Friday, December 28, 2007

Yankee Plaid-Stripes

You learn something new every day. For example, today, I found out that the New York Yankees once wore plaid uniforms. At first I was shocked. But alas, sometime between 1951 and 1969, the Bronx Bombers wore plaid uniforms!

I came to this shocking discovery in, of all places, the checkout line at the Deptford, NJ Target. I was in the trading card aisle looking for a blaster of UD Masterpieces; but noticed something else that piqued my interest. Stacked neatly on the bottom shelf were four 2007 Topps factory sets each with a "Target Exclusive Mickey Mantle `game-used' card."

And there it was, visible from outside the box: A Mickey Mantle card with a plaid piece of "AUTHENTIC GAME-USED MEMORABILIA."

(Image ripped off of eBay, but you get the idea.)

At first, I was skeptical. Topps wouldn't dare cut up one of Mickey Mantle's civilian dress shirts, paste the swatches on a reprint, and label it as a "game-used" card?

Nah! Topps has way too much integrity to do something that nefarious.

So I came to the only logical conclusion. The New York Yankees must have worn (at some point during The Mick's career) plaid uniforms.

Maybe that 7500-card mirror insert that Upper Deck is cooking up will mention the exact game the Yanks went plaid.

Thursday, December 27, 2007

The Stale Gum Swap Meet is Now Open!

In case you haven't noticed, I've begun to post my wantlists. You'll notice them in the right column. I hope to have my entire list posted soon; however, I only have 2001-present for now.

For the longest time, I've been hesitant to post my wantlists, as I had been stiffed in the past. But I feel that now is the right time. That, and I'm running out of room for my monster boxes!

All of the files listed are text files, so you'll have to click the "Back" button on your browser to return to this page. Each text file will have the date that particular year's list was last updated, so be sure to check them often.

Unfortunately, my inventory of cards is so extensive I can not possibly list an index of every single card available to trade. However, I do have a large selection of base cards, inserts and parallels from the late 80s, 90s and 00s. Speaking of which, what exactly do you call the decade we're in now? The "Double-Zeros?" The "Oughts?"

Anyway, e-mail me your offers, and your wantlists, to

Rules of Engagement:

1. My policy is to trade, straight-up, Beckett HI for Beckett HI -- or as reasonably close to Beckett HI as possible. That is, the total combined Beckett HI value of my cards, for the total combined Beckett HI value of yours. Seems fair, right?

2. When offering a trade, please format your wantlist like so:

Year | Brand | Set Name | Card Number

All my doubles are stored in this order. I haven't the time to search my entire inventory for every Joe Shlabotnik card, and such requests will be ignored.

3. All of my items (except where noted) are in Mint condition, and I expect the same in return. If any item is not to my satisfaction, then I reserve the right to return the card(s) in question.

4. I will mail out your cards ONLY AFTER I receive my cards. I hate to do this, but like I mentioned, I've been burned before and don't want to get burned again.

I know what you're probably saying: "How can you assure me that you won't give me the shaft Chris?" That's a fair question, but think about this. I'm the guy with the baseball card blog that gets 1500 unique visits per day. Do you really think it would be in my best interest to throw my reputation away just for a handful of 2007 Allen & Ginter singles?

5. ALL TRADES ARE FINAL!!! Once we agree to a trade, I expect you to live up to your end of the bargain.

6. I am not responsible for late, misdirected or damaged mail.


Always Be Collecting -- 2001 Donruss

"Do you know what it takes to collect 2001 Donruss?"

We all have our vices and guilty pleasures. We know they're bad for us, but we just can't help ourselves.

I know if I eat too many Gorditas, I'll get fat. But I like Gorditas, and I eat them anyway.

I know if I drink too many pints of Boddington's Pub Ale, I get a hangover. But I like the taste of Boddington's, and I drink it anyway.

I know if I take too many Xanaxes, I'll be zonked out the rest of the day. But it "takes the edge off," so I take them anyway.

When it comes to baseball cards, my vice is 2001 Donruss: the Xanax of baseball cards.

So to "celebrate" the return of Donruss-Playoff to the baseball card industry with an unlicensed draft pick product, and to sate the never-ending rumors that D-P will be getting their real licenses back, let's set the WABAC machine six years to examine their first "real" baseball card effort.

In 1998 Pinnacle Brands -- which had spent $41 million dollars for the rights to the Donruss and Leaf brand names two years earlier -- filed for bankruptcy protection. Shortly thereafter, both Major League Baseball Properties and licensing arm of the Players Association revoked their respective licenses, and Pinnacle's assets were ordered liquidated. In the summer of '98, it appeared that Donruss baseball would come to an end after eighteen glorious years. But then an unlikely savior appeared. A savior that took the form of football card manufacturer Playoff, who paid $9.6 million at auction for everything that was left of Pinnacle.

Shortly thereafter, speculation in The Hobby immediately began as to Playoff's intentions -- specifically in regards to acquiring MLB and MLBPA licenses. Although Playoff was granted a temporary license (so that those players Pinnacle contracted to sign for 1998 Donruss Signature could be paid) they were denied a permanent license. It appeared that Playoff's quest to get into the baseball card business would never bear fruit.

That is, until late-2000. Things started to turn in Playoff's favor after Pacific inserted into packs of 2000 Invincible a Manny Ramirez bat card with what appeared to be a piece of cork embedded in it. When Pacific was unable to vouch for the bat's authenticity -- they admitted to having purchased the bat from a third party -- MLBPA yanked Pacific's license.

Almost immediately, rumors of Playoff finally getting the licenses it had long coveted began to fly again. Finally, after a three year quest, those efforts came to fruition in February 2001, when it was announced that Playoff (now renamed "Donruss-Playoff") had at last received permission to produce Major League Baseball cards.

With nearly three years of pent-up demand -- not the mention the novelty of it being the first completely original baseball card product from Playoff -- loyal Donruss collectors immediately began to place pre-sell orders with their local hobby dealers. (Many of those same dealers were disappointed to find out that they would be limited to only one six-box hobby case.) In April 2001 Donruss Baseball went live.

The result: The worst baseball card set ever made.

In their haste to produce their first real baseball card product, Donruss-Playoff (D-P) essentially recycled the same formula that had successfully worked for them in football cards. In fact, the parallels between the 2001 Donruss Baseball and 2000 Donruss Football sets are uncanny to say the least. Both sets have roughly the same number of cards (220 in baseball versus 250 in football), and both had an MSRP of $1.99/pack. However, both products relied heavily on a gimmick that was becoming commonplace in football cards, but had never, ever, before appeared in a base level baseball brand.

2001 Donruss was the first entry-level baseball trading card product to feature short-printed, serial-numbered, rookie cards. While short-printing may have appealed to the football card audience, it didn't to base-level baseball card collectors. By limiting the production of each "Rated Rookie" to only 2001 copies (not including the Albert Pujols and Ben Sheets exchange cards -- each limited to 500), D-P had abandoned the one segment of the market that traditionally purchases and collects such base level products. The one segment that had been the cornerstone of the Donruss brand since 1981: Set builders.

While 2001 Donruss did sell well, not all collectors were pleased.'s Rich Klein was one. Shortly after the set's release, he wrote:

"(Collectors are) beginning to realize there are almost no (rookie) cards out there and some, unfortunately for Donruss/Playoff, are beginning to learn that they can live without Donruss in future years... I just think too many collectors will have gotten fed up trying to get 2001 Donruss Baseball that their Donruss collection will permanently end with 1998."

In retrospect, D-P screwed up the comeback edition of Donruss baseball royally. Long-time Donruss baseball collectors simply gave up after 2001. What D-P failed to realize, and to the bitter end never really quite understood, was that football card collectors and baseball card collectors are two completely different breeds of hobbyist. What works in football, may not (and usually does not) necessarily work in baseball. Again, quoting Klein:

"I'm worried that Donruss/Playoff has used the Donruss brand name to turn a quick profit so their next product sells well. To me, this is thinking only a few months ahead instead of looking a year or more into the future. This is the same type of marketing that - in my opinion - failed to serve Score/Pinnacle well after about 1995 or so. Donruss/Playoff's lack of long-term vision with the release of the limited 2001 Donruss Baseball product could eventually hurt the Donruss name."

Well, some collectors; but not this one. You see, for the "so-bad-it's-good" reasons I stated before, I made it a quest to attempt to complete a 2001 Donruss master set. I know I should know better, but I can't help it.

I can't help it. But I'm addicted to the worst baseball card set ever!

Here's my original 2001 Donruss box break and review (as posted to the old

And here's my 2001 wantlist. (HELP ME OUT!!!)

Tuesday, December 25, 2007


Look at what Santa left under my tree...

A nine-year-old Upper Deck "Holiday Worn" Jersey card of Kris himself!

Hope you had a good one.

Monday, December 24, 2007

Box Break and Review: 2007 Bowman Draft Picks & Prospects

One Box of 2007 Bowman Draft Picks and Prospects (paid $59)
24 packs per box, seven cards per pack (MSRP $2.99/pack)

The Details

One over sized checklist.
One two-card pack of A-Rod Bullshit Waste-of-Space Mirrors.

