Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Video Box Break and Review: 2003 Leaf

One Hobby Box of 2003 Leaf (paid $40)
24 packs per box, ten cards per pack

The Video

The Pulls

Base Set: 208 of 320 (65.00%)
18 Doubles


2 Red Press Proof (1:12) T. Glaus, T. Hunter
1 Blue Press Proof (numbered to 50) S. Hatteberg


2 Leaf Certified Samples (15 cards, 1:23) M. Piazza, R. Johnson
1 Leaf Certified Samples Certified Red (numbered to 150) R. Johnson
3 Leaf 60 (50 cards, 1:8) Ja. Giambi, G. Maddux, V. Guerrero
1 Home (10 cards, 1:34) C. Jones
2 Slick Leather (15 cards, 1:21) G. Maddux, J. Edmonds
2 Hard Hats (12 cards, 1:13) B. Williams, R. Palmeiro


1 Away Jersey (10 cards, numbered to 250) C. Jones
1 Shirt off my Back (20 cards, numbered to 500) V. Wells

Product Rating: 2 1/2 Gumsticks

Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Gummie Award Nominees


BARRINGTON, NJ, December 30, 2008 - The Baseball Card Writers Association of America (BCWAA) today have officially released the nominations for the 2008 Gummie Awards. On-line balloting will commence sometime in the New Year.

Product of the Year: Topps Allen & Ginter; Topps Heritage; UD Masterpieces; Topps Triple Threads; Upper Deck
Card of the Year: Topps Campaign '08 #BO, Barack Obama; UD Masterpieces #16, Jonathan Papelbon; Topps Heritage #81, Torii Hunter; Topps Future Stars #FS1, Kazuo Uzuki; Donruss Threads Bats #9, Shoeless Joe Jackson
Rookie Card of the Year: SP Authentic #121, Evan Longoria; Upper Deck #708, Kosuke Fukudome; Topps Campaign '08 #BO, Barack Obama; Topps Heritage #650, Evan Longoria; Topps Red Hot Rookie #1, Jay Bruce
Set of the Year: Upper Deck; Topps Allen & Ginter; UD Masterpieces; Topps Heritage; Topps
Best Insert Set: Topps Campaign '08; Topps Trading Card History; Topps Allen & Ginter Mini World Leaders; Upper Deck Goudey Berk-Ross Hit Parade of Champions; Donruss Threads Diamond Kings
Best Autogamer Set: Stadium Club Beam Team; Topps Allen & Ginter Framed Relics; Topps Heritage A Real One; Upper Deck Game Materials 1997; Razor Signature Autographs
Best "High End" Product: Topps Triple Threads; Upper Deck Premier; Topps Finest; Topps Sterling; Playoff Prime Cuts IV
Best Retro-Themed Product: Topps Allen & Ginter; Topps Heritage; Upper Deck Goudey; Upper Deck Timelines; Upper Deck Baseball Heroes
Best Prospect-Themed Product: Bowman Draft Picks & Prospects; Donruss Elite Extra Edition; Razor Signature; Upper Deck Team USA
Best Unlicensed Product: Donruss Threads; Playoff Prime Cuts IV; Razor Signature; Sportkings "B"; Donruss Elite Extra Edition
Worst Overall Product: Topps Moments & Milestones; Upper Deck X; Topps Co-Signers; Bowman; Upper Deck First Edition
Most Disappointing Product: Stadium Club; Topps; Topps Heritage High-Number Series; Upper Deck Timelines; Razor Signature
Most Meaningless Product: Topps Opening Day; Upper Deck First Edition; Bowman; Upper Deck X; Upper Deck Ballpark Collection
Worst Gimmick: Bowman Chrome #155c, Kosuke Fukudome "Unautographed-Autograph"; Upper Deck Yankee Stadium Legacy; Topps #661 Johan Santana "No-Hitter"; Topps #FS1 Kazuo Uzuki; Manufactured Letter Patch Cards
Best Hobby Blog: Cardboard Junkie; Ben Henry's Baseball Card Blog; Stale Gum; Sportscards Uncensored; Wax Heaven
Best Hobby News Source: Beckett; Wax Heaven; Sportscard Info; Sports Collector's Daily; Mannufacturer's Press Releases
Best Video Box Breaker: TomTheRipper407; ArmyATC22; TheBackstopDotNet; umiami89; chri5784
Hobby Rookie of the Year: Jay Bruce; Kosuke Fukudome; Evan Longoria; Johnny Cueto; Jed Lowrie
Hobby Top Prospect: Tim Beckham; Buster Posey; David Price; Matt Wieters; Rick Porcello
Hobby MVP: Albert Pujols; Derek Jeter; Alex Rodriguez; Daisuke Matsuzaka; Josh Hamilton
Jefferson Burdick Award for Contributions to The Hobby: Sy Berger; Ben Henry; DeWayne Buice; Keith Olbermann; Judge Clarence Newcomer

Sunday, December 28, 2008

Fear and Loathing in Delaware

Newark, the third largest city in the State of Delaware. Home to the State's flagship University. But we're not here to see the Fightin' Blue Hens. Our destination is the Aetna Fire Hall for a good old fashioned card show.

Shows like this were commonplace back in the 80s and 90s. The concept is simple: some local dealer rents out a conference room at a motel or fire hall, set up about 20-25 tables, and presto. Instant card show.

Santa Claus sent me one of those cheap battery-powered camcorders for Christmas, so I thought I'd use it to show you the scene. You know, video gonzo journalism. But the fascist at the door ordered me to put me camera it away.

I had to settle for shooting this in the parking lot.

All in all, a good way to kill a Sunday afternoon.

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

For $240...

... you can get one pack of Topps Sterling.

And that would be, a lot of Topps Sterling.

Or you can go all the way....

Awww, yeah!

Monday, December 22, 2008

The $250 EPIC FAIL.

First, go watch Beckett's break of two pack/boxes of Topps Sterling. (I'd post it here for your convince, they won't let me embed the video to this site.)

Go on, watch it.

While you watch, I'll keep myself entertained with this Tom the Ripper mash-up video.

Now, if you're a long-time Stale Gum reader, you've probably figured out that Topps Sterling is a product that isn't exactly geared toward my demographic. But if I paid $250 for a "pox" of Sterling, and my "big hit" is a framed multi-swatch jersey card of Tom Seaver numbered to ten copies, and the '69 on the frame WAS MOUNTED UPSIDE DOWN, I would not be a happy collector.

That is all.

Sunday, December 21, 2008

Video Box Break: 2008 Razor Signature

Tom the Ripper busts a box of Razor Signature. Hilarity ensues.

Things to look for...

1) A CGI light saber,

2) A retractable razor blade (Get it? A box of Razor being busted with a razor?),

3) Ten autographed trading cards of players you've never heard of -- and more than likely never will,

4) A snippet of an epic rant by Gellman at SCU,

5) A 1950s anti-alcohol educational film set to the music of Alice in Chains.

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

And now, for The 2008 Gummies, Barry Champlain.

You do not make perfect sense to me.

I am a hypocrite; I ask for sincerity and I lie.

I denounce The Hobby as I embrace it.

I want money and power and complete sets.

I want all the hot rookies and autographs, and I don't give a damn about you or The Hobby. That's the truth.

For this I could say I'm sorry, but I won't. Why should I? I mean who the hell are you anyway ... you "collectors?" You're on me every night like a pack of wolves cause you can't stand facing what you are and what's become of baseball card collecting. Yes, The Hobby is a terrible place, and yes, that's what junk products and bad gimmicks will get you. Yes, Upper Deck is bringing back UDX, yes, Topps is shot to hell and we're all goners!

Everything is screwed up and you like it that way, don't you? You're fascinated by the gory details.

Next month, millions of people are going to be reading the results of The 2008 Gummies, and YOU HAVEN'T SENT IN YOUR NOMINATIONS! Marvelous technology is at your disposal, but instead of reaching up to new heights and MAKING YOUR OPINION KNOWN we're going to see how far down we can go; how deep into the muck The Hobby can immerse itself.

