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].

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Featured Mail Day

2003 Upper Deck Prospects Premiere Jake Fox certified autograph, 2004 Donruss Elite Extra Edition Thomas Diamond and 2004 Bowman Chris Lubanski - I was itching to do something and I traded three uncertified autograph cards I gotten signed in-person myself [Mark Langston, Kelvim Escobar and Garry Templeton] for these.It maybe harder to find certified autograph XRC or rookie cards and picking them up is tricky, if you just want to do so and not get into this prospecting business - unfortunately, I think Fox was passed up by Geovany Soto on the Chicago Cubs' organizational chart at catcher, Diamond missed the 2007 season because of Tommy John surgery and Lubanski's first cards came out the year before.

Say Goodbye to 'The OC' Angels' Fans

Orlando Cabrera for Jon Garland is an interesting move - Cabrera is supposedly an aging shortstop who is coming off a career year - he was also the best athlete on the team [sorry: Chone Figgins] and the quarterback of the infield. I think the Angels will survive because they have millions of owner Arte Moreno's money to spend, but not having a capabale backup catcher [Jose Molina] may have hurt them this past postseason and now they've traded away a guy who is a wizard on defense and a clubhouse leader.

I think Erick Aybar is going to be given the first opportunity see what he can do at shortstop - he was the Angels'top prospect at the position for the last several years, though he hasn't gotten an extended opportunity to prove himself as a big league regular. Maicer Izturis can also play shortstop and may actually start, though his ability to stay healthy the entire season is a question mark. Izturis maybe more of a supersub, filling in on an everyday basis.

Garland, who may or may not be part of another, significant deal is what he is and that maybe just good enough - the So.Cal native keeps his era around mid 4.00 level and while it isn't particular impressive, it looks like he keeps his team in games. He has recorded double digit wins in the past six seasons and is fairly durable, throwing 200 innings or more in the past four years.

As for the rumored trade talks for guys like Miguel Cabrera and also Miguel Tejada - I'm not holding my breath, though obviously it would be great to have either one [or both] on the left side of the infield for the Angels.

Monday, November 19, 2007

2007 American League Most Valuable Player

Alex Rodriguez - New York Yankees - I think I've been waiting a while, expecting to make this post already. It was A-Rod's award to lose and he obviously deserved it, along with a new $275 million 'extension' he'd jockeyed for ever since he opted out of his contract just before the World Series ended.

He might just be [he is] the best player people have seen in decades - Barry Bonds has 762 home runs, but if A-Rod is just several 'big' seasons away from that number and it looks like he is going to do it within the next five or six years, not at an age, where you need HGH or other performance enhancing drugs. For whatever reason, I think A-Rod is a guy who has other interests to pursue and will not be playing baseball long enough to reach Barry and beyond. On the other hand, his new contract clearly defines, Rodriguez will be expected to chase the all-time home run record in the Major Leagues.

I remember paying at least $18 for the card - it maybe worth a third of that, but I bought it when Upper Deck released its 2001 Upper Deck SP Game Bat Milestone Edition Baseball product. A-Rod was one of the established superstar players of the day [still is] and I thought I just had to get a bat card of his. Now bat and jersey cards are a dime a dozen [even for superstars] and they aren't special anymore, unless you really just want one for your personal collection.

Sunday, November 18, 2007

Featured Break
2007 Upper Deck Masterpieces [$2.99] retail pa
ck - was at a popular retail store and was tempted at picking up some packs at their trading card section. I had three packs 2007 Bowman Heritage [$2.99 each] and two 2007 Fleer Ultra fat packs [$4.99 each] in hand, along with a pack of 2007 Upper Deck Masterpieces [$2.99].

I ended up only picking up the Masterpieces pack - trying to exercise restraint when you want to bust some packs is hard, but there was no need to get crazy on retail. I considered the packs and I was probably only to get a bunch of base cards. If I can get base cards for a nickel, it isn't fun when you are paying $3 or $5 a pack retail.