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

Prospects: 110 cards (two-per-pack)

A-Rod Waste-of-Space: 25 cards (two per chiptopper pack)

Golds: 165 cards (one-per-pack #)
Blues: 165 cards (1:29; numbered to 399)
Reds: (1:10,377; one-of-one)
Chrome: 165 cards (two-per-pack)
Chrome Refractor: 165 cards (1:11; limited, but not numbered, to 1060 copies)
X-Fractor: 165 cards (1:39; numbered to 299)
Blue Refractor: 165 cards (1:58, numbered to 199 copies)
Gold Refractor: 165 cards (1:232, numbered to 50)
Orange Refractor: 165 cards (1:463, numbered to 25)
Red Refractor: 165 Cards (1:2300, numbered to five)
Superfractor: 165 cards (1:10,377, one-of-one)
Printing Plates: (1:1294)

* All parallel sets include the 55 card base set, as well as the 110 Prospect "inserts," bundled together.
# Packs containing a Futures Relic, do not have a Gold card.

Autogamers +:
Autographed Chrome Prospects: 25 cards^ (1:38)
Autographed Chrome Prospects Refractor: 25 cards (1:118)
Autographed Chrome Prospects X-Fractor: 25 cards (1:262)
Autographed Chrome Prospects Blue Refractor: 25 cards (1:400)
Autographed Chrome Prospects Gold Refractor: 25 cards (1:1270)
Autographed Chrome Prospects Orange Refractor: 25 cards (1:2345)
Autographed Chrome Prospects Red Refractor: 25 cards (1:11,400)
Autographed Chrome Prospects Superfractor: 25 cards (1:57,814)
Head of the Class: two cards (1:4965)
Head of the Class Refractor: two cards (1:18,000)
Head of the Class Gold Refractor: two cards (1:34,500)
Head of the Class Superfractor: two cards (1:809,400)
Chrome Autographed Press Plates (1:14,255)
Futures Game Patch Relics: 45 cards (1:384)
Futures Game Base Relics: 45 cards (1:633; numbered to 135 copies)

+ Stated odds of finding an Autograph or Relic: 1:12
^ The 30 Autographed Chrome Prospects are numbered as an extension of the Prospects insert set. (DP 111-135)

The Pulls
Each seven card pack contains:

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

Base Set: 47 of 55 (85.45%)

Prospects: 48 of 110 (43.64%)

2 A-Rod Waste of Space: #438 & #445

23 Golds
1 Blue: C. Culberson
44 Chromes
2 Refractors: O. Marmol, J. Borbon
1 X-Fractor: J. Whittleman

1 Autographed Chrome Prospect: T. Alderson
1 Futures Game Base Relic: B. Bocock

The Review

The season's over, the Chrismahanukwanzakah Holidays here, and you know what that means: It's Bowman Draft Picks & Prospects time.

First off, I have to give Topps credit. Unlike 2007 Bowman, the player depicted on all the BDP&P wrappers and display boxes actually appears in the product. Not only is Houston Astro center fielder Hunter Pence in the set, but unlike last year's BDP&P cover boy Evan Longoria, Pence is on a regular base set card -- as opposed to a short-printed, autographed Chrome card.

The 2007 Bowman Draft Picks and Prospects base set consists of 54 green bordered MLBPA-approved "Rookies," and a card of Barry Bonds. This particular Bonds uses the same photo as the card that was inserted into packs of regular Bowman. However, the back of Barry's BDP&P card mentions the home run record and lists his complete 2007 statistics. And while most of the "Rookies" are of the parenth-RC variety (i.e. Felix Pie, Jarrod Saltalamacchia, Ryan Braun, and the like), there are some actual true RCs; such as Kyle Kendrick, Tim Lincecum, and JOBA!!!!

The 110 "Blue" Prospects are divided into 65 Draft Picks and 45 Futures Game cards. Unlike last year, the two subsets are not numbered separately, and (unfortunately) as has become par-for-the-course for BDP&P, there are an additional 25 Draft Picks that are only available in the Autographed Chrome format.

Last year's BDP&P had less than half of the 2006 first-round draft class. And of those first rounders that Topps did include, most of them were available only as Autographed Chromes. Did Topps improve with this year's set? Well, let's see.

After analyzing the checklist, Topps was able to snag 24 of the 30 2007 first round draft picks (up from only 13 last year). Of those, 17 appear exclusively in the Autographed Chrome Prospects subset. However, of the seven unautographed first-rounders, five were top ten selections -- including the first two overall picks.

One of the positive unintended consequences of Donruss's forthcoming unlicensed draft pick product, is that they signed both David Price and Michael Moustakas (#1 and #2 respectively) to exclusive autograph contracts. Although Topps was able to get both Price and Moustakas, their 2007 BDP&P cards are unautographed -- thereby making them collectible. Thanks Donruss!

As usual, there are a slew of 2nd, 3rd, and "sandwich" round picks, as well as a few later round draftees that Topps thinks might pan out -- but probably won't. One of the most interesting cards is #BDPP2 Karl Bolt -- a first baseman selected by the Phillies with the 473rd overall selection. What makes Bolt so interesting is where he went to college: The Air Force Academy. HOO-RAH, AIR FORCE!!!

Here's an interesting nugget of information I found out by reading the card backs. Did you know that Frank Gailey (23rd round pick of the Blue Jays) AND Jason Kiley (25th rounder of the Yankees) are both West Chester University's career strikeout leaders? They both went to Archbishop Carroll High School along with Buccaneers receive Maurice Stovall? And that they both enjoy golf and were on the links when they were drafted by Toronto?

The Bottom Line:

If you're a fan of San Francisco Giants' minor leaguers, then this was the box for you. I pulled a Blue parallel of Giants "sandwich" round draft pick (51st overall) Charlie Culberson and an Autographed Chrome Prospect of first rounder (22nd overall) Tim Alderson. In addition, I received a Futures Game base card of some guy named Brian Bocock -- a ninth round pick of the Giants in last year's draft. Bocock hit .243 at Single-A last season, but was leading all of minor league baseball in stolen bases at the All-Star Break; which somehow made him worthy of a Futures Game selection.

In addition, I pulled two refractors (one of St. Louis sixth round pick Oliver Marmol and the other of Rangers sandwich rounder Julio Borbon.) and an X-Fractor of Ranger prospect and Futures Game participant Johnny Whittleman.

Product Rating: 2 1/2 Gumsticks (out of 5)

My chief complaint regarding last year's BDP&P, and of every BDP&P set since it went to this format in 2002, remains. The autographed Chrome cards are killing the collectability of this product. If Topps would have made the 25 draft picks in both autographed Chrome AND unautographed non-Chrome versions, this would easily be a 3 1/2 Gumstick set.

Sunday, December 16, 2007

The Stale Gum Chrismahanukwanzakah Gift Guide.

We all have a wife/girlfriend/parent/domestic partner/significant other who just doesn't understand the obsession we have of collecting tiny cardboard pictures of grown men. If you're like me, your loved ones have no idea what to get you for Christmas/Hanukkah/Kwanzaa/Festivus.

So you try asking for that card that's been on your wantlist for years. Or you ask for that waxbox of that hot new product. Chances are, this is the response you get:

"$100! For a pack of baseball cards! A C-Note for ONE PACK! Does that come with a handjob, too?"

"Autographed Gold Refractor? Why would anyone autograph a telescope?"

"Joba? What kind of parent names their kid Joba!!!"

Fear not. The magic elves at Stale Gum are here with a baseball card gift guide, taylor-made for the non-collector. Simply print this guide out, and hand it to your non-collecting loved ones.

A Gift Certificate to the local card shop

This is a "no-brainer" gift. Provided, of course, your local card shop offers gift certificates. And assuming, of course, that there's still a card shop in your neighborhood.

Blaster Boxes

You know all those miniature boxes of baseball cards that they stock in the checkout lane? We call 'em "Blaster Boxes," and they're Sam Walton's (or God's) gift to card collectors.

A Blaster Box has about 8-12 packs of cards, and sell for about $20. Not a bad deal.

Factory Sets

Again, another "no-brainer" gift. It's the complete set of cards, all without having to rip open all those pesky packs.

They sell them everywhere -- usually in the same aisle as the Blasters -- and what collector doesn't like getting a factory set?

A "Rated Rookie" T-Shirt

If you're a non-collector, then you probably don't get the fetish we have over "Rookie Cards." Believe me, I've been collecting for over 25-years, and I still don't get it.

However, if you know and/or love a baseball card collector, then he/she needs a "Rated Rookie" T-shirt.

It says, "Yeah, not only am I in my 30s and collect baseball cards; I never stopped collecting! Not even in the '90s!"

100% completely un-licensed, I found mine on, for $20 plus shipping.

The SCD Catalog on CD-ROM

A checklist of every single card made in the modern era, all on one CD-ROM -- complete with pictures and descriptions. A must for any serious collector; and at only $14.95, it's the perfect stocking stuffer. Find out more here.

1994 Score Rookie/Traded Alex Rodriguez "Call-Up"

Alright folks, this is the "big ticket" item. Don't worry about what it all that "Call-Up" crap means. Just cut-and-paste the phrase into eBay, and start bidding.

Thursday, December 13, 2007

The Latest Addition to the '08 TA&G Fantasy Set.

Yeah, he was a douche in the Senate. But after today, he deserves the ultimate tribute: a fake Allen & Ginter card.

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

Two Blaster Box Break and Review (sorta): UD Masterpieces

For those of you wondering where I've been, and why I haven't updated Stale Gum the last few weeks; well, I had other priorities.

