Sunday, November 30, 2008

Featured card: 2001 Topps Fusion Jeff Cirillo #115

The first thing sticking out is Cirillo's behind - his face is also obscured, which may or may not detract from some card's appeal [see how Tony Gwynn feels about his 1983 Topps card].

On the other hand the card shows Cirillo swinging away at the pitch and perhaps you can visualize what is going on - you hear the crack of the bat as Cirillo makes contact and is about to run to first base.

Maybe it is an extra base hit and Cirillo ends up at second base - after battling the opposing pitcher.

On the other hand, Cirillo could have just fouled a ball off to the stands - you can imagine him running out of the batter's box, letting his bat go, only to pause and realize he has to dig into the batter's box once more.

The camera angle makes the image unique - it isn't just a typical 'upright' image of a player shot at the game. It looks like the photographer took the photo from his knees or at least where he can get somewhat low.

Topps Fusion was more of a homage [if you can call it that] to Donruss' 1998 Collections - where you had very slick, very glossy cards featuring cards designs from several brands [among three I can name are Topps Finest, Topps Gallery, Topps Stadium Club]released as one product. The product is similar to 2002 Donruss Originals and also 2008 Upper Deck Timelines.

Though seemingly forgotten, there was a little more premium feel to the cards in the Topps Fusion product - maybe I'm a little off, but I think Fusion was one of those products Topps thought might have some long term appeal. The images used were a little more exciting for the Stadium Club and Gallery releases.

Still, it was more of a gimmicky product - who knows if including cards of the two hot players in 2001 [some guy named Albert Pujols and a 27-year old 'rookie' from Japan named Ichiro] would have done anything for this product.

Friday, November 28, 2008

Late season update sets

2008 Donruss Elite Extra Edition and 2008 Bowman Draft are out and I think these are the most established products - and where smart collectors put their money in as far as finding cards of their teams' future stars.

I'm trying to get some cards from these products and while the price point per pack are midlevel [maybe $3-$4] - it gets tricky if you are trying by the pack, by the box or perhaps picking up singles. For my own santiy and budget perhaps I'm trying to account for the options I have for picking up either singles or base cards from these sets.

I may not be a prospector, but I want to pick up cards of their teams' potential top prospects prospects - and or first-year cards of the next future stars in baseball.

2008 Donruss Elite Extra edition isn't licensed by the MLB and/or MLBPA - but produced by Donruss, a well-known card company [or at least one with some lineage over the last 25 years].

A non-baseball, novelty subject in 2008 Donruss EEE - is star softball player Cat Osterman.

She is sort of the Jennie Finch, but is not quite - frankly speaking, maybe cards of Osterman in the set will be sought after because she ain't ugly. I think for the NBA prospects [O.J. Mayo, Derrick Rose] in the product, collectors of those sports would rather pick up cards from strictly an NBA licensed product.

For the veteran collector, the harder to find first-year parallels [better if autographed] are key - a few of the notable names available in each product include Gordon Beckham [Chicago White Sox], Michael/Michel Inoa [Oakland Athletics star signee out of the Dominican Republic; available in packs and as a redemption in Bowman Draft] and Buster Posey [San Francisco Giants].

Among its 18-card autograph checklist, 2008 Bowman Draft Chrome also has the likes of - Jesus Montero [New York Yankees; redemption], Michael Stanton [Florida Marlins], Wilmer Flores [New York Mets; redemption], Derek Holland [Texas Rangers], Anthony Hewitt [Philadelphia Phillies] and Josh Reddick [Boston Red Sox].

For the Bowman Draft product, certified autograph cards from the AFLAC baseball tournament are likely going to be the most popular cards - along with the Chrome autographs. Supposedly the AFLAC cards aren't easy to find and those snapping them up hope to have a really scarce parallel if particular players establish themselves as top prospects and/or Major League stars.

For the beginning and/or low budget collector - picking up base sets on Ebay maybe the way to go in order to get a taste of the two products. Parallels and autographs are not in play here, but you have sets of cards featuring players who may play in the Major League some day.

For in-person or through the mail collectors - picking up base sets can be useful in getting newer players' autographs.

Saturday, November 22, 2008

Featured pack break: 2008 Topps Update 'fat pack' or the Mark Teixeira Angels card of horrors

2008 Topps Update 'fat pack' [$4.99 each] - Target had a 'super fat pack' with 80 cards [$9.99], though I'll go with the 36 cards.