You frighten me. What's wrong with you? Why aren't you voting in The Gummies?

This Hobby is in deep trouble people! It's rotten to the core and somebody better do something about it! Now I want you to take your hand out of that bowl of Freedo's, throw away your National Enquirer, and send in your nominations!

You heard Barry, get your Gummie Award nominations in now!

Saturday, December 13, 2008

2008 Gummie Awards: New Categories

By popular demand, the Baseball Card Writers Association of America (BCWAA) have created the following new categories for the 2008 Gummies.

Base "High End" Product
Best Unlicensed Product
Best Product for Prospects
Best YouTuber

Nominate your favorites now! Send your ballots to:

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

2008 Gummie Awards: Your Nominations Wanted!

NOTE: The is not the actual ballot, just your nominations. The final ballot will be issued sometime in January. Also, the Gummies are for BASEBALL CARDS ONLY.

Has it really been a year? Yes, sadly it has. 2008 is almost over and you all know what that means.

It's almost time for us, the members of The Baseball Card Writers Association of America (BCWAA), to honor the best (and worst) in The Hobby for 2008.

Send me your picks for each category below to by January 1, and stay tuned to this space sometime in the new year for the 47th Annual Gummie Awards and Beer Pong Tournament.


Product of the Year
Card of the Year
Rookie Card of the Year
Best Base Set
Best Insert Set
Best Autogamer Set
Best Retro Themed Product
Best Hobby Idea/Innovation
Worst Overall Product
Worst Base Set
Most Meaningless Product
Most Disappointing Product
Worst Insert Set
Worst Gimmick
Best Cardblog (You can't vote for your own!)
Best Hobby News Source (Again, you can't vote for own.)
Hobby MVP
Hobby ROY
Hobby Top Prospect
Jefferson Burdick Award for Contributions to The Hobby (this goes to a person)

Saturday, December 06, 2008

Video Box Break and Review: 2008 Topps Baseball Updates & Highlights Presents 2008 Topps Allen & Ginter Blaster

Base Set: 39 of 350
Short Set: 39 of 300
Short-Prints (1:2): 0 of 50
4 Minis: M. Kobayashi, R. Durham, E. Dukes, M. Scherzer
3 Black Bordered Minis (1:10): B. Jenks, A. Wainwright, A. Miller

4 U.S. States: S. Victorino, J. Maurer, T. Tankersley, S. McClung
1 World Leader (1:12): O. Arias Sanchez (Costa Rica)

Tuesday, December 02, 2008

Box Break and Review: 2008 Topps Allen & Ginter

One box of 2008 Topps Allen & Ginter (paid $65)
24 packs and one chiptopper per box, eight cards per pack.

The Pulls

1 N-43: Ichiro

Base Set: 124 of 350 (35.43%)
20 Doubles
Short Set: 111 of 300 (37.00%) with 17 Doubles
Short-Prints (1:2): 13 of 50 with 3 Doubles
7 Minis
2 SP Minis (1:13)
7 A&G Backs (1:5)
1 SP A&G Backs (1:65)
3 Black Bordered (1:10)

16 U.S. States with six doubles (50 cards, one-per-pack#)
2 World Leaders (50 mini cards*, 1:12) Mozambique, Spain
2 World's Icons (ten mini cards*, 1:48) The Sphinx, Quetzalcoatl
1 Pioneers of Aviation (five mini cards*) Piloted Glider

2 Framed Relics: A. Dunn, C. Crawford

* One mini per pack
$ Two of the following per box: Framed Autograph, Framed Relic, Framed Printing Plate, Framed 1887 Original, Cut Signature, 1 of 1 Relics
# One U.S. State insert or framed autogamer per pack

Did Not Receive
1 World's Greatest Victories insert (1:24)

The Review

If you don't like Allen & Ginter, you're an idiot.

That's all I have to say.

Product Rating: 4 Gumsticks (out of 5)

Monday, December 01, 2008

Box Break and Review: 2008 Topps Series 2 HTA

One HTA box of 2008 Topps Series Two (Paid $45)
10 packs per box, 46 cards per pack

The Pulls

Base Set: 330 of 330 (100%)
43 doubles

20 Gold Foils (two-per-pack)
5 Golds (1:2, numbered to 2008) W. Rodriguez, J. Payton, K-Rod, E. Chavez, J. Keppinger

10 Topps Stars (25 cards, one-per-pack) A-Rod, M. Ordonez, J. Morneau, J. Beckett, ManRam, J. Peavy, D. Ortiz, J. Reyes, M. Cabrera, M. Holliday
10 Trading Card History (25 cards, one-per-pack) V. Martinez, B. Webb, C. Beltran, R. Martin, P. Hughes, A. Dunn, R. Cano, J. Thome, C. Young (OF), C. Zambrano
10 Topps All-Rookie Team 50th Anniversary (55 cards, 1:5) C. Young, H. Okajima, R. Adams, D. Pedroia, C. Tracy, T. Wigginton, N. Johnson, R. Furcal, R. Durham, J. Cruz
10 Year in Review (60 cards, one-per-pack) CC Sabathia, C. Figgins, F. Thomas, D. Haren, B. Butler, R. Garko, J. Maurer, C. Young (P), J. Isringhausen, C. Crawford
10 Historical Campaign Match-Ups (55 cards, 1:6) 1796, 1804, 1852, 1860, 1868, 1888, 1892, 1916, 1936, 1952
3 Mickey Mantle Story (10 cards, 1:3)
1 Home Run Derby Contest (50 cards, 1:125, numbered to 999) L. Berkman
1 Red Hot Rookie Redemption (20 cards, 1:10) #4, KosFu

1 2007 Highlights Autographs: T. Tankersley
3 2007 Highlights Relics: D. Lee, D. Ortiz, D. Wright

* One Autograph and two Relics per box

The Review

2008 Topps Series Two went live six months ago. Now that the Stale Gum Topps Boycott over, I'm playing catch-up with all the Topps releases that I missed.

To refresh your memory, there were three things Topps did to Topps Series Two that I was either ambivalent about, or hated.

1) Each Hobby box would include either an autograph or a game used card, and each HTA box would yield three. Topps' stated reason for adding "hits" to its flagship was slow sales of first series Hobby boxes, but I disagreed.

Yes, pulling additional gamers is nice; but a product like Topps' flagship is, and always has been, a collector's set. Poor sales of '08 Series One Hobby (and of Series Two for that matter) had more to do with it being a lackluster product than the lack of a jersey card. The addition of more "hits" would make little, if any, difference. The fact that I purchased an HTA box for only $45 six months after it's release seems to confirm my view.

2) The establishment of the "Red Hot Rookie" redemption program also seems to have had little impact on box sales. The redemption rookie gimmick may appeal to the "high-end" hobbyist, but the concept never quite caught-on with the the traditional collector -- which is flagship Topps' demographic.

3) Gimmicks which backfired. Much virtual ink has been spilled on this blog (and others), so I won't repeat myself.

I picked up an HTA box, not because I wanted the three "hits," but because it was so cheap. I bought an HTA box for about the price of a regular Hobby box went for when Topps Two went live. I could have bought a regular Hobby box for $35 -- again for less than I was when it went live -- but with 100 more base cards and a crap-load of more inserts for only $10 more, going with HTA was a no-brainer.

So with three hits in an HTA box, what exactly did I get? I pulled a sticker autograph of Taylor Tankersley and three gamers: Derrick Lee, David Wright, and David Ortiz. (For the record, the Wright and Big Papi were both in the same pack.) The theme behind the autogamers is "2007 Season Highlights" and the Tankersley commemorates....

... I don't know. For some reason Topps thought that Tankersley's .179 OPP AVG against left-handed hitters in '07 is worthy of an autographed "Season Highlights" card. Ummm, yeah.

The three gamers celebrate more meaningful accomplishments: Lee reaching base in 32 straight games; Big Papi setting the single-season doubles record for DHes; and Wright breaking the Mets' single-season TB mark.

Now let's just say for a moment that you actually did buy this box just for the hits. Would you be happy with a Taylor Tankersley autograph, and three un-numbered jerseys?