It's kind of hard to update the world's greatest baseball card blog, when you're spending most of your time hacking out term papers and filling out graduate school applications. However, I did recently rip open two Blaster boxes of Upper Deck's excellent new product UD Masterpieces -- both of which I posted to APAD. Check 'em out.

Blaster #1

Blaster #2

Monday, November 26, 2007

Et tu, Upper Deck?

And to think, I thought Upper Deck was above the fake error card gimmick. I guess I was wrong.

(h/t Bob Brill)

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

1st Impressions: 2008 Topps Moments and Milestones

Is it just me, or has the Topps product development team been playing a little too much Heroin Hero lately?

(Sorry for the clip, but Randy Marsh chasing an video game dragon is funniest damn thing I've seen on South Park since ManBearPig.)

Anyway, ah yes! Baseball cards!

I have in my formerly nicotine-stained hands (*crumble crumble crumble*) the December 2007 issue of Beckett. I turn to page 5 and lo and behold, what do I see?


Yes, Topps is bringing back the "Sleeper (S)Hit of 2007": Moments & Milestones.

More details when they become available. (Like you're actually going to collect this crap.)

Saturday, November 10, 2007

A humble request for all the cool kids out there.

If you're one of those cool kids that has a page on Facebook (and I know you are), well guess what? Today is your lucky day! You can now publicly show your loyalty to the world's greatest baseball card blog -- and get cheap pub for me -- by becoming a "Facebook Fan" of Stale Gum.

So, click on this link, and then add Stale Gum. Your profile will then automagically declare to the world that "I'm a fan of..... Stale Gum."

Tuesday, November 06, 2007

Krazy Keith's Kard Konspiracy: Part II

Guess who's buying up Joba Chamberlain fake-error cards on eBay?

(h/t to The Brill Report)

Various takes on the Chamberlain, Ellsbury, and Poley Walnuts gimmicks from around The Hobby.
Bob Brill
The Cardboard Junkie
Ben Henry

Flashback to the Olbermann/Alex Gordon kerfuffle...
Bob Brill
Olbermann Watch

Monday, November 05, 2007

Box Break and Review: 2007 Topps Series Three

Ladies and Gentlemen. What you are about to experience is an experiment in extreme baseball card gonzo journalism. Your humble correspondent will simulate the level of effort Topps has put forth in issuing Updates and Highlights Series Three, by writing this review at approximately that same level. Also, in an effort to amplify the gonzo process, this piece is being written in the haze of an awful hangover; as your correspondent attended last night's Cowboys vs. Eagles Sunday Night Football debacle.

"Buy the ticket to the Eagles game, take the ride!"

One box of 2007 Topps Updates and Highlights Series Three (paid $55)
36 packs per box, ten cards per pack (MSRP: $1.49/pack)

The Details:

Chiptoppers: One individually wrapped Chrome "Rookie" Refractor (55 cards, numbered to 415 copies)

Base Set: 330 cards (no short-prints)

"Red Letters:" 330 cards (2:1, "stealth" insert)
Gold: 330 cards (1:4, numbered to 2007)
First Edition: 330 cards (1:36)
Platinum: 330 cards (1:9700, one-of-one)

The Mickey Mantle Story: 15 cards (1:18)
Barry Bonds Home Run King: one card (1:36)
WS Watch: 15 cards (1:36)

Waste-of-Space Mirrors:
Mickey Mantle Home Run History: 100 cards (1:9)
A-Rod Road to 500: 25 cards (1:36)
Barry Bonds Home Run History: 22 cards (1:12)
Generation Now: 186 cards (1:4)

Barry Bonds Home Run King Autographed Relic: one card (1:278,000)
Barry Bonds Home Run King Relic: one card (1:5145, numbered to 756)
2007 Highlight Autographs: 26 cards (varies)
A-Rod Road to 500 Autographs: 25 cards (1:500,000, one-of-one)
Generation Now Autographs: 186 cards (1:11,000, one-of-one)
Mickey Mantle Home Run History Relic: 100 cards (1:5550)
1954 Mickey Mantle Reprint Relic: one card (1:73,000)
All-Star Stitches: 52 cards (1:45)
All-Star Patches: 52 cards (1:2500)
All-Star Dual Stitches: ten cards (1:5600)
All-Star Stitches Triples: ten cards (1:5600)

* One autogamer per box.

The Pulls:

Base Set: 253 of 330 (76.67%)
One double

72 "Red Letters"
9 Golds: J. Wilson, J. Salazar, C. Izturis, N. Perez, J. Accardo, T. Clippard, J. Coutlangus, B. Salmon, J. Verlander Season Highlight
1 First Edition: D. Jeter All-Star
1 Chrome "Rookie" Refractor: T. Buck

2 Mickey Mantle Story
1 Barry Bonds Home Run King
1 WS Watch: Tigers

Waste-of-Space Mirrors:
9 Generation Now: P. Fielder (#11), I. Kinsler (#5 & 19), K. Johjima (#9), J. Papelbon (#8, 28 & 31), C. Granderson (#2), J. Barfield (#24)
4 Mickey Mantle Home Run History: #406, 407, 408 & 411
3 Barry Bonds Home Run History: #735, 736 & 746
1 A-Rod Road to 500: #377

1 Barry Bonds Home Run King Relic

The Review:

I think Ben Henry (who in the interest of full-disclosure, has done some consulting work for Topps) said it best on his blog:

"Topps' strategy towards their baseball card products has been somewhat predictable this year, and these developments only cement their reputation. It begs the question: Do they employ the worst quality-control staffers in the
business? Or do they have such a grim outlook towards their own product that they feel it won't sell without an error or two?"

By now you've undoubtedly heard about the squirrel card, the three different contrived variations of Joba Chamberlain, and the Game Jersey cards that are labeled as patch cards, and the patch cards labeled as regular old jersey cards. All of this wouldn't bother me if the rest of the product didn't suck.

The Bottom Line:

It's a shame that Topps no longer makes Updates and Highlights Series Three as a factory set. If they did, I'd gladly recommend that you buy one instead of a waxbox. You're not going to come close to a complete set, and most of the inserts you pull serve no purpose.

Since you can't get factory, save yourself the $55-$60 and see if you can find a hand-collated set.

Product Rating: 2 Gumsticks (out of five)

Thursday, November 01, 2007

UPDATED: 1st Impressions: 2008 Topps Series One

UPDATE #2 (11/1):
Sell Sheet
Product Sheet

Things I Like:
  • The Base Set design. "Retro," but still original.
  • The Campaign 2008 Inserts
  • The Baseball Card History Inserts

Things I Don't Like:

  • The one-per-pack Gold Foil parallels. Just what Topps needed, yet another parallel.
  • The Mickey Mantle and Barry Bonds mirrors. But on the bright side, at least they're going away after '08 Topps series one.

Things I'm Still Not Sure About:

  • The Year In Review Inserts. At 180 cards, this has "Generation Now" written all over it.
  • The as yet unannounced, but inevitable, bullshit base set gimmick. What will this year's Alex Gordon/Alay Soler/Poley Walnuts be?

UPDATE #1 (10/30): Here's a link to my "How to Fix Topps Baseball" post from back in June. Let's see how many of my suggestions Topps took to heart.

The Cardboard Junkie has the scoop on '08 Topps.

The base set will be 330 cards (again), although -- if last year's Airbrush-O-Rama first series was any indication -- the A-Rod card you see pictured above will more than likely be the only 2008 Topps card of Alex Rodriguez in a Yankee uniform.

Inserts include a 50-card "Baseball Card History" set and although I've yet to see any prototypes, I'm guessing that these will be along the lines of the 2001 Topps "Through The Years" reprints. There's also going to be a 12-card set of the major 2008 Presidential candidates. And seriously, aren't you just dying to rip open a pack of 2008 Topps baseball and pull a card of Dennis Kucinich?

On the plus side, it looks as though Topps is finally putting the mirror concept to rest. More than likely, this will be the last Topps set with the Mickey Mantle and Barry Bonds Home Run Histories, and there are no other inserts as egregious as Generation Now.

More information as it becomes available. But in the meantime, here's a provisional checklist.

2007 Gummie Award Nominations

Yes, it's that time of year. 2007 is almost in the books, and with it, the presentation of the most prestigious award in The Hobby: The Gummies.

This year, The Gummies will be a little different. The Gummie Award Nomination Committee -- which consists of me -- is opening up the process to you the Stale Gum reader. What did you, the baseball card collector, think were the best and worst cards and products of 2007?

To refresh your memories, here's a list of the categories:

Best Overall Product
Best Retro Themed Product
Best Base Set
Best Insert Set
Best Autogamer Set
Best Card
Best Rookie Card
Best Hobby Idea/Innovation
Worst Overall Product
Worst Base Set
Most Meaningless Product
Worst Insert Set
Worst Idea/Innovation
Hobby MVP
Hobby ROY
Hobby Top Prospect

Send in your picks by January 1st, 2008. Winners will be chosen by a panel consisting of me. And stay tuned to Stale Gum as Dennis Miller and Ryan Howard co-host the 37th Annual Gummie Awards live from the parking lot of the Topps factory in Duryea, PA.

And if you have any ideas for any new categories, I'd be happy to listen to them.

