Friday, October 31, 2008

A Tribute to Box Toppers

Items perceived as value added content, be it autographed balls and mini caps from Topps Reserve to B18 felt "blankets" from Origins, to over sized box toppers the likes of the recent UD Masterpieces are something that the manufacturers have embraced to add variety and innovation to their product lines. I have always been a big fan of these and will periodically showcase some of my favorites.

First-up, my favorite; 2003 Absolute Memorabilia Signing Bonus

Extremely attractive; etched glass, inlaid on a wood base, with an engraved brass plate, containing a bat and jersey swatch of the depicted player, #'ed to 150!!

How cool is that! A sweet collectible brought to you by the folks at DLP for both baseball and football. Boxes of each can be found for an average of $150. I have seen them as low (sic) as $130 and as high as $230.

For those interested in locating one of their favorite player, a couple of tips. Search 2003 Absolute by sport desired and browse the listings. A lot of people don't realize that these pieces are referred to Signing Bonuses or Absolute Bonuses. Patience sifting through listings will help you find one at a better cost.

New eBay Tool

This would be great if it could be integrated right into the "Items I'm Watching" screen. I would definitley use this then as sometime when I'm traveling on business I forget to check my Watched Items. I hope eBay just buys this outright from them.

eBay Calendar Tool

We Can Put a Man on the Moon but . . .

. . . ebay can't update current listings will a new PayPal address.

If you ever change your ISP and subsequently you PayPal address, try and do yourself a favor and be sure you have no current items selling on eBay. What happens is your new email/PayPal address once changed, is not retroactive for current listings. When those listings end, and people make a payment through eBay/PayPal via pay now, the funds end up in cyberspace and are unclaimed. I have had to email about 8 people and ask them to cancel their payment and use PayPal's "Send Money" feature. Simple right? Well that depends on the computer literacy level of your buyer.

Arghghh, this has been such a pain. If you didn't know thought I'd pass it along so you can avoid similar frustration.

Thursday, October 30, 2008

Beckett (sucks) Alternatives

I was asked to allow a guest to post an article on VOTC and since I encourage all collectors to think outside the box when it comes to card value and pricing, the content of this article is extremely relevant. This is by no means an endorsement of either website referenced, instead I'll take the Fox approach and simply report and let you, the reader, decide for yourselves on whether or not these are resources that would be helpful in your own collecting endeavors.

The Hobby and the Economy

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

I'm Happy for Pat Burrell

Tagged too early in his career as under-achieving, Pat Burrel has turned into a consistent every day player for the only team he has ever been associated with. The franchise tried to build a winner around him when in reality his role was destined to be that of a best supporting actor. His career numbers are solid (see below) and Burrell has endured intense media scrutiny and fan scape-goating to help the Phillies become the 2008 MLB World Champions.

On the collecting front, his RC's are numerous and in my book, undervalued. His most desirable card is his 1999 Bowman Chrome which can be found readily available for a $1 despite booking (Beckett Sucks) for $10.

Here's to you Pat and the rest of the Phillies on a job well done, Salud!

Some Guy is Selling Rain From Game 5

I guess it takes all kinds.

I Have To Come Clean

I lied. I only got 40% on the basbeall card quiz. To all of my readers I apologize this has been the first, only, and last time I have ever fibbed on this blog. It will never, ever, ever happen again.

Wow I feel a lot better.

What kind of insecure loser must I be to lie on my own post?

The kind whose father would've grounded him for the semester with a grade like that.

Hmm, I have issues.


Cards I'd Like to See- Part 3

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

I LOVE THIS- A Book Value Quiz!!

Killing some time, sitting on hold, I found this while visiting one of my favorite new sites (new to me) Mental Floss, I found this awesome mini article from Jason English after recently purchasing his first price guide in 15 years.
Take the Baseball Card Book Value Quiz.

No cheating!!

Post your score in the comments. I only got 60%. But since you know how I feel about Beckett (Sucks), that's probably a good thing. LOL!

Monday, October 27, 2008

10% OFF eBay Purchase

Saw this on Sports Collector's Daily and thought if you hadn't seen it, you might have wished you had. Apparently they have a Fall Savings promo going on. Here is the link to get your coupon code.

