Friday, June 27, 2008

Busting and Busting - Part One

So, I splurged on a couple of new packs at Target the other night while I was purchasing some swim diapers for my daughter. Broke down and bought an Upper Deck Series 2 pack as well as a Topps Series 2 Jumbo. Did I get anything good? Let’s see:

2008 Upper Deck Series 2 Baseball Retail Pack

  • 449 Scott Hatteberg – Reds
  • 439 J.D. Drew – Red Sox
  • 605 Jimmy Rollins – Phillies
  • 474 Paul Byrd - Indians
  • 558 Derrick Turnbow – Brewers
  • 509 Matt Treanor – Marlins
  • 575 Endy Chavez – Mets
  • 658 Adam Kennedy – Cards
  • 606 Pedro Felix – Phillies
  • 669 Edwin Jackson – Rays
  • 630 Mark Prior – Padres
  • 515 Miguel Tejada – Astros
  • 775 Troy Tulowitzki – Rockies team
  • 716 Kyle McClellan – Cards RC
  • 738 Greg Maddux – Padres Season Highlights
  • 761 Andruw Jones – Dodgers team
  • HB-8 Hanley Ramirez - Marlins Hit Brigade
  • SQ-56 Randy Johnson – D-Backs StarQuest Common

Yeah, I’ll call this pack a big fat ZERO. Oh sure, Miguel Tejada is always nice, and I kind of dig the design on the Target Exclusive Hit Brigade insert (and I think I know who I can trade him to) , but no Angels and only a cruddy RC makes this a ONE-STAR pack at best. Perhaps I’ll have better luck with the Topps pack. Oh and I’m no longer listing the positions for UD cards, because I can’t read the damn foil plate on front and they don’t list the position on the back.

2008 Topps Series 2 Retail Jumbo Pack

  • 520 Vernon Wells OF Blue Jays
  • 406 Takashi Saito P Dodgers
  • 422 Erick Aybar 2B ANGELS!
  • 659 Vicente Padilla P Rangers
  • 513 Rick Vandernhurk P Marlins
  • 480 Matt Cain P Giants
  • 629 Eric Chavez 3B A’s
  • 453 Josh Fogg P Reds
  • 388 Jorge Cantu 2B Marlins
  • 455 Derek Jeter SS Yankees
  • 501 Elliot Johnson 2b Rays RC
  • 346 Adam Everett SS Twins
  • YR92 Dan Haren gets 10 consecutive wins
  • 493 Steve Holm C Giants RC GOLD #0031/2008
  • 626 Mike Redmond C Twins
  • 409 Jason Giambi DH Yankees
  • 570 Homer Bailey P Reds
  • 495 James Shields P Rays
  • 397 Brian Wilson P Giants
  • 550 Curt Schilling P Red Sox
  • 396 Randy Johnson P D-Backs
  • 548 Garrett Olson P Orioles
  • 390 Troy Glaus 3B Cards
  • 430 Ryan Braun Brewers
  • 439 Josh Hamilton OF Rangers
  • 551 Erick Threets P Giants RC
  • 502 Alex Cora SS Red Sox
  • 583 Nick Punto 3B Twins
  • 554 Joe Borowski P Indians
  • 442 Luis Gonzalez OF Marlins
  • Checklist 3 of 4
  • 579 Jesse Litsch P Blue Jays
  • 497 Cla Meredith P Padres
  • 637 Jose Castillo 2b Marlins
  • 341 Daniel Cabrera P Orioles
  • 622 Jorge de la Rosa P Royals
  • 609 Ted Lilly P Cubs
  • Get Grades Junk

Geeze, it’s really too bad I’m not a Marlins collector, because I count FOUR of them above, and only ONE Angel? Call me crazy too, but for the equivalent of three packs of cards, I would expect at least three inserts, but here I got two. Heck I’ve gotten regular packs with two inserts, and these weren’t that special either. So while this pack is good, it’s not great, and I’m left saying to myself “Well, that splurge was a bust”. Realize for the 8 dollars I paid for 54 cards, I could have spent two more and gotten a mini-blaster with 3 special cards of Topps Series 2, OR I could have ventured to my hobby store and bought 4 packs of Topps and gotten MUCH better inserts. These packs, quite frankly, blew.

Saturday, June 21, 2008

Adventures in eBay - Part 1 of an Ongoing Saga

Good morning, and it's a fine Saturday out on the left coast. It's not too terribly hot outside (yet), and the day is fresh and new. Time for a new blog entry.

Today I'll look at the wonderful cards that you can get on the largest of the large auction sites, eBay. One way to be a budget card collector is to narrow your focus to exactly what you want, and only buy those cards. For example, my primary focus in Baseball are Angels players. You may think that's not that small of a subset of Baseball cards, and indeed it isn't. There's 30 teams in MLB, so my direct interest is 1/30th of all of the cards out there today. Of course, I can't actually afford all of the possible Angel cards on eBay, so I try to focus a bit more when shopping. Of course, I have a favorite player, currently that's Vladimir Guerrero, and since he's a super-star in the elite tier of super-stars, there's an AWFUL lot of Vladdy cards available (currently over 500 different auctions). Of that number, I instantly discount any auction that starts at more than a certain amount, which for me is really, really low, say $2.00.

Sticking to a budget on eBay is no easy task because of the inherent flaws in the auction system you are almost forced to pay more than you really want to some of the time. Fortunately, not all of the time, and deals galore can be had all day long, IF you look for them. Don't forget that when you do a search on eBay you can sort the results by a number of different factors, the two best are "ending soonest" and "lowest price+shipping". Using those two sorts you can find all sorts of juicy goodness at el-cheapo prices.

Here's what I have purchased in the last couple of months, with actual prices.

2008 UD Premier Vladimir Guerrero Premier Stitchings PSTI-VG 14/25.

In budget collecting you really need to strike while the iron is hot. When UD Premier hit the street back in late March these cards were all over eBay, now they've dried up and you can't even find anything similar for a reasonable price. This one cost me $0.99 plus $3.00 for shipping. This set was outrageously expensive at retail, with ONE pack boxes going for $220 to $300! Sure, you got seven cards in a pack and they were all supposed to be "hits", but give me a break, when am I EVER going to be able to spend that much on a single pack of cards? I can buy a freaking Nintendo Wii for that price. The crazy thing is, while this card looks fantastic in a picture, it's not that great in person. The "patch" really isn't a patch, it's a nice large swatch with an Angel logo, but that's about it. It's not a real-game used swatch (as most of Upper Deck's swatches aren't specifically game used these days), this one was actually "Created" for the card. Authentic? Nope. Nifty? Sure. Worth four bucks? Absolutely. Worth $40? Nope. Where'd $40 come from? $282 list price for the pack divided by 7. It's early in the morning but I can still do math.

The sad thing is that there are variants of these as well with personalized "logos" that UD came up with for the players. Vladdy's is quite nice with a "Vlad The Impaler" logo, and I would love to pick up one of those, but alas, I probably won't be able to, this one sold for $11.25:

2006 Vladimir Guerrero Colorized State Quarter

Now, THIS item isn't specifically a "card" though it does have a card with it, no it's a colorized state quarter, of Vlad. I've been collecting the State Quarters since they started in 1999, and have all of them released so far, at least with the 'D' mint stamp, the 'P' mint stamp is a bit more difficult for me to find on the West Coast. I enjoy oddball items like this one, and I certainly don't think it's investment material, but it is kind of cool, and it was very, very cheap ($0.99 plus $2.25 for shipping).

2005 Fleer Vladimir Guerrero "Follow the Leather" Jersey

Always remember that there is more to card collecting than just this year's cards! Often times dealers and collectors will sit on older cards in the hopes that they'll be worth more in the future. With current players, that's not necessarily going to be the case, and deals on older product are always available. For example, here's a nice Fleer card from 2005, which is before UD bought them out, and as such, one of the last true "Fleer" cards.