Monday, October 22, 2007 Enters the 21st Century

It may have taken them a while, but Beckett finally has a blog. From the looks of it, they're not really blogging about The Hobby, per se. But, as the title suggests, it's just a bunch of Beckett employees, blogging about the comings, goings, and absurdities of working in The Hobby Media.

Oh and one other thing. As any self-respecting Glengarry Glen Ross fan knows, Second Prize is a set of steak knives. "Third Prize is YOU'RE FIRED!"

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

Always Be Collecting -- 1992 Fleer Rookie Sensations

Now it's time for a new feature on Stale Gum, a little something I call: Always Be Collecting. Here, I'll take a look at a some of my favorite cards and sets from years gone by. The kind of cards and sets that I feel deserve a second look by The Hobby. So PUT THAT COFFEE DOWN! dig out those dusty ol' commons boxes, and join me on this journey through a cardboard time machine. Come on, will you?


First up is one of the truly great insert sets of the 1990s. In fact, it was this set -- more than the 1990 Upper Deck Reggie Jackson's Baseball Heroes -- that kicked off the "insert mania" that defined collecting throughout the decade. I'm talking, of course, about the 1992 Fleer Rookie Sensations.

So what's the big deal, you ask, about a fifteen-year-old insert set anyway? Especially an insert set that is neither serial-numbered, nor autographed, nor has a piece of something glued to it? And why do I like it so damn much? Plenty.

For those of you either a) too young to remember, or b) part of the "lost generation" of collectors who are now just getting back into The Hobby, this may seem strange to you. But there was a time when pulling a "valuable" card out of a brand new pack was a novelty. But first, let's set the WABAC machine to 1992.

1992 was a year of transition in The Hobby. Upper Deck had taken the card world by storm in '89, and while the established companies were quick to add new products to compete with UD, for the first few years of the decade the "base level" products (a term that was coined during the era), remained stagnant. By '92 it had become obvious that in order for the "base" product to survive in the marketplace, they had to evolve. They had to become like Upper Deck.

And in 1992 Fleer and Donruss did just that. Both companies reconfigured their flagship products, leaving the 50-cent wax pack market to Topps and Score. Both Fleer and Donruss greatly improved the quality of their base sets -- both in design (at least by 1992 standards) and in card stock. But that wasn't all. 1992 was the first year both Fleer and Donruss began to exploit the new market in the limited edition "mini-sets" we now know as inserts. Donruss pulled their popular Diamond Kings out of the base set and made them into an insert -- the result of which being one of the nicest looking card sets of the era. (but that's for another ABC) But it was Fleer that really took the concept to the next level.

'92 Fleer had four such insert sets, each UV-coated and dripping with gold foil. But what made Fleer different, was that three of the four were exclusive to specific pack types. Wax packs (which were now made of a poly-plastic shrink wrap) had a 24-card "All-Stars" set. Rack packs featured the 20-card "Team Leaders." And the 35-card jumbo packs had the Rookie Sensations. The '92 FRS's marked a new point in The Hobby. For the first time, a collector could purchase a brand new pack of baseball cards, and have a realistic chance of pulling a card worth $100.

Ah yes, the '92 Frank Thomas Rookie Sensation. The card that had collectors from Maine to Malibu willingly pay $5 for a pack of baseball cards with a $1.99 price tag printed on the wrapper. And who could blame them? With the Rookie Sensations dropping at the rate of one every fourth pack, you had a 1:80 chance of hitting The Big Hurt. (Compare that to astronomical odds of pulling a Donruss Elite, or an Upper Deck Baseball Heroes autograph.) And even if you didn't get a Thomas, there still were 19 other super prospects.

With Ivan Rodriguez, Jeff Bagwell, Brian McRae, Phil Plantier, Juan Guzman, and Chuck Knoblauch -- all of which were booking for at least $20 Beckett HI through out the Summer of '92 -- the checklist reads like a who's-who of early-90s baseball mega-prospects. Heck, even pulling a common like Scott Leius or Chito Martinez, was like getting your money back.

So let us raise a glass. To the 1992 Fleer Rookie Sensations! By the end of the decade, with the birth of game used cards and the "Rookie" card renaissance, The Hobby seemed to move on from you. And today, the once almighty Frank Thomas from your set can be had for less than a sawbuck, and the whole set for less than what the Phil Plantier once went for. But we recognize your lasting influence on The Hobby with inserts that followed in your wake.

Three cheers for the 1992 Fleer Rookie Sensations!

Oh, and here's something to chew on. Here's a factory case of 1992 Fleer jumbos that I found on eBay. Current bid: $79.00.

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

1st Impressions: 2008 Upper Deck Series One

The playoffs aren't yet over, but the sell sheets for next year's Upper Deck are already out.

First off, the base set will be a little bit smaller. While I like the concept of a 1000-card set, it can get a bit ungainly. How the hell are you supposed to store a 1000-card set anyway? Last time I checked, a 1000-card set doesn’t exactly fit into an 800-count set box snugly. But not to worry, the first series of '08 UD will be only 420 cards -- the last twenty being “Rookies” tacked on the tail end as redemptions. Yes, after the fiasco that was last year's rookie card redemption program, UD is doing it again. Why? I still don't know why they did it this year.

And what exactly is the raison d'etre for "redemption rookies" anyway? They completely alienate the set collector -- and Upper Deck still is a "Set Builders" set – and all but destroy the market viability of the second series. For example, how different would the second series of '07 UD baseball have been if Dice-K, Alex Gordon AND Tim Lincecum were all in it? It probably wouldn’t be setting on the shelves collecting dust, that’s for sure. (And I’m also confident in saying that the “sunk costs” to ship these cards to those collectors fortunate enough to find one, won’t be helping out Upper Deck's bottom line either.) Let’s all hope UD will come to its senses and either allow all the redemptions to be fulfilled for the entire 20-card set (like they did this year) or just nix this stupid concept all together.

Among the inserts, the highlight -- at least from what Upper Deck is pushing -- is a 50-card set based on the 1969 O-Pee-Chee set. Just a rhetorical question here: But if Bill Hemrick and Paul Sumner had a crystal ball installed into the storage room of their card shop, and were able to see 20-years into the future; do you think they would have gone ahead with their "Upper Deck Project" if they knew that the company they helped to establish would be making baseball cards in the style of ‘69OPC in 2008? And when the hell did Upper Deck buy out O-Pee-Chee anyway? I must have missed that memo.

Speaking of not coming up with new ideas, some of the game used cards will be done in the style of the 1997, ‘98, and ‘99 gamers. And yes, there will be another Ken Griffey, Jr. gamer based on his 1997 game used card -- although this one will have a swatch from a Reds jersey, and have a patch variation. Yes, it has come to this.

If it sounds like I’m unfairly dumping on ’08 UD, well, I am. I do have to give the boys from Carlsbad their props. They haven’t screwed up everything (yet). For one thing, (with the exception of the rookie redemptions) they’ve kept the base set sacrosanct. The set’s full-bleed design with the player’s name underlined reminds me a bit of the 1995 UD set, without being too obvious. Also, with an MSRP of $5 for a 20-card pack, you're going to get more cards for your money than you did last year (five more in fact), at the same price point. And to top it all off, there's a continuation of the popular "A Piece of History 500 HR" series, with Jim Thome, Frank Thomas, and Manny Ramirez.

Each 16-pack waxbox should yield an autograph, two gamers, eight OPC inserts, and one Rookie Redemption. Street date: "Early February."

Monday, October 15, 2007

What I Got (and Observed) at the Philly/Reading Show: 10/13/07

Site: Greater Reading Expo Center; Reading, PA

After taking a practice GRE exam in the morning, I arrived in Reading around Noon. Stale Gum reader Scott, a teacher at a Philadelphia-area Catholic school, was the sole person to RSVP, and he didn't arrive until around 1:30PM.

Some observations:

  • Although I miss the old Ft. Washington Expo Center, I'm beginning to warm to the new place in Reading. Yeah, it is 55-miles from Center City, but the Greater Reading Expo Center has one trump card over the old Ft. Washington Expo Center AND the Westchester County Center: they've got a liquor license. This may be the only card show in America where you can buy a beer. Awesome.
  • We may have witnessed the last three unopened packs of 2001 Bowman Chrome Baseball left on the planet. I was tempted to plunk down $75 for the packs, and post the results to A Pack A Day, but thought the wiser. Besides, knowing my luck I would have pulled the Albert Pujols redemption.
  • I think I also found the last two unopened waxboxes of 1994 Sportflix Rookie/Traded left on the planet. They were both in a locked display case, and didn't have a price listed -- didn't ask either.
  • Judging by the amount of used baseball books for sale, I've come to the conclusion that every member of the '77 Yankees had their "autobiography" ghostwritten by Peter Golenbock.
  • I was unable to find my latest "white whale," a 1994 Upper Deck Next Generation Alex Rodriguez insert. I great card from an under appreciated set.
  • I had no idea that Frank Howard, the show's autograph guest, once played in Japan. Yep. The "Capital Punisher" played one game for the Seibu Lions, struck out, blew out his back, and never played again.
  • The Fleer Ultra SE experiment has turned out to be an unmitigated disaster. 5-pack boxes were selling in the $44-$50 range -- well below the $100/box MSRP. Allen & Ginter is still hanging in there at just under $100/box.
  • Question: Which waxbox do you think costs more? 1987 Donruss, or 2007 Bowman? The correct answer is 1987 Donruss at $30. Would you believe that the current year's Bowman is now going for less than $30/box? I guess all the autographs and Chrome cards weren’t such a great idea?
  • I'm a total sucker for junkwax, and the table that had the $29 Bowman waxboxes also had some other primo junk. Unfortunately, it wasn't much of anything I was interested in. Examples:
    • '93 Stadium Club series two: $8
    • '93 Fleer series one Jumbos: $10 (If only I could go back in time and NOT buy that '93 Fleer jumbo box.)
    • '94 Leaf series two Jumbos: $12
    • '94 Pinnacle series two Hobby: $15
    • '97 Pinnacle Hobby: $19
    • '97 Score series one Retail: $12

As for what I bought:

One retail waxbox of Upper Deck Goudey. (Paid $50)

If you're still in the market for Goudey, avoid Hobby wax like the plague! Retail is where it's at. The only difference between Hobby and Retail is 1) the Sport King chiptopper, 2) one autograph, and 3) about $35-$40.