Saturday, October 25, 2008

Feedback and Musings from the Junk Wax How To Video

Mario at Wax Heaven was kind enough to post my video on his blog/website. A reader left the following comment:

jl (14:50:37) :
here is what pisses me off about this video. I have been tring to put together sets of topps for my kids to show them history of topps. this guy is just burning them. Why not give them to kids to maybe jump start the hobby again for KIDS. I gave a lot of old doubles and non topps sets to kids in the neighborhood they were thrilled. I could not come to burning what at that time was my hard earned money.

Here was my response:

Lighten up dude!!
I have given away 10x this many cards to neighborhood kids. Make grab bags at Halloween. Have turned 3 nephews on to the hobby. So lighten up.
Tell you what, if you pay the Shipping and say $10 for my time. I’ll send you SEVERAL 5000 count boxes of this crap.
So are you going to put your money where your mouth is?

This got me to thinking about all the talk we here about "the kids. How the hobby doesn't do anything for the kids. How the manufacturers don't do anything for the kids. How not enough kids are joining the hobby. Yadda, yadda, yadda. The bottom line is that while this may or may not be true, like it or not, kids are growing up in a multi-media, computer savvy, social networking, electronic culture. I think the reason so many of us 30 and 40-somethings still collect or got back into collecting is because we never lost that little kid in us. Back when we thought baseball cards were cool, Atari's Pong and later Asteroids, Space Invaders, and Pac-Man were the only electronic entertainment and while it was certainly a fascinating novelty the level of entertainment for a kid today can't possibly compete or compare to Halo, Call of Duty, Gears of War, Madden etc.

While it is novel and good natured to share our love of sportscards with our children, very few of them will become the rapid junkies that most of us our with regards to The Hobby. Today, the minute a kid gets his hands on a PSP, Gameboy, MP3 player, XBox, PS3, their attention is going to be hard to refocus on the simplicity of a piece of carboard with an athlete's picture on it.

I am a set builder and when resources allow am working on attaining complete sets from my birth year, 1970, to the present. However, I have no interest in assembling sets by hand from 1980 to the present when complete sets in Mint condition can be purchase for a fraction of what you would pay individually let alone S/H. I buy those sets and focus my set building on sets from '79 that are more of a challenge, particularly '70-'73. So jl, I'm serious if you get your kicks in the hobby by building junk wax sets that's your thing. I'm just tired of this garbage taking up space in my house. So I will put an official halt to the Junk Wax How To video series (the next episode is how to use 800 count boxes of junk wax as wall insulation) for 1 week so you can take me up on my offer. My junk wax is your jl. Your move.

Friday, October 24, 2008

Now this is an Accomplishment

Go to Google and type in "Beckett Sucks". Go ahead, I'll wait.
Boo-yeah!! Look at that! #1 and #2 natural search rankings!!

The Latest from . . .

Beckett Still Sucks!!
Curious to know if they have fixed their aweful new site, yet I was very suprised to find this >>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>

I did a quick screen grab AFTER the page finished loading. What is with the double image of the leaderboard? They still haven't figured out their horizontal navigation bar either, as every button drops the last letter or 3 to the next line. Finally, you gotta love the SunMaid Raisins pop-up. When trade specific publishing companies start utilizing non-endemic advertising it is usually a sign that they can't get their existing print advertisers to incorporate online media into their marketing mix. Trust me, I work for a publishing company and it is the biggest challenge we face as well. As print revenue declines, electronic revenue HAS to increase or . . . you're out of business.

They are actually very prevelant on the whole site as here is another non-endemic ad in their leaderboard position on the Marketplace portal. I wanted to see if the funtionality had changed with the new "Beta" version. Apparantely it has because imagine my suprise when my search for Danica Patrick resulted in this:
Topps Chrome Football, Allen & Ginter, Bowman Chrome Baseball. I had no idea she was in those products!!
It really is amazing what a colossal mess they have made of their web presence.

Thursday, October 23, 2008

Donruss Americana Sports Legends Preview and Commentary

Thanks to the folks at The Cardboard Connection who were the first to scoop the December release of Donruss' latest Americana offering, Sport Legends. Now for my own 2 cents.

I have mixed feelings about this product. My first reaction was that this was a blatant rip-off of Dr. Brian Price's now famous, SportKings line. However, impersonation IS the highest form of flattery. I L-O-V-E multi-sport products. UD Superstars was a great idea but needed some improvements as I have previously mentioned. That is why I really loved the fact that the legendary SportKings cards were revitalized last year. I certainly can't afford to buy this product by the box but singles are affordable and readily available on eBay.