I spent a whopping $2.00 plus another $2.00 for shipping, and while it's a nice card, complete with a stripe, it's not perfect. Had I looked closer at the picture, I might not have bid, since there are minor creases in the card at the corners of the die-cuts. Caveat Emptor as always.

2006 Upper Deck Ovation Vladimir Guerrero Ovation Apparel

I liked this card because of the free shipping, sometimes that's all it will take for me to slap down a bid. I paid $2.47, roughly the price of one pack of this product for this 2006 Ovation jersey insert. I believe that these are the standard one hit per box insert, so we're not looking at anything spectacular, but it is still a nice jersey.

2002 Skybox eX Darrin Erstand Hit and Run Bat Relic

One cannot simply collect Vladimir Guerrero cards, one should remember that there are other Angels in the skies, and Ersty was always one of my favorites. These were one per box inserts, and parallels at that, but for a quarter, who cares? Yes, I bought this card for $0.25 plus $1.49 shipping. Whenever I can get a relic card of an Angel for under $2.00 including shipping, I'm a very very happy man.

2003 Playoff Piece of the Game Rod Carew Game Worn Jacket

Carew is my all-time favorite Angel, so it's only natural that I'd want to try to buy some of the many Carew relics that have hit the market in the last five years. Only problem is that half of the relics feature him in his Twins days, and I don't want those, so I have to be careful. That's not to say that I cannot find Angels relics for Rodney Cline Carew, they're nowhere NEAR as hard to find (or expensive) as Nolan Ryan Angel Relics or Reggie Jackson Angel Relics. This one cost me $0.99 plus $2.50 for shipping, and it's not a jersey! It's a piece of a warm-up jacket, which is fine by me since it's a little different than your standard swatch of jersey, it actually has a seam bump on the piece.

2008 UD Premier Vladimir Guerrero Premier Memorabilia #17/25

This triple swatch card comes from the same set as our first card, which is always nice for continuity's sake. While the swatches aren't exactly exciting, there are three of them, and it's numbered to 25. These are showing up all over eBay right now, as are the numerous variants, which include quad swatches, and quads with die-cut letters spelling out VLAD (or something equally silly for other players - there's a Steve Carlton spelling out "LEFTY".) This puppy set me back $1.95 plus $3.00 shipping, making it the most expensive single I purchased in this batch.

2004 ETopps Vladimir Guerrero

eTopps is a product that is unique in card collecting, each card is offered initially as a "public offering" for somewhere between $6 and $10 depending on the player and set. Each "IPO" is limited to a certain number, these days in the 600s, but this particular card had over 1900 produced. The IPOs are only offered for a week at a time, so if you miss out, you have to buy them on the official secondary market, which is not-surprisingly eBay. When you buy an eTopps, you are actually "reserving" a card at Topps, and if you actually want the card, you have to pay them to ship it to you. I dabbled with eTopps back in 2002 buying two hockey cards of players that I thought were sure fire hits, Sergei Federov and Paul Kariya, my $12 investment went belly up shortly after, and by the time I sold them both on eBay I don't think I got back more than $2 apiece. No, eTopps is not for investing, if you want to invest, buy stocks or bonds, not Baseball cards.

This eTopps, which is Vlad's first as an Angel cost me a whopping $1.30 to buy on eBay. That put the card into "my portfolio" on eTopps, but since I really wanted to hold the card in my hands, I claimed it, sending them $4.95 in shipping. I should have my card in a few days.

So there you have it, my recent adventures in singles. Not too shabby, a nice collection of swatches and oddball releases. I don't know what I'll feature next time, since I'm still bidding on singles, and do so quite often.

Thursday, June 19, 2008

More Pack Busts

Sigh, more pack busts? Will, isn't there something else you'd like to write about? Well, not really, no. I like busting packs.

2008 Topps Series 2 Retail

    Pack One
  • 444 Jack Wilson SS Pirates
  • 448 Cameron Maybin OF Marlins
  • 544 Chad Gaudin P A's
  • 652 Rod Barajas C Blue Jays
  • 531 Hiroki Kuroda P Dodgers RC
  • 404 Cecil Cooper M Astros
  • 332 Classic Combos Indians
  • TCP-30 Andrew Miller
  • 624 Joe Torre M Dodgers
  • 405 Travis Hafner DH Indians
  • 459 Mike Sweeney DH A's
  • 496 Brad Lidge P Phillies
  • Get Grades junk
  • All Rookie Junk

Can't complain about that pack at all, pulling a Kuroda AND an Andrew Miller Insert - hmm...I wonder who I could trade THAT puppy to...Very solid three star pack and one that I'm pleased with.

    Pack Two
  • 344 Mike Rabelo C Marlins
  • 479 Bobby Abreu OF Yankees
  • 403 Nate Robertson P Tigers
  • 481 Manny Parra P Brewers
  • 428 Jair Jurrjens P Braves
  • 366 Jeff Weaver P Mariners
  • YR-111 Willie Harris of the Braves goes 6 for 6
  • 503 Jeremy Bonderman P Tigers
  • 526 Juan Encarnacion OF Cardinals
  • 616 Jon Garland P ANGELS!
  • 367 Khalil Greene SS Padres
  • 546 Francisco Liriano P Twins
  • ToppsTown Code
  • All Rookie Team Junk

That pack doesn't compare to the first pack, but I did get an Angel and a ToppsTown. Still my THIRD Jair Jurrjens is pretty annoying.

I finally broke down and bought a pack of Upper Deck Series 2, even though I can't input the codes for another two weeks. The design is pretty much same as the first, with the focus on the inserts being the USA Baseball team. These cards won't be worth much now, but a few years from now when these kids hit the bigs, they might be dynamite, you just never know. Until then though, they're mostly high-school kids.

2008 Upper Deck Series 2 Retail

  • 445 Kerry Wood P Cubs
  • 421 Jeremy Guthrie P Orioles
  • 467 Brandon Phillips 2b Reds
  • 622 Matt Capps P Pirates
  • 638 Randy Winn OF Giants
  • 586 Mariano Rivera P Yankees
  • 527 Alex Gordon P Royals
  • 538 Kendry Morales 1b ANGELS!
  • 582 Matt Wise P Mets
  • 516 Jose Valverde P Astros
  • 671 Josh Hamilton OF Rangers
  • 646 Jose Lopes 2B Mariners
  • 706 Callix Crabbe 2B Padres RC
  • 744 Josh Beckett Season Highlights
  • 755 Tom Glavine Braves Checklist
  • 727 Randy Wells P Blue Jays RC
  • USA-19 Ryan Berry P Team USA
  • SQ-34 BJ Upton Rays - Rare

Could I complain about that pack? Sure I could. Two very lackluster RCs, a mediocre Team USA and a Rare StarQuest. Sure, I might have actually gotten my money's worth, and I even pulled an Angel that I didn't have, but as far as first packs of a series goes, nothing to write home about.

Monday, June 16, 2008

Four More Topps Series 2

I need to lay off opening packs for a few days, I think I've busted at least one pack each day for over a week now. My wife needed extra time today at work so I had some time to kill this afternoon, what better way than to hit a hobby store? Unlike so many of my past collectibles, there are actually five different card stores that I can get to with relatively ease, ad two are even within walking distance from my apartment.

I still haven't bought any UD Series 2, mostly because I can't enter any of the new codes for UD Kids until 7-1-08 because we're maxed out for the month already. Instead I grabbed four more Series 2 Hobby packs, because at 2 bucks a pop, I can justify that they fall under even my daily cash budget.

