. This is before he was famous for the hair style of the century. And yes, there are sideburns in the '70s!

Coming up next is the Opeechee contingent...in no particular order.

1987 Opeechee Steve Bedrosian: "Bedrock" (really that's what they called him) in the light blue duds in anticipation of his Cy Young season.
1985 Opeechee Michael Jack Schmidt:  Mike Schmidt was so strong he used to swing a redwood tree as a bat.

1984 Opeechee Steve Carlton: He was an etoile many times in his career.  According to Google Translate, toile in French means canvas or cloth.  I have no idea if that's right.

Then we have cards from the representatives of the most burlyingest pennant winners ever (ok, it's possible), the 1993 Phillies.
1992 Opeechee Premier Lenny Dykstra (the catalyst of many various things, some good like runs and other bad like car accidents with long-haired catchers) and Ruben Amaro (the current GM, trying to get that right aggressive approach even during his playing days)
1994 Collector's Choice Kevin Stocker: showing the hustle that endeared him to hundreds of thousands.  No, seriously I actually hoarded Kevin Stocker rookies and placed them in a safety deposit box at one point (there was nothing else in there, I was 12)
1993 Upper Deck Darren Daulton: I guess he should have tagged out the runner before throwing the ball away.
Next, we have modernesque Phillies in various uniforms.
1994 Collector's Choice Pete Incaviglia: showcasing the stylings and profilings of the 1933 Chuck Klein-led, Baker Bowl contingent.
1992 Topps Tyler Green: highlighting the pitching motion and knuckle curve grip that made him an all-star as a Wichita State Shocker.
1992 Topps Charlie Hayes giving homage to the Whiz Kids.

Then, there were some cards from unique brands from the deluge-era of the hobby (1996-2005)
1998 Pinnacle Mint Scott Rolen:  This was a precursor to the floating swatches of the modern relic card era.  This was a floating coin die-cut.
2003 Fleer Authentix Mini Pat Burrell:  I hope whoever had that ticket did not take it.  Row 70 does not exist in any section of any stadium that I know of.

Lastly, there are recent cards, including the shiny and not so shiny.
Behold the stoic countenance of the unflappable Brad Lidge in a 2009 Opeechee black border.  If his eyes could stare right into a hitter's soul, what would they say to him?
2010 Topps Heritage Chrome Jimmy Rollins: This time he's not speaking.  I think he's due for a bounceback year.  It's the power of the diamond background.

2009 Topps Heritage Update Chrome JA Happ:  He became Roy Oswalt, which just means he aged really quickly.
2007 Topps Heritage Clubhouse Collection Jimmy Rollins jersey: This is a great card, let's just leave it at that.

And so it comes to pass that the Troll distributeth (through a huge group break) and the contents be displayed for visual consumption.  There are many more treasures to be stowed away as the Phillies red floods my credenza.  So all hail the bounty of the Collective Troll!

Feb 18, 2011

Pyramid Contest Tier 3: Card Love, The Conclusion

Thanks to all that expressed their love for a card (or cards) by posting. Here is a quick rundown of the entrants so that you can vote in the poll on the left sidebar.

(in order of appearance)
night owl
Night Owl writes about Chris Speier cards in the '70s and how it was the best run for a player during that time period.

Cubsfan731 writes about a surprise from Pat Neshek....and it wasn't the TTM auto.

Milwaukee Southpaw
Milwaukee Southpaw writes about a '90s hunt for Griffey, a Griffey that ended being a tough pull.

Dawgbones wrote two entries.  One about
the many different cards and card types that qualify for card love and the other about the card which sparked the collecting bug (though it was a painful moment depicted for Phillies fans).

Greg Z.
Greg writes about a vintage purchase of a favorite player that had eluded him for some time.

So please show the entrants your love and vote in the poll!

The top two votegetters receive the Stratomatic computer game and a free spot in the March group break (plus a few other things I can find). All entrants will receive something regardless, so everyone should e-mail me your address.

Feb 17, 2011

Blog Bat Around: Fixing 2011 Topps

Up to the plate, I step.
The question is posed as follows:

Michael Eisner has just fired the entire Topps Product Development staff and chose to hire you to take their place. Mr. Eisner has given you carte blanche to do whatever you want with Topps Baseball -- as long as you keep it under $2/pack.