After my initial reaction I kind of got excited because I realized that Americana Sports Legends will be a product I can afford. As a retired player product aficionado, this is right up my alley.

Can't Wait!!

SP Authentic Baseball Review

Guest Review: Russ at Card Corner Club

SP Authentic Baseball Has What Autograph Collectors are Looking For
For years I have looked forward to this release because it was always known for some of the best autograph pieces on the planet. This year’s version is no different as you will soon see when I reveal the contents of my box.


Well look at that . . .

. . . great minds think alike I guess.

However, this card would be 10x cooler if they had used my text.

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Cards I'd Like to See Produced- Part 1

Ok Topps, UpperDeck, Donruss, no need to hire high-priced consultants, conduct ambiguous focus groups, send spies to message boards, blogs, and hobby shops looking for new ideas. With that in mind here are some of the types cards I'd like to see produced with various SP variations. Here is part one of a recurring project. Enjoy!

*NOTE* I am not a graphic artist proficient in Quark, Photoshop or the like, so do not slam my creative abilities, consider these story-board like mock-ups.

I have never seen a card of Nolan Ryan, or any other player for that matter, containing a game used patch from each of the teams he played for. Wouldn't player collectors love this?!?! I know I would.

The Long Awaited Junk Wax How To

Monday, October 20, 2008

Card Corner Radio- Another Reason Beckett Sucks

I have been working with the team over at Card Corner Club and Sportsology for about 31/2 years now. During that time span I have participated in a handful of radio shows, attended several shows, have written dozens of original articles, box breaks and reviews.

Card Corner Club has been the original "Voice of the Collector" and the main Beckett (Sucks) alternative for almost 10 years. Averaging almost 1.2 million hits per year, with hundreds of thousand of unique vistors, they've been telling it like it is and looking out for you, the collector, longer than anybody. In fact it was when I got back into collecting in 2000 that I came across them and found their unbiased and honest reviews crucial in deciding what to purchase from the myriad plethora of product available. It was also Card Corner that helped me find my "Voice" in the hobby.

They were also the first and longest running, nationally accessible, hobby collectibles radio podcast, unlike the claims (read: outright lies) made by Beckett (Sucks) almost 2 years ago now. If you are a collector, and haven't ever listened to any of of these FREE downloadable MP3 radio shows, you don't know what you are missing. We routinely have some of the biggest names in sports and the hobby as guests.

A link and synopsis of the latest show:

October 19th, 2008 - Join Russ Cohen and Nikco Riesgo for a playoff-filled episode of "The Game". Russ argues that if Boston won Game 6 that...And Nikco argued that there should be one manager of the year. Our special guest is Don Gibson, former head of Major League Baseball Properties and former COO of the Basketball Hall of Fame, who makes his living predicting such matters. He's now CEO of Dreier Sports Opportunities, a division of Dreier LLP, one of the nation's leading law firms. Click here you won't be sorry.

Guest Review: Valerie Wood

Press Pass VIP 2008 is yet another offering from the folks at Press Pass, who are determined to issue an ever expanding array of racing cards on a regular basis. The good news is that this set is handsome, well-designed, and fans should be pleased with the contents. Still more memorabilia cards and inserts have been devised to provide additional chase cards. Autographed cards are still the main draw for card collectors and this set includes an abundance. One box should yield at least one autographed card OR memorabilia card. In addition, the 'mix' in VIP 2008 was vastly improved from some other offerings by Press Pass this year -- only two duplicate cards were found in the box I reviewed, and 80 of the 90 base cards were accounted for.


2008-09 O-Pee-Chee Hockey Review

Guest Review: Russ Cohen

Retro is in at least that’s what I keep telling myself since my last birthday. This hockey release is loaded with retro possibilities and the fact that there are autographed buybacks to be had is pretty exciting!


