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

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)

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)

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

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

2 Hit Parade: R. Sierra, A. Rodriguez
3 Topps Stars: V. Guerrero, Jeter, Pujols
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

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 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.



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

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

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.

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.

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

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.

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.

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

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.

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, 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.

Thursday, June 15, 2006

Olbermann Watch Covers the Gordon Story.

The fine folks at Olbermann Watch have checked in on "Kooky Keith's Kard Konspiracy™." Olbermann Watch: Where we watch Keith so that you don't have to!

The blog entry itself is basically just a re-hash of everything you've seen here. But what's really fun to look at are all the reader comments. What I want to know is, what took 'em so damn long!

Saturday, June 10, 2006

Interesting Angle on the Olbermann/Gordon Story

If this card actually existed, I would pay $7500 for it.
The Konspiracy between Kooky Keith and his Alex Gordon kards kontinues!

Bob Brill (a.k.a. the guy who used to write for Beckett's weekly newsletter) has an interesting take on his blog: Why are all those contraband Gordon cards being pulled from Wal-Mart blaster boxes?

Money Line #1:

"It is a gimmick for sure if it is true the company planned the whole scenario but it might also be just dumb luck too. We certainly don’t have a problem with advertising values of cards on the secondary market but we do have an issue with mis-leading the public in an attempt to get them back into collecting."


Money Line #2:

We are NOT suggesting Olbermann and Topps are working together or if the name behind merkle923 is doing the same. It is unusual the way it has happened and the way Olbermann and his purchase of one of these cards at $7500 are driving sales of Topps Series One Baseball.

For the record, the eBay username "merkle923" is indeed the one used by Krazy Keith.

"merkle923" is a reference to "Merkle's Boner" which took place September 23, 1908. He even wrote the foreword to a book about the incident

What I Got at the Card Show: 6/10/06

Site: Hamilton Mall; Mays Landing, NJ

England just beat Paraguay 1-0 in the World Cup, the Phillies game is blacked out (me and my brother are pulling a roadie and going to D.C. to see the Phils on Sunday), so it was either watch Trinidad get its ass kicked by Sweden, or go to a card show. Yeah, that's what I was thinking too.

One box of 2006 Ultra baseball (Paid $59)

Box break forthcoming.

One big ol' stack o' singles (Paid $105)

All of these were on my checklist as set fillers. Not looking for anything in particular, but I was happy to find the '02 TT&R SPs and all those cheap '05 Donruss-Playoff inserts.

In 1994, I actually pulled the Michael Jordan Diamond Collection card and immeediately sold it back to the dealer I bought the pack from for $50. This particular dealer wanted $12 for it.

