Tuesday, April 29, 2008

This happened 25 years ago today.

Ladies and Gentlemen, Lee Elia. (NSFW!)



Lee Elia always reminded me of "Red" from the Tube Bar tapes. (Very NSFW!)



Oh yeah, here's some cards.



Sunday, April 27, 2008

2nd Impressions: 2008 Topps Series Two.

Taking a second look at the sell sheet of Series Two Topps, a couple of items I never noticed before quickly piqued my interest.

ITEM #1) FIRST TIME! Every 36-pack HOBBY box contains 1 Autograph or Relic Card! ENHANCED CONTENT! Every 10-pack HTA box contains 1 Autograph and NOW 2 Relic Cards!

Topps announced this about a month ago, and I've been sitting on this for a while. So allow me to vent.

I don't mind pulling gamers. But is the lack of a gamer in each 2008 Topps Series One Hobby box (as Topps has claimed) the real reason why sales of Hobby boxes weren't as brisk as HTA boxes? HTA's have always sold well; long before Topps began stuffing them with autogamers. It's not all that hard to figure out why if you think about it.

A Hobby box has 360 cards which (you would think) should be enough for a full 330-card base set. But over 50 of those 360 cards are not base cards, (i.e. inserts, parallels, fake Japanese pitching "prospects," and the like) leaving Hobby boxes about 30 cards short of a full base set. On the other hand, a 500-card HTA box all but guarantees a full base set (not to mention a healthy stack of doubles, and a lot more inserts). When given the choice between one box type that delivers a full set and another that leaves you short, some collectors are willing to pay the extra $35-$40 for HTA.

The second (and probably most important) culprit are Blasters. More and more Topps collectors -- even those who would never be caught dead buying their cards retail -- are finding Blasters to be a viable option. Collectors who aren't able to invest either $100 for an HTA box, or even $60 for a Hobby box, find $20 Blasters more affordable. (The availability of Blasters, and Blaster-exclusive inserts doesn't hurt either.)

Topps' flagship product has always been a collector's set; a product where the main draw is, has been, and always will be, the base set. Yes, pulling an autograph or a gamer is nice; but base Topps has never about pulling autogamers. Topps has made HTA boxes and Blasters more attractive to the collector, at the expense of Hobby wax. The addition of a hit in each Hobby box will have little, if any, impact on series two Hobby box sales.

Item #2) NEW! Red Hot Rookie Program! Rookie redemption cards numbered 1-20 will be randomly inserted and guaranteed in every Topps Series 2 Hobby and HTA box.

Yeah, I know what you're thinking. Gimmicked "Rookies"? In FUCKING BASE LEVEL TOPPS? SURELY THEY CAN'T BE SERIOUS?

Sadly, they are serious. (And don't call me Shirley. Ba-Dump-Bump.) Whether you like it or not, gimmicked "Rookies" are coming to base Topps. (Whether you want them or not, is immaterial.)

The scheme is similar to what Topps already has in Finest. Each randomly inserted redemption card will have a number, and Topps will announce over the remainder of the year -- stretching it out to maximize the effect -- what player each redemption card will be good for.

On the original sell-sheets for '08 Topps series two, there are no mentions of these gimmicked rookies so I'm guessing that they are a late addition. Hopefully this gimmick will be a one year aberration.

Friday, April 25, 2008

This happened 32 years ago today.



And since this is a baseball card website, here ya go!

Shenanigans! Shenanigans! Shenanigans!!!!!!

Hey look, it's a Tyrus Thomas 1/1 SuperFractor on eBay!

Hey look, it's a video of a guy holding a redemption for a Tyrus Thomas 1/1 SuperFractor!



Whoa, whoa, whoa. Hold on a sec. How can one person have a redemption card for a Tyrus Thomas 1/1 SuperFractor, and another person be selling THE SAME 1/1 CARD ON EBAY at the same time?

Topps, care to explain this, ahem, "discrepancy?"

UPDATE! MORE TOPPS SHENANIGANS!

Thursday, April 24, 2008

It's Shenanigans, I Tell Ya! Shenanigans!

So yesterday, I got this press release from Upper Deck touting this particular Daisuke Matsuzaka card.



According to the press release, this rookie card (their words) has been selling for as much as $970.

$970? For an autographed "rookie" card of Dice-K? And serial numbered to only 18 copies?

HOLY SHIT!

There's just one teensy-weensy problem.

This "2007" Upper Deck Premiere "rookie card" of Dice-K was issued.....

... in packs of the recently released 2008 Upper Deck Premiere.

In other words, Upper Deck is trying to pass off a card issued in April 2008, as a card from 2007.

In UD's defense, this card was supposed to be in last year's UD Premiere. (Not wanting to pack it out as a redemption, they pulled it and saved for this year.)

