Saturday, February 28, 2009

Getting what you paid for

Note to card companies:

Buying this ...

... and ending up with this ...

... is not the way to win over consumers.

This was my comment on the "Trading Cards, TCGs and Me" blog, a site that is well worth your time, by the way. But I am among a group of collectors who are not happy with the original plan of attack by Topps, according to Nate of "Trading Cards," which was to release the "Topps Dark" cards in April but not let consumers know which cards they were getting (the regular '09 issue or the dark cards).

I commented, "you don't go to the grocery store to buy tomato sauce, get home, open it up, pour out peaches and say, 'awesome, peaches! I'll buy more!'"

Thank goodness, Chris of Nachos Grande wrote to Topps and Topps had sense enough to inform customers as to what they were buying.

The "tomato sauce/peaches" analogy is an exaggeration for effect. I realize it's not quite the best representation of what Topps had intended on doing. Like Chris of Stale Gum says, the original Topps "bait-and-switch" plan to offer '09 Topps regular borders but provide "Topps Dark" instead is more like buying tomato sauce and getting diced tomatoes.

But the fact remains the same, collectors are consumers like any other consumer. And consumers don't buy black pens when they want blue ones. They want what they want and aren't going to be happy when a company "tricks" them.

The consumer-business relationship is built on trust. And that goes for card companies, too.

NOTE: The post on "Trading Cards, TCGs and Me" has been removed, which is why I can't link to it or post my comment here verbatim. Nate emailed me and said he removed the post because of its controversial nature and the fact that it doesn't portray the industry in a positive light. I'm sad the post was removed, but I understand. I hope Nate continues to provide insight into his business, though.

(By the way, you come up with some really interesting photos when you do an image search for "peaches." Not for the kiddies).

Big box o' fun, part 1

So, the cool kids have been excavating up a storm the last two days, finding packs of 2009 Heritage, unearthing whole blasters of black parallel cards, setting off on searches for gray-back parallels and discovering '09 Upper Deck fat packs.

Even though I can't play with the cool kids -- the area where I live doesn't allow it -- I get all giddy watching others find the snazzy stuff. I can't help but hit the few, scattered places that sell cards even though they disappoint me time and again. Hobby shop? Too expensive. Big box store #1? Topps blasters I've seen before. Big box store #2? Loose packs. And some weird-shaped $9.99 boxes of 2007 Topps. Huh? Big box store #3? Topps '09 cereal boxes.

But the cereal boxes are news around here, even if it's a week or two later than everyone else has seen them. So I picked one up. Ted Williams of course. I can't choose Ruth or Mantle over Teddy Ballgame. I'd get disowned. The boxes are pretty cool and I got some cards I needed, but other than continuing my staggering streak of pulling Cal Ripken inserts (all but the Legends card are spoken for), there was nothing special.

In the old days, that would be the end of it. I'd go back to seeing what better things everyone else got.

But not anymore. Thanks to Tribe Cards, I have a big box o' card fun to keep me warm and toasty. In yet another display of amazing card philanthropy, Dave sent me around 600 cards. Just because I asked. That's something else.

Most of what he sent were Dodgers, because that's the greatest team there is. But I also volunteered to be surprised. (I did this while ducking down with my hands covering my head. I've seen all the Sandy Alomars Dave has). And I was quite pleasantly surprised. Lots of great cards from teams that aren't quite as great as the Dodgers.

I'm saving the Dodgers for part 2, but I scanned a few of the other cards to show. These are just a few that interested me. There are many more nice ones that may be subjects of future posts.

I'll start with the Mountain Man because it's alarming how much this guy follows me. I'm almost convinced that Helton is spying on me and each card that I receive from him picks up traces of my DNA that are then mysteriously transported back to him for analysis by secretive government agencies based in Colorado. It's the only explanation for why I get so many Todd Helton cards.

Tom Browning is a guy I shouldn't really like because he no-hit the Dodgers. He's in that category with Dennis Martinez and John Candelaria. But Browning is interesting to me because he spent his junior and senior years in high school in a small city fairly close to me. It's odd because he was born in Wyoming and has lived in Kentucky for quite awhile. His family obviously moved around a lot.

Four great cards of my favorite Topps set of the 1990s. One day I will put the 1995 set on my want list and collect the entire ever-loving thing.

A cool Masterpieces card of Fisk's famous home run. I think it'd be cooler if we didn't have to stare at Fisk's backside. I really prefer to see faces, but this gives the card a certain uniqueness.

