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?

Tuesday, June 19, 2007

Yes, it's come to this....

.... I'm throwing a contest.

Recently the guys over at Kissing Suzy Kolber (the greatest NFL blog in the world, BTW) jazzed up their blogger site with a new layout complete with a banner logo. If you haven't seen it yet, it looks pretty darn nice.

So I'm doing some brainstorming, trying to come up with new ideas for Stale Gum, when the proverbial cartoon light bulb went off. If KSK's on, and Stale Gum's on, then why can't Stale Gum have a new look too? The site would look a lot better -- not to mention slightly more professional -- if it only had a new logo.

But there's just one problem. The Good Lord did not bless me with artistic ability. Even though I spent nearly five years in the web development business, I never got around to figuring out how to use anything other than good ol' Microsoft Paint. (Which is probably the reason why I'm now an ex-web developer.)

Here's where I need your help. I need someone to design for me a proper logo for this site. Send your ideas and submissions to, and the one I like the best will win..., well, I'll think of something. I will promise you this, it will be baseball card related, and it will not suck.

So get those creative juices flowing, and you might just win something.

Monday, June 18, 2007

I Get Letters: Bengie Molina in Topps 2.

Stale Gum reader Rob Heiser made an observation on Topps series 2 that escaped even my eagle eye.

"I noticed that the Bengie Molina card (#4) in 2007 Topps Series 1 is exactly the same as his card in 2007 Topps Series 2 (#342) except for the number on the back of the card. I haven't noticed any other similarities like that between the two sets and wondered if this was a common thing to do -- and if so, why? I could understand if the (#4) card was in a Blue Jays uniform or something, but the picture is the same, as well as the blurb text about him."

Yes Rob, it's exactly the same card. The only difference being the card number. It does not appear -- at least at first glance -- that the second series card is a variation. I've examed the obverse and reverse sides of both Molinas and could find no other difference between the two other than card number.

This can be chalked up to one of two things: 1) Topps' irrational airbrushing exuberance in the first series of '07 Topps, (Molina played for Toronto last year and signed with the Giants as a free agent in the off-season, hence the airbrushing from Toronto to San Francisco) or 2) sheer laziness on Topps behalf.

For the record, I choose the latter.

Sunday, June 17, 2007

I Get Letters: Those UD Rookie Redemptions

This is the first in an occasional series where I reprise my "Chris the Answer Man" role and get answers to your Hobby questions. If you have any questions you would like me to answer, just drop me a line at Stale Gum reader Joe C. had a question about those redemption cards that Upper Deck seeded into packs of 2007 Upper Deck series one.

In packs of 2007 series one baseball, Upper Deck randomly inserted redemption cards that were good for 20 rookie cards. It was his understanding (and since I also pulled one of these cards, mine as well) that these cards would be numbered as part of the 2007 set (cards #501-520). However, we came to find out that UD -- for some reason that struck us both as peculiar -- decided to insert into packs of Upper Deck Spectrum baseball, the first three cards from this rookie set (#501-503).

The question Joe C. (and by extension me) had is, will these three Upper Deck cards that were inserted into Spectrum also be included in the 20-card redemption set? If not, then why not? And if so, will there be any variance between the Spectrum cards and the redemption cards?

Recently, the Upper Deck PR department added me (unsolicited) to their e-mail list. I now get all their press releases the day before their posted on So I guess you can say that I have the ear of someone at UD.

So I forwarded our joint inquiry to Don Williams, UD PR Manager, and he in turn sent it to Gregg Kohn, UD's Baseball Product Manager. Kohn confirmed that the three UD cards (Daisuke Matsuzaka, Kei Igawa, and Akinori Iwamura) that were inserted in Spectrum, "will be the same 3 cards that will be part of the 20 card redemption set." As for the other seventeen rookies, well, I did some fishing on the UD website, and lo and behold, I found out who those players are!
501 Daisuke Matsuzaka
502 Kei Igawa
503 Akinori Iwamura
504 Alex Gordon
505 Matt Chico
506 John Danks
507 Elijah Dukes
508 Gustavo Molina
509 Joakim Soria
510 Jay Marshall
511 Travis Buck
512 Don Kelly
513 Kevin Cameron
514 Jared Burton
515 Kory Casto
516 Joe Smith
517 Jose Garcia
518 JD Durbin
519 Jamie Burke
520 Zack Segovia

So there you go. If you were lucky to pull the redemption card, you're getting a Dice-K Rookie Card AND an Alex Gordon. Thanks for the question Joe!

