Wednesday, March 30, 2011

El-Cheapo Blaster Break: 2007 Turkey Red

Marie from A Cardboard Problem told me about the el-cheapo Blasters K-Mart just got in. I got three 2007 Turkey Red Blasters this afternoon and busted them live on UStream.

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

60 years of Topps Baseball on MLB Network (set your DVRs to "Stun")

Don't ask me why I'm the one telling you about this, because you'd think Topps, Beckett, or MLB would out front with it.

Next Tuesday evening, March 29, at 10PM ET, MLB Network will air a one-hour special on the 60th Anniversary of Topps. Entitled "Cardboard Treasure," the show (according to the blurb on MLB's website) will offer "A 60-year history of Topps and how it has been the epicenter of the baseball card industry."

Hey, it's a start.

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

And now a message, in the Public Interest, from Stale Gum

When shopping for Blasters at Wal-Mart, you may have noticed that the usual Ultra-Pro top-loaders have been replaced with a new brand. It looks a little something like this...

Top-Loaders are top-loaders, right? Wrong.

Unfortunately, these new TLs are a lot thinner than Ultra-Pros. How thin?

Thin as in, damn-near-impossible-to-fir-a-normal-sized-trading-card thin. Even pinching the sides, I could not fit this Roy Halladay insert into these TLs.

If you see these TLs at Wal-Mart, do yourselves a favor and leave 'em on the shelf. Stick with Ultra-Pro TLs.

Sunday, March 13, 2011

The Worst Autograph I've Ever Seen in My Life.

You want to know why collectors everywhere hate manu-crap-tured letter patches? Well, other than the fact that the whole concept is stupid. That goes without saying. Take a look at that autograph.

Nothing personal against Mr. Ka'aihue, you did your best. But try signing your name 1000 times across an small and uneven surface.

From what I've heard through the grapevine, Topps is reconfiguring Finest for 2011 -- which is why you haven't seen the sell sheets yet. Let's all hope they start by dumping this abomination.

Friday, March 11, 2011

The Ruben Project

Call me crazy. Or maybe I just had too much cough syrup last night.

Last night on Twitter (and if you're still not following me on Teh Twinkah, why the hell not?), I asked why the 2001 Bowman Chrome Autograph of Ron Davenport (who never made it past AA, and was last seen playing Indy ball) books for $120, while John Buck (who made the All-Star team last year) is only $80. I got an interesting response from Wes Yee, one of the Moderators at Freedom Card Board. He told me the story of how in 2002, members of Davenport's immediate family were attempting to corner the market on Ron's card.

After a few hours of web surfing, I then turned over to one of my guilty pleasures: Everything Is Terrible. For the uninitiated, EIT is a video repsoitory/performance art collective that scours the nation's flea markets, thrift stores, and dollar stores for old VHS tapes, then posts what they find to YouTube. The more obscure and weird, the better. Like this clip...

One of EIT's side projects has been to collect as many VHS copies of the 1996 film Jerry Maguire as possible.

Why you ask?

Well, why not? That's why.

They've collected almost 1000 "Jerry's" thus far, and will not stop until THEY




So I began to wonder; what would be the Jerry Maguire of baseball cards? A card that, when it was first issued, was extremely valuable, in demand, and stockpiled by the dozens by collectors; but has since lost most of its value, and, like Jerry Maguire, looks dated. What is the one card that truly represents its era but has been seemingly forgotten by collectors?

I could try and go "Jerry Maguire" on a 2001 BowChro Ron Davenport-type card (i.e. a high-end card with many esoteric gimmicks), like Greg "Toe" Nash's card from the same set. But with so few copies available, it wouldn't be all that feasible to do.

Enter this guy...

This is Ruben Rivera (a.k.a. Mariano's stupid cousin). You probably know him as that guy who stole Derek Jeter's glove, then sold it to a memorabilia dealer. You may also remember him from this most excellent display of base running skills.