1991 Bowman Bret Boone RC
1992 Pinnacle Slugfest Mark McGwire
1994 Upper Deck Diamond Collection Central Michael Jordan
1997 Donruss Franchise Features D. Jeter/P. Reese (# to 3000)
1997 Flair Showcase Row 0 Curt Schilling
1999 Stadium Club Never Compromise Sammy Sosa
2001 E-X Adrian Hernandez RC (# to 499)
2001 Fleer Platinum Reprints "That J.D. Guy"
2001 Fleer Tradition Stitches in Time Monte Irvin and Bill Perkins
2001 Topps Through the Years Reprints Juan Marichal
2002 Diamond Kings Roberto Clemente
2002 Donruss Elite Series (insert) Carlos Delgado (# to 2500)
2002 Studio Classic Jackie Robinson (# to 1000)
A stack of 11 2002 Topps Traded and Rookies veteran short-prints (Gary Sheffield and 10 other commons)
2003 Diamond Kings Hall of Fame Heroes Reprints Duke Snider
2003 Donruss All-Stars Derek Jeter
2004 Topps Heritage Kyle Sleeth SP
2005 Diamond Kings HOF Heroes Roberto Clemente
2005 Diamond Kings Timeline Aramis Ramirez
2005 Diamond Kings Team Timeline N. Ryan/R. Johnson
2005 Diamond Kings Heritage Collection Duke Snider
2005 Donruss Rated Rookie Angel Chavez SP
2005 Donruss "2004 The Rookies" Jorge Vasquez
2005 Donruss "2004 Studio" Scott Proctor and Livan Hernandez
2005 Donruss Elite Series (insert) Jim Thome (# to 1500)
2005 Donruss Power Alley Red Miguel Tejada (# to 2500)
2005 Donruss Longball Leaders Jim Thome (# to 1500)
2005 Donruss Craftsmen Greg Maddux and Ken Griffey, Jr. (# to 2000 each)
2005 Leaf Home Chipper Jones, Frank Thomas, and Miguel Cabrera
2005 Leaf Road Ivan Rodriguez and Mike Piazza
2005 Leaf Clean Up Crew J. Bagwell/L. Berkman/C. Beltran
2005 Leaf Picture Perfect Mike Mussina and Randy Johnson
2005 Leaf Cornerstones P. Molitor/R. Yount
2005 Leaf Fans of the Game Tony Danza and Taye Diggs
2005 Leaf Gamers Alfonso Soriano, Greg Maddux, Jim Thome, and Vladimir Guerrero
2005 Leaf Gold Stars Alfonso Soriano
2005 Studio Portraits Eric Chavez, Carl Crawford, Kerry Wood, and Kirk Gibson (# to 20, 35, 20 and 20 respectively)
2005 Studio Stars Vladimir Guerrero, Joe Mauer, John Smoltz, Larry Walker, and Omar Vizquel
2005 Studio Diamond Cuts Sammy Sosa, Greg Maddux, and Jeremy Bonderman (# to 1250 each)
2005 Studio Heritage Darryl Strawberry (# to 1000)
2005 Topps Dem Bums Reprints Ed Roebuck and George Shuba
2005 Topps Grudge Match J. Posada/P. Martinez
2005 Ultra Follow the Leader Mark Prior

Total Spent on Cards: $164
Atlantic City Expressway Tolls: $4
Parking and Admission: FREE
Grand Total: $168

OBTW, Sweden and T&T played to a pretty exciting scoreless draw, (that's not sarcasm) and I was able to get back in time to see Ivory Coast nearly come back to tie Argentina. The World Cup really begins on Monday afternoon.

The "Chrome Premium," and will it last?

At the card show today, I wanted to observe my "Chrome Premium" theory in action. The Stale Gum Chrome Premium Theory states that, since the 2006 Bowman Prospect "inserts" (nudge, nudge, knowwhatimean, knowwhatimean) were produced in about the same quantities as the Bowman Chrome Prospect cards, collectors may not be as willing to pay a premium for the BowChros as they have in the past.

Using Alex Gordon's Prospect and BowChro Prospect cards as a benchmark, apparently, you the collector are still willing to pay such a premium.

Observed prices:

Alex Gordon Prospect: $10-$15
Alex Gordon Chrome Prospect: $25-$30
Alex Gordon Gold parallel: $20

Even though there are approximately the same number of Chrome Prospect cards as the regular Prospects (22,000 and 22,500 copies, respectively), the going rate for the BowChro's -- at least as I observed them at the Hamilton Mall in Mays Landing, NJ on June 10, 2006 -- are double that of the regular Prospects.

So does this disprove my theory? Not yet. I'm guessing that most collectors have yet to figure out just how plentiful the BowChro's really are. When they do finally figure it out, I specualte that the gap between the two cards will narrow. It's all about supply and demand folks. Supply and demand.

As for now, if you were fortunate to have pulled a BowChro Gordon, it might be time to cash in your chips and get your $30 now. Don't worry, you'll probably be able to buy it back for $15-$20 by the end of the summer. Unless, of course, that nitwit Keith Olbermann decides to corner the market on this Alex Gordon card as well.

Friday, June 09, 2006

So I was off a bit, sue me.

Topps has announced the actual production figures for the 2006 Bowman Autographed Rookie Cards, Prospect Autographs, and Autographed Variations. "Big Ups" to Beckett for getting the info.