If there's one thing I've always liked about HTA -- dating back to when Topps first introduced the HTA program back in '97 -- is that they're chock-full of inserts. You'll get at least five inserts and either a Gold Parallel or another insert in each pack. What a deal!

The inserts include extensions of the Trading Card History, Year in Review, and All-Rookie Team 50th Anniversary sets. In addition there are two inserts exclusive to the second series: Topps Stars and Historical Campaign Match-Ups. In each pack, I received one card from each of these sets. There's also another batch of Mickey Mantle hero worship cards and two exchange inserts: the aforementioned Red Hot Rookies and the Home Run Derby Contest.

The Bottom Line

The box yielded a full base set and a healthy stack of doubles. Given the size of the box, anything less than a complete set would be disappointing.

No, you can't find a legitimate Kosuke Fukudome rookie card in Topps Series Two. But I did get the next best thing: a KosFu Red Hot Rookie redemption (yay). It should be noted that these are the first on-line redemption cards Topps has issued. However unlike Upper Deck, the Topps redemptions do NOT have those lottery-esque scratch-off strips that conceal it the secret code. Keep this in mind if you see these cards for sale.

I did not pull any of the gimmick cards, nor did I expect to get one.

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

... and another thing

The front of the Lance Berkman Home Run Derby Contest insert I pulled says "If he wins, you win." However, if you examine the fine print on the back it reads, "If you receive a HRDC with player who wins, you have not won a prize."

... and yet another thing

For the second consecutive year, Yadier Molina is card #660. I don't know if someone at Topps really, really likes or really, really hates Molina.

Saturday, November 29, 2008

What I Observed (and got) at the White Plains Ass Slap: 11/29/08

Yes, it was White Plains weekend. And you know what, The Slap couldn't come soon enough. After all the turkey, bad football, and annoying relatives, a Saturday afternoon in White Plains was definitely in order.

For the first time in a long time, the show was in the basement of the Westchester County Center. The folks at JP's Rock Solid Promotions were punked out by a stamp and coin show, which booked the arena floor so into the basement we all went.

If you've never been to the basement of the Westchester County Center, consider yourselves lucky. It is the tenth circle of hell. Imagine the usual White Plains show, but compressed into a space the size of your typical middle school lunch room. Combine that with the atmosphere of a medium-security prison and you have a dreadful scene.

Now that I'm on the subject, for those of you that have small children or babies, do me a favor. Do not ever take your kid to a card show like White Plains. It's bad enough that you have to constantly run into other collectors while navigating the extremely narrow aisles. I don't need to be constantly running into your wife/girlfriend and your four-year-old. It's called a babysitter, look into it jerky.

In fact, when I'm dictator, my first decree will be that all children under the age of eight shall be prohibited from attending sports collectible shows.

As for the show, Jim Rice -- one of the show's autograph guests -- no-showed. Not that anyone seemed to care. (This is, after all, Yankee/Met country.) Now if this were a little further to the North and East, you would have heard about the riot already.

One of the regulars at White Plains (and at most other card shows in Northeast) is a dealer named Seymour. He always rents six tables and stacks them high with all the latest wax. I purchased a box of Allen & Ginter for $65 and an HTA box of Topps series two for $45 from him, but then the conversation turned to another Topps product.

"Say, are you collecting Stadium Club? I can cut you a deal. $175!"

The price tag on his stack of eight 2008 Stadium Club baseball boxes had already been marked down from $225 to $200 to $185. I replied, "Nah, that's alright."

"What's the matter, you don't like Stadium Club?"

"I like Stadium Club, just not 2008 Stadium Club. It's overpriced and uncollectible."

At this point Seymour lowered his voice and said, "You know what, you're right. But I'm stuck with all these boxes that aren't moving. You know, I have to wonder what Topps was thinking. It great that they brought back the Stadium Club name, but $25? For one pack? In this economy? And all those autographs? Who's gonna collect that?"

To which I said, "Yeah, sometimes I wonder too. I wonder if whoever came up with 2008 Stadium Club even collects baseball cards?"

He nodded his head in agreement.

After making this purchase, and bowling over about five stray toddlers, I went looking for cheap singles. White Plains is a Mecca for cheapskates like myself who rummage through the $1, $5, and $10 boxes. I picked out about $30 worth of 2006 and 2007 Bowman base set autographs and another $16 worth of various inserts from such boxes.

Other observations:

For the first time in my life, I witnessed perhaps the single greatest autographed insert card of the modern era: a 1992 Score The Franchise Triple-AU of of Stan Musial, Mickey Mantle, and Carl Yastrzemski. It didn't have a price tag, and I wasn't about to ask.

Some a-hole had packs of 1997 Metal Universe for $5 each. $5 for a pack of '97 Metal? Yep, $5. Why? Because it has an "A-ROD AUTOGRAPH!" Yes, 1997 Metal did have an on-card autograph of Alex Rodriguez. Too bad it was a redemption.

Another a-hole had a 1993 Donruss Don Mattingly (base card) for sale. It was graded PSA10 and he wanted $20 for it. First off, who the fuck sends '93 Donruss singles to be graded? And who the fuck would want to pay hard currency for a GRADED 1993 DONRUSS DON MATTINGLY BASE CARD?

Bowman Draft Picks & Prospects is live, but no one seems to care anymore. I didn't see a single waxbox sold.

The same can be said for the new unlicensed Donruss Elite.

I was tempted to buy a waxbox of 1992 Score Italian Soccer for $5, but thought better of it.

Total Spent on Cards: $156
Admission and Parking: $11
Tolls: $16.70
Grand Total: $183.70

Monday, November 24, 2008

Video Box Break and Review: 2008 Topps Baseball Updates & Highlights Presents 2008 Topps Heritage High Number Series Hobby

One Hobby box of 2008 Topps Heritage High Numbers (paid $65)
24 packs per box; six Heritage and two Updates & Highlights cards per pack

Part One

Part Two

The Pulls

1 Advertising Strip (one per box): D. Navarro/J. Crede/R. Ludwick
1 Buy-Back (1:2 boxes): S. Bilko

Base Set
Heritage High Numbers: 106 of 220 (48.18%)
Five Doubles
Short Set: 97 of 185 (52.43%)
Short Prints (1:3): 9 of 35
Updates & Highlights: 48 of 330 (14.55%)

15 Black Backs

8 Chrome (100 cards, 1:3, numbered to 1959) K. Wood, J. Soria, E. Longoria, J. Cueto, A. J. Pierzynski, D. Span, E. Aybar, M. Gonzalez
2 Chrome Refractors (100 cards, 1:11, numbered to 559) J. Wright, R. Barajas

2 Rookie Performers (15 cards, 1:12) M. Aviles, M. Scherzer
2 Then & Now (Ten cards, 1:12) L. Sherry/M. Lowell, L. Aparicio/O. Cabrera
2 Flashbacks (Ten cards, 1:12) KosFu, C. Delgado

1 Clubhouse Collection: C. Granderson

*Odds of finding an autograph or a gamer: 1:24

The Review

The one thing I always thought was missing from the Heritage brand was an update. Think about it. Imagine if the 2001 set had an Update with RCs of Albert Pujols and Ichiro? So it's great that Topps has finally gotten around to issuing "2008 Topps Baseball Updates & Highlights Presents 2008 Topps Heritage High Number Series" -- and yes, that's the full name.

The set contains 220 cards, and like most Update sets is heavily weighted towards rookies (KosFu, Jay Bruce, Evan Longoria, and the like). 35 of the cards are short-printed, and has become par-for-the-course for Heritage, it's up to you the collector to figure out which ones are SPed. There are also another 35 black-backed variations, and Chrome parallels for your collecting pleasure. Inserts include another batch of "Then & Nows" and "Flashbacks," and a 15-card "Rookie Performers" which replace the "New Age Performers." In addition, you get a autograph or a gamer in each box.

Each waxpack has two cards from the Updates & Highlights set. All of these cards are base cards. (Yay.)