The moment from the '75 World Series is my first memory of a baseball play on television. I don't know if I was up to see the event or if it was a replay shortly after the game, but it's the first time I remember seeing baseball on TV (that wasn't Bugs Bunny anyway).
A pretty nice Topps Gallery card of Senators great Bucky Harris, who is only six wins ahead of Joe Torre on the all-time manager victory list. Harris is sixth and Torre is seventh.

Lastly, a great 1971 Topps card of Curt Flood. His final card. It's been awhile since I've landed a '71 card and this is one I don't have, which means it's a great day in my world.

This is the one card out of the hundreds that David sent that made my heart jump and made me stop and stare at it, look at the back, and marvel over its greatness for awhile. His stats line for 1970 simply lists 0 games played, 0 at bats, 0 runs, 0 hits, etc. No mention that Flood sat out the entire 1970 season after demanding that he be declared a free agent, kicking off what we know today as an everyday fact of baseball. Instead the back of the card happily declares that he hit .620 in American Legion ball in 1955. Whoopee!

This card is really what it's all about. It really made me feel like one of the cool kids. Hey guys, look what I got! I got a 1971 Curt Flood! Isn't it cool?

Also, one other thing that's cool:

It's the back of the '52 Satchel Paige night card created by PunkRockPaint. Click on the image to read the text. It's great. You'll also notice that Paige, like Flood, had an uneventful most recent season.

And you'll notice, it's card No. 408. Hmmmmm.

Friday, February 27, 2009

Wickedly awesome night card

ME: So, I was leafing through my ...
YOU: Hey, didn't you just do one of those night card things?
ME: Yeah, I did.
YOU: So how come you're doing another one so soon?
ME: Just go with me on this, will ya?
YOU: Your blog.
ME: Yes. It is. ... So, I was leafing through my complete set of 1952 Topps the other day.
YOU: Wait a minute. You have a COMPLETE set of 1952 Topps?
ME: Yeah.
YOU: You never told me anything about a complete set of '52 Topps. I didn't even know you had any 1952 Topps.
ME: Well, there are a lot of things I haven't told you. I'm a complex and multi-faceted individual.
YOU: Bleepin' loser. I don't know why I read your crap.
ME: ANYway. I was leafing through my complete set of '52 Topps and I suddenly found this Satchel Paige night card that I had never seen before!
YOU: What? Satchel Paige?!! Night card? There weren't any night cards in '52!
ME: Yeah there was. This one. The first night card ever made.
YOU: The first night card ever made was probably in the 1953 set. I just read about it last month.
ME: Well, we have a new champion.
YOU: Besides, Satchel Paige didn't even have a card in the '52 set. His first Topps card was in the '53 set. Card No. 220. What number is this card?
ME: It's No. 408.
YOU: 408! There are only 407 cards in the set!
ME: Well, that's probably why I never noticed this card before.
YOU: Let me see the back of that card.
ME: No.
YOU: Let me see it!
ME: No!
YOU: Then I'm just gonna take ...
ME: Quit it!
YOU: Let me see!
ME: Stop grabbing! Are you out of your mind? This card is almost 60 years old! It's an antique!
YOU: @#$@%@
ME: Maniac.
YOU: Liar.
ME: Stop trying to debunk everything. You take the fun out of everything. ... Anyway, I can't believe this find. You'll notice the card is in pretty good shape. The corners are rounded but not terribly so. And I have it in a penny sleeve, although I should really get it in one of those screwdowns.
YOU: (*grumble, grumble*)
ME: You'll notice that the artist painted the bank of lights behind the scoreboard. And the time on the clock appears to be about 10 after 10 in the evening. Perhaps Satchel was taking a break while warming up in the bullpen, preparing to enter the game. Must've been an extra-inning affair. Games didn't last that long back then.
YOU: Hey! I think I've seen this card before.
ME: No you haven't.
YOU: Yeah, it's one of those Punk Rocky thingies.
ME: You mean PunkRockPaint? Show some respect.
YOU: Yeah. PunkRockPaint. I just saw it on his blog the other day.
ME: You didn't see this one.
YOU: He created that card! There's no '52 Topps Satchel Paige night card! There's no No. 408!
ME: Well, yeah. I guess you got me there.
YOU: Ha!
ME: It's actually from the '52 PunkRockPaint set. Travis was nice enough to send me a preview.
YOU: It's a cool card.
ME: It sure is. It's wickedly awesome.
YOU: I'm never believing anything you write again.
ME: Your loss. I actually have one Topps '52 card. I'll show it on this blog someday.
YOU: I'll believe it when I see it.

Thanks Mr. Paint!