(Since I've already posted a Blaster break, and my product review on APAD, I won't be posting the results of this box here.)

A stack of '90s inserts. (Paid $129)

1994 Leaf Gamers Barry Bonds ($5)
1995 Leaf Statistical Standouts Ken Griffey, Jr. ($8)
1995 Leaf Heading for the Hall Ken Griffey, Jr. ($6)
1995 Leaf Gold Leaf Stars Barry Bonds ($8)
1996 Donruss Hit Parade Ken Griffey, Jr. ($3)
1996 Donruss Long Ball Leaders Ken Griffey, Jr. ($6)
1996 Donruss Round Trippers Ken Griffey, Jr. ($5)
1996 Donruss Freeze Frame Ken Griffey, Jr. ($5)
1996 Leaf Limited Pennant Craze Ken Griffey, Jr. ($8)
1996 Leaf Preferred Steel Power Ken Griffey, Jr. ($5)
1996 Summit Positions Edmonds/Griffey, Jr./Damon ($8)
1997 Donruss Armed and Dangerous Barry Bonds ($5)
1997 Donruss Franchise Features Ken Griffey, Jr./Andruw Jones ($5)
1997 Donruss Power Alley Ken Griffey, Jr. ($8)
1997 Donruss Limited Fabric of the Game Ken Griffey, Jr. ($10)
1997 Leaf Preferred Staremaster Ken Griffey, Jr. ($4)
1997 SP SPx Force Jones/Guerrero/Walker/Rolen ($4)
1997 Ultra Fielder's Choice Ken Griffey, Jr. ($6)
1998 Studio Masterstrokes Mark McGwire ($6)
2001 Donruss Longball Leaders Barry Bonds ($6)
2001 Donruss "1999" Diamond Kings Ken Griffey, Jr. ($6)

I've rediscovered the joys of collecting 1990s inserts. Most of the current wave of insert cards aren't really worth collecting, and you just don't find these cards everyday. Give me 1995 Leaf Statistical Standouts over Generation Now any day.

Speaking of the Leaf Stat Standouts, whatever happened to "Material" cards anyway? You know, those cards that had the look and feel of leather, wood, polyester, etc., but weren't actually made of game used material? They were all the rage about a dozen years ago, but by the turn of the Century, the concept fizzled out. I guess having actual pieces of wood and polyester mounted onto a trading card (the gamer) killed that idea off, but I wouldn't mind them being brought back.

As part of my quest to build a master set of the Worst Baseball Card Set of All Time, I also picked up another two 2001 Donruss inserts.

Another reason why I've rediscovered the 1990s insert is price. You can now have these cards for a fraction of what they were going for just a few years ago. This particular dealer had a boatload of Ken Griffey, Jr. and Barry Bonds inserts for 80%-off Beckett HI. I don't know why those particular players, but I could have easily bought another $100 worth of cards from this guy. Unfortunately, I just got my car insurance bill. (DAMN YOU GEICO! DAMN YOU AND YOUR CAVEMEN TO HELL!)

Total Spent on Cards: $179
Admission: $6
Tolls: $3
Hot Dog, French Fries, and a Beer: $10
Grand Total: $198

Thursday, October 04, 2007

Baseball Card "Pants Party" II


With the first Pants Party being such a success (thank you to Paul Browning for being the only person to bother to show up), it's on again: The second ever Stale Gum Baseball Card Pants Party.

Where and When:
The Greater Reading Expo Center, 2525 N. 12th St., Reading, PA (Google maps for directions)
Saturday, October 13
Admission: $7 (free parking!)

More info:

What can be more fun than Reading, Pennsylvania in October?

Tuesday, October 02, 2007

1st Impressions: 2007 Donruss Elite Extra Edition

By now you must have heard that Donruss-Playoff will be releasing a "baseball card" set this December. I put the words "baseball" and "card" in quotation marks because 2007 Donruss Elite Extra Edition Baseball is neither licensed by Major League Baseball nor the Players Association. It will be, of all things, a college baseball set.

You'd think Topps or Upper Deck would have come up with a college-themed baseball card set by now. But if necessity is the mother of invention, then I guess getting your MLBPA license yanked is the mother of college baseball cards. (Yeah, I know. Bad analogy, sue me.)

Essentially D-P is taking a page from the EA Sports play book. A couple of years ago, EA had their MLB video game license revoked. They responded by putting out the same baseball video game, but with college teams and players.

The same concept is at work with '07 D3E. The set will feature 25 first-round selections from this year's MLB First Year Player Draft, all in their college (or high school as it were) uniforms. In addition, the base set will also include a handful of first-rounders from this year's NBA draft, as well as various other college athletes, coaches, and celebrities.

Sounds good, right? Unfortunately, that's where the similarities with EA Sports -- whose MVP Baseball holds its own with the fully-licensed competition -- ends. Donruss' fore into college baseball cards seems remarkably similar to the fully-licensed card sets they were putting out before their license was (mercifully) terminated.

I mean, this is Donruss-Playoff we're talking about. Did you actually think that D-P wouldn't screw a good idea like this up? Most of the "rookie cards" (their term, not mine) will be autographed-only and serial-numbered to 999 copies. And yes, there will be an inordinate and unnecessary amount of multi-leveled parallels, inserts, autogamers, and combinations thereof.

So alas, Donruss is back in the baseball card business (sort of). And while I won't be collecting it, it will be interesting to see how the rest of The Hobby reacts to D3E. Will it be treated as just another pre-rookie/minor league issue (i.e. mid-90s Classic), or as a pseudo-legit Draft Pick product like 2001-03 Upper Deck old Prospect Premieres?

MSRP: $5 per five-card pack. Street Date: Dec. 19th.

Monday, October 01, 2007

An Interview with Michael O'Keeffe.

The folks at the webzine (didn't know they still made those things, did ya?) Gelf recently interviewed The Card author Michael O'Keeffe. It's really not anything that you haven't heard before, but it's still a good read nonetheless. And if it helps O'Keeffe sell a few more units, good for him.

Another item of interest for those of you who are in the greater New York area, Gelf is sponsoring a lecture (as part of it's Varsity Letters series) by O'Keeffe this Wednesday night at The Happy Ending Lounge in Manhattan.

(Yes, it's really called "The Happy Ending Lounge." I didn't make that up.)

Normally I'd go to an event like this. But if I did, I'd miss the first Phillies Playoff game in fourteen years. (Not to mention the seasons premiere of South Park and Sarah Silverman.)

Anyway, if anyone's going I'd appreciate a few pictures.

Friday, September 21, 2007

Thursday, September 06, 2007

Card Flipping.

Well that didn't take long. Seven months after it became the first trading card to sell for over $2 million, "The Card" has changed hands again.

According to the "McNall Gretzky" T-206 Honus Wagner was sold for $2.8 million. The transaction was brokered by SCP Auctions, and both buyer and seller remain anonymous.

Sunday, September 02, 2007

Chronicling our pack-a-day habit.

So Ben Henry e-mails me the other day with a great idea for a project. Have someone live-blog the opening of a pack of cards everyday.

"Sounds great! Sign me up," I replied. I immediately ran out to Target and bought two Blasters of TA&G.

So if you get a chance, check out our new joint-blog: A Pack A Day. And if you want to get in on the live-blogging action, feel free to give me a holler.

"A Pack A Day, that's all we ask of The Hobby!"

Friday, August 31, 2007

I Get Letters: 2007 Bowman Chrome

Let me state for the 534th time, I don't "get" Bowman Chrome. (For all the "Chromies" out there, spare me your hate mail.) I've never opened a pack of the stuff, and I have no intention of ever doing so.

With that said, long time Stale Gum reader Dane Muramoto alerted me to a quality control issue with this year's BowChro. I reprint his warning as a public service to collectors everywhere.

I started opening 3 boxes of Bowman Chrome and noticed the following pattern emerge. The "chase" cards seem to appear most often in the 3rd from top pack position. Out of three boxes, one pack didn't have a chase, and that box, the card was in the 4th from top (2nd from bottom) position.

Also, the autographs were in all three cases in the bottom half (the side with 4 packs per stack) of the box. At first I thought the emergent pattern was lower left corner, but one of the boxes (the one with the non-blue auto) was lower right corner.

So this leads me to two theories on this release.

#1 If your box has a blue auto, it will be lower left corner.
#2 It is impossible to finish a set with 4 boxes.