The Masterpieces are nice looking cards - the 'matte' board stock the base cards are printed on makes them feel more than just another set, especially when you are flipping through the cards. I got Hideki [the Average Asian] Matsui, Babe Ruth [pitching as a member of the Boston Red Sox], Andrew Miller [what a concept - both a MLBPA rookie logo card and an actual rookie card, according to pre-2006 definitions of a what qualifies as a rookie card] and a 1969 New York Mets World Series championship card, which I'm sure some Mets' fan will find appealing.

Thursday, November 15, 2007

Card shop buys - I'm from 'Los Angeles' and my friend and I went to a card shop down South to San Diego to visit a card shop after attending a public appearance/signing with this guy pictured below. We'd stopped by CJ's Sports Cards and then one other one [Clairemont Sports Cards].

I didn't do anything for the first 30 minutes - kind of hesitant to ask about stuff. The store is less 'flashy' compared to CJ's, where there is a lot of things to catch your eye such as autographed memorabilia. The card displays [baseball section] featured cards of local players, some better premium cards, vintage cards I should be paying attention to and others.

I was sort of tempted checking out the packs, but not quite [2007 Bowman Heritage was $4 a pack, while 2007 Upper Deck SP Rookie Edition was $6]
- for whatever reason, 2007 Upper Deck SP Rookie Edition is my 2006 Tristar Prospects. It is a fairly common product, but I just can't find one pack of it to pick-up.

We were going to leave, but I finally got the courage to ask about the boxes [years and years of various commons] on the shelves
- I asked how much the cards were and the man at the counter said they were 12 for dollar.

I just then went nuts for the next 30 minutes
- I realized I had access to all these common cards and possibly, I might just be able to pick up some cards from brands like the 2005 Turkey Red [the autograph set I forgot I was doing]. I got stuck on pulling out a bunch of those, even though I realized Allen and Ginter was nicer to get signed.

I wouldn't spend $17 on scrap cards and I'd probably overspent on principle, but who knows if I'll see a card again in the immediate future
- however, at this point of the collect game, you you don't need to look need to have a card in-hand worth so much money, just cards to look through and make you smile. It kind of gets tedious when you want to look for set fillers and unique common cards, but the venues are seemingly limited.

You can't always go somewhere and flip through boxes of cards to dig for all these cards
- the thing is you aren't working from a checklist, but you are hoping there are diamonds in the rough, even if you are looking for a unique card still worth five cents.

Maybe one day, I'll pull a Forrest Gump and wonder why I was running from coast to coast
- for now, I'm just enjoying the journey. I just kept stumbling on cards I couldn't put back featuring players wearing retro uniforms, making awesome catches, making awesome plays, et al. I don't know if I found one 'bonus baby,' but I got a lot of everything else for my various collecting topics collections.

By the numbers
- 207 total cards
For particular brands, I'm collecting them because I want to get them autograph in-person or through the mail.

2 2001 Fleer Tradition cards - Placido Polanco and B.J. Surhoff; only two missing cards I can remember off the top of my head, though there is more. Original cards were mailed off and are missing in action.

89 2005 Topps Turkey Red cards - I pulled two I had doubles of in Mike Lieberthal and Chris Burke.

I now have a stack of 108/315 - not counting short prints, loose cards in 'team sets' I've
compiled for in-person autograph endeavors, autographed already or scattered in general.
9 2006 Turkey Red cards - never really got into this product, though I'll see what I can find and pick up.

13 2006 Allen and Ginter cards - I don't know how many I have unsigned.
35 2007 Allen and Ginter cards - Noah Lowry was the double I picked up and I now have 56/350, not counting short prints, loose cards in 'team sets' I've compiled for in-person autograph endeavors, autographed already or scattered in general.
For other cards, I'm collecting them because they are cute - there is no way to describe them. The draw isn't some great endeavor to find a rare variation or another card to get autographed. I'm looking for base cards that may get one second glance and a 'hmmm, that is interesting' from everyone else, but not me.