Thursday, February 26, 2009

What I got

I saw on Cardboard Junkie the list of all of dayf's 2009 Braves so far. I figured it wasn't fair that the Braves hog all the bloggery time. So I'm showing the '09 Dodgers I've collected so far.

I'll stick with Topps because Upper Deck still isn't thrilling me, and I don't have many of the UD Dodgers. I'm sure I'll track down the UDers some time, but right now it's all Topps.

The other reason for this list is to make sure that I've accounted for all the Dodgers in Series 1. I don't have all the checklist cards yet and Topps' Web site is a maze of mirrors, so if anyone spots a missing Dodger, let me know.

Right now, I know I need #67 Andruw Jones and #179 Rafael Furcal. Two ex-Braves as it happens. And one ex-Dodger, too, thankfully. On with the list:

#123 - Casey Blake. Blake, in the words of, "felt a groin muscle tighten as he was doing outfield sprints" today. Ouch. According to Joe Torre, Blake's OK, and, "He can do everything but run at this point." Really? Everything?

#129 - Angel Berroa. Berroa is now Derek Jeter's understudy. I don't dare say anything bad about Jeter, or Sooz will find me and hit me with her first-place plaque.

#131 - Joe Torre. Torre shuffling to the mound, just how I picture him. I picture him doing that or half-snoozing in the dugout.

#132 - Juan Pierre. I say it's even money whether Pierre catches that ball. I'm feeling a little sorry for Juan these days. I know you Dodger hard-liners hate hearing that. But the guy tries like hell, and he does some things quite well.

#142 - Brad Penny. The clubhouse cancer last year, according to Larry Bowa. He didn't actually utter those words, but he pretty much closed the debate on the subject.

#165 - Matt Kemp. The rumors are true. Kemp will win the Triple Crown this year. Or he'll hit .270. One of the two.

#208 - James McDonald. Two-time minor league pitcher of the year for the Dodgers. And he's wearing a pink breast cancer awareness bracelet. You can't beat that.

#214 - Scott Elbert. The often overlooked Scott Elbert. But he's a lefty, so don't ignore him.

#222 - Mark Sweeney. A future "brush with greatness" subject.

#235 - Chad Billingsley. I think Billingsley should be on the level as Evan Longoria and Albert Pujols with player collectors. I think he's going to be fantastic over the next five years.

#260 - Manny Ramirez. Just sign, Manny. You know you want to. Scott Boras has hid all the pens in your house hasn't he?

#272 - Chan Ho Park. Park was 18-10 in 2000. Wow. I never remember being satisfied with any of Park's seasons with the Dodgers. I guess that's my problem, huh?

#287 - Greg Maddux. "Topps: the name you can count on for photoshopping Maddux into a Dodger uniform."

#315 - Hiroki Kuroda. The back of Kuroda's card refers to Bob Owchinko and Orel Hershiser. Kuroda matched both pitchers' feat when he retired the first 21 batters in a start during his rookie season. Which do you want to be, Hiroki? Owchinko or Hershiser?

Here are the Legends of the Game inserts I have. I'm not too clear on who I don't have and the whole difference between the green and brown and platinum. I know I won't be chasing them all. But I'll gladly accept them. I know I got this Roy Campanella (#LG-16) at Target.

#LG15 - Pee Wee Reese came in a Target blaster, too.

#LLG-2 - Jackie Robinson, Legends of the Game. Brown or copper or whatever they're calling it. Did this come from Wal-Mart? I don't know. Maybe a trade.

And those three were nifty gold parallels of Kemp and Ramirez and the black parallel of Torre.

Plus my favorite card of the year so far, the Roy Campanella variation card. Campy's happy. I'm happy.

And the Dodgers crushed the Giants today! Happiness all around!

(Pierre and McDonald arrived in the mail from Autographed Cards today. Thanks, Zach!)

Awesome night card, pt. 23

I'm featuring a night card of Hong-Chih Kuo today because he could be the difference between the Dodgers owning a steady bullpen and a bullpen in which they're constantly rotating pitchers in and out in an attempt to find something that works.

I thought of Kuo yesterday after viewing the boxscore of the Dodgers' first spring training game, a 5-3 loss to the Cubs. Reliever Ramon Troncoso got lit up for a homer and four runs in 1-plus innings. The Dodgers don't really know whether Troncoso is a starter or a reliever so maybe he's working some things out.

I'm still recuperating from the events of yesterday. There was a lot to absorb. Aside from the first spring training game, the Dodgers made another offer to Manny Ramirez. It's a lot like the old offer back in November with some slight adjustments. It really seems like Ramirez is about to sign. If not, than Boras is even more evil than I think he is.