The Ruben Rivera I remember was the 20-year-old mega-prospect who hit 33 HRs and stole 48 bases at Single-A in 1994, and was already being called "The Next Mickey Mantle." But in the Summer of '94, The Next Mickey Mantle had yet to appear on a baseball card. That is, until the release of 1994 Bowman Baseball.

Those of you that weren't born, or weren't collecting back then, probably don't remember the frenzy that surrounded Ruben Rivera's 1994 Bowman RC. Pulling one out of a pack of '94 Bowman was like pulling a $10 bill. No joke! It was almost (almost) like the Strasburg-mania we saw last year -- but without the autographs, Refractors, pie-in-the-face gimmicks, et al.

Ruben Rivera, of course, never lived up to the "Next Mickey Mantle" hype. After a few years the Yankees shipped him off to San Diego for another one of the forgotten prospects of the 90s: Hideki Irabu. Over the last decade he's bounced from San Diego, to Texas, to Tulsa, to San Francisco, Ottawa, Bowie, back to the Yankees, to Charlotte, and for the last four seasons, Los Piratas de Campeche of the Mexican League.

Ruben Rivera is the poster child for much hyped prospects who never quite lived up to the hype. But there's still thousands of Ruben Rivera rookie cards out there, many of which have probably never been seen or touched or collected since 1994.

So here's the deal: Forget about "Bipping."

Bip Wars are over.


Instead, I want you to "Ruben" me.

That's right. I want all your 1994 Bowman Ruben Rivera cards.

Send them to me. I don't care how many or how little you have.

Let me reunite all your long-lost Rubens with all the other long-lost Rubens in the comfort of my 3200-count Monster Box.

I will then bring all my Rubens with me to this Summer's National Sports Collector's Convention in Rosemont, IL, where they will be publicly displayed for all to see.

Afterward, they will all be taken to the grave of Jefferson Burdick in Central Square, NY, where they will be ritually sacrificed in a manner to be determined later.

Yes, I did drink too much cough syrup when I came up with this idea last night; but no, this is not a joke. I am dead serious about this.


Send your Rubens to...

Chris Harris
9129 Santayana Drive
Fairfax VA 22031-3066

The person who sends me the most 1994 Bowman Ruben Rivera cards by the time of this year's National will get a prize of some sort. What that prize is, I do not know, but it will be worth your while.

Tuesday, March 08, 2011

My Million Card Giveaway Haul.

A couple of days ago, I got a package from Topps. Alright, not exactly from Topps. They stopped giving me stuff months ago. Rather, it was from a fulfillment house in New Castle, Delaware.

I did some research, and I found out that this place is (literally) right next to the Delaware Memorial Bridge. Of all the times I've crossed that bridge from South Jersey to The Republic of Fairfax, why didn't I think of doing a B&E?

Anyway, I thought I'd share some of the cards I got as part of last year's Million Card Giveaway. For the record, I declined all cards from the 80s, 90s, and 00s. I only chose to accept cards from 1979 and later. So, if you get a bunch of 1988 Tim Teufel cards in the Diamond Giveaway, you'll know who to blame.

This 1973 card of Dave Nelson may very well have the worst action photo I've ever seen on a baseball card. When two guys on the other team are bigger than the alleged subject, you know it's pretty bad.

Forget Pete Rose, this guy may be the most deserving former Cincinnati Red NOT in the Hall of Fame. I just found out, right now, in doing research for this blogpost that he died in 1995. Shame.

Speaking of Hall of Famers, this guy's not only in the Baseball Hall of Fame, but in the Professional Mustache Rider's Hall of Fame. Now you know why Rollie kept that handle-bar for all those years. Yeah...

This '67 Topps of professional innings-eater Wilbur "376.2 IP" Wood was the worst card I got, condition wise. You may not be able to see it, but there's a big crease running parallel to Wilbur's eyebrows.


"The Psychedelic Tombstones" would have been a great name for an early-70s acid-rock band. Speaking of which...

If you haven't seen this cartoon about Doc's legendary no-hitter, DO IT NOW!!!

