Jun 22, 2010

Awkward: The Baseball Card

Meet Yen-Wen Kuo. Kuo is a 22-year old Taiwanese second basemen within the Cincinnati Reds organization. Bowman Prospect card #80 spits out a few good tidbits about Kuo on the back:

Signed with Reds at age 18...more than competent at second, short and third...accurate arm...fine range...contact hitter than can draw walks...

In three levels of A Ball last season, Kuo hit .256 with a .330 SLG and 1 HR with 30 RsBI in 64 games.

Needless to say, don't expect Kuo to be a contestant in any upcoming Home Run Derbies.

On to the card. Along with the underwhelming stats on the back, the front is...well..it just is. Above anything else, it is quite obvious that the image is "airbrushed" (this term is out-dated, but "photoshopped" is a bit too Microsoft-specific.). Sometimes it is easy to tell:

1. Hat - awkwardly placed, flat-lying "C".
2. Hat - Today's freshly-given-to-prospects caps would still lie rigid on a player's head, with an out of the box feel. This hat is flat reasonably broken-in, and does seem to have some dirt-staining on both the brim and body.
3. Missing Number.
4. Non-dimensional feel to "CINCINNATI" across chest. This was the giveaway. Notice how the middle "I" fits, literally, seamlessly.

Bowman tends to mail in a lot of their lesser-known prospect cards. Take for instance, Chad Jenkins, whom they could not even find a jersey for. Of course, an airbrushing endeavor turning a yellow Kennesaw State jersey into a black Jays jersey would be, well, difficult. I assume.

Though I have to give it to Kuo. He has excellent all-capital English penmanship. Cannot wait until I have bunch of his autos.

Jun 15, 2010

Fleer Ultra Through the Years

Fleer Ultra was always my favorite set. Every year, without a doubt. Inserts were attainable and interested (unlike, you know, Topps.) When game-used and autographs became the craze, Fleer Ultra did them well. Composition of the cards, labels and photography of Ultra were their strong points, and their soft points - well, there just weren't many, if any at all. Ultra provided an affordable set for people of all ages - it was modern, yet timeless. Tacky, but put together so perfectly. Fleer Ultra, I miss you every day. Please come back. In tribute to this wonderful brand, I am going to use CheckOutMyCards.com 's "Grab It" feature and show off one iconic Fleer Ultra card for every year, from 1991-2008.

1991, #296 - Ozzie Smith

1991 Ultra #296 - Ozzie Smith - Courtesy of CheckOutMyCards.com

1992, #45 - Sandy Alomar, Jr.

1992 Ultra #45 - Sandy Alomar Jr. - Courtesy of CheckOutMyCards.com

1993, #160 - Gary DiSarcina

1993 Ultra #160 - Gary DiSarcina - Courtesy of CheckOutMyCards.com

1994, #322 - Garret Anderson

1994 Ultra #322 - Garret Anderson - Courtesy of CheckOutMyCards.com

1995, #104 - Edgar Martinez

1995 Ultra #104 - Edgar Martinez - Courtesy of CheckOutMyCards.com

1996, #126 - Ken Griffey, Jr.