2008 Topps Series 2 Hobby
    Pack One
  • 586 Coco Crisp OF Red Sox
  • 432 Jason Kendall C Brewers
  • 368 Michael Bourn OF Astros
  • 565 A.J. Pierzynski C White Sox
  • 488 Mike Gonzalez P Braves
  • 510 Justin Verlander P Tigers
  • 637 Jose Castillo 2b Marlins Gold Foil Variant
  • Topps Town Gold
  • Get Grades Junk
  • 373 Casey Kotchman 1B ANGELS!
  • 542 Adam Kennedy 2B Cardinals
  • 643 Matt Murton OF Cubs

A solid pack for me even though my Angel pull is a double (triple?). Topps Town Gold is nice, but doesn't make up for the lack of any significant insert. Good start though.

Pack Two

  • 426 Franklin Gutierrez OF Indians
  • 393 Michael Cuddyer OF Twins
  • 468 Gregor Blanco OF Braves RC
  • 658 Kerry Wood P Cubs
  • 469 Brian Bocock SS Giants RC
  • 443 Greg Dobbs 3B Phillies
  • TS02 Magglio Ordonez OF Tigers
  • ToppsTown Code
  • 657 John McDonald SS Blue Jays
  • 648 Ryan Freel OF Reds
  • 535 Frankie Rodriguez P ANGELS!

A second solid pack, with one insert, one Angel, one ToppsTown and two RCs. Hard to get excited about though.

Pack Three

  • 641 Marcus Thames OF Tigers
  • 353 Brendan Ryan SS Cardinals
  • 509 Alex Gonzalez SS Reds
  • 481 Manny Parra P Brewers
  • 428 Jair Jurrjens P Braves
  • 620 Gary Sheffield OF Tigers
  • YR118 Jason Isringhousen throws 12 pitches and gets a save
  • 649 Joe Crede 3B White Sox
  • 515 A.J. Burnett P Blue Jays
  • 553 Jo-Jo Reyes P Braves

So far, I think that's the worst pack of Series 2 I've opened. Yup, I'm right, that was the worst pack. I didn't really need two Jurrjens cards, and now I have three.

Moving ON....

Pack Four

  • 408 Edison Volquez P Reds
  • 386 Javier Vazquez P White Sox
  • 533 Kyle McClellan P Cardinals RC
  • 500 Chipper Jones 3B Braves
  • TCH51 Victor Martinez C Indians (87 Topps)
  • 332 Indians Classic Combos
  • 579 Jesse Litsch P Blue Jays Gold Foil Variation
  • HCM-1948 Truman d. Dewey
  • Get Cards Junk
  • 513 Rick Vandenhurk P Marlins
  • 480 Matt Cain P Giants

Save the best pack for last I guess should be my mantra. Overall a pretty good pack to end on, I like the Topps Card History cards, and would like to perhaps put a set of those together some day. I managed to snake a "starter" pack of five of them the other day, I think though that I sold off the Tim Linecum card that I pulled out of Series 1 already. Maybe I'll just buy a set off of eBay.

So let's break down the numbers on my multi-pack purchase shall we?

Once again, here's my rating scale:

1 star = total junk
2 stars = a couple of stars, RCs, a single Angel or a junk insert.
3 stars = one super-star, Vlad Guerrero or decent insert.
4 stars = any relic or auto.
5 stars = the best of the best.

Pack One = 1 Angel, 1 ToppsTown Gold, 1 Gold Foil. 2.5 stars.
Pack Two = 1 Angel, 1 ToppsTown. 1 decentish insert. 2 stars
Pack Three = Junk. 1 star
Pack Four = 1 good insert, 2 decentish inserts = 3.5 stars
Total stars: 9
Average per Pack: 2.25 Stars

Total Cards: 40
# of Angels: 2
# of 1:6 inserts: 4
# of 1:?? inserts: 2 (the gold foil parallels)

Ratio of Angels/Inserts to commons: 8/40

Total Cost w/Tax: $8.00
Cost per card: $00.20

Overall Notes: I'm actually a lot more pleased about these four packs than it appears according to the statistics. I really like the Presidential Race inserts, and I'm enjoying the TCH inserts more than I should. Two Angels in four packs is pretty good, even if one of them is a double. Plus I beat the odds yet again with four different 1:6 insert cards, and I always like that.

As always, I'll trade away anything I pulled with the exception of the Presidential card and the Angels.

Sunday, June 15, 2008

2 More Father's Day Packs

I was gifted with two more packs for Father's Day. OK I lie, I had to buy them for myself, but my wife let me, so it's kind of a gift. Unfortunately all I could find that I was interested in were two packs of last year's Heritage. Fortunately, they didn't suck that badly.

2007 Topps Heritage Hobby
    Pack One
  • 152 Jason Schmidt P Dodgers
  • 394 Jeremy Sowers P Indians
  • 341 Pirates Team
  • 97 Jeff Supan P Brewers
  • THC 74 Garret Anderson OF ANGELS! CHROME! #1314/1958
  • 272 Moises Alou OF Mets
  • 47 Delmon Young OF Rays RC
  • 326 Brett Myers P Phillies

Well for me, this is a four star pack, but only because the 1:11 insert I pulled was one of my all-time favorite players, the seemingly immortal GA. Behind Vladdy GA is my favorite current Angel, and if I had to choose a top-10 All-Time favorite Angels, he'd be up there, probably in the top 5 (hmm...there's an idea for a later post).

Here's the bad part though, how the heck can Topps slap one of those nifty "Rookie Card" Logos on the Delmon Young card, when this isn't even his first Topps Heritage card? I thought that in order to use that logo the card had to be a true rookie card, and this one really isn't, since Young had cards dating back as far as 2003!

    Pack Two
  • 143 Josh Johnson P Marlins
  • 442 Nook Logan OF Nationals
  • 81 Stephen Drew SS D'Backs
  • 460 Jaret Wright P Orioles
  • 294 Miguel Batista P Mariners SP
  • 444 Joe Mauer C Twins
  • 327 Cubs Team
  • 165 Garret Anderson OF ANGELS!

A solid three-star pack because it contains a decent insert (the Batista SP might actually sell for a couple bucks), a card that I can PROBABLY trade for a Vladdy, AND the non-chrome version of that GA Insert I pulled last pack. Plus, Nook Logan is one of the coolest baseball names I've seen in a long time. Of course, now I understand that "Nook" is a nickname for Exavier. Honestly, I'd go by either name, that's just cool.

Final Notes: Normally if I pulled two of the same player in consecutive packs I'd be pissed, but since they weren't the same card, AND since they were one of my faves, I'll be happy this time instead of sad.

Saturday, June 14, 2008

Father's Day Pack - '08 Topps Heritage

My wife and I went shopping today at the Costco in Los Feliz, which is conveniently located next door to the nicest TRU that I've been to in a long time. They had a fairly well stocked card section, though no single packs of Upper Deck Baseball Series 2 or Topps Series 2. They did have blasters of the UD though, I was going to purchase one at $21.99 (remember there's a guaranteed relic), but I demurred because I found the single Indiana Jones Deluxe figure that I wanted most (Indy and his horse from Raiders. Instead I bought a single pack of '08 Topps Heritage.

2008 Topps Heritage Retail

  • 169 J.J. Hardy SS Brewers
  • 253 Justin Ruggiano OF Rays RC
  • 166 "Destruction Crew" Indians Hitters
  • 216 Francisco Cordero P Reds
  • 394 Ryan Spilorghs OF Rockies
  • 353 Jeremy Hermida OF Marlins
  • 436 Ryan Freel OF Reds SP
  • 23 Robinson Cano 2b Yankees

Well, that was a lackluster pack. The RC is worth maybe a buck, as is the SP, but I feel especially ripped off since I didn't get a black-back card, and I thought they were a one per pack insert.

