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

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

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

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

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

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

1 UD Game Materials: Jeter (solid white)


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!)

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)

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 (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.

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

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

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

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

Box Two

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

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

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

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

Shareholder revolt at Topps?

Is the Shorin dynasty over at Topps? Could be.

Props to's Page 2.