The Bottom Line

The box yielded about half the base set, and each pack had either a black-back or an SP. All the inserts, including the Chromes, were as promised.

The big "hits" were an Evan Longoria Chrome and a Curtis Granderson game used pants card. (Although I'd hate to know what part of the pants it came from.)

Product Rating: 4 Gumsticks.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Monday, November 17, 2008

Blaster Break: 2008 Topps Updates & Highlights

Found a Blaster of TU&H at Target this evening. Why not?

One Blaster Box of 2008 Topps Updates & Highlights (Paid $19.99 + tax)
10 packs per box, eight cards per pack.

Base Set: 74 of 330 (22.42%)

1 Gold (1:7, numbered to 2008) J. Cabrera

1 2009 WBC Preview (1:9) Ichiro
1 Year in Review (1:6) D. Price
1 '86 Mets Ring of (Dis)Honor (1:18) H. Johnson
2 First Couples (1:6) Pierce, Ford

1 (one-per-box) M. Mulder

Yes I Hope They Die...

... and I hope they burn in hell.

Mmmm, mmmm.

Sunday, November 16, 2008

There is Nothing in the World...

... more helpless and irresponsible and depraved than a collector in the depths of an Andre Ethier binge.

And I knew I'd get into those rotten cards pretty soon.

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

1st Impressions: 2009 Topps

Yes, I know. Beckett posted the first prototypes last week. As an editorial decision, I've reserved judgment until somebody posted a sell sheet.

But now, the sell sheets are out. Here's what you'll find in 2009 Topps!

Base Set: 330 cards

Looks like another 660-card phone-it-in special from Topps. :-(

Legends of the Game: 17 variations (1:6 Hobby, one-per HTA pack)

Here's how this gimmick works. Card #1 in the base set is A-Rod, but the variation of #1 is Babe Ruth.

Gold: Numbered to 2009 (1:9 Hobby, 1:2 HTA)
Black: Numbered to 58
Platinum: 1/1
Silk: 100 card partial parallel, numbered to 50

With the exception of the every-other-pack Gold Foil, the parallels are unchanged.

Legends of the Game: 25 cards (1:6 Hobby, one-per HTA pack)
Turkey Red: 55 cards (1:4 Hobby, one-per HTA pack)
Ring of Honor: 25 cards (1:6 Hobby, one-per HTA pack)
World Baseball Classic Redemption: Ten cards (1:36 Hobby, 1:10 HTA)
Sketch Cards
Four separate ten-card retail-exclusive inserts.

I don't see a Mickey Mantle hero worship set anywhere on the sell sheet (Thank God).

Turkey Red is this year's "Continuity Insert."

Odd numbered cards #1-50 in the Ring of Honor insert will be given away at HTA stores. Even numbered cards will be inserted into packs.

Each Hobby box will contain a hit, and each HTA box will have three. Then again, if you're buying this JUST for the "Hits," well.....

Tuesday, November 04, 2008

More info on 2009 UD

  • Structure of the 500 card base set...
  • 400 veterans
    30 Rookies
    30 Team Leaders
    10 Season Highlights
    30 Team Checklists
  • I don't particularly understand the logic behind having BOTH a Team Leader AND a Team Checklist subset.

  • Joe DiMaggio is listed as card #0 on the provisional checklist. (Gimmicked SP? God I hope not.)

  • All 30 "Rookies" are of September call-ups with Tampa Bay's David Price being the "money card."

  • Each 20-card Hobby pack will have two insert cards. Assuming some of these are exclusive to retail, the complete list of inserts reads as follows:
    Gold Parallel (numbered to 99)
    StarQuest (25 cards, available in six different flavors)
    Rookie Debuts (30 cards, same checklist as the base set Rookies)
    '75 OPC (50 cards, 1:4/packs, available in regular and mini varieties)
    Rivals (25 cards)
    Greats of the Game (25 cards)
    USA 18U National Team (18 cards)
    USA Retrospectives (14 cards)
    20th Anniversary (1:2)
    Yankee Tedium Lunacy Update (1:4)
    MLB Documentary Update (1:4)

  • Each 16-pack Hobby waxbox will yield two jersey cards, one of which will be a multi-swatch card (double, triple, or quad) numbered to 199 copies or less.

  • One autographed gamer and a patch card per 12-box case.

Monday, November 03, 2008

1st Impressions: 2009 Upper Deck Series One

UPDATED: Wax Heaven has pictures.

Look at what I found on Dave and Adam's.

500 card base set
Two jerseys and an autograph in a box
1975 OPC inserts

Images of the cards when they become available.

Friday, October 31, 2008

Ladies and Gentlemen, Chutley...

From the looks of it, I don't think Uncle Cholly likes Chutley's potty mouth.

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Something I'll cherish forever.

At the end of the eighth inning, I drove over to my 86-year-old grandpop's house -- a tad bit tired to be sure, but this is something I was waiting 25 years for.

After grandmom died, grandpop lives by himself and, considering his age, this might be his last chance to see a winner.

I arrived just in time to see Longoria pop-out to Chutley.

I asked my grandpop if I can turn down the sound on the TV and turn on radio.

I needed to hear the voice of Harry Kalas call these last two outs.

Then Zobrist lined out to Werth.

And then Lidge struck out Hinske.

Saturday, October 25, 2008

Video Box Break and Review: 2008 Topps Updates & Highlights Hobby

One Hobby box of 2008 Topps Updates & Highlights (paid $49)
36 packs per box, 10 cards per pack.

Part One

Part Two

Part Three

The Pulls

Base Set: 308 of 330 (93.33%)

1 Chrome Refractor Rookie (55 cards, one-per-box): M. Macri
18 Gold Foils (1:2)
7 Gold (1:5, numbered to 2008 copies): S. Casey, R. Brignac (RC), C. Izturis, G, Sherrill, J. de la Rosa, B. Zobrist, D. Uggla All-Star

2 Mickey Mantle Story (10 cards, 1:18)
5 2009 World Baseball Classic (25 cards, 1:9) A. Gonzalez, Pujols, K-Rod, Chin-Lung Hu, KosFu
6 Year in Review (58 cards, 1:6) M. Teixeira, Glavine, C. Buchholz, B. Phillips, J. Thome, D. Wells
2 1986 Mets Ring of (Dis)Honor (10 cards, 1:18) R. Darling, D. Gooden
2 Ring of Honor (11 cards, 1:18) L. Aparicio, D. Snider
6 First Couples (41 cards, 1:6) Grant, Hayes, Garfield, Reagan, Bush (41), Clinton
1 Take Me Out to the Ballgame (one card, 1:72)

1 All-Star Stitches (64 cards, 1:44*) D. Navarro

*Overall odds of finding any autograph or gamer: 1:36/packs.

And Now A Special Comment.

There. I did it.

For the first time in nearly five months, I've purchased a Topps product.

Please do not construe my actions as some sort of endorsement of Topps' recent actions -- especially regarding their flagship baseball brand. It's just that some gimmicks are (to sound a bit Orwellian) a little more equal than others.

Beauty queen politicians and manufactured fake-error cards? Those I can live with -- provided they do not screw with the integrity of the rest of product, especially the base set. If you are able to ignore the gimmicks, you can pull actual rookie cards of Evan Longoria, Jay Bruce, KosFu, et al, out of a pack of 2008 Topps Updates & Highlights. (In fact, I pulled all three from this particular waxbox.)

What I have zero-tolerance for is bullshit.

Poley Walnuts, Kazuo Uzuki, and Johan Santana's "no-hitter" were all bullshit and everyone knew it. But what puzzles this collector/fake journalist are these three little letters. Why?

Why is Topps doing this?

Seriously, Topps: What the H-E-Double-Hockey-Sticks are you thinking? (Or are you even thinking at all?)

But the lack of respect Topps has shown hobbyists with these gimmicks in this foul Year of our Lord Two-Thousand and Eight, is not what bothers me.

Really, it doesn't. There have been other trading card companies that failed to take The Hobby seriously, and in the end they got what they deserved (i.e. Pinnacle).

What bothers me is the lack of respect Topps has shown to itself and to the legacy of the Topps flagship.