Saturday, October 18, 2008

Alexei Cherepanov's Passing Saddens, Players, Collectors and Manufacturers

Guest Blog: Russ Cohen October 15th, 2008
When I heard the news I was stunned. He was such a bright light and in 2007 he had a crowd of reporters around him, at the NHL Entry Draft when the New York Rangers selected him with the 17th overall pick. At that point there was the notion that he took a bit of a fall, but Angelo Esposito dropped to 20th (after starting off the rankings at #1 and ending at #8), so it wasn’t unprecedented. He was the top ranked European heading into the draft, according to Central Scouting but there was no transfer agreement in place and that was the big factor.


Catch Russ Cohen and Shane Malloy on XM Hockey Prospect Radio and The Business of HockeyXM (204)/Sirius (208) shows on Saturday Noon-2 and Sunday 4-6 EST with some surprise guests.

2008 Upper Deck Black Hockey Delivers Some Big Hits

Guest Blog: Russ Cohen October 12th, 2008

This is a sleek looking product that has a price tag of over two hundred dollars so the hits have to come and they must be good to justify the sticker price. Collectors will get two packs and four cards. So how did I do?


Thursday, October 16, 2008

Who am I?

Storied Franchise History
Flamboyant Meddling Owner
Media Circus
Under Achieving
Multiple Championships
Large Market
Monumental Payroll

The Dallas Cowboys are officially the Yankees of the NFL.

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

As a collector, what has been you "best" pull?

For me this is easy.

2004 Donruss Throwback Threads

Babe Ruth Dual Game Used Jersey-Bat serial numbered 7 of 10!!

I still remember that day. My inlaws were in town and I was home from work before my wife. We were planning to go out to dinner that night so to kill time I decided to open the package that UPS had delivered that day from Dave and Adams Cardworld.
I was about 7 packs into the box and I was thumbing through the next pack I made a loud gasp and about gave my mother-in-law, who was reading the paper at the table with me, a heart-attack. My hands were little trembling as I held it.
What about you guys?

Monday, October 13, 2008

Gellman Forgot One

Talk about great minds thinking alike. Sports Cards Uncensored's recent post about online resources for acquring cards en masse was dead on. I was actually drafting a post about this very topic. The way I look at it is he only forgot one, but because it is operated on a smaller scale and without much noteriety in the hobby, it's understandable.

Bargain Baseball Cards is an excellent source for low cost set and player collectors. The person who runs the site, Chris Mann, is a very professional and reliable individual. His website has helped me to inexpensively complete dozens of sets and I have been using his service for years.

Because the site is entirely searchable by set, year and player, it makes it easy to locate that key card you might be missing for your collection.


All of Bear fandom knew what the right call should have been. When you are protecting a 1-point lead, in a game, where a field goal can beat you . . . . YOU DON'T SQUIBB KICK THE BALL!! YOU KICK IT OUT OF THE STADIUM!! When you are down by a 10 points,need 2 scores, with plenty of time on the clock . . . . KICK THE FIELD GOAL!!!

Lovie Smith had former Bears defensive coordinator Ron "Chico" Rivera fired so he (Lovie) could run his style of defense. IT CLEARLY ISN"T WORKING!!!

Papa Bear Halas and Walter Payton are freaking out in their graves.

Decision making is obviously not his best characteristic.



Sunday, October 12, 2008

Things That Make You Go Huh??

Wouldn't this card have been WAY cooler if Piazza was pictured in a Dodgers uniform also? Also, instead of 2000's on both sides, on Piazza's side it could have said 1990's, creating a passing of the torch kinda theme. Piazza played 83 games as an A. Why bother?

Saturday, October 11, 2008

Real Value vs Book Value- The Continuing Saga

It's time for another round of . . .
What's It Really Worth?, where we dispel the mythology of Real Value vs. Book Value.

Now, let's introduce our contestants and, say it with me folks, will the real card’s value please stand up?!?

Item: 2007 Topps Sterling Mickey Mantle Card 13 #'ed78/250
Date sold: October 9th
Book Value: $5-12.00
Real Value: $2.99 (My sale)

Item: 2003 UD SPx Austin Kearns Game Used Jersey Auto #'d 964
Date sold: NA
Book Value: $15.00

Real Value: $0 Listed 2x minimum bid $2.99

Item: 2008 Triple Threads Paul Molitor Auto Game Used #'d 7/9
Date sold: September 20th
Book Value: No Pricing Due to Scarcity
Real Value: $31.00

Item: 2004 Leaf Certified Materials Wade Boggs Jersey Auto #d 10
Date sold: September 14th
Book Value: No Pricing Due to Scarcity
Real Value: $18.49

Item: 2005 UD Hall of Fame Johnny Mize Game Used #'ed 1 of 1
Date sold: September 14th

Book Value: No Pricing Due to Scarcity
Real Value: $75.55

Item: 2005 UD Hall of Fame Rogers Hornsby Game Used #1/15
Date sold: September 14th
Book Value: No Pricing Due to Scarcity
Real Value: $20.49

Well there you have it. Join us next time for, What's it Really Worth?

