Saturday, December 16, 2006

Box Break and Review: 2006 Bowman Draft Picks and Prospects

One Box of 2006 Bowman Draft Picks and Prospects (paid $79)
24 packs per box, seven cards per pack (MSRP $3.99/pack)

The Details

Chiptoppers: One over sized checklist.

Base Set: 55 cards (two-per-pack)

Inserts: (two-per-pack)
Futures Game: 45 cards
Draft Picks: 65 cards

Parallels*:
Golds: 165 cards (one-per-pack #)
Whites: 165 cards (1:43, numbered to 225)
Reds: (1:7934, one-of-one)
Chrome: 165 cards (two-per-pack)
Chrome Refractor: 165 cards (1:11)
X-Fractor: 165 cards (1:32)
Blue Refractor: 165 cards (1:50, numbered to 199 copies)
Gold Refractor: 165 cards (1:197, numbered to 50)
Orange Refractor: 165 cards (1:395, numbered to 25)
Red Refractor: 165 Cards (1:585, numbered to 10)
Superfractor: 165 cards (1:7934, one-of-one)
Printing Plates: (1:990)

* All parallel sets include the 55 card base set, as well as the 45 Futures Game and 65 Draft Pick "inserts," bundled together.
# Packs containing a Futures Relic, do not have a Gold card.

Autogamers #:
Autographed Chrome Draft Picks: 30 cards^ (1:50)
Autographed Chrome Draft Picks Refractor: 30 cards (1:156)
Autographed Chrome Draft Picks X-Fractor: 30 cards (1:351)
Autographed Chrome Draft Picks Blue Refractor: 30 cards (1:535)
Autographed Chrome Draft Picks Gold Refractor: 30 cards (1:1575)
Autographed Chrome Draft Picks Orange Refractor: 30 cards (1:3232)
Autographed Chrome Draft Picks Red Refractor: 30 cards (1:13,166)
Autographed Chrome Draft Picks Superfractor: 30 cards (1:53,812)
Head of the Class: 1 card (1:7640)
Head of the Class Refractor: 1 card (1:27,000)
Head of the Class Gold Refractor: 1 card (1:56,000)
Head of the Class Superfractor: 1 card (1:261,680)
Signs of the Future: 19 cards (production varies)
Chrome Autographed Press Plates (1:13,200)
Futures Game Relics: 45 cards (production varies)

# Stated odds of finding an Autograph or Relic: 1:12
^ The 30 Autographed Chrome Prospects are numbered as an extension of the Draft Picks insert set. (DP 66-95)

The Pulls

Each seven card pack contains:

  • Two base set cards ("Greens")
  • Two Futures Game or Draft Picks "inserts" ("Blues")
  • Either a Gold Parallel, or a Futures Game Relic
  • One Bowman Chrome Parallel
  • Either a second BowChro card, a BowChro Refractor, or an Autographed BowChro Draft Pick


Base Set: 42 of 55 (76.36%)

Inserts:
Futures Game: 19 of 45 (42.22%)
Draft Picks: 27 of 65 (41.54%)

Parallels:
22 Golds
1 White: C. Villanueva
43 Chromes (one double)
3 Refractors: B. Bannister, L. Cruz, M. McBride
1 Blue Refractor: R. Morris

Autogamers:
1 Autographed Chrome Draft Pick: D. Evans
2 Futures Game Relics: R. Braun, A. Gordon

The Review

The 2006 Edition of Bowman Draft Picks and Prospects (BDP&P) is here, and if you're familiar with the previous couple of year's editions, then you know the drill. The more the MLBPA tries to change The Hobby, just more BDP&P stays the same. (Sort of.)

Just like with '06 Bowman, the MLBPA's new "Rookie Card" definition has made it necessary for Topps to make some changes to the composition to the product. The 55-card "base set" are all green bordered (there are no "Red" cards) and feature the now familiar cross-brand "ROOKIE CARD" logo -- most of which are "parenth-RCs." To be sure, there are some "true" RCs (Mike Napoli, Jon Lester, and Michael Pelfrey to name a few), but just not as many as your used to. If you include the base set with the 110 blue-bordered "inserts," the combined 165-card set equals the set size of previous BDP&P efforts.

The 110 "Blues" are divided into two separate insert sets: 45 Futures Games and 65 Draft Picks. The design of both sets are similar, and the only way to distinguish between the two is that the Futures Game cards are numbered on the back with an "FG" prefix, and the Draft Picks have a "DP." Other than that, you really can't tell the difference. Each pack comes with (on average) two "Greens" and two "Blues." Something to consider if, like me, you still consider the Blues as part of the base set.

Each pack comes with a Gold parallel, and with the return of game used cards, they have reverted to being printed on thicker gauge cardboard, and double as pack-searching decoys. Just like with Bowman, BDP&P is "bundled" with the Chrome version, and you get two of them in a pack. (For purposes of this set, I classify the Chromes for what they are: "parallels.") And as has become standard operating procedure for BDP&P, Topps tacked on an additional autographed cards that are only available in the Chrome version.

Speaking of the 65 Draft Picks and the 30 Chrome Autographed Draft Picks, collectors should take note not necessarily of who's in the set, but who's NOT in the set. Looking for the first Bowman card of Luke Hochevar -- the first pick in the 2006 draft? You'll have to wait a while, because he's not here. And neither is Gregory Reynolds, the second overall pick. Evan Longoria, the number three pick, is in the set (in fact, he's the product's "cover boy"), but good luck actually finding one of his cards (more on that later). Even Andrew Miller, the sixth pick overall and considered by many to be the best player available in the draft; a player who made his Major League debut on August 30th with the Tigers -- and as such is eligible to have his first true "rookie card" in this set -- is missing. In fact, of the 30 first round draft picks, only 13 appear in '06 BDP&P -- six of which are part of the Autographed Chrome set.

So with only 13 first rounders, who exactly are these other 82 draft picks? Well, there are a handful of 2nd and 3rd round picks, but (surprisingly) there are a large amount of 5th, 6th, and even 8th round picks. To be sure, a couple of these 5th-through-8th rounders will wind up as the proverbial "diamonds in the rough," but history shows that most of these guys will never amount to much. And, of course, some will probably never even play a single inning in the big leagues. But then again, if collect Bowman, you already knew that. Caveat Emptor.

Wrapping up BDP&P, are the Futures Game Relic cards, which are a pseudo-parallel of the Futures Game inserts. For some reason, the Futures Game Relics are green bordered, rather than blue. And then there's the autograph set everyone loves to hate: Signs of the Future.


The Bottom Line:

2006 has been a transition year for The Hobby as a whole, and for the Bowman family of products in particular. No longer "The Home of the Rookie Card," Topps has been forced to make adjustments to all their Bowman products. With '06 Bowman, the results were mixed. Bundling regular Bowman with Bowman Chrome, gave the "Chromies" a reason to rediscover the regular Bowman set, and it sold very well. But the inclusion of autographed cards in the base set alienated many long-time Bowman set builders -- myself included. However, with the MLBPA-mandated exception of segregating the non-MLB players from the base set, Topps has left Bowman Draft Picks & Prospects alone.

This particular box yielded three-quarters of the base set, but only about two-fifths of the "Blues." If you're like me and still consider the Blues to be part of the base set, you'll be disappointed to know that Topps short-printed them. To build a full 165-card set, you'll need at least two, maybe even three, boxes.

Each box promises two autogamers, and in this box I got three. So I guess I got over on Topps. Yay! I pulled an Autographed Draft Pick card of Braves second-rounder Dustin Evans. The two Futures Game Relics I pulled were of Ryan Braun -- the fifth overall pick in last year's draft -- and the current object of the infamous, deplorable Keith Olbermann's affection: Alex Gordon. For those of you scoring at home, Alex Gordon has now made an appearance in all three Bowman products this year (Bowman, BowChro, and BDP&P), but we're still waiting for his first legit "rookie card."

Although the regular "Blues" are short-printed in relation to the base-set "Greens," this does not appear to be the case among the parallels. Of the 22 Gold cards this box yielded, eight were from the base set, and the other 14 were Blues. The three refractors pulled came from each of the three different sets: A Green of Mets pitcher Brian Bannister, a Futures Game of Padres SS Luis Cruz, and a Draft Pick of Cleveland 2nd rounder Matt McBride. I also pulled a White parallel of Brewers pitcher Carlos Villanueva, and a Blue Refractor of Ryan Morris, the Indians' 4th-round draft pick.

Product Rating: 3 Gumsticks (out of five)

Do I recommend this product?

Hardcore Bowman fans will be disappointed with the lack of "true" rookie cards. And not including over half the first-round draft picks, in product billed as a "Draft Pick" set is kind of pathetic. But still, if you're a Bowman fan, you're going to like this product. You don't need me to tell you that.

... and another thing.

Allow me to vent a little bit. One thing that's pissed me off about BDP&P ever since it went to this format in '02, has been the inclusion of the Autographed Chrome cards. As many of you who regularly read this blog know, I don't collect Chrome. I don't "get" Chrome. I've never opened a pack of Topps or Bowman Chrome in my life, and I don't intend to. I don't collect ToppChro or BowChro, and I never intend to. And I still don't like the fact that BDP&P is bundled with BowChroDP&P, just as much as I didn't like the fact that '06 Bowman was bundled with '06 BowChro.

So why doesn't Topps make a non-Chrome (preferably un-autographed) version of the Autographed Chrome Draft Pick cards? You know, for the rest of us. Those of us who only collect regular Bowman? Are you listening Topps?

And what's up with putting Evan Longoria on the wrappers and box panels anyway? (Longoria is one of those 30 Autographed Draft Pick cards.) At the stated odds of 1:50/packs, and assuming perfect collation, a collector would have to open up 1500 packs of 2006 Bowman Draft Picks and Prospects in order to get a single card of the player prominently featured on the wrapper. What is up with that Topps? Now, I don't want to say that Topps is doing something illegal or unethical by putting Longoria on all the wrappers. Oh wait, yes I am.

Sunday, December 10, 2006

What I Got at the Card Show: 12/9/06

Site: Granite Run Mall: Media, PA

Oh sure, I got a term paper due on Wednesday. And I have a final on Friday, and two more next week. But dammit, Bowman Draft just came out, and got to bust a box! Besides, graduate school is so over-rated anyway.

One box of 2006 Bowman Draft Picks & Prospects (Paid $79)

Box break forthcoming ..... whenever.