I now have a whopping 94 cards towards the full 500 card set of '08 Heritage. Somehow I just don't think I'm going to make it. Ah well.

Friday, June 13, 2008

What Would Happen?

At the height of its' bloat, the sports card industry had over a dozen companies licensed to make various trading card sets. Topps, of course, is the longest surviving member of that community and has been producing Baseball and other sports cards since the early 50's. In the early 80's they were joined by Donruss and Fleer, and then in 1989 Score and Upper Deck. In the 90's cards were also being produced by Classic, Playoff, Pro-Set, Pro-Line, In-The-Game, Skybox, Action Packed and many others. Not every company produced every sport of course, Pro-Line was an NFL product only, Pro-Set did Football, Hockey and Motor-Sports. Where at the height of the collecting craze, somewhere in the mid-90's there were dozens of sports card companies, today there are three majors, and one of them doesn't do every sport.

Surviving today are Topps, Upper Deck and Donruss/Playoff. UD purchased Fleer, who had already purchased Skybox. Donruss purchased Score and Pro-Set as well as a couple of other companies. Today though, Donruss only has a license to produce NFL cards, while Topps and UD produce all four major sports and many other ancillary sets.

Last year Upper Deck tried to buy Topps, a move which was rejected and is now being contested in court. Last week a judge filed a temporary restraining order against UD because they have included signature cards in their latest product from players who are under exclusive contract to Topps.

So here's my question, what would happen if that restraining order became permament? If UD was enjoined to never distribute those specific cards? The product is all ready to ship, sitting in a warehouse somewhere wrapped up and ready to go. What would happen to that product? Would UD bust the entire shipment to pull out the handful of cards that they would be illegal for them to sell? Would they pulp the entire batch?

Things to ponder.

2008 Topps Series 2 - Retail vs. Hobby Packs

Originally posted on my LiveJournal account June 12, 2008

In this post I will look at the difference between buying similar amounts of the same product through different channels. Being the frugal minded Baseball Card collector that I am, whenever the option arises to get added value for my purchase I try to take advantage of said offer. Shopping at K-Mart the other day for formula I managed to sneak in a blaster box of 2008 Topps Series 2 Baseball containing 5 packs and 1 additional 3 card pack of K-Mart exclusive rookies.

So what did I pull?

Here we go:

2008 Topps Series 2 K-Mart Exclusive Blaster

5 x 10 card packs
1 x 3 card exclusive pack
$9.99 retail price.

Pack One

  • 525 Gary Matthews Jr. OF ANGELS!
  • 616 Jon Garland P ANGELS!
  • 344 Mike Rabelo C Marlins
  • 479 Bobby Abreu OF Yankees
  • 375 Fausto Carmona P Indians
  • 411 Jason Kubel OF Twins
  • 365 Derek Lee 1B Cubs
  • 463 John McLaren M Mariners
  • 410 Alex Gordon 3B Royals
  • 474 Yuniesky Bettancourt SS Mariners
  • Topps Town Code

Normally I would be upset at a pack without a single stinking insert, BUT in this case, I don’t mind since I got TWO of my favorite new Angels. Neither card is all that spectacular, but they should be the first cards of both players in Angels uniforms, and that’s cool. I didn’t realize that Matthews made his debut for the Padres in ’99, and that in his 10 seasons he’s now played for 7 different teams. Garland is now in his 9th big league campaign and thus far it appears that he’s reverted to his 2005 and 2006 form, with a 6-3 record and a nifty 3.61 ERA. If he can win 18 games like he did in 05 and 06, I’ll be a happy man.

Some sports card bloggers have been disparaging the ToppsTown inserts as being just junk, but I’ve actually opened up an account there and I’m enjoying the diversion thus far. Yes, it’s for kids, but there is a neat virtual card collection that you can play around with, plus the cards have stats that impact the free mini-games. No, it’s not rocket science, but it is kind of fun. Each code gives you 8 additional virtual cards, an item for your avatar and an item for your clubhouse, which is your ToppsTown pad. You also get points towards buying more avatars and clubhouse items, but which don’t appear to be redeemable for prizes beyond the virtual kind. This is where I feel that Upper Deck Kids has an advantage, because instead of only giving virtual prizes, their redemption program offers real and valuable prizes, such as boxes of product , signed memorabilia and video games. My daughter has already received one box of Upper Deck Series 1 for 225,000 Upper Deck points, and we’re working on a box of Series 2 for 250,000 points.

Pack Two

  • 542 Adam Kennedy SS Cardinals
  • 643 Matt Murton OF Cubs
  • 621 Denard Span OF Twins RC
  • 373 Casey Kotchman 1B ANGELS!
  • 593 Randy Wells P Blue Jays RC
  • 558 John Russell M Pirates
  • 405 Travis Hafner DH Indians
  • 459 Mike Sweeney DH A’s
  • 496 Brad Lidge P Phillies
  • 348 Craig Monroe OF Twins
  • Fathead Discount
  • Get grades

Now this was a disappointing pack, simply because the Angel that I pulled is a double. Ah well, there’s two rookies in this pack, but I have no idea who they are, so let’s look and see: Wells is a 25 year old out of Iowa who has pitched in one game thus far, with no ERA and 1 walk as a reliever. He’s a former catcher who switched to the mound in ’03, so I seriously doubt that this card will ever be worth more than a couple of bucks. Span last played at the big league level in April with the Twins and hit .258 in 31 AB with no homers and only 2 RBI, since then he’s been sent back down and is out 3-4 weeks with a sprained finger. The back of his card says his former mentor was Torii Hunter of the Angels, so I guess that’s something.

Pack Three

  • 464 Rocco Baldelli OF Rays
  • 559 Jonny Gomes DH Rays
  • 634 Kenny Rogers P Tigers
  • 623 Trey Hillman M Royals
  • 638 Juan Pierre OF Dodgers
  • 489 Joakim Soria P Royals
  • 414 Andrew Miller P Marlins
  • 624 Joe Torre M Dodgers
  • YR90 Aubrey Huff Hits for the Cycle
  • TS14 Jake Peavey Padres
  • ToppsTown Gold

In a pack with two inserts, it’s pretty sad when you consider the best card to be the ToppsTown Gold. I had been wondering about the insert ratio for the Gold cards (looks like 1:36 or so) and what they did that was better than the regular codes (you get a choice of cards to pick for your virtual collection, and more points than a normal card, plus the additional clubhouse item and avatar item. Yes, getting two different 1:6 inserts is nice, but really, they were lackluster inserts. Of course, I know a certain blogger would be happy with the Miller single, so maybe I can trade for an Angel or two.

Pack Four

  • 430 Ryan Braun OF Brewers
  • 439 Josh Hamilton OF Rangers
  • 594 Mike Morse OF Mariners
  • 431 Delwyn Young OF Dodgers
  • 443 Greg Dobbs 3B Phillies
  • 618 Pat Neshek P Twins
  • 352 Miguel Batista P Mariners
  • 491 Cliff Floyd DH Rays
  • AR86 Khalil Greene SS Padres
  • HCM-1924 Coolidge vs. Davis
  • Checklist 1 of 4

A good number of bloggers don’t particularly care for the political cards that are being inserted in this year’s sets, but being a political junkie I enjoy them. I really like the design of these “versus” cards from Topps too, and they don’t seem to be that hard to pull. That said, a 55-card 1:6 insert set MIGHT be difficult to put together, however it might be possible after the election is over and we resume our natural political cycle.