If you were in charge of Topps, and based upon what you've seen of 2011 Topps Baseball Series One, what (if anything) would you have done differently?


I like the design and look of 2011 Topps. It may not reflect the majesty of the 60th anniversary edition that they're trying to project, and that's really the only problem. It is not memorable in its own right. Of course, being memorable for its own sake is not the only requirement of a good card design (see 2002 or 2008 Topps). Howver, it does feel a little 1997 Stadium Club-ish on the front to me. The back I wouldn't change too much, though the second photo is superfluous because it's a repeat of the front.

Base Set Layout

Two series plus a traded series are fine. 330 cards per series is also fine. What I would change is the content of the set. Was it really necessary to have a rookie cup card and regular base card for the all-star rookie team? I like the team cards and league leader cards as is (group the league leader cards together again). I would like to see postseason highlight cards again (at least one per postseason series). I think series 1 should be a recap of the previous year's season, so it's ok to not highlight team changes from the offseason. Series 2 should complement series 1 and make everything feel more complete and not leave any loose ends. Offseason team changes should be introduced here. The update series should be a standalone set (including inserts) and highlight in-season feats and personnel moves along with rookie call-ups.

Insert Sets

As a whole, I like insert sets. I also like having many insert sets, but not so many that there are up to three per pack. I would have used the Diamond Anniversary cards to replace the gold parallel cards for this year only. Inserts I would eliminate are Diamond Duos, History of Topps, and the retro card reprints. I would keep Topps 60 as an insert theme, but have the focus changed to not being about random statistical lists. I like the Kimball minis a lot, but I'm not sure if this is the right set to introduce them. This is a "wait 'till next year" call". The 60 years of Topps, if they weren;t on the heels of last year, are exactly the right type of idea. It shouldn't be in all 3 series though. The Lost Cards should stay and be expanded upon to include other modern subjects (A-Rod, Varitek, Bonds, etc). I would add one more insert set that would be inserted with obscenely high odds (one or two per case) and just be awesome looking.

Other Considerations

Hobby packs would be $1.99 for 11 cards (include the ToppsTown, but give an extra card). Jumbo packs with the same configuration.

I would eliminate the Target and Walmart exclusive parallel sets. They were cool in 2009 when they had specific blasters for them, but are now a nuisance.

I would eliminate autos from the base set except for a select few. All autos would be on-card and would be inserted three per jumbo case and one per hobby case. It would follow the 60 years of Topps theme with each member of the checklist having a different base design.

Relics can stay as is because it seems they're easy to pack out and create.

The wrapper redemption is an interesting idea, but it would be executed much better online. Each box would have a boxtopper with a scratch off code that you enter (it sounds so familiar). And each code would correspond to a pack number. If the code is invalid, then you can send the wrappers. The only downside is that it discourages not opening individual packs and collect the 36 at some point.

Also, I would redesign the Topps website, start a blog, Facebook page, and Twitter account all dedicated to the hype, promotions, pulls, and experiences associated with 2011 Topps, the anchor and driver of the last licensed manufacturer.

Feb 10, 2011

2010 Topps 206 Pack Break or Squinting Should Not Be a Replacement for Smiling

There's still time to enter the Pyramid Contest Tier 3; there have been 3 entries so far.  You have until the end of February 14th to enter.  Show some love for your collection.

After the mostly panned reviews of this product with the washed out colors and well....hatlessness, I really only tried to buy one lone retail pack.  I will say one thing about the look, at least they weren't fakely smudged with dirt on the back in the same pattern like the previous year's version of this set.   If the hatlessness weren't so ubiquitous, they may have a certain charm like 1969 Topps.  At least it beats airbrushing with a closeup of only the neck and head.

 Like the Ian Desmond shown below, the brand faded into the sunset to be replaced by the Gypsy Queen (yes, named the same as the moth) brand, in which gemstones and other mysteries await.  One question percolates in the mind of the collector though....how good do the minis look?  This will ultimately determine success (except if you're 2009 Goodwin Champions which had 12.5% of a box taken up by an annoying cross brand 1200 card insert set).  Say goodnight T206, may you remain unwrinkled and free of hurricane force winds.

Let's contemplate the mood or location of the players as the painting was rendered as their faces are laid bare "sin sombra".

