Tuesday, December 25, 2007

Featured Mail Day

Torii Hunter display [$29.99 plus $10.00 s/h on Ebay] - I was looking around for Hunter item after he signed with the Angels and I found this unique item. It is a framed piece with an 8x10 photo and a certified Upper Deck Sweet Spot signature card. It is interesting not to get an actual signed item of a current athlete and instead use a 'cut autograph' to frame an unsigned item around. In the end, it is pretty sweet framed item to add to my personal collection.

Sunday, December 23, 2007

2007 Donruss Elite Extra Edition Scouting Report

I think collectors who are more of the prospecting variety are not stuck on being traditionalists - I think the chase for a player's best card makes this product popular as long as it features first-year autographs and subsequent parallels of players expected to make an impact in the Major Leagues through the next three to five years.

The 2004 version featured cards of the first-year players in minor league uniforms - but they were considered rookie cards, since they were included in a set with Major League veterans.

On the other hand, the 2007 version doesn't even feature official MLB team names - and the players are pictured in their high school or college uniforms. Traditionalists will argue these are strictly minor league issues because obviously there is nothing in this product saying it is either affiliated with Major League Baseball or the MLB Players Association.

The important fact however is this product is made by Donruss - which is a trading card company having some history and EEE will be considered mainstream brand, not a niche product like the USA Baseball sets from the past year. If this was a Just product [no offense to such trading card companies], Tristar or even a Press Pass [which seems like it produces high quality cards], then it would be considered minor-league cards.

The graphics are gaudy - but is a change of pace from the typical Bowman Draft products, which is refreshing, even if Topps can get first-year players in a Big League uniform and Donruss cannot.

This is a multisport product and one of Donruss' selling point for this product is the school ties - it seems ironic baseball players are driving this product, though baseball isn't traditionally the number one collegiate sport to follow, lagging behind football and basketball.

I want to pick up a box [only a box] - though the pulls might be spread thin between pulling autographs of the better baseball draft pick autographs, the none draft pick baseball autographs as well as other notables [Jennie Finch/Amanda Beard anyone?] from other sports.
2007 Upper Deck Black Scouting Report

I've seen the cards on Ebay and for the most part, cards seem pretty ugly - is there a single from this product, I'd like to have? Maybe not in baseball, but perhaps one of the new 'Kobe Bryant' full signature autograph cards [as seen on a Upper Deck private signing 'photo op' session on beckett.com] in what appears to be in the basketball release of this product is something I hope to pick up eventually.

AS for baseball, can anyone not affiliated with Upper Deck's marketing department justify picking up a box for over $200, featuring two one-card packs or even one pack - I don't like the sticker autographs, especially when it comes from supposed super premium product.

I'll 'spare' the rising stars like Cole Hamels, Billy Butler, Justin Verlander from my rant [wrath] - but 'F' the Homer Bailey, Dan Uggla, Adam/Andy LaRoche, Andre Ethier, Melvin Mora, Chad Cordero, Jason Bay, Kelly Johnson, Aaron Harang and the rest of the 'C-list, D-list' baseball stars littering this product's checklists.

The Game Day Box Score cards don't do anything for me since the athletes' image seems obscured by the vague graphics - the box score is supposed to showcase a performance highlight, just doesn't do it for me as the dominant graphic on a card.

~I like it how the particular athletes sign a silver sticker with what looks like a silver Sharpie.~

Any cards with just an autograph and/or with a combination of 'plain' swatch pieces are ugly - though they look better if the cards feature a patch piece or two.

The premium bat barrel autograph cards are pretty sharp - which I assume are made from stock, non game used bat.

The Pride of a Nation autograph cards are pretty sharp - with the manufactured flag logos.

Friday, December 21, 2007

Shipping rants when picking up cards from online sources like EBay.

Maybe combined shipping means something different - but I always thought it also meant not having to pay extra s/h charges on additional items bought from sellers.

Sometimes I like to pick up multiple items from one seller, particularly if there is only one item to pay shipping/handling for - the problem I see now is sellers tacking on a extra s/h charge on additional items and calling it 'combined shipping.'

I realize everyone has their expenses - but another problem I see is not being able to pick up singles and only having to pay one shipping and handling charge. It seems like sellers are trying to take advantage of s/h charges, at a time when they might not be able to move cards like they have done so in the past.

At the very least sellers might able to sell more cards - if they offered one s/h fee for combined orders within two or three days, capped the s/h and handling fee instead of taxing every item/card purchased and/or make the s/h charge reasonable for additional auction won [keep the charges at around a quarter and don't make it more than $0.50].