'Blister one'
UH 271 Brad Thompson - redundantly meh
UH 55 Cesar Izturis - redundantly meh
UH 13 Geoff Blum - redundantly meh
UH 116 Odalis Perez - redundantly meh
UH 158 Chad Durbin - redundantly meh

UH 200 Luke Scott - fun fact; hit the Baltimore Orioles' 75,000 home run in franchise history.

UH 177 Emmanuel Burriss - this card features Burriss in a 'half-bunt, don't know what I'm doing up here,' stance.

UH 129 Nick Adenhart - this guy has been beat up in 2008 but with as young as he is, you hope he can figure it out like guys destined to be good Major League pitchers do.
UH 240 Clayton Kershaw - the name 'Clayton' reminds me of Royce Clayton and Clayton Bigsby.
UH 286 Aaron Cook - I picked up the same card last weekend but I can use it somewhere.
UH 137 Evan Longoria - details his first Major League home run, a walk-off shot on June 9, 2008 against my Angels.
UH 316 Ben Sheets - redundantly meh, but I can use it somewhere.
UH 281 Chris Aguila - played in 8 games and had two hits in 12 at-bats; sounds like my Little League season a long time ago.
UH 113 Justin Morneau - redundantly meh
UH 129 Ryan Ludwick - I can use it somewhere.
UH 96 Vladimir Nunez - keeping tabs of the cards of players like Aguila and Nunez for my 'I can't believe this guy has made it back for a cup of coffee in the Major Leagues in 2008' collection.

UH 204 Franquelis Osoria - has his Terminator shades on while pitching.

UH 12 Trot Nixon - despite being a 1st round pick, Nixon was never really a great Major League player, but a guy who played hard and was a grinder. He was a definite 'fan-favorite' in Boston. The most likely Photoshopped image shows Nixon in the process of following through a ball he just hit. I realize it is a just a card of Trot Nixon, but it is awkward and isn't appealing. How does Topps choose these images?
Checklist - 2 of the 3
Topps Town promo card
David Wright promo card

'Blister two'

UH 223 Jeff Ridgway - to put things in perspective, he is a little younger than I am, but as a professional baseball player Ridgway has already gone through the fire. According to the Baseball Cube, he was a 14th round draft selection [only the 415th player selected overall] in 1999. He made his Major League debut in 2007 and had a 190.91 ERA, pitching a total of 0.1 batters, spanning three games while giving up seven earned runs. He was the player the Tampa Bay Rays traded to get super-sub Wily Aybar and minor league Chase Fontaine.

UH 289 Chris Gomez - he is a 'Real Man of Genius,' for his ability to play 16 years in the Major Leagues as a utility infielder. In his career, we see he went through a half-season phase where he slugged .513 in 2001, but he has been mostly the master of the 'empty batting average.' I personally think his ability to hit for average [.279, .341, .297 and .273] is impressive for a guy who was likely to get the bat knocked out of his hands.

Statheads will tell you his lifetime .325 on-base percentage and his .360 slugging percentage is where Gomez' lack of true value stands out - other than a guy who maybe a late-inning defensive replacement or a guy to fill in for a strictly limited amount of time.

Still, Gomez has bounced around for many teams - and is still able to earn a Major League paycheck and haunt the occasional Topps pack.
UH 157 Mark Hendrickson
UH 109 Alberto Callaspo - he bounced back from some personal issues, but might find himself in the class of Gomez as far as a guy who may hit for average, but not do much else middle infielder.

UH 21 Darrell Rasner - sold to Japan; looks like Shelly Duncan #17 is in the background is having his picture taken in spring training.