Total spent on cards: $79
Bridge Tolls: $3
Grand Total: $82

Saturday, December 02, 2006

What I Got at the Card Show: 12/2/06

Site: Greater Reading Expo Center, Reading, PA

New venue, same ol' Philly Show.

Yeah, it's the end of the semester. And yeah, I still have that term paper/PowerPoint presentation due on Tuesday. But screw all that. It's Philly Show weekend for christsakes, and any self-respecting collector who misses the Philly Show should be flogged.

One hobby box of 1995 Upper Deck series one (Paid $35)
One box of 1997 Bowman series one (Paid $29)

Stack #1: A stack of assorted '06 Topps Allen&Ginter and Ultra Lucky 13 short-prints, and one 2006 Upper Deck David Dellucci. (Paid $45)

Stack #2: (paid $75)
2002 Diamond Kings: Lou Gehrig SP
2002 Diamond Kings Heritage Collection: Mike Schmidt
2002 Diamond Kings T-204: B. Bonds, R. Henderson, & M. Piazza (#/1000 each)
2002 Donruss Diamond Kings Insert: R. Clemens (#/2500)
2002 Donruss The Rookies Rookie Phenoms: M. Prior (/#1000)
2002 Donruss Elite: B. Backe, C. Zambrano, B. Claussen, & M. Cuddyer (#/1500 each)
2002 Donruss Elite Extra Edition: O. Perez & T. Hodges (#/1000 each)
2002 Donruss Elite All-Star Salutes: Ichiro (#/2001)
2002 Donruss Elite Career Best: Two different Ichiro's (#/838 and 127, respectively)
2002 Studio: A. Guiel & C. Figgins (#/1500 each)
2003 Diamond Kings: A. Loewen SP
2003 Diamond Kings Heritage Collection: N. Ryan
2003 Diamond Kings DK Revolution: Ichiro
2003 Diamond Kings Team Timeline: Ryan & Oswalt (#/1000)
2003 Diamond Kings Hall of Fame Heroes: T. Williams
2003 Donruss Elite Extra Edition: A. Loewen, D. Cabrera, F. Sanchez, D. Waechter, D. Haren, D. Willis, & R. Weeks (#/900 each)
2003 Studio: A. Loewen & Hong-Chin Huo (#/1500 each)
2003 Studio Big League Challenge: A. Pujols (#/400
2003 Studio Stars: R. Clemens

One of the big pluses of the MLBPA's 20-product-per-licensee limit, is the ability for collectors to "catch up" with older products. For some reason, I never got around to '95 UD I or '97 Bowman I. But with the lack of new product, it gave me a convenient excuse to indulge in some junk wax. (I can't believe I just put the "junk" label on 1997 Bowman.) Breaks for all three products will be coming sometime after I finish my school work, which at the rate I'm going, should be sometime in 2009.

I finally got that David Dellucci card I needed to finish off my '06 UD set. Yep, I did it. I completed the whole 1000 card set. I also got a boatload of early-'00s era Donruss inserts and gimmicked rookies at 60%-75% off book.

Still trying to find that elusive '01 Donruss Albert Pujols RC -- although I did find a nice Baseball's Best, and a handful of DTRs. (And don't even get me started on the Ben Sheets.) The quest continues....

Total spent on cards: $184
Bridge Tolls: $3
Admission: $6
Grand Total: $193

Sunday, November 26, 2006

What I Got at the Card Show: 11/26/06

Site: An armory in Bordentown, NJ

One box of 2006 Topps Traded Updates & Highlights (paid $52)

Box break forthcoming.

Stack #1 (Paid $25)
1995 Bowman's Best Juan Encarnacion RC
2001 Donruss 20th Anniversary Reprints R. Clemens (#/1985)
2001 Donruss Diamond Kings D. Jeter (#/2500)
2001 Fleer Platinum Classic Combinations T. Gwynn/T. Williams (#/500)
2002 Donruss Elite Series W. Ford (#/2500)
2002 Donruss Production Lines B. Bonds (#/1378)
2002 Donruss Production Lines A-Rod (#/1021)
2002 Donruss Elite Austin Kearns (#/1500)
2004 Donruss Power Alley Red J. Gonzalez (#/2500)
2005 Donruss 1985 Reprints C. Ripken, Jr. (#/1985)

Stack #2 (paid $18)
A trio of 2006 Bowman Autographed Rookies: J. Devine, R. Abercrombie, & R. Nolasco

Total Spent on Cards: $95
Tolls: $2
Admission: $2
Grand Total: $99

Friday, November 24, 2006

1st Impressions: 2007 Topps series one.

Well, the design for 2K7 Topps has been unveiled, and no, you're eyes aren't deceiving you. Topps' base set has gone back to non-white borders.

The navy blue layout reminds me of '94 Score (not that that's a bad thing), but there's something in me that always wants Topps' flagship to have white borders.

No details on set compsition, inserts, autogamers, and the like. Not yet anyway, but the first series is scheduled to drop in February -- just like '06 Topps I.

(Image ripped off from Beckett.)

Tuesday, November 14, 2006

Good News/Bad News

The good news is that Tuff Stuff just Stale Gum it's "Website of the Month." Horray for me, and thank you Tuff Stuff for the recognition.

Now the bad news. In case you haven't noticed, there haven't been a whole lot of new posts of late. To be honest with you, updating this site is not the most important thing in my life right now (getting into a halfway decent graduate school is). With school, work, and whatnot, I haven't had the time to devote to this page. That and there really isn't much for me to talk about Hobby wise.

I'll be back sometime around the end of the year -- after finals are over and to wrap up The Hobby year.

Thanks for being there.

Monday, October 30, 2006

Topps is raking it in.

For those of you who had their doubts on the MLBPA's product guidelines and were cursing the PA for revoking Donruss's license, comes this.

Topps has announced that profits for the quarter ending in August were up nearly 10% over the same period last year. Leading the charge were sales of sports cards (baseball cards in particular), which are up 75% over the same period last year and 66% for the six months ending in August.

All credit was given to the reduction of brands in the marketplace (i.e. no more Donruss) and The Hobby's new focus on low-end products.

In fact, according to COO Scott Silverstein, sales of 2006 Topps baseball at mass-market retail outlets (Wal-Mart, K-Mart, Target, etc.) were up an impressive 124% over '05 Topps baseball. He also said that sales of '06 Opening Day and '06 Bazooka were up 101% and 42% respectively.

Info lovingly ripped off from topps.com and tuffstuff.com

Friday, October 27, 2006

Box Break: 2006 Flair Showcase

One Box of 2006 Flair Showcase baseball (paid $72.95)
18 packs per box, five cards per pack ($4.99/pack)

The Details


Base Set: 200 cards

Broken Down by Short-Print Scheme:

  • 100 Upper Deck

  • 50 Field Box (1:4/packs*)

  • 50 Suite Level (1:8*)



Parallels:

  • Legacy Blue: 200 cards (1:18, numbered to 150 copies)

  • Legacy Emerald: 200 cards (1:18, numbered to 150 copies)

  • Press Plates


Inserts:

  • Wave of the Future: 30 cards (1:3*)

  • Hot Numbers: 30 cards (1:6*)

  • World Baseball Classic Moments: 50 cards (1:8*)

  • Hot Gloves: 30 cards (1:108*)


*Stated odds of finding either an insert or a short-printed base set card: one-per-pack

Autogamers:

  • Showcase Stiches (1:9#)

  • Lettermen (odds not stated#, production varies from three to nine copies, per player)

  • AUTOGRPAHics (1:36$)

  • Fresh Ink (1:36$)

  • Showcase Signatures (Numbered to 35 copies$)


# Stated odds of finding a game used card: two-per-box
$ Stated odds of finding an autograph: one-per-box

The Pulls


Base Set: 72 of 200 (36%)
Broken Down by Short-Print Scheme:

  • Upper Deck: 65 of 100

  • Field Box: 4 of 50 (Rolen, B. Crosby, Tejeda, E. Renteria)

  • Suite Level: 3 of 50 (P. Polanco, P. Fielder, B. Webb)



Parallels:
2 Legacy Blue: B. Myers, C. Floyd
Inserts:
6 Wave of the Future: G. Sizemore, J. Francoeur, W. Nieves, C. Ross, J. Verlander, R. Weeks
3 Hot Numbers: A-Rod, M. Teixeira, R. Clemens
2 WBC Moments: J. Grilli, K. Fukudome
Autogamers:
2 Showcase Stiches: E. Gagne, T. Hudson
1 AUTOGRAPHics: X. Nady

Monday, October 16, 2006

What I got in the mail: 10/14/06

One box of 2006 Flair Showcase (paid $63)

Total Spent on Cards: $63
Shipping and Handling: $9.95
Grand Total: $72.95

Box break forthcoming.

Monday, October 09, 2006

What I didn't get at the Card Show: 10/8/06

Site: Moorestown Mall; Moorestown, NJ

Bought absolutely nothing, because I didn't go. I went to the Eagles-Cowboys game instead.

The Linc was amped up, giving it almost playoff atmosphere. (A 4:15 kickoff -- and the ensuing three extra hours of tailgating -- will do that to an already rabid fanbase.) I honestly can not recall being this fired up for a game since the Tampa Bay debacle. Lot's of "O-DEE, O-DEE, O-DEE, O-DEEEEEEE; O-DEE, O-DEEEEEE," chants, aimed at you-know-who (who was a non-factor). God Bless Sal Pal for getting through this teaser with a straight face.

The pass interference call against Michael Lewis, scared the bejesus out of all 69,268 of us. It gave us all a flashback to the 4th quarter collapse against the Giants last month. But atfer Lito Sheppard's "Pick Six," the Linc went absolute batshit. (Note how quick exit T.O. makes as soon as the clock strikes 0:00.)

The Birds are 4-1, and on top of the best division in the football by a game-and-a-half. And from the hills of Scranton, to the beaches of Cape May; from Dover to Harrisburg, and all points in between; all is well in Eagle Nation.


Game Ticket: $60
12-pack of Yuengling Lagers: $9
Subway and Patco Speedline Ticket: $6.40
Cheesesteak, Jumbo Dog, and five beers at the game: $40
Extra ticket I was able to unload on a parking lot scapler, because the guy I was going to the game with punked out on me: + $75
Grand Total Spent at (and to get to) Game: $40.40

Monday, October 02, 2006

What I got at the Card Show: 10/1/06

What to do on a football Sunday when your team is playing on Monday? Why, go to a card show, of course! Screw homework.