That still doesn't make it a 2007 card, and nor is it a "true" rookie.

It is what it is: an autographed second-year card of a pretty damn good pitcher.

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Shenanigans!

I hate to do this, but I'm calling shenanigans against Tuff Stuff.


Yesterday on their Bustin' Wax blog, Tuff Stuff posted a box break of Upper Deck's new Spectrum baseball, and they were shocked (SHOCKED!) that their box yielded seven game jersey's and four autographs.

You're only supposed to get two autographs and two gamers in a box.

Rut ro, Raggy!

While such "Hot Boxes" are not unusual for Spectrum (collector's are reporting that each 14-box case has one) what's unusual is how Tuff Stuff may have acquired this particular box.

Read the review a little closer, and you'll notice that price they "paid" for the box was "about $135 per box."

An interesting choice of words there, eh? "About" $135?

ABOUT?

That one little word leads me to assume that Tuff Stuff may not have paid for this box at all -- which may explain why they got a Hot Box.

Is this another case of "Upper Deck Card-Ola?" (i.e. Beckett-Gate?)

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

BRING BACK THE SC!

One trend in The Hobby that has developed over the past few years has been the "The Whale." Whales are the kind of folks who aren't afraid to plunk down $500-$1000/week on products like UD Black and Topps Sterling, knowing full well that the cards they receive will never, ever, be worth what they paid for.

In the interest of full disclosure, I've never paid more than $10 for a pack of new cards. (I ripped a few packs of '96 Leaf Signature when they came out for the novelty of it. Pulled autographs of Frank Rodriguez and Dean Palmer, and promised I'd never be that foolish again.) Not to sound sanctimonious, but these kinds of products never appealed to me as a collector. I understand that there's a market for sets like this, but they're not for me.

With that said, the country faces economic uncertainty and with such uncertainty, often the first thing to go are luxury goods. Luxury goods, such as $100/pack card sets like UD Black and Topps Sterling.

And therein lies the problem. The Hobby has become too dependent on Whales and it's not good for any business to be dependent on one class of customer.

What The Hobby needs now are more down-market products. Now, by "down-market" I'm not saying more crap like Opening Day. Collector's will still crave quality products. But a quality products that are both affordable AND collectible.

What The Hobby doesn't need now are more gimmicks. We don't need autograph cards of forgotten hair-metal bands. We don't need fake cards of of fake "prospects." We don't need more cards of dead presidents and we don't need presidential candidates airbrushed onto cards of current players.

What The Hobby needs now, more than ever, is Stadium Club. Ryan of Trader Crack's has started a letter writing campaign bring back Stadium Club Baseball and I share many of his sentiments. But I believe it's important to distinguish what Stadium Club set to bring back.

Topps issued a product called "Stadium Club" in basketball this year; however, the product bore little resemblance to the Stadium Club we all knew and loved. It was just another indistinguishable one-hit-per-$15-pack.

What The Hobby needs is the REAL Stadium Club. A product like the 1996-99 era SC. A $3-$5/pack, 300-400 card, single series set with quality photography, a clean design, and NO gimmicks. (i.e. short-printed "rookies," three-per-box game jerseys, et al)

While it may be too late for 2008, I'd love to see The Mighty Stadium Club Baseball make its triumphant return in '09. Would you rather have another year of swill like Moments & Milestones, Co-Signers, or Topps 52; or would you rather have Stadium Club back?

Yeah, I thought so. Get off your ass and write Topps a letter demanding they bring back Stadium Club!


Bring Back Stadium Club

Yeah, I'm Still Here.

I know. I haven't updated this site in eight days. I'm not dead, nor have I abandoned my pride and joy. (You can stop e-mailing me now!)

There is a good reason why I haven't updated this in over a week. You see, I recently stumbled across a grab bag of some of the worst waxpacks imaginable, and have been posting the pulls on APAD and YouTube. I like to think of it as an experiment in video baseball card gonzo journalism.

So go check 'em out, and tell me what you think of it. Meanwhile, I've got a few things I've got cooking for this site in the next few days.

Stay tuned!

Monday, April 14, 2008

1st Impressions: '08 Allen & Ginter

Is 2008 the year Topps Allen & Ginter "jumps the shark?"

The sell sheets for '08 TA&G are out, and I have to say, I'm just not excited about Allen & Ginter anymore.

The design is virtually identical to last year.

The base set is the same size as last year.

And there are the usual framed autographs and gamers, that were in it last year.

And that's the problem. It's the same set as last year. Well, not entirely the same. There's some sort of "Ginter Code" thingamabob that no one will understand, much less care about. And there will be a cut signature card of "Church" of Scientology founder L. Ron Hubbard! (Hail Xenu!)

Don't get me wrong, I'll collect it, and I'll enjoy it.