57 years of history may not mean much to the current "Powers That Be" at Topps; but they mean something to this collector/fake journalist.

Topps Baseball is a slice of Americana (and not the Donruss kind) that dates back to 1952. It's an American institution that appeals to everyone from the hardcore collector, to the casual hobbyist, to the new father whose only cardboard-related purchase of the entire year is a Topps factory set he bought at the Wal-Mart so he can pass it down to his newborn son someday.

Topps Baseball is a product that needs no gimmicks. It's history IS it's gimmick. It's "Heritage," if you will.

But sadly, The Powers That Be at Topps feel that that no longer matters. Hence, the fake cards of fake players, and politicians Photoshopped into the Yankee Stadium grandstands.

But believe it or not, I could live with all of this. After all, I have a very high tolerance for BS. But what really sent this collector over-the-edge, was Topps' handling of the Kosuke Fukudome "Rookie" in Topps Series Two. If Topps wanted to pull KosFu's RC from Topps 2 at the last minute and save it for TU&H, fine. Nor did I have an issue with Topps replacing it with a short-printed non-rookie KosFu. What really pissed me off was the fact that Topps did these things WITHOUT bothering to tell anyone until well after the product had been released.

And so with that, I stopped.

It was this despicable act of bait-and-switch that led me to cease collecting any new Topps baseball products. That is until now.

Regardless of where you stand, I hope this is something all collector's can agree on: Card companies have the obligation to inform collectors of what exactly is in their products before they are released. Topps told us all via their website that there would be a rookie card of Kosuke Fukudome in the second series of 2008 Topps Baseball; but then the product went live, and there was no KosFu RC to be found. Topps lied to us all and didn't come clean until weeks later with a press release.

So Topps, if you are reading this (and judging from the list IP addresses tracked by my web host, I know you are), please, I beg of you; SHOW SOME FREAKING RESPECT FOR THE HOBBY, FOR COLLECTORS, AND FOR YOURSELVES! You're gimmicking away 57 years of history and tradition, and for what?

Please! Stop it with the gimmicks. Put some additional effort into your product -- especially your flagship. (Last year, I posted some suggestions on "How to Fix Topps Baseball." Go back and read it.) And tell us what's in your product, before you release it.

(Upper Deck, you might want to take this last point into advisement as well.)

I'm willing to let by-gones be by-gones (for now). But make no mistake Topps, you are still "On Notice."

And with that, I leave you with this. If the main drawing card (no pun intended) of a particular product (any product) is a gimmick, then what does that say about the rest of the product?

If The Powers That Be at Topps continue to feel that their annual flagship needs a gimmick, then what does that say about Topps Baseball?

The Review

TU&H is what it is, the third series of 2008 Topps baseball. The last few years, TU&H was released in late-November, but this year it's out in October; meaning that the postseason highlight cards that have been a staple of TU&H are the only thing missing from the base set, and is 100% varmint-free.

Inserts include a continuation of the 2007 Year in Review, a 25-card World Baseball Classic set, and a 41-card set of every President and his Missus. About the only thing good I have to say about that last one is, thankfully, we'll not have to put up with cards of politicians much longer.

The cornerstone of the insert program is "Ring of Honor;" a concept that debuted in Topps Football. Unfortunately, Topps chose to honor the '86 Mets, one of the most dishonorable World Series teams ever.

Oh yeah, you get an autograph or a game jersey card, and a Chrome Rookie Refractor in each waxbox.

The Bottom Line

Hopefully, this is the start of Topps Baseball's long redemption. I got over 90% of a base set with no doubles, and I received an additional WBC insert (both the Pujols and KosFu WBC's were in the same pack).

The designated one-per-box game-used card was an "authentic event-worn piece of a 2008 MLB All-Star festivities" (read: batting practice) jersey card of Tampa Bay catcher Dioner Navarro. For the record, I ripped this box on the day of Game Three of the Phillies/Rays World Series. I hope this isn't bad karma.

By one-per-box Chrome Refractor Rookies was of Matt Macri, a 26 year-old third-baseman from the Twins. (Yay.)

Box Rating: 3 1/2 Gumsticks (out of five)
Product Rating: 3 Gumsticks

... and another thing.

My favorite card I pulled, and perhaps my favorite card I've pulled this year, is #UH6. Yamid Haad is a career minor-leaguer who played one game for the '99 Pirates and seventeen games for San Francisco in '05. The 30 year-old catcher started the 2008 season with the Triple-A Buffalo Bisons and on June 12th, he got the call.

One week later Cleveland signed veteran backup catcher Sal Fasano and sent Yamid back to Buffalo without getting as much as an at-bat.

Even though Yamid Haad didn't play a single inning for the 2008 Indians, it didn't stop Topps from commemorating his seven days with the Tribe with his own Topps baseball card.

Laugh all you want, but Yamid cashed a Major League paycheck this year, and you didn't.

Friday, October 24, 2008

Video Box Break and Review: 1999 Upper Deck PowerDeck

This waxbox sent to me by Russ from The House of Cardboard for winning the baseball card bloggers fantasy league. So far, he's the sole person to send me my winnings.

One box of 1999 Upper Deck PowerDeck
24 packs per box, two paper cards (a.k.a. "Auxiliaries") plus one baseball card sized CD-ROM per pack.

The Video

The Pulls

Base Set
CD-ROMS: 18 of 25 (72.00%)

Auxiliaries: 24 of 25 (96.00%)
13 Doubles
3 Triples
2 Quads

1 Season to Remember (One CD-Rom, packaged as a chiptopper) M. McGwire
4 Powerful Moments (Six CD-Roms, 1:7) S.Sosa, C. Ripken, Jr., K. Griffey, Jr., A-ROD
1 Time Capsule (Six CD-Roms, 1:23) K. Griffey, Jr.

3 Powerful Moments (Six Cards, 1:7) D. Jeter, A-Rod (2)
1 Time Capsule (Six cards, 1:23) NOE-MAH!!!

Parallels: NONE

Autogamers: NONE

The Review

1999 Upper Deck PowerDeck was one of the more, shall we say, unique baseball card sets ever made. PowerDeck is a product that revolves not around baseball cards, but baseball CD-ROMs. Each three "card" pack contained two regular baseball cards (or "Auxiliaries" as UD calls them here) and a CD-ROM die-cut to the size of a standard-sized trading card.

The concept of merging the traditional, humble baseball card, with the technology of the day, was nothing new. In 1962 and again in '64, Columbia Records in association with the makers of Milk Duds candy, issued a set called Auravsion which featured the images of baseball players pressed onto 33 1/3 RPM records. When placed on a turntable, each Auravision "card" played a brief interview with the subject. Earlier in the 90s, both Topps and Donruss experimented with CD-ROM-based trading card products of their own (Cybr Cards and VxP, respectively). And in a way, Topps' new social networking website Topps Town continues this convergence of technology and cardboard.

'99 PowerDeck was not Upper Deck's first experiment with a cyber-savvy trading card. A year earlier it randomly inserted into specially marked packs of 1998 Series One an audio CD die-cut to the size of a trading card. Collectors who received this "card" could then mount it onto a special tray that was packed as a chiptopper into each waxbox, insert the tray into any CD player, and hear a five-minute interview of UD spokesjock Ken Griffey, Jr.

By 1999 the technology had advanced enough to include video as well as audio onto these CD-ROMs and UD felt the time was right for a stand-alone PowerDeck product.

The base set consisted of only 25 CD-ROMs (one for each player), and each CD-ROM corresponds with a paper-based Auxiliary (i.e. Card and CD-ROM #1 in both sets is Ken Griffey, Jr.; #2 is Mark McGwire; and so on). The same is true for each of the three different insert sets.

Each CD-ROM has game clips, sounds, photos, and sortable career stats of the featured players -- which in 1999 (provided you had a Pentium-based rig with 133MHz, 12MB of RAM, a 4X CD-ROM drive and a Sound Blaster compatible sound card) was cutting edge. Popping a few of these into my laptop, it seems almost Precambrian.

