Tuesday, March 27, 2007

Stuff that Blogger left out of my '07 UD Review.

  • The first 50 cards in the set are all of MLBPA-approved "ROOKIE CARDS." For some reason, they don't call them the "Star Rookies," but you get the idea.
  • Speaking of which: Card #31 of Jeremy Brown (a.k.a. "The Fat Catcher from Moneyball") has had his "ROOKIE CARD" logo removed. Apparently, UD was able to sneak him into last year's Update set. For the record, his true "RC" is in '02 Bowman Draft PIcks and Prospects.
  • Initially, each Rookie Redemption card was to have been good for only one of the 20 "Rookies." But according to Beckett, each card will now be good for the whole set, and they'll be numbered as part of the base set (#501-520).
  • I think we can figure out who the first two of these Rookie Redemptions are -- think "Gyroballs" and the Infamous, Deplorable, Keith Olbermann.

Monday, March 26, 2007

I knew him when...

After my freshman year of college (1993), I took a summer job at The Score Board; Ken Goldin's sports card and memorabilia company whose offices were just down the road from my parents house. It was tedious, dull, and boring -- busting dozens of wax boxes per day, separating the stars from the commons, and so forth -- but damn it was fun. I was young, stupid, and on the ground floor of the sports collectibles industry; working towards my dream job.

One day there was a buzz around the office that Score Board was about to sign Michael Jordan to an exclusive autograph contract. It was around this time I ran into the man who was charged with signing Michael Jordan: John Thompson III. The deal fell through and Jordan eventually signed with Upper Deck.

Fast forward fourteen years, and the same John Thompson III, former employee of The Score Board, has just coached Georgetown University into the Final Four.

So yes, even though I had Texas coming out of the East regional, I have rooting interest in this year's Final Four. Go Hoyas!

Double Box Break: 2007 Upper Deck Series One

Two Boxes of 2007 Upper Deck Series One (Paid $55 each)
16 packs per box, 15 cards per pack (MSRP: $4.99/pack)

For the record, I wrote a full box break and review. But when I attempted to publish it, blogger.com lost it and I was unable to recover it. Gee thanks, blogger!

Since I don't feel like investing another three hours hacking out another review, I'll just give you what I pulled. Sorry about that.

Base Set: 283 of 500 (56.60%)
124 Doubles
1 Rookie Redemption

2 "Parallels:" B. Anderson, T. Saito (#/75)

1 Postseason Predictor: St. Louis
1 MVP Predictor: A. Gonzales
8 1989 Reprints: A. Kaline, C. FIsk, H, Wagner, J. Foxx, M. Ott, R. Hornsby, S. Paige, W. Johnson
2 Cal Ripken, Jr. Chronicles
2 Ken Griffey, Jr. Chronicles

4 UD Game Materials: B. Roberts, C. Beltran, Jeter, J. Bay
2 Star Signings: J. Gomes, Reed Johnson (EXCH)

The Bottom Line:

I didn't think Upper Deck could outdo itself, but they did. '07 UD is better than last year's Set of the Year.

Product Rating: 4 3/4 Gumsticks (out of five)

About the only thing preventing this from being a 5 Gumstick product, is the annoying Team Checklist cards. What's the point in having Team Checklist cards, when only half the team is represented? I was looking through my '93 UD set and I think I have a better idea: TeamStars. You remember that card of Lenny Dykstra holding a handful of nails, with John Kruk, Darren Daulton, and Dave Hollins standing behind him with sledge hammers? Wasn't TeamStars just a cool concept? Wouldn't it make sense to have TeamStars cards in the first two series, and save the Team Checklists for the Update?

Sunday, March 25, 2007

What I got at the White Plains Show: 3/24/07

Site: Westchester County Center; White Plains, NY.

I've got two ten-page research papers due in the next month -- neither one I've actually started. But screw all that, it's White Plains weekend, and I'm there!

No sightings of the infamous, deplorable, Keith Olbermann, but the crowds were noticeibly smaller than in January. Kind of unusual considering that baseball is right around the corner, and White Plains is in the heart of Yankee country.