Pack Five

  • 396 Randy Johnson P Diamondbacks
  • 548 Garrett Olson P Orioles
  • 390 Troy Glaus 3B Cardinals
  • 481 Manny Parra P Brewers
  • 428 Jair Jurrjens P Braves
  • 620 Gary Sheffield OF Tigers
  • 407 Johnny Damon OF Yankees
  • 421 Brandon Backe P Astros
  • 331 Dave Roberts OF Giants
  • 356 Manny Corpas Gold Parallel #0718/2008
  • All-Star Rookie junk
  • ToppsTown Code

The Johnson card has him hitting, which I’m sure some genius at Topps thought would be cute, but most baseball fans would consider stupid, myself included. I might be able to trade the serial numbered Corpas for something good, but I doubt it. I didn’t even realize that Sheffield was still playing!

Here's the Johnson and the gold-foil Giles that will show up later.

Bonus Pack

  • RV18 Jayson Nix 2B Rockies
  • RV19 Blake DeWitt 3B Dodgers
  • RV20 Hiroki Kuroda P Dodgers

Um…how can Topps call a 2008 card of DeWitt a Rookie when they made one of him in 2004? That’s cheating.

I lost a contest on ESPN radio a couple of months back because I couldn’t spell Kuroda’s last name, but at least I knew who he was. These are actually pretty nifty cards, with a different color of gold then the regular serial numbered inserts, AND different front pictures. For example, Kuroda’s regular RC is just a posed portrait, and this one is an action shot of him pitching.

Overall Notes: I liked this blaster better when I didn’t actually look through it closely. It’s not a bad blaster by any stretch, but it’s not a spectacular one either, and for twice the price I can get a ton more Upper Deck Series 2 and I’m guaranteed a relic or auto. Still, any time I get three Angels I’m a happy guy, so there.

Here’s the pack rating system that I’ve just come up with, I’ll apply it to the above and get a numerical breakdown.

1 star = total junk
2 stars = a couple of stars, RCs, a single Angel or a junk insert.
3 stars = one super-star, Vlad Guerrero or decent insert.
4 stars = any relic or auto.
5 stars = the best of the best.

Pack One – Two Angels = 3 stars.
Pack Two – One Angel = 2 stars.
Pack Three – Two junk inserts & gold ToppsTown = 2.5 stars
Pack Four – One decentish insert, one junk insert = 2.5 stars
Pack Five – One decent insert = 3 stars
Bonus Pack – 3 exclusive RCs (though one isn’t an RC at all). = 2.5 stars

Total stars: 15.5
Average: 2.58 stars

Total Cards: 53
# of Angels: 3
# of 1:5 inserts: 1
# of 1:6 inserts: 3
# of 1:12 inserts: 1
# of pack exclusives: 3
Ratio of Angels/Inserts to commons: 11/53

Total Cost w/Tax: $10.81
Cost per card: $00.204

Now let’s take a look at the four packs of Hobby Topps Series 2 that I bought this afternoon:

2008 Topps Series 2 Hobby Packs

4 x 10 card pack
$2.00 per pack

Pack One

  • 409 Jason Giambi DH Yankees
  • 570 Homer Bailery P Reds
  • 495 James Shields P Rays
  • 620 Gary Sheffield OF Tigers
  • 594 Mike Morse OF Mariners
  • 431 Delwyn Young OF Dodgers
  • 452 Kevin Slowey P Twins Gold Foil Variant
  • 387 Sean Marshall P Cubs
  • 526 Juan Encarnacion OF Cardinals Gold Parallel #1779/2008
  • TS03 Justin Morneau 1B Twins
  • Get Cards junk

It seems that there’s gold foil variations on the card fronts in addition to the other parallel series (gold serial numbered to 2008, black serial numbered to 57, and platinum 1/1) So that makes four different parallels in this series? Err, nope, checking the Topps Series 2 Sell Sheet there’s “silk” parallels numbered to 50. Of course that last series if only 100 cards, but still, FIVE parallels? That’s a bit much, until I remembered how many variations there are on the UD Starquest cards. Special.

BTW – Homer Bailey is one of my all-time favorite baseball player names, along with Boof Bonser and others that I’ll share as we go along.

Pack Two

  • 423 Mike Sciosia M ANGELS!
  • 410 Alex Gordon 3B Royals
  • 474 Yuniesky Betancourt SS Mariners
  • 587 Chris Snyder C Diamondbacks
  • 403 Nate Robertson P Tigers
  • 451 Brian Giles P Padres Gold Foil Variant
  • 576 Dave Bush P Brewers
  • 625 Greg Maddux P Padres
  • 420 Nick Swisher OF White Sox
  • 647 Randy Winn OF Giants
  • Checklist 2 of 4
  • ART junk

Well, at least this pack had the big boss, Mike Sciosia right on top, otherwise, total junk. Well, I can’t say Greg Maddux is junk because flipping it over there’s an awful lot of red on the back (you know, red stats indicate league leader), but no inserts other than the gold foil parallel isn’t that great. I did get card #420 which is always a plus. Back in the day Topps used to put the super-stars on card numbers 100, 200, 300 etc., I’m pretty sure that practice has gone by the wayside, but wouldn’t it be funny if they still did it for card #420? In any case, this year it’s Nick Swisher.

Pack Three

  • 578 Ricky Nolasco P Marlins
  • 381 Jeff Francoeur OF Braves
  • 626 Mike Redmond C Twins
  • 481 Manny Parra P Brewers
  • 428 Jair Jurrjens P Braves
  • 424 Aaron Harang P Reds
  • 512 Placido Polanco 2B Tigers
  • 383 Jered Weaver P ANGELS!
  • AR98 Mike Lamb 3B Rangers
  • HCM-1880 Garfield vs. Hancock
  • ToppsTown Code

This was a very good pack in my estimation; I got one of my favorite Angels in Weaver who is sporting the awesome pageboy do on the front, a junk All Rookie insert, another of the political inserts, AND a ToppsTown code. Too bad that the middle of the pack had a couple of doubles in the exact same positions as an earlier pack in this batch. Add to that that all four of the packs came from the same stack (bottom right) of a brand new box, and one might not be as happy as one should be. Still, so far, it’s the best pack of the four.

Pack Four

  • Red Hot Rookie Redemption #7
  • 496 Brad Lidge P Phillies
  • 348 Craig Monroe OF Twins
  • 463 John McLaren M Mariners
  • 573 Adam Eaton P Phillies
  • 613 Melvin Mora 3B Orioles
  • 461 Jacoby Ellsbury OF Red Sox
  • 380 Grady Sizemore OF Indians
  • 642 Mark Kotsay OF Braves
  • 511 Jeff Francis P Rockies
  • ToppsTown Code

Just goes to show that one card CAN make a pack great, when that one card is the hit of the box. Well, I’m not sure that these redemptions ARE THE hits of the box, but they are seeded at 1 per box, so that’s pretty nice. The rest of the pack is pretty lackluster, but I’ll be anxiously awaiting Topps announcement about who I’m going to get if I redeem it and not sell it. So far this particular card appears to be selling for between $5 and $10, but depending on who the player ends up being, it could possibly be worth twice that, or half of that, you just never know.

Overall Notes: I started this Blog posting wondering if it is actually better to buy your product at a hobby store rather than mass-market retail. I suppose that I wanted mass-market to come out on top since I have far more opportunities to purchase at mass-market, rather than at the hobby stores, and until I pulled that redemption, I would have said that mass-market wins. However, when hobby gets inserts that Retail can’t even touch, you know where to shop.