Also, on the card front, aside from the first blaster of 2009, I received four card packages in the mail. Two of them, from Card Junkie and Blue Diamond, contained 2009 Topps:

All cards that I need right there. Included in the assortment was ...

... another night card, of Rays future slugger Matt Joyce ...

... and this great shot of Red Sox Canadian backup backstop George Kottaras ...

... which looks a lot like this card of Braves first baseman Casey Kotchman, but doesn't make me love either card any less. They're both great.

The packages from Jeff and David, as well as the one featured last night from Greg, arrived only after this:

was placed in my mailbox. I really should have taken a photo of it next to something to show some perspective, but trust me when I say the box is a foot-and-a-half wide.

This arrived from David of Tribe Cards as part of some spring cleaning he's doing. The box is packed with cards. It's funny because I arrived back at my house while the mail carrier was doing her rounds. I noticed that there was something in the mailbox, and when I looked the box from Tribe Cards was the only thing in there. I took it out and went back out to run some more errands.

When I got back, the rest of the mail was there, including the other bubble mailers. It was as if the mail carrier said, "you deal with this monstrosity first, buddy, and THEN you'll get the rest of your mail."

It's going to take me awhile to digest all the cards that David sent. I hope to post about it tonight or Friday. There are some great ones in there from a great guy.

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

The patch

I went and bought myself a 2009 Topps blaster today. Don't worry, I didn't go to Wal-Mart. Nothing but white-bordered cards for me. As God intended them to be.

I landed a bunch of regular old cards that I needed in my bid to complete Series 1, as well as one of these patchy thingies that come with every blaster this year.

I have mentioned this a couple of times, but not on this particular blog: I do not understand patch cards.

I know some collectors eat this stuff up. And some other collectors who don't eat this stuff up like these particular ones because they're replicas of logos from actual events, in this case the 1985 All-Star Game in Minneapolis (the only All-Star Game to take place on my birthday, by the way). And I will say that they're better than those inexplicable letter patch cards in which you can spell out names or sayings or curse words or whatever the heck people do with them.

I don't have anything against patch cards. Their appearance is not taking the place of another card. It's just that they're not my thing. Patches stray too close to the memorabilia side, and I've never been interested in collecting pins or pennants or any of that stuff.

Plus it reminds me of things you see at craft fairs. I've already annoyed people who like patch cards, so I might as well tick off another group of people and say, I loathe craft fairs. I've been to enough of them because there are quite a few people in my family that enjoy them. But I think it's the only place on this planet that I've been to where I cannot find one thing that interests me. And I am entertained very easily. (Did you know at one time the craze among the crafty fair types was to make cow dolls and dress them up in clothes? Really. They did this. And people think my hobby is strange).

Patch cards don't say "baseball" to me. They say, "mom, knit me something and put '1985 All-Star Game' on it."

And that's another thing. Why patches? Where did that come from? And if patches, then what? Here are few other things that feature letters that you can start incorporating in cards instead of something like, oh, ballplayers:

1. License plates.
2. Road signs
3. Eye charts
4. Refrigerator magnets
5. Chalkboards (don't like the letter featured? Just erase it and write in a new one)

The patches in blasters are part of a 50-card patch set and only certain players are featured. But one of the things I noticed with this particular card is Ripken didn't have a heck of a lot to do with the outcome of this particular game. He went 1-for-3 in a 6-1 American League loss. Didn't drive in a run. Nothing very memorable.

This won't be the last '09 blaster I will buy so I will end up with a few more of these things. If it's Dodger-related (there appear to be five of those) then I suppose I'll keep it, but it will fall under the heading of "Oh, I guess I have to."

Meanwhile, I will be sending this Ripken/Twins card to reader Greg, who is an Orioles fan and sent me some cards that I received today. I hope he doesn't feel the way that I do about patch cards.

Greg sent me some modern-type cards that I do appreciate, because they feature CHROME.

I can't turn down a 2008 Topps Shiny. Especially a card of Andre Ethier. And it's refractionary, too.

And this is my first blue refractor of a Dodger, albeit a former one. The Dodgers were meant to be featured on blue refractors, so this one was a long time coming.

And here is my first copper refractor, wasted on Hefty Hefty Jones. I hope the Rangers get more out of him than the Dodgers did.

Greg also sent me the last five state flag cards I needed to complete the '08 Allen & Ginter subset.

So now it's on to completing the last remaining thing I care about in the Allen & Ginter set.

The World's Greatest Victories. This card of the Spartans' valiant stand also came from Greg. I still need a few more to finish things off.

