Saturday, February 28, 2009

The Final Word on the Topps/Wal-Mart Kerfuffle

So yeah, I was wrong. It turns out it was a gimmick after all. In addition to the stealth "Black" cards in Wal-Mart Blasters, there will also be a stealth "Throwback" version of 2009 Topps that's exclusive to Target Blasters. The plan was to release both versions in April, but Wal-Mart jumped the gun and released them a month early.

The Cardboard Junkie has, as usual, expressed the opinions of many Hobbyists. Most of what I wanted to write, he already covered, so I won't pile on.

I will leave you with this. If Topps, Wal-Mart, and Target got together to create a special-run exclusively for their stores, I wouldn't have a problem with it. The problem was the bait-and-switch.

If a collector purchases a Blaster of 2009 Topps Baseball, he/she has the expectation of receiving 2009 Topps Baseball and not a stealth parallel set that he/she was not aware of -- and probably doesn't want anyway. It really is like buying a can of tomato sauce and getting diced tomatoes instead.

And another thing. Is it really too difficult for the card companies, big box retailers, and distributors to, you know, actually tell us what's in the product before we buy it? Or am I asking too much?

Friday, February 27, 2009

Now Starting for your St. Louis Cardinals...

... First Baseman Albert Putta Playername!

And yes, this is what 2009 UDX will look like.

(h/t Beckett Blog)

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Why the Wal-Mart Black cards are not a gimmick. (I think)

In 1997 Pinnacle Brands released the third edition of their popular Pinnacle Certified Baseball set. The set had been highly anticipated by collectors as it was one of the first sets to exploit the low-numbered parallel concept. At a time when a card serial-numbered to 5000 copies was still considered "scarce," '97 Certified had three different parallel sets limited to under 100 copies: Mirror Red (limited to 90 copies), Mirror Blue (45 copies), and Mirror Gold (serial-numbered to only 30). The '97 Pinnacle Certified Mirror parallels raised the bar (or lowered it, depending on your view) and established the benchmark for scarcity.

But when '97 Certified went live, some collectors noticed something peculiar. They looked like a base card, but it had the "refractor-like" sheen of a Mirror insert. Collectors had accidentally discovered the now-legendary Mirror Black parallels, and as reports of them began to surface on the Beckett Message Boards, many were led to believe that these cards were a "stealth" one-of-one parallel.

Only it wasn't. Pinnacle later admitted that the Mirror Blacks were printed as part of a test run and inserted into packs as a mistake. (They weren't even ones-of-one as at least two Jay Buhner and Juan Gonzalez Mirror Blacks are known to exist.)

Fast forward to 2009 and the news that some base set cards being pulled out of 2009 Topps Wal-Mart Blasters have black-borders. Given Topps' recent history, many collectors have (rightly) called shenanigans. However the Wal-Mart Blacks, just like the Mirror Blacks of 1997, may very well be legitimate error cards.

Why do I believe this? Let me count the ways...

1) The coloring

If Topps was to produce a special edition of their base set, why would they choose the same color as one of their established parallels?

2) The scatter-shot distribution

Some Blasters have yielded nothing but lack base cards. Some have yielded nothing but white-bordered base cards. Now if Topps really, really, did produce a parallel that's exclusive to a particular pack-type, wouldn't it have made sense for them to distribute them a little more evenly? (i.e. one-per-pack)

3) Bad P.R.

With all the goodwill Topps has earned with their 2009 effort, why would they throw it all away with a gimmick like this?

More than likely what happened was redux of the Mirror Blacks -- only on a much larger scale. When the time came to produce the Wal-Mart Blaster packs, Topps (or the sub-contractor who printed the cards) made a mistake. A number of black-bordered cards were accidentally produced, and instead of throwing them away, they decided to pack them out as a Wal-Mart-exclusive "Special Edition." In other words, Topps is trying to make chicken salad out of chicken shit.

But hey, I could be wrong. If Topps really did collude with Wal-Mart to create a "stealth" parallel, and failed to inform anyone until after the fact, many collectors will never, ever, purchase a Wal-Mart Blaster again.

Finally, an explaination of those Black Bordered Topps base cards.

Ripped-and-posted directly from Topps.

"Topps is confirming that it randomly inserted special “BLACK” cards (the entire front of the card is black except for player image) in 2009 Topps Baseball Series 1 $19.99 value boxes found at Wal-Mart.

"The exclusive limited edition set includes each of the 330 subjects found in the 2009 Topps Series 1 Base Set."

And now you know. And knowing is half the battle.

Monday, February 23, 2009

Video Box Break and Review: 2009 Upper Deck Series One Hobby

One Hobby box of 2009 Upper Deck Series One Hobby (paid $68 at Dr. Wax Battle's)
16 packs per box, 20 cards per pack.