By the Numbers

Pack One – Two decent inserts = 2 stars
Pack Two – One Angel = 2 stars.
Pack Three – One junk insert & decent insert, an Angels & ToppsTown = 3 stars
Pack Four – One Spectacular insert = 4 stars

Total stars: 11
Average: 2.75 stars

Total Cards: 40
# of Angels: 2
# of 1:5 inserts: 1
# of 1:6 inserts: 3
# of 1:36 inserts: 1
# of 1:?? inserts: 2 (the gold foil parallels)

Ratio of Angels/Inserts to commons: 9/40

Total Cost w/Tax: $8.66
Cost per card: $00.2165

Final Notes:

Hobby purchases are most probably your best choice 99% of the time, if for no other reason it supports a dying sector of the hobby. Yes, brick and mortar sports card stores are dying out, where there were once 10,000 or more hobby shops in the U.S., there are less than 1,700 left today. Well, that and you tend to get better stuff.

I’ll keep you updated as to what card the redemption is good for, and what I decide to do with it. EVERYHING else other than the Angels and the political inserts is up for trades.

Adventures in Cheap Cards

Originally Published on my LiveJournal account June 6, 2008

On the way to pick up my mother-in-law Pat at the airport yesterday, I stopped at a Blockbuster which is located only a few minutes away from the airport. I found two very nifty, very cheap repack items, one had four different "vintage" packs (1996 Stadium Club I, 1991 Upper Deck, 2006 Fleer Ultra, and 2007 Topps Series 1. The second item had two packs each of Topps Jumbos from 2006 and 2007. Each item was $4.95, which is a steal. 8 packs of cards numbering well over 100 actual specimens for $1.25 per pack!

Would I actually pull $10 worth of cards? More importantly, would I pull any Angels? I've already opened the packs, but I flipped through them so quickly, I forgot what I pulled. Here's a pack by pack breakout of the three more interesting packs, the pre-2006 non-jumbos

1991 Upper Deck "High Numbers Included" 15 Cards + 1 3D Hologram Team Sticker

  • 139 Mike Scioscia - Dodgers C
  • 162 Ozzie Smith - Cardinals SS
  • 181 Don Slaught - Pirates C
  • 263 Robin Ventura - White Sox 3B
  • 321 Scott Fletcher - White Sox 2B
  • 395 Mike Fielder - Brewers OF
  • 417 Jeff Parent - Braves P
  • 545 Bo Jackson - Royals OF
  • 694 Mike Walker - Indians P
  • 702 "Rookie Threats" - Gonzalez, Rhodes & Bagwell
  • 735 Jack Clark - Red Sox 1B
  • 739 Candy Maldonaldo - Brewers OF
  • 743 Deion Sanders - Braves OF
  • 759 Zane Smith - Pirates P
  • 760 Vance Law - A's 3B
  • 774 Darryl Kile - Astroes P

First off, there was no 3D Hologram Sticker in my pack! Darn it, I wanted one too, I was ROBBED. I believe that this was the year that UD switched to the full card size holos, and they were darn nice. I remember that I stuck the appropriate one on the end of the 800 count box in which I kept my Angels team sets. Sigh. No Angels in this pack either, though how can you be unhappy with two two-sport super-stars and a HOFer? Plus there's that nifty "Rookie Threats" card with a very young Bagwell. The Sciosca is great, and will still go in my Angels binder, but the pic isn't that spectacular, well, see for yourself:

I also don't remember this set as being cut quite as rough as this pack had been. Each card still has several scoring marks on the edges. My recollections of the first few sets from UD were that the cards were cut so sharply they could give you paper cuts.

So not a fantastic pack, given that there are still several high dollar, very rare inserts in that set (Autographed Ted Williams and Hank Aaron cards), but a solid pack nonetheless.

Moving On...
1996 Topps Stadium Club Series 1

  • 17 Len Dykstra - Phillies OF
  • 81 Benji Gil - Rangers SS
  • 3 Garrett Anderson - OF ANGELS!
  • 101 Luis Gonzales - OF Cubs
  • 110 Shane Reynolds - P Astros
  • 44 Randy Velarde - OF-SS Yankees
  • 20 David Wells - P Reds
  • 162 Mike Greenwell - OF Red Sox
  • 36 Gary DiSarcina - SS - ANGELS!
  • TSC-188 Carlos Baerga - 2B Indians
  • Checklist 1

Notes: First off, I like the bottom of the fronts of these cards that show off the player name with some unobtrusive foil that was so ubiquitous in that era of baseball cards. The Stadium Club logo is awful though, hated it then and I still hate it now. The backs of the cards are also atrocious with a very badly done "TSC Skills Matrix" that takes up far too much room. You get 1995 year stats and a career line, which to me is the bare minimum as far as stats on a baseball card go. At least this pack had two Angels in it, one of whom is still with the team! GA is a baseball god!

2006 Fleer Ultra Hobby

  • 5 Chone Figgins - 3B ANGELS!
  • 183 Craig Hansen GOLD - P Red Sox
  • HRK9 Adam Dunn - Reds
  • 76 Grady Sizemore - OF Indians
  • 20 Roy Halladay - P Rays
  • 212 Trot Nixon LUCKY 13 OF Red Sox
  • DP1 Derek Jeter Diamond Producers - Yankees
  • 61 Jeff Kent - P Dodgers

First slot in the pack and we're already getting FIGGY with it! Sweet! Then there's the Hansen Gold which is an RC, and despite his 4.91 ERA in 14 IP this season, it still doesn't have any sold copies on the Bay, so this one goes in the Rookie pile. Third slot Home Run King insert (one of several 1 per pack inserts), that would look so much better as a jersey card - oh wait...

Sizemore, Halladay and Kent are unremarkable, but then we have a 2 per box parallel and another 1 per pack insert, though at least it's Jeter. I can trade for a Vladdy card for that one. So out of 8 cards in one pack only half of them are regular base cards, two parallels and two inserts. Now that's not bad.

2008 Upper Deck Series 1 Retail Box Break

Originally Posted on my Livejournal account May 29, 2008

I don't get to purchase boxes of sports cards anymore, I'm not even sure when I purchased my last box, but it may have been in the 90's. In any case, Upper Deck has a program where each card they produce has a code on it, you enter the code on their website and you get points. When you have amassed enough points, you get a reward. As rewards programs go, this one isn't all that special, except for a couple things.

1. It's for kids only. If you're older than 18, you're not eligible. Fortunately I have a 2 year old, so it's HER name on the account.

2. EVERY card has the same code. What I mean is that each Vladimir Guerrero card #6 has the same code, so you don't NECESSARILY have to actually own the card to get the code. What that means is that you can find thousands of codes on the internet. I have in my possession over 4000 codes right now, a good 1000 of them I haven't used yet.

3. You can only enter 100 codes per day and get something like 50,000 points in one month. I've hit that limit twice.

4. It cost 220,000 points for a box of cards, but shipping was free. Currently I have 80,000+ in my account, but I can't enter more codes until the first of June.

5. The rewards fufillment was pretty darn quick. Two or three weeks at the most.

SO here we go, here's the breakdown on my 2008 Series 1 box of Upper Deck Baseball.

24 packs per box, 18 cards per pack. Total cards: 432

Towards Set: 330 of 400 (83%)
Doubles: 63


StarQuest Commons: 23 of 30 (77%)
StarQuest Super-Rare: 1 of 30 - Johan Santana (dinged)

Presidential Predictors: 4 of 9 - Guiliani, Edwards, Gore, Wild Card

Yankee Stadium Legacy x6 - 174, 179, 2193, 2263, 2288, 6142

Game Used Jersey x1 - Ben Sheets #97-BS (White swatch)

All together, a VERY pedestrian box if I do say so myself. Still, at least it was free, and HOPEFULLY I already have enough of this set to make a full set. If I can I'll probably sell it on eBay.

My Own Trading Card History

Originally Published June 3, 2008 on my LiveJournal Account.

This post is awfully long overdue. Why do I collect cards and how did I start.