Ian Desmond is relaxed in a pose and is somehow squinting at the sun that is setting behind him.  He must be admiring someone's sunglasses.
Joel Piniero is adamant about his point of view.  "No, BABIP does not correlate with my pitching style."
Hideki Matsui is approaching a TV camera and is about to give an interview for the many Japanese channels following him.
Zach Duke is trying not to laugh at the chickens running in front of him.  One seems to have fallen down.
Tommy Hanson is bored of sitting on that bench.  He'd rather go swimming.
Carl Crawford is surprised that someone wanted to give him chowder with crackers.
I did pull a Dustin Pedroia Cycle back.  That was cool.

I am happy that this break did not yield the urge to buy more.  Sometimes you can't collect them all.

Feb 8, 2011

Junior High Countdown: 28. 1993 Bowman

With the retirement of Andy Pettitte this week, it's only appropriate to detail the one set that had his true rookie card (you may now swoon), 1993 Bowman.

The Stats
Issued in a one series 708 card set, coming in a 24 pack box with 15 cards per pack. One of these cards per pack was one of 48 foil cards (included in the base set). I believe the suggested retail price at the time was $1.99 per pack. Today, you can find a box for between $35-45 if you shop around.

The Design
Printed on white, glossy card stock, the front had a white bordered photo with the Bowman logo at the upper right corner with the player's name ghosted in white in the lower left corner. The back for rookies and prospects had a second photo with a paragraph about the player and minor league career stats. The back for veterans had a second photo with a team by team breakdown table of performance for the 1992 season. The foil cards had rainbowish borders and highlighted different subsets on the back such as "Player of the Year" or "Top Prospect".

The Rookies
There were many, many, many. Key rookies through the years have been identified as Derek Jeter, Andy Pettitte, Jason Kendall, JT Snow, Roger Cedeno, Jose Vidro, Marty Cordova, Preston Wilson, James Baldwin. I even remember getting excited for pulling a Matt Walbeck rookie from a pack, so the rookie card hysteria is ingrained with the brand.

The Inserts
There were no insert sets as defined traditionally in '90s baseball card collectible sets.

The Impact
What keeps this set going now is the inclusion of the Jeter and Pettitte rookies. As a follow-up to the wildly successful 1992 Bowman, it utilized the same formula and almost looks similar enough to be confused with its forebearer without some close inspection. However, as is mostly the case, what follows a huge success is a huge overprinting, so in this case, it falls short of the previous year's release and is much easier to find. From 1996 to today, box prices have not changed that much, suggesting a steady supply to this point. It was still the brand with the "Home of the Rookie Card" and demonstrated that. If the rookie class had more impact rookies, the impact would have been larger.

1993 Bowman is a set that is remarkable in that it's place has been known for many years and is likely to stay that way. The rookie cards drive the set and yet, the set itself is affordable, but difficult to complete because of its size and configuration. The Jeter rookie is not the best one out there from a mainstream set, but it is a cut above the base brand ones from that year. Having the only rookie of a borderline HOF like Pettitte, a Yankee favorite, also helps the set identity. In the end, there is a lot to like about 1993 Bowman, but its far-reaching impact to future sets is minimal since the brand of Bowman was really established for the modern era by 1992.

Feb 7, 2011

Pyramid Contest Tier 3 Intro: Card Love

I've had one post titled Card Love on this blog.  It was a card I found in a friend's collection and it had been  treated like a card that had been loved.   To me, then, it was worthy of a blog feature.

 In addition to that, I would like you to read the comments left for this post as well.  The subject of the card was also loved and in a real sense.  So for those who left comments, I thank you.  I did not know much about the man featured, but you can see that he touched people's lives during his own life.

The premise for the contest then is simple. In the spirit of the season (Valentine's Day and all that), express a card (or cards) that you love or have loved.

Love can mean when you look at the card it takes you to a happy place.
Love can mean that the card was carried in your wallet for 850 years.
Love can mean many other things. How you interpret it is up to you.

To enter the contest, post on your blog with the subject "Card Love" and give a normal length post for you about it. Then leave a link on any post here.

If you don't have a blog, just send me an e-mail with "Card Love" as the subject.

At the end of the period of the contest (let's give until 11:59 pm PST February 14 for now), I will present a list of the links and e-mails with the material and then you, the readers, will determine the winners through voting in the poll.