1996 Ultra #126 - Ken Griffey Jr. - Courtesy of CheckOutMyCards.com

1997, #140 - Ivan Rodriguez

1997 Ultra Gold Medallion #140 - Ivan Rodriguez - Courtesy of CheckOutMyCards.com

1998, #70 - Scott Rolen

1998 Ultra #70 - Scott Rolen - Courtesy of CheckOutMyCards.com

1999, #80 - Quinton McCracken

1999 Ultra #80 - Quinton McCracken - Courtesy of CheckOutMyCards.com

2000, #56 - Jose Lima

2000 Ultra #56 - Jose Lima - Courtesy of CheckOutMyCards.com

2001, #1 - Pedro Martinez

2001 Ultra #1 - Pedro Martinez - Courtesy of CheckOutMyCards.com

2002, #188 - Jason Giambi

2002 Ultra #188 - Jason Giambi - Courtesy of CheckOutMyCards.com

2003, #133 - Mike Mussina

2003 Ultra #133 - Mike Mussina - Courtesy of CheckOutMyCards.com

2004, #4 - Eric Byrnes

2004 Ultra #4 - Eric Byrnes - Courtesy of CheckOutMyCards.com

2005, #45 - Rocco Baldelli

2005 Ultra #45 - Rocco Baldelli - Courtesy of CheckOutMyCards.com

2006, #88 - Carlos Delgado

2006 Ultra #88 - Carlos Delgado - Courtesy of CheckOutMyCards.com

2007, #185 - Michael Young

2007 Ultra #185 - Michael Young - Courtesy of CheckOutMyCards.com

Plain Beautiful Cards: Volume 13 - 2004 Ultra Season Crowns Carlos Delgado

2004 Ultra Season Crowns Game Used Gold #115 - Carlos Delgado Jsy/99 - Courtesy of CheckOutMyCards.com

On Card Auto Hot Packs...

...seem a bit suspicious. Yesterday or maybe a few days prior, I was searching to see what loose packs of Bowman and Chicle were going for on eBay. Of course, there were more hot packs listed than anything else.

I have come to two possible conclusions for "On-card auto hot pack!!!!1" listings on eBay. These packs are either:

1. Opened & Re-sealed (or)
2. Hit distribution within boxes has become more and more predicatable.

Maybe, in a long shot, the cards are printed on a thicker stock, and the jackasses with analytic scales and micrometers are searching the packs this way. However, this would be made obsolete in 2010 Bowman retail (which are not transparent) packs, as a checklist card is seeded about once every five packs or so. Without a consistent average weight from pack-to-pack, I would think that weighing would be out of the question.

Jun 14, 2010

Gettin' Blasted: 2010 Bowman (Retail hit? Not Quite)

I had better luck with this particular blaster, in terms of prospects than any loose packs at this point. However, if you'll check the box to the top left detailing how many pack it takes until a Strasburg is pulled by me, you'll notice it is zero at this point. So if that's all you're here for, don't bother. Thirteen packs and counting...

On to the cards. If you follow this blog (and if you don't, why not?), you'll know of my affinity for 2010 Bowman. One reason is the photography:

Some great shots here with Mannywood (designed especially for the Night Owl), Kurt Suzuki (who's cards always look awesome) and Vic Martinez. Martinez's cards are usually well-done, also.

I enjoy parallels. Golds are fun, but the blues are useless to me. Aybar is featured here because that is what a card of a middle infielder should look. Romero is pictured because: 1) Awesomeness and 2) The card color and the matierial which make up his left arm are the same. Gold. Vazquez was actually a 1:3-4 blaster hit, seeded 1:29 packs and numbered out of /520. Definitely available for trade.

If you know how these packs play out, you know the chromes are next. And I finally got three big ones I'd been waiting for.
Big Chad from Kennesaw State, a new hotbed for MLB talent. I WILL have a rainbow of this card by the end of 2010, most likely by the end of summer.

Part one of the future of the Cubs infield - or someone elses. Last year he was often rumored in connection with Jays trades, but Halladay is gone, so our chance to land him is probably gone, plus the signing of Adeiny Hechevarria didn't help. This is the start of my hak-Ju Lee player collection! Weeee. (I collect Korean players.)
My name is Starlin Castro and I will be a perennial all-star short stop. Oh, and the other half of the previous card's opening statement.
I was really hoping Drew Pomeranz would slip to #11 for the Jays. No luck. 6'5" lefty with college seasoning...Team USA. Awesome fact from the back: "Fanned 16 Kentucky batters on two days rest in 2009 NCAA Tournament." Seriously, NCAA baseball is amazing.

And this guy:
Not drafted, committed to Rice. Hopefully they'll turn him into the next Jeff Niemann.