The PowerDeck concept never really caught on, although the suggested retail price of $5/pack may have had a little something to do with it's failure. And although a second series of PowerDecks was released in 2000, UD has yet to issue another.

The Bottom Line

Collation was par-for-the-course with most late 90s UD products -- that is, dreadful. I received two copies of the same Alex Rodriguez Powerful Moments Auxiliary insert, and four copies each of Mo Vaughn and Chipper Jones' Auxiliary base cards.

If you're looking for something different to bust, and don't want to spend a lot of money, then try a box of 1999 Upper Deck PowerDeck. You can bust worse.

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

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Ummm, nevermind. (UPDATE #2)

UPDATE #2: A second upside-down Jay Bruce RC has shown up on eBay; however, no other gimmicks the likes of which we saw in Topps 1 & 2, A&G, BowChro, or Heritage have yet to appear. All of which leads to the question: Should I consider these gimmick cards? Stealth variations? Or actual error cards?

Or do you even care either way?

UPDATE: The Cardboard Junkie thinks that these two error cards may not be legit. After further review, and until more of these begin to make their way onto eBay, I yield to The Junkie's judgment.

Well, that didn't take long.

(H/T Holy Hitter of SCU)

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

The countdown is on.

The Chris Harris Topps Boycott is well into it's fourth month, but it may be coming to an end. According to The Cardboard Junkie, it appears that 2008 Topps Updates & Highlights is now live.

Here's the deal: If it appears that Topps didn't include any stealth gimmick cards in TU&H, then two weeks from today I will buy and bust a box of it.

If on the other hand, if there are any cards of furry creatures, contrived errors, or cards of fictional teenage prospects, then it continues.

Upper Deck Contest Results.

The winner was "Tim" who correctly predicted that the first (and in fact, only) base card I pulled out of a pack of Ballpark Collection would be of Matt Holliday.

Tim, send me your mailing address, and I'll mail out your winnings.

Monday, October 20, 2008

Cardola: 2008 SP Authentic

One Hobby Box supplied to me for free by Upper Deck of 2008 SP Authentic (street value: $100)
24 packs per box, five cards per pack

Part One

Part Two

The Pulls

Base Set: 95 of 191 (49.74%)
1 Double
Short Set: 93 of 100 (93.00%) with one double
1 Rookie Jersey Autograph: (36 cards*, production varies) B. Bocock, numbered to 599
1 Rookie Autographs: (55 cards*, production varies) G. Petit, numbered to 999
Parallels: NONE

12 Authentic Achievements (50 cards^): D. Jeter, K. Griffey, Jr., B. Webb, E. Bedard, Dice-K, Big Papi, J. Peavy, J-Roll, Phat Albert, L. Berkman, M. Teixeira, M. Buehrle
12 Marquee Matchups (50 cards^): Beckett/Jeter, Pujols/Lidge, Rivera/Ortiz, Willis/Hafner, F. Hernandez/V. Martinez, Griffey, Jr./Oswalt, P. Martinez/Howard, Wagner/Teixeira, Reyes/Glavine, Zambrano/Fielder, Hamels/Beltran, Smoltz/H. Ramriez

6 Yankee Tedium Luncay (1:4): #2029 (V. Raschi), #2054, 2389, & 2439 (A. Reynolds), #2079 & 2414 (P. Rizzuto)

1 By The Letter Autographed Manufactured Patch (47 players on multiple cards*, production varies): C. Lee "N," numbered to 15#

* Overall odds of finding any autograph: 1:8/packs
^ Overall odds of finding an Authentic Achievements or a Marquee Matchups: one-per-pack
# The Carlos Lee "N" I pulled is serial numbered to 15 copies, but the cumulative production run for all Lee BTL's is 160 copies.

The Bottom Line

It's been seven years since I've busted a box of SP Authentic, and after busting this box I remember why I quit collecting SPA. It's a set that's not even worth the trouble to collect.

Oh sure, you can get autographed rookie cards of Evan Longoria, Jay Bruce, Clayton Kershaw, and an un-autoed, game jersey card of Kosuke Fukudome. But for every RC of these guys, there are dozens players similar in caliber to the two I pulled out of this particular waxbox: Brian Bocock and Gregorio Petit. Caveat Emptor.

All of which begs the question: Why are there 90 different autographed rookie cards (there are two different Evan Longoria's -- one with and one without a jersey swatch) in SPA anyway? Are there really 90 players worthy of an autographed rookie card serial numbered to 999 or less in a $100/waxbox product? How exactly does an AUed RC of a guy who was called up and sent down from Triple-A three times this past season (Petit) and of another guy who hit .220 in Single-A (Bocock) "add value" to a product like this? If I had actually paid the street value of $100 for this box, why would I want to spend another C-Note on another box if what I'm expecting to receive are two AUed RCs of obscure all-glove, no-bat shortstops?

With that said, the rest of the base set -- the part that you can actually collect -- looks great. You can't really tell from the video, but the way the player's jersey number is "spot glossed" into the whitespace is really neato.

Other positives: You get one of 100 different insert cards in each pack, meaning you get something of value for your money. In addition, you get one of those autographed manufactured "By The Letter" patch cards in every box -- for those of you who are into that.

Box Rating: 3 Gumsticks (out of five)
Product Rating: 2 Gumsticks (out of five)

... and another thing.

You know what 2009 SPA needs? (Well, other than about 75 fewer autographed rookie cards) HoloViews.

Yes, HoloViews.

I'm just saying....

Wanted: Tampa Bay Fan

Wanted: One supporter of the Tampa Bay Rays. Ideal candidate must be willing to wager $50-$100 worth of wax packs on the outcome of the 2008 World. Stale has already won $75 worth of wax on the outcome on the NLDS and NLCS and is wanting to double-up.

No experience required. Inquire within.

Sunday, October 19, 2008

Cardola: 2008 Upper Deck X

One Hobby Box supplied to me for free of 2008 Upper Deck X (Market Price: $50-$55)
20 packs per box, eight cards per pack.

Part One

Part Two

The Pulls

Base Set: 100 of 100
13 Doubles

20 Die-Cuts (one-per-pack)

10 UDxponential (90 cards): B. Phillips, C. B. Young, C. Guillen, H. Matsui, Ichiro, J. Kent, J. Varitek, ManRam, P. Konerko, Pronk Hafner
7 UDxponential2 (75 cards) : B. Roberts, C. Jones, D. Lee, J. Papelbon, M. Holliday, P. Fielder, T. Tulowitzki
2 UDxponential3 (25 cards) : Big Papi, J-Roll
1 UDxponential4 (10 cards): A. Soriano

* Odds of finding any UDxponential are one-per-pack

5 Yankee Tedium Lunacy (1:4): #5959 & 5977 (D. Jeter), #6484 (R. Johnson), #6509 (M. Rivera), #6534 (J. Posada)

2 UDX Signatures (30 cards, 1:10): E. Meek, J. Newman

The Bottom Line

I've now busted a full Hobby box of this stuff, and I still don't understand what Upper Deck was going for with UDX.

Just about every one of the one-per-pack die-cuts has either A) A huge roller mark running the length of the card, or B) Is not properly die-cut.

I had no idea who the two AU were until I looked them both up on Both Evan Meek and Josh Newman are 25-year-old rookie middle-inning relievers.


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

I hope Upper Deck comes to its senses and brings back Fleer Ultra for 2009. (And by that I mean "Fleer Ultra" and not "Ultra SE.")

Saturday, October 18, 2008

Cardola: 2008 UD Masterpieces

Well, here goes ten year's of credibility right down the drain!

One box supplied to me (for free) by Upper Deck of 2008 UD Masterpieces Baseball
Twelve packs per box, six cards per pack.