Site: A VFW hall in Port Monmouth, NJ

A stack of 2006 Bowman and Upper Deck singles (paid $34)

Total Spent on Cards: $34
Turnpike and Parkway Tolls: $5.50
Parking and Admission: $4
Grand Total: $43.50

The Philly Show was to have run this weekend, but was cancelled due to the closing of the Ft. Washington Expo Center. The good news is that the EPSCC found a new venue in Reading, so the December show looks like it's on.

I arrived in the VFW hall around 2:30, and as such, most of the dealers had already begun to pack up and leave. Don't you just hate that? I was able to spot one of the old Ft. Washington regulars, and bought a bunch of current season baseball commons (his specialty).

I have now completed my '06 Bowman short set (reds, greens, and blues), and am exactly one card shy of a full 1000 card Upper Deck set. Anyone have a spare '06 UD David Dellucci?

Tuesday, September 26, 2006

Box Break and Review: 2006 Fleer Tradition

One Box of 2006 Fleer Tradition baseball (paid $55)
36 packs per box, ten cards per pack ($1.49/pack)

The Details


Base Set: 200 cards (no short-prints)

Parallels*:

  • Sepia: 200 cards

  • Black & White: 200 cards

  • Press Plates: 200 cards (four for each card)


Inserts*:

  • Blue Chip Prospects: 25 cards

  • Grass Roots: 25 cards

  • Triple Crown Contenders: 15 cards

  • Diamond Tribute: 25 cards

  • Goudey Greats: 100 cards

  • 1934 Goudey Buybacks


* Odds of finding an insert or parallel (according to fleer.com): one-per-pack.

Autogamers#

  • Traditional Threads: 42 cards

  • Signature Tradition: 16 cards

  • 1989 Fleer Ken Griffey, Jr. Autographed Buyback: one card


# Odds of finding an autogamer(according to fleer.com): "better than one-per-box."

The Pulls.


Base Set: One complete 200-card base set
122 doubles

Parallels:

  • 12 Sepias: T. Hudson, Halladay, Pujols, J. Aclardo, C.C. Sabathia, A. Beltre, D. Wright, J. Peavy, R. Howard, K. Millwood and C. Barmes

  • 4 Black & Whites: A. Rios, J. Schmidt, E. Bedard and A-Rod


Inserts:

  • 6 Blue Chip Prospects: Zimmerman, H. Ramirez, A. Wainwright, J. Johnson, K. Morales and C. Billingsley

  • 5 Grassroots: V. Martinez, M. Cabrera, J. Kent, C. Beltran and C. Carpenter

  • 3 Triple Crown Contenders: A-Rod, T. Helton and T. Hafner

  • 6 Diamond Tributes: Griffey, Thome, T. Hafner, R. Oswalt, R. Harden & B. Abreu

  • 1 Goudey Great: K. Johjima



Autogamers:

  • 1 Traditional Threads: M. Young



The Review



Ladies and Gentlemen, your 2006 National League MVP: Ryan Howard!Earlier this year, Upper Deck announced that they would release four baseball products under the Fleer name this season (Fleer, Ultra, Greats of the Game, and Flair Showcase). After breaking one box of Fleer Tradition, the fifth Fleer Set of 2006, UD probably should have stuck with four.

The 200-card base set feels a bit like an "Update" set. 26% of the base set (52 cards) are of MLBPA approved "ROOKIE CARDS" -- by far, the largest proportion of RCs in a product this year. (Of course, the vast majority of these are parenth-RCs.) Then again, with regular player cards of all the top stars (most of whom did not change teams) you can't really call it a true "Update" set?

No, '81 Topps did not come with UV coating.So what are we to make of 2006 Fleer Tradition? Well, like the Fleer Trad sets of the past few years, the design gives the appearance of an old-fashioned Topps set, in this case 1981 -- although I don't remember Topps UV coating their cards back in '81. When The Hobby is starting to recycle the designs of cards issued a mere 25 years ago for a retro themed set -- especially a lousy one like '81 Topps -- this proves that the "retro" fad has officially jumped the shark.

Not that you would know it by looking on the back of the wrapper, but each pack contains either a parallel or an insert. As usual, UD conveniently forgot to include the insertion ratios and checklist cards. By now, you should know the routine: go to their website, download and print.

Why yes, you have seen this before.  FOUR YEARS AGO!Standing out like the proverbial sore thumb from the rest of the inserts are the 100-card Goudey Greats. Done in the style and size of the 1934 Goudeys -- like we haven't seen that before (See: 1997 Fleer Goudey Greats inserts and 2002 Fleer Tradition base set) -- it appears that these undersized cards are inserted at the rate of one-per-box. Again, this is only a guess since the insertion ratios are unknown. Considering just how big a waxbox is (360 cards-per-box); how puny the size of the base set is (200 cards); and how relatively easy the other non-parallel inserts are to pull, the Goudeys seem out of place.

And yes, there are the standard one-per-box autogamers. According to Fleer's website, the 42-card "Traditional Threads" game used cards "(portray) what memorabilia cards would have looked like in the 1950s." They look nothing of the sort. Nice try though.

The Bottom Line:



For a set that really has no reason to exist, '06 Trad is about what you would expect. Now I don't know about you, but if I were in charge of UD, and management ordered me to produce a fifth Fleer product, I might consider issuing an "Update" set -- especially considering just how late in the season it is. Either an update of Fleer or Ultra, or even a multi-brand bundled update set would have made a lot more sense than this.

The box yielded a full 200 card base set and a stack of over 120 doubles. Each pack contained the promised insert, with a Goudey Great of Kenji Johjima and a gamer of Michael Young. Yawn.

Product Rating: 1.5 Gumsticks (out of five)

Do I recommend this product?

Only if you're a Fleer Tradition set completist. Otherwise, save your money and skip it. If you absolutely have to build a Fleer Tradition base set the old fashioned way, buy loose packs. Better yet, spilt up a box with a friend and play pack poker with it.

Monday, September 25, 2006

What I got at the Card Show: 9/24/06

Site: Concord Mall; Concord, DE

A stack of 180 Topps Allen & Ginter singles and short-prints (Paid $50)

Total Spent on Cards: $50
Bridge Tolls: $3
Parking and Admission: FREE
Grand Total: $53

Like I said in the review, "With so much of the wax being broken, singles are becoming easier, and cheaper, to acquire." Needless to say, I've decided against busting a second box of TA&G, and am buying singles. By sticking to singles, I was able to get just as many base set cards as a full waxbox, for half the price. Unless you're chasing after autogamers or a Rip Card, you might want to hold off on that second TA&G box.

Still working on that box break of '06 Fleer Trad. Hold your horses folks, it will come eventually. But to tide you over, I'll say this: '06 Fleer Trad sucks.

Monday, September 18, 2006

Box Break and Review: 2006 Topps Allen & Ginter

One Box of 2006 Topps Allen & Ginter baseball (paid $95)
24 packs per box, seven cards per pack (MSRP $3.99/pack)

The Details

Chiptoppers:
Base Set: 350 cards
Broken Down by Short-Print Scheme:
  • Short Set: 300 cards
  • Short-Prints: 50 cards (odds not stated)
Parallels*:
  • Short Set Minis: 300 cards
  • Short-Print Minis: 50 cards (1:13/packs)
  • A&G Back Short Set Minis: 300 cards (1:5)
  • A&G Back Short-Print Minis: 50 cards (1:65)
  • Black Bordered Short Set Minis: 300 cards (1:10)
  • Black Bordered Short-Print Minis: 50 cards (1:130)
  • Non-Numbered Minis: 350 cards: (1:60, limited to 50)
  • Bazooka Back Minis: 350 cards (1:125, numbered to 25)
  • Wood Minis: 350 cards (1:3100, one-of-one)
  • Rip Card Minis: 25 embedded cards
  • Press Plates: 350 cards: (1:865, four for each mini card)
* One mini parallel per pack

Inserts:
  • Dick Perez Sketches: 30 cards (odds not stated)
  • Dick Perez Original Sketches: 30 embedded cards (one-of-one)
  • A&G Postcards: 15 oversized cards (1:2 chiptoppers)
  • N-43: 15 oversized cards (1:2 chiptoppers)
  • Rip Cards: 50 cards (1:265, production varies from 10 to 99 copies)
  • Framed Originals (1:3227)
Autogamers#:
  • Framed Autographs: 54 cards
  • Red Ink Autographs: 54 embedded cards (numbered to 10)
  • Framed Relics: 52 cards
  • N-43 Autographs: 2 oversized cards (1:970 chiptoppers, numbered to 10)
  • N-43 Relics: 2 oversized cards (1:379 chiptoppers, numbered to 50)
  • Personalized Postcards: 15 oversized autographed cards (1:3000 chiptoppers, one-of-one)
# Stated odds of finding an autogamer: two-per-box.

The Pulls.

Base Set: 144 of 350 (41.14%)
No doubles
Broken Down by Short-Print Scheme:
  • Short Set: 132 of 300 (44.00%)
  • Short-Prints: 12 of 50 (24.00%)
Parallels:
  • 14 Short Set Minis
  • 1 Short-Print Mini: Queen Victoria
  • 4 A&G Back Short Set Minis: J. Kendall, K. Wood, J. Santana & H. Killebrew
  • 1 A&G Back Short-Print Mini: C. Lee
  • 3 Black Short Set Minis: R. Harden, S. Rolen & Wilbur Wright
  • 1 Black Short-Print Mini: J. Lieber
Inserts:
  • 13 Dick Perez Sketches
  • 1 A&G Postcard: M. Tejada
Autogamers:
  • 1 Framed Autograph: D. Lee
  • 1 Framed Relic: M. Buehrle

The Review.

In what has become the latest in a string of products that have the appearance of pre-War (or in this case pre-20th Century) card sets; but in structure resemble more modern ones instead, comes Topps' latest "nostalgia product:" Topps Allen & Ginter. "TA&G" has been out for a couple of months, so forgive me for being a little late to the game, but the word on The Hobby street is that TA&G is one of the best (if not the best) products of 2006. Judging by the number of singles available, it's certainly the most broken-up product of 2006. With such praise, I finally had get in on the action, and while I wouldn't go as far as giving it the "set of the year" -- my money's still on Upper Deck's flagship -- TA&G is a pretty solid product, nonetheless.

More like 'The Worst Ratings in the World'For all intents and purposes, TA&G is same product as Topps 206, Topps 205, Cracker Jack, et al. Just like in the aforementioned products, you get an original-sized parallel in every pack, and every box contains two framed autogamers and an essay written by the infamous, deplorable Keith Olbermann. (No, that picture you're looking at is not Photoshopped, nor is it taken out of context. That really is the infamous, deplorable Keith Olbermann behind the O'Reilly mask giving it the ol' "Seig Heil!" to a recent gathering of TV critics. Infamous, deplorable? More like despicable. But I digress.)