But I really think Topps should seriously consider pulling the plug on A&G after this year -- or at least switch it up to another 19th Century set (i.e. Ramly, Fatima, et al).

h/t to Wax Heaven, who has the sell sheets.

Wednesday, April 09, 2008

Monday, April 07, 2008

Video Box Break and Review: 2008 Topps Heritage (Hobby)

Part one...




Part two...


The Pulls

Paid $69

Chiptopper: 1 J. Pierre, B. Molina, D. Murphy Advertising Panel

Base Set: 154 of 500 (30.8%)
short set: 146 of 425
Short Prints: 8 of 75 (1:3)
Black Backs: 25 (one-per-pack)

Parallels:
3 Chromes: T. Hunter, R. Oswalt, J. Francis (1:8, numbered to 1959)
1 Chrome Refractor: E. Byrnes (1:29, numbered to 559)

Inserts:
2 New Age Performers: D. Wright, J. Peavy (1:15)
2 Then & Now: E. Mathews & A-Rod, D. Drysdale & J. Peavy (1:15)
1 Baseball Flashbacks: O. Cepeda (1:12)
2 News Flashbacks: Dalai Lama, Hawaii (1:12)

Autogamers:
1 Clubhouse Collection: T. Hunter jersey (1:24)

Friday, April 04, 2008

Box Break and Review: 1995 Upper Deck Series One (Hobby)

EDITOR'S NOTE: This is a box break from last year that I never got around to posting. Until now, that is.

One box of 1995 Upper Deck Series One Hobby (Paid $35)
36 packs per box, 12 cards per pack

The Details

Base Set: 225 cards (no short-prints)

Parallels: NONE

Inserts:
Special Edition: 135 cards*
Special Edition Gold: 135 cards (1:35*)
Hobby Predictors: 20 cards (1:30)
Steal of a Deal: 15 cards (1:34)
Checklists: five cards (1:17)

*Stated odds of finding either a Special Edition or a Special Edition Gold: one-per-pack.

Autogamers: NONE

The Pulls

Base Set: 208 of 225 (92.44%)
166 Doubles
18 Triples

Inserts:
35 Special Editions
1 Special Edition Gold: K. Foster
1 Hobby Predictor: A. Gonzalez
1 Steal of a Deal: D. Eckersley
2 Checklists: K. Rogers, G. Maddux

The Review

One word can best describe 1995 Upper Deck baseball: simple. Considering what came before, and what was about to come, the '95 UDs were extremely minimalist. Just a full-bleed photo, the player's name and team (in very small type), a UD logo, and that's it. Not exactly the harbinger on the "foil-stamp the shit out of everything" fronts that was to come in the late-90s.

'95 was the first year that the UD flagship did NOT open up with the Star Rookies. Instead, they were shifted to the back end of the first series, and merged with a second batch of SRs that opened up Series Two. (A third-year Derek Jeter and a second-year A-Rod both make cameos in the SR subset.) In their place, the Top Prospects open up the set. The was the final year for the TPs, and the only one of note is a third-year card of Nomar Garciaparra. There are also second-year cards of such Hobby flameouts Ruben Rivera, Paul Wilson, and true "Rookie Cards" are of Karim Garcia, Raul Casanova, and Nolan Ryan's son Reid Ryan. Another notable base card is of Michael Jordan being interviewed by a already-on-his-seventh-Budweiser-looking Harry Caray.

There are two differences between the hobby and retail version of '95 UD, and one of which is the one-per-pack insert. In retail packs, you get one Electric Diamond card per pack -- which is a traditional one-per-pack parallel. Hobby packs though, came with their own one-per-pack insert: The Special Editions. The SEs were unique, in that they are a pretty comprehensive set onto itself. At 270 cards (135 in each series), it remains one of the largest non-parallel insert sets every produced, and remains a challenging set to try to complete -- even a dozen years later.

The other difference between hobby and retail has to do with the Predictor inserts. The Predictors were interactive game cards that could be redeemed if the player shown won an award of some sort. The idea for on the interactive insert wasn't new -- 1994 Leaf had the popular MVP Contenders inserts -- but with the effects of a devastating strike still lingering, and with the overall "copycat" mentality of mid-90s era The Hobby, card companies were trying anything and everything they could to drum up sales. There are 40 Hobby Predictors in all (20 American Leaguers in the first series, and 20 National Leaguers in the second), and 60 Retail Predictors (30 AL and 30 NL).

Rounding out the set are the 15 Steal of a Deal inserts, and five checklists -- which, as was the custom of the time, were seeded into packs as inserts.

Technically, there are no autogamers; however, there was a wrapper redemption offer good for for one of 8000 serial-numbered autographed Roger Clemens jumbo cards. This offer has long since expired.