The Video

The Pulls

Base Set: 58 of 120 (48.33%)
2 doubles
Short Set: 52 of 90 (57.78%)
6 Short Prints (1:2): F. Robinson, N. Ryan, L. Brock, D. Jeter, R. Jackson, J. Carter
4 Black: L. Berkman, W. Ford, Chutley, J. Bench
1 Red: M. Young
1 Blue (numbered to 125): H. Killebrew

Inserts: NONE

4 Yankee Tedium Lunacy (1:3): #320 (T. Lazzeri), 345 (B. Meusel), 370 (E. Combs) 5934 (T. Martinez)

1 Captured on Canvas (1:12): N. Markakis
1 Autographed Captured on Canvas: B. McCann

The Bottom Line

Yeah, yeah, I got my precious six SPs. I'm happy. I still don't think SPing the base set was a smart idea though. Like I said, I love the base set but UD should had left well enough alone.

If you recall, in the Hobby box I paid for, I pulled a blue framed parallel of Hideki Matsui. This card was serial-numbered to 50 copies. In this box I got a framed blue parallel of Harmon Killebrew, but this one was numbered to 125 copies. (The frame on the Matsui is a slightly lighter shade of blue.)

There are a grand total of ten parallel insert sets in 2008 UD Masterpieces; however, Upper Deck does not list anywhere on their website, or on the pack wrapper, what the specific production figures for each set are. So, even though I pulled a Harmon Killebrew parallel numbered to 125 copies, I have no idea whether it is a "Deep Blue Linen" or a "Perisan Blue Linen."

I also can not determine whether the Michael Young red parallel I pulled is a "Hades," "Red Linen," or a "Pinot Red."

And now the $64,000 question: If I had actually paid hard currency for this box, instead of getting it for free, would I have been happy with this box? Well, it was better than the one I actually did pay for. But if I had spent $70-$75 for this box, I don't believe I would have gotten my money's worth.

Box Rating: 2 Gumsticks
Product Rating:
2 1/2 Gumsticks

Cardola: Mario ain't the only one getting free stuff.

And now, a public service announcement from Stale Gum's Chris Harris.

Thursday, October 16, 2008

Oh sure, you collect baseball cards.

And you have your own cardblog. Heck, you may even post video box and pack breaks to YouTube.

But do you have your own Tom the Ripper remix video?

Nope. Didn't think so.

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

I Get Letters: Fisking The Nitwit who Hacked into Adam Gellman's Gmail Account.

When I received this, I knew it couldn't possibly have come from Adam Gellman of Sports Cards Uncensored. Apparently, someone in southern Illinois hacked into Gellman's GMail account and had a little fun at his expense. To his credit, Gellman publicly and privately apologized to all.

On a personal note, Adam Gellman is a stand-up guy. He's a bit abrasive at times, but writes one of the best blogs in The Hobby -- even if it is R-rated.

With that said, whaddaya say we have a little fun with this Mr. Hacker, m-kay?

Personally, I cant stand people who exclusively buy retail products.

Immediately, with this single declarative sentence, Gellman's Hacker has managed to alienate a large swath of baseball card collectors. I'm guessing that Mr. Hacker lives in either an urban, suburban, or exurban area and not some place like rural America where the only place you can buy baseball cards in a brick-and-mortar environment is a place like K-Mart or Wal-Mart.

Mr. Hacker, whoever and wherever you are, do me a favor. Next time your travels take you to the Nebraska sandhills, or West Texas, or rural North Carolina (to use a few personal examples), look in the local phone book under "Sports Collectibles" and count the number of Hobby stores. Then, compare and contrast that with the number of big box stores.

There are plenty of places in fly-over country where Wal-Mart IS the local Hobby shop, and plenty of collectors who exclusively buy their cards there.

Why give your money to target
(sic) or wal mart (sic) when you can support a card shop who sells a better product at a better price?

"Better product" and "better price" are both subjective statements of opinion; not set-in-stone facts. Just because you believe something to be true, doesn't necessarily mean that it actually is. And just because Mr. Hacker thinks Hobby packs are "better" than Blasters doesn't mean they are. That's just, like, your opinion, man.

For example, I said that there are many products where Blasters are a much better value than Hobby.
Take last year's UD Masterpieces, for example. I'd much rather pay $2.99 for retail pack (knowing full well that the only cards I'd get are base cards) then spend $7 for Hobby and be stuck with a bunch of parallels and gamers that I don't want. If all you want are base cards, then why pay for something you don't want? This is my opinion, which is something that Mr. Hacker obviously disagrees with.

Besides, not all card shops are good and worthy of support. I can think of at least four in the area I live that, for various reasons, I no longer patronize.

Hell, I would much rather support internet box sellers like Chris Hart at Blowout than target

Just like you are entitled to your own opinion, you're also entitled to spend your money with whomever you want, on whatever you want. It's a free country, and it's how a free-market economy works.

Yet, for some reason, the idiots who dominate this blogosphere think it is some sort of mission to ONLY buy retail products, even going so far as posting some long winded false expectations post or some shit like that.

And who would they be? Mr. Hacker, you failed to list even one "idiot" who is on this "mission." So, Mr. Hacker; step up and take the Pepsi Challenge. Name three "idiots who dominate the blogosphere" who are on a "mission to ONLY buy retail products." Go on, I'll give you few seconds to think about it -- and if you list me as one of your answers, you are incorrect. You have thirty seconds, good luck!

Then, when I say that spending all the money they do on blasters, trading through the mail, etc is a bad idea when they can buy the complete set on eBay for 30 dollars, Mr Doucheface Chris Harris tries to rally the troops with "real collectors dont buy hand collated sets."

First of all Nibblenuts, that's MISTER DOUCHEFACE to you. And if you are going to quote me, then you need to quote me directly. Here's what I actually wrote:
"Real collectors don't buy hand-collated sets of current year product."
That elimination of those last four words is what we call in this business a "lie by omission."

But with that said, I have a bit of a mea cupla. (Mr. Hacker, a mea culpa is Latin for, oh never mind.) In retrospect, if I had known that the SPs in UD Masterpieces retail were 1:8, instead of the 1:2 as I was led to believe, then, yes, I might have bought a hand-collated set for $30 on eBay.

Fuck that shit. Fuck him. The youth and hobby he is trying to relive by building sets died 10 years ago.

Funny thing is, ten years ago folks like Gellman's Hacker were saying the exact same things on r.c.c.d. and the old Beckett Boards.

Really. I guess some things never change.

But I digress. If set building really "died 10 years ago," then why is it that, year-after-year, five of The Hobby's best selling products are: Topps' flagship, Upper Deck's flagship, Topps Heritage, Upper Deck Goudey, and Topps Allen & Ginter? all products taylor-made for set collectors. Riddle me that, jerky.

Listen, once grandma is dead you dont try to prop her up at the table for thanksgiving dinner. You let her go.

And 10 years from now, when Mr. Hacker has long-left The Hobby (and he will), I'll still be collecting my 2018 Upper Deck base set. And you know what, I might just build it exclusively through Wal-Mart Blasters!

Always Be Collecting,
Chris Harris

Saturday, October 11, 2008

Video Box Break and Review: 2008 UD Masterpieces Hobby

By the time this gets published, I'll be in DC watching the US vs. Cuba World Cup Qualifier. America, Fuck Yeah!

One Hobby box of 2008 UD Masterpieces (paid $75)
12 packs per box, six cards per pack.

The Video

The Pulls

Base Set: 58 of 120 (48.33%)
3 doubles
Short Set: 53 of 90 (58.89%)
5 Short Prints (1:2): C. Fisk, J. Bench, D. Mattingly, R. Clemente, A. Pujols
4 Black: R. Yount, J-Roll, C. Crawford, L. Brock
1 Blue (numbered to 50): H. Matusi

Inserts: NONE

5 Yankee Tedium Lunacy (1:3): #1625 (J. Gordon), 3742 (R. White), 6122 & 6147 (P. O'Neill), 6197 (R. Clemens)

1 Captured on Canvas (1:12): J. Willingham
1 Autographed Captured on Canvas: M. Cain

The Review

Let me get this out of the way. I love the 2008 UD Masterpieces base set. I loved it last year, and the base set was the sole reason why I spent $75 on this box. With that said, I despise what Upper Deck has done to this product. While I don't normally like short-prints in a base set, I actually thought that adding them wasn't such a bad idea in a product like this. As long as it was still feasible for the collector to build a full set, I had no problem with it. Boy was I wrong.

