Mar 31, 2011

Group Break Box 1: 2002 Topps Total

I broke this box first to work out any technical kinks.  There are no hits to speak of and it's really a who's who of who was that in the set.  It's a 990 card set after all.

The first video is terrible and fuzzy, though the sound is ok, and I'm having trouble uploading it.  At this time, it's missing.  Luckily, it was the first video with a box that doesn't really have high value cards.  I'll try to fix it, but I wouldn't want to deprive you of a paucity of witty commentary and interesting decor with the other three videos.  I'll upload it when I figure out the corruption in the file.

I think I finally figured out the recording style by the 3rd video.   Each video is 1/4 of the box (9 packs apiece).

Team Totals For the Break (base/insert)

For this box, I counted the checklists as inserts since they weren't part of the base set (though they look like base cards)

Braves 15/2
Marlins 8/2
Expos 13/1
Mets 14/1
Phillies 16/0
Cubs 11/3
Reds 11/1
Astros 7/1
Brewers 15/0
Pirates 10/1
Cardinals 4/2
Dbacks 13/2
Rockies 4/2
Dodgers 13/1
Padres 14/1
Giants 7/1
Orioles 6/1
Red Sox 10/2
Yankees 17/3
Rays 17/1
Blue Jays 11/1
White Sox 11/1
Indians 5/1
Tigers 15/1
Royals 15/0
Twins 13/0
Angels 4/2
Athletics 12/1
Mariners 17/3
Rangers 11/4

Mar 29, 2011

Final Group Break Update and Test Video

Here's the list of teams for the upcoming group break.  Everyone is paid, the boxes are ready to go, and it's almost my favorite day of the year....April Fool's Day.

If there are any disagreements about the teams, leave a comment here. 

I've also uploaded a short video here to see if I'm able to do so with my nearly incapable technological hands.  I definitely have to work on the lighting to do this right.  Any suggestions on where I should be positioned with respect to the light?

1. cubsfan731-1st choice=Cubs/Angels (paid)

2. dawgbones-1st choice=Phillies/DBacks (paid)

3. Spiegel83-1st choice=Dodgers/Brewers (paid)

4. Ryan G-1st choice=Giants/Mariners (paid)

5. hiflew-1st choice=Rockies/Braves (paid)

6. BA Benny-1st choice=Mets/Marlins (paid)

7. Madding-1st choice=Cardinals/Padres (paid)

8. John-1st choice=Yankees/Blue Jays (paid)

9. Ryan H.-1st choice=Orioles/Astros (paid)

10. Brad-1st choice=Twins/Rangers (paid)

11. Michael R.-1st choice=Red Sox/Pirates (paid)

12. Todd Uncommon-1st choice=Athletics/Tigers (paid)

13. Jason-1st choice=Indians/Royals (paid)

14. Arfmax-1st choice=White Sox/Rays (paid)

15.  Dan (me)- Reds/Nationals (paid)

Mar 27, 2011

Pull of the Year So Far and Group Break Update

I recently opened a box of 2001 Topps Series 2 Jumbo. Incredibly, you can purchase three of these boxes for the same price as a 2011 Topps Series 1 Jumbo.  Of course, there was no guarantee of relics or autos back in that era.  It was, however, the golden anniversary of Topps and promised something of interest. 

The box itself was somewhat disappointing as a whole.  I haven;t counted yet, but I think I received approximately 200 duplicates or more.  The only good part was that one of my duplicates was the Ichiro rookie (though the second one was damaged due to the following reason).  It was also very difficult to sort through the cards as each pack was opened since the cards were stuck together in bunches of 15-20 and each card had to be individually peeled off to view.  This caused a lot of edge and corner damage, which is not the most desirable outcome.

The cards themselves were fun to see and the inserts had some surprising results.  I especially liked the "Before There Was Topps" insert.  It wasn't a reproduction set, but just representations of the player subjects.

The most surprising moment of the box was when this card literally fell into my hands from the middle of an unwieldy stack of base cards.

It's a Rookie Reprint of Willie Mays with something that I had not encountered before, a piece of game-worn jacket.  Me gusta mucho.  This was a 1:227 pack pull  (with 10 packs per box) and it's not often that I beat the odds like this.  Maybe my luck has turned for the upcoming group break and all the willing participants?

Speaking of, here's the latest update.  I still need payment from two participants (bolded below).  There was one team choice conflict.  Both John and Ryan H claimed the Blue Jays and Ryan H also expressed interest in the Pirates (which was also claimed by Michael R).