Plain white envelopes - no problem with it as long as it gets to me safely, but I do have a problem when I'm charged $2.50 or more and do not get my item in a bubble mailer.

Thursday, December 20, 2007

2007 Bowman Draft scouting report

I am desensitized to this product because prospecting has gotten to be something entirely foreign - which players do you jump on and do you pick up their cards now?

Maybe its in the middle of December, almost Christmas and baseball is just not where the focus is at - still, even if spring training is just a few months away, the reality is most of the players in this set will be scattered through the minor leagues this upcoming season and you may key in on a handful of guys 'you like,' but everyone wants the sure thing. Can you be patient about waiting for a player to develop in the minor leagues?

Bowman Draft isn't typically expensive and there are probably a handful of true future stars in this product - as long as the brand has key drafted players like David Price, Matt LaPorta, Mike Moustakas, Matt Dominguez, Jason Heyward and other 'names,' people will be chasing their guys, doesn't matter if the cards are slapped as official MLBPA logo rookie cards.

On the other hand picking up random packs, a random blaster and a random box only gets you so much - you need the young prospect cards but it just isn't about getting his first base Bowman card. The key lies in first-year autographed [if available] and base Chrome [particularly its subsequent parallels]. However are you really willing to spend so much on these particular cards?

Sunday, December 16, 2007

Featured Card Show Buys
I picked up 45 commons for $3 - I figure for the price of one pack of cards, I'll go the 'Billy Beane' route and pick up quantity. Now, the hard part is spinning my enthusiasm and penning a card tale without going overboard, realizing these cards serve a function in my collection, but aren't exactly ones you'd need to spend hours talking about.
Randomness [six cards] - 2005 Topps Update Dana Eveland, 2006 Topps 1952 Debut Flashbacks inserts Carlos Beltran, 2006 Topps 1952 Debut Flashbacks Scott Rolen, 2006 Upper Deck Brad Aumus, 2006 Upper Deck Sweet Spot Grady Sizemore, 2007 Artifacts Grady Sizemore, 2007 Upper Deck Artifacts Miguel Cabrera and 2007 Topps Chrome Garret Anderson.
2007 Topps Update [nine cards] - Adam Jones [x2], Kameron Loe, Carlos Marmol, Jamie Burke, Boone Logan, Rick Ankiel, David Newhan and Edinson Volquez. These cards featuring 'rank and file' guys will probably used in random autograph in-person endeavors and a key was finally getting cards of Jones. These guys probably turn a long 'no-autograph' day into a one, two or three autograph day if you are chasing them at the stadium.

2007 Upper Deck [nine cards] - aesthetics means a lot to me as far as card collecting is concerned and somehow the silver borders depress me for whatever reason, but the images on the cards are always 'Upper Deck nice.' Miguel Tejada [cutting down Kendry Morales at second base as good buddy and former teammate Brian Roberts looks on during an Angels' game], Jay Payton managing to get his hand across home plate as he slides in, Scott Hatteberg [looks like he is the first to congratulate someone hitting a walk-off home run, with Edwin Encarnacion and some 'Kid' in the background], Jeremy Hermida [tracking down a fly ball into his glove on the run], Brian Schneider [looking like he's chasing after a wild pitch or pass ball], Tony Pena, Gabe Gross [signing autographs], Adam Melhuse [catcher waiting throw, ready to block home plate] and Nook Logan [we were reminded in some book report that came out last Thursday, his first name is actually Exavier]. Logan is a marginal player, a poor man's Juan Pierre - which would make him just about worthless [-1] in most sabermetric circles.

2007 Upper Deck SP Rookie Edition cards [19 cards] - Miguel Cabrera base, Joaquin Arias base, Kory Casto base, Matt Chico base, Gustavo Molina base, Miguel Montero base, Arias 1993 SP base parallel subset [?], Ryan Sweeney 1993 SP base parallel subset [?], Mike Rabelo 1993 SP base parallel subset [?], Micah Owings 1993 SP base parallel subset [?], Arias 1996 SP base parallel subset [?], Joseph Bisenius 1996 SP base parallel subset [?], Rocky Cherry 1996 SP base parallel subset [?], Chico 1996 SP base parallel subset [?], John Danks 1996 SP base parallel subset [?], Andy Gonzalez 1996 SP base parallel subset [?], Sweeney 1996 SP base parallel subset [?] and Chris Stewart 1996 SP base parallel subset.

The shelf life of this product wasn't very long [or at least the relative interest] but this is the first time I've had these cards in-hand and the cards featuring the retro mid 1990s SP graphics are sharp - imagine what Topps and Upper Deck can do if they actually printed cards that matter in a way that reflected their best releases in their history. While Topps has been churning out retro themed products like Heritage, those can be boring as much as they are 'old school cool.'