Box Break and Review: 2007 Topps series 2

One Hobby box of 2007 Topps Series Two (paid $55)
36 packs per box, ten cards per pack (MSRP $1.99)

The Details:

Base Set: 331 cards (no short-prints)

Red Letters: 331 cards
Gold: 331 cards (1:11/packs, #2007)
* 1st Edition: 331 cards (1:36)
Platinum: 331 cards (1:24,000, one-of-one)
Variations: seven cards (1:30)

* Topps Stars: 15 cards (1:9)
Opening Day: 15 cards (1:12)
Trading Places: 25 cards (1:9)
Home Run Derby Contest: 50 cards (1:177, #999)
The Mickey Mantle Story: 15 cards (1:18)
Distinguished Service: ten cards (1:12)

Mirrored Inserts:
Mickey Mantle Home Run History: 100 cards (1:9)
Generation Now: 194 cards (1:4)
The Streak: 56 cards (1:9)
* The Streak Before The Streak: 61 cards (1:9)
AROD Road to 500: 25 cards (1:36)

Highlight Autographs: 35 cards
Trading Places Autographs: ten cards (1:3055)
Generation Now Autographs: 194 cards (1:94,000, one-of-one)
AROD Road to 500 Autographs: 25 cards (1:750,000, one-of-one)
Highlight Relics: 35 cards
Trading Places Relics: ten cards (1:2435)
Mickey Mantle Home Run History Relic: 100 cards (1:12,106, #7)
1953 Mickey Mantle Reprint Relic: one card (1:199,750, #53)
Distinguished Service Cut Signatures: 58 cards (1:165,000, one-of-one)

* Hobby Only

The Pulls:

Base Set: 241 of 331 (72.81%)

72 Red Letters
4 Golds: Jeff Weaver, J. Seo, T. Tankersley, W. Bloomquist
1 1st Edition: T. Hoffman
1 Variation: P. Lo Duca

4 Topps Stars: D. Wright, Pujols, Dice-K, M. Cabrera
3 Opening Day: NYM-STL, ATL-PHL, WAS-FLA
4 Trading Places: J. Conine, G. Sheffield, S. Hillenbrand, W. Helms
2 Mickey Mantle Story
3 Distinguished Service: DiMaggio, W. Spahn, Musial

Mirrored Inserts:
4 Mickey Mantle Home Run History: 321, 345, 355 & 368
9 Generation Now: A Either, Zimmerman (2), H. Ramirez (3), N. Markakis, N. Swisher (2)
4 The Streak: 18, 19, 37 & 47
4 The Streak Before The Streak: 53, 54, 55 & 56
1 AROD Road to 500: 225

Autogamers: NONE

The Review:

After the disaster of 2007 Bowman, I needed something a rip that didn't suck. Thank God for the second series of 2007 Topps.

The base set is exactly one card greater that the first series -- Topps was able to tack on Barry Bonds at the tail end with card #661. Bonds is joined by 260 other veterans, fourteen Team Cards, a nice panoramic photo of Royals Stadium, fifteen managers, a couple dozen MLBPA approved "Rookies," and a gaggle of multi-player cards.

Among those rookies include a pair of Japanese pitchers: Daisuke Matsuzaka and Kei Igawa. But the key rookie card in Topps 2 is the first-real-honest-to-God-and-this-time-we-really-mean-it-because-he's-actually-played-in-a-Major-League-game rookie card of Alex Gordon. Yes, sixteen months after Topps jumped the gun, '07 Topps 2 has the first legit "Rookie Card" of Gordon -- and you won't have to shell out $7500 to get one, like "you-know-who."

