Monday, October 31, 2011

2011 Topps Update Value Box recap

2011 Topps Value box [$14.99 each at a Target]

I wasn't impressed when it seemed like I went through the break in about five minutes - in these latest value boxes, there is a hobby pack of 2011 Bowman Chrome, five eight-card retail packs of 2011 Topps Update along with a code card and a Bryce Harper bonus card exclusive to these boxes.

The Topps Value boxes earlier this year were put together a little differently - featuring two hobby packs of 2011 Topps Heritage, five 12-card retail packs of 2011 Topps, a Diamond Giveaway code card and a bonus card exclusive to these value boxes.

Bryce Harper bonus card - finding a Harper card out of a Topps product this year hasn't become too hard to find; this is a nice card though I doubt it is going to be worth more than a few bucks and as much as I'd like to pull an autograph of his, the player isn't really too high on my list right now. It seems like Topps is hyping him up as a Major League star when he hasn't had one Major League at-bat yet and maybe it is just a little premature.

Topps Diamond Giveaway code card - revealed a 1967 Topps dual rookie card of Sal Bando which isn't too bad; a rookie card of a star from the Oakland Athletics World Championship teams of the 1970s.

2011 Bowman Chrome hobby pack
#BCP 219 Fernando Abad
#BCP 162 Brody Colvin

#55 B.J. Upton - refractor
#131 Nelson Cruz

2011 Topps Update eight-card packs

Pack one
#US-272 Jorge Cantu
#US-182 Ronny Paulino
#US-183 Carlos Peguero
#US-328 Kevin Gregg
#KC-134 Miguel Cabrera - Kimball Champions insert
#US-22 Randall Delgado
#US-174 Jacob Turner
#US-297 Chase D'Arnaud

Pack two
#US-235 Charlie Morton
#US-298 Yorvit Torrealba
#US-177 Rene Tosoni

#US-152 Julio Teheran - Cognac parallel; the foil on the banner seems a little imperfect.

#T60-129 Ty Cobb - Topps 60 insert
#US-4 Brian McCann
#US-82 Mark Ellis
#US-49 Rickie Weeks

Pack three
#US-139 Rafael Soriano
#US-90 James Russell
#US-39 Eduardo Sanchez
#US-264 Alex White
#US-255 Allen Craig
#TTU-27 Neil Walker - ToppsTown
#207 Angel Pagan - Cognac parallel
#US-304 Hunter Pence

Pack four
#US-11 Jason Pridie
#US-217 Elliot Johnson
#US-39 Eduardo Sanchez
#US-264 Alex White
#US-320 Russell Martin
#US-267 Sam Fuld - Platinum Diamond Anniversary parallel
#US-96 Zach Duke - Cognac parallel
#US-62 Jason Marquis

Pack five
#US-286 Rich Thompson
#US-307 Casey Coleman
#US-317 Craig Counsell
#US-126 Adrian Gonzalez
#US-53 Koji Uehara - gold parallel serial #'d 1341/2011
#T60-143 Lance Berkman
#US-316 Justin Upton
#US-20 Adrian Gonzalez

Saturday, October 29, 2011

Featured autograph - Chris Carpenter

At least one more post featuring an in-person autograph from a player from the 2011 World Series champs - I just wish 'shiny cards' would scan cleaner, so the image looks as good as the actual autographed card does in hand.

Featured autograph - Julian Tavarez

I probably got journeyman Julian Tavarez to sign this card [I thought I had him sign two of this particular card but have only one in-hand] back in the early to mid 2000s - does the hiring of former MLB pitcher Jerry DiPoto as the Angels new general manager mean I'm that much closer to completing this dual card?

Featured autograph - David Freese

I probably didn't think much of David Freese when he signed for me back in 2010 - he came over to the railing about 10-15 minutes before a San Diego Padres / St. Louis Cardinals game at Petco Park and must have signed at least three cards for me.

I thought he was pretty accomodating but saw him only as a player who broke into the Major Leagues as an older rookie
- who had been busted up with injuries several times over and at one point was also arrested for DUI.

I would have never guessed he'd seize the second chances afforded to him as a Major League player and become a folk hero in St. Louis for his 2011 postseason heroics - particularly in the 2011 World Series where he was named the MVP of a team seemingly panned as probably not being good enough to battle it out against the Rangers for a championship.

