Friday, July 30, 2010

Anyone interested in Benchwarmer Baseball?

Back in April, I wrote a post about a fantasy baseball league I had joined which was a lot different than anything out there.  The reason that I joined was that it was almost identical to a league that I used to be a member of through the mail in high school.  I just read a tweet from @benchwarmerBB stating that there would be an August special coming up that would allow new owners to play in 2011 for free.  It’s a great way to test the waters and see if this is something that you’d be interested in.  I’ll keep people up to date and depending on the details of the promotion, maybe we can get all of the bloggers in a league together.  I’d be willing to draft a second team to participate.  Check out the league’s site, check out my original post and if you think this might satisfy the baseball guru in you then let me know.

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Favorite cards: Dwight Evans RC

DeweyRCFrom the moment that I started watching the Red Sox, Dwight Evans was my favorite player.  He is one of the most underrated players in the history of the game.  If only he had discovered the teachings of Walt Hriniak earlier in his career instead of halfway through the 1980 season, he may have gotten more consideration when it came to the Hall of Fame.

While Jim Rice had a couple of career years better than any that Evans put up, Evans had a better overall career and that’s without considering Evans’ far superior defense.  Rice is in the Hall of Fame, but Evans is not.  Ozzie Smith is in the Hall of Fame mostly for defense and some stolen bases.  Evans is a more deserving candidate than Smith was, but Smith had the one or two big career years to get himself into the minds of fans.  The biggest thing that hurt Evans’ consideration for the Hall was not having that one monster season.  He was well on his way to that in 1981 when the strike stopped play in the middle of the season.  Evans couldn’t get back on track once play resumed.  Even with doing almost nothing in the second half, Evans finished third in the MVP voting.  No one in the American League hit more home runs during the 80s than Evans and he was fourth in all of baseball.  He led the league in walks and OPS (long before anyone knew what it was) multiple times, but those aren’t flashy categories.  Without the strike, there’s a good chance that Evans tops 400 HR and 1400 RBI for his career and gets a longer look by Hall of Fame voters.

Dewey had a cannon for an arm, was amazingly accurate when throwing home and mastered all of the angles in Fenway Park’s right field corner.  His eight gold gloves are the most in the history of the Red Sox and only three outfielders have more than he does: Willie Mays, Roberto Clemente and Al Kaline.

Most of the time it is easy to accept the fact that Dwight Evans won’t ever be in the Hall of Fame, but it gets harder to accept when players such as Andre Dawson, Ozzie Smith and Jim Rice get inducted.  Evans is better than Rice, very similar to Dawson and better than Ozzie (who absolutely shouldn’t be in the Hall of Fame if Alan Trammel isn’t).

On to the card at hand, 1973 Topps #614.  This card pictures Dwight Evans along with Al Bumbry and Charlie Spikes.  Bumbry was the ‘73 Rookie of the Year and would later go on to be a coach for the Red Sox.  I miss having multiple rookies on one card.  It allowed Topps to include more players from each team’s roster in the setand resulted in fewer cards of guys who only had a couple of at-bats and never saw big league playing time again.

This particular copy of this card isn’t in the greatest of shape, but I purchased it with my own money back in the late-80s at a collectibles show at the Bayside Expo Center.  This copy will always have a special place in my collection even if I pick up better copies of the card.  I’ve got Sweet Spot cards signed on leather, Sweet Spot cards signed on a ball, Leaf cards signed with baseball stamps and a bunch of other cool modern cards, but none of those will ever come close to this card.  This card has been in my collection for over 20 years.  The only thing that could have come remotely close to this card would have been Dewey Dufex, but unfortunately he retired before Pinnacle unveiled the coolest parallels ever.

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Monday, July 26, 2010

2020 Vision

Since I have half of the set from my jumbo box and I like the set, I may as well try and complete it.  I’ve managed to pick up 5 duplicates from packs and so I’m offering them up to anyone out there who may have the cards that I need.  My duplicates are T5 Justin Upton, T11 Joe Mauer, T14 Ubaldo Jimenez, T13 Andrew McCutchen and T20 Matt Kemp.  I need T1 Ryan Braun, T2 Gordon Beckham, T4 David Price, T6 Hunter Pence, T7 Ryan Howard, T8 Buster Posey, T10 Evan Longoria, T15 Pablo Sandoval, T16 David Wright and T18 Clayton Kershaw.  I’ll also take trades for these cards for other stuff from my collection if you aren’t chasing this set at the moment.  I’m sure I can find something that you’ll like.  Drop me a line if you can help me out.