I was lucky to get two 1950s cards. This is one...

...and this is the other. Yes kids, that's a '53 high-number. And yes kids, that's the same Ed O'Brien from Jim Bouton's Ball Four.

And the Piece de Resistance... The best card I got out of the Million Card Giveaway...

Ruben Amaro played 12 seasons in the Majors for the Cardinals, Phillies, Yankees, and Angels. But that's not his most important contribution to the game of baseball, for Ruben would go on to sire a child. A child who followed in his father's footsteps, playing seven season in the Big Leagues himself. But then, would join the front office, climb the corporate ladder, and go on to build the greatest pitching staff in the history of baseball. Halladay, Lee, Oswalt, Hamels. It would have never happened with the man on this card.

Saturday, March 05, 2011

You need to be on Twitter. (SRSLY)

I know what you're thinking. Yet another social-media doo-hickey? Really?

Yeah, really.

If you're a serious card collector, you need to be on Twitter; if only for the nightly dialogues between myself (@stalegum) and Chris Olds (@chrisolds2009).

And if you're already in Twitter, feel free to follow me.

Wednesday, March 02, 2011

Blog Bat Around: Your Say (and mine)

(As an aside, is that not a bad ass logo? early-80s hardcore FTW!!!)

I'd like to thank each and every one of you who answered the call for this edition of the Blog Bat Around. I was hoping to get this thing posted a week ago, but sometimes real life gets in the way at the most inopportune times. I apologize for the delay.

It's still great to know just how much the cardblogosphere has blown-up in the past few years. In just the last four years, we've gone for just a handful of cardblogs, to (literally) hundreds. I received BBA entries from cardblogs I didn't even know existed, and from others I hadn't read in years. For the first time since the days of Jefferson Burdick's old mimeographed newsletters, the collector has a voice in The Hobby. Cardblogs, Twitter, and communities like Freedom Cardboard have given us, the collectors, that voice. But is it being heard?

Now, to refresh your memories, here is the question I posed almost month ago...

Michael Eisner has just fired the entire Topps Product Development staff and chose to hire you to take their place. Mr. Eisner has given you carte blanche to do whatever you want with Topps Baseball -- as long as you keep it under $2/pack.

If you were in charge of Topps, and based upon what you've seen of 2011 Topps Baseball Series One, what (if anything) would you have done differently?

Here are some of the entries from around the cardblogosphere.

Community Gum said...

White Sox Cards said...

dfwbuck2 said...

Fleerfan said... said...

lifetimetopps said...

night owl said...

FanOfReds said...

Craig Stone said...

The Lost Collector said...

dayf The Cardboard Junkie said...

thewritersjourney said...

Ryan said...

Mariner1 said...

Dan said...

bdj610 said...

(If there are any BBA submissions not listed, I apologize. I probably didn't read your entry, or if I did, I forgot to post it here. Please leave a link to your BBA article, and I'll add you to the list.)

After reading the submissions it seems that the majority of the cardblogosphere has come to this consensus...
  • You really, really, like the design of this year's base set; but you wish it were bigger than 330 cards.
I can't disagree with this point. The Topps Flagship has been stuck at 660-661 cards since 2006 and baring a last-minute change of plans, looks like it will be again this year. Most of you would like to see the set expanded to at least 792 and as much as 880 cards. However, if you treat Updates & Highlights as a pseudo-third series, like I do, it already is.

Some of you mentioned that you'd like to see U&H reduced to the 110-132 card range. But let's suppose for a moment if Topps expands the base set to two, 440-card, Series with a 110-card Update set. That would still be the same number of cards as the current 330/330/330 format now. Don't get me wrong, I'd like to see Series One and Series Two expanded. But as long as U&H remains the Series Three/Traded Set hybrid it is now, I see no reason why Topps should change.
  • You like the Platinum Diamond parallels and want them to come back next year.
I've never been a big fan of the parallel, but I like the Platinum Diamonds and most of you do too. I'm not so sure I'd want them back for 2012, but if they do come back I think they should come back as a one-per-pack parallel. There hasn't been a true one-per-pack parallel done in a long time, but the Diamond's might be the cards to do it with.