Friday, October 10, 2008

Baseball Cards- Evolution and Innovation through the Years- Part 2

Following Post cereal's exit from the baseball card business in the late 60's, Kellogg's immediately jumped in to fill the void. Starting in 1970 Kellogg's produced a first of its kind product with the 3-D baseball card. The Baseball Card Almanac currently catalogues 15 different sets produced between 1970 and 1983, a single set for every year besides 1972 in which the company released a second 15-card set titled All-Time Baseball Greats.

Featuring posed shots of the era's greatest players including Willie Mays, Frank Robinson, Willie McCovey, Pete Rose, Brooks Robinson, Ernie Banks, Billy Williams and more. The inaugural issue and its subsequent follow-up in 1971 were the largest sets containing a checklist of 75 total cards. the 3-dimensional technology was rather simple and with the card held in hand at just the right angle it really did make the player's image "pop" off the card. Singles, complete sets, and entire set runs are very affordable and are in abundance. PSA poulation reports indicate that some of the cards from '70-'74 are seeing a steady increase in submissions for grading as collectors realize these cards are approaching 40 years old and were produced in much smaller quantities than Topps from the same years.

Following the exit of Kellogg's from the market in 1983, the 3-D baseball card saw a couple of year hiatus until a new company emerged in 1985 called Sportsflic unveiling their "Magic Motion" technology with 9 promo and prototype cards. The prototypes were apparantly well received in the market as the following year, 1986, saw the release of a whopping 200-card set. While not technically 3-D by definition, the pictures of player depicted on the card were shot with a ultra-fast shutter speed to capture numerous movements of the player. The company produced a total of 4 sets in the '80's with it's final year being in 1988 with an even larger 225-card set. As you might expect from a product released in the over-production era, plenty examples exist on the secondary market including entire cases. Before we got spoiled with rich-media, multi-media, the DirectTV Extra Innings Package, ESPN and other venues, the idea of a card that depicted your favorite player actually swinging during an at bat or throwing a strike out of the stretch was VERY COOL.

This "Magic Motion" technology would later be utilized by an additional new-comer to the market, Score, which utilized it for their World Series History Trivia cards in the late '80's and early '90's. In an interesting irony the two original innovators, Kellogg's and Sportsflics collaborated for another go at the concept in 1992.

Stay Tuned for Part 2-A, Holograms

Thursday, October 9, 2008

YES- FINALLY!! Are you ready for some hockey?

The only good thing about having both my MLB teams out of the post-season is that I will have no conflict watching opening night festivities of the NHL tonight. (Yes I know there were regular season games played in Europe last weekend, but that doesn't count.)

Tonight kicks-off with a clasic match between the Broad St Bullies from Philadelphia versus Sid the Kid and cast from the Pittsburgh Penguins. You have to learn to walk before you can run and that's the attitude of this year's Penguins who are looking at a chance to get back to the Stanley Cup Finals after being ousted by the hated Detroit Redwings.

Tomorrow night, my beloved Blackhawks begin their attempt at a return to glory and the post-season. Loaded with young talent, bolstered by solid veterans and coached by Hall of Famer Dennis Savard, the Roar is back and I can't wait.

Here is a list of who and when your team plays:

OMG- This is a joke right?!?!

$1.75M for a card pricing website?

Crap, this takes book value atrocity to a whole other level.

See the complete auction listing here

This is the kind of journalism we expect

I have to give credit where credit is due because it has been very easy to criticize the outdated models in which the hobby's instituitional media seemingly still operate.

This article by Steve Kelhofner is an informative piece of journalism and reflects an area of expertise that SCD has been known for in the past.

It would be very difficult for a small-time blogger to have the time and/or resources to publish this story first hand.