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Sunday, July 25, 2010

Drafting something for the collection

BrentzA few months ago, my daughter won a contest on the Upper Deck Facebook page.  We sent in a picture that she had drawn of mom on a baseball card for the contest and she was randomly picked as a winner.  The prize was a box of 2009 Signature Stars Baseball.  We opened the box together, but she lost interest about halfway through.  She showed a lot more interest in the Hannah Montana box that she won from Beckett.

Actually, I didn’t show a lot of interest in the box either which is why it never showed up here as a box break.  The box promised four signature or memorabilia cards and we pulled five which was cool, but it still wasn’t anything to write home about.  We got an autographed card of Joe Nathan, a jersey card of National Team member Cody Buckel, a numbered jersey card of National Team member Kevin Gausman and a numbered, autographed jersey card of National Team member Cory Hahn.  Four of the five hits were member of the National Team… yawn.

The last of the five hits became a lot more interesting on June 7th when he was drafted #36 by the Boston Red Sox.  The Red Sox have had a lot of luck with past supplemental draft picks.  Clay Buchholz was compensation for the loss of Pedro Martinez in the 2005 draft.  Jacoby Ellsbury was compensation from the Angels for the signing of Orlando Cabrera.  (Side note: Most Sox fans ignore these picks when arguing that the Sox should have kept Pedro or Cabrera.  Letting both go was the right move at the time and in retrospect.)  Future Closer, Daniel Bard was compensation for the Yankees signing Johnny Damon.  (Damon was the only big name the Sox let go who has done much of anything after leaving.)

This year’s 20th pick, Kolbrin Vitek, was a compensatory pick for the Braves signing Billy Wagner.  This year’s 36th pick, Bryce Brentz, was selected with a pick given for the loss of Jason Bay to the Mets.  The 39th pick, Anthony Ranaudo, was compensation for losing Billy Wagner (what the heck were the Mets thinking? Maybe they thought they were getting the other Chris Carter.)  Ranaudo has some injury concerns, but if he can regain his form he just may end up being the best of the three.

I actually got to see both Brentz and Vitek play a few weeks ago during the Futures at Fenway.  Hopefully it won’t be too long before I see both of them playing in Fenway full time.  Until then, I have a new card to add to my Red Sox collection.

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

2010 Tri-Star Obak Minor League Baseball

44-Heyward I was a big fan of last year’s Obak set and am very happy to see that it will be returning in 2010.  With so many sets doing the same things with the same players over and over again, Obak is a breath of fresh air and a very fun set to collect.  The best part of these sets are the cards celebrating the history of baseball.  There’s a lot to be learned just reading the backs of these cards.

The Obak set isn’t licensed since Topps has the MiLB exclusive license, but for the best cards in this set it doesn’t really matter if they are licensed or not.  For the athletes in the set, if you don’t mind some airbrushing and lack of team names, then you’re going to end up loving this set.


71-EbbetsCharles Ebbets is one of the cards that can be found in the Game Changers subset.   Other people in the set include Eberhard Anheuser for the beverage of choice during ballgames, George Eastman whose advancements in film helped get pictures of the game to fans and Jefferson Burdick who is known for The American Card Catalog which became the standard for identifying and organizing trading cards produced before 1951.

History’s Greatest Players includes Roger Clemens, Andre Dawson, Hank Greenberg, Dale Murphy and Cal Ripken Jr bringing some established star power to the set.

T212-4-JacksonThere’s a Minor League Player of the Year subset that includes such names as Don Baylor, Johnny Bench, Jose Canseco and Jason Heyward.

The Can You Believe subset looks like it will be both fun and informative.  The subset includes one-armed pitcher and Olympian Jim Abbott, Wally Pipp who supposedly sat out a game due to a headache which led to the start of Lou Gehrig’s legendary streak and Moe Berg who also a spy during World War II.

There’s a Multi-sport subset, but it seems like it would have been a better fit in last year’s set that included Bo Jackson and Gene Conley.  Throw Brian Jordan in there and you’ve got the start of a great subset.  This year’s set consists of “Hopalong” Cassady, Dave DeBusschere, Francis Ouimet, Kyle Rote Sr. and Charlie Ward.

Tri-Star also has the TNA Wrestling license and make use of it in this set.  There’s a one card Pop Icon subset that consists solely of Hulk Hogan.  The Historic Names subset has a Tinker, Evans & Chance card which is cool.  Those three players also appear individually on short prints along with Todd McFarlane and his balls and a card featuring both William H Taft and Barack Obama.

A15-Heyward The mini autograph checklist looks to be a good one.  You can find Jim Abbott, Johnny Bench, Starlin Castro, Roger Clemens, Jason Heyward and Hulk Hogan in that set.

The modern sized cards have some nice autographs available as well.  You can find Heyward again as well as Castro, Drew Storen, Michael Trout, Abbott, Baylor, Bench, Canseco, Clemens, Dawson, Gooden, Hulk Hogan, Dale Murphy, Cal Ripken and Darryl Strawberry.  One of the more intriguing autographs available is that of Todd McFarlane.  I already have his autograph in my collection, but it would be interesting to have it one a baseball card.