While UD only has a run from 1989 to present to go on, they can go back to showcase the crap out of this [past] year's Major League Baseball rookies through 1993 SP, 1995 SP and 1996 SP [no 1994?] designs - it is kind of retro for the guy who grew up through the mid 1990s instead of the 1950s.
My last card related purchase was picking up a 'bundle' of 2007 Allen and Ginter for $1 - about 29 cards with duplicates. I counted it out and I got 16 cards towards my 'makeshift' set and 13 doubles. I suppose the doubles can be used if something happens to the original cards.
Featured Pickup

1979 Topps Nolan Ryan PSA graded '8' [$10.00 at a card show] - how much is a PSA graded Ryan card from 1979 worth to my personal collection? Its not a spectacular pick up, but Ryan is an Angels' icon. While I would have preferred a Ryan card several years older, I think the fact this was graded made it appealing as well as finding it among other 'so-so' cards. The front looks good, though the back is a little off-center.

It is another piece for an Angels' graded card run I'm trying to complete featuring one PSA graded Topps card from 1961-1980 - I don't know if I'd seriously consider the card if I wasn't doing this Angels' run I made up. So far I've got a 1972 Topps Mickey Rivers PSA graded '7,' a 1974 Topps Frank Robinson PSA graded '8,' this latest card and a 1980 Topps Ryan PSA graded '8.'

Thursday, December 13, 2007

Wally Word Breaks
2007 Upper Deck Masterpieces one-pack blister[$2.97] - Chris Chambliss, Cal Ripken Jr., Kei Igawa and Bobby Doerr. I think it is hard to argue against this product's aesthetics and you genuinely believe these are probably the nice looking baseball cards you can pick up at a retail outlet like Walmart or Target.

2007 Topps Update blaster box [$9.97] - I don't know how excited I was [now] because I'm desperate to bust something [even a fake, a psuedo box of cards, not full pack box, but still a box of cards] and the only one at Walmart priced at about $10 has this conquering hero plastered all over the box.

First pack was three card 'hot pack' featuring 120 years of baseball cards [current players, retro designs] - 1887 Gypsy Queen Dan Uggla, 1959 Topps Adam LaRoche and 1909 Ramley Jake Peavy.

Pack one - Mickey Mantle MHR #442
Pack two - Tim Lincecum [rookie card?], a gold parallel card serial #'d 1789/2007 of a Classic Combo subset [featuring Jonathan Papelbon and Jorge Posada] and Miguel Cabrera all-star subset.
Pack three - Angel Pagan [check out his card and a 1959 Topps card of Don Mossi], Scot Shields [Angels] and Barry Bonds home run card #742.
Pack four - Mark Reynolds [rookie card?]
Pack five - Scott Spiezio, Roger Clemens* and Mike Lowell all-star card.
Pack six - Brady Clark [pictured with the Dodgers, noted he actually signed with the Red Sox 'in July' but actually finished the season with the San Diego Padres], Jamie Vermilyea; I think its a pet peeve of mine when a collector feigns ignorance over recognizing a player pictured on a card, but I honestly don't have a clue who Vermilyea is? Does he play professional baseball? Its my lame stab at humor, but maybe he won some sort of contest so Topps can produce and insert his card in a Major League product.

Pack seven - Cliff Floyd; right now young collectors and knowledgeable prospectors are picking up key cards of a kid named Jason Heyward [Atlanta Braves draft pick]. Way back in the day, Floyd was probably the Heyward of his time. Too bad, probably half of Floyd's career has been short with injuries.

Pack eight - Cameron Maybin Terry Evans [Angels - rookie card?] and Troy Percival [things move so fast, he was retired at the end of last April and now the former Angels' closer signed a two-year contract to pitch for the 'new' Tampa Bay Rays.

Pack nine - Ryan Doumit, Matt Stairs, Generation Now Ian Kinsler insert and a Classic Combo subset card featuring Chase utley and Ichiro.

Pack 10 - Hideki Oka-jo-mama 2007 All-Star jersey card [old news cards with jersey swatches were labeled as 'patch cards'].
Card orgy of boxes to rip - there is always an itch to rip, looking for something something new, something shiny, something interesting, something sorta old, something that takes me back.