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

2011 Topps Update Walmart blaster recap

2011 Topps Update blaster box [$19.98 each at a Walmart]

Throwback Patch pack
TLMP-JMO Joe Morgan

Pack one
US-234 Brandon Crawford
US-174 Jacob Turner
US-5 Josh Willingham
US-176 Xavier Nady
US-62 Jason Marquis
US-92 Hunter Pence
DD-17 Craig Kimbrell / Julio Teheran - Diamond Duos insert
US-243 Chris Denorfia

Pack two
US-255 Allen Craig
US-85 Roy Halladay
US-329 Dee Gordon
US-120 Bobby Parnell
US-33 Jayson Nix
TDG-21 Mickey Mantle - Diamond Giveaway code card
T60-132 George Sisler - Topps 60 insert
US-131 Jeff Keppinger

Pack three
US-201 Hisanori Takahashi
US-250 Zack Greinke
US-278 Jacoby Ellsbury
US-300 Carl Crawford
US-28 Adam Kennedy
374 Washington Nationals - this maybe a Hope parallel card, serial #'d 03/60 but the surface is peeling though...
US-102 Sean Burnett - Platinum Diamond Anniversary parallel
US-150 Adrian Beltre - looks like someone took a corner and bent it on purpose

Pack four
US-214 Matt Daley
US-262 Javy Guerra
US-315 Carlos Pena
US-140 Clayton Kershaw
US-145 Bartolo Colon
US-32 Matt Stairs - gold parallel serial #'d 1477/2011
KC-145 Eric Hosmer - Kimball Champions insert
US-193 Lonnie Chisenhall - looks like someone took a corner and bent it on purpose.

Pack five
US-115 Kerry Wood
US-223 Arthur Rhodes
US-255 Allen Craig
US-58 Tim Lincecum
US-87 Clayton Mortensen
TTU-48 Ian Desmond - ToppsTown
22 Barry Zito - Cognac parallel
US-33 Jayson Nix

Pack six
US-183 Carlos Peguero
US-11 Jason Pridie
US-251 Justin Turner
US-249 Starlin Castro
US-252 Derek Jeter
US-301 Tom Gorzelanny
US-8 David Robertson - Platinum Diamond Anniversary parallel
US-62 Jason Marquis

Pack seven
US-63 Doug Fister
US-27 Joey Devine
US-198 Kevin Jepsen
US-273 Miguel Montero
US-105 Joel Hanrahan
TDG-30 Prince Fielder - Diamond Giveaway code card
KC-141 Andre Dawson - Kimball Champions insert

US-316 Justin Upton - looks like someone took a corner and bent it on purpose; maybe I can find a few more cards this way but the damaged of cards of Beltre, Chisenhall and Upton are the most pronounced.

Pack eight
US-220 Adam Dunn
US-51 Andruw Jones
US-291 Andrew McCutchen
US-42 David Ortiz
US-271 Eric O'Flaherty

US-191 Andy Sonnanstine - Cognac parallel; the foil on the banner featuring the player's name and position is sort of scratched out.
T60-145 Michael Pineda - Topps 60 insert
US-5 Josh Willingham

Pack nine - Walmart blue parallel pack #1; I didn't really care for the black parallels found in previous Topps Walmart blasters, but they seemed to be a little more unique than slapping a blue border on the Update base cards.

US-89 Sean O'Sullivan
US-97 Cody Eppley
US-328 Kevin Gregg
US-197 Brandon League
TDG-25 Adrian Beltre - Diamond Giveaway code card
T60-146 Freddie Freeman - Topps 60 insert
US-249 Starlin Castro
Us-252 Derek Jeter

Pack 10 - Walmart blue parallel pack #2
US-46 Angel Sanchez
US-157 Reed Johnson
US-161 Connor Jackson
US-288 Eric Thames
US-32 Matt Stairs - Platinum Diamond Anniversary parallel
20 Honus Wagner - Cognac parallel; this is a parallel of a short print variation, though I believe these are made in the same quantities as the other non-SP Cognac parallels.
US-323 Jhonny Peralta
US-310 Scott Rolen

PS - there were three Diamond Giveaway cards in the box and I unlocked a 1980 Topps Francisco Barrios #107, a 1979 Topps Paul Mitchell #233 and a 1984 Topps Jim Clancy #575.

