Monthly Archives: September 2012

The Best: The Captain

Baseball began for me in the early nineties.  You can look at my previous post about 1991 Topps Baseball for more on that.  When I began caring about baseball my favorite players were already established, guys like Griffey, Strawberry, Nolan Ryan, and Frank Thomas were established and, for the most part, had already had most of their great moments.  Griffey’s meteoric rise had already happened.  Ryan had already pitched all of his no-hitters, and Strawberry’s glory days were behind him.  These weren’t guys I grew up with, these were guys who defined the game before I was even interested in it.  I still loved watching their highlights and, even more, I loved chasing their cards, but they weren’t “my” guys.

All my favorite baseball players from 1992 in one place.

Around 1995 I started rooting for the Yankees above all else.  I no longer identified Ken Griffey, Jr. as my favorite player because he was not a Yankee.  I was true fan.  This was the influence of my dad.  He was always a Yankee fan and he made sure I became one too.  That season was a defining season for me and it was for the modern Yankees.  Though I watched in despair as the Yankees lost to my former favorite player in the ALDS, I also caught a glimpse of the future in the form of Derek Jeter.  The future captain got called up that season to play 15 games.  He hit .250 and I had no idea what was about to happen.

The next season Jeter became a regular, the Yankees hired Joe Torre, and the Yankees won the first of four championships with a Jeter/Torre combination.  I became all to used to October/November baseball and I got to witness the beginning of a career for one of the all-time greatest Yankees and my favorite player.  Since that time my dad and I have collected all-things Jeter, cards, coins, Starting Lineups, and miscelleaneous memorabilia.  He is one of the modern greats, a player with no ties to steroids (unless you talk to the skeptics and the Yankee haters), who played hard day in and day out and did it with one team.  His exploits don’t need to be recounted here, we all know them (first Yankee with 3000 hits, a .313 career average, five rings, and lots of unforgettable playoff moments).  Jeter is more than a great player for me, he is the one truly great player that I’ve been able to follow for his whole career and he has represented the last 16 years of baseball for me.

I own quite a few Jeter cards, including his Topps, Upper Deck, and Bowman rookie cards.  No matter the product, good, bad, valuable or worthless, I save the Jeters.  I know it’s funner to hear about the guys who collect the underdogs or the kooks, but I’m a Jeter guy, like a lot of other collectors, and there’s not much I can do about it.  We share a name and he’s the best player of the last 16 years (disagree with me if you want, but I think the arguments are pretty strong for him), he plays for my favorite team, and he’s the first guy in 25 years with even a plausible shot of breaking Pete Rose’s record.  I’m a Jeter guy and I’m not ashamed of it.  When he retires I’ll miss his sweet swing, his (unnecessary) jumping throws at short, and his diplomatic approach.  He has his flaws (most definitely a liability at SS for a while, doesn’t walk enough), but he’ll be remembered as a great and he should be.

It’s hard for me to pick a favorite Jeter card.  All of his rookie cards are solid choices (the Bowman is my favorite, but I’m a Bowman apologist), though the Topps card has always seemed a bit ugly to me (the background is plain stupid).  But if pressed I would have to pick the only Jeter autograph I own.  Let it be known that my Jeter autograph is the only card I’ve spent more than $100 on.  It is the only one I can imagine dropping that much coin on.  Also, let it be known that there is a Jeter autograph that I covet more than the one I own.  My most wanted card (in the world) is this:

1997 Bowman Autograph Derek Jeter. It’s so clean, the photo is perfect and the signature is immaculate. I will possess it someday.

This is the one that I own:

Forgive the dimness of the photo.

A 1997 Bowman’s Best Derek Jeter autograph.  Graded a 9 by BGS.  While I don’t love shiny cards, I love this one.  The autograph is perfect.  The photo is classic Jeter. And it is my most valuable card.  This will be my favorite card until I get the card mentioned above.

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Needed!

I’m currently in the process of putting together the entire master set of 1992-93 Upper Deck Basketball.  At some point in the future you will be subjected to a long post about the beauty and wonder of this set.  In the meantime I need your help.

I currently have every card, including inserts, that could be pulled out of packs except for one.  I also have a complete set of the McDonald’s cards and the factory hologram and all-star sets.

This is the card I’m missing:

Card #100, Tyrone Corbin error.  Card front says Heat instead of Jazz.  This is my white whale and now I’m turning to you, how many ever of ‘you’ there are, to help me.  I am willing to purchase this card or trade with anyone who has it.  I will make it worth your while (but not in a creepy way).

Please comment or email if you have the card.  You would really make my day.