I got back into Baseball card collecting last year at some point. Not really sure why, because prior to last year I hadn't been a serious baseball card collector since about 1992. I have, at one point or another, collected trading cards from all four major sports beginning in 1977 when my dad had a paper-route for a job and would bring home packs of that year's Topps for us to collect together. I wish I still had those cards, but alas, they're long gone.

At the height of my collecting, in the mid 90's, I had something like 60,000 cards, mostly football. When I left San Diego in 1998 I sold most of them, making very little back on my "investment", which was fine, since I never considered collecting cards an investment anyway, it's just damn fun. There's just something about the opening of a pack of cards that is what it's all about with me. Heck, I bought a pack this afternoon (2008 Topps Heritage Baseball, I pulled a Vlad Guerrero and a cool insert). It brings me back to when I was that little kid playing with his dad all those years ago. So it's not only the connection to my father which I'm pursuing (which is also why my favorite sports teams were all his favorites as well).

Of course these days it's all about the chase, you know, what jersey or autograph, or serial numbered rookie card are you going to get? There's certainly something to be said for the treasure hunt aspect of the hobby, especially with 1/1 Cut Autographs with Hair cards and other gimmicks being packed in products that range from the reasonable $2 per pack to the entirely unreasonable $500 a pack. I'm a budget collector, I buy cheap product in small amounts and hope for the best. Typically I'll try to dump off the cards I don't want on eBay and use those funds to buy individual cards or lots of players that I do want. I don't spend very much on cards, but now that I'm not buying Pirates or any other TCGs, I feel like the replacement hobby is actually cheaper.

Now I'll give a short overview on my history with each sport (and non-sports as well), then I have an interesting auction link for you.

As I mentioned above I started collecting Baseball in 1977 with my dad, though I didn't acquire a good amount of 1978 or 79 cards, my 1980 purchases were much better, though I did trade a Rickey Henderson rookie for a Rod Carew of the same year in 1981. Hey, I didn't know better, I was TEN! I still remember that I traded it to Keith Gilbert while I was attending Horace Mann Junior High. Wonder what happened to him. Keith that is, we know what happened to Rickey.

My grandparents bought me a box of 1981 Topps for one of their trips to San Diego. I still love those designs because, well they were my first box. Here's one card I remember vividly:

That's a 1981 Bobby Grich card. See I've always been an Angel collector, whether they were the California Angels, the Anaheim Angels, or the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim; that's my team. IN fact, as I type this (sitting in a UCLA Bruins T-shirt) I'm watching the Angels take on the Mariners - they're winning 5-1, though Jose Lopez just hit a dinger for the M's.

1984 was another good year for me because I got a box of Topps that year too, and if I'm not mistaken I pulled three Mattingly rookies out of it. Of course this was pre-Beckett (the premier monthly price guide which was the de-facto "book" when you said "book value"), so I'm sure when I got rid of them, I didn't get NEARLY the value that you should get...which makes me wonder how much he's worth today? [Under $10 for graded copies]. I bought an awful lot of Topps product between 1984 and 1991, as well as a good amount of Fleer and Donruss too, but I was always a Topps guy. I always gravitated to them because despite the better card stock and arguably better designs, Topps had better photography and more importantly listed entire career stats on the back. Something that I wish the card manufacturers of today would remember. Fortunately Topps still does list career stats on the back. I'd have to reach around and look at an Upper Deck card to tell you one way or the other and I'm not going to do that right now.

Of course I got swept up in Upper Deck mania in 1989, and I pulled my share of Griffey rookies. I'm not sure that I ever put together a set of 89 UD, but I've seen them. By the time of 91 Stadium Club I was fully entrenched in 4-sport mania. I wasn't collecting comics at this time, and I had been on my own for only a short time, plus the economy was good after 1991 and I had a lot of free time and money. I don't remember when I stopped collecting Baseball for good, but it was certainly after I went to the 1992 MLB All-Star Fan Fest, but I do think by then I was hardcore into Football and nothing else. At one point I know I had every Angels Topps team set from 1980 to 1990 and I still had a 1989 and 1990 Topps complete set when I left San Diego. I think they're all still in storage, which means when I find them they'll be reunited with their new brethren, as I've only recently gotten back into Baseball. I think Sports Card collecting is cyclical.

With Basketball my focus has always been UCLA alumni and set collecting. I'm not overly fond of any one team, with the exception of the Lakers, so I'm not a team collector in Basketball. When Basketball cards were just starting to take off with the release of 1989 Hoops, I put together a set of those (along with the rare short print, which I can't even remember what card that was), as well as 1989 Fleer. I had purchased a hand collated 1988 Fleer Set with the Stickers for $12 that I later sold for $90. Interesting that you can get a that same set now for about $25. I had already stopped collecting Basketball by the time that Upper Deck got a license, though I can remember trying to chase down Shaquille O'Neals' rookie redemption card, the first of it's kind!

I didn't get back into Basketball until two years ago when I started searching for Jordan Farmar rookie cards. Jordan was one of my favorites at UCLA and when he got drafted to the Lakers, well I was extremely happy. So I started looking for Jordan Farmar rookies. I've always collected UCLA Basketball player cards, and have a NICE sized binder full of them, including the greats Kareem, Walton, Miller, MacLean, Wickes, Rowe, Patterson, Vandeweghe, Bibby (though he's still a traitor), and of course, I have a card of Coach. I even have both the complete 1994 UCLA Collegiate Collection AND the update that came out a year later when the Bruins won the National Championship, with a Steve Lavin rookie card! Today I get to open packs looking for about a dozen former Bruins, and later this year after the NBA draft I'll be searching for Kevin Love rookie cards, even though I already own two "pre" rookies of him, his Topps McDonalds All-American card pictured below, and a broder or unlicensed card both purchased off of eBay. Reminds me I need to look for more Love cards.

Ah, we come to the wicked mistress, Football. I got caught up in football in 1989 when Pro Set first came out. I put together a hand-collated set of those, including the final 21 or whatever it was that you HAD to send away to get. Not only that, it was a master set, missing only ONE card, the 1989 Santa Claus which really wasn't part of the set anyway, since it was never available in packs. I still have that set in a binder, and I wouldn't part with it since it represents a huge undertaking that I actually finished. Well, it'll be finished when I get that Santa Claus.

I had collated sets of 1988 Topps, 89 Topps, 90 Topps, 90 Fleer, 90 and 91 Upper Deck. Football was my master during the 90's, I watched so much Football that I nearly burnt out. My Sundays from September to January were often spent in a sports bar watching as much football as I could possibly watch. I collected EVERYTHING in the 90's. MY best single pull was an Emmitt Smith autograph from one of the Classic products that was die cut and numbered to 100. It booked for $500. I sold it for $90, which looking at the prices of products produced in the 90's looks like a steal now. I know I was out of the hobby though by the time that Upper Deck started putting Jerseys into cards, and as I previously mentioned I sold most of my cards in Summer of 1998. I still have SOME cards in storage, and some in the house. All of the cards that I got personally autographed are here, with the exception of my signed Kings cards, those are all in storage as well.

More than anything I was a Barry Sanders collector, as I had the most cards of him, including every iteration of his rookie. I collected stars mostly, having a huge collection of alphabetized cards, in company order, chronologically ordered. From Aikman to Young, I had them ALL. I had rookie cards of pretty much every future HOFer who played in the 90's, including an Earl Campbell rookie, AND a Walter Payton rookie (though neither one was in "mint" condition). I didn't have the real big 80's stars though, I never owned a Montana RC (1981 Topps), Rice RC (1986 Topps) or Marino RC (1984 Topps), but I had everyone else. See, even though it was the early 90's, you could still find older unopened wax for Football, because it wasn't that big a deal. Usually you could get it for cheap too. Certain years were more expensive, such as 1979, 81, 84 and 86 Topps, because those years had KEY rookie cards. They weren't outrageous though, I remember purchasing packs of all of them and on occasion pulling the key rookies too. 83 Topps was overproduced, and cheap, as was 85, though the black borders on the cards were always getting dinged up. That set didn't have any key rookies either.