Judge Rules Memorabilia Cards Patents Invalid

Tuesday, October 7, 2008

The Fielder's Choice Trade

Well I have to hand it to Dave's (Fielder's Choice) Tampa Bay Ray's. They really handed it to my White Sox and deserve to be in the position they are in now.

My first cyber-trade was recently transacted with Dave, which he detailed in a recent post. So imagine my suprise when I received a second bubble mailer containing these two cards;

I really wish all the "book-value" morons I have attempted to trade with at my local cardshop could have been privy to the simplicity of this trade, that basically went like this;

"Hey Dave, wanna trade for those 2 Chicago game-used from your Goudey case break?

"Yeah sure, let me know what Rays of Prince Fielder stuff you have."

Knowing Dave is a HUGE Ray's fan it only made sense to send him the Ray's Topps Big Stix as a throw-in, right? It wasn't part of the deal, but honestly, I didn't want them and knew he would.

What's Dave do in return? Sends these 2 cards he knows I'll like.

Dave you have given hope to an old cynic and restored my notation and understanding of what "trading" is supposed to be all about.

Go Rays!

Monday, October 6, 2008

Baseball Cards- Evolution and Innovation through the Years- Part 1

A lot of time is spent on blogs and message boards lamenting and slamming the manufacturers for a host of real or perceived deficiencies. The list of accused transgressions ranges from lack of creativity, plagiarism, use of repetitive photography, poor photography, bad design, over-production, over-priced, under-value delivery to lack of innovation.

It is that last point that I’d like to comment on. I’m not here in any way, shape or form to defend or serve as an advocate for the card companies. However, sometimes I think they take a little too much unrealistic heat on the criticism for lack of innovation. Basically, how many things can you do to a trading card? A trading card is really nothing more than a piece of cardboard with pictures and text printed on it.

With that in mind let’s review some of the attempts to diversify the trading card genre through the years. For the purposes of this post, we will ignore most inserts in all their infinite varieties; stickers, tattoos, over-sized, reprints, buy-backs, etc. The majority of these still fit the basic definition of a trading card.

In researching the topic I found 7 true innovations to the genre.

“Talking” Sports Cards

3-D Cards

Hologram Cards

Autograph Cards

Multi-Media Cards

Relic Cards

DNA Cards
As early as 1964, a company called Auravision produced a product resembling a square 45 record that actually played on a turntable and depicted a full color picture of the player. Examples are available on eBay for about $8.00 and the player checklist includes such greats as Frank Robinson and Warren Spahn to name a few. About 15 years later a company by the name of CMC replicated the idea with a larger 331/3 rpm standard album sized “card” and titled the product “Great Moments in Sports History”. Collectors could re-listen to the actual game calls from such historic moments as Reggie Jackson’s 3 home runs in the World Series, Don Larsen’s perfect game and Carlton Fisk’s “nearly foul” home run in Game 6 of the ’75 Series against the Reds.

The late Seventies also saw a company called 1979 United Press International, in conjunction with Microsonics Corporation issued the unique "Living Sound" cards. Each card could be inserted into a special player that would then play actual moments in sports history. For 6.95 one could purchase a set of 10 of these sound cards which were a mix of all sports including Olympics. There were two sets of sports events one called Sports Nostalgia and the other Great Moments in Sports. These cards measure 5" x 2 3/4" with a 2" square clear plastic record on the back.

Skip ahead about 10 years when the grand-daddy of them all, Topps, replicated this idea with its own style of player. Called SportsTalk, collector’s inserted the approximately 5”x7” card into the player to hear a recorded interview. The player and cards can be found on occasion through eBay and you can expect to pay anywhere between, $10-$30, depending on if the player is boxed and how many cards are bundled into the lot and its overall condition.

The birth of the low-cost microchip in the early Nineties saw new entries into this product category by both ProTalk and Fanatics, non-traditional trading card companies attempting to put a new spin on an old product. Each “card” was also packaged with a mini cardboard cut-out standee of the player. Originally sold thru various retail channels examples from both manufacturers are easily found online for at or below their original SRP.

Next segment will focus on 3-D and Hologram cards.

Topps 2008-09 Basketball Review

Gas was $.24c a gallon, milk a $1.01, you could by a top of the line fully optioned car for under $4,000. Sounds like a dream right? Well keep in mind the average household income was also a paltry $4,650 per year. In the world of basketball the NBA was in its 13th season that culminated in the Boston Celtics sweep of the Minnesota Lakers in the Finals in route to their first of 8 consecutive titles for Red Auerbach and Bill Russell. Their opponent featured another future Hall of Famer in Elgin Baylor.