Anyone have any absolute preferences?  Here's the other teams that have no claimants.

Nationals/Expos, Astros, Angels

Please e-mail me if you really, really, really want the 2nd team you asked for and can't accept any other.  It happens. The videoing will begin Wednesday, March 30.

1. cubsfan731-1st choice=Cubs/TBD (paid)

2. dawgbones-1st choice=Phillies/DBacks (paid)

3. Spiegel83-1st choice=Dodgers/Brewers (paid)

4. Ryan G-1st choice=Giants/Mariners (paid)

5. hiflew-1st choice=Rockies/Braves

6. BA Benny-1st choice=Mets/Marlins (paid)

7. Madding-1st choice=Cardinals/Padres (paid)

8. John-1st choice=Yankees/Blue Jays? (paid)

9. Ryan H.-1st choice=Orioles/Blue Jays??/Pirates?? (payment confirmed as being sent)

10. Brad-1st choice=Twins/Rangers (paid)

11. Michael R.-1st choice=Red Sox/Pirates? (paid)

12. Todd Uncommon-1st choice=Athletics/Tigers or Reds

13. Jason-1st choice=Indians/Royals (paid)

14. Arfmax-1st choice=White Sox/Rays (paid)

15.  Dan (me)-Tigers or Reds/TBD

Mar 24, 2011

Note to Group Break Participants: 2nd Team Choice Time and Payment Info

Hello worthy participants in the upcoming group break.  As the boxes have arrived and the break is now scheduled from less than a week from now, there are two orders of business to take care of.

One, is to get a second team.  As a reminder, here's a list of the participants and what their first team choice was.

Group A: Yankees, Red Sox, Mets, Phillies, Braves, Dodgers, Cardinals, Cubs, Tigers, Twins/pre-1961 Senators, Reds, Giants, Orioles, White Sox, Indians

Group B: Royals, Nationals/Expos, Pirates, Padres, Blue Jays, Rays, Athletics, Mariners, Marlins, Astros, Brewers/Pilots, Diamondbacks, Rockies, Angels, Rangers/post-1961 Senators

1. cubsfan731-1st choice=Cubs

2. dawgbones-1st choice=Phillies

3. Spiegel83-1st choice=Dodgers

4. Ryan G-1st choice=Giants

5. hiflew-1st choice=Rockies

6. BA Benny-1st choice=Mets

7. Madding-1st choice=Cardinals

8. John-1st choice=Yankees

9. Ryan H.-1st choice=Orioles

10. Brad-1st choice=Twins

11. Michael R.-1st choice=Red Sox

12. Todd Uncommon-1st choice=Athletics

13. Jason-1st choice=Indians

14. Arfmax-1st choice=White Sox

15.  Dan (me)-1st choice=whatever's left  (if anyone new claims this spot, I'll give it up)
Please comment by the end of the day on Sunday, March 27 for your 2nd team.
Preliminary second teams from previous comments are
BA Benny-Marlins
They're not closed yet, but if anyone else wants these, speak now, so that I can distribute them fairly.
Todd Uncommon and hiflew, you can choose either the Braves, Tigers, or Reds as your 2nd team.
For payment, please use Paypal and send a "gift" for $19 to drauer at wustl dot edu.
If you need to send me a check, please e-mail me saying that you will do so.  I would also like payment (or confirmation of payment sent)  by the end of the day, Sunday March 27.
First box break will be March 29 or March 30, depending on which day I figure out my webcam.  Good luck everyone!  Any questions?  Don't hesitate to drop me a line.  Thanks.

Mar 23, 2011

The 100 Most Significant Cards in July 1993 Part 2: 61-80

Rookies hold a special place in the hobbyist's hearts.  There's just something about the first time a player's image graces cardboard or foil in a major league uniform that makes many of us want to figuratively swoon.  But sometimes, it's not always the rookie card which is the gem of a player's career collection.  This is especially true of pre-80's players.   Sometimes scarcity plays a role, sometimes there's novelty, and sometimes there's an image that will be imprinted upon the collectors' consciousness. 

The next 20 cards on the list provide some more insight into the mind of the investor/collector during the tail end of the baseball card boom.

Multi-Player Rookie Cards
A rookie is a rookie because it´s the first card in which a player is featured.  One practice by Topps has been to group rookies together by team or position or even randomly.  One would think intuitively that the first solo card of a popular player may be more sought after, but that is hardly ever the case.  These are the multi-player rookies in this grouping.