UH 117 Jed Lowrie - a beaming Lowrie looks to be a cornerstone in the Boston Red Sox' infield for the next five years as a guy who should be able to bang the ball around the place.
MRH-DJ Davey Johnson - Mets Ring of Honor insert
UH 78 Dallas Braden - gold parallel serial #'d 0243/2008
FC 19 James and Lucretia Garfield - First Couples insert
UH 136 Hanley Ramirez/Albert Pujols Classic Combos subset - picked up two of these cards last weekend

UH 137 Connor Robertson - AKA Ronnie Gardocki
UH 112 Josh Hamilton/J.D. Drew Classic Combos subset - picked up this card last weekend
UH 71 Mariano Rivera - remember getting a picture with him back in the day, about 10 years ago, but never being able to get his autograph since.
UH 305 Ben Francisco
UH 287 Chase Headley

UH 318 Kyle Farnsworth - I happen to think he is one of the worst relievers in baseball along with Scott Schoeneweis. They don't seem to have the consistency to get it done. There relievers who you consider 'automatic,' but go through bad stretches, but then there are guys like Farnsworth and/or Schoeneweis who are just not dependable. They walk too many guys, they allow too many hits and seem to make games longer rather than serve as the bridge from the starter to the closer.
UH 276 Corey Hart - though he is an American baseball player, it is a good bet, you'll always get the 'Sunglasses at Night' reference as recorded by the Canadian musician whenever a highlight comes on featuring the baseball player [thanks Neil Everett / John Anderson of ESPN].

UH 294 Mark Teixeira - I should be happy I pulled a Teixeira card picturing him as an Angel, but 'Tex' looks like he is dazed and confused. He really does look like he is constipated and needs to excuse himself to go No. 2. Thanks for the Teixeira card of horrors, Topps.

Friday, November 21, 2008

Card shop trip

Bonus babies or cameo cards

You walk into a card shop and wish you can pick up unopened packs or boxes, maybe some singles - but then some times you get 'sticker shock' and decide you'd better be thinking about picking up something else.

Broken bat shots

Besides, there used to be this great site called Ebay, where at time, you can pick up some cards, but I digress - I must be a luddite because I don't actively use my PayPal account and Ebay has mandated sellers to do paperless transactions.

You are a little unsure if it is worth it just to go through a particular baseball card shop's common boxes, but part of the pilgrimage is digging through the commons boxes - I don't feel bad about putting some money into finding and picking up cards because I believe, I'm not spending some money to pick up cards of no value to me [at the very least].

Awesome action

I went through several monster boxes of commons and was able to get through parts of five different, random years - 2008, 2007, 2006, 2001 and 1997.

I ended up spending $20 to pick up 200 assorted cards from the commons bin - to add to my various 'personal' sets.

I had typed up a 'wantlist' I'd made up for the trip, but who organizes wantlists for collecting topic cards and various base cards [?] - these are my sets however. I don't collect to complete a set, but by the randomness of finding qualities among typically common cards.

Sometimes there is confusion with individual cards you have to think about - the most obvious cards I collect are image related and a bulk of my collecting topics cards consist of such cards.

If you do see a card that fits into one of the collecting topic classifications you are looking for, you need to grab it - I don't think any card is difficult to find, but there are so many card sets released each year. How do you find the ones you don't see because they were printed 10-15 years ago? It isn't a matter of scarcity or value, but just physically finding the cards in-hand when they are probably in mothballs.

Tools of ignorance

I'm admittedly anal about picking up the right number of cards and choosing different cards - but I ended up with doubles of some cards and later found I already had some cards I had picked up. I guess I get so excited at times to pick up as many cards as I can and I'm just not sure whether I have a particular card already.

Awesome outfield action

I hear checklists may help sort things out, but for as long as I've considered myself as a collector - I still need to figure how to be a 'nerd' and use a checklist for my benefit.

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Taking account of it all with some perspective

I live in Orange County, California but was about 90 miles away in El Cajon - to attend one of baseball Hall of Famer Tony Gwynn's public appearances at a car dealership on Nov. 15.

I was pretty much isolated from the fires that burned through parts of Riveride/Los Angeles County and Orange County - the Triangle Complex; Brea, Anaheim Hills, Yorba Linda, Chino Hills, Corona, Diamond Bar.

I visited a baseball card shop down south to stock up on some 'goodies' from their commons bins - spending the afternoon there with a friend immersed in digging up cards the store was selling for a dime each.

I finally called back my mother, who had called me about five times intermittently during the afternoon - she said a neighborhood park burned down along with a singular house close to ours.

Going back to Orange County, there is a surreal feeling because you know there is supposedly a fire threatening your home - but life is still going on. You realize something is going on that maybe bugging you, but then it isn't affecting others at all. There is supposed to be this fire, but how can it be, that everyone is not stopping in their tracks?