Fast forward 50 years, and obviously, a lot has changed in America. However, one thing that hasn’t is America’s love of basketball. 2008-09 Topps Basketball pays tribute to this special season that set the mark for future franchises and dynasties to be compared. Included at a rate of 1:2 packs is a ’58-’59 variation. These cards really highlight the entire product and are utilized for relic and autograph cards also.

Friday, October 3, 2008

Samples- Big Stix

For those of you who have requested BigStix samples, most have been sent out except for requests received in the last week or so. I have fallen a little behind but will try to get caught up this weekend.

All of Chicago is Depressed Today

You can actually feel it.

As a bi-Sox-ual Cubs fan (meaning I’m not from the city proper and don’t have to pick a team based on geographical proximity, thereby making me a Chicago fan), it has been a complete let down to have watched a combined total of 324 regular season games only to have both teams lay complete eggs in their first efforts of the 2008 Playoffs.

Ryan Dempster, with a home record of 14-3, was to provide a tone setting first game performance with his level-headed, even keeled approach to the game. He set the tone alright, throwing a season high 7 walks in route to a lack-luster 4 and 2/3 innings pitched allowing a total of 4 earned runs on 4 hits. Prior to the start of the series, Cubs manager Lou Pinella, stated that, “in order for them to be successful in the first round their starters had to go deep.” Which is kind of a misnomer because for the Cubs starting rotation, going deep has meant about 6 innings on average.” This worked just fine during the regular season with a typical bullpen outing consisting of; 7th and 8th innings Carlos Marmol and Jeff Samardzija, and then Kerry Wood to close in the ninth.

Subsequently in Game 2, the easily rattled Carlos Zambrano pitched a decent game allowing only 2 earned runs despite having his normally reliable defense pick the worst opportunity to boot the ball around the infield. Sure handed Mark Derosa missed a play that should have lead to an inning ending double play, followed shortly by multiple time gold glover Derek Lee mishandle a play at first, allowing an additional run to score. Despite all of this, Zambrano maintained his composure, remarkably, but couldn’t get any run support.

The Cubs are being beaten at their own game; solid starting pitching, deep, reliable bull-pen, timely hitting, and power to all fields resulting in a 0-2 deficit and being outscored 17 to 5.

I had friends at the game last night and they said it was so quite at times that you could hear the echoes of the beer vendors from various locations in the stadium.

Meanwhile the Sox are very, very lucky just to be in the Playoffs. They squeaked by a younger and more talented Twins team only to face a team better than the Twins but built much like them. The Rays play baseball with sound fundamentals and consistently do all the little things necessary to win. The Sox on the other hand, are a bunch of aging, veteran sluggers, well past their prime, who have the team speed of a snail.

Based on what I have seen so far, it’s quite possible that all of Chicago could be watching a combined 6 and done.

So much for this year, being the year Cubs fans, take a Xanax and put on your earplugs as the fat lady appears to be waiting in the wings.

Maybe it is true . . .

Thursday, October 2, 2008

UDX Review

Sticking to the mantra that every card release has its good points and bad points and yet maintaining my integrity to call ‘em like we see ‘em, quite simply put, on a whole, UDX is a dud. I’d really like to keep to the saying, “If you don’t have anything nice to say . . . .”, but I don’t think it would serve the best interests of the collector. So instead I’ll break this review down into four parts; the good, the bad, the ugly, and the pulls.

The Good:
The eXponential Dimensional inserts. Featured in 4 different variations; X, X2, X3, X4 are inserted at a rate of one per pack. The X version is the most common with X4 having been printed in such quantities that they fall at a rate of only 1 per box. The metallic, foil-like finish showcases a bold design with a close-up action shot and a complex montage of the letter X.

The autographed card design of UDX Signatures utilizes a very tasteful way to display the sticker autographs so that they almost blend into the card and are hardly recognizable as stickers. This was VERY well executed and all future brands, from any company, should take a cue from this offering.