The base set contains 350 cards -- 300 more than the original -- and as the case with the other "Topps nostalgias," there are some short-prints. Of course, none of the 50 cards are marked as being short-printed, and (as usual) Topps did not make public a list of SPs until well after the product's release. I will not reprint the full list here, but if you pulled a card with a "5" in it's number, chances are, it's probably short-printed.

The main draw to TA&G has been the inclusion of over fifty non-baseball related athletes and celebrities -- which is a bit ironic for a "Major League Baseball" card set. You all know about Danica Patrick, Hulk Hogan, and that Japanese guy who can eat all those hot dogs. But I found card #347, Billy the Kid, to be the most interesting. The back reads:
"William McCarthy grew up a teenage outlaw in the mid-19th Century Old West. He endures as a legendary figure who has been characterized as everything from cold-blooded killer to romanticized swashbuckler.

"Reputed to have shot dead anywhere from four to 21 men, Billy the Kid most famously headed a vigilante group called The Regulators. Once convicted of murder, he escaped, but was killed at age 20."
I can only imagine what the back of card #347 in the 2123 UpperFleerPlayoffDeck "Topps 2006" set will read...
"Usama bin Laden spent his formative years as a mujahadeen in the mid-1980s Afghanistan. He endures as a legendary figure who has been characterized as everything from a cold-blooded terrorist to a romanticized freedom fighter.

"Reputed to have been the mastermind behind the '9/11' terrorist attacks, bin Laden headed a jihadist group called al-Qaida. Once captured, he was convicted of mass-murder and crimes against humanity. He was publicly executed on September 11, 2011, by being thrown off the New York City's Freedom Tower by President Rudolph Guliani."

As for the inserts, each pack comes with an original-sized parallel, and they all come in a wide variety of flavors and scarcities (just like 20X, Cracker Jack, etc.). In addition in the regular "plain-vanilla" minis, there are: black bordered minis; minis without card numbers (neither sequential nor serial); solid wood, true one-of-one, minis; and my favorite, minis with a picture of the Quaker Oat Man on the back. (Actually, it's not the real Quaker Oat Man, but the original 19th Century Allen & Ginter logo.)

If there is one thing truly sucks about TA&G, it's the "Rip Cards." These allegedly innovative inserts are standard-sized cards with a mini-card embedded inside them. The deal is, in order to get the mini-card, you have to physically destroy -- or "rip" open, as it were -- the larger card. As previously mentioned, Topps ripped the idea off (pun intended) from equally infamous, deplorable, 1998 Zenith set, a.k.a. "Dear-to-Tear." As I said then, and continue to say now: "Dare-to-Tear was a lousy idea that no one in The Hobby took seriously, and should have died the same death as the company (Pinnacle Brands) that came up with it." But at least it's not soup cans!

Another thing about TA&G that sucks are the Dick Perez Sketch inserts. OK, "sucks" is a bit harsh. Disappointing is more like it. While, the set structure does duplicate the old Diamond Kings -- 30 players, one from each team -- unfortunately, Topps had Perez draw his sketches to scale, making it very hard to distinguish each player. (The 30 original sketches have been embedded into the Rip Cards.) Beckett says that if you cover of the player's name and hat logo, you can't tell who's who. I tried it, and I couldn't either.

Rounding out TA&G are the two-per-box autogamers. The demand for these cards, especially the "player-touched" autographs, is the driving force behind the wholesale pack-busting of this prodcut. Again, just like in the 20X products, all the autogamers are mini-sized, and come encapsulated in a 2 1/2" X 3 1/2" frame.

The Bottom Line:

Just about every pack contains something of value, which is why dealers and collectors are busting the bejesus out of TA&G. In my box I pulled 12 base set short-prints, ten "non-vanilla" parallels, 13 Dick Perez Sketch inserts, a framed autograph of Derrek Lee, and a framed Relic of Mark Buehrle. Throw in a Miguel Tejada chiptopper (see below), and that's 38 "hits" in a 24 pack box. A pretty good rip, if you ask me. With so much of the wax being broken, singles are becoming easier, and cheaper, to acquire. At $100 per box, TA&G isn't the most affordable product out there, so two waxboxes should be all you need.

Product Rating: 4 Gumsticks (out of five)

...and another thing

The oversized chiptopper cards are, well, interesting to say the least. My box yielded an A&G postcard of Miguel Tejada. The front a nice team picture of the 1897 Batlimore All-Americans. The back has a Miguel Tejada postage stamp affixed to the upper-right corner and reads, "I love the players, I love the team, I love everybody here. -- Miggy." Yes, it's signed "Miggy." This has got to be the cheesiest concept for an insert I think I've ever seen. But, again, at least it's not soup cans!

Saturday, September 09, 2006

What I Got at the Card Show: 9/9/06

Site: Woodbridge Center; Woodbridge, NJ

One box of 2006 Topps Allen & Ginter (List Price: $99)
One box of 2006 Fleer Tradition (List Price: $58)

Both wax boxes were purchased from the same dealer, who charged me $150 for both.

A big ol' stack of set fillers and commons. (Paid $50)

Total Spent on Cards: $200
NJ Turnpike Tolls: $4.40
Parking and Admission: FREE
Grand Total: $204.40

Stand-by on those box breaks.

The $50 worth of "set-fillers and commons," is a nice sized stack of over 120 '06 base set cards. You'll be thrilled to know (as I am) that I was able to complete the first series of '06 Upper Deck, and have put a nice size dent in the second series. I also finished off the '06 Bowman short-set ("Reds" and "Greens"), and have only four "Blues" remaining to dust-off the Prospect "inserts" (wink, wink, nudge, nudge). There were a smattering of singles from Ultra, Fleer, Topps series 2 as well.

All of these singles were purchased from a New York area dealer, and as such, charges a "regional premium" for Yankee and Met players -- even the commons. He wanted $2.50 for David Wright's '06 Ultra card, $3 for Derek Jeter's '06 Topps, but only a dime for Ryan Howard's '06 Topps. Go figure.

Needless to say, the only cards now needed to complete my '06 Topps (#500, Jeter) and '06 Fleer (#394, J. Posada) base sets; and my '06 Ultra short-set (#93, D. Wright), are all Noo Yawkers.

Oh, and another thing. I found out what neat-o present Upper Deck is sending me for that Exquisite redemption card I pulled: A Jim Thome/Reggie Jackson dual-autographed card numbered to 20 copies. Hopefully, it's not a one of those cheesy "sticker autograph." I guess I shouldn't be complaining though.

In fact, some of the other "prizes" are pretty sweet: Low-numbered autogamers galore; an '06 Exquisite factory set (only 75 sets produced); tours of the UD facilities; and, my favorite, one wax box of every 2007 UpperFleerDeck product.

Wednesday, September 06, 2006

We don't need no domain name renawals, let the m*f*er expire!

Expire, m*f*er, expire!

So I forgot to renew my site's domain name. What's the worst that could possibly happen? Fortunately, this issue has now been resolved -- at least for the next three years anyway.

As you were.

Thursday, August 31, 2006

Finally, an explaination on back-logoing.


Yep, I knew it all along. The MLBPA did indeed change the definition of "ROOKIE CARD." At least for this year. (Mad props to Tuff Stuff for finally getting to the bottom of this.)

Money paragraph...

"Regarding players like (Prince) Fielder, Jose Capellan and Jonathan Papelbon who have received RC logos this season but were in the majors before Sept. 1 last year, (Evan) Kaplan (the PA's trading cards and collectibles czar) said they were a one-year exception, included as RCs this year because they were Rookie of the Year eligible and baseball licensors didn’t want this new RC system to debut in a year in which the Rookie of the Year didn’t have a 2006 rookie card." (emphasis added)



Hmmm... Fielder, Capellan and Papelbon. Where have I heard those names before?

"'We wanted players who qualified for a rookie this year and had the opportunity to win the Rookie of the Year this year (to receive the RC logo),' Kaplan said. 'Moving forward, it’s going to be an Aug. 31 cutoff.'"


To sum up, if a player has ROY eligilbility this season, and has made his Major League debut by the time you read this, all of his remaining 2006 cards will be eligible to have the "ROOKIE CARD" logo. That, and the guidelines the PA previously announced for this year, won't go into effect until next year. Fair enough.

Saturday, August 26, 2006

Box Break: 2006 Upper Deck series 2

Two Additional Boxes of 2006 Upper Deck series 2 baseball (paid $65 each)
24 packs per box, eight cards per pack (MSRP $2.99/pack)

For a proper review of this product, see my earlier post.


Box Three



Base Set: 171 of 500 (34.2%)
One double

Parallels:
3 Golds: J. Grimsley, C. Ross, R. Spilborghs
1 Silver Spectrum: C. Demaria
2 Rookie Bonus Silver Parallels: J. Broxton and M. Napoli
1 Rookie Bonus Gold Parallel: J. Capellan

Inserts:
4 Player Highlights: R. Howard, Piazza, Pujols, and Griffey, Jr.
1 First-Class Legends: Ruth
2 Speed to Burn: Ichiro and D. Wright
3 Run Producers: T. Cobb, Griffey, Jr., and J. Foxx
3 Inaugural Images: A Couple of Cuban Guys and A. Beltre

Autogamers:
1 UD Game Materials: R. Palmeiro (solid gray, with no needle marks)
1 Exquisite Collection Redemption Card

Box Four



Base Set: 172 of 500 (34.4%)
One double

Parallels:
2 Golds: R. Martinez and R. Doumit
2 Silver Spectrums: Rockies Checklist (Helton) and C. Villanueva
2 Rookie Bonus Silver Parallels: C. Demaria and T. Ishikawa
1 Rookie Bonus Gold Parallel: S. Olsen

Inserts:
4 Player Highlights: J. Varitek, B. Colon, Ichiro and B. Roberts
1 First-Class Legends: Ruth
2 Speed to Burn: L. Brock and A-Rod
2 Run Producers: D. Ortiz and A-Rod
4 Inaugural Images: D. Cabrera, a Korean Guy, another Cuban guy, and a Japanese Guy

Autogamers:
1 UD Game Materials: Jeter (solid white)

Review



After the first two boxes, I built a little more than half the base set. Combined with these two boxes, I now have a little less than two-thirds (323 of the 500, or 64.6%) of the base ser, and about as many extras. The "Law of Diminishing Returns" in action. Four boxes is enough for me.