Products I am interested in [guestimated prices]:
1992 Fleer Ultra [$12] - crappy cards now, great when they first came out.
1993 Donruss [$12] - you think these cards aren't worth much now, but they were pretty for base cards back in December 1992.
2007 Bowman Draft [$60] - maybe the box to get every year, no matter what else is on the list.
2007 Donruss Elite Extra Edition [$90?] - if not going for a full box, consider getting singles of 'key' players.
2007 Fleer Ultra SE [$40] - five hits per box, though it may only be $2 jersey cards and a scrub autograph.
2006 Fleer Showcase [$40] - its Upper Deck, but its sort of a premium brand from Upper Deck.
1995 Upper Deck SP [$30] - a sort of a premium brand from Upper Deck of mid 1990s.
1996 Upper Deck SP [$30] - its Upper Deck, but its sort of a premium brand from Upper Deck.
2007 Upper Deck Masterpieces [$20] - a blaster maybe fine, captures the greatest moments in baseball's past.
2007 Upper Deck SP Rookie Edition [$52] - I bought a Ryan Braun autograph from the product, but want more of the base cards.

Checking up Dave and Adams' auctions on EBay, maybe picking up these factory sets resonate more with me.

A random Topps factory set from the last several years i.e. 2005 [$18-$25] at D&A - you get a full set with bonus cards for about the price of a blaster box.
1990 Score [$4.95] - my first factory set way back in the day. I remember picking it up [probably parents bought it for me at a Target] along with some non related, but somewhat stimulating pin-up poster.
1991 Score [$6.95] - I guess I'm not really ashamed to say this because its been so long, but the key pulls for me was the Jose Canseco Dream Team card and also a Jeromy Burnitz draft pick rookie card.
1992 Donruss [$6.95] - when I first got a hold of these cards, I thought this release would be a landmark card set. Maybe its because Donruss released a crappy 1991 set, while still focusing on its better efforts in its Leaf product. Going through the initial packs of these cards, even commons [like Randy Johnson's] card had a premium feel to it - making it feel it was worth more than it truly was ever going to be fresh from the pack.The Diamond Kings inserts later would be an attractive pull.
1992 Fleer [$7.95] - I remember racks of this along with Topps on the shelves at Target, when their card section was not close to the counter. The regular cards, with their green tinted borders/graphics were kind of boring compared to the Donruss, but they don't look so bad [only to me perhaps] now. I guess I remember chasing the Roger Clemens insert cards, but also the Team Leaders subsets. I think those were the only ones I have ever gotten - though there was Rookie Sensations insert and a black bordered All-Star inserts.
1992 Topps Stadium Club Dome [$4.95] - Manny Ramirez and Shawn Green rookie cards; probably worth a buck or two now.
These were part of my collecting goals made up for 2007

1.) Traditional rookie cards - add 10-15 PSA graded from 1975 and before/add PSA graded from 1995 and before/add 10-15 PSA graded from 2005 and before [can be autographs]. What is a traditional rookie card? I may have added several cards the past year, though I have not concentrated as much on seriously nailing down the really old stuff.
2.) Premium rookie/rookie-year/first-year cards - add 10-15 certified autographs featuring current top prospects in the minor leagues and 15-20 parallels. I may have added several cards, though I have not concentrated as much on seriously collecting the better cards.
3.) Premium cards - add 15-20 cards featuring common patches, certified autographs, et al. Add five super premium cards [jumbo patches, dual or triple autographs, et al]. Look for Major League rising stars [Ryan Zimmerman, David Wright, Miguel Cabrera, Stephen Drew, Prince Fielder, Howie Kendrick, et al], established superstars, Hall of Famers or HOF icons [all-sport]. I've added stuff here and there, though nothing earth shattering.
4.) Collecting topics - add 1,000 different cards featuring players signing autographs, bonus babies, unique shots, awesome outfield action, bloodlines, et al. It comes to about 50 cards everytime you make a card show trip [maybe about 20 times in 2007]. Most cards should come out of the nickel [or less] bins. I'm probably closer to picking up about 500 for the whole year, maybe much less. I find looking for these cards to be a challenge because there is no checklist. How can you feel a sense of accomplisment, when you know there are more cards out there? It seems fun, though these are the cards you would need to dig for in a commons' bin.
5.) Regional - add 15-20 'low-end' premium cards such as certified autographs, dual autographs, patch cards, dual material cards, et al. Look to add one or two super premium cards i.e. triple signature, triple patch, jumbo patch, et al. I've added a card here and there, but nothing too earth shattering.
6.) Low-end style - add '10-15' certified autographs, '10-15' common game used and 20-25 rookie cards/first year inserts. Finish your award winners collection up to 2006. I haven't finished my award winners collection yet but maybe I've come close as far as numbers are concerned on picking up certified autographs. I've picked up several common game used, though not as much low-end rookie cards/first year inserts.
7.) Add 10-15 vintage [1973 and before] PSA graded superstar cards - or one vintage PSA graded Topps Mickey Mantle card. I don't think I've done much here, but I did pick up a 1957 Topps Ted Williams [BVG '4'] this past year. I think I'd like to dabble in vintage a little more, but I don't want to settle for midgrade superstars, that are not rookie cards.
8.) Pick up cards of my favorites - Derek Jeter, Alex Rodriguez, Ken Griffey Jr., Cal Ripken Jr. and Tim Salmon. Probably my biggest feat was picking up two ARod certified autographs this past year. I think I picked up a Junior certified autograph and several Salmon oddballs.
9.) Continue to work on database - featuring rookie/rookie-year and other first type year cards. The database sort of evaporated when I felt like all I was getting were crap base cards and so-so players. It was too esoteric to keep up with.
10.) Always be aware of what I'm collecting - as far as not wasting $$$. I'm trying to be judicious, though I can get impulsive.
Steroid Era and the Mitchell Report

