Tag Archives: Bowman

Christmas 2012: Just the hits please.

Another year, another Christmas box opened with my pop.  This is year 19 of our Christmas tradition and since we are a family of few traditions this is my favorite.  This years box: 2012 Bowman Draft Picks and Prospects.  DP&P is always a must buy, while I don’t recognize a lot of the names the prospector in me knows how important this product will be down the line if any of these guys turn into Pujols, Trout, or Harper since these are the first cards and autographs for many young players.  DP&P is essentially Bowman’s version of Update, so the design is identical to this years Bowman base, which  I find appealing with it’s large pictures, team coordinated borders and simple, silver foil text.

2012 Bowman Draft Picks and Prospects Bryce Harper

Valdespin, again.  If Valdespin becomes the next Jeter then I'm in the money with all Jordany RC's I've pulled this year.

Valdespin, again. If Valdespin becomes the next Jeter then I’m in the money with all the Jordany RC’s I’ve pulled this year.

Jeter's successor?  Probably not but a fella can hope.

Jeter’s successor? Probably not, but a fella can hope.


The Chrome cards, as is well known, are not my favorite but they are a good investment as they are generally worth 50% more than their non-metallic counterparts.  I’ve actually learned to love Chrome recently, as I’ve realized that reselling my Chrome pulls allows me to recoup some of my cost and keep my favorite players around in all their non-Chrome glory.

2012 Bowman Chrome Draft Picks & Prospects Yoenis Cespedes

Jesmuel.  I can't say it, but I like it.

Jesmuel. I can’t say it, but I like it.

We can’t forget abou the ever-present parallels, which also help increase the value of the product.  No big parallel pulls this time around.  (Don’t worry, there were hits…boy were there hits).

2012 Bowman Draft Picks & Prospects Blue Abe Ruiz

Blue Refractor

Blue Refractor

Silver Ice

Silver Ice

There is also a solid insert pairing old and new top draft picks, cleverly enough it is called Top Picks.  The cards are nice, featuring consitent black borders with silver and gold accents and blurbs on the back detailing the players as a pair.  These fall 1 in 6, so they are not tough pulls by any means but they do feature some bigger names and could get a few dollars on the secondary market.

2012 Bowman Draft Picks & Prospects Top Picks Jeter & Almora2012 Bowman Draft Picks & Prospects Harper & Hamilton

The hits, you say? The hits:

Bowman Black.

Bowman Black.

It took the whole Bowman season, but I finally pulled a Bowman Black Autograph.  I’m not familiar with Michael Wacha, but I do know what /25 means, so Merry Christmas to me.  The card itself is very thick, about 4x thicker than a normal card and is as clean and simple as what you see above.  I really love the silver ink autograph and the simplicity of the card, but there is a pretty big drawback: the condition.  The card has quite a bit of chipping on the edges which I would attribute to the black border and extreme thickness of the card.  I would say this grades an 8 out of the pack, which is unacceptable.  If anyone else had this problem leave a comment, I’d like to know how widespread this issue is.

I would have been satisfied with a single Bowman Black hit, but this was a bonus box, giving me this surprise:



High School All-American autos are a bit of a holy grail for me, there is no auto before these for most of these players and you often get a super cheesy photo out of the deal.  This is actually a 2008 Aflac All-American card, so the design is obviously different than the base set.  As you can see this was serial numbered out of 225, so they are relatively rare.  Zunino had a solid first season, hitting over .300 with 15 homes in 63 games between rookie ball, single A, and double A.

I also pulled a few codes for the Bowman Prospect Challenge.  This is basically a fantasy baseball game where you collect codes which gives you the opportunity to select players who will then accumulate stats over the course of next season.  All the players are prospects and it appears that bonus points will be given, in addition to normal stats based points, when players are promoted.  I’m a fantasy player and a card collector, so this is right up my alley.  Prizes are detailed on the game site.

Based on hits alone, I give this a 5/5.  Factoring in the design, inserts, and new-fangled Bowman fantasy baseball it is a 4.5/5, a worthy purchase for any prospector or autograph hound.





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Cards for Sale

I try not to make my blog too commercial, but I’d feel a bit remiss if I didn’t try to help myself here.

Please check out my eBay auctions.  I recently had a bunch of Mike Trout stuff graded and am now selling a bit of it.  There is also quite a few other items for sale at the moment.

Check it out.