Topps Gold used to be a one-per-pack parallel, but ever since it went serial-numbered about a decade ago, it seems to have lost its luster (no pun intended) amongst collectors. Collectors back in the 90s used to actually build and collect Topps Gold sets. Now, not so much. If the Platinum Diamonds are "one-and-done," then I'd like to see the Gold cards revert back to one-per-pack.
  • You really don't care one way or the other for the gimmicks, and they're not inducing you to buy more Topps product.
Gimmicks are what they are: A cheap ploy designed to appeal to the basest instinct of the collector. Gimmicks assume that the collector is inherently stupid. The idea of course, is to artificially create hype behind a product (as if Topps Baseball actually needs it), then make you buy more cards in the hopes of pulling some rare, previously unknown variation. Of course I'm probably giving Topps way too much credit and this is just an unintended side effect resulting from a strategy of adding cheap "value" to the product.


The good news is that the gimmicks aren't working anymore -- at least on us. The gimmick card has Jumped the Proverbial shark so much that collectors now assume Topps will do something stupid with all their low-price brands (Topps, Heritage, and A&G) and adjust accordingly. And with so many collectors now connected on the web, the novelty has worn off. Within hours of 2011 Topps Series One's release, reports were being posted to the web of the Twinks; and by the time Topps finally acknowledged their existence, it was old news. Collectors just don't care anymore.
  • There are way too many inserts, but all of you like at least one of them.
Yes, 2011 Topps suffers from "insert bloat." But at least there's something for everyone. Like 19th Century minis? Well, here's the Kimball Champions. Reprints? Missing cards from old Topps sets of yore? 2011 Topps has got that too. Two players back-to-back on the same card? Yep!

So while most of us agree that the 2011 Topps insert program is excessive, not many can agree on what inserts should be cut. Part of this is due to bad long-range planning on Topps' part. The 60th Anniversary reprints should have been the crown jewel of 2011 Topps, just as the Through The Years reprints were in 2001. They should have been -- had Topps not already had the same set last year with The Cards Your Mother Threw Out. Everybody seems to like the Kimball Champions, but if you're going to base your whole product on the 60th Anniversary of Topps Baseball, what are cards based on a set released 60 years before Topps doing in this set then? Wouldn't Kimball Champions had been in 2010 Topps? Or saved for 2012?

I don't like the fact that there are separate inserts for Wal-Mart, Target, and Toys `R' Us, and all they do is add to the insert bloat. But if that's the price you have to pay to get an end-cap display in a high-traffic area, I guess Topps didn't have much choice.
  • Topps Flagship really doesn't need a hit in a box, but it's nice to have anyway.
Some suggested that Topps should scrap the sticker autographs, and have all autographs on-card. This will happen when pigs fly. The Pirates will win the World Series before Topps Flagship gets rid of stickers. It will never happen, nor should it.

Remember the task in the prompt: Keep Topps under $2/pack. On-card autographs require a lot more time and overhead cost to produce than stickers. If you want to go all on-card, then you're looking at either fewer cards in a pack, or $3-$5 for a pack of Topps.

Nobody buys base Topps for the hits. Topps could get rid of the autographs and "relics" (or at least make them tougher to pull) and most of us will still buy it. Hits are nice to have, but in this product, not necessary.
  • Nobody likes manupatches.
Stupid ideas in The Hobby tend to have a three-to-five year life cycle, and the manupatch is nearing the end. But if Topps continues with manupatches, at the very least they should stop calling them "relics." Because they're not.

The term "relic" suggests something of significance (i.e. "game-used"). Labeling manupatches as "relics" implies that it is game-used, when it is, in fact, not. It's false advertising.

Again, I'd like to thank everyone who participated in this edition of the Blog Bat Around. Hopefully the guys and gals at Topps will take these suggestions under consideration -- but given their track-record, I wouldn't hold my breath over it though.