I think #2 is a MAJOR pet peeve for me. With the boxes ranging $75-$120 (eBay to local), I cannot see paying $500 to complete a set.

This is getting ridiculously out of hand.

Anyway, just wanted to give you a heads up on it. Also a warning to readers to not buy single packs.

Friday, August 24, 2007

1st Impressions: A Trio of Topps Sets.

Regardless of what you think about the on-again, off-again Topps/UD/Michael Eisner takeover, I'm sure we can all agree on one thing; 2007 hasn't exactly been a banner year for Topps. Oh sure, there have been some hits. But every Allen & Ginter has been offset with garbage like Moments and Milestones.

So I guess it's rather appropriate then that Topps closes out 2007 with three products that -- upon first glance -- appear to be more "miss" than "hit:" Bowman's Best, Topps 52 and Topps Updates and Highlights.

Bowman's Best

After a year's hiatus, the redheaded step-child of the Bowman family makes a not-so-triumphant return. BowBest is back (again), this time with a new format (again).

The cards themselves are printed on what Topps calls "Tribute Technology," rather than the Finest-esque chrome stock. In fact, you could probably slap a "Bowman Sterling" label on the wrapper, and most collectors wouldn't know the difference. But like Finest, each waxbox will come packaged into three separate mini-boxes.

Here's where it gets a weird, and you'll have to follow me on this. Some of the base set and Prospect "inserts" are available only as autographs. Others are only available un-autographed. And yet a third group are available either autographed or un-autographed.

And it's not just the "Rookies" and Prospects either. For example: Alex Rodriguez's base set card is only available autographed. Derek Jeter's is not autographed. But Ryan Howard's card is available in both flavors.

Set aside the fact that, if you're an A-Rod collector and want his 2007 Bowman's Best base set card, you'll have no choice but to get one with an autograph; the question I'd like to ask Topps is: Why? Why not just make all the base set cards in an un-autographed version, and have a few players sign as a "variation?" (But that would actually make sense, and we can't have that, can we?)

Confused yet? Well, you can pretty much forget about attempting collect the entire set, as the 29 veteran autographs, 28 "Rookie" autographs, and 24 Prospect "insert" autographs are (naturally) short-printed and come three-per-box (one per mini-box). Not only that, but the 30 un-autographed base set "Rookies" and 40 plain vanilla Prospect "inserts" are all short-printed, serial-numbered, and are seeded at the rate of one-per mini-box, each.

Back in the day, Bowman's Best was a great product. It was the prefect hybrid of Finest technology with Bowman's prospects. And then along came Bowman Chrome; then Bowman Draft Picks; then Bowman Heritage....

The fact is, for the last few years or so, Bowman's Best ceased to be even remotely collectible. This new iteration of BowBest is even less so.

If there is one good thing I can say about '07 BowBest, is that it's somewhat affordable. The MSRP I saw on the sell sheet says $3/pack. (Although I believe this to be a typo.) Street Date: November 12

Topps Rookies -- '52 Edition

And now for something from the "We've Completely Run Out Of New Ideas" department, yet another edition of Topps 52! When I first saw the sell sheet, I said to myself, "I can't believe they're making this set AGAIN." I tried to pinch myself, but to no avail.

It's the exact same concept as last year's Topps 52 -- all the MLBPA-approved "ROOKIES" in one set, and all on the same old 1952 design that Topps has been beating to death ever since the first series of Topps Heritage. And yes, there will be yet another Mickey Mantle reprint in the base set -- as if there haven't been enough of them.

Put a stamp on this one, 'cause Topps is mailing this one in.

MSRP: $5/pack; Street Date: Nov. 19.

Moving along...

Topps Updates and Highlights

TU&H is essentially the third series of '07 Topps -- and I have absolutely no idea why Topps just doesn't call it that. And yes, the parade of insert stupidity continues!

TU&H has more mirrors than a carnival fun house: 100 more Mickey Mantle's, 25 A-Rod's, and another 22 Barry Bonds'. But the coup-de-grace is another 200-card batch of the worst insert set ever: Generation Now.

But at least Topps didn't screw up the base set: 330 cards, with subsets galore.

Street Date: Late October

Judging by the sell sheets for these products, it's become obvious that the Topps product development department is just waiting for the buy-out to resolve itself. Because the effort just ain't there. I guess the best we collector's can hope for is for UD or Eisner to take over, and let 'em clean house.

Sunday, August 19, 2007

The Fanatasy '08 TA&G Checklist -- Series II

Chris, what hath thou wrought?

This whole fanatasy TA&G idea is already starting to get out of hand. The Cardboard Junkie has even made prototypes!

My God, we don't have lives!


The Racing Sausages of Milwaukee
The Phillie Phanatic
That guy in the Pirate Parrot custome who got busted for selling cocaine to half the National League in the 80s
Billy Beane
Billy Bean (Not that there's anything wrong with that.)
Billy Martin
Keith Hernandez' Mustache (REEE-JECTED!)
John Kruk's Mullet
Oscar Gamble's Afro-Puffs
Honus Wagner (Duh!)
Michael O'Keeffe
Victor Conte
Kimberly Bell
Danny Almonte
Karl "Tuffy" Rhodes
Jay Johnstone
Crash Davis
Lloyd and Paul Waner
That 6' 8" man/child in last year's Little League World Series
Ken Burns (If only for the PBS mini-series that got us all throught he 1994 strike)
Marvin Miller (Speaking of player strikes...)
Frank Pastore (Technically qualifies in all four categories)
Darren Daulton: Astral Traveler
Bobby Wallace


Billy Mitchell (Greatest Pac-Man player, ever.)
Marco Materazzi & Zinedine Zidane
The Dudley Boyz with Joel "So big, it's hard to keep from hurtin' her" Gertner
Steven Petrosino
Sachin Tendulkar
Sebastien Chabal
Joe Namath & Suzy Kolber
Grits-'n-Gravy (77 "7s" in a row, bitches!)
Doyle Brunson
Lewis Hamilton
Bam Margera
Allison Stokke
The 1950 US World Cup Team
Tony Alva
Mick Foley
Bobby Jones (The other Bobby Jones)
Mat Hoffman
Rusty Wallace
Rasheed Wallace


Jonas Salk
Joe Strummer
Walter Winchell
H. L. Mencken
Matt Drudge ("A Piece of the Fedora?")
Wink Martindale
Thom McKee
Ben Stein
James Buchanan (The Nobel Prize winning economist of public choice theory fame, not the lousy president.)
Steven Levitt
Marshall McLuhan
GG Allin
The Channel Four News Team
The 6ABC Action News Team
Carl Monday
Manbearpig (I'm totally serial!)
P. J. O'Rourke
Tucker Max
Wesley Willis
Rupert Murdoch
R. Lee Ermey
Morton Downey, Jr.
Barry and Levon ($240 worth of puddin'. Awww yeah!)
Earth, Wind & Fire
Ron Jeremy
Thomas Sowell
"Screaming Jay" Hawkins
John Wayne
John Wayne Gacy
John Mark Carr
Friedrich Nietzsche
Tina Fey
Daft Punk
William F. Buckley, Jr.
The Wu-Tang Clan (If only for ODB)
George Plympton
DJ Kool Herc
Johnny Carson & Ed McMahon ("Yew, are correct sir. Hey-yo!")
Ann Coulter
Bob Marley
Gene Rayburn's long skinny microphone
George Orwell
Pope John Paul II
Mike Wallace
Chris Wallace
George Wallace (Both of them)
William Wallace
Wallace & Gromit


The World Trade Center
The Freedom Tower
The Liberty Bell
Cave of the Winds
The New Jersey Turnpike
Wembley Stadium (Both the old and the new)
Yankee Stadium (2008 is the last season!)
The "Rocky" Statue
Paul Bunyan & Babe the Blue Ox
The Big Texan Steak Ranch
The CN Tower
The Waffle House (pick one, any one)
South of the Border
Wallace Wade Stadium


Will Leitch
Matt Ufford
The Mighty MJD
Big Daddy Drew
Dan Shanoff
A.J. Daulerio
The Cardboard Junkie
Joey Abna
Ben Henry
Chris Harris (Dammit, if Topps is going to rip-off this idea, I WANT MY OWN CARD!)

Saturday, August 18, 2007

A Fantasy 2008 Allen & Ginter Checklist

If you haven't read Ben Henry's latest, you should. The poor guy finally broke down and ripped a box of 2007 Allen & Ginter.

While that in and of itself may not seem all that special, what he wrote at the tail-end got me thinking.

"I’d like to do the next checklist of special cards for A&G 2008, precisely because I think Topps dropped the ball in not including David Beckham in this set, but also because Ernest Hemingway, Keith Richards and the Lusitania need their own cards."
So if you were Topps, what do you do for (another) encore? I came up with this list of athletes and celebrities I'd like to see in next year's TA&G -- assuming that there is one.

And if you don't know who any of these people are, look 'em up on wikipedia.

Old Time Baseballers

Albert Spalding
Ed Delahanty
Bill James (Alright, so he never actually played. But c'mon, he's Bill James!)
Bill "Spaceman" Lee
Dock Ellis
Buck O'Neil
Tommy Lasorda
Ban Johnson
"Shoeless" Joe Jackson
Fred Merkle (2008's the 100th anniversary of "The Boner!")
Vin Scully, Harry Caray, Mel Allen and Harry Kalas (Why don't they made announcer cards?)