Featured autograph - Chris Cron

Another former Angel autograph to add my collection - Cron is the hitting coach for the Salt River Rafters in the Arizona Fall League and I was able to get a couple of cards signed in-person before a game several weeks ago.

Sunday, October 23, 2011

Featured autographs - Angels instructional league

Jim Gott - from a Pinnacle subset from the early 1990's.

Gary DiSarcina

Nathan Haynes

I took a trip to arizona to catch a week of Arizona Fall League games and to try to get autographs of Major League Baseball's top prospects - a wrinkle was seeing Angels minor leaguers work out at their facility for the instructional league, which consists of young players drafted in the past year and other players in the minor league system looking to get more work in before [I assume] they finally shut it down for the year.

Though I wondered what kind of nuts baseball fans my friend and I were to be hanging around watching mostly obscure minor leaguers taking batting practice and working out otherwise - I guess it all comes down to getting the handful of cards I have for Angels minor leaguers signed, after the unsigned cards have been sitting in a box all year long.

It was my first time trying to get autographs at instructs, so my friend and were not actually quite sure where to go - during the day we planned to see the Angels minor leaguers, we they would be working out at Tempe Diablo Stadium and the main Major League complex.

After not seeing anything the morning we got to Tempe Diablo Stadium and twiddling with our thumbs - some desperate driving around led us to find a neighboring actual minor league complex for the Angels.

My friend was ready to go and get his cards signed, even though he didn't know any of the players' faces and was hoping to get help - I was a little more hesitant in going down to the practice fields where players worked out, seeing we might be stepping on some sort of restricted area.

I think my friend and I spent two mornings at the minor league complex - we saw a handful of coaches and staff from the organization including current Angels manager Mike Scioscia, current Angels hitting coach Mickey Hatcher, minor league coach Jim Gott, minor league coach Nathan Haynes, former Angel Mark Langston, former Angels shortstops Dick Schofield and Gary DiSarcina.

Ryan Bolden - he was the 40th overall pick in the 2010 draft but has struggled in the minors so far.

Chevez Clarke - like Bolden, he was a first round pick in 2010 [30th overall] who looks like he needs more work on becoming a proficient baseball players at the professional level; it seems obvious but he also needs to work on signing a better autograph.

Kaleb Cowart - he was pretty accommodating about signing otherwise.

Randal Grichuk - got my 2009 Tristar Prospects Plus dual card finished with Grichuk's autograph after getting 'Michael Trout's' autograph on the card in 2010.

Wes Hatton - it looks like he is listed as a second baseman in the card I got signed, but he is listed as a pitcher in the roster my friend had found, so I assume he is being converted to be in the mound after spending parts of three seasons in the minors as a position player.

Taylor Lindsey - he had an impressive season in 2011 and he maybe the guy to keep an eye on as far as an offensive-minded second base prospect in the Angels system.

Donnie Roach - I actually got this card signed after the Angels / Chicago Cubs instructional league game at Fitch Park, where the Cubs minor league complex is.

Monday, October 03, 2011

Featured autograph - Terry Clark

Former Angel Terry Clark was the Texas Rangers AAA pitching coach in 2011 and I was able to get his autograph on three cards [one goes to my 'All-Time Angels' collection] when the Rangers played the Angels on Sept. 27 - he spent parts of six seasons as a journeyman pitcher in the Major Leagues from 1988-1997.

Looking at his numbers, it looks like he Clark had a much more respectable career grinding it out through the
minors - starting out as an 18-year old in 1979 and pitching through his mid 30s.

Featured autograph - Ivan Nova

I got the autograph of the New York Yankees rookie star pitcher Ivan Nova before the Angels / Yankees game on Sept. 11 - he has really come through big at times for the Yankees in 2011, though I keep remembering he spent spring training with the San Diego Padres in 2009 and didn't stick with that team.

Fast forward to the 2011 American League Division Series and Nova maybe the most reliable starting pitcher - the Yankees have after C.C. Sabathia.

Featured autograph - Mitch Moreland

I got this card originally signed in 2010 but the card didn't take the Sharpie very well and I ended up cleaning off the autograph - I had to wait about a year later before I was able to run into Moreland again and get him to sign a couple of cards before an Angels game on Sept. 27.