Hockey Cards
I don't particularly recall watching Hockey before the 1980 Olympics, but like many Americans I got swept up in the hoopla and started watching the NHL. At the time the New York Islanders, led by Mike Bossy, Dennis Potvin, Bryan Trottier, Bobby Nystrom and of course Billy Smith, were winning Stanley Cups every year. Naturally I followed the winner, especially since they were the ones on TV all the time. That's not to say that I didn't watch the L.A. Kings because living in San Diego at the time, that's all we got on TV (via Prime Ticket). I started buying Hockey cards shortly thereafter, focusing on the Isles. Hockey cards in the early 80's were pretty much Topps and OPC only, and OPC was awfully hard to find in the States. Lack of availability forced me to give up after only a couple of years, and I stayed away, until the BIG TRADE. You know, Gretzky to Los Angeles. After that I got back full bore into Hockey, expanding with Upper Deck in 1991. During my focus on Football in the 90's, I eschewed Hockey for a time, only getting back in around 2000 when the Kings were back in the playoffs. Several disappointing years by the Kings have put the kibosh on my Hockey card collecting though, who needs cards of a last placed team?


Now, if you've plodded through my personal trading card history (written mostly for ME so that I can remember it when I'm old and grey) here's why I originally wrote this post:

Fidel Castro 1/1 is on eBay at the moment. A nice card to be sure, any time you get a 1/1 in that set, it's golden, but Fidel Castro? Well, it's on eBay again for a second time, and look what the seller has done to the card:

Here's what I wrote to the gentleman selling the card:

"I think this is a very bold statement, and one that resonates. Not only does it make a statement about the stupidity of the 1/1 inserts in baseball cards (especially when they're not baseball related), but it's an artistic statement about what we value as a society.


It's a strange world upon which we crawl.

Sports Cards Uncensored!

Breaking News:

I have been invited by the esteemed Gellman to join his Sports Card Uncensored blog, giving my perspective as a budget collector of MLB and NBA cards. Posts there will not be repeated here, so make sure you read both! I'm very excited about this opportunity!

Also, I'll be moving my more sports-related posts from my regular Livejournal account so that we're more organized.


Yes, just what the world needed, it's another Sports Trading Card Blog. Why should you read mine over the hundreds of others that you already read? Because mine is from the perspective of someone who can't spend hundreds of dollars on shiney pieces of cardboard, even if they are defaced with scribbles or contain embedded pieces of fabric. The fact is that in these uncertain economic times, collecting sports cards is a serious luxury, because they have no real serious value other than entertainment purposes, and in this day and age of on-demand movies, video games that provide hundreds of hours of entertainment, endless instant information on the world wide web, and 24/7 sports coverage on any number of television channels, sports cards are the last remnants of a bygone era.

Yet sports cards have a 21st century panache as well. Where once set-collectors and in-person trades were the norm (as was putting the damn things in your bicycle spokes) treasure hunters and online merchants now dominate the scene. Not only that, but it appears that the card companies no longer give a damn about their base sets, preferring to focus on the relic/auto/serial-numbered inserts creating a lottery like mentality when you plunk down a couple of bucks for a pack of cards.

Did I say a couple of bucks? How about hundreds of dollars? Upper Deck Exquisite is the highest end set of cards produced to date, for several hundred dollars you get ONE pack of cards, each containing 6 cards - now all of them are either jerseys, autos, or serial numbered, and the pack is a cherry wood box. Will I ever be able to afford a pack? Heck no, not unless I win one in a contest. Still this set is an anomaly, or so one would hope. Not all sets of cards are that expensive, in fact several are downright reasonably priced, and even singles from higher end sets can be had for a few dollars on eBay (which will be referred to as EVILbay or the WWMP - World Wide Marketplace going forward). Just as the internet has transformed the way that we communicate with each other, it has also changed the way that collectors trade as well. I'd say that 99% of card trades are done online now, and have been for several years. Why bother trying to find the one collector in your town or city that is willing to trade when you can find hundreds online?

So what will you find here that you can't find somewhere else? Well, nothing, except my own personal style of writing and an acerbic look at an industry that is slowly but inevitably dying. As for me, I'm a 37 year-old married father of one. My wife has a great job in Beverly Hills which affords us a certain lifestyle that could be considered slightly higher than middle-class. Currently I'm unemployed, but I'm working on obtaining a teaching credential so that I can teach High-School English. Our daughter Kaylee (named after a character on a certain Sci-Fi/Western TV show) is 20 months and growing like a weed, so fortunately whenever I go to Target or Toys R Us to buy diapers or formula, I get to buy a pack or two of cards, and this is where most of my current collection comes from. I do make it to the hobby stores once in a while, but when I do my wife is always giving me the full-on scowl.

Unfortunately my minor form of OCD also provides the perfect excuse to collect things, and I collect a LOT of things, the other two vices being Toys and Comic Books. Yes, I never wanted to grow up. Toy wise I'm sticking to the new 25th Anniversary G.I. Joes at the moment, and Battlestar Galactica Titanium, both from Hasbro. Comics-wise I'm down to less than 4 comics a month, after years and years of reading Marvel and DC mainstream, as well as the best of the indies. At one point during my 20's when I had a great job and no dependents I was buying $50 a week in comics/cards/toys. I'm down to less than $10 these days, and it's mostly spent on cards.

As to what I'm collecting at the moment, here's the breakdown:

Baseball - Since there are now only two major manufacturers, I collect cards from both, especially the base brands. I enjoy the retro-themed sets as well, so I've been buying both Heritage and Allen & Ginter from Topps. Neither one of those sets are especially cheap, but at mass-market retail you can get packs of both for $3, which is the upper end of what I'm willing to spend on Mass-Market product.

Basketball - While I still buy packs, and will undoubtedly increase my spending once the NBA draft is over and we know how many UCLA Bruins will be playing in the NBA and for what teams.

Finally, what are my credentials? Well, I graduated from the only college that I ever even considered graduating from, UCLA in 2006, after spending an inordinate amount of time in lesser schools and community colleges (for reference, I graduated High School in 1988). I've been collecting sports-cards off and on since 1977, and have been watching sports all my life. At one point or another I've collected all four major sports, and have even dabbled in wrestling, boxing and golf cards! Every now and then I still buy a non-sports card set, and I have several in my collection. As previously mentioned I also collect comics (6,000+ in my collection) and Action Figures (too many to mention). I typically only keep the cards of my favorite players and will gladly trade away everything else I pull.

Favorite Teams:

MLB - Angels
NBA - Lakers
NHL - Kings
NFL - Chargers

Favorite Players:
MLB - Vlad Guerrero and the rest of the Angels and former Angels.

NBA - Any player who is a UCLA Alumni, especially Kevin Love, Jordan Farmar & Arron Affalo, but also Kareem, Walton, Miller, MacLean, etc.

NHL - Alex Frolov, Mike Cammaleri and the rest of the LA Kings. Also former NY Islanders from 1980 to 84 (Bossy, Potvin, Nystrom and Smith). Luc Robitaille is my all-time fave.

NFL - Hands down Barry Sanders, but also Deacon Jones, Jim Brown, Walter Payton, LT, LaDanian Tomlinson, etc. Darren Carrington is my all-time favorite unsung player, as well as Steve Hendrickson. You really have to be a fan to know those two guys.

If you'd like to trade, please send me an email to wmnoe at yahoo dot com. I'd be more than happy to get rid of everything other than Angels and former Bruins.