There’s one cut autograph card that’s going to command a lot of attention and that is the card containing autographs of Stephen Strasburg and Bryce Harper.  If these were on-card autos that card might be the card of the year.  Who knows, it might still be with the cut signatures.  Other interesting pairings for cut signatures are Buster Posey with Matt Wieters, Hank Aaron with Tommie Aaron and Stan “The Man” paired with Pujols.  There are also cut autographs of Joe DiMaggio, Mickey Mantle and Obama.

The box toppers look very cool this year.  They are oversized cabinet cards and it looks like they feature a picture of each team’s stadium with a player from that team on the reverse.

Each box contains 11 hits.  You get 4 autograph cards which are numbered to 125 or less, 2 parallel cards numbered to 50 or less, 1 T212 mini parallel cards numbered to 50 or less, 3 short print cards and one of the T4 cabinet cards numbered to 75 or less.

Last year’s Obak set was great and it looks like this year’s will be even better.  You’ve got fun facts, a great autograph checklist and something different than everything else out there.  Obak comes out on August 11th unless you are going to the National where you can pick up the product on the 5th.

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Monday, July 12, 2010

Congrats Big Papi

Wow, what a show put on by David Ortiz in the home run derby.  It’s great to see him do this on a National stage after people wanted to write him off for the second season in a row.

They really have to do something about the derby though.  At the scheduled two hours, with my current favorite player in the running, it still borders on too long.  Once it goes over by 30 minutes with Berman “back”ing and making terrible jokes and Joe Morgan oozing bitter all over everything, it starts to get brutal.  Maybe drop the field to six batters, then three and then the top two slug it out.  Something has to be done though.  Homeruns start to look the same after a while.  This isn’t the dunk contest where there’s some variety and even the dunk contest has gotten stale in recent years.

Congrats again Big Papi.

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Saturday, July 10, 2010

I’m a winner!

I got shut out when Topps celebrated their new online presence with a month of giveaways.  My daughter won a box of Hannah Montana from Beckett and a box of Signature Stars from Upper Deck.  I came close to winning a beautiful Bob Cousy autographed card, but I want a little overboard on my confidence in the Celtics and picked them to sweep the Heat which led to a low guess on points scored for the series.

That’s all changed a little bit recently though.  The first victory came out of the blue and wasn’t from a contest.  I just happened to be browsing the Topps Facebook page and noticed that someone had made a comment asking if they could return off-center Stephen Strasburg cards to Topps for replacements.  Topps replied to let the poster know that they would be replacing these cards if they were sent in.  Being the smart ass that I am, I replied that they could just send their cards to Beckett and have them graded as 9.5s.  I don’t see the comment on the Topps page anymore, but one person who saw it before it was deleted really appreciated it.

Steve Mandy from Attack of the Baseball Cards in Union, New Jersey sent me a message on Facebook letting me know that he found my comment very funny and letting me know that he wanted to send me some packs that Strasburgs could possibly be pulled out of.  I sent off my address and a few days later had a package arrive containing one pack each of 2009 TRISTAR Prospects+, 2010 Bowman, 2008 Timeline and 2008 SP Authentic.  I wasn’t lucky enough to pull a Strasburg, but I did get a Red Sox Chrome prospect, a Bowman Throwback (absolutely love this set) and some other cool cards.  Attack looks like a very cool card shop and I can see why.  If Steve is willing to send off packs of cards to random people on Facebook, I can only imagine what he does for his customers in the store.  Thanks again Steve!

The next big piece of news arrived when I checked Facebook this morning.  You may recall that I went out to the Basketball Hall of Fame to see the Panini Adrenalyn tour bus when it was visiting.  On the way out, I snapped some pictures of the tour bus with the Hall of Fame.  It’s a good thing that I did because Panini ended up running a contest for the best picture of yourself with the bus.  I was notified today that I was the winner of the contest.  The prize?  Check it out below:

Wow, this is a very cool prize.  I’ve seen a few of these autographed patch cards in person and they’re very nice looking.  It would be cooler if it was a Celtics player, but I’m not going to complain too much.  I can’t wait to see this card when it arrives.  Kobe stuff should be even more desirable now that LeBron has given up on trying to build his own legacy and is now willing to try and be carried to some championships.

I now pass the luck on to someone else and hope to read some cool stories of other people winning some cool items.

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

A quick addition to the Toy Story 3 sticker review

While the graphic designers did a great job making this album look good, Panini skimped on the budget for the proof readers. There's half of a sentence duplicated on the first page of the story as well as a couple of typos. For something that is targeting little kids as a reading audience, this is pretty crummy. Visually, this is great stuff, but Panini needz to go back needz to go back to proof reading school.