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The Best: Awww Yeah

I finally got my Derrick Williams autograph.  Awww yeah.

Derrick Williams

2012-13 Panini Prestige Derrick Williams Autograph

I’ve been after his Hoops auto since it released, but the cards were selling for a bit more than I was comfortable paying.  In the meantime, Prestige released and with it, the above pictured card.  I ended up winning this card for less than any of the Hoops autos that I bid on, which was a bit suprising but made me quite happy.  It arrived yesterday and I was like a kid at Christmas.

The card features a decent photo on a shiny background on the top 2/3 of the card. The bottom 1/3 is white with Prestigious Picks in gold lettering and the autograph itself.  I’ll be honest the design is nothing special, my dislike for shiny cards is well-known and the white space is a little too much.  Furthermore, the auto is a sticker drop, which I usually loathe.  But this card is different.  This is the best sticker drop I’ve ever seen.  First, the sticker is not too obvious, it has a very faint hologram on it but otherwise is almost completely clear.  Second, and most importantly, there is a shadowed border around the sticker, giving it the effect of a cut auto bordered by the card.  I think all manufacturers need to adopt this for their sticker autos, it helps hide the fact that it is a sticker and is visually pleasing.  Though I’m not a Panini fan, I will give credit where credit is due and admit that Panini has at least figured out how to make sticker autos more palatable. However, Panini could just do more on-card autos and avoid this all together.  Que sera sera, I guess.

I should admit that I would have loved this card no matter what it loooked like.  It’s one of Derrick Williams first autographs, and it is a fine autograph at that.  I’ve been waiting for his autos to drop since he was drafted, and I’ve had to wait too long because of the lockout.  Williams is one of my top five all-time favorite Arizona basketball players.  His dunks in college, and the pros, were ridiculous and his skills around the hoop, finishing and drawing fouls, were without compare.  He is a beast on offense when he is given an opportunity, we have to remember that led the nation in free throw attempts in his final year at Arizona, evidencing his ability to draw contact, and was one of the leaders in true shooting percentage, which includes free throws and adjusts for the type of shot taken.   I’ve mentioned in a previous post that I hope Minnesota either gives him substantial minutes or trades him.  He deserves a chance on the big stage, he has the athleticism and skills to be a star.

I can legitimately say that I have not been as excited for an Arizona player in the NBA since Damon Stoudamire.  I also have not been as excited for any Arizona players cards since Damon Stoudamire.  Hopefully I can get a few more D-Will autos to go with my Stoudamire collection.  Maybe on-card next time.  You hear me, Panini?

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The Best: Moose

Before there was Mike Mussina, there was the original Moose, Bill Skowron.  Moose Skowron was a favorite of my dad’s so, even though I wasn’t old enough to remember him, I knew how good the big hitting first baseman was.  He is an underappreciated Yankee because of who he played with, guys like Mickey, Yogi, Whitey, and Roger.  He played with guys who are instantly recognizable by first name alone, so you can’t blame him for flying under the radar.  He was an integral part of the Yankees in the fifties and early sixties though.  In nine seasons with the Yankees, he hit .294/.346/.496 with 165 home runs and he played solid defense at first.  He would have been a star for most teams during those nine seasons, but he was a Yankee and largely overlooked.

I picked up a 2002 Fleer Greats Autograph of the Moose at a card show last year, and it is a fantastic card.  The photo is a posed one, showing Bill in a fielding stance.  The card itself has a gold sheen on everything except Moose himself, giving the background a sepia-like tone.  The design gives a nice effect, like it is a black and white picture combined with a sepia picture.  It’s visually pleasing and gives the card the right feel, given the time period that Moose played in.  The signature is one of the most legible signatures I’ve ever seen.  It’s like he actually took his time when he signed the card.  It’s also signed with a thicker black marker which is something you don’t see too often.  And, of course, it’s an on-card signature.  Just the way it should be.

Moose, Pack A Week salutes you.

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2012 Bowman Platinum, or is it 2011

2012 Bowman Platinum, looks a lot like 2011 Bowman Platinum.  Was the product popular enough that it didn’t necessitate a new design? Doubtful.  This feels like laziness to me.

2011

vs.

2012

Now, I know that every set has its hallmarks.  I know that Topps wants to create brand recognition, but they have done nothing to improve upon 2011 Bowman Platinum, or 2010 for that matter.  And I’ll go on record and say that the 2011 design wasn’t anything special.  The cards are “shiny” which means they’re working from a disadvantage to begin with, then add to that awful modern, “high-end”, borders and pictures which play a secondary role, and you have a recipe for sh*t cards.  Bowman Platinum is a mid-range prospecting set, so I understand that people aren’t buying them for the design, they are buying them for the prospects, but Topps could at least take the time to make improvements and changes to make the new issue interesting.