The top two vote getters will receive a Strat-o-matic Computer game and a free spot in my first group break (and some other things that I dig up depending on the preferences of the winners).
Depending on the number of entries, the prize pool will increase.

So, let's show some love out there!...for cards or the card subjects.

Feb 6, 2011

non-HOF Profile Derby #18: Sal Bando

Next, is an integral part of Oakland's 1970s championship teams, Sal Bando.

Place on the WAR chart: :  Above Bobby Wallace and Dave Winfield and below Harmon Killebrew and Willie Keeler

Career Overview and Some Numbers:Played for the Athletics franchise from 1966-1976 and the Brewers from 1977-1981 almost exclusively as a 3B.  He was a 4x all-star and finished top 5 in MVP balloting 3x.  Was very durable, playing more than 150 games in 10 seasons of 14 full years.  Led the league in total bases once. and doubles once.   Had 6 20+ HR seasons and 2 100+ RBI seasons, finishing top ten in these categories 4 and 5 times, respectively.  Also had five seasons of greater than 130 OPS+. Finished top 10 in WAR for position players in the AL 8 times during his career.   Most similar players numbers-wise over his career were Todd Zeile, Willie Jones, and Ron Cey.

Best Season: Probably 1969 when he hit .281/.400/.484 (153 OPS+) with 31 HR, 113 RBI, 106 R, and 113 BB.

The Final Numbers:: .252/.354/.408 (119 OPS+) with 982 R, 242 HR, 1039 RBI and 1031:923 BB:K

Why He Should be Remembered: Besides having a prominent mustache on the A's '70s championship teams, also was a middle of the order presence in a decidedly pitching era.  Continuing a theme with this series, those with low batting averages and fairly high walk rates, playing a position in the middle of the defensive spectrum are fairly undervalued in terms of baseball history. Excelled in some postseason series, hitting two HR in the 1973 and 1974 ALCS. Was obviously highly regarded at the time as evidenced by his MVP voting results, but his peak was probably not sustained long enough to give notice to his overall numbers.

HOF Balloting Performance:one year on the ballot with 0.7% vote in 1987.

Rookie Card:: 1967 Topps #33

Modern Cards:: 2001 Upper Deck Decade '70s auto/relic, 2011 Topps relic

Feb 1, 2011

An Unexpected, Possibly Crazy Item on ebay: Re: 2011 Topps

I do peruse ebay on occassion, usually on the lookout for unexpectedly cheap wax boxes to purchase that are not so common to find or to find poor condition vintage Phillies cards. I am not often successful, but it's fun to look at even when I don't purchase anything.

Like many of you fellow card collectors, I am done with the 2010 releases in the sense I will not be purchasing anymore packs. (I am still working on the 2010 Allen & Ginter and 2010 Topps Update sets, however.) Therefore, the revelation that 2001 Topps Series 1's release date has moved up by two weeks has begun a mental frenzy of diamonds and anniversaries and cascading insert cards in chronological order.

This time with my mind in chaos and not thinking clearly, I embarked upon the quest to purchase a series 1 hobby box. I have not opened a Topps flagship set hobby box in the year it was released since 2001. I figured I'm a sucker for realized card company anniversary celebrations, so why not continue the admittedly non-specific or statistical trend?

With the announcement of the newest promotion to tickle the collecting nerve endings, a wrapper redemption of five card packs, this added blood in the water for the yet to be released product as box prices have risen sharply from approximately $54 pre-announcement to approximately $80 post-announcement and jumbo boxes from approximately $85 to approximately $115 during the same time period.

My veins were pulsating from possibly being unable to complete the quest, but then I stumbled upon an affordable box ($64 shipped) that I hope will arrive intact with all the wrappers.

Others also had grand ideas and immediately took the frenzy to the next logical conclusion. By selling the wrappers! Do a search for 2011 Topps Jumbo and see what results. I've seen up to $98 for 60 jumbo wrappers.

For that price, you will get 6 packs of the wrapper redemption without having to go through the tedious process of opening a pack. This works out to $16 per pack or $3.27 per card for the redemption cards!

We all know about the vapors that collectors get when presented with 1952 Topps designs, but I feel as if there may be a disconnect here. Why not buy singles of the redemption card program you like or better yet, buy a hobby box and a half for that price....you'll feel better.

There's nothing more therapeutic than the rip of foil in the morning, and it's possible that Topps may be aware of this effect.