77. 1981 Topps Fernando Valenzuela Dodgers Future Stars-Fernandomania was a fun, but shortlived phenomena that didn´t extend much past his first few excellent years.

74. 1978 Topps Paul Molitor/Alan Trammell Rookie Shortstops-Still a great card with two impact players (including one Hall of Famer).

73. 1970 Topps Thurman Munson Yankees Rookie Stars-The 1971 Topps card of Munson is a good example of the first solo star outshining the true rookie.

68. 1965 Topps Joe Morgan Rookie Stars-The best part of the card for me...The .45s logo on the caps.

66. 1967 Topps Rod Carew American League Rookie Stars-He is paired with a completely random player.  This was actually a double printed issue.

63. 1977 Topps Dale Murphy-The significance has faded as the memory of Murphy´s run atop the National League has been noted as a not quite Hall of Fame career.

Single Player Rookie Cards
79. 1959 Topps Sparky Anderson-interesting in that not many manager´s rookie cards are considered chase-worthy (who weren´t great players). 

76. 1966 Topps Jim Palmer-It´s a great portrait of the Orioles star

72. 1988 Score Rookie/Traded Roberto Alomar-It´s hard to see where this card rates now.  This set is still not the easiest to locate for a reasonable price and it has held most of its value over the years.

70. 1976 Topps Dennis Eckersley-People always seem to forget he was a pretty good starter for 10 years or so before becoming ¨The Eck¨

65. 1949 Bowman Roy Campanella-If only the card were larger in size, it would be easier to store.

62. 1949 Bowman Duke Snider-If only this set were aesthetically pleasing, it would make for more memorable cards.

61. 1952 Topps Eddie Mathews-Can you name the players that had more home runs than him in the ´50s?  Neither can I.

First Topps Cards
As you can see this listing is very Topps-centric, so here are some more.

78. 1953 Topps Satchel Paige-The Browns logo on the card is priceless.

73. 1958 Topps Stan Musial-His first card since 1953 Bowman.  One of the premier players ever just didn´t have enough collectible cards to chase from his career.

Scarce and Interesting Cards
Sometimes circumstances make the card significant.

80. 1973 Topps Roberto Clemente-The legend´s last issued card with the practically perfect 3000 hit stat in the career line.  It should have been a proper tribute card since it was released after his death (though printed beforehand)

71. 1970 Topps Nolan Ryan-The one time Ryan was shown as a World Series champion.  This card is a high number and part of that 1970-1972 high number period, where most of the cards have been seen only on the tail of Halley´s comet.

69. 1959 Fleer Ted Williams #68-How is so much revealed about which cards are pulled from the production process?  This card may be a reason why this is done, to drive demand.

67. 1969 Topps Mickey Mantle white letter variation-A printing error across a series leads to a frenzy for Mantle´s last issued card.  Would you rather have the corrected version or the error?

64. 1953 Topps Willie Mays- The first pose of Mays as the splendid fielder he was.

There´s less controversy in this grouping regarding the choices.  Most can be argued in some way...i.e. significant for their time.  What do you think of the selections so far?

Mar 21, 2011

Group Break Results of Futures Past and One Final Group Break Reminder

The artist formerly known as I Am Joe Collector used to hold  monthly group breaks in the recent past.  I did fairly well for myself during that time (usually with the Mets as a team of choice).  When the monopolizing licensure of Topps took ahold in 2010, the variety of product slackened and so did the group breaks.  Occasionally, he will hold single product case breaks and I was able to participate in a couple of them in the recent (well, recent in the sense of these cards were just scanned) past.

First, there was a 2010 Topps Chrome Case Break.  I claimed two random teams and ended up with White Sox and Rockies.

 Gordon Beckham T206 Chrome:  Honestly, if this entire set were in Chrome, it would have been so much less authentic and so much cooler
 Gordon Beckham Refractor: Anyone else have him pegged for a bounceback season this year.  There's not a Junior Jinx now, is there?
 Jake Peavy National Chicle Chrome: The hand-paintedness of this card really stands out in the chrome form.  This was a great idea for an insert set,
 Eric Young Jr.  Auto: EY Jr. has the speed, but does he have the playing time?
Esmil Rogers Auto:  It's nice that the autos are on-card, but as always wish there were more than rookie autos.