I guess you can say that box #3 was a "juiced box," as it yielded a Jason Grimsley Gold parallel, a Rafael Palmeiro jersey card, and a big money redemption card.

Speaking of which... The "Exquisite Collection" redemptions are a "stealth insert" good for a low-numbered autogamer. According to the dealer I bought these boxes from, they're dropping at the rate of one-per-case (12 boxes), and are the reason why these boxes are going for about $5-$10 more than they were a couple of weeks ago. I'd like to tell you what Exquisite Collection card I will be receiving, but "2006 Exquisite MLB - Card info will be revealed on 9/1/06." Whatever. I'm willing to play along, but this better not suck, Upper Deck!

What I Got at the Card Show: 8/26/06

Site: Wildwood Convention Center; Wildwood, NJ

Two more boxes of Upper Deck series 2 baseball (paid $65 each)

Total spent on cards: $130
Parking and Admisssion: FREE (although I had to circle around for 15 minutes to find a place to park)
Grand Total: $130

Box breaks forthcoming.

Not even The Hobby media understands the "Rooke Card" criteria.

I had an interesting e-mail exchange with one of the "higher ups" at a major Hobby publication. Guess what? They can't figure out the MLBPA's "ROOKIE CARD" guidelines either! (I have chosen to keep the identity of this certain "higher up" anonymous.)

Money lines...

"None of the three players (Fielder, Capellan, and Papelbon) should have RCs this year -- they all played before Sept. 1 last year."


It's good to know that I'm not the only one out there who has made that observation.


"Many collectors and dealers consider the RC situation an absolute mess this season."


Geez. You think?

"They've put RC logos on parallels, which probably can't be helped, but also pure inserts, plus cards of players who aren't rookies by their (MLBPA's) own definition."


My source was unable to tell me why the PA has changed the RC criteria, which was the whole point my query. However, he also told me that "they" will be investigating the situation further. I'll believe it, when I believe it.

Thursday, August 17, 2006

Box Break and Review: 2006 Upper Deck series 2

Two Boxes of 2006 Upper Deck series 2 baseball (paid $59 each)
24 packs per box, eight cards per pack (MSRP $2.99/pack)

The Details


Chiptoppers: One advertisement for 2006 Upper Deck Ovation.
One three-card "Rookie Card Bonus Pack."

Base Set: 500 cards, nothing short-printed. (yay!)

Parallels:
Golds: 500 cards (numbered to 299)
Silver Spectrums: 500 cards (numbered to 99)
Rookie Bonus Parallels: 100 cards (three in each chipptopper bonus pack; each numbered to 399)


Inserts*:
Player Highlights
First-Class Legends
Speed to Burn
Run Producers
Inaugural Images

* As of this posting -- nearly a week after the product's release -- Upper Deck had yet to post a checklist of Upper Deck series 2. For that matter, I could not find any reference to this product on upperdeck.com. (Nice going, Upper Deck.) Therefore, I am unable to list the set size or insertion ratios for any of the inserts. It does state on the side of the display box that the inserts are seeded at the rate of one-per-pack.

Autogamers#:
UD Game Materials
UD Game Patch

# Stated odds of finding an autogamer (as stated on the display box) are one-per-box.

The Pulls.



Box One


Base Set: 173 of 500 (34.60%)
No doubles

Parallels:
3 Golds: O. Hernandez, J. Cirillo, and A. Montero
1 Silver Spectrum: R. Langerhans
3 Rookie Bonus Parallels: T. Ishikawa, B. Hendrickson, and M. Prado

Inserts:
5 Player Highlights: ManRam, T. Hafner, M. Tejada, A-Rod, and J. Reyes
2 First-Class Legends: Ruth and Cobb
2 Speed to Burn: A. Soriano and J. Reyes
2 Run Producers: Jeter and V. Guerrero
3 Inaugural Images: Some Japanese Guy, Derek Jeter, and Some Cuban Guy

Autogamers:
1 UD Game Patch: R. Weeks (solid navy blue, with no noticeable stitching)

Box Two



Base Set: 165 of 500 (33.00%)
3 doubles

Parallels:
3 Golds: M. Timlin, M. Thames, and A. Nunez
1 Silver Spectrum: J. Santana (the Phillies reliever, not Minnesota's ace)
3 Rookie Parallels: J. Verlander, J. Van Benschoten, and R. Hill

Inserts:
4 Player Highlights: A. Jones, C. Carpenter, D. Lee, and V. Guerrero
1 First-Class Legend: C. Mathewson
2 Speed to Burn: C. Figgins and J. Reyes
2 Run Producers: G. Sheffield and M. Schmidt
4 Inaugural Images: B. Williams, K. Griffey, Jr., Some Korean Guy, and Another Japanese Guy

Autogamers:
1 UD Game Materials: G. Atkins (white with purple vertical pinstripe)

The Review.



Here it is folks, the much anticipated second series of the best product so far this year. Is 2006 Upper Deck series two, as great as the first? You betcha! There are a few minor tweaks that make it a little different from the first series, but all-in-all, UD makes a strong case for "Set of the Year." In fact, I'll go out on a limb and say that 2006 Upper Deck will go down as one of the greatest products of our time. There, I said it.

The base set is, just like the first series, 500 cards. Unlike UD1, UD2, does have a couple of subsets. The first 370 cards (501-870) are the regular player cards, all arranged alphabetical by team, with a handful of rookie cards scattered, smothered, and covered in with the veterans. This is followed by thirty team checklist cards (871-900), and a 100-card (901-1000) rookie subset, all MLBPA approved.

Speaking of subsets... It appears that the last hundred cards are about as close as we're going to get to a "Star Rookie" subset this year -- a subset that has been the only consistent feature of this ever evolving brand since 1989. For all the changes in The Hobby since '89, you could always count on the Upper Deck baseball set's "Star Rookies." I guess the MLBPA's "ROOKIE CARD" program prohibits UD from referring to them as such anymore. Oh well. Like most cards bearing the "RC" logo, most fall into the parenth-RC category. And yes, there's some back-logoing chicanery going on as well. More on this later.

The team checklist cards are a nice addition, especially if you're a team set collector. Unfortunately, the obverse sides are virtually indistinguishable from the regular player cards, and the reverses only list those players appearing in the second series. Isn't the point of having "Team Checklist" cards, to include all the players in the entire set? (They did this last year, and with only a 180 card second series, it was kind of laughable. Some of the "Team Checklists" had as few as three cards listed!) And why do the team cards look the same as the regular player cards anyway? Couldn't Upper Deck had done something, anything, to make the team cards at least a little different than the regular player cards? Memo to Upper Deck: I'm pretty sure that someone, somewhere, still has Vernon Wells' dad's phone number in their rolodex. Give Vern's Old Man a call, and have him draw up some cards for the 2007 team checklists.

Just like in all the other UpperFleerDeck products this year, there's a bevy of insert cards. Also, just like in all the other UpperFleerDeck products this year, you have no idea just how many of them there are to chase after, and you have no idea what the exact pack insertion ratios for each of the specific sets are either, because there's no checklist, and the odds aren't listed on the wrapper. Unlike in the first series however, there are no parallels of the non-parallel inserts. If there's one thing I hate more than a meaningless parallel of a base set card, it's an even more meaningless parallel of an insert card.

Also, I found it curious (to say the least) that I pulled a couple of cards from the series one "First-Class Legends" insert set, in my series two packs. I don't ever recall a card company seeding the exact same set of inserts in both series of a product. The cards look exactly the same as the first series FCLs, however, I did notice a slight variation. On the reverse side, where all the legal mubmo-jumbo is printed, UD added their mailing address. Other than that, they're the exact same cards you pulled in the first series.

One other note about the inserts. All of them are sequentially numbered. None of that let's-get-cute-and-use-the-player's-initials-as-the-card-number-as-if-it-were-a-game-used-card BS.

Wrapping up UD2 are the gamers, and it wouldn't be an Upper Deck set without some sort of game used element, wouldn't it? Hell, it's Upper Deck baseball, the product that introduced the things to The Hobby back in '97.

The Bottom Line:



Individually, each box produced about a third of the base set. Combined together, my two boxes yield a little more than half the set (257 of 500), with a healthy stack of doubles for trade bait.

Just like the first series, you'll have to purchase at least four waxboxes to even come close to building a full set. (I only had enough money for two, but I'll soon be buying a couple more.) At $60 a pop, that's not exactly cheap. Add that to the four boxes of series one you'll need (or in my case, already bought) and you're talking about an investment of almost $500 on wax alone just to build your 2006 Upper Deck base set. And yes, it's worth it!

The inclusion of the "Rookie Card Bonus Pack" chiptopper appears to be the only noticeable difference between the Hobby and Retail versions of this product. Nearly every pack contained at least one card -- and in some packs two -- from the "Rookie Card" subset, so at the very least you're guaranteed to get something of value in each pack. Speaking of one-per-pack, on the side of the display box, in very, very, small type, it clearly states that each pack has an insert card. However, in both of my boxes, not every pack came with the promised insert. Box one had 14 inserts, four parallels, and a load-bearing thick Patch card of Milwaukee shortstop Rickie Weeks. The second box had 13 inserts, four parallels, and a gamer of Rockies third-baseman Garret Atkins. That's 37 inserts in 48 packs.

Product Rating: 5 Gumsticks (out of five)

Do I recommend this product?



2006 Upper Deck baseball is probably the best edition of their flagship brand since the legendary 1989 set, and the best baseball card product Upper Deck has released since 1994 SP. So yeah, I do recommend this.

...and another thing



Here we go again with more "ROOKIE CARD" back-logoing.

"Back-logoing" is the term I've given to cards bearing the MLBPA's "ROOKIE CARD" logo of players who have had cards issued without the logo earlier that year. I documented such back-logoing in my review of '06 Topps series 2, and in my subsequent open letter to the MLBPA -- a letter which has yet to be answered. In the case of 2006 Topps series two, the cards of Jose Capellan and Jonathan Papelbon were all "back-logoed."

Now comes this: In Upper Deck series two, Prince Fielder's card (#976) has the MLBPA "ROOKIE CARD" logo. But wait a second. Didn't Prince Fielder appear in the first series of Upper Deck already? And didn't that card come without the logo? Yep and Yep. Card #264 in the first series of 2006 Upper Deck is a card of Prince Fielder without the logo.