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Retail Pickup: 2012 Bowman Chrome

‘Tis Chrome season.  First Topps then Bowman.  While Chrome is not my favorite color, I do love Bowman so I was more excited about last weeks release then I was about Topps Chrome a few weeks earlier.  I thoroughly enjoyed this years Bowman design.  It had clean lines as usual, quality photography, and nice borders.  While I prefer the non-Chrome version, I appreciate the design even at it’s shiniest.

I decided to forego a box of Chrome (I’m saving my remaining yearly box money for Bowman Draft Picks) and did not have time to hit up the local card shop, so I settled for a value pack from the local retail outlet.  The value pack includes three packs and bonus pack of green refractor cards.  The packs contain three cards each, with one being a prospect.  The package advertises a “bonus pack of 3 green bordered xfractor propspect parallel cards,” but they are lying they are not all prospects and they are not xfractors.  I will forgive them for their oversight, but only because I couldn’t stop buying Bowman if I wanted to.

Here’s the haul:

Green Refractors of Gio Gonzalez, Jason Heyward, JaDamion Williams.  Nothing too exciting here, two minor star types and a speedy prospect with potential to move up in the Twins organization.

Is it just me or did Jason Heyward age 15 years?

All-Star Futures Game Tommy Joseph insert.  These inserts are are moderately tough pulls at 1:12.  It would have been much nicer if it had been the relic version.  As for the design itself, I find it to be overly stylized and busy.  It’s a definite eBay listing in my book, though I’m not sure the market exists for Joseph.

Jordanny Valdespin rookie.  Best. Name. In. Baseball.

Jordaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaany Valdespiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiin!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Base cards of Paul Goldschmidt, Nelson Cruz, Dan Haren, and Yunel Escobar.  I’m a big fan of Goldschmidt.  He reminds me of Adam LaRoche with more upside and hitting at Chase Field could mean some monster home run seasons when he fully develops his power.  The D-Backs are my NL team, so I’m hoping that him and Justin Upton can really come together in the next few years to get the D-Backs back in contention.  By the way, what the hell happened to Dan Haren, he fell off a cliff.  His groundball rate is down, his home run rate is up, and he’s walking a lot more guys.  Truly a recipe for disaster.  I’m wondering if he’ll bounceback or if this is it considering he’s 32.

Finally, prospect cards of Roberto De La Cruz, Lane Adams, and Jamal Austin.  I don’t any of these guys by name or reputation.  Basing my opinion completely off the information contained on the back of the cards I would say that De La Cruz is the most interesting.  He is a 20 year old third baseman out of the D.R.  He’s a power hitter who looks like he could stick at third.  The last time the Cardinals had a Dominican power hitting third baseman in the minors he turned out to be Albert Pujols.  Wishful thinking I suppose.

I love this years Bowman design and the checklist is solid, including multiple autograph sets (a must in a Bowman product), Futures Games Relics, and Futures Game Hat redemptions (this is where they send you a dude’s hat, pretty sweet), so I’ll give it a 4/5.  The value pack was a decent value even if the cards weren’t Harpers or Trouts and I would recommend it for those on a budget.

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One Win Short

The Washington Nationals lost game 5 of the NLDS to the St. Louis Cardinals. They lost in heartbreaking fashion, collapsing in the 9th inning and losing the series. This loss was not only heartbreaking because of how it was suffered by because this was the first time that a Washington baseball team had made the playoffs in almost 80 years. That is an insane playoff drought.

Washington made a great run this season. Years of high draft picks and solid management allowed Washington to put together a fantastic rotation and a decent offense. They finished the season with the best record in baseball. They also called up Bryce Harper, who, with the exception of Mike Trout, is the most exciting young player in baseball. Harper will likely be a fan favorite for years to come and should be a big draw for the Nationals. I, for one, hope that he lives up to the hype and that the Nationals can keep him in Washington. It’s good for the team and for baseball to have guys who define teams. The MLB would really lose something if guys like Jeter, Ripken, Gwynn, and George Brett didn’t exist. Without those types of guys baseball loses its identity. Nobody wants a league of mercenaries who change teams every three years.

Kudos to Washington for what they’ve put together. With players like Harper, Zimmerman, Morse, and Gio Gonzalez their future looks bright, I’m thinking an NL version of the Rays, but with a stronger upside because they are in a better market. However, I’m here today to talk about Stephen Strasburg, the centerpiece of their rotation for years to come. He’s a guy who threw 197 strikeouts in 159 innings. He had a 3.16 ERA and 1.15 WHIP. He put up a 2.82 FIP (that’s fielding indepenet pitching, click the link if you don’t know about it).  Not to mention a