I also paricipated in a 2006 Ultimate case break.  Basically, the breakdown was one hit and a handful of base cards per slot.

Josh Willingham, Russell Martin, Rony Paulino Triple Auto:  These were all catchers at one time; I guess that's the connection. 

And here were my base cards (#d/799)....

High end base cards always have interesting, unexpected, geometric designs.

My first group break only has three slots left.  I will start asking for payment soon.  First scheduled box break will be March 29.

Mar 18, 2011

2011 Kimball Champions for Trade

I know someone has to be trying to complete this set.  I have many, many doubles.  Drop me a line if you want to trade.  How about a trade for other 2011 Topps inserts?  Or something else?  I'm fine with whatever.  Here's the list.

2, 3, 5, 7, 8, 9, 11, 12, 13, 14, 15, 16, 17, 18, 19, 21, 22, 24, 25, 26, 28, 29, 30, 33, 34, 35, 36, 40, 41, 43, 44, 45, 47, 48, 50

Also, here's yet another group break reminder.  There are still five slots left with a lot of good teams, including the Red Sox, Tigers, White Sox, Indians, Braves, etc.  All the boxes are in hand and the videos should commence in a week (I'll be testing the video system during the week). 

Mar 17, 2011

Floating Rookies' Heads, 2011 Topps Heritage, and a Group Break Reminder

There are six slots in the group break presented here , there are some great teams left like the Red Sox, Twins (there's a Mauer rookie to possibly be pulled), White Sox, Reds, Rays, etc!  Come and claim a team and get a 2nd team from the opposite group.  I think it will be a fun break.  The last boxes arrived in the mail yesterday, so I'll start asking for payment next week.  It's time to rip some packs!

Above is not a 1962 Topps design (such is all the rage this week), but the more technologically advanced 1963 Topps design.  In 1962, they figured how to remove the heads from rookies' bodies and place them in squared off prisons; each rookie unable to use even the most rudimentary of tools to break through and rejoin his body.  In 1963, they made it so the heads would not want to rejoin the necks of their patrons. 

They preserved the heads in a vitality halo, sustaining the minds and thought processes during the offseason.  This way, when spring training began, the teaching of pitches had already been accomplished and the rookie could progress to the point of being a useful contributor for the ballclub.  It worked for Ray Culp (110 ERA+ in 1963), John Boozer (112 ERA+ in 1963), and Jesse Gonder (124 OPS+).  Only Sammy Ellis was resistant to the vitality halo, skeptical of its workings.  He looked worried at this moment in time because he knew with the rejection of this time spent here, he would spend the entire 1963 season in the minors, and have to return for a much unloved experience.  Luckily for him, cooler heads prevailed and he was captured in the spring training portait box of 1964, which had a better compatibility with his body chemistry.

Now, a slightly more timely topic
I love the idea of Topps Heritage.  I love the execution of Topps Heritage.  I was especially excited to get a chance to collect the version with the 1962 Topps design.  I have such fond memories of that year's card set.  My first vintage card was from that set.  It was in the stories in the family as having been thrown out.  It was a card set that commerorated the chase for 60 between Maris and Mantle, had a Babe Ruth story subset, saw Frank Robinsons MVP season, and celebrated the futility of the Phillies and their 23 game losing streak the previous season.  Plus, it had very realistic cartoons on the back.

And yet, I am unable to collect it as I like (that is to say, with everything).  It's always an expensive proposition.  One needs at least two hobby boxes to make a significant dent in the base set, and I couldn't invest that type of capital at this time.  This became true quickly when hobby boxes rose from a presell price of $70.95 one month ago to the now standard $91.95 price for one hobby box.  For that price, I would rather go after more pressing collecting needs. 

I found a good price for the Phillies team set, so that will soon be in my possession.  As for the rest of the base (1-425) set, I will acquire it eventually.  The quest for all the shortprints without going to shows is a hardy fool's proposition.  Each shortprint average cost is usually around $3-5.

Then, there are the secret variations that are such a part of the Heritage fabric that they are expected. The green tinted cards are true to 1962.  What is with this retail inserted black bordered parallel?  I am thoroughly confused by its purpose.   

What I'm trying to say is that I would love to collect Heritage this year, but it's almost like it's worth less than I have to pay.  Maybe I need to get a 1962 Ford Galaxie 500 to get in the right frame of mind?  Wouldn't that be prudent?