Saturday, July 3, 2010

The most ridiculous part of all of this hype

The most ridiculous thing that I’ve seen in a large sampling of ridiculousness has been the huge increase in the price of boxes of 2008 Timelines.  Huge for a product such as this one that is.  If I remember correctly, these boxes regularly sold for around $50 and were often on sale for around $40.  These boxes have now jumped to $75 and more.  The chance of pulling a Strasburg autograph out of these packs is insanely tough and other than that card, I really haven’t seen anything else big come out of these packs.  There’s a lot of sticker autographs of minor stars and young players that never panned out.

This used to be a fun, inexpensive set to break with some nice retro designs, but it has now joined the ranks of 2010 Bowman as a set containing Strasburg where only 2% of the boxes out there will be worth even a fourth of what you pay for them.  I’m surprised that 2008 Sweet Spot boxes haven’t jumped in price as well, but those were overpriced to begin with and the price never really dropped on those so there’s no room for them to go up at the moment.

Ginter has already dropped from the crazy prices it had climbed to at release.  I’m sure everything else will follow.  At the very least, all of the Strasburg stuff should drop in price next year when we do this all again for Bryce Harper.

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Family Fun: Panini Toy Story 3 Stickers

As my daughter has gotten older, I’ve looked for any opportunity possible to get her into collecting.  It hasn’t been that difficult since kids always look to do the same things that adults are doing.  When I’m searching the card aisle at Target, my daughter is also looking for something she might want to open such as Spongebob cards or Bella Sera figures.

My whole family shares a love of Pixar movies.  We went to see Toy Story 3 opening weekend and loved it.  While out shopping the other day with my daughter, we picked up the Toy Story 3 sticker album and a handful of packs.  I expected something along the lines of sticker albums that I had purchased as a kid, but what we got was something a lot more cool.

I don’t know how the collation runs on these things, but there is something close to chase stickers in this set.  In every 8 sticker pack you seem to get two stickers that are either the shiny prisms or the very cool, reflective fabric stickers.


The prismatic stickers look very cool and scan well also.  Here are a couple of shiny Slinky Dog stickers.  You can’t tell from the scan, but the Little Green Army Man sticker is printed on a reflective fabric.  These stickers are very nice and I’m hoping for a few duplicates of these to keep after completing the set.

Here’s what a completed page looks like.  The stickers are die cut to different shapes which makes for a great looking page when done, but this is not something that a little kid can do with good results.  When I was putting stickers into the album with my daughter, she took care of all of the rectangle stickers which I did all of the weird shapes.  Even I couldn’t line things up properly.  Check out the pipe to the left of Slink.  Oops.  There are three stickers on this page.  The first is of Hamm, Rex and Jesse, the second is of Woody and Buzz while the final one has Mr. Potato Head and Slinky Dog on it.

There are 180 stickers in the set which is pretty large.  I plan on buying a box of stickers to open a little at a time with my daughter and hopefully we can at least get close enough so that an order of singles from Panini will finish off the set.  This has been a fun way to share my collecting hobby with my daughter and I know that I’ll end up reading her the story in the book (Oh yes, the sticker book also doubles as a story book) many times before all is said and done.  Thanks Panini for a great set!

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Friday, July 2, 2010

Mail Day: Dee Brown

Every now and then, I’ll pick up a few Dee Brown cards for my collection.  I lost some interest when he left the Celtics and even more once he retired.  I wasn’t collecting much then anyway.  When I see something cool online, I’ll grab it to add to the collection.  Sometimes it works and sometimes it doesn’t.


Most days, I’ll do the majority of my blog reading and eBay browsing on my breaks at work.  The only problem with that is I don’t have my collection handy to reference and that can lead to problems.  The Dee Brown refractor that I purchased was a card that I already had in my collection.  Another issue you can run into are poor eBay sellers.  I purchased a lot of 110 Dee Brown cards on eBay thinking there would be some new cards that I could add to my collection.  The auction pictured 9 different cards and stated that there were some duplicates.  There were only 27 different cards in the lot with as many as 18 copies of a single card.  This is funny when sent as a bip, but so funny when it is something that you’ve paid for.  To top that off, the cards were not packaged well at all and most arrived damaged.  It’s not worth pursuing on eBay because I’ll spend as much as I paid to ship the cards back to the seller.

The only good card out of this bunch is the 2006-07 Upper Deck Trilogy Generations Past Signatures card.  It’s a sticker, but it is a nice looking card.  I’d love for Panini to release some Dee Brown jersey cards.  Collectors have been snatching up the Reggie Lewis cards out there and I think that Slam Dunk Champion Brown should be next in line.

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