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

Why I Have No Problem/A Huge Problem with the Topps Sarah Palin Card(s).

I guess it was inevitable -- especially after yesterday's announcement that UD will insert into SP Authentic parody cards of the VP candidates -- that Topps would include into Updates & Highlights a Campaign '08 insert of Sarah Palin. Many of you may be surprised to read this, but I have no problem with it. If only to provide "closure" to the set, the Republican Vice Presidential candidate serves a purpose and is a welcome addition to '08TU&H. (For the record: A Campaign '08 card Joe Biden was inserted into Series One packs.)

And an "attah-boy" for giving The Hobby a heads-up with a press release. The only thing that has been worse than Topps use of "gimmick" cards, has been the lack of transparency concerning these cards. Card companies have an obligation to inform collectors as to what exactly is in a product before he/she buys it.

With that said, there is one thing that really, really, annoys me about the Sarah Palin Topps insert. It's this....

Topps is going to produce not one, but two different Sarah Palin inserts. The more common one will feature the hockey mom/governor we've all come to know and love. (At least that's what Topps is infering, as they've yet to produce an image of what this card will look like.) The other, more scarcer one is, this, thing.....

Seriously Topps: WTF? None of the other candidates have had two cards, so why start now?

And why just Governor Palin? If Topps is going to start making gimmicked inserts of the candidate's previous indiscretions, then dammit Topps be consistent! I WANT A CARD OF OBAMA WITH A ROLLED-UP $100 BILL UP HIS NOSE! I WANT ALL FIVE OF THE KEATING FIVE! I WANT A JOE BIDEN/NEIL KINNOCK DOUBLE CUT-SIGNATURE AU! (Maybe those are the stealth gimmicks of '08TU&H?)

So, thumbs up to Topps for Sarah Palin: Governor of Alaska; thumbs down to Sarah Heath: Miss Wasilla 1984.