Yes, I overestimated the number of base set and Prospect autographs (by about 50%). But, I nearly hit the target on the Autographed Variations. (Yay!) For the record, Topps says they made 1375 copies of each Autographed Rookie and Prospect Autograph, and 500 of the Kenji Johjima and Craig Hansen autographed variations. In the same announcement Topps also said that they made 963 copies of each '06 Finest autographed base card. But since Finest "jumped the shark" in '01, so who cares.

To come up with my production figures, I used two different sets of data. Using one method I calculated 2065 copies of each autograph. Using the other, I came up with the same 1250 figure that Beckett calculated. To be safe, I went with the 2065 figure. By the way, using both methods, I came up with the same 540 copies on the Hansen and Johjima variations.

It should also be noted that only two of those Autographed Rookie Cards are in fact, true "Rookie Cards." Those two would be Joey Devine and Craig Breslow (card #222 and #225, respectively). The other nine cards in the subset are "parenth-RCs." This means that, in addition to Johjima, Hansen, Devine, Breslow, and three others, there are now a grand total of seven, count 'em, seven true rookie cards in '06 Bowman. "Home of the Rookie Card" my ass!

What about the Ben Sheets?

My previous post on the 2001 Donruss Albert Pujols card got me wondering just how many copies of the other redemption base set card made it into circulation. That, of course, would be card #159: Ben Sheets.

Well, according to PSA's on-line Population Report, they have graded exactly zero copies of this card. SGC reports having graded one, and BGS seven. That's eight out of a stated production run of 500, or 1.6%. Obviously, since this is not a "true RC," you can assume that far fewer copies of this card will have been submitted, especially in comparison to the Pujols. But it will still make my quest of completing this set that much more challenging.

Sunday, June 04, 2006

What I Got at the Card Show: 6/3/06

Site: Arundel Mills Mall; Hanover, MD

Didn't get anything last weekend as my Eagles tickets invoice was due. So to make up for last weekend I pulled another roadie, this time to Baltimore.

Stack #1 (paid $67):
1999 Flair Showcase Row 2 Pat Burrell $5
1999 Fleer Mystique J. D. Drew (# to 2999) $4
2000 E-X E-XPlosive Randy Johnson (# to 2499) $2
2000 E-X E-Xciting Sammy Sosa $2
2000 Fleer Gamers Fame Game Mark McGwire SP $2
2000 Fleer Gamers Determined Sammy Sosa $2
2000 Fleer Gamers Cal to Greatness Tier 1 Cal Ripken, Jr. $2
2000 Fleer Gamers Change the Game Vladimir Guerrero $2
2000 Skybox The Technique Mark McGwire $2
2000 Skybox Higher Level Sammy Sosa $2
2000 Topps Gallery Heritage Mark McGwire $8
2000 UD Ionix BIORhythm Randy Johnson $2
2000 Ultimate Victory Xavier Nady RC (# to 1000) $10
2000 Upper Deck HoloGrFX Star View Mark McGwire $2
2000 Upper Deck HoloGrFX Bomb Squad Mark McGwire $3
2000 Upper Deck MVP Drawing Power Ken Griffey, Jr. $1
2001 Donruss The Rookies Rookie Diamond Kings Tsuyoshi Shinjo $5
2001 Topps Through the Years Reprints Jackie Robinson $1
2001 Topps Through the Years Reprints Duke Snider $1
2001 Upper Deck Prospect Premiers Ryan Howard XRC $3
2002 Donruss Originals Power Alley Don Mattingly (# to 1500) $3
2002 Fleer Tradition Ichiro SP $3
2002 Studio Masterstrokes Ivan Rodriguez $1

Stack #2 (paid $35):
1996 Bowman Mickey Mantle Reprint $2.50
1999 Fleer Mystique Trot Nixon (# to 2999) $5
1999 Fleer Mystique Gabe Kapler (# to 2999) $5
1999 SPx Adrian Beltre (# to 1999) $2.50
2000 Fleer Mystique Rick Ankiel (# to 2000) $2
2000 SPx Danys Baez (# to 1600) $6
2001 SP Authentic Rob Mackowiak (# to 1500) $5
2003 Diamond Kings Hall of Fame Heroes Reprints Lou Boudreau $2
2004 Studio Mike Rouse AU RC (# to 800) $5

Total Spent on Cards: $102
Bridge and Tunnel Tolls: $12
Admission and Parking: FREE
Grand Total: $114

Friday, June 02, 2006

Just how many Donruss Albert Pujols RCs are there?