Mar 15, 2011

Redemption! and a Group Break Reminder

NOTE: There's still time to sign up for the Group Break.  Check it out.  There are plenty of teams left, and I think, an interesting variety of boxes.  I would like at least six more people to get it going.

Sometimes good things do come to those who wait.  When I opened my box of 2010 Allen & Ginter, I was initially disappointed that the first auto I had pulled from a pack of that product was a redemption.  When I entered the number on the Topps website, it gave an estimated date of shipment and arrived within two weeks of that date.  I would say that it was a well-handled redemption this time around (though I know others aren't so lucky).  Best of all, I can add a spectacular on-card auto to my collection.  

Did everyone enjoy National Napping Day yesterday?  I was not aware of it until it was too late. 

Mar 11, 2011

First Group Break Announcement

I know there's a lot of group breaks going around these days, but I have secured a set of boxes that I think would be fun to break and distribute.

They are (in chronological order):

2002 Topps Total-David Wright and Joe Mauer rookies
2003 Topps Gallery Museum Edition-2 relics per box and one coin collection boxtopper
2005 Upper Deck Classics (all retired player checklist)-2 relics and one auto per box
2008 Upper Deck Heroes-3 relics and one auto per box
2009 Topps T206-one auto and one relic per box

I was thinking that each slot would be two teams (for a total of 15 slots).  You  The cost will be $19 per slot (includes shipping and everything else) for one team from group A and one team from group B.  There should be 11 "hits" in the break, so there's a good chance that you will get one. 

Group A: Yankees, Red Sox, Mets, Phillies, Braves, Dodgers, Cardinals, Cubs, Tigers, Twins/pre-1961 Senators, Reds, Giants, Orioles, White Sox, Indians

Group B:  Royals, Nationals/Expos, Pirates, Padres, Blue Jays, Rays, Athletics, Mariners, Marlins, Astros, Brewers/Pilots, Diamondbacks, Rockies, Angels, Rangers/post-1961 Senators

The two winners of the "Card Love" contest have their slots accounted and paid for.

Please claim a spot in the comments below.  Indicate your first choice team (doesn't matter which group, each slot is for one team from each group).  I'll ask for payment when the slots are filled.  I'm thinking of doing the break between March 26-March 31 (assuming the last boxes arrive on time, everything has been ordered).  Also, please spread the word if you can. 

1. cubsfan731-1st choice=Cubs
2. dawgbones-1st choice=Phillies
3. Spiegel83-1st choice=Dodgers
4. Ryan G-1st choice=Giants
5. hiflew-1st choice=Rockies
6. BA Benny-1st choice=Mets
7. Madding-1st choice=Cardinals
8. John-1st choice=Yankees
9. Ryan H.-1st choice=Orioles
10. Brad-1st choice=Twins
11. Michael R.-1st choice=Red Sox
12. Todd Uncommon-1st choice=Athletics
13. Jason-1st choice=Indians
14. Arfmax-1st choice=White Sox

Mar 9, 2011

Swapping Cards: A Phillies Trade with Reader John

I was luckily contacted by the collector with quite possibly extensive Phillies collection that I have encountered. His wantlist consists of almost entirely rare inserts and oddball issues. I was able to procure a few cards for him from his wantlist seen here and in return, here are some highlights from the much appreciated and frankly, amazing assortment of cards he sent to me.

2001 Finest Scott Rolen: This is a brand that I have no representative cards of.  2001 was a difficult year to get many cards of affordably because of those players who won the Rookie of the Year that year...whoever they were...some one year wonders.  Anyway, here's Scott Rolen, and he looks lost in a dreamscape.
1962 Post Cereal Clay Dalrymple:  I am a major cereal connoisseur, yet I was not aware that Post released such an extensive set for this year.  Do you know what the most interesting part of this card was (for people who have not seen them before)?  It has a blank back.  It's definitely an interesting way to go.
1960 Topps Jim Owens:  I love the 1960 design, and I never understood why the Phillies logo was a spinning hat during this era.
1997 Bowman Chrome Adam Eaton: The rookie card of one of the least favorite pitchers from the 2008 team. Of course, who doesn't appreciate 1997 Bowman Chrome?

Next, is a trio of 1962 Topps from the high number series, which, for me, were the most incredible part of the package (taking into account my present collecting goals).  High # cards from the '60s are not easy to find for a reasonable price and these cut my Phillies wantlist for 1962 Topps down to two.