The Video

Look for the special cameo appearances by A Cardboard Problem's Sooz, and the one and only Fast Eddie!

The Pulls

Base Set: 249 of 500 (49.98%)
37 doubles

1 Gold (numbered to 99): Twins Team Leaders

3 1975 O-Pee-Chee (1:6): F. Hernandez, J. Hamilton, M. Holliday
1 Stars of the Game: B. Webb
1 Rivals: J. Hamilton/R. Oswalt
2 USA Baseball Retrospective: M. Brown, T. Teagarden
6 USA Baseball 18U: J. Turner, C. Garfield, J. Malm, M. Stassi, N. Franklin, W. Hatton

Trade Bait
2 2008 Historic Firsts: OBAMA!, The Ghats of Varanasi
2 2009 Historic Firsts Predictors: The New York Stock Exchange, A Space Alien (WTF?!?!?)
8 20th Anniversary (1:2): A hurricane, three hockey players, a former President and his VP, and three actual baseball players: K. Griffey, Jr, P. Martinez, and D. Winfield
4 Yankee Tedium Lunacy (1:4) #6666 (M. Rivera), #6705 (B. Abreu), #6718 (J. Giambi), and 6731 (M. Mussina)
4 Crockumentary (1:4): That J.D. Guy, J. Ellsbury, J. Lester, E. Longoria

1 Inkredible: D. Murphy
2 UD Game Jersey: Cap'n Cheesburger, J. Saltalamacchia

* Two inserts per pack
# One autograph, one single-swatch game jersey, and one multi-swatch game jersey numbered to 199 or less per box

The Review

It's the 20th Anniversary of Upper Deck Baseball, and as usual UD did an excellent job with the base set. Some collectors have complained about the gold "bar" on the bottom, but all-in-all it doesn't distract too much from the card.

The first series is back to 500 cards, the first 400 of which are the regular player cards and are arranged by team. The next 30 (401-430) are "Rookies," then 30 Team Leaders (431-460) , ten Season Highlights (461-470), and 30 Team Checklists (471-500). The Team Leaders cards are new and feature three players from each club on a horizontal-format card. Again, the Team Checklist and Season Highlights look exactly like the regular player cards.

Each pack includes two inserts, and among the ones you might receive is a 50 card set that suspiciously looks like 1975 Topps. The rest of the inserts leave much to be desired. Yankee Tedium Lunacy and Crockumentary are finally put to rest, which is a good thing. Unfortunately, UD just can't let go of the "mega-set" concept, and has unleashed their latest monstrosity: the 2500-card 20th Anniversary.

The Bottom Line

Wow, this box sucked. According to the sell-sheets, you're supposed to get one autograph, one single-swatch game jersey, and one multi-swatch jersey card in each box. I received the AU, but both of my gamers were single-swatch.

But getting screwed out of a multi-swatch jersey card is nothing compared to the 37 base set doubles this box yielded. What was weird is that all those doubles were from the first 100 cards in the set. I received substantially fewer cards numbered 101-200. This is unacceptable.

Of the eight 20th Anniversary cards I pulled, only three featured actual baseball players. In fact, I got just as many hockey players as I did baseball players. Last time I checked it still says "baseball cards" in the wrapper; so why am I getting hockey cards?

With that said, you're not really buying Upper Deck for the "hits," you're getting it for the base set, and it is (as usual) great -- even if you only get half of it and three-dozen doubles in a box.

Product Rating: 3 1/2 Gumsticks
Collation Rating: 1 1/2 Gumstick

... and another thing.

By now, you've probably heard the story of Rinku Singh and Dinesh Patel. The winners of a Indian reality game show, the two 20-year-old cricketeers were signed by the Pirates, becoming the first players from their country to sign with a Major League team. Although Singh and Patel will probably never appear in a Major League game, Upper Deck thought it appropriate to commemorate the achievement with a card in the "2008 Historic Firsts" insert. After all, card collectors love collecting obscure prospects. Don't they? And if anything could be considered "Historic," it surely would be this.

There's just one problem. Instead of giving the two Indians their own baseball card (if only for the novelty), Singh and Patel's "rookie card" has a picture of the Ghats of Varanasi.

A picture of a Temple? Really, Upper Deck? Would it have killed you to, you know, ACTUALLY GIVE RINKU AND DINSEH THEIR OWN CARD?

Sunday, February 22, 2009

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

How To *Properly* Do A Single-Card Insert

This is what makes the David Price gimmick card so frustrating. With this card, Upper Deck got it all right.