Oh yeah, seeded 1:8 packs is a...
PURPLEFRACTORRRRRR I love these so much. Much better than my Mike Lombardozzi from a couple weeks ago...

Now comes the hard part. I did not know this card existed until it fell out of the second to last pack. I'll start by saying I don't card for the Bowman Expectations cards. I like the Topps 100, and tolerate the 1992 Throwbacks, but I have a good amount of disdain towards the expectations. However, I pulled this one today, and I have to thank Bowman for it:
This mixed feeling are ripe, but I love this card. Kyle Drabek was to one player Jays fans and management were demanding in return for the Good Doctor. Although he is pictured in Phillies gear (is it airbrushed? Probably not), it's still Doc. My man. The best cut-fastball in the history of the game (bring it on, Pettitte/Rivera homers). I, in no way, expect Drabek to live up to greatest-of-a-generation-or-better status. I do, however, expect Drabek, Brett Wallace and D'Arnaud to become serviceable Jays down the road. This is also my first ever Kyle Drabek card (and maybe the only one in this set?!) and is the start of my second player collection from this box.

In summary, it was a good blaster. In combinations of Lee, Castro, Jenkins, Green, Romero, Pomeranz and Drabek/Halladay, it was great for me. The Bowman will keep flooding this blog until I find some A&G to chase.

Jun 11, 2010

Friday Rock Out: Hey Mercedes

Came out in 2003. Seems like so much longer ago...ENJOY.

Jun 9, 2010

One More Down...

2000 Metal Base Shredders
NNO Todd Helton
$2.50 Shipped

Still need Tony Gwynn, Vladimir Guerrero, Erubiel Durazo, Eric Munson...maybe more.

Here are the ones I have so far.
Mo Vaughn/Todd Helton
Troy Glaus/Matt Williams

Base Shredders were seeded 1:288 packs back in the day, so they were more than a case hit. Four Base Shredders would have taken 1152 packs. Not a whole lot of staying power in the price/card range. None of these has cost more than $4 off of eBay, though I can usually only get one every month or so.

One Card I Will Never Own (Part 1)

To forever live in infamy as "#661"

Jun 8, 2010

Draft Musings and Good, Good News

Last night, I watched the MLB Draft. And honestly, I really enjoyed it - aside from the raging hardon that John Hart just couldn't hide behind the MLB Network desk for every SAFE pick on the board. All told, it was an enjoying piece of television to fill my Blue Jays void from the night. (Luckily, Strasburg filled that void tonight, because 8-0 Rays is kind of making me sick right now.)

The Jays draft can be summed up in one word: Underwhelming. Virtually all mid-ceiling, John Hart-approved safe picks, and really no one incredibly impressive new Jays.

However, this is the state of the MLB Draft. It will never be as prospected as the NFL or NHL drafts. Much of this, of course, is due to the fact that in baseball, even after being drafted, a player still has to succeed in being promoted through 2-3 Low A teams, a High-A team, Double A, and finally Triple A before getting to the show. Needless to day, it takes a while to see the results of a draft. There is the Washington Nationals 2009 draft, though, that is an extreme exception with Storen and Strasburg already in the National League (and also, 5-0 Mike Leake in Cincinnati.)

Of course, all of the hype with this draft got me thinking of past Blue Jays drafts, and one #1 in particular, Dustin McGowan (2000).

Since signing on as a professional with the Jays in 2000 (it has now been a decade), Dustin McGowan is 20-22 with a 4.71 ERA in fragments of four injury-marred seasons from 2005-2008. I've stuck with my main man Dustin through the years, and last night read excellent news from the injury front..
According to Mike Rutsey of the Toronto Sun:

Right-handed pitcher Dustin McGowan (who is on the 60-day disabled list in his lengthy recovery from shoulder surgery performed in July of 2008) threw off the mound Monday for the first time since a triple-A spring training game March 19. McGowan threw 25 pitches in a bullpen session. Afterward he reported: “No problems.”