The Bottom Line

Collation was typical for a mid-90s Upper Deck product. It yielded 92% of the base set, and a healthy stack of tradeable doubles. The inserts ran as advertised.

Product Rating: 3 Gumsticks (out of 5)

No one will ever confuse 1995 Upper Deck with 1989 UD. But with that said, it's nice looking, fun, and affordable.

My two cents on 2008 UD Goudey

Since everybody else seems to be doing "Second Thoughts" columns on UD Goudey, here's mine.

What I like about 2008 UD Goudey
  • The size. It's 2008, not 1934. We like our cards 2.5" X 3.5". This was the main flaw of last year's UDG. We get the authenticity of the mini cards, but save 'em for the parallel.
  • The larger size of the base set. The bigger the base set, the better. You can't complain about 42 extra cards.
What I don't like about 2008 UD Goudey
  • More SPs. Unfortunately, all those extra cards were added short-prints. Now I wouldn't mind a set with 130 SPs. But the base set is only 330 cards, and the insertion ratio is only 1:2.571/packs. As it is, nearly 40% of the cards in 2008 UDG will be SPed.
Here's a rule of thumb for those of you at Topps and UD who are reading this (and I know you are), so you might want to take notes. 25%. No more than 25% of the cards in a base set should be short-printed.
  • The Presidents and Sportkings Sports Royalty subsets. This is an instance of UD making cards that they think collector's want, instead of what collector's actually want. Yeah, we get it. It's an election year. But it's time to put this gimmick to bed already. As for the Sports Royalty, this is a subset that would work better as an insert.
  • The $5 pack price. $5 seems a bit steep for a product like this. Heritage has been at the $3 since it's inception and TA&G has an MSRP of $4 -- although it rarely sells for that.
What I'm indifferent about 2008 UD Goudey
  • The one-per-box autograph and gamer. Of course, this is the reason why UDG is $5/pack.

Wednesday, April 02, 2008

1st Impressions: 2008 UD Goudey

After the rousing success of 2007 UD Goudey, you knew it was inevitable that a sequel would be forthcoming. The sell sheets are out, and '08UDG looks just as good as the original.

There are two big differences in '08 Goudey and they both involve size. The base set will be a little bigger (330 cards), and with more SPs (130). The design is based on the '34 Goudey's, but with Derek Jeter instead of Lou Gehrig saying, something. The biggest change is the size of the cards themselves, as all base set cards will measure the standard 2.5" X 3.5." (Orignial-sized mini cards have been relegated to a parallel.)

The entire "Sport Royalty" insert -- which, in an Olympic year, has a noticeable Olympic feel to it -- has been folded into the base set and all 60 of them are amongst the SPs. Also short-printed are a '36 Goudey-influenced 20-card "Black & White" subset, 30 of the base cards, and a 20-card US Presidents subset. (Yeah, yeah. I'm sick and tired of President cards as well.)

Each 18 pack, eight-card waxbox should yield (according to UD), one on-card autograph, one game jersey, four Yankee Stadium Legacy mirrors, seven SPs, and seven mini parallels -- which works out to a "hit" in each pack. In addition, each 12-box case will have an original '34 Goudey buyback, one Yankee Stadium Legacy gamer, and one autographed Sports Royalty.

MSRP: $4.99/pack
Street Date: July

Beckett-Gate: Dr. Wax Battle to Respond.

UPDATED (4/2): CONFIRMED GUESTS.

Stale Gum has confirmed that Alan Narz of Topps (a.k.a. "The Rip Master"), Tracy Hackler of Beckett Media, and Bob Brill will all be appearing on tonight's Dr. Wax Battle show to address Beckett-Gate.



If you're not a regular viewer of Dr. Wax Battle's weekly webcast, you don't know what you're missing. With that said, this Wednesday's show is a must-view as it will be dedicated to Beckett-Gate. Dr. Wax has sent out invitations to Beckett and UD, and it would be interesting to see if any of them show up -- especially considering Dr. Wax's previous issues with UD.

Tune in this Wednesday at 7PM EST, or look for it on his YouTube page on Thursday.

Tuesday, April 01, 2008

何がである"愚かな仕掛けのために日本語か。"

Remember that Topps card of Kazuo Uzuki that everyone forgot about when we all realized it was just another stupid gimmick? Guess what? It was all an April Fool's joke.

Really.

I'm not making that up.

It says so right in the press release.

I'll leave to the judgment of the reader to determine whether the joke is on you the collector, or on Topps.



Speaking of gimmicks, Mario over at Wax Heaven has the scoop on 2008 Topps Finest. Yes, the idea Topps ripped off of Dr. Wax Battle the cast of the Topps TV Rip Party is now a subject for an autographed insert. So for those of you patiently waiting for your boxes of Finest to arrive at the local Hobby shop, buyer beware. Your one-per-mini-box "hit" might be this.