As an added twist to the second series -- or perhaps an attempt to cash in on the buzz created by the Derek Jeter card in the first series -- Topps has made variation cards for six players: Yadier Molia, Jim Thome, Jason Bay, Paul Lo Duca, and the aforementioned Gordon and Matsuzaka. For Molina, Bay, Thome, Lo Duca, and Gordon, the "variation" is that the player's facsimile autograph has been deleted. For Dice-K, there are two additional versions of his card to be on the lookout for. On both variations, his foil-stamped name is printed in Japanese characters. One version has his facsimile autograph, the other doesn't. According to information I've been able to scrounge up, the Dice-K's are scarcer than the other five variations, and the "no autograph" version is tougher to find then the "autographed" one.

The "Red Letter" parallels return, and although I despise the existence of these "stealth" parallels, I'd be just as disappointed if Topps omitted them from the second series. There's something to be said for brand consistency -- even if it is stupid.

Speaking of stupidity, there are five, count 'em, five "mirrored" insert sets in '07 Topps 2 -- which I believe is some sort fo record. The Mickey Mantle and Alex Rodriguez homer mirrors continue, as do another 194 Generation Now cards. And since Joe DiMaggio is now in the Topps camp, naturally, they had to make a mirror set for him as well. In this case, two.

The 56-card "The Streak" mirror set commemorates Joe-D's 56-game hitting streak in 1941, while the 61-card "The Streak Before The Streak" (TSBTS) honors a 61-gamer he had in the minors in 1933. Unfortunately, as with the Josh Gibson mirrors in the first series, the TSBTS mirrors give no specific details regarding Joe-D's exploits in that particular game. With the exception of a large number on both sides of the card, all 61 cards in the set are exactly the same. You've seen one TSBTS, you've seen them all.

As for non-mirrored inserts, all your favorites from the second series of last year's Topps return: Topps Stars, Trading Places and Opening Day. Although, in this reviewer's opinion, the Trading Places cards would probably be best suited for the Traded, errr..., Updates and Highlights set. There's another 15-card Mickey Mantle hero worship set (these done in the style of the '53 Topps set), and another batch of Distinguished Service inserts.

The Bottom Line:

In my review of the first series, I recommended getting an HTA box. I tried to find one but was unable to, so I had to settle for Hobby. Just like the first series, the second series Hobby yielded about 70% of the base set -- which would have been more if not for those pesky Red Letter parallels. All other inserts, mirrors, and parallels ran accordingly.

On the surface, pulling 116 inserts out of a 36-pack box would seem to be a good thing. Unfortunately, when 78 of them are parallels and 22 are mirrors, it actually sucks.

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

... and another thing

As Ben Henry points out, Jose Guillen's card features the picture of his Mariners teammate Yuniesky Betancourt. This appears to be an uncorrected error.

Friday, June 15, 2007

The End of an Era at Beckett

Bob Brill reports that Rich Klein has left Beckett Baseball. Klein spent 17 years at Beckett/Aprise, and speaking as a collector, he will be missed.

Tuesday, June 12, 2007

The Stale Gum Interview: The Card author Michael O'Keeffe

A few days ago, much to my suprise, I received an e-mail from The Card co-author Michael O'Keeffe. I had the opportunity to ask him a few questions about his book, and below is the transcript of our exchange.

Chris Harris: First off, I really enjoyed The Card. Well done. However I have a few questions I'd like to ask. Some of these questions may seem repetitive, but I ask them for the benefit of those who read my blog and not Ben Henry's.

One of the more significant revelations in your book is at the very end. You state on page 204 that before Brian Siegel sold The Card he had had it "reholdered." Could you go into a little more deatil about this? Specifically, which company graded it, and what is The Card's new grade?

Michael O'Keeffe: The card was not regraded -- simply put in another holder. Sorry if there was confusion over this.

CH: As I mentioned in my mini-review of your book, Michael Gidwitz seems like the kind of guy you'd want to have a couple of beers with. What was it like to interview him, and how impressed were you at his collection?