I guess I'm still bitter over getting only one SP in the Blaster box I ripped a few days ago. But I'm really bitter about getting gypped out of an SP in this Hobby box, and pulling an additional Yankee Tedium Lunacy.

(Are you like me and absolutely dread pulling YTLs from Upper Deck packs? Good.)

And then there's the reason why Hobby packs are $7/pack: the hits. Like I said, I bought this exclusively for the base cards and really could care less about jerseys and autographs. I'm not a (term to describe nitwit collectors that will no longer be used on this site), so allow me to play Devil's Advocate here. If I paid $75 for a waxbox and my two autogamers were Josh Willingham and Matt Cain, I'd be pissed. Seriously UD, Josh Willingham and Matt Cain? Is that the best you could come up with for a $7/pack product? WTF?

The Bottom Line

In addition to receiving one fewer SP and being saddled with one more YTL, I received three base set doubles. ANY doubles in a waxbox this small (72 cards) is inexcusable. Three doubles AND getting shafted out of a short-print should be a felony.

Box Rating: 1 1/2 Gumsticks, a total waste of $75.
Product Rating: 2 1/2 Gumsticks

... and another thing

The two gamers I pulled are so thick, neither one fits into a standard penny-sleeve.

Friday, October 10, 2008

1st Impressions: Razor Signature Baseball

Gellman over at Sports Cards Uncensored had the scoop a few days ago (pay no attention to the article that proceeds it) on the much-anticipated debut of Razor Baseball -- a product I've labeled "The Bowman Killer." But in perusing the checklist, I found a few things that were a bit strange.

For one thing, the posted checklist for 2008 Razor Signature Baseball doesn't list the first 100 cards in the base set -- just cards #101-200. There were also a few minor details that were omitted such as street date and MSRP for a pack.

I contacted Brian Gray of Razor to clarify and his response is that the first 100 cards in the set are all un-autographed base cards. The next 100 cards will repeat the checklist of the first 100 and each will feature a "trapped cut autograph."

What is a trapped cut autograph, you ask? It appears that in lieu of stickers (or for that matter, on-card autographs) Razor had each player sign what looks like a cardboard "tab." The tabs will then be mounted (or "trapped") into the card -- kind of like a cut signature.

Each pack will contain five cards (one of which is autographed) and will retail for an MSRP of $12.50. Waxboxes will have 10 packs. The street date is December 1st, which is about a week before the scheduled release of 2008 Bowman Draft Picks & Prospects.

Wednesday, October 08, 2008

Video Box Break and Review: 2008 UD Masterpieces Blaster

One Blaster Box of 2008 UD Masterpieces (paid $19.97)
Eight packs per box, five cards per pack

The Video

The Pulls

Base Set: 36 of 120 (30.00%)
short set: 35 of 90 (38.89%)
1 Short-Print: Y. Berra

Parallels: NONE

Inserts: NONE

2 Yankee Tedium Lunacy: #3395 (R. Maris) & 3420 (B. Richardson)

Autogamers: NONE

The Review

Last year's retail version of UD Masterpieces was one of the best value breaks 2007. While the Hobby edition yielded an on-card autograph, three gamers, and a multi-colored galaxy of parallels in each 18-count waxbox, the $7/pack MSRP priced out most collector's who only wanted the base set. But no fear, as UD released a stripped-down version of Masterpieces for retail at only $2.99/pack. And there was much rejoicing. (Yay!)

This year's UD Masterpieces appears to follow the same formula, with a $7/pack Hobby version for J C, and a $2.99/pack retail version for A C. But there's one huge difference between Hobby and retail this year, and this is 2008 UD Masterpieces' fatal flaw.

Upper Deck expanded the base set from 90 to 120 cards, which is good because last year's set was a bit on the small-side. But those extra thirty cards in this year's set are short-printed. While this may appear to be a bad thing, it appeared that '08UDM would still be somewhat collectible. The sell-sheets for this product stated that each 12-pack Hobby box would yield six of the 30 SPs, for an insertion ratio of 1:2/packs -- a ratio that is easily manageable a collector to build his/her base set. But in this eight-pack Blaster box I just ripped (which actually had nine packs in it), I got only one SP.

So Upper Deck changed the insertion ratios from Hobby to retail from 1:2 to 1:8. Big deal, right? The problem is, there is nothing on the Blaster box mentioning this change; which would lead a collector to assume that the SPs are inserted into retail packs at the same 1:2 ratio as Hobby. That ain't good.

The Bottom Line

I pulled just under 40% of the short-set, and got two more of those annoying Yankee Tedium Lunacies. The Yankee Tedium Lunacy cards are about as out of place in this product (and in Goudey, for that matter) as those A-Rod 500 Homerun Bullshit Waste-of-Space cards were in last year's Allen & Ginter and Heritage. On the bright side, each pack that contained a YTL had five cards in it, so I guess works out in the end. Also, as I mentioned above, this Blaster had nine packs. So if you bought the one that has only seven, my apologies.

Don't get me wrong, UD Masterpieces is still a great set to try and build -- and this collector will. But getting only one SP in a Blaster when you were led to believe that you were getting four is really, really, bothersome.

Product Rating: 2 Gumsticks (out of five)

This would easily be a 3 Gumstick product if the SPs were seeded 1:2. It would be a 4 Gumstick product if it didn't have SPs at all.

... and another thing.

In addition to the SPs, there are no mention of insertion ratios for any of the other inserts, parallels, autogamers, or Yankee Tedium Lunacies anywhere. At last year's Hawaii Trade Conference, Richard McWilliam himself said that such insertion ratios would be returning to pack wrappers. We're still waiting on that Dick.

Wednesday, October 01, 2008

Video Box Break and Review: 2008 Upper Deck Goudey Hobby

One Hobby box of 2008 Upper Deck Goudey (paid $64)
18 packs per box, eight cards per pack.

Part One

Part Two

The Pulls
Base Set: 127 of 330
Short Set: 117 of 200
3 SPs: Bo Jackson, G. Perry, T. Gwynn
2 U.S. Presidents: T. Jefferson, R. B. Hayes
1 1936: P. Fielder
3 Black-Back Sport Royalty: C. Cooper, A. Dawson, G. Hall, Jr.
1 Green-Back Sport Royalty: K. Durant

6 Red Backs: A. Jones, H. Matsui, S. Anderson, P. Fielder, R. Kiner, J. Guthrie
2 Blue Backs: K. Escobar, D. Eckstein
2 Green Backs (numbered to 88 copies): R. Oswalt, M. Cain

2 Hit Parade of Champions: B. Worthlessberger, T. Brady

4 Yankee Tedium Lunacies: #6018 (P. O'Neill), 6043 (T. Martinez), 6088 (D. Jeter), and 6093 (T. Martinez)

1 Goudey Autograph: Towelie
1 Goudey Memorabilia: J. Papelbon

The Review

It's hard to believe that I wrote the preview for 2008 Upper Deck Goudey on the opening week of the season, and as I write this review the Phillies and Brewers and are opening the Playoffs.

The big difference with '08 Goudey is, of course, size. Some collectors hate the standard sized cards, but I like 'em. It's 2008, not 1934. Deal with it.

The big flaw with the product is the set size; specifically the massive amount of short-prints. 130 of the 330 cards are SPed which seems a bit excessive. And when you look at the SPs, it's clear the UD overdid it.

Did we really need more cards of dead presidents? Of course not. And what about the 1936 subset? What was the point of that?

The minis are now relegated to parallel status, which as Allen & Ginter has shown, seems to be what Hobbyists want (although, not this one). And like with A&G there are five different varieties of mini parallels.

Wrapping up Goudey are the requisite "hits" and Yankee Tedium Lunacy.

The Bottom Line

The collation was great, with ten SPs and ten parallels. I also received two "hits," four Yankee Tedium Lunacies, and two Berk Ross Parade of Champions.

Collation Review: 4 Gumsticks (out of Five)
Product Review: 3 1/2 Gumsticks