I was kind of stunned on my way to Uncle's house, where it was somewhat safer [though I didn't honestly know how much] - I was seeing glimpses of the fires blazing, blowing for the first time. There were fires at several different areas and I'm thinking this wasn't just some isolated incident. I was sort of scared at the implication of these fires burning.

I tried to keep it as real as possible for me - knowing I was safe and really wasn't exposed to what I consider a tragedy. If I'd stayed the whole day at home, then go through the motions of having to be evaculated 'on the go,' I might have lost my cool.

I was worried about my inanimate, sentimental stuff however like keepsakes and collectibles - I wish my brother didn't patronize and mock me about not being able to save my 'stuff' since I didn't want to be reminded that a fire might wipe out 'stuff' I thought I cared enough about to build up.

What is the stuff I'll take a chance on burning without really crying over it [?] - I may need to have the cavalier attitude for most things, that they can either burn and/or you can replace them one way or the other [no matter how much they cost in the first place].

It doesn't mean certain things may not mean as much, but only serve as distractions - by keeping you from actually saving some one-of-a-kind items or stuff that may actually be crucial. Of course, you don't have a choice at times to even save the truly special stuff.

You amass and accumulate - but find it is a mess to realistically take all your 'stuff' where you know you aren't worrying about one more thing. It becomes a doomsday scenario, where you must decide what to grab, on the run.

What are the must grabs [?] - it really is difficult to think about; maybe my little thumb drive, since it has become sort of your storage area for journals, database information, maybe passwords, et al. You don't do a single thing on the computer, without opening a file on your thumb drive.

I was able to take refuge at my Uncle's home - good thing no one forgot the family dog.

Sunday, November 09, 2008

Featured pickup: 2008 Topps Stadium Club Gary Sheffield Beam Team autograph BTA-GS

I probably didn't need this card - but I had to prove to myself I could pick up one, lousy single from a recently released product for less than the current average pack price.

I guess I'm a sucker for $10 singles and this card was something to put away in my pocket - though I am fully aware Sheffield is unpopular [and uncollectible] for a number of reasons.

The nephew of Doc Gooden, Sheffield was once young and dumb enough to say at one time - he was booting balls on purpose to somehow get traded from his Milwaukee Brewers team.

While he inches towards 500 home runs and has had an all-star career - he has never been happy anywhere and has grumbled one way or the other with how he is treated.

Sheffield called out Barry Bonds for treating him like dirt [during their off-season training sessions] and for getting him involved with BALCO - Sheffield also called out Joe Torre for basically getting in his face as opposed to other teammates with typically lighter complexions during their time with the Yankees.

Sheffield also called out the establishment of Major League Baseball and lamented its practices in finding young talent in South America - compared to finding talent in the inner cities of the United States.

Sheffield also called out super agent Scott Boras - because Boras has claimed he had a hand in negotiating Sheffield's contract with the New York Yankees and wants his due bonus.

Sheffield always speaks his truth, which may not be how others see it - because the media often portrays athletes of his ilk a certain way, many of the things he has said are often mocked.

Monday, November 03, 2008

Trying to keep things in play

I'm organizing card images of collecting topics cards - either scanned or collected online. I figure I have a better idea of why I want a particular card, when I know what it looks like.

I am also trying to create an informal wantlist of collecting topic cards
- so I have something in-hand when I'm hunting down cards at a more organized venue i.e. a 'baseball card shop' as opposed to a card show, where different booths may have different cards scattered about.

There are no misconception about the value of these cards - most collecting topics cards are found in the commons bin. I pick them up for my amusement, so I get involved as a card collector, when there is really no consideration for anything but value these days.

There are probably lots of cards I still need from various mass-produced sets from 1987-1993 - instead of looking for individual cards, what I may do is buy complete sets [probably $10 or less] of products like 1987 Topps, 1991-1993Upper Deck, 1992 Donruss, et al.

As I look to add more cards from these sets - I realize it isn't worth picking up individual cards if all of them are worth 1/2 a nickel each. However nostalgia kicks in and part of me wants to have complete sets of cards from my formative collecting days.

On the other hand, picking up junk sets and looking for those commons to fill holes as far as collecting topics cards are concerned seems pointless - unless I literally stumble into particular cards from various 1987-1993 sets.