So let me get this straight. Are we to understand that Prince Fielder's first series card is not a "ROOKIE CARD," but, somehow, his second series card is? Geez, and I thought that the whole point of the cross-brand logo was to standardize the definition of a rookie card! WILL SOMEONE, ANYONE, PLEASE EXPLAIN THE LOGIC OF THIS!

UPDATE: 8/21



Upper Deck's finally posted a checklist on their site. It appears that there's a World Baseball Classic themed game used/game patch set, as well as autograph inserts (odds not stated), and printing plates. There's still no mention of the First-Class Legends inserts in this series.

UD still promises an insert in every pack; although, like I mentioned, not every pack in my two boxes came with one. It also says that you get five serial numbered cards in each box, as opposed to the four in each of mine.

Finally, the site says that all cards in the "Rookie Bonus Pack" are numbered to either 725, 425, or 75 copies. However, all six cards I received in my two Bonus Packs were numbered to 399.

The sizes for each of the insert sets are as follows:


  • 20 Run Producers

  • 15 Speed to Burn

  • 35 Player Highlights

  • 40 Inaugural Images

  • 40 UD Game Jersey/UD Game Patch

  • 60 World Baseball Classic Jersey Collection/Patch Collection

  • 42 INKredibile

Sunday, August 13, 2006

What I Got at the Card Show: 8/12/06

Site: Hamilton Mall; Mays Landing, NJ

Two boxes of 2006 Upper Deck series 2 baseball (Paid $59 each)

Total Spent on Cards: $118
Atlantic City Expressway Tolls: $4
Parking and Admission: FREE
Grand Total: $122

Box breaks forthcoming.

Thursday, August 10, 2006

Isn't this what the Traded set is for?

Apparently, there are a couple of variations in this year's Topps baseball factory set. (All credit is due to the Almighty Beckett for exposing this.)

Just a couple of questions though. Was it absolutely imperative that John Koronka's card be airbrushed now? Couldn't it have waited for Topps Traded? Updates and Highlights? whatever they're calling it this year? Isn't that the whole purpose of a Traded set? Also, is it logical to assume that -- with this action -- Topps may not be planning on issuing a Traded set at all this year?

Wednesday, August 02, 2006

Wednesday, July 19, 2006

An open letter to the MLBPA regarding "ROOKIE CARD" logo guidelines.

Why is this all of a sudden a 'ROOKIE CARD?'



Date: 7/19/2006
To: Evan Kaplan, Director of Trading Cards and Collectibles, Major League Baseball Players Association
From: Chris Harris, Stalegum.com
RE: Clarification of MLBPA's "ROOKIE CARD" logo guidelines.

Dear Mr. Kaplan:

This message is in regards to the MLBPA's new program that identifies rookie baseball cards with a standardized cross-brand "ROOKIE CARD" logo. I think I speak for most collectors in applauding the PA's efforts in this arena. However questions have arisen among some regarding the use of the logo on certain player's cards. Specifically, two players: Milwaukee's Jose Capellan and the Red Sox's Jonathan Papelbon.

In the 2006 Bowman baseball card set, both Papelbon (card #76) and Capellan's (#190) cards are grouped among the veterans -- the subset commonly known in collector circles as the "red cards." Neither Bowman card sports the "ROOKIE CARD" logo. Yet in the recently released Topps series 2, both of these player's cards are designated as "rookies." (Papelbon card #355 and Capellan #496)

Capellan pitched in his first Major League game in 2004. Papelbon made his debut on July 31, 2005. The MLBPA's definition of a "rookie card," as it is currently understood by most collectors, is if a player makes his Major League debut during the current season, or during the previous season after the September 1 "call-up" date; then all of his base-set cards may feature the "RC" logo. Because both Capellan and Papelbon made their Major League debuts before September 1, 2005, (using the aforementioned MLBPA guidelines) neither player should have the logo on any of their 2006 cards.

My question to you is: Has the MLBPA changed the "RC" criteria? And if so, why? And are there any more players like Capellan and Papelbon that are now eligible for the "ROOKIE CARD" logo, that weren't before? I, and most baseball card collectors, look forward to hearing to your response in a prompt manner.

Thank You,
Chris Harris
www.stalegum.com

Monday, July 17, 2006

What I got at the Card Show: 7/16/05

Site: Plymouth Meeting Mall, Plymouth Meeting, PA

A bunch of 2006 Bowman, Topps, and Ultra commons and set fillers. (paid $22)

I really haven't been in a card buying mood these past couple of weeks -- hence the lack of updates to this site. There really haven't been many new products lately, and other than current year base sets, there really isn't anything out there I'm particularly chasing after.

However with this $22 stack, I'm just about done with my '06 Topps, Bowman, and Ultra base sets. The only "money" cards in the stack were a Bowman Johjima RC ($4), and six various Ultra Lucky 13s (buck each).

Other observations:

Alex Gordon's '06 Bowman is now down to $7. The Chromes continue to sell in the $20-$25 range.

Ryan Howard RC's are on fire. His '03 BowChro DP is selling for $50-$60, and his '03 Diamond King is $30.

Friday, June 30, 2006

Behold: The amazing power of Google.

So just for shits and giggles, I decided to Google the phrase "Olbermann Gordon". Take a guess which website came up at the top?

Saturday, June 24, 2006

Box Break and Review: 2006 Topps series 2 HTA

With the US out of the World Cup, the rest of you can now go back to ignoring soccer for the next three years and eleven months. Until then, here's a break of the new Topps.

One HTA box of 2006 Topps series 2 baseball (paid $59)
12 packs per box, 35 cards per pack (MSRP $4.99/pack)

The Details


Chiptoppers: One "Box Sticker."

Base Set: 330 cards

Parallels:
Gold: 330 cards (1:4/packs, numbered to 2005 copies)
Black: 330 cards (1:14, numbered to 55, HTA exclusive)
Platinum: 330 cards (1:14,000, one-of-one)
Printing Plates: 330 cards (1:193, four of each card)

Inserts:
Hit Parade: 30 cards (1:6)
Topps Stars: 15 cards (1:4)
Opening Day: 15 cards (1:3)
Trading Places: 20 cards (1:4)
U.S. constitution Signers: 39 cards (1:2)
Mickey Mantle Home Run History: 100 cards (one-per-pack)
Home Run Derby Contest: (1:14,000)

Autogamers*:
Trading Places Autograph: seven cards
Topps Autographs: 23 cards
Team Topps Legends: ???
Mantle Home Run History Relic: 100 cards (1:16,000)
Opening Day Relic: 15 cards
Trading Places Relic: 27 cards
Trading Places Autographed Relic: seven cards (1:8000)
U.S. constitution Cut Signature: (1:80,000)

*Stated odds of finding an autogamer: 1:33/packs

The Pulls.



Base Set: 315 of 330 (95.45%)
67 doubles
1 triple

Parallels:
3 Golds: Hawpe, Ru. Hernandez, B. Thompson
1 Black: Dotel

Inserts:
2 Hit Parade: R. Sierra, A. Rodriguez
3 Topps Stars: V. Guerrero, Jeter, Pujols
4 Opening Day: KAN-DET, SEA-ANA, HOU-FLA, SDG-SFO
3 Trading Places: Furcal, Ra. Hernandez, Glaus
6 U.S. constitution Signers: B. Franklin, R. Sherman, R. Dobbs Spaight, G. Washington, H. Williamson, J. Wilson
12 Mickey Mantle Home Run History: #s 7, 10, 17, 52, 54, 61, 64, 70, 74, 79, 81, & 93

Autogamers:
1 Trading Places Relic: M. Bradley

The Review.



For all the crap Topps has pulled off this year, they have done one thing right. They haven't screwed up their flagship brand. No short-prints. No autographed base cards. No gimmicks. No BS. With Topps you know exactly what you're going to get, and this second series HTA box delivered -- kind of.

The 330 card second series is a little smaller than last year. In fact, at only 660 cards the full 2006 Topps set is the smallest in six years. There's everything you'd come to expect with Topps: 255 regular player cards, 14 AL managers, 16 NL team cards, 30 rookies (complete with the MLBPA's "ROOKIE CARD" icon), and 15 multi-player cards.

It is these multi-player cards that really "make" the set, I think. They remind me a lot of those "Superstar Specials" Fleer did back in the day. Unfortunately, the star selection is, well, not so "super." For example, card #650 -- titled "Philly Phanatics" -- has Pat Burrell and Mike Lieberthal. Now if I were in charge of selecting the two best Philadelphia Phillies to put on a multi-player card, don't you think that I would have chosen the previous year's Rookie of the Year and Home Run Derby champion? (Ryan Howard and Bob "A-Booey" Abreu, respectively) Or how about card #654: "Power Rays?" Travis Lee and Rocco Baldelli? instead of Carl Crawford and Jorge Cantu? Come on now Topps!

Yes, there is a rookie card of a certain catcher for the Mariners, as well as a couple of dozen other players; however, as we've seen in other 2006 products, most of them are Parenth-RCs -- i.e. Ryan Zimmerman and the rest of the gang.

The inserts aren't really anything to write home about. Again, it's what you'd expect from Topps, with themes recycled from recent Topps offerings: All-Stars, Hit Parade, etc. The Mantle Home Run History set is based on the same concept as Barry Bonds' set -- one card for each of his career home runs. Only this time, they didn't print just overprint the shit out of just one card. There's 100 different Mantle cards (for career homers 2 through 101), and with the multi-year deal between Topps and the Mantle estate, you can expect the remaining 435 to be spread out over the next couple of years' worth of Topps sets. Enjoy Mantle-istas!

The U.S. Constitution Signer's mimic the Declaration of Independence cards from series one, in both concept and design. Each card looks virtually identical to each other, with the photo of the individual represented relegated to a teeny-tiny corner of the card. Is it just me, but has the "historical figure insert set" an idea that has just run its course? I mean, how many more of these could Topps possibly come up with anyway? Signers of the Articles of Confederation? Great American Vice Presidents? Heroes of the Confederacy?

The Bottom Line:



Unlike the series one HTA box I ripped in March, the series two HTA box came up short of a complete base set by fifteen cards. The main reason why I spent the extra ten bucks on an HTA, was to get a complete set. Needless to say, I was pretty disappointed to be 15 cards short with a stack a 68 extras. All the inserts came as advertised, with three Golds and an HTA exclusive Black parallel. In the first series box I got a Roger Clemens numbered to 55; but with this box I pulled Octavio Dotel. Oh well.