McGowan’s recovery has been an on-again, off-again misadventure for quite some time as last season he even missed time due to a knee injury that required surgery.

This spring, McGowan at one time was progressing so well that the Jays were talking about him breaking camp as one of the members of their rotation. Then came his outing in the spring training game against the Pirates affiliate where he experienced a “dead arm”. Now he is back and throwing but given his history and the problem with shoulder injuries there are no guarantees that he will make it back to the big-league level. The Jays have put no timetable on his latest recovery.

This isn't even news to most Jays fans at this point. I, myself will watch the news wire from here on, hoping for the day in which MLB's greatest chops will once again grace the league with mid-90's heat and knee-bending curves. Best of luck, Dustin.

Jun 7, 2010

2010 Upper Deck MLS Collation Issues

This is more of a warning on how to purchase these cards rather than advice as to not buying them. They're good cards...excellent set and checklist, along with amazing photography.

As some of you may have read in my previous post, I pulled a Landon Donovan Materials card in my first pack. I was hooked on the set after that. When I purchased that pack, I had just had a lengthy conversation with Wal-Mart's trading cards vendor, who was kind enough to open up a brand new box for me. The packs are stacked in-box in side-by-side, two columns of 10 packs, I believe, maybe 12. So I took two from the left and two from the right, or the top four packs in the box.

Today, after depositing my paycheck, I decided that the MLS cards go great with my 2010 Bowman collection, and decided to buy four more. The vendor was there again, just leaving this time. For some reason, he had opened up and set another box of UD MLS cards right next to the one I bought one week ago tomorrow. I decided to grab the top four packs again in hopes of pulling another relic or hit of some sort.

Mind you, last week I received NO doubles from my four packs. At the end of today, these are the quantities of my cards:

7 Justin Mapp - 1
9 Patrick Nyarko - 2
16 Jorge Flores - 1
17 Maykel Galindo - 1
21 Jesus Padilla - 1
23 Zach Thornton - 1
24 Mehdi Ballouchey - 1
28 Omar Cummings -1
32 Scott Palguta 2
35 Eric Brunner 1
37 Jason Garey 1
43 Chad Marshall 1
48 Clyde Simms 1
52 Tony Perkins 1
53 Chris Potius 1
57 Josh Wicks 2
60 David Ferreira 1
65 Heath Pearce 2
66 Dario Sala 1
71 Mike Chabala 1
76 Brian Mullan 1
77 Dominic Oduro 2
82 Kevin Hartman 1
86 Jack Jewsbury 1
93 Edson Buddle 2
103 Darrius Barnes 1
105 Shalrie Joseph 1
106 Jeff Laurentowicz 1
107 Kenny Mansally 1
112 Taylor Twellman 1
114 Danleigh Borman 1
115 Andrew Boyens 1
116 Kevin Goldthwaite 2
125 Andrew Jacobson 1
126 Sebastien Le Toux 1
131 Kyle Beckerman 1
134 Fabian Espindola 1
140 Robbie Russell 2
148 Chris Leitch 2
151 Chris Wondolowski 1
152 Osvaldo Alonso 1
158 Freddie Ljunberg 1
160 Sanna Nyassi 2
164 Nana Attakora 2
172 Nick Garcia 1
178 Ike Opara 1
186 Toni Stahl 1
190 Andrew Wiedman 2
191 Christiane 1

The italicized cards are actually inserted subsets.

So far I have pulled 12 doubles out of 8 packs. Whould you agree that there is a collation issue here?

Jun 6, 2010

4 Packs of 2010 Upper Deck MLS (Football Hit?!)

I was pretty excited to see these last Tuesday at the local (20 minute drive) Sprawl Mart. I had just deposited my first "summer" paycheck and written another for $130 in student loan repayments, so I felt like a dabble in cards was an excellent reward for myself. I decided that I would throw down $20, and for $19 I was able to purchase 4 packs of 2010 Upper Deck MLS, 3 Packs of 2010 Bowman Baseball, a three-pack of Extra Spearmint gum, Goya seasoning packets and a can of Hormel White Chicken Chili. Needless to say, even before checkout, I was In the Zone.