With the Mitchell Report due to come out in Major League Baseball - one way it affected my collection is the belief certain players were not just going to hit more and more home runs, but hit for power, for average and enjoy these renaissance seasons, thinking certain players were going to keep it up [especially guys who were not getting younger]. There was a desire to buy key cards of a few of the guys i.e. rookie cards of guys hitting 60 or more home runs, breaking home run records, et al.

You got caught up in trying to guestimate numbers - speculating on apparently empty statistics considering what is supposedly known now. The numbers would go in circles and you would be fooled by these guys popping all these home runs and putting up mind-numbing statistics [I would look at the top pitchers during the era and not just hitters].

You spent 'so much' of your collecting dollar - only to watch everything deflate and stuff you collected is probably worth 1/3rd of what you paid. Stuff you tried to collect randomly like in-person autographs are truly worthless, if you had tried to get certain steroid era guys' signatures on various items you thought would have a place with the legends and icons one day [not in the Hall of Infamy].

Monday, December 10, 2007

Random Thoughts - I'm trying to go through my mind, thinking up things with this card collecting hobby. Hopefully, the ideas I'm throwing out will be of use, even though much of it is just me venting on different things.

Oddball options for vintage cards
1.) 1968 Topps Game Mickey Mantle PSA '7' $35

2.) 1959 Fleer Ted Williams PSA '6 or 7' $10-$20
3.) 1964 Topps Giants Roberto Clemente PSA '7' $35
4.) 1964 Topps Giants Mickey Mantle PSA '7' $60

A.) These are not the hardest to find cards - they are abundant in supply compared to regular Topps cards released. Except for ultra 'scarce' issues, most collectors people want regular player era cards.
B.) I'm not going to spending too much time, wondering about specifics - you want something 'old and vintage,' even if just in spirit, but not have to settle for a beater 'type' of card. Compared to a random, modern purchase, any of these cards may not be bad choices for someone who is looking to collect vintage cards in a beginner's sort of way.
C.) I think Mantle would be worth picking up if you were looking for the personal collection - you can't find a decent looking card of Mantle from his playing days for around $60. You can perhaps find an affordable, midlevel graded Clemente, but for the average collector, finding a nice looking Mantle will probably cost three times as much.

Cool feelings
1.) Vintage cards - having a nostalgic piece of cardboard history in your hand.
2.) Rookie cards - knowing you have a player's rookie card/first-year/fy parallel/xrc; especially of an established player or someone who has seemed to do it all.
3.) Buying the card - meaning you don't waste time with gambling to pull something out of unopened product. If you can make the choice, buy a card [or non-card sports memorabilia item] for your personal collection in lieu of the chase.
3B.) I love the hype of some of the newer Upper Deck products - with their tins [2007 Sweet Spot Classic, Sweet Spot, upcoming Black product] containing some combination of one to only several cards. I like the idea of just the hits and because you aren't stuck with no chance at all unless you get a box of something. Ironically, you have to buy a full tin of just a few cards. At least it detracts you from spending on loose packs. Let's get real however. $100 for a pack of several cards is something a better collector than me can afford. I've seen the promos of the new Upper Deck Black [baseball] floating around [in video format through video sharing sites] and $125 for a pack containing one card is crazy. I think collectors are going to collect what they want and if it means spending so much to get so little; you find a way to justify it. On the other hand, let us take a step back and consider other choices for around the same neighborhood of today's latest and greatest baseball cards.
4.) Autographs - certified ink, on single cards and also non-card items. It doesn't even have to be certified as long as you are sure it is real [such as stuff you get signed by yourself].
5.) Autographs - finding cards and other items and getting them inked up.
6.) Regional - having a connection or theme to follow attached with your local team or local players from your area.
7.) Award winners - having a connection or theme and watching things come together when you pick up cards representing MVP, Cy Young and Rookie of the Year award winners.
8.) Less is more - though sometimes you get impulsive, try to not go crazy.
9.) Flipping through cards from a 'bargain bin -' and actually finding a card you have to pick up for your collection without hesitation. It is like you found something another collector missed.
10.) Busting boxes, breaking open random packs, particularly stuff you've never had a chance to open - doing it in a fun way, without worrying about making your $$$ back.

