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.

Saturday, August 25, 2007

THIRD SERIES! -- '08 TA&G Fanatasy Prototype Gallery

Now with a dozen more fake cards!

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."