The representatives are
Mel Roach
Billy Klaus
Art Mahaffey

Then, there was one card I could not identify without some research.  
1968 Playing Card Antonio "Tony" Gonzalez: The best part is that I only need the Dick Allen to complete the team set for this.

Thanks John and good luck with your quest.

Mar 8, 2011

2000s Fleer Group Break at Community Gum

Sign up for 7 boxes of 2000s Fleer goodness at Community Gum. These are boxes that almost none of us have opened and have some really great sets, like the first Fleer Platinum, 2003 Fleer Avant, and the peel back enigma of 2000 Fleer Mystique.  Good luck!

Mar 7, 2011

A Couple of Essays

Hello readers:

I would like your feedback on what I submitted to the MLB Dream Job application.  I wish I had found out about it sooner than today, but this was what I could come up with on short notice.  Please let me know what you think.

I had to come up with two short essays (no more than 500 words) about "Why I Love Baseball" and "Potential MVP Candidates for 2011".  I also had to submit a video.  I completely improvved the video, so I hope it wasn't too terrible.

This was also a good test of the my camera and check out the sound quality for the soon to come group break.  (announcement at the end of this week).  Thanks for reading and watching.

Why I Love Baseball

I love baseball because it is a multi-faceted experience. On the playing field, it's an idealization of physical skill and mental concentration to bring about a larger goal on a competitive level. Each game is a story and each discrete event in the game has been predicated by previous thoughts and actions. It is a graceful tug of will and ability.
It’s a fan experience in which ideas and discussions can be generated from the events and hotly contested debates can be had about who deserves recognition more, the overrated underdog or the underrated favorite. The vicarious thrill and defeat and experiencing your team’s day-to-day journey during a season can be both heart-wrenching and exhilarating in turns. One can be so disappointed in July and so excited in August with the turn of one road trip.
It’s a life experience in which any piece of baseball can be incorporated into life. Enjoyment and games (simulation games and fantasy baseball), work and anxiety (furtive glances at the computer screen in the office), and family life (playing catch and planning trips together to stadiums) are all aspects where baseball can take a fairly central role.
I love baseball because it brings people together with a common bond. My friends are Mets fans, White Sox fans, Giants fans, A’s fans, Red Sox fans, and Phillies fans. We all can get together and talk about the days happenings during the season and complain about how are respective team’s chances are doomed or so assured. Baseball creates an eternal pessimist and optimist in all of us.
Most of all, baseball, for me, is a legacy that stretches back through the annals of American history and provides a perspective that all of us can relate to. It may be a sport, but it gives us a reflection of ourselves. I see myself in every young player coming up for their first appearance and every player seeing their careers fade away. Beginnings and endings are a part of the human experience and a part of me as well.

MVP Candidates in 2011

The voters for MVP award have seemingly changed their perspectives and their standards from year to year for MVP voting. However, over the last 10 years, there have been three truisms that increase the likelihood of garnering a winning MVP vote.
1) Be on a winning team: Since 2000, there have been only three MVP winners that have been on teams that had less than 90 wins in a season and not made the playoffs (Alex Rodriguez in 2003, Ryan Howard in 2006, and Albert Pujols in 2008).
2) Be a young, experienced, possibly great player: In the non-Barry Bonds division of the past 10 years, only one MVP has been younger than 25 (Dustin Pedroia in 2008) and two MVPs have been older than 30 (Jeff Kent in 2000 and Alex Rodriguez in 2007)
3) Be an OPS leader: The only NL MVPS not in the top 3 of the OPS leaderboard during this decade were Jimmy Rollins in 2007 and Jeff Kent in 2000. The similar AL counterparts were Ichiro in 2001, Miguel Tejada in 2002, Justin Morneau in 2006, and Dustin Pedroia in 2008.
With that recent history established, players between 25-31 in age with combined abilities of getting on base and having power (with a propensity towards those with moderate to high batting averages) on teams with will probably make the playoffs this year will be examined. Based on this criteria, the following general list can be created that will encompass the probable possibilities.
In the National League East, the potential MVP candidates are Ryan Howard, Brian McCann, Dan Uggla, Martin Prado, and Hanley Ramirez.
In the National League Central, the potential MVP candidates are Albert Pujols, Matt Holliday, Joey Votto, Brandon Phillips, Prince Fielder, Ryan Braun, Rickie Weeks, and Corey Hart.
In the National League West, the potential MVP candidates are Troy Tulowitzki, Carlos Gonzalez, Andre Ethier, and Matt Kemp.
I choose the playoff participants to be Phillies, Braves, Brewers, and Rockies. Therefore, my choice for MVP is Troy Tulowitzki with Ryan Braun (and Albert Pujols) close behind.
In the American League East, the potential MVP candidates are Adrian Gonzalez, Dustin Pedroia, Kevin Youkilis, Robinson Cano, Mark Teixeira, and Evan Longoria.
In the American League Central, the potential MVP candidates are Joe Mauer, Alex Rios, and Miguel Cabrera.
In the American League West, the potential MVP candidates are Josh Hamilton, Ian Kinsler, Nelson Cruz, Daric Barton, and Kendry Morales.