Friday, December 07, 2007

Featured MVP [Jimmy Rollins]

I think when MLB awarded its individual single-season trophies, the only one I did an actual write-up for was A-Rod, though this guy was pretty good as well - I think what clinched the National League Most Valuable Award for 'JRoll' was his proclamation the Philadelphia Phillies would be the team to beat come October.

The fact of the matter is on pure stats alone, what Colorado's Matt Holliday did could have won him the award - but Rollins was the one who had to back up his word from the day the season started. If Rollins didn't lead his team to win the National League East, there would be more people whining about him winning the award [or at least yapping his mouth like another, typical professional, and something else athlete].
Featured Mail Day

1986 Topps Jerry Rice PSA graded '8'rookie card [$46.00 plus $4.98 s/h on Ebay] - I'm primarily a baseball card collector by choice, but Jerry Rice is a sports legend who has done it all in the NFL. While a Rice rookie card is something every serious football collector may have in their collection already, I'm sort of bored with the ideal of buying picture cards of baseball players. I was looking for a higher profile card [of a higher profile sports figure, active or retired] to add to my personal collection.

What comparable baseball card will make a difference towards my overall collection? I may have overpaid, but it's better to have a Rice rookie card, than something like a baseball rookie card I may have always wanted [let's throw the 1998 Leaf Rookies and Stars Troy Glaus out there], but is valued way too high [for a supposed steroid/HGH buyer, even though it was found there wasn't sufficient evidence to penalize him, or Rick Ankiel or Gary Matthews Jr.] or popular first-year/rookie cards/xrc of unproven baseball prospects [that are always popular with prospectors, though it seems like every 'C' level or 'B' level prospect is someone to collect just because he has a autograph or refractor card in Bowman Chrome].

I want to be committed to picking up single cards instead of busting boxes - maybe it's just the offseason, but I seriously wonder if picking up a box of $50 baseball cards [low-end] and pulling several, random 'hits' will feel as good as this purchase, five years from now.

Friday, November 30, 2007

More Featured Mail Days
2006 Bowman Heritage David Ortiz bat card [$2.00 plus $3.00 s/h on Ebay] - I realize this card isn't worth much, but its a card I picked up just because he's been such clutch performer and even while some the damage was at the expense of my hometown team, you have to respect his ability. He can mash the ball all over the field and while he is all brawn, he'll also bunt for a hit when he sees defenders position in the exaggerated pull shift. While he's only a DH these days, he should have at least one MVP award. over the last few years. He's a leader and a calming influence on a team of World Series championship winning, star performers.
2007 Bowman Heritage Chung Young-il black parallel serial #'d to 52 [$19.99 plus $3.25 s/h on Ebay] -I thought I'd pick up a low-numbered first-year parallel card of an 'intriguing' prospect from the Angels. It isn't a sure thing that any pitcher will make much of an impact after signing a professional baseball contract, but I thought it might be worth a gamble since there is also an Asian factor coming into play.
When I received the card, I was kind of pissed off at the condition - the right hand side of the card is peeling and the card obviously is imperfect. I didn't expect getting a card in-hand grading no better than a '6.' I think the problem is this cards are condition sensitive and 'pack fresh' means even less for a black bordered parallel card. I guess I'm just going to have to swallow it, since I was so 'gung-ho' in looking to get this card.
Featured Mail Days

1983 Topps Ryne Sandberg PSA graded '9' rookie card [$20.00 plus $4.00 s/h on Ebay] - a Ryne Sandberg rookie card may have been in bigger demand in collecting circles back 1990, but how many key baseball rookie cards do I have from the last 30 years? Getting 'traditional rookie cards' still resonates with me, even though there doesn't seem like the demand is there at all. I still want to build that ideal collection of cards, that would dominate a neighborhood collection [back in 1989, 1990 or 1991]. Though it is graded a '9' by PSA, there is some damage on the top part of the card, along the 'blue' border is. I saw it after I'd already won the card and it goes with the influence of trying to secure cards for your personal collection [impulsively].