MOK: Mike Gidwitz is a great guy. Unfortunately, I did not have the opportunity to have a few beers with him, but I'm sure it would be a blast.

Mike strikes me as a guy who is very passionate and very committed to what he does, whether it's collecting cards, sheets of cards or Mad magazine-related art. He seems very loyal to his friends -- I really do believe he'd give Rob Lifson an organ if Rob needed a translplant. He's very loyal to his secretary and other people who work for him -- he strikes me as a great boss.

Mike loves to have fun and he's not afraid of what other people might say about him as he pursues his passions. He's a bigger-than-life personality. One of the best things about this book was hanging out for a day with Mike. I can't say enough nice things about him.

CH: What do you think Honus Wagner's ultimate legacy will be: The greatest shortstop of the pre-War era, or the guy whose picture is on a $2 million baseball card?

MOK: Unfortunately, I think more people know about Honus because of his card instead of his accomplishments. As we wrote in the book, that's a shame because he was such a talented, rounded athlete. He might be the best player in baseball history. His only statistical deficiency is home runs, but remember, he played in the dead ball era, and he played at a time when managers stressed moving the runners, not the long ball. He is still widely regarded as the best shortstop ever. He played every position but catcher -- he even pitched and served as player/manager a few times. Unfortunately for Honus, he played before radio, TV and film -- and unlike Ty Cobb, he was an easy-going guy who didn't generate a lot of controversy.

Sunday, June 10, 2007

Box Break and Review: 2007 Bowman HTA

One HTA Box of 2007 Bowman (paid $100)
12 packs per box, 32 cards per pack.

The Details

Chiptoppers: One Signs of the Future autographed card*, and a "Scouting Report" checklist.

Base Set: 236 cards

Short Set: 220 cards
*Autographed Rookie Cards: 16 cards (1:25)

Prospects: 135 cards (eight per pack)

Short Set: 110 cards
*Autographed Prospects: 25 cards (1:16)

A-Rod Road to 500: 50 cards (1:2)

# Gold: 330 cards (one-per-pack)
# Blue: 330 cards (1:3/packs, numbered to 500)
# Orange: 330 cards (1:6, #250)
# Red: 330 cards (1:1400, one-of-one)
# Press Plates: 330 cards (1:212)
Chrome Prospects: 110 cards (six-per-pack)
Chrome Prospects Refractors: 110 cards (1:8, #500)
Chrome Prospects X-Fractors: 110 cards (1:15, #275)
Chrome Prospects Blue Refractors: 110 cards (1:27, #150)
Chrome Prospects Gold Refractors: 110 cards (1:80, #50)
Chrome Prospects Orange Refractors: 110 cards (1:160, #25)
Chrome Prospects Red Refractors: 110 cards (1:799, #5)
Chrome Prospects Superfractors: 110 cards (1:4,073, one-of-one)
* Blue Autographed Rookies: 16 cards (1:60, #500)
* Orange Autographed Rookies: 16 cards (1:119, #250)
* Red Autographed Rookies: 16 cards (1:27,000, one-of-one)
* Blue Autographed Prospects: 25 cards (1:38, #500)
* Orange Autographed Prospects: 25 cards (1:77, #250)
* Red Autographed Prospects: 25 cards (1:19,252, one-of-one)
* Autographed Print Plates: 41 cards (1:1150)


A-Rod Road to 500 Autographed: 25 cards (1:11,000*, one-of-one)

* Three autographs per box.
# Parallels include all 220 non-autographed base set cards and all non-autographed 110 Prospects "inserts."

The Pulls

Each 32 card pack contains:

Sixteen base set cards
Eight Prospects "inserts"
One Gold parallel
Five Chrome Prospects parallels
Either a sixth Chrome Prospect or a Chrome Prospects Refractor
Either a 17th base set card, a parallel, or an autographed card.