I choose the playoff participants to be Red Sox, Rays, Twins, and Rangers. Therefore, my choice for MVP is Adrian Gonzalez (with Josh Hamilton and Miguel Cabrera close behind).

Mar 4, 2011

Junior High Countdown: 98. 1995 Fleer Ultra

Programming NOTE: Dawgbones and cubsfan731 won the poll of 'Card Love' and will receive their prizes momentarily.   Thanks for voting!  I still need the addresses of Greg Z. and milwaukee southpaw to send on a consolation package.

I did not have much experience collecting this set because I found it so annoying to open packs.
The Stats

Issued in two series with 250 cards in series 1 and 200 cards in series 2 for a  450 card base set, coming in a 36 pack box with 12 cards per pack. I believe the suggested retail price at the time was $1.99 per pack.  Each pack contained one insert card per pack.

The Design

As was the case with previous Ultra offerings, 1995's version featured a full-bleed photo on the front with team-specific colors on the bottom with reverse foiling for the first and last names of the player.  The team logo was also monochromatically foiled on the front.

The back is colored in the same color as the foil on the front of the card with a 2nd large photo of the player.  A 3rd smaller photo of the player is in full color and inset on the upper left.   There are two lines of stats, one for the 1994 season and one for the career stat line.

The Rookies
There are no rookies in the set. 
The Inserts
There are a lot of inserts, keeping up with the Fleer/Ultra tradition of inserting one per pack across the product.  There were 13 insert sets in total across both series.  Most inserts were inserted in all pack types and were fairly easy to find. 

The exceptions were:  All-Rookies-only in 12 card packs
Golden Prospects: Hobby only
Hitting Machines: Retail only
Home Run Kings: Retail only
RBI Kings: Jumbo Packs only

The rarest inserts were Power Plus in series 1 and Rising Stars in series 2 (1:37 packs).

My favorite insert set was Strikeout Kings, which showed how to grip all the pitches (not a new concept, but a fun one)

Then, there was the gold medallion parallel, which was also one per pack, unless it was two per pack.  It was available for all inserts.

The Impact

This can be summed up in one phrase, paralleling of insert sets.  Not only did all the base cards have a parallel with a little annoying gold medallion in the upper left corner, but approximately 10% of the inserts did too.   I think this was the first set to institute this and for this point, it is docked significantly on the countdown.  I am a completist and don't like pointless parallels clouding the set (insert or otherwise) goal.

For its time, 1995 Ultra was a pretty standard Ultra offering.  It had a clean design (though the foil chipped a lot) and many insert sets (though none were really that memorable or had an original name that carried over through the years of the brand).  The pack opening experience was lacking because of the inclusion of those gold parallels; they were one pack and constantly staring at you, gloating that there was one less card that you could use for those hard to reach insert sets.  Plus, the parallel inserts were not distinguishable.  More value?  I'd call it irritation. 

Mar 2, 2011

The 100 Most Significant 1993: #s 100-81

After the Topps 60th anniversary announcements of the 60 greatest Topps cards ever, I thought it would be instructive to look at a similar list put together by the denizens of old-school Beckett for their 100th issue in July 1993.  This was the heyday of the Weather Report and Readers Write.  And back then, most shockingly of all, the price guide only had five columns per page with a readable font.

As you can see, I have quite a fixation on the mid-90s.    Think about what collecting was like during the time period just before the strike of 1994.    Internet was in its infancy; I knew two people who had an internet connection at that time. There were shows galore to attend. In Pennsylvania alone, there were approximately 80 listed shows in the July 1993 Beckett.  There were hobby shops of all shapes and sizes.  I regularly went to 3, which were within a 15 minute drive of where I lived. 