Once I got out to the Green Beret (Yes, I named my Jeep after the most bad-of-assery branch of the Marines) I couldn't compose myself, and started ripping packs. I ripped Bowman first, but everyone's seen those, so one to the MLS cards.

Yes, this was in the first pack:
With MLS cards still in their infancy, this is one of the best cards you can pull from this set. I was certainly very happy at this point. Immediately I thought of flipping it, but after letting it sink in as my first ever "hit" of any kind in football products, it now recides watching over me as I type. Probably the only cards that would top this one in the set would be some of the autographs or a multi-color piece of Landon's jersey. Apparently multi-colored swatches (not really patches) are short printed and say "Premium" in the white void in the top left.

About all I had hoped for in this pack was some Reds (Toronto FC). I did manage a few, but nothing especially awesome.
The design is ok. I do not believe, in any way, that it is a rip-off of 2010 Topps products. Similar, yes. But can we really call every set with "Player Name/Team" across the bottom a ripoff of 1957 Topps?

There's only a few ways to make a sports card.

The cards have the low-gloss feel of Upper Deck's efforts with the "First Edition" series. It was kind of disappointing, but it keeps a pack of 8 cards at $0.99, where pack prices should be.

The photography in this set, though I will admit my sample size was only 32 cards, is excellent. Check out this Kyle Beckerman:
Awwwwesome. I was pumped when Real Salt Lake won that game. I'm a big fan of anything-but-LA Galaxy.

Next we have a new representative of Team USA for this year's World Cup:
Yes, he is a Galaxy player, but he did some time with Toronto. OK in my book, and a Team USAer to boot.

I guess this would be the equivalent to Upper Deck hockey's Young Guns insert set, but sadly no John Tavares:
Ike was the #3 overall pick in this year's draft by the San Diego Earthquakes. A dreadful teams, let's see if he can help out this season. I pulled two of these, from the top 4 packs in the box, so I am assuming they are not difficult pulls.

Now, I know 90% of the readers of this blog are baseball followers, but I am hoping to spread the word of MLS cards to you. It's good stuff, so check it out for $.98/pack.

Jun 4, 2010

Are Printing Plates Worth It?

This ends within the next two days on eBay.

Dustin McGowan is my favorite player now with Halladay on the Candy Stripers and Marcum being a hard player to collect.

This is the first ever 1/1 McGowan I have ever seen, but I just cannot manage to consider it a true 1/1. I don't even consider it a real card, honestly.

Of course, I put a bid on it, mainly just a shot in the dark. It looks good for a printing plate (much better than the cyan and magenta plates will look) but still, printing plates are just not my style. I may up my bid and see if I can pull it off, but I just don't see it happening. Maybe I'll be lucky and a black one will come around.

But honestly, if I had to choose between 4 1/1 printing plates and true 1/1 parallel like a Carolina Brights, I'd take the true 1/1.


Blogger is having some problems, so click the link to see the card.

Jun 1, 2010

I Respect That

Amidst all of the mouth-foaming for Stephen Strasburg '10 Bowmans, I came across this beauty in my daily Base Shredders/Dustin McGowan/Shaun Marcum eBay searchings. I didn't attempt to bid on this one, but I am still happy to see it get the respect it deserves. With Marcum's season so far, it's amazing how a Strasburg Purple Refractor (#/999) is selling for the same amount of this Marcum Red Refractor AUTO RC....#'ed to /25.

Stay Tuned

The resurgent Adam Lind says stay tuned. I have a lot of (or one) posts planned, which may end up being anywhere between 1 and 5 posts. Maybe one will pop up tonight. If you just cannot stand to go without reading my disheveled thoughts until then...go here. And join that blog, too. We've got some ripping to do.