Thanks, Greg. I'll be sending off some Orioles. And one, terrific patch card. I did a great sell job on that, didn't I?

Thank you post

2009 Heritage is pushed back to Friday! (EDIT: Uh, maybe. I don't believe anything anymore). No good, rotten, schemin', short-printin', gimmickin' bunch of back stabbers.

Oh well, I have plenty to do today anyway, so that's one less thing on the list. It's hard to fit Heritage hunting into a day that already includes the start of spring training games.

So that's what I'm going to do with this post: look on the bright side. First off, a thank you to the people who read my spittle. Sometimes I don't know why you do. Yesterday was a record for me in both visits and page views, and I haven't the foggiest why. But thanks.

Secondly, it still boggles my mind how easily it is to obtain cards like the Hermanski card here since I've started blogging. I'll say it again: great, great people out there. And before I get too back-logged, there are people I need to thank for some recent packages. So I better get that out of the way before I have to dash out the door.

First up are some old-style Heritage, 2008 that is, from Nachos Grande. Once again, the fact that I am still trying to complete this set is another reason why I should be happy that the 2009 offering isn't here yet.

Chris sent me 18 black back cards, which is terrific, although if you mention black around Chris right now he might whip something at you. (I am very afraid to go to the card aisle at Wal-Mart. Well, it's not really an aisle at my Wal-Mart. More like a pile).

I am still collecting all the black backs, but if I don't have the card for the regular set yet, I'll take the black back card and fill the hole in the binder with that. So that is where Mr. Kinsler and Mr. Posada will be going.

Same with Mr. Damon, Ray, Jennings and Wagner. I may have the Harris card already. I'm not sure. Probably forgot to take him off my list.

The next group of cards are from Kerry of Cards on Cards. I already showed several of the "pink" Dodgers that he sent. He also sent a couple from '83 and '84 and 13 from 1985, when Topps got the color scheme absolutely right.

1985 was an odd time for the Dodgers. They had all these young kids coming up in Mike Marshall, Greg Brock, Dave Anderson, Franklin Stubbs and German Rivera. A lot of them were supposed to be good. None of them really were.

Kerry also sent some random Dodgers, including a 2006 Bazooka Derek Lowe ...

... a 2006 Fleer of the most popular man in baseball ...

... and a key 1998 Topps Finest of Mondo imprisoned in a protective coating.

Here is a set that's been much easier to complete. Ironic isn't it, that a set 18 years old is easier to complete than a modern day set? Stupid money grubbers. With the addition of these cards that Kerry sent I am down to needing 10 cards from the 1991 Topps set. Barely two months ago I needed close to 200.

Among the '91s sent were a key All-Star card of Ryno, the last All-Star card I needed ...

... a sweet card of Robin in Comiskey ...

... and Greg Gagne in action. One of the great cards that has me attempting to complete this set.

The list of cards that I need for those of you who don't like clicking links:

#51 - Art Howe
#131 - checklist
#208 - Willie Wilson
#239 - Darren Lewis
#365 - Mike Schooler
#431 - Paul Gibson
#455 - Walt Weiss (possibly the best card in the set)
#481- Eddie Whitson
#491 - Kurt Miller
#550 - Eric Davis

Also, in the process of double-checking my list, I found out I still need two Dodgers to complete the '91 team set (I've got to get a hobby that's easier to keep track of). #152 Mickey Hatcher and #367 Dave Walsh are back on the list.

Finally, some cards from Mike of Ryan's Memorabilia. It never hurts to do a little groveling in this hobby. You know how your mom used to say, "don't point" when you were a kid? Well, in collecting, pointing and saying "me want" can produce things like a 1951 Topps Red Back of Gene Hermanski.

This card was displayed on Ryan's Memorabilia, and I provided some info on it, and also a desire to own it. And now it's mine. The card has a couple of issues, like a card that is 58 years old should.

Since we were trading O's for Dodgers, Mike threw in some other Dodgers as well.

A 1993 Diamond King of Eric Karros. It bears a slight resemblance to Eric.

A 1981 Leaders card featuring Don Sutton, and some Yankees dude. I forgot all about Rudy May leading the league in ERA in 1980.

The same goes for Mike Piazza. I just realized that my Piazza collection, as many as I've acquired in the last six months, is pretty pathetic. These two cards will help some, though.

Lastly, a shiny gold-plated card of Gil Hodges from 2002, one of those 1952 World Series retrospective things that I totally missed out on. One of these days I'll figure out exactly what that set is.

Thanks again to Nachos Grande, Cards on Cards and Ryan's Memorabilia. Now, I've got to get moving ...