It has a different design from the base set, not numbered as part of the same, and was announced on the checklist before the product's release.

It reminds me of those way-cool SP cards that UD did in the early-90s.

Cardola: 2009 Topps American Heritage

Part One

Part Two

Saturday, February 14, 2009

Buy my stuff. NOW!

I just posted a bunch of cards on eBay. It's been a while since I've sold anything on the Bay, so I'd appreciate it if you at the very least take a look.


Friday, February 13, 2009

And now, a Special Comment.

As someone intimately familiar with the worlds of politics, sport, and the collectibles of the same, I can say with only the utmost certainty that each is populated with the same villainous archetype: the furtive, pusillanimous but ultimately cocksure abusers of power bent on the realization of any goal, no matter how dastardly, at any cost, no matter how inimical.

By now, on this their twentieth anniversary, we know it to be too true of a certain sports trading card company, controlled and cruelly engineered as it is by a Senior Brand Manager named Jason Masherah.

[Shakes head in disgust]

But we find it all too evident in The Hobby as well, where only the truly elite collectors can achieve the ultimate prize, there underlies an ugly truth. As we were raised with the fiction that any man could grow up to be president, we now have learned that only those capable of backroom eBay dealing and deception can possibly collect a full base set of 2009 Upper Deck Series One baseball.

This previously un-announced David Price gimmick card - arrogating a persona which bespeaks liberty, valor and righteousness - in reality stands in a decided, deceitful, calculated counterpoise.

You, Mister Shaderah, sir, were quoted by Beckett that "This (David Price) variation will help create some additional interest without compromising the integrity of the base set.”

[Looks up at camera]

Additional Interest?

Without compromising the integrity of the base set?

Have you not learned the mistakes of your rival and their misadventures in similar gimmicks? Did your tin ears not hear the outrage that blossomed across The Hobby at the Johan Santana fake no-hitter card? Or the "Jon" Smoltz variation in last year's Topps Heritage? The upside-down Evan Longoria rookie card in TU&H?

Did the anger over Kosuke Fukudome, Kazuo Uzuki, and Poley Walnuts not reach the echo-chambers of 5909 Sea Otter Place?

[Looks across at camera]

The answer to that question is obvious, and as such, we the collectors ask of you in reply:


Why do you feel the need to do this?

Do you really think baseball card collectors, the people who pay your salary, and without whom this industry would cease to exist, are this guillible? Do you have any respect for your best customers? Do you even care what collectors actually want anyway? Judging by recent UD baseball releases, I think we all know the answer to those.

[Pounds fist on desk, shaking head in disgust]

If you, Mister Masherah, sir, are reading this, I will give you the same advise I recently gave to your competition. Follow closely, and take note if needed.

SHOW SOME FUCKING RESPECT FOR THE HOBBY, FOR COLLECTORS, AND (most importantly) FOR YOURSELVES! Cards like the stealth David Price variation, are slowly gimmicking away two decades years of history and tradition, and for what?

Is it too hard to tell us, your customers and the people who pay your salary, EVERYTHING THAT IS IN YOUR PRODUCT BEFORE YOU RELEASE IT? For some reason, you did that with the Joe DiMaggio and Jordan/Griffey cards -- both of which are listed on the website. But not the Price variation -- until now.

[Looks up at camera]

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 you, Mister Shaderah, sir, continues to feel that Upper Deck's annual flagship needs a gimmick, then what does that say about the rest of Upper Deck Baseball?

And so this ends Stale Gum for this, the 11,266th day I've been actively collecting baseball cards. Good night, and good luck.

[Crumbles up script into a ball and tosses it at the camera]

(inspired by, and portions of text ripped off of, KSK)

Monday, February 09, 2009

The Stale Gum Lawsuit Pool.

By now, you've seen the sell-sheets and the preview on Wax Heaven. The question is this: How long will it be before Topps sues Upper Deck for copyright infringement?

List the date in the comments, and the closest will win, something.

Sunday, February 08, 2009

Video Box Break and Review: 2008 Razor Signature Series

I won a Beckett contest, and they sent me this waxbox of 2008 Razor Signature Series.

So, was this a loaded box, or not? Let the conspiracy theories begin!