Non-Baseball Athletes

Cristiano Ronaldo
Jozy Altidore
Sir Donald Bradman
Willie Mosconi
Amanda Beard
Shaun White
"El Wingador" (and yes, I consider competitive eating to be a "sport")
Bernard "The Executioner" Hopkins
That guy who fell off the 40-foot vert ramp at the X-Games
Maria Sharapova
Michael Phelps
Kelly Slater
Chris Harris -- New Zealand cricketer
Chris Harris -- Carolina Panthers defensive back
Chris Harris -- English motorcycle rider
"Wildcat" Chris Harris -- Professional Wrestler

Non-Athletes and Historical Figures

Robert Peary
Henry Ford
Booker T. Washington
Sarah Silverman
Hunter S. Thompson
George Washington Carver
Milton Friedman
Edward Teller
Penn & Teller
Trey Parker & Matt Stone
Sid Vicious & Nancy Spungen
Butch Cassidy & The Sundance Kid
Michael Larson
Kevin Mitnick
Ayn Rand
Frank Lloyd Wright
Edward R. Murrow
Keith Olbermann & Bill O'Reilly (An Olbermann/O'Reilly double autographed box loader. Hmmm...)
Charles Nelson Reilly


The Grand Canyon
Big Ben
The Sphinx
The Panama Canal
The Golden Gate Bridge
Machu Picchu

Got any suggestions of your own?

Thursday, August 16, 2007

UPDATE: The White Plains Baseball Card "Pants Party"


The White Plains Pants Party will be on Sunday (Aug. 19).

Come meet Stale Gum's Chris Harris, Ben Henry of the Baseball Card Blog, and a slew of other card bloggers and collectors at the first ever "Baseball Card Pants Party," this Saturday in White Plains, New York!

Where and When:

The Westchester County Center (google maps for directions)
Saturday Sunday from Noon until ??? (depends on traffic)
Admission: $7 (kids under 12 free!)

Over 350 tables, and a crapload of autograph guests! Oh, what fun we'll have!

For more information on the show, and autograph guests go to JP's Sports & Rock Solid Promotions' website.


Box Break and Review: 2007 Fleer Ultra

One Blaster Box of 2007 Fleer Ultra (paid $19.97)
12 packs per box, five cards per pack

The Details:

Base Set: 250 cards
200 card short-set
37 Ultra Rookies
13 Lucky 13

Gold: 250 cards
Printing Plates: (one-of-one)

Swing Kings: 25 cards
Hitting Machines: 15 cards
Faces of the Game: 20 cards
Strike Zone: 10 cards
Ultra Iron Man: 50 cards

Swing Kings Memorabilia: 25 cards
Hitting Machines Memorabilia: 15 cards
Faces of the Game Memorabilia: 20 cards
Strike Zone Memorabilia: 10 cards
Feel the Game Memorabilia: 50 cards
Ultra Rookies Autographs
Lucky 13 Autographs

The Pulls

Base Set: 54 of 250 (21.60%)
Short-Set: 48 of 200 (24%)
Ultra Rookies: 5 of 37 (13.51%) Z. Segovia, M. Rabelo, J. Marshall, C. Jimenez and L. Speigner
Lucky 13: 1 of 13 (7.69%) R. Braun

2 Golds: E. Bedard and D. Haren

1 Swing King: F. Thomas
1 Strike Zone: J. Verlander
2 Ultra Iron Man

Autogamers: NONE

The Review

When Upper Deck initially announced the retooling and renaming of the Fleer Ultra brand into something called "Ultra SE", some of us had our concerns. Did The Hobby really need to have yet another $20/pack autogamer product? And why Ultra?

But fear not collectors. While the one-per-pack "Ultra SE" has hit the hobby stores (along with it's $20/pack price tag), the real Ultra has made its return as well. Only, you won't find it on the shelves of your local Hobby dealer. Nope. You'll find it instead at your local Wal-Mart.

2007 Ultra/Ultra SE is set up similar to what Pinnacle Brands did with Score ten years ago. If you remember, the mass-market retail outlets (K-Mart, Wal-Mart, et al) received regular '97 Score; however, Hobby dealers got something called "Score Premium Stock." The only difference between Score and Score Premium Stock was that the all of the Premium Stock cards were printed on a thicker "premium" gauge cardboard, and all the cards were hit with a foil stamp. For '07 Ultra, all the "SE" base cards are printed on what UD spokesman Don Williams calls "spectrum deco foil;" while the retail cards are on regular old UV coated cardboard with silver foil accents. Other than that, there is no difference -- base set wise -- between the two.

As for the Ultra base set itself, both Ultra and Ultra SE virtually unchanged: 250 cards in total, with 50 short-printed "ROOKIES." 13 of the 50 "ROOKIES" are part of a subset called "Lucky 13," and it appears that these cards are a little tougher to find than the other 37 short-printed "ROOKIES." The big "money card" is one of the first true-RCs of Brewers third-baseman Ryan Braun. He's in the Lucky 13 subset.

As is now par-for-the-course with UpperFleerDeck products, there are no checklists, nor are the pack insertion ratios are unlisted. So if you want a checklist, you know the drill: go to their website and download one. I distinctly remember Richard McWilliam saying at the Hawaii Ft. Lauderdale Trade Conference that UD was going to resume putting insertion ratios on the pack wrappers. We're still waiting on that, Dick.

The Bottom Line

For most collectors, this should be a no-brainer. For the price of one pack of Ultra SE, you can get a 12-pack Blaster Box. Oh sure, you're not guaranteed to get that Adrian Beltre game jersey. But if you're a Fleer Ultra die-hard, you're probably OK with that.

As for this particular box, every single five-card pack contained something of value -- whether it be a Gold parallel, a short-printed "ROOKIE," or an insert. (Zero doubles, five "ROOKIES," a Ryan Braun Lucky 13, four inserts, and two Golds.) If you're going after the full set, you're going to have to get at least four Blasters. Since not a lot of Hobby dealers will be breaking the retail version of Ultra, you may have to bite-the-bullet and buy a fifth, or even a sixth blaster box to dust off your base set. Either that, or intermix the regular cards with the foil-fronted SE cards.

Product Rating: 3 Gumsticks (out of five)

Thursday, August 09, 2007

Box Break and Review: 2007 Topps Allen & Ginter

One box of 2007 Topps Allen & Ginter Baseball (paid $99)
24 packs per box, eight cards per pack

The Details

One individually wrapped oversized card (hobby only)
One checklist

Base Set: 350 cards
300 card short set
50 short prints (1:2)

Short Set Minis: 300 cards
Short Print Mins: 50 cards (1:13)
A&G Back Minis: 300 cards (1:5)
A&G Back Short Print Minis: 50 cards (1:65)
Black Border Minis: 300 cards (1:10)
Black Border Short Print Minis: 50 cards (1:130)
Non-numbered Minis: 350 cards (1:106)
Bazooka Back Minis: 350 cards (1:213)
Wood Minis: 350 cards (1:3507)
Printing Plates: (1:778)

National Pride: 10 cards (1:3 chiptoppers)
N-43: 15 cards (1:2 chiptoppers)
Dick Perez Sketches: 30 cards#
Rip Cards: 50 cards (1:285)
Mini Flags: 50 cards (1:12*)
Roman Emperors: 10 cards$
Deadliest Snakes: 5 cards$
A-Rod Road to 500: 50 cards (1:24)
Allen & Ginter Mini Exclusives: 40 embedded cards
Framed Originals: (1:17,072#)

A-Rod Road to 500 Autographed: 50 cards (1:64,496, one-of-one)
Framed Autographs: 57 cards#
Framed Relics: 64 cards#
Dick Perez Original Sketches: 30 embedded cards (one-of-one)
Cut Signatures: 10 cards (1:145,116)
N-43 Autographs: 4 cards
N-43 Relics: 10 cards

* One mini card per pack
# One Dick Perez Sketch card, or framed Autogamer per pack.
$ Stealth inserts

The Pulls

Base Set: 144 of 350 (41.14%)
No Doubles

  • Short Set: 132 of 300
  • (44%)
    Short Prints: 12 of 50 (24%)

11 Short Set Minis: S.B. Anthony (2), J. Papelbon, B. McCann (2), D. Jeter (2), B. Sheets, J. Reyes, M. Tejada and B. Giles
2 Short Print Minis: J. Gomes and B. Geren
5 A&G Back Minis: J. Peralta, T. Tulowitzki (2), G. Atkins and M. Cameron
2 Black Bordered Minis: A. Wainwright and J. Lackey
1 Non- Numbered Mini: J. Frazier

1 National Pride chiptopper: J. Reyes, P. Martinez, D. Ortiz and A. Pujols
22 Dick Perez Sketches
2 Mini Flags: Bulgaria and Canada
1 Roman Emperor: Marcus Aurelius
1 A-Rod Road to 500 (#271)

2 Framed Relics: B. Zito and T. Glaus

The Review

I was tempted to reprint last year's review of TA&G, in this space; because not much has changed with this year's version. And that's not such a bad thing. Nope, it's only a necktie.