Sunday, October 02, 2011

Featured autographs - Rod Carew and Ken Forsch

As the case with being an autograph collector, I had another Angels Leaders card that needed Rod Carew's autograph - a 1982 Topps card featuring Carew and Ken Forsch.

After getting him on the 1983 Topps Angels Leaders card in the previous post
- I didn't think I'd get an opportunity to get Carew's autograph again and in my last Angels game of the 2011 season on Sept. 27, I nearly didn't.

Apparently it was Angels pitching coach Mike Butcher throwing out the first pitch before the game against the Texas Rangers - I kept thinking it was going to be former Angel Ricky Adams [a utility man for the team in the mid 1980s] making an appearance, but unfortunately his battle with cancer still continues.

The acquaintance that told me it was Carew signing on Sept. 26 said it might be the Hall of Famer appearing again - I didn't quite believe him this time, so I disregarded the information.

Another acquaintance said it was worth the gamble to sneak away during batting practice and try and get a wristband, but I still didn't listen - apparently the usher giving the wristbands out wasn't telling anybody the 'surprise guest,' except to say it wasn't Nolan Ryan.

The biggest speculation about the Angels 50th Anniversary 'first pitch' signers probably revolved around whether Ryan [couldn't make it out to Anaheim due to an illness], Reggie Jackson [who signed] or Dave Winfield [who signed] - would actually throw out the first pitch before the game and sign during the game.

By the time I bothered to try and get a wristband just for the heck of it, there was no more to be passed out - I asked one of the ushers who it was going to be and he said it was Carew.

After getting Mike Trout [8x10 print] and Bobby Abreu [2011 Topps Allen and Ginter] before the game, I wanted to stay away as possible from where Carew was signing - I was bummed out, knowing all the 'autograph regulars' in 2011 were in line to get Carew and I wasn't thinking things through.

During the game I was literally just chilling out when I saw a guy, his son and another guy [I've seen as a regular 'ballhawk' and autograph collector] running past me out by tables near the Carl's Jr. stands on the first base side - I knew they were collectors otherwise and I just grabbed my stuff and tried to follow, hoping they knew something I didn't.

They ran past Gate 5 and towards the Field Level Concourse near the right field corner - I think they lost someone and I sort of held off, thinking they maybe chasing after something else or were completely clueless.

If it was Carew they were after, he'd probably going out the team offices - I asked the usher at Gate 5 if there was re-entry, in case I had to go out and chase after Carew.

He said there was re-entry but, "not at this gate."

From where I stood inside, I saw Carew walking from the offices to the parking lot and decided to take my chances with him outside - I try to get out of the stadium and catch him as he is opening the door of his car.

I try to keep some space between us as I ask him to sign - he agrees and signs my 1982 Topps Angels Leaders card with Ken Forsch.

I asked him how he was and he asked me how I was - a simple greeting back-and-forth and I was relieved I had no real problem getting him, even though an hour before I felt like sulking by myself because I thought I had missed out.

Featured autographs - Rod Carew and Mike Witt

Rod Carew was signing for former Angels player Jim Eppard [the Angels AAA hitting coach at Salt Lake] throwing out the first pitch before the Angels game on Sept. 26 - I thought it was Eppard signing [I did realize as a coach called up after their season is over, Eppard still had to be in the dugout during the game] so I didn't bother to get an autograph wristband at the start of batting practice until an acquaintance came up and told me it was Carew doing the chore.

With a couple of other acquaintances, we hustled to get where the usher was handing out wristbands for the autograph signing - there was actually no problem getting an wristband because no one expected it would be Carew to show up.

During the game, I got my 1983 Topps Angels Leaders / checklist card with Carew and Mike Witt signed - though I wondered why I didn't have a better 'non-card' item to get signed.

I didn't want to be holding onto the card for while - knowing I still needed to get Carew on it in case he showed up to make an appearance somewhere.

Maybe if I hadn't gotten Carew before and/or was paying for his autograph - I'd think twice about getting just a card signed, but I was committed to finishing a multiplayer card already signed by Witt earlier in the season.

Cards for trade - updated 10/2/11

2011 Topps Martin Prado #MGL-MP - Personalized Leather Nameplate card

It is just a lone card but I'm hoping to put together a list of cards I'm hoping to showcase - in order to possiblly trade for cards I'm interested in...Angels anybody?