Friday, February 06, 2009

Video Box Break and Review: 2009 Topps Series One HTA

One HTA box of 2009 Topps Series One (paid $95)
50 cards per pack, ten cards per box

The Video

The Pulls


One full 330-card base set
108 doubles

1 Variation (19 cards, 1:19) W. Johnson


10 Golds (one-per-pack, numbered to 2009) B. Lidge, Berkman/Lee, KosFu, J. Manuel, C. Jackson, D. Span, E. Burriss, B. Roberts, C. Lambert, B. Bixler
1 Black (one-per-pack, numbered to 58) B. Barton


10 Legends of the Game (25 cards, one-per-pack) C. Young, H. Wagner, T. Speaker, G. Sisler, J. Foxx, Pee Wee Reese, R. Maris, M. Mantle, R. Clemente, C. Yastrzemski
10 Turkey Red (55 cards, one-per-pack) R. Ludwick, B. Molina, Chutley, G. Atkins, C. Granderson, A-Fraud, J. Upton, G. Soto, T. Hunter, M. Caberea
10 Ring Of Honor (25 cards, one-per-pack) T. LaRussa, B. Lidge, D. Snider, L. Gonzalez, G. Carter, A. Pettitte, J. Leyland, A. Pujols, R. Clemens, R. Howard
10 Ticket to Toppstown (30 cards, one-per-pack) J. Santana, HanRam, A. Gordon, R. Howard, J. Peavy, Ichiro, K-Rod, M. Cabrera, C. Quentin, L. Berkman
1 WBC Redemption (1:10)
1 Topps Attax Redemption
1 Legends of the Game Manufactured Patch Bullshit (1:10*, numbered to 50) L. Gehirg "H"


1 Career Best Autograph (47 cards, 1:10) T. Snider
1 Career Best Relic (34 cards, 1:10) Ichiro

* One autograph, one relic, and one manufactured bullshit patch card per box.

The Review

Well, that's more like it. After a couple of lackluster years, the Topps flagship is back and it is a marked improvement over what we've seen the past few years. It's not quite where it ought to be, but Topps is on its way back.

The base set is still only 330 cards, which is about 100 cards smaller than it ought to be. It breaks down to 255 players, 30 rookies, 10 league leaders, 15 managers, eight postseason highlights, six award winners, five Classic Combos, and one dead Hall of Famer.

The design is Topps best effort in years, and "effort" is an apt term. As many have commented, the fronts have a mid-90s feel to it, and for some reason, I love the "arch" element on the back. I can't explain why, I just do. I also like the fact that Topps chose NOT to airbrush those players who have changed teams. Mark Teixeira is still pictured as an Angel, Pat Burrell is still a Phillie, and Chan Ho Park is still in Dodger blue. The only airbrushed card I could find is of Greg Golson who was traded from the Phillies to the Rangers.

Another thing that's pretty cool are the Classic Combo cards. Not for what's on the front, but what's on the back: checklists. Call me old fashioned, but I think checklists deserve to be in the base set. The only problem is that Topps didn't include any of the inserts in the checklists, only the base cards.

Speaking of which, each HTA pack comes with a Gold parallel and an insert from one of four sets: Legends of the Game, Turkey Red, Ring of Honor, and Ticket to Toppstown. I don't quite understand why Topps chose to reprint Turkey Red though. Hasn't that set been done already? What's next, Allen & Ginter inserts in 2010 Topps?

One insert this product could have done without are the variation cards. 17 of the 19 variations are of the CMG legends and the other two are of President Obama and CC Sabathia in an airbrushed Yankee uniform. Topps had already included these 17 in the Legends of the Game insert, and I don't see the point of including them in a variation.

The Bottom Line

This HTA box yieled one full 330-card base set and about a third of a second. I also pulled 40 inserts, 11 parallels, 1 variation, and two redemptions. My designated autograph was of Blue Jays outfielder Travis Snider. Snider was the 14th player selected in the '06 draft and was the youngest position player in baseball last year. My relic was a plain gray jersey of Ichiro.

My other "relic" (and I use that term loosely) was a manufactured letter patch card with a giant felt "H" on it. Somehow this "H" has something to do with Lou Gehrig. Am I the only collector who thinks these manufactured relics are total bullshit? Does anybody actually collect these things? Memo to Topps and Upper Deck: If it's not actually game used, then what the fuck is the point?

Product Rating
: 3 1/2 Gumsticks (out of five)
Box Rating: 4 Gumsticks

... and another thing

If a gimmick card of Captain Cheeseburger is the worst Topps can come up with, then I guess I'm OK with that. I don't like it, but at least it's not a furry animal, fake Japanese phenom, space alien, or an old decrepit quarterback on a lawn tractor.

Thursday, February 05, 2009

Cardblogs that you will like.

Trading Cards, TCG's and Me

Like Stephen Judd's blog, TCTCGS&M is written from "The Inside." It's author is Nathan Whitmire, a buyer for one of the main suppliers of trading cards for the mass retail market. If you like The Sports Card File, then you need to put this in your feed reader.

Stitches and Bitches

It's hits and tits! Game jersey cards paired up with hot babes. Why didn't I think of this!