Just like last year, the design is based on the 19th Century Allen & Ginter set -- but with the addition of a "2007" on the obverse. Also, just like last year, you get an mini-sized parallel in every pack and each 24-pack box yields two framed autogamers. Missing, is the customary dissertation from the infamous, deplorable Keith Olbermann -- although a "stealth" framed autogamer (An MSNBC Countdown-used "Piece of the Media Matters Daily Talking Points?") was added late.

What really makes A&G special -- as opposed to other such "retro" sets -- are the non-baseball and non-sports figures. Where else are you going to find cards of wheelchair rugby star Mark Zupan, Dostoevsky, Ken Jennings, Jack the Ripper, AND both Franklin and Eleanor Roosevelt? (Curiously, no Lucy Mercer.)

The Bottom Line:

Just like last year, TA&G should be one of the most -- if not THE most -- ripped products of 2007. Every pack contains something of value -- be it a short-print, parallel, or autogamer. And if it's anything like last year, commons should be readily available to build your set. With that said, one $100 box should be all you need to get started.

Product Rating: 4 Gumsticks (out of 5)

... and another thing.

There are a pair of "stealth" inserts to be on the lookout for: a ten-card "Roman Emperors" and a five-card "Dangerous Snakes."

Saturday, July 14, 2007

If You Ruled The Hobby

Friends, Readers, and Fellow Collectors:

You have been selected "God of the Baseball Card Hobby." With these powers, you have been given the power to dictate to Topps and Upper Deck what 17 products they will be allowed to release in 2008.

Post your suggestions in the comments area. I'm not asking for specific product details (at least not yet). Just what specific products should return, what products should go away, and what products would you like to see return.

Choose wisely, the long-term fate of The Hobby is in your hands.

If I were given such a title, here are the 34 products that I would allow:

(Sorry for the long gap)

CategoryToppsUpper Deck
Flagship Series 1Topps 1Upper Deck 1
Flagship Series 2Topps 2Upper Deck 2
Flagship UpdateTopps Updates and HighlightsUpper Deck Update
$0.99/pack Contractual Obligation SetOpening DayFirst Pitch
"Second" FlagshipBowmanFleer
"Second" UpdateBowman DP&PFleer Update
Premium #1Stadium Club 1Ultra
Premium #2Stadium Club 2Upper Deck Ovation
Super Premium #1FinestSP
Super Premium #2Bowman's BestFleer Flair
Retro #1Topps HeritageGreats of the Game
Retro #2Pre-War Tribute Set (i.e. TA&G)Goudey
$20 ProductTopps Co-SignersSPx
$50 ProductBowman SterlingUpper Deck Epic
$100 ProductTopps Triple ThreadsUltimate Collection
Rookie-ThemedBowman ChromeUpper Deck Future Stars
Wild CardThird Retro Product not named Bowman HeritageUpper Deck Premier

Tuesday, July 03, 2007

Double Box Break and Review: 2007 Upper Deck Series Two

Two Boxes of 2007 Upper Deck Baseball Series Two (paid $65 each)
16 packs per box, 15 cards per pack.

The Details

Base Set: 500 cards (#521-1020)
No Shortprints

Press Plates

1989 Rookies: 50 cards
ROY Predictors: 50 cards

UD Game Materials: 41 cards
Star Signings: 33 cards
Daisuke Matsuzaka Game Used: one card
Autographed 1989 Rookies: 24 cards (numbered to 5)

The Pulls:

Base Set: 309 of 500
153 Doubles

8 1989 Rookies: A. Sanchez, C. Stewart, L. Speigner, J. Soria, H. Okajima, J. Garcia, K. Kouzmanoff, and J. Salas
2 ROY Predictors: A. Gordon and J. Burke

4 UD Game Materials: A. Rios, L. Gonzalez, K. Griffey, Jr., and T. Nixon
2 Star Signings: A. Callaspo and J. Baker

The Review.

The first thing I noticed about UD2 is the lack of true "Rookie" cards. I guess that's what happens when you sneak a redemption card in the first series. There is a "Rookie" of Tim Lincecum; but because of the series one redemption card, most of the other top RCs aren't here. (Although Alex Gordon and Daisuke Matsuzaka are represented on Team Checklists.)

What else is noticeable -- compared to not only the first series, but last's year UD set -- is the lack of inserts. With the exception of the press plates, there are no parallels. And the only insert sets are 50 rookies done in the style of the 1989 set, and the Rookie of the Year Predictors.

The Team Checklists are back, but are scattered amongst the commons, rather than segregated at the back end of the base set.

The Bottom Line:

Individually, each box produced 231 base set cards (with no doubles), four '89 Rookies, 1 Predictor, 2 Game Materials, an a Star Signing.

Remember when pulling a Ken Griffey, Jr. game jersey card actually meant something?

One other thing. If you're buying loose packs in search for that Dice-K jersey card, be warned. In both of these boxes, the first pack on the upper-left and lower-left "stacks" contained the two jersey cards. Caveat Emptor.

Product Rating: 4 Gumsticks (Out of five)

Saturday, June 23, 2007

How to Fix Topps Baseball.

From all the talk among collectors, from all the e-mails I receive, from all the posts on the website, the verdict is in: 2007 Topps Baseball sucks. This anonymous poster sums it all up:

"I hate this year's Topps base set... I hate the airbrushing. I hate the design. I hate the mirror cards. I hate the 'Generation Now' idiocy. I hate the Mickey Mantle 'hero worship' cards. I hate that Topps repeatedly recycles the 1952 baseball design everywhere ... I really hate the red letter variations. I hate the fake short-print variations. ... I wish they would keep their base set sacrosanct. Put in autographed cards as chase cards. Maybe do one or two small (10-card) insert sets. But that's it! ... Don't ruin the stinkin' base set!"

So as a service to Upper Deck, Michael Eisner, Bazooka Joe, the infamous, deplorable, Keith Olbermann, or whomever winds up running Topps, may I make a couple of suggestions for the 2008 Topps Baseball set.

  1. Expand the base set.

  2. Call it "The 792 Mystique." Topps Baseball and the number 792 go together like peanut butter and jelly. But Topps hasn't made a base set that large since 1994 -- even though the number of MLB teams (and the number of MLB players) have expanded.

    660 cards is just too small. Then again, 792 isn't big enough anymore either. Topps should expand their base set from 660 cards to (at least) 880. 880 cards is more than enough to include each team's entire 25-man roster, all 30 managers, 30 team cards, a handful of multi-player cards, and a couple dozen "Rookies."

    The Updates and Highlights set -- which, since it's gone to its current format, I consider to be a third series -- is fine at 330 cards. The structure of traded players, "Rookies," All-Stars, league leaders, et al should remain unchanged.

  3. Addition by subtraction.

  4. With the PA's decision to cut the number of 2008 card releases by three, Topps series one and two should be combined into a single series, to be released in late-March. Updates and Highlights would remain in it's current late-October/early-November slot.

  5. Please, step away from the airbrush.

  6. Did we really have to have a card of Alfonso Soriano as a Chicago Cub, before he's even played a game for them? What exactly was the point of doing that? And doesn't airbrushing undermine the purpose of a second series or update set? If you absolutely, have to use the airbrush, save it for the Update set.

    And while I'm on the subject of airbrushing, if the MLBPA can mandate to the trading card manufacturers who can appear in a set (i.e. the "Rookie Card" rules), they should decree that licensees should refrain from airbrushing until after the September 1 "call-up" date.

  7. Cut back on the number of parallels and manufactured variations.

  8. Personally, I could never understand the attraction of parallels. But many collectors like them, so I'm not advocating they be totally eliminated. But five different parallel sets? (Not to mention the contrived variations?) Golds, one-of-ones, Press Plates, and HTA-only Coppers are more than enough. Get rid of the Red Letter "stealth" parallels and the variations.

  9. Ditch the "Mirrors."

  10. The "mirror" insert is one of the dumbest concepts The Hobby's seen in the post-Pinnacle Brands era. It's right up there with Fractal Matrix, "Dare-to-Tear," and cards packaged in soup cans on the stupidity meter. The whole concept is an insult to the intelligence of baseball card collectors everywhere. Besides, its not like anybody's actually collecting any of these things.

    For 2008, Topps should finish up the Bonds, Mantle, and A-Rod mirrors, and put this gimmick to bed. Permanently.

  11. Streamline the other inserts.

  12. OK, so Topps paid a shit-pot of money to get Mickey Mantle. But does that justify a new "hero-worship" insert of him, every year? Here's a suggestion, with all the other card companies ripping off Topps' designs and ideas, how about ripping-off an idea from the competition?

    I don't know about you, but I loved the "Baseball Heroes" anthology inserts Upper Deck had in the early-90s. Why not try the same idea in Topps? Put out a new ten-card hero-worship set for a different player, in each series. Start with Mantle and Bonds sets for 2008, but continue the series in '09 with different players.

    I'd keep the other inserts: Own the Game, Hobby Masters, and Topps Stars in the combined "regular" set; Trading Places and Rookie Debuts in Updates and Highlights. I'd also throw in a "historical figures" insert along the lines of the Distinguished Service and The Constitution Signers.

  13. We "get" pack-specific inserts, but this is a little ridiculous.

  14. As collector's, we're used to the idea of separate inserts for Hobby packs, retail packs, HTA jumbos, and racks. But inserts exclusively for K-Mart, Wal-Mart, and Target? That's a little excessive, wouldn't you say?

So those are my ideas for '08 Topps. What to you all think? Care to make any suggestions?