Have you seen me?
I came across Albert Pujols' 2001 Donruss Rookie Diamond King card last weekend. Being that this was another card I needed towards the goal of completing a 2001 Donruss master set, I bought it -- paying well over Beckett HI in the process. This was the first time ever I had seen a copy of the Rookie Diamond King, but what about his regular Donruss rookie card? Five years after the issuance of this card, I have never actually seen one. It got me wondering: Just how scarce is the Donruss Pujols RC? And, more to the point, just how many were made?

The Donruss Pujols RC I speak of was serial numbered to 500 copies. This alone would make it amongst his scarcest cards. But that's not the whole story. You see, the Donruss Pujols RC was only available via a redemption card. First some back-story.

The 2001 Donruss set had 50 "Rated Rookies" on the checklist, each numbered to 2001 copies. Two of the cards on the provisional checklist had to be pulled due to licensing restrictions, and were replaced with redemption cards for Ben Sheets and Albert Pujols. The problem was, instead of inserting 2001 Sheets and Pujols redemption cards, they only printed 500.

Which leads me to this question: Just how many of those 500 Albert Pujols cards actually made it into circulation? One of the little-known secrets of The Hobby is that not all redemption cards go claimed. Some have estimated that anywhere from one-third to one-half of all redemption cards go unclaimed. So does that mean that 50% of the Donruss Albert Pujols rookie cards were unclaimed? Maybe. Maybe not.

So how can we get an accurate figure as to the number of 2001 Donruss Albert Pujols are actually out there? With the advent of professional grading services, one big positive has been the population report -- a count on exactly how many cards a particular company has graded. Armed with a web browser, I have discovered that the three main grading houses (PSA, BGS, and SGC) have graded a grand total of 70 copies of the 2001 Donruss Albert Pujols card. That's only 14% of the 500 that were produced.

Of course not all collectors like their cards slabbed (including this particular collector), and prefer to keep their cards in raw condition. How can we determine, with certainty, just how many Donruss Pujols cards made it into circulation?

By comparing the population reports of other serial-numbered Pujols rookie cards to the Donruss, we can make a strong guess as to what percentage of Donruss rookie cards were graded and not graded.

Sampling the population reports of ten of the most widely collected Albert Pujols RCs (Bowman Chrome, Bowman's Best, Donruss Elite, Fleer Platinum, Fleer Premium, SP Authentic, SPx, Studio, Sweet Spot, and Ultimate Collection) I discovered that of the 13,198 copies of these ten cards, a grand total of 3581 have been professionally graded. That works out to about 27%.

What exactly does this statistic mean? If 27% of the ten most popular Albert Pujols rookie cards have been graded, why have only half as many (14%) of the Donruss Pujols cards been graded?

Remember, not all redemption cards are actually redeemed. Think about it, if 27% of the ten most popular Pujols RCs have been graded, you could also assume that the same percentage of '01 Donruss cards in circulation have been as well -- provided that the card was inserted into packs.

But if only 14% of the stated 500 copies have been slabbed, that must mean that fewer than 500 of the Pujols cards were redeemed. Why so few?

First deals with the product itself. 2001 Donruss was an awful product and has not not been as well collected as other 2001 products. Which leads to theory number two: At least half the Pujols cards were never redeemed.

Therefore (assuming that the same 27% of Donruss Albert Pujols cards in circulation have been professionally graded) according to my calculations, only 260 copies of this card have been produced. (70 / 0.27 = 259.25)