26 'awesome action or personality shot' cards - from this stack, it seemed most came from 2005 Upper Deck and 2001 Fleer Ultra, with a few card from 2001 Topps Fusion. I was surprised at finding so many cards from the Fleer Ultra set and they really put something into the image selection of their 2001 set.

I see these two brands as pioneers of unique images on baseball cards:
1984 Fleer - personality shots [Glenn Hubbard and his boa constrictor].
1989 Upper Deck - personality and awesome action shots.

Other products [such 1990 Leaf, 1991 Stadium Club] followed - giving collectors more options as far as attractive looking base cards, something that would never come out of a $0.50 Topps pack.

4 'awesome outfield action' shots - specifically guys in the outfield making plays.

4' retro uniform' shots - guys pictured in retro uniforms.
1 'broken bat' shot - 2005 Upper Deck Moises Alou

1 'signing autograph' shot - 2005 Upper Deck Marquis Grissom
1 'pitcher doing hitter hitter things' shot - this one was a 2004 Topps card of Jason Marquis leading off first base, looking at the pitcher.
9 'young stars' cards - just different cards catching my eye, featuring Ryan Zimmerman, Prince Fielder, Grady Sizemore, Felix hernandez, Matt Caine, Brian McCann, Nick Markakis, John Maine and Jeff Francoeur.
1 Jim Edmonds card - for whatever reason, he is sentimental favorite from his days as a California/Anaheim Angel.
10 filler cards - just random cards to possibly get signed in-person or through the mail.
1 2007 Goudey Brian Roberts - the images looks vaguely like Manny Ramirez; I'm not saying the image is of Manny being Manny, but you wonder how the people at Upper Deck morphed Roberts' image into the card.
1 2004 Topps David Bell - Jimmy Rollins is peaking in the background; Rollins has been a star for the last four or five years, while, Bell is somewhere in oblivion after not playing in 2007.

Featured Breaks
1991 Topps Stadium Club [$0.75 each or 10 for $5] packs - I busted eight of the 10 packs I picked up from a card shop's unopened clearance bin and the 'superstars' I pulled were Frank Thomas, Wade Boggs, Don Mattingly and Greg Maddux [x2]. I wasn't going to pull any single cards out of this product worth mentioning [anymore]. However, when every 'modern day' pack at the shop I visited was at least $5 or $6 each, I was looking for loose packs maybe on 'we just want want to get rid of this crap' discount.

Considering this was one the hottest products of its time when it first came out, I had to 'fish' for some of these packs - especially when products like these, when they first came out, was something really mystical to me. The serious collectors had 1989 Upper Deck, 1990 Leaf and 1991 Stadium Club, and I had 1991 Donruss, 1991 Fleer and 1991 Topps.

The 1991 Stadium Club boasted photo quality images and in its prime, was not regarded the same as 1988 Donruss - I tore through the packs knowing its pretty much a dead product, though still feeling like I was making up for something I never had.

I also pulled random California Angels [Chuck Finley, Brian Harvey, Luis Polonia, Lee Stevens, Mark Langston, Mike Fetters among a few others] and minor stars like Larry Walker, Moises Alou, Gary Sheffield, Craig Biggio, Omar Vizquel, Eric Davis, Paul O'Neill, etc - its funny, but perspective changes over time and I'm mentioning those players like their cards were worth pulling back then [or now], when they were all commons. Now, you can take a look at someone's statistics on and realize how Biggio is in the 3,000 hit club, how Sheffield and Alou are still playing and players like Walker, Vizquel, Davis and O'Neill were considered 'stars,' if not all-star performers.

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

Featured Mail Day
2007 Upper Deck SPX Winning Material Eric Chavez patch serial #'d 54/99 [$3.88 plus $2.50 s/h on Ebay] - I like patch cards, but Eric Chavez has to be one of the most disappointing players this decade. Seriously, he has all the talent in the world as an 'all-world' defender and he's kind of pretty good, but inconsistent. I think the Angels could use him, though the past two years, he hasn't quite come around with the bat, because he's been banged up.

If he only put up four or five consecutive years of all-star offensive seasons, he'd be a future Hall of Famer.