One constancy was Beckett, it was in the mailbox about the 12th of the month, ready to be consulted for all the the pricing needs.  4 cents for a 1988 Donruss common?  I'm down with that.  1992 Bowman is the hottest set on the block?  Sign me up.  Frank Thomas is both hot and cold?  The weather was kind of strange in 1993.

Here's the last entries from the 1-100 significant cards list from Beckett #100.

For each entry, there will be a small comment and a consensus (of one) about whether it should be considered for a similar list today.

100. 1992 Frank Thomas Bowman foil:  Thomas was the king and 1992 Bowman was the court for top cards at this time.  Even 2nd and 3rd year cards were highly coveted for awhile there.  Consensus: not considered

99. 1989 Upper Deck Dale Murphy Reverse Negative:  There's now a sordid story behind this card; I think it was revealed in the book "Card Sharks." Consensus: not considered

98. 1989 Upper Deck Jerome Walton: It was included as an infamous card and the perils of prospecting.  There are better ones to represent significant drops in value.  Consensus: not considered

97. 1983 Topps Tony Gwynn:  The best card of the best Topps set of the '80s. Consensus: considered

96. 1974 Topps Willie McCovey Washington Variation:  This is an interesting card of a period when teams were threatening to move for one reason or another (remember San Francisco wanting to move to Florida for awhile?).  This was a significant error, and crystallized the chase for errors for a few years there. Consensus: considered

95. 1987 Fleer Will Clark:  The sheen is off the baby blue glare of 1987 Fleer.  Clark was a hot commodity, but not past 1996 or so.  Consensus: not considered

94. 1985 Fleer Roger Clemens:  The Rocket has a crater. Consensus: not considered 

93. 1987 Donruss Opening Day Barry Bonds error (Johnny Ray image):  It was a strange choice then, I think. I'm not sure if enough people knew about it to make it significant.  Consensus: not considered 

92. 1983 Topps Wade Boggs: A rookie card of a Hall of Famer.  Did he burn his base with his foray into the Yankee zone? Consensus:  considered 

91. 1982 John Littlefield error:  I'm not sure what to think of this one.  He's left handed in the photo!...but he's really right handed.  Not a star player, so therefore....Consensus: not considered 

90. 1991 Topps Stadium Club Frank Thomas:  Everyone coveted this set at this time.  I could only find packs of series 2 for years.  You wanted Series 1 cards?  Look in the case of cards in toploaders.  Today this card has lost its Kodak based gloss. Consensus: not considered

89. 1985 Donruss Kirby Puckett:  This is not a hard card to find anymore, though the black borders of the brand do discourage the mint condition.  Plus, everyone loved playing with Kirby Puckett.  Consensus:  considered 

88. 1978 Topps Eddie Murray:  I love this card, pure and simple.  It is an iconic card of the late '70s. Consensus: considered 

87. 1990 Upper Deck Reggie Jackson Auto:  I can't believe it was ranked this low.  The first auto card inserted in packs, it sparked a chase for autos that collectors wanted for 20 years and counting.  Consensus: considered

86.  1977 Topps Andre Dawson:  With his induction to the Hall of Fame, and a tireless collecting fan base, it retains some significance.  Consensus: considered 

85. 1987 Fleer Barry Bonds: Until 2006, this card was coveted. If only he didn't set the all-time HR record? Consensus: not considered  

84. 1983 Fleer Ron Kittle:  Um....I don't really see the connection.  Rookie of the Year in 1983 to left behind by collectors by 1986.  Consensus: not considered 

83. 1981 Fleer Graig (Craig) Nettles Error:  Fleer's debut was not marked by great editing. Consensus: not considered 

82. 1981 Topps Joe Charboneau: The blurb in the issue calls this card "a living cliche" Consensus: not considered 

81.  1962 Topps Lou Brock: The stolen base crown prince has a rookie that resonates from a set that is remembered well by many. Consensus: considered 

So do you agree? Disagree?  Think that significance is highly overrated?  Of course, questions remain about what drives significance in the card world.   It's easy to see what Beckett thought was significant in 1993: rookies, errors, and Frank Thomas.

Some stats for this group:

# of cards I own from this group: 0
# of cards I wished I owned from this group: 8
# of pre-1970 cards: 1
# of 1970s cards: 3
# of rookies: 12
# of considered cards: 8 (not sure if these match with the cards I wish I owned).

The next group coming soon....