Beyond not changing the design, Topps didn’t even both to chang the chase cards, which include different colored cards, ala the Fleer Precious Metal Gems, that are butt-ugly.  There has never been an aesthetically pleasing card, in my estimation, that takes a picture and makes the background a shiny green mess.  Bowman Platinum includes gold, emerald, and ruby cards that are inserted at various rates.

I suppose calling those “chase” cards may be an over-statement, especially when people who buy Platinum are doing it for the prospects.  Topps satiates this need by falling back on their Prospects insert set and prospect autographs.  However, in this way, Platinum necessarily takes a step back from last year.  Last year was Harper-mania, this year is Trout-mania.  2011 Platinum included a bunch of interesting Harper related chase cards.  2012 Platinum includes Trout cards and Harper cards, which are cool, but a year late.  These aren’t first time prospect cards and won’t elicit the same reaction as the Harpers did last year.  There just isn’t the same prospecting class this year as there was last year.  Though you never know who will take off and become a star, so maybe I’ll eat my words in five years.

I purchased a $10 value pack of Platinum at Target.  It included three packs and a special pack with purple prospect cards.  The pack is a good deal, even if I’m not a huge fan of the product.  As mentioned herein the design is similar to last year, so if you liked last years design, you’ll like this years.  I see no reason to get into it any further than that.  I pulled a gold Mike (ahem…Giancarlo) Stanton card and a Miguel Sano Prospect refractor.  Interestingly, all the cards in this years set are refractors, so the non-colored refractors have this interesting texture on the cards.  It is kind of a rough texture and is a bit distracting.  If Topps wants to go all refractors that is fine, but at that point just use colors to differentiate because the texture bit is not good design.  (Sano is a solid prospect, so this card, despite its odd texture, may have been my best pull, only time will tell).  The purple cards are dreck, but maybe at some point one of the prospects will be the next Derek Jeter and then I’ll get all excited about my purple card.  Maybe.

It might be hard to tell, but it’s bumpy. Bumpy is not the best texture.

Overall, Platinum is exactly the same product as last year but with a less exciting prospecting class.  The autographs are the main draw (see checklist), so I’d suggest buying a box if you’re interested, buying packs is not likely to net you with anything other than some base cards and a few parallels. If you have the money it’s probably worth waiting for Sterling and if you don’t have the money I’d still recommend waiting for Draft Picks and Prospects.  Either one of those products will offer the same prospecting fun, but with the added benefit of getting a true high end card or a true first professional card, respectively.  Platinum, as a mid-range, mid-season, product just doesn’t hold a candle in any regard to the other Bowman products.  Grade: 2.5/5

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2013 Topps Heritage

Cardboard Connection has a nice preview of the upcoming 2013 Topps Heritage Baseball release.  I’m really excited for this.  I really like the understated 1964 design.  The simplicity of it allows for the photography to shine.  It is also a very conducive design to on-card autographs, so that alone makes me happy.

Notable:  Tattoo cards.  Awesome.  I might not actually apply a Willie Mays tattoo to my body, but having the option makes my world feel complete.

If you’re ever going to get a neck tattoo, which you shouldn’t, this is the only one worth getting.

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Be Wary, Part II…

Beckett, utilizing their journalistic prowess, covered the fake “game-used” items story.  Much like most of the industry, however, they are too invested in these cards to really shed light on the implications of this story.  They want us to continue to trust the card manufacturers and their claims that certain items are game-used.  Why?  I have no reason to trust companies like Upper Deck or Panini, or Topps for that matter.  These are businesses who are trying to make buck, their main concern is not the viability of these cards on the secondary market.  To the extent that Topps has the MLB license, and can utilize the MLB’s authentication program, they may be the best bet, but even they may be going to third parties who, if they are anything like a large portion of the dirtbags who deal in high-end sports memorabilia, may not be portraying their products accurately.

I understand that all collectors want to protect their investments and, therefore, want to have faith that their game-used memorabilia is the real deal, but we need to be cautious here.  As the Beckett article alluded to, we have been dealing with these issues since 2000 at least and they are not bound to go away.  A safer investment is probably autographs where the companies can guarantee their authenticity or full game-used jerseys or bats that are authenticated by the MLB.

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Hoops Revisited

My dad decided he wanted to open some Hoops packs to satiate his need for rookie cards.  So I got a second round of 2012-13 Hoops today.

I can’t say that my impressions changed in any apprciable way but I did get to lay eyes on a couple different inserts, which were nice, and a bunch of the extended rookie crop.  So I thought it was worth a followup post.