2007 Sweet Spot Classic Roberto Alomar auto [$15.99 BIN plus $4.00 s/h on Ebay] - Alomar's career sort of died a slow death during his last three years [everyone said he was a lock for 3,000 hits] and it seemed shady how he just lost the feel for the game. In his umpire-spitting prime however, Alomar showed he was one of the gifted players in his position, starring for the two-time World Series champion Toronto Blue Jays of [my early 1990s]. He was one of the guys I'd only seen a few times [I think 2003 was the only time in-person ] and my only autograph of his was a 1993 Upper Deck card mailed to him nine or 10 years ago. He didn't seem to be an easy autograph to get by the time I'd actually gotten my one shot at him, but you still sort of think he was a superstar [and someone you'd pay $20 to get a nice, certified autograph of]. If no one else knew how good this guy was or perhaps how tough to get a random scribble from, then it is to my gain.

2003 Topps Retired Signature Luis Aparicio certified autograph card [$9.99 BIN plus $2.50 s/h on Ebay] - it is a hard signed card, but it is enclosed in a case, which is hard to display in a collection stored in nine-pocket pages. It won't kill me either way, but I'd rather leave it in the case than take it out [unless it is necessary]. For my Hall of Famer collection, I would like to get a single-signed baseball and a Hall of Fame yellow postcard for as many living players as I can get, but I need a certified autograph card of Aparicio anyway. He is not only a Hall of Famer, but also the 1956 American League Rookie of the Year. Realistically, he maybe a more common autograph to get otherwise [I think he signs a lot at the MLB All-Star Fanfests each year], but doesn't quite come out to the West Coast and do many public signings.

Upper Deck Masterpieces Hanley Ramirez certified autograph card [$12.51 plus $3.00 s/h on Ebay] - I've been only a Ramirez 'kick' lately and like Aparicio was a Rookie of the Year winner [2006 National League]. I like the fact this is a hard signed card and better looking than his 2006 Bowman Originals releases, since those were signed on those repetitive Futures Game card subsets. I think picking up a few singles I like is my way of buying into a new product, without picking up a full box of cards.
2007 Bowman Heritage prospect/base sets [$19.99/$20.99 BINs plus $9.50 s/h on Ebay] -Bowman Heritage has been talked about ad neausum in other baseball card related blogs, so people know what these look like. I had a 'write-up' for these already saved, but I lost it cutting-and-pasting [thanks Blogger auto-save] my little notes.

Anyway, the reason I picked up these sets:
1.) For the true rookie cards and first-year prospects -
Tim Lincecum, Daisuke Matsuzaka, Hideki Okajima, Joba Chamberlain, Akinori Iwamura, Mark Reynolds, Jeff Samardzija, Joba Chamberlain [he has a base Bowman Heritage card and also a prospect Bowman Heritage card], Matthew Sweeney [Angels], Chung Young-il [Angels] and numerous others [I have yet to learn about].
2.) For the MLBPA rookie logo cards - the hot Major League Baseball rookies of 2007 who just happen to have rookie cards from previous years already.
3.) To have a complete set for the price of about two blasters or one hobby box - didn't know the shortprints were variations of cards already in the set, so its pretty nice to actually have a 'full' card set without really missing a small subset of shortprints.
4.) I could really care less about the veteran cards - and while interesting, I won't bother marveling over the recycled background [special background, et al] variations within the base set or the little notations Topps has included on some players' images.

Thursday, November 22, 2007

Buying guide

Various things related to baseball card and memorabilia collecting.

A random assortment of packs - maybe five to 15 loose packs [usually up to $4 value each].
Pros - ideally you get to bust open some packs, flipping through cards and hopefully pulling something like an autograph insert.
Cons - you probably feel a little let down, if you don't pull anything of significance. Contents are not guaranteed and pack searching maybe a concern if you are buying random retail packs [or from random hobby venues such as a card shop or card show].
Overall thoughts - busting packs is fun, but if you are looking for 'hits,' then grab key singles instead of gambling on unopened product.

Singles - 1 to 10 individual cards [usually up to $40-$50 value each], maybe certified autographs, patch cards, rookie year/rookie card/first-year/xrc auto cards or vintage cards.
Pros - it seems prudent, when you are getting cards you want for your collection [personal and for trade].
Cons - condition is key if you are looking to pick up a card, especially online. Picking up a card already graded by a third party maybe of some comfort.
Overall thoughts - I see myself more of a singles guy, trying to focus on something more concrete instead of something random. My ideal philosophy is grab the single card over something like unopened boxes and to do so as often as I can make a choice.