The most interesting card I did pull was a Ruben Sierra "Hit Parade" card. I say interesting because, just how in the hell is Ruben Sierra still playing in the Majors anyway? I also got Constitution Signer cards of Ben Franklin and George Washington. Pretty cool, but I would have given my left nut to pull Alexander Hamilton. Hamilton was "The Man," and you know it. Oh, and I got a bat card of Milton Bradley. Big whoop.

All and all, I decent box, but I busted better HTA boxes. I still can't get over that fact that Topps actually put Travis Lee and Mike Lieberthal on multi-player superstar cards.

Product Rating: 3 Gumsticks (out of five)

...and another thing


For some reason, card #496 of Brewers pitcher Jose Capellan has an MLBPA "Rookie Card" logo foil-stamped on it. This despite the fact that: a) Capellan's card is not grouped in with the other "MLBPA Rookies," and b) Capellan pitched three games in 2004 for Atlanta.

I wonder if this is another one of those wacky Topps "error cards" that (wink, wink, nudge, nudge, knowhatImean, knowhatImean) mysteriously made its way into the packs? More importantly, I wonder if I could get Keith Olbermann to buy this "super-scarce variation card" from me. $5000 Keith, and it's yours! Call me!

Don West: Still "The Man"

To mourn the death of Shop at Home, here he is in his greatest performance. The man, the myth, the legend: Don West!



There's more of "The Don-ster" on donwest.org and on YouTube

Wednesday, June 21, 2006

9200 Pujols Rookie Diamond Kings? I don't think so.

At least, 10,000 of these.

So Beckett says that there are 9200 copies of Albert Pujols' 2001 Donruss Rookie Diamond King, and 46,000 copies of his 2001 Donruss The Rookies card. It says so right there on page 33 of the July 2006 issue. And if Beckett says it, it must be true. Right?

Not so fast. I have documented on this site my eternal quest to complete a 2001 Donruss master set and only added the Pujols RDK last month. With all due respect to Beckett, I find it hard to believe that there are 9200 copies of the RDK out there. In fact, let me prove it to you.

Only 1000 of these.
The only way to get a Donruss The Rookies set was through a redemption card that was inserted into packs of '01 Donruss at the rate of 1:72/packs. Each The Rookies factory set came with one of five Rookie Diamond Kings -- Pujols being one.

In addition to The Rookies, Donruss also inserted into packs (at the rate of 1:720), a card good for a Baseball's Best factory set. Baseball's Best was a "Tiffany" style set that featured the complete 220-card Donruss set, the complete 105-card Donruss The Rookies set, as well as all five Rookie Diamond Kings. At the time of the product's release in May 2001, Donruss said that only 1000 Baseball's Best redemption cards were inserted into '01 Donruss packs. Granted, Donruss wound up making more that 1000 Baseball's Best sets, but let's take them at their word that they inserted only 1000 Baseball's Best redemption cards into packs.

Now, if there were only 1000 Baseball's Best cards that were inserted into packs of 2001 Donruss, and they were inserted at the rate of 1:720, and if the insertion ratio for The Rookies card was 1:72, that must mean that Donruss inserted 10,000 The Rookies redemption cards.

1000 X (720/72) = 10,000

This means that Donruss produced a maximum of 10,000 Donruss The Rookies factory sets. 36,000 less than what Beckett says.

But, Donruss would up producing more than 1000 Baseball's Best sets -- they made 1597. Unbeknownst to collector's, Donruss produced three different versions of the Baseball's Best set: 999 "Bronze," 499 "Silver," and 99 "Gold." Now, let's assume that Donruss issued 1597 redemption cards, instead of the 1000 they initially said they would. This would also increase the number of Donruss The Rookies redemption cards, but still not anywhere near the 46,000 level Beckett claims.

1597 X (720/72) = 15,970

So that settles it. There are anywhere between 10,000 and 15,970 Donruss The Rookies factory sets, and 2000 to 3194 Albert Pujols Rookie Diamond Kings (15,970/5 = 3194). BUT... Remember, as we've seen with the Donruss Albert Pujols RC, NOT ALL REDEMPTION CARDS GO FULFILLED! Especially for a set that, unlike the base set Pujols, cost $24.95 for shipping and handling to redeem.

How scarce is the RDK?  I couldn't find a picture of one, so here's the DTR instead.
46,000 The Rookies factory sets and 9200 Pujols RDKs? Sorry Beckett, not buying it. Unless Donruss did with The Rookies what they did with Baseball's Best -- that is, dumping additional factory sets directly to Hobby dealers without the coupon -- the production figures don't add up. On the other hand, 4600 Donruss The Rookies sets and 920 Pujols RDKs, those are figures this collector can accept.

Sunday, June 18, 2006

What I Got at the Card Show: 6/17/06

Man, was Earl Hebner secretly referreing that U.S.-Italy World Cup match, or what? How the hell could you send Mastroeni off for that kind of foul? Pope? OK, I might be able to buy that second yellow card. But Pablo? Come on now.

Anyway, Ghana bailed us out and the Stars-and-Stripes played their collective asses off for a well-deserved draw. Our boys are still in it folks. We're still in it.

So to celebrate, I, naturally, decided to blow a significant portion of my paycheck on baseball cards!

Site: Granite Run Mall; Media, PA

A second box of 2006 Ultra (Paid $59)
One HTA box of 2006 Topps series 2 (Paid $59)

I just posted the Ultra break, and the Topps 2 break will be forthcoming.

Total Spent on Cards: $118
One South Park "Don't Forget to Bring a Towel!" T-Shirt: $17 (impulse buy)
One US Soccer baseball cap: $20 (Father's Day present)
Commodore Barry Bridge Tolls: $3
Grand Total: $158

Trey and Matt need to give Towelie his own spin-off series. I am so serial about this.

2006 Topps Allen & Ginter: 1st Impressions

Next month, Topps will release their latest pre-War influenced "retro" product: Topps Allen & Ginter (TA&G). The product is notable for for the return of a Hobby legend, and for the return of one of the dumbest gimmicks in Hobby history.

For those unfamiliar, in 1887 the Allen & Ginter tobacco company of Richmond released what is generally recognized as the first "trading card" set (ACC designation: N43). The "Allen & Ginter's World's Champions" only featured 10 actual baseball players, but they were the first actual "baseball cards."

TA&G is Topps' latest entry in a continuous line of retro-themed products: last year's Turkey Red, 2004-05's Cracker Jack, and the 20X sets of 2002 and 2003. While those sets featured only baseball players, TA&G will have Major Leaguers with a few stars from other sports interspersed -- just like in the original. So along with A-Rod, Pujols, Ichiro, and the rest of the gang, you'll be able to pull cards of Mike Tyson, Hulk Hogan, Brandi Chastain (I'd tap that), Danica Patrick (that too), and hot dog eating champion Takeru Kobayashi. What, no El Wingador?

The structure of TA&G is similar to the other Topps pre-War sets, with one original-sized parallel per pack, framed relics, buy backs, and whatnot. What makes TA&G significant from a Hobby perspective, is the return of a name The Hobby hasn't heard from in quite a while.

That would be Dick Perez. Yes, Dick Perez. The original artist of the Donruss Diamond Kings will contribute the "Dick Perez Sketches" insert to TA&G -- an insert that looks more in place in a 1980s retro set than a 1880s set. But hey, it's Dick Perez. Welcome back Dick!

And now the bad news. The single worst gimmick in Hobby history rears its ugly head in TA&G: "Dare-to-Tear." Yes, what made 1998 Zenith the second worst baseball card product ever, is making a most unfortunate come back. Granted, the "Rip Cards" (as Topps calls them) are only one-per-case (1:288). But still, Dare-to-Tear was a lousy idea that no one in The Hobby took seriously, and should have died the same death as the company they came up with it.

Other than the Rip Cards, this looks like another pretty good nostalgia product from Topps. I for one, will be looking forward to its release in July.

How do #2 picks pan out anyway? And the long-run significance of Gordo-Mania!

I still can't believe any rational-thinking human being would willingly pay $7500 for this card.  Then again, it is Keith Olbermann we're talking about.Pop Quiz: What do these current and former baseball players have in common with the current object of Kooky Keith™ Olbermann's affection, Alex Gordon?

Les Rohr
Reggie Jackson
Terry Hughes
Peter Broberg
J.R. Richard
Steve Dunning
Jay Franklin
Rick Manning
John Stearns
Tommy Boggs
Mike Lentz
Pat Underwood
Bill Gullickson
Lloyd Moseby
Tim Leary (the former Expo reliever, not the LSD guy)
Garry Harris (no relation)
Joe Carter
Augie Schmidt
Kurt Stillwell
Billy Swift
Will Clark
Greg Swindell
Mark Merchant
Mark Lewis
Tyler Houston
Tony Clark
Mike Kelly
Paul Shuey
Darren Dreifort
Ben Grieve
Ben Davis
Travis Lee
J.D. Drew
Mark Mulder
Josh Beckett
Adam Johnson
Mark Prior
B.J. Upton
Rickie Weeks
Justin Verlander

I'll give you a few seconds to figure it out.

dum-dee-dum-dee-dum

la-la-la-la-la

Give up? If you haven't figured it out, or haven't looked at the title of this entry, all the players on the list were the second player selected overall in Major League Baseball's amateur first-year player draft. Be honest, have you ever even heard of half of these guys? Probably not.

Looking at the list begs the question: How many of these guys are either in the Hall of Fame, or are on pace towards enshrinement? Or, to put it in Hobby terms, how many of these player's rookie cards will ever be worth anything?

I wonder if they'll ever make an Alex Gordon candy bar?Well, we know Reggie's already in. So there's at least one. Joe Carter and Will Clark are marginal candidates, at best. (Veterans Committee anyone?) So there's three. J.R. Richard would have been a first-ballot HOFer, and his cards still hold at least some value -- there's four. It's still too soon to tell if "That J.D. Guy," Mulder, Beckett, or Prior are HOF material, even though their RCs are worth some serious scratch. And for the sake of this argument, let's not even bring Upton, Weeks, Verlander, or Mister Gordon into the discussion, as it is still too soon to tell if they'll ever develop into Major League superstars.

Jackson, Carter, Clark, Richard, "That J.D. Guy," Mulder, Beckett, and Prior are about it. In over forty years worth of drafts, only eight #2 picks have gone on to have good-to-great Major League careers -- seven if you subtract J.R. Richards' stroke-interrupted career -- and whose rookie cards are not commons box material. 8-for-36 (excluding the four most recent #2 picks). That's barely above the Mendoza Line (8/36 = .222).