Signs of the Future Chiptopper: J. Brown

Base Set: 180 of 236 (76.27%)
Seven doubles
Three damaged cards

Short Set: 180 of 220 (81.82%)
Autographed Rookies: 0 of 16

Prospects: 96 of 135 (71.11%)
One double

Short Set: 95 of 110 (86.36%)
1 Autographed Prospect: C. Willems

6 A-Rod Road to 500s

12 Golds
4 Blues: J. Posada, J. Beckett, F. Thomas, J. Litsom
2 Oranges: L. Overbay, R. Mullins
68 Chrome Prospects
2 Chrome Prospect Refractors: G. Mejia, B. Davis
1 Chrome Prospect X-Fractor: J. Vasquez
1 Chrome Prospect Gold Refractor: J. Garthwaite
1 Blue Autographed Prospect: A. Ottavino

The Review:

2007 Bowman is essentially the same product as last year, and that should not be taken as a complement. In reviewing last year's Bowman, I posed the rhetorical question: "Will (Bowman) continue to be the 'Home of the Rookie Card?' Or is it destined to become just another set with dozens of short-prints?" Unfortunately, Topps has answered my question with the latter.

A quick glance at the checklist, and (with the exception of Dice-K and Andrew Miller), there really aren't any "buzz" rookies -- or "Prospects" for that matter. Most of the "Rookies" (i.e. the "Green" cards) are "parenth-RCs," and most of the Prospects (i.e. the "Blue" cards) aren't really all that great. Considering he was every Bowman product last year, the exclusion of Alex Gordon is understandable. But Tim Lincecum's also not in the set, and as I mentioned before, Luke Hochevar is prominently displayed on each wrapper, but does not actually appear in 2007 Bowman.

So who is actually in 2007 Bowman? As with most Bowman Prospects, most of these guys probably won't about to much. But you knew that already. What's surprising are the Autographed Prospects. Most of the guys who signed have already been in previous Bowman Products. Kyle Drabek and Evan Longoria were both in last year's Bowman Draft Picks & Prospects, and Jarrod Saltalamacchia's first Bowman card was four years ago! But there they are, in the 2007 Bowman Autographed Prospects set.

If there is one change to '07 Bowman, is that the Prospects are all white bordered. I guess it's to distinguish them from the base set cards. I don't know about you, but the whole "black-bordered with red, green, or blue highlights" design Bowman has reused for the last decade was getting a bit tedious. However, it should be noted, that all the Autographed Prospects and the Chrome Prospect parallels remain black bordered.

The Bottom Line:

With the recent news from the MLBPA that the number of 2008 products will be reduced from 20 to 17, may I make a suggestion? It may be time for Topps (or the MLBPA) to put Bowman to rest, once and for all. I know what your thinking. Dump Bowman? While this may not be popular in The Hobby, nonetheless, it should be given some consideration. With the MLBPA's "Rookie Card" rules, Bowman is just not the same product as it was. The inclusion of autographed cards and the bundling with BowChro may have led to increased sales among the "Chromies," but at what cost?

The MLBPA dropping Donruss wasn't all that popular either, and in looking back in retrospect, it was probably the best thing to happen to The Hobby in a long while. Whether it be Michael Eisner, or Upper Deck, or someone else, whoever winds up owning Topps, should seriously consider the future of this product line.

This HTA box yielded a little over 80% of both the short base set and the Prospects short set. There were a few doubles, and a couple of cards that came out of the pack with large print dots. All the parallels came as promised, and I received the stated "3 Autographed Cards Per Box" -- which is the main selling point of HTA.

Buyer beware: although you do get two more autographs in HTA (as opposed to Hobby), one of those is a "Signs of the Future" chiptopper, and another is an autographed parallel. Reports from other collectors confirm that about every HTA box has one SOTF, a regular autograph, and a parallel autograph. In other words, you get the same number of regular base set/Prospects autographs in Hobby as you do in HTA.

This particular box had a SOTF of Indians' farm hand Jordan Brown, a Blue parallel of Adam Ottavino (St. Louis' first-rounder last year), and a regular Autographed Prospect of Atlanta first-rounder Colton Willems.