The Bad:
The 1 per pack die-cut X inserts look just like the base cards but have simply been die cut. Poorly at that, with every single X insert having “hanging chad” like notches still intact at the top and bottom of the X. I can’t believe I’m about to say this but it would have been better if they had been serial numbered to something simple like 199. Quite honestly the design and execution just look lazy as if somebody simply took a bunch of the base cards and hacked them into the shape of an X.

The two-per box autographs I can only characterize as, why bother? Of the 30 players included in the checklist only UD spokesmen Ken Griffey Jr. and Derek Jeter are household names, the rest, are mostly, as yet unproven up-and-comers with no name recognition, the exceptions being those of Evan Longoria, Ian Kennedy, Clay Buchholz and Alexei Ramirez.

The Ugly:
It was very hard to decide which card to list as ugly vs. bad, they are equally interchangeable. However, the base cards are just an eyesore. Think 1990 Topps ugly. Someone in the design department has a very unhealthy obsession or fixation on the letter X which is used in some sort of repetitive pattern in the backdrop.

The Pulls:
UDX signatures of Jonathan Albaladejo and Evan Meek. Albaladejo’s Wikipedia entry states, “Albaladejo was selected by the San Francisco Giants in the 34th round (1021st overall) of the 2000 amateur entry draft, but didn't sign. The following year he was selected by the Pittsburgh Pirates in the 19th round (564th overall), and signed on June 6, 2001. He spent a number of years in the minors in the Pirates system as a starting pitcher, and then in 2005 was converted to a reliever. On May 3, 2007 he was signed to a minor league contract by the Washington Nationals, and played most of the season at AA Harrisburg, compiling a 4.17 earned run average in 21 appearances. He moved up to AAA Columbus and finished the season extremely well, posting an ERA of 0.78 in 14 appearances. When rosters expanded in September, the Nationals, then leading the league in innings pitched by relievers, brought him up.”

Meek’s Wikipedia entry is similar, “Meek made his major league debut on April 2, 2008 with the Pittsburgh Pirates. He would record his first career loss in extra innings against the Chicago Cubs on April 7, 2008. Meek made nine relief appearances, going 0-1 with a 6.92 ERA, before being designated for assignment on May 4, 2008. He was offered back per Rule V guidelines on May 14. The Pirates paid cash to keep him and sent him down to their minor league teams. After pitching 9 games with the Double-A Curve, Meek was promoted to the Triple-A Indianapolis Indians.”

Damage Report: Besides the “hanging chads”, none.

Favorite Card(s): X3-DL Derek Lee

Wednesday, October 1, 2008

Well How Did I Do- MLB Picks

In February on Card Corner Club I made my pre-season MLB predictions.

AL East
AL Central
AL West
NL East
NL Central
NL West

50/50, 50% or .500

Now for my post-season predictions

American Leauge
Division Series
Tampa over the White Sox in 4
Angels over the Red Sox in 5

Angels over Tampa in 6

National Leauge
Division Series
Cubs over Dodgers in 4
Phillies over the Brewers in 5

Cubs over the Phillies in 7

World Series
Angels over the Cubs in 6

I Hate People

OK, maybe that's a bit strong. I don't hate people . . . actually I like the concept of people, but somehow, someway, people always seems to ruin that concept.

Case in point:

A recent sale I made on eBay has resulted in a dispute being filed by the seller through PayPal.

The complaint- Item not as described.

The buyer said that 200 or more of the cards from an assorted lot of NFL Kickoff have dinged corners.

A look at my feedback indicates never a problem with condition. Also, I know for a fact, that after busting and reviewing the box I carefully put the just opened cards in a 300 count box.

I always list my cards an NMMT+ to Mint or better. Most of the stuff you pull from a pack is Mint but I learned my lesson with a previous a*#hole and now am more general. There are way too many nitpickers out there.

So because the cards are damaged he files the "Item significantly not as described" complaint.



I make insurance optional on every listing

Guess what? This guy didn't buy insurance and is trying to blame me for his damaged product.

I hate people.

Debut of Back on Topps

Michael Eisner's first multi-media endeavor in the world of baseball cards debuts this week. I have not seen the first episode yet but I did see the trailers when it was first announced. I'm not exactly sure how I definitively feel yet. Part of me thinks its hokey but part of me also congratulates Topps on doing SOMETHING, ANYTHING, to breathe new life into the hobby.

You can check out the first episode here.

Back on Topps: Episode One