Which brings us to Olbermann. KO has got to be thinking to himself that Gordon has the potential to have a career on par with Reggie Jackson's. How else do you explain his buying spree of Alex Gordon Topps cards? (And no, I'm not buying the "I need it to fill out my set" bull crap. We know what you're up to Keith.)

Twenty-five years from now, if Alex Gordon puts up career stats comparible to Reggie Jackson's and winds up on the podium giving his acceptance speech at Cooperstown -- or at the very least, posts career numbers similar to Joe Carter's -- then Olbermann has all but cornered the market our generation's T-206 Honus Wagner. Let me repeat that: Keith Olbermann may have already cornered the market on the next T-206 Wagner. Can you imagine what the BGS 9.5 Gordon that Olbermann just paid $7500 for, or the un-opened rack pack with a Gordon clearly visible he paid $5900 for will be worth then? And am I the only one in The Hobby that is seeing the significance of this?

There are a hell of a lot more than 100 copies of this card.The key words are may have. If Gordon's career turns out to be as good as Reggie Jackson's, then good for Keith. But judging by the list above, Gordon probably has a better shot at a career similar to another recent #2 overall draft pick: Travis Lee. In other words, an overly-hyped high first-round draft pick whose rookie cards got some serious early run, but whose career didn't amount to jack squat. Although with the signing bonus Gordon was able to get from the Royals, he probably doesn't have to worry about living in a van down by the river any time soon.

Saturday, June 17, 2006

Box Break and Review: 2006 Ultra

Two Boxes of 2006 Ultra baseball (paid $59 each).
24 packs per box, eight cards per pack (MSRP $2.99/pack)

The Details


Chiptoppers: One advertisment for 2006 Flair Showcase. (Looks pretty good).

Base Set: 251 cards
Broken Down by Short-Print Scheme:
Short Set: 200 cards
Retro Lucky 13: 50 cards (1:4)
Kenji Johjima Redemption Card: one card

Parallels:
Gold Medallion: 200 cards (one-per-pack*)
Retro Lucky 13 Gold Medallion: 50 cards (1:18/packs*)
* Pack odds retrieved from fleer.com

Inserts#:
RBI Kings: 20 cards
Home Run Kings: 15 cards
Strikeout Kings: 10 cards
Ultra Rising Stars: 10 cards
Diamond Producers: 25 cards
Midsummer Classic Kings: 10 cards
# Stated odds of finding an insert (from any of the sets) are one-per-pack.

Autogamers$:
AUTOGRAPHics: 35 cards
Ultra Fine Fabrics: 60 cards
Feel the Game: 30 cards
$ Stated odds of finding an autogamer (from any of the sets) are two-per-box, or 1:12/packs.

The Pulls.



Box One


Base Set: 115 of 251 (45.82%)
No doubles
Broken Down by Short-Print Scheme:
Short Set: 109 of 200 (54.50%)
Retro Lucky 13: 6 of 50 (12%) NOE-MAH! Helton, Cuddyer, F. Lopez, Baldelli, and P. Fielder.

Parallels:
24 Gold Medallions
1 Retro Lucky 13 Gold Medallion: A. Gonzalez

Inserts:
11 RBI Kings: Griffey, Ortiz, Teixeira, Sheffield, Sexson, Pujols, Helton, Delgado, C. Lee, V. Guerrero, and L. Gonzalez.
8 Home Run Kings: Pujols, A. Rodriguez, D. Lee, Teixeira, Dunn, Konerko, Sheffield, and Piazza.
5 Strikeout Kings: Santana, Peavy, Carpenter, Prior, and Zambrano.
5 Ultra Rising Stars: Street, F. Hernandez, Utley, Kazmir, and Taveras.
14 Diamond Producers: Edmonds, Griffey, Ortiz, M. Ramirez, Kent, Helton, Cabrera, Matsui, Tejada, Cantu, Burrell, Abreu, Dunn, and Chavez.
5 Midsummer Classic Kings: Jeter, Clemens, Soriano, G. Anderson, and I. Rodriguez.

Autogamers:
1 Ultra Fine Fabrics: Teixeira.
1 Feel the Game: V. Guerrero.

Box Two



Base Set: 115 of 251 (45.82%)
No doubles
Broken Down by Short-Print Scheme:
Short Set: 109 of 200 (54.50%)
Retro Lucky 13: 6 of 50 (12%) Jeter, P. Wilson, Jenkins, Verlander, Burroughs, Weeks.

Parallels:
24 Gold Medallions
1 Retro Lucky 13 Gold Medallion: Z. Greinke

Inserts:
11 RBI Kings: Griffey, Ortiz, M. Ramirez, Teixeira, Sheffield, Sexson, Kent, Pujols, Delgado, C. Lee, and V. Guerrero.
8 Home Run Kings: Pujols, Griffey, A. Rodriguez, D. Lee, Teixeira, Konerko, Sheffield, and Piazza.
5 Strikeout Kings: Santana, Peavy, Schilling, Carpenter, and Prior.
6 Ultra Rising Stars: Howard, Street, Utley, Duke, Kazmir, and Taveras.
13 Diamond Producers: Jeter, C. Jones, Ortiz, M. Ramirez, Kent, Helton, Matsui, V. Guerrero, Tejada, Burrell, Abreu, Bay, and Dunn.
5 Midsummer Classic Kings: Piazza, Jeter, Clemens, G. Anderson, and P. Martinez.

Autogamers:
1 Ultra Fine Fabrics: E. Chavez.
1 Feel the Game: F. Thomas.

The Review.



UpperFleerDeck does it again! Hot on the heels of Fleer baseball and the first series of Upper Deck, 2006 Fleer Ultra makes it 3-for-3 for the boys from Carlsbad. (or is it North Las Vegas now?)

The 251-card base set is pure Ultra. Just like how 2006 Fleer was a dead ringer for '94 Fleer, 2006 Ultra is Ultra just how you remember it was before it jumped the shark in 2001. The first 180 cards are arranged by team, followed by a twenty card "rookie" subset that is (are you ready for this) NOT short-printed. All 20 of these cards have the standardized MLBPA "ROOKIE CARD" icon, and yes, some of them are parenth-RCs. Cards 201-250 make up the "Retro Lucky 13" subset, and are SPed (1:4). After all, it wouldn't be an Ultra set without some short-prints? It shouldn't be all that difficult to complete the set, being that you get six of them in each box. And besides, unlike other recent card sets that shall remain nameless, it's not like they come autographed or anything.

The theme of the Retro Lucky 13s is that all were among in the first thirteen players selected in the first round of the amateur first-year player draft. Get it? Yes, there are all the usual suspects, but there are a few guys you don't normally find in a short-printed subset. Seriously, when was the last time Paul Wilson, Tony Clark, and Dustin Hermanson had SPed cards? And all the player's are current Big Leaguers -- no Brien Taylors or Josh Hamiltons in this bunch, but no Alex Gordons or Justin Uptons either. What makes the Retro Lucky 13s cool however, is that they really are Retro. The pictures used correspond directly to the year (or at least the general time frame) in which the player was drafted. For example, Ken Griffey, Jr.'s Lucky 13 shows him in one of those ass-ugly late-80s royal blue Mariners jerseys.

To finish off the base set, UpperFleerDeck was able to sneak in a redemption card -- right in the nick of time -- of The Hobby's current "Man of the Hour:" Kenji Johjima. On the checklist posted to fleer.com, Johjima is listed as card #251 in the set. However on the actual redemption card, it clearly states "NON-AUTO RREGULAR CARD #210 ... KENJI JOHJIMA." (And yes, if it says "NON-AUTO," feel free to assume that UpperFleerDeck's going to get Johjima to sign a handful as well.) If Johjima is indeed card #210, that must mean that Billy Wagner's Retro Lucky 13 card (#210 on the checklist) was pulled from the set. But it wasn't. I found at least one eBay auction for a Billy Wagner Retro Lucky 13 card. Is the redemption card right? or is the checklist? That remains to be seen.

Also, word on the street is that the Johjima redemption card was seeded at the rate of one-per-case (each case has 12 waxboxes). If this is true, then the Johjima redemption is short-printed in relation to the other Retro Lucky 13s at a rate of 30%. And since this card is only available as a redemption, could we see a repeat of the 2001 Donruss Albert Pujols situation? Stay tuned.

Moving on, just like with '06 Fleer and '06 UD I, there are an absolute crap-load of non-parallel inserts: 90 in all (not quite the "shit-load" of UD I, but a "crap-load" nonetheless). They're spread-out amongst six different insert sets, and you get one-per-pack -- at least that's what it says on the wrapper (more on that later). If you're like me and like chasing after non-parallel inserts, this is a good thing. Unfortunately, just like with Fleer and UD I, the pack insertion ratios for each specific insert set are not listed anywhere on the wrapper. In fact, since there are no checklists included with the product (tisk, tisk), you have to go Fleer's website to find this information. In addition to the one advertised insert in each pack, you also get a Gold Medallion parallel in each pack. Thankfully, it's the only parallel set in Ultra. Yes, the de-Donrussification of The Hobby continues!

Wrapping up '06 Ultra are the autogamers. Each box promises two from three different sets: Either an AUTOGRAPHic (and yes, THEY USE ALL CAPITAL LETTERS), Ultra Fine Fabric, or Feel the Game card. The latter two are game-used inserts. Of course, in mid-level premium products like Ultra, such cards are merely window dressing. Chances are, you're probably not buying a box like this to pull autogamers, but you don't really mind pulling them either. Think of them as the scoop of vanilla ice cream on top of your slice of apple pie-a-la-mode.

The Bottom Line:



Both boxes yield everything advertised and then some. Instead of the advertised one insert per pack, in both boxes, I got two. Apparently, this is not an abberation, as most collectors are reporting that you get two inserts per pack -- three if you count the one-per-pack Gold Medallion parallel. If you are building the short set -- and if you're even considering buying this product, you probably are -- you'll need to buy at least two boxes. So tap that 401k, cash in your kids college fund, do whatever you can to buy that second box. You'll be glad you did.

Product Rating: 3 1/2 Gumsticks (out of five)

Do I recommend this product?



Hell yeah! It's Fleer freaking Ultra, for crying out loud. If you don't like this product, then get the hell out of The Hobby now!

...and another thing


For some reason the Prince Fielder and Justin Verlander Retro Lucky 13 cards I pulled both have the MLBPA "Rookie Card" icon on them. According to the MLBPA's own guidelines, they shouldn't, because they both made their Major League debut before the September 1, 2005 cut-off date. Also, Ryan Zimmerman's card (also with the icon) is placed among his Nationals teammates and not with the 20 other rookies.