If you're into autographed parallel cards -- and hey, who isn't? -- then HTA is for you. If not, and you absolutely have to have 2007 Bowman, save yourself the forty extra bucks, and go for a regular hobby box.

Product Rating: 2 Gumsticks (out of five)

Wednesday, June 06, 2007

1st Impressions: 2007 SP Rookie Edition

One thing that's been missing in The Hobby over the last few years -- what with gimmicked rookies and all -- have been products that cater to both "high end" collectors AND set builders. If you really think about it, there haven't been many products that fit both descriptions since the mid-90s. Well, worry no more. Upper Deck has reconfigured SP (if you still consider SP to be "high end) into such a product. "2007 SP Rookie Edition" will contain a base set of 268 cards, and not a single one is short printed. There is a catch though.

The base set will have 100 veterans (cards #1-100) and 42 MLBPA approved "rookies (#101-142). The remaining base cards will all feature the same 42 rookies, but on different designs. For example, cards #143-#184 will copy the design of 1993 SP; #185-226 will mimic '95 SP; and #227-#268 will use the layout of '96 SP. Each eight card pack will yield four rookies: one from each year.

In addition, each 14-pack box will yield two autographed cards -- which are essentially parallels of the rookies.

Yeah, the whole reprint thing is a bit gimmicky. But at least you'll be able to do something that you haven't done since 1998: collect the SP base set.

Street Date: August 29th. Eight cards per pack, 14 packs per box. MSRP is $4.99/pack.

Ben Henry Interviews Michael O'Keeffe

I don't know how he did it, but Ben Henry snared an exclusive interview with The Card author Michael O'Keeffe. Very good insights about Bill Mastro, Ray Edwards and John Cobb, and the state of The Hobby media. Check it out.

Sunday, June 03, 2007

The Card. A Review.

  1. At times, I felt like I had already read this book.
  2. And in fact, I did... When it was called Card Sharks. The whole "Marvin Money" chapter seems like it was lifted straight from Pete Williams' 1995 book. Granted, O'Keeffe gives Williams credit. And I suppose that -- given the lack of books written about The Hobby -- there really aren't all that many sources to quote. But still the best book written about the history of The Hobby remains Card Sharks, and if you haven't read it yet, you should.

  3. Michael Gidwitz is a guy that I'd like to have a beer with.

  4. Or two. Or ten. If you haven't checked out Gidwitz's website, you ought to. It's a fun way to kill a couple of hours.

  5. Keith Olbermann has restored my "faith" in professional grading services.

  6. Let me state for this record: I've never "got" grading. I've never had any of my cards graded, and I've purchased three slabbed cards in my life -- all of which I immediately cracked open.

    The best quote in The Card comes from the infamous, deplorable, one himself on page 87:

    "' You want to know what I think of slabbers?' (Olbermann) asked. 'Homer Simpson is the safety expert at the Springfield nuclear plant. That's what I think of slabbers.'"

  7. They did what to The Card?

  8. Perhaps the biggest revelation in The Card, is at the very end. On page 204:

    "(Brian) Seigel sells The Card, which he has had reholdered and is no longer known as the Gretzky T206 Honus Wagner, to an anonymous collector for $2.35 million."
    So he had The Card regraded? And if so, who slabbed it, and what grade did it receive?

    Saturday, June 02, 2007

    Guess who's NOT in 2007 Bowman?

    Here's your one, and only, hint.

    Luke Hochevar, MIA

    You know, you just gotta hand it to the Topps marketing department. Putting last year's number one overall draft pick on all the wax boxes and pack wrappers is one thing. But it takes balls to put last year's number one overall draft pick on all the wax boxes and pack wrappers, AND NOT EVEN BOTHER TO PUT HIM IN THE ACTUAL PRODUCT!

    That's right. I've scanned the checklist three times, and could not find the name "Luke Hochevar" anywhere. He's not in the base set. He's not in the Prospects "inserts." And nor is he among the autographs.

    I just cracked an HTA box and will have a full box break sometime later this week. Let's just say that it won't be pretty.