First, the inserts.  I pulled two Franchise Greats cards, John Stockton and Larry Bird.  Larry Bird is the Mickey Mantle of basketball cards and I have no doubt that I’ll make a few bucks on eBay anytime I see his face, so the card made me happy.  The design itself is my favorite of all the Hoops designs this year.  It is nice and clean, with team coordinated borders and nice photography.  The hoops logo is not too-big and the stars are kept to a minimum.  Solid job, Hoops.  John Stockton’s shorts are short, go figure.  I’m not regrading Hoops as a whole, but this insert set is a 4/5.

The other new, to me, insert was a Rookie Standout card.  The one I got was MarShon Brooks.  Not much to say about the card.  Not as hideous as the Spark Plug set, but not my favorite.  I appreciate full action shots, and like the simple text and border design (if you’re going to err, err on the side of simplicity), but the border is a little big and intrusive.

This card brings me to an aside.  I love the new Nets logo.  Black and white is under-utilized in sports.  I think teams think that it is too generic, but it is so clean.  The logo has a great retro feel and I think merchandise sales will be off the charts.  People love Brooklyn.  As a basketball fan without an official favorite team the sweet logo may just sway me in Brooklyn’s direction.  If they can sign Dwight Howard next off-season there will be no question, especially if the Suns continue in their current direction, both in terms of talent and awful logo design.

Cool.

Not cool.

Finally,  I got the Derrick Williams rookie card I’ve been after.  Two of them, in fact.  I still want an autograph.  But it’s nice to pull a player I’m collecting.  I sincerely hope that Minnesota can utilize William’s talents this season.  Last season was kind of disappointing with him backing up Kevin Love and not getting a lot of minutes.  He has the talent, he can shoot from outside, he can finish around the rim, he just needs an opprotunity.  I’m not sure the T-Wolves are looking to give him that opportunity, though.  They traded Beasley, which looked like Minnesota opening up a spot for Williams, but then immdediately signed Andrei Kirilenko, which put another forward in front of Williams on the depth-chart.  If the Wolves aren’t going to utilize an offensively gifted player like Williams, they might as well trade him.  Maybe to Brooklyn.  Good logo, good player.

I pulled a few other rookies, including a some of this years crop.  Notably Harrison Barnes and Bernard James.  Barnes has been called ‘boring’ by some basketball personalities.  I can see it and I can see disliking him for the same reasons I like Tim Duncan, which is the same reason I don’t befriend machines.  Personality is a must, especially in the hobby.  Do something crazy Harrison.  What?  I don’t know.  You think it up, but make it good.  I also pulled Bernard James, who spent six years in the Air Force before playing a few years at Florida State, which makes him a super old rookie.  Bold prediction: he will not be a star but will be lauded for his maturity.  Quote me on that.  Also, who fitted him for that suit, it’s like four sizes too small.  Don’t get me wrong, baggy is worse, but if you’re going to get a tailored suit you shouldn’t look like you’re about to bust out of it like the Hulk.

BTW, 13 packs produced three first year rookies.  Anyone else pulling them at this rate?  If so, they are definitely short printed.

 

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Gem-sanity

$20,000.  $9,999.  $7,999.  $5,623.  These are prices paid for UD Fleer Retro Precious Metal Gems Blue Michael Jordan cards on eBay.

YOU HAVE TOO MUCH MONEY!  Give money to charity.  Please, this is insanity.  These cards have no intrinsic value.  They aren’t old, but well preserved, cards.  They don’t have a rare autograph on them.  They don’t even have part of a jersey that a famous person wore.  They are cards that were printed in limited supply specifically for the purpose of eliciting this reaction from the too-rich collector.  Do I think that it’s nice that cards, which are simply cards and not vehicles for jerseys or autographs, are generating big excitement.  Of course.  But this is too much.  They aren’t even 1/1’s.  There are 50 of these.  I repeat: 50.

Context:  Andy Warhol is a famous American painter.  One of the most famous.  He creates works of art.  This work of art is limited to 20 copies, 30 less than that Michael Jordan card, and sold for $15,500.  It is also signed by Andy.

That Jordan card is not a work of art, but rather a rehash of an ugly, but rare, card from the nineties.  Nor is it signed by Jordan.

Rich collectors, please stop.  There are needy kids out there, help them.

BTW, I really wish I could afford a box of Fleer Retro.  It looks super cool.  Other than those hideous Precious Metal Gems.

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Left Field Cards

Letterpress baseball cards, postcard-size.

Bad Wax

Musings of a Card Collector

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Analyzing reality TV, and the world, at the same time