Singles - 1 to 10 individual low-end cards [usually up to $10-$15 value each], maybe certified autographs, patch cards, rookie year/rookie card/first-year/xrc auto cards or vintage cards.
Pros - you can pick up a handful of cards you know you'll have in-hand, instead of a random assortment of packs.
Cons - it maybe more for instant gratification, but doesn't it all add up, where you maybe picking up 'give-away' type of cards instead of picking up a single card you would rather have five years from now?
Overall thoughts - with so many cards out there, you have to be picky about the particular cards you want for your collection. It seems like you have to watch out for

Complete sets - one [usually up to $35-$60 value each] factory or hand collated set.
Pros - with factory sets, you get all the cards from a particular release. Over the years, Topps ' factory set packaging features full art graphics as well as bonus card [s] inside. For Target consumers, Topps' factory sets feature a Mickey Mantle relic card - like last year, these are probably worn, but not games jerseys/pants. As far as hand collated sets go, you can start putting together the retro products popular with set builders without busting so many boxes off the bat. Often base sets [typically without the shortprints] are available for a bit less than an unopened box [and just slightly a bit more than a blaster box]. Cons - condition may not be the main concern of people who put together sets just to get rid of them [after they've pulled the hit cards]. Sometimes some cards maybe missing from a hand collated set.
Overall thoughts - products like Topps Heritage, Upper Deck Goudey, Topps Allen and Ginter, Topps Turkey Red [just the toppers for me], Bowman Heritage [perhaps this year] are attractive sets to build or to pick up and get randomly signed through the mail/in-person. As far as factory sets go, Dave and Adams maybe a place to look for 'bargain factory sets' from past years, where you are getting a full factory set of Topps, with bonus cards, for about the price of a retail blaster box.

Unopened boxes - one [usually up to $40 to $70 value each] midlevel box of cards.
Pros - with unopened boxes, you often you get the otherwise guaranteed 'hits' one can pull out of most boxes.
Cons - your hits may not be that great and like a pack of cards, you seem to be paying for the package instead of the contents.
Overall thoughts - you want to break down and bust a product, but there just one new product has to come up, luring you with either their apparent uniqueness. For 'rookie' hunters or the more appropriate 'prospectors,' Bowman Draft and Chrome and Donruss Elite Extra Edition is around the corner. Others gems maybe products sitting around and may have come down in price and may just be good for 'bust value,' but not necessarily yielding any valuable cards.

Autographs - one [usually $5-$150 value each] typically certified [with some exceptions] autographs [card, non-card autographs or autographs to be signed at shows].
Pros - you get the autograph in-hand without much of an effort besides plucking down your hard earned cash. You would get a better signature from subjects who may have a rushed version of their autograph and one used for sit-down signings.
Cons - it costs $$$ to get the better subjects, particularly professional athletes. Not everyone is worth $$$ to pay for.
Overall thoughts - how hard to get is the subject? Walking down the street, will the person essentially sign the same thing for you for free? Are the prices to pick up a non-card autograph reasonable, somewhat high but perhaps worth it or regardless of worth [truly astronomical]? Do you only know to get autographs through purchasing them or do you have expertise in fishing for them in-person or through the mail?
Featured Pick-Up: Torii Hunter

Actually this card was just lying around - but the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim signed the real thing to play centerfield for the next five years.

I nearly choked as I heard on a sports update he was going to the Los Angeles Angels and not the Los Angeles Dodgers - it is a solid move and seems like he has always been a stand-up, face of a franchise guy otherwise, but it came out of nowhere.

Compared to the signing of Gary Matthews Jr. last off-season, Hunter is actually a first-class centerfielder, not a fourth-outfielder type getting first-class money - Hunter is a perennial Gold Glove winner and while his on-base percentage is not particularly special, he is capable of doing a little bit of everything when he isn't out on the field. He can run a little, but more importantly, he is capable of hitting in the middle of the lineup, having hit 20 or more home runs in six of his last seven Major League seasons. He has also driven in 90 or more RBIs, in five of those last seven Major League seasons.

While Hunter maybe 32 years old, I would tend to believe good athletes like Hunter age better than others - I think he'll make up for the energy lost by trading Orlando Cabrera and it will be fun to watch him.

Now if the Angels can only secure a pure slugger, someone like Miguel Cabrera or a solid all-around shortstop like Miguel Tejada - then the offseason will truly be complete, with the addition of a starting pitcher [have], a Gold Glove outfielder [have], a slugger [need] and a shortstop [need].