Two boxes of 2007 Upper Deck Series One (paid $55 each)

'07 UD was tops in my list for this show, and I was able to snag two Hobby boxes from the same dealer for $110. Box breaks forthcoming, but due to my academic studies, do not expect a formal review anytime soon -- if ever.

This dealer had both Hobby and Retail -- even though (as he said) Retail wasn't expected until later this week. The Retail boxes (which have 24 packs of eight cards) were $45, and Hobby (16 of 15) were $55/box. Considering that the cost-per-card were roughly the same for both formats (about $0.23-per-card) and Hobby promises two gamers and an autograph, I went with Hobby boxes.

A stack of '01-'04 Topps and Bowman Heritage singles (Paid $125)

Another case of "Animal Spirits." The dealer whom I bought the two '07 UD boxes from had a couple of boxes of old Topps Heritage singles, and I just couldn't help myself. (And yes, I paid $5 for another Marlon Anderson card: '02 Topps Heritage SP). This stack also included a bunch of '06 Ultra non-parallel inserts I needed.

Speaking of Topps Heritage, it is NOT selling like it used to. I mean, for Christ sake, I saw boxes of '07 Heritage going for $50! Which begs the question: Has Topps Heritage finally run its course? I'm not suggesting that Topps abandon Heritage altogether, but maybe put it on hiatus for '08.

One big ol' stack of late-90s and early-00s era inserts and short-prints (Paid $50)

This from the same dealer that I bought a bunch a late-90s and early-00s era short-prints and inserts from at the last White Plains show. If you were there, he was the big dude with the Reggie Bush jersey and the Bluetooth headset. I got three more '01 Donruss cards from this stack (a Nick Johnson SP, and McGwire and ManRam Rookie Reprints), and a crap load of other "junk" inserts.

Total spent on cards: $285
Admission: $7
Parking: $4
Tolls: $17.20
Grand Total: $313.20

Thursday, March 22, 2007

1st Impressions: Topps Moments and Milestones

Ladies and Gentlemen: We have a winnah!

Yes, I'm calling my shot now. When all is said and done, Topps Moments and Milestones will be the worst product of 2007. Not only that, it may finally snatch the title of "Worst Product of the Decade" away from 2001 Donruss. Yes folks, it's that awful.

With TM&M, Topps is taking the "mirror" card to the "next level," and by that I mean to a level bordering on self-parody.

To give you an example, there will be 364 different variations of Randy Johnson's base card -- one for each of his strikeouts during his '99 season. Just like with the Barry Bonds and Mickey Mantle inserts (the worst inserts of 2006), all of them look virtualy identical with the exception of a foil-stamped number, and some minor details regarding that specific strikeout. There will be a grand total of 12,475 variations of the 193-card base set, with many of the same players on multiple mirrored cards.

Oh yeah, one other thing: Each base set card is serial numbered to only 199 copies. So even if you actually wanted to collect all 364 different variations of Randy Johnson's card, you probably won't be able to. Oh, and don't forget the one-per-pack parallel numbered to 40!

Tuesday, March 20, 2007

Gripes about the new Beckett

I received the new Beckett (Apr. 2007) on Monday Mar 19th -- about a week later than usual. I hope this an abberation, but in the dozen years I've been a Beckett Baseball subscriber, I don't recall ever getting it this late. Am I the only one?
Nonetheless, I was very disappointed with this month's issue. I figured that the reason Beckett was late this month was that it was being held up to include pricing on 2007 Topps. Well, guess what set isn't in the new Beckett?

Not only that, but there are no new reviews and previews for two products (Fleer and Topps Heritage) that have been out for weeks now -- one of which your correspondent has already reviewed!

Tuesday, March 13, 2007

Spring Break Reading List

Well, it's Spring Break at Rutgers-Camden, and I've got nothing to do for the next week. So to kill some time, figure I'd go back and re-read Card Sharks by Pete Williams. It is a bit dated -- it was published in 1995 -- but nonetheless, Williams' book is still a "must read" for any and all serious collectors.

Although Williams' primary subject is the first five years of Upper Deck, he brilliantly describes the zeitgeist of The Hobby in the '80s (the rise of "rookie" cards, counterfeiting, the addition of Fleer, Donruss, and Score, et al), and gives the most comprehensive history of The Hobby you'll ever read.

Although a dozen years old, Card Sharks has aged pretty well, and is still a good read. You probably won't be able to find it at your local book store, but you can get a used copy on Amazon, or try to look for it at your local library.

Saturday, March 10, 2007

Box Break: 2007 Fleer

One Box of 2007 Fleer Baseball. (paid $33)
36 packs per box, ten cards per pack.

The Details

Base Set: 400 cards

350 card Short Set
50 "ROOKIE CARDS" (two-per-pack)

Die-Cuts: 400 cards (1:2)
Die-Cut Golds: 400 cards

Rookie Sensations: 25 cards (one-per-pack)
Crowning Achievements: 20 cards
Year in Review: 20 cards
In the Zone: 10 cards
Perfect 10 AL: 10 cards
Perfect 10 NL: 10 cards

Genuine Coverage: 42 cards
Fresh Ink: 24 cards
Autographics: 26 cards

The Pulls

Base Set: 243 of 400 (60.75%)
31 doubles

Short Set: 193 of 350 (55.14%)
"ROOKIE CARDS:" 50 of 50
18 Die-Cuts

One full 25-card set of Rookie Sensations (14 doubles & 2 quads)
7 Crowning Achievements: F. Thomas, Maddux, Griffey, Jr., J. Santana, Thome, M. Cabrera, & Piazza
7 Year in Review: F. Liriano, F. Sanchez, R. Howard, J. Dye, J. Mauer, J. Reyes & J. Velander
4 In the Zone: D. Ortiz, D. Wright, Griffey, Jr. & M. Cabrera
3 Perfect 10 AL: Jeter, I-Rod & J. Dye
4 Perfect 10 NL: Pujols, Beltran, Utley & J. Bay

Autogamers: NONE

The Bottom Line:

I have absolutely no interest in doing a full review of 2007 Fleer. Hey, if UpperFleerDeck can phone this one in (which they obviously did), why can't I? Oh well, I guess I have to write something....

The 50 "ROOKIE CARDS" are all double-printed -- as opposed to being short-printed. That's different. Also, the Rookie Sensations inserts are about as common as the base set rookies are -- which doesn't make them very "common" at all. In fact, I pulled four Scott Olsen and Kenji Johjima Sensations out of this one box.

For some strange reason all the Rockies' players have "COLORADO ROCKIES" spelled out in full on their cards, while all the other players only have their team nicknames. Did the state of Colorado pass a law mandating that all baseball cards of Rockies' players must mention that the team is, in fact, located in the state Colorado?

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

Tuesday, March 06, 2007

The End of an Era.

It's official. The Shorin dynasty is about to come to an end. Topps has agreed to be purchased by a group headed by former Walt Disney CEO Michael Eisner. Asking price: $385 million.

Sports Collector's Daily is all over it, as are Beckett and ESPN.

Saturday, March 03, 2007

What I Got at the Philly Show: 3/3/07

Site: Greater Reading Expo Center; Reading, PA

The economist John Maynard Keynes coined the term "animal spirits" to describe a state of collective over-confidence, bordering on naivete. Personally, I'd call it something else: "stupidity." Such naivete/stupidity was on full display at the 97th Philly Show, and most of it revolved around one single card: the now infamous 2007 Topps Derek Jeter.

How much were '07 Topps Jeter's going for at the Philly Show? How about $35-$50 for a base, $75 for the Red Letter and -- and hold onto your armchairs for this one -- a Gold was reportedly sold $1100! '07 Topps wax (or what's left of it) has shot up to $75/box, and I couldn't find a single HTA or rackbox anywhere. (For the record, in the hobby waxbox I purchased last weekend for $50, I pulled a base and a Red Letter.) I don't ever recall seeing such demand for a non-rookie, non-short-printed, non-error, base set card since the 1990 Score Bo Jackson card. Animal spirits, indeed!

Also, 2007 Topps Heritage is now live, but nobody seemed to care.

Stack of 22 different 2006 Upper Deck Update SPs and 19 different UD Update commons (paid $100)

Speaking of animal spirits...

There's one particular Philly Show dealer who always brings a boatload of current and previous year baseball singles. Being the set builder that I am, he's usually the first table I scope out.

This time, he brought with him a three-fifths-full 5000-count monster box full of '06 UD Update singles, with all the SPs in individual sleeves. Upon seeing the monster box, my "animal spirits" had me thumbing through them all trying to finish off my set, cost be damned!

When I bought and broke my two boxes, I had no idea that UD had short-printed 50 of the cards. In fact, it wasn't until after Update was listed in Beckett that I even found this out. (I was tempted to revoke UD title as 2006's "Best Base Set," but the set is just too damn good. And so it shall remain.) To their credit, UD didn't just SP all the usual suspects. In addition to all 30 Team Checklists and a few rookies, a couple of the veteran players (and even a manager) were short-printed. Naturally, I would up buying all the ones I had on my wantlist -- including paying $5 for a SPed card of former Phillie and current Dodger second baseman Marlon Anderson. Yes, I paid $5 for a card of MARLON F'N ANDERSON!

The buyer's remorse didn't kick in until I spotted a stack UD Update waxboxes a couple of tables over. Price: $30 each. Now I just bought a stack of singles to (nearly) finish off my set for $100; but I could have bought another two boxes (and taken my chances) for $40 less. That's animal spirits for you. I now need only four cards to complete my 1250-card 2006 Upper Deck set, and they're all Update SPs.

Stack of 83 different 2007 Topps commons (paid $25)

Sorry, but I refuse to pay $75 for another waxbox of '07 Topps. Even if it's possible to get my $75 back by pulling another Red Letter Jeter and immediately flipping it, I'm not doing it. I'll gladly fill out the rest of my set out of somebody else's commons box for a third of the price, thank you very much.

These were purchased from the same dealer as the UD Updates.

One retail waxbox of 2007 Fleer (paid $33)

I had no idea this was a retail box until after I opened it up and noticed the word "RETAIL" printed on each wrapper. From what I understand, the only difference between Hobby and Retail in this year's Fleer is a one-per-box autograph in Hobby. In both versions you get two MLBPA "ROOKIE CARDS" and a Rookie Sensations insert in every pack -- which should make for an interesting break. Break forthcoming -- but keep in mind, that I still have two boxes from the last Philly Show that I still have yet to post breaks on.

One hand-collated 1981 Donruss set (paid $40)

Early-80s sets have been on my wish list for a while, and (believe it or not) even after grossly overpaying for all those UD Update singles, I still had enough left over for this beauty. Alright, 1981 Donruss wasn't exactly a "beauty," but it's still better than the Donruss set that came twenty years later.

Can you believe that a complete set of quarter-century old baseball cards can be had for less than the price of a comparable set of today's cards? I should've been charged with theft for buying this set.

Total spent on cards: $198
Admission: $6
Tolls: $3
Grand Total: $207

I still can't believe I paid $5 for that Marlon Anderson card!

Friday, March 02, 2007

When Bad Things Happen to Good Cards: 2007 Topps

And now the first of a new continuing Stale Gum series: "When Bad Things Happen to Good Cards." The first set up on the docket: 2007 Topps.

Quick, what does George W. Bush have in common with the drummer from Def Leppard? They both only have one arm! Go ahead, see for yourself on Derek Jeter's 2007 Topps card.

"Now batting for your Chicago Cubs, number 12, Alfonso Soriano!"

"Correction. Now batting for your Chicago Cubs, number 12, Daryle Ward!"

Mike Piazza? Or the head of Mike Piazza poorly Photoshopped onto a ten-year-old picture of Mark McGwire? I report, you decide.

See what I mean. IT'S THE SAME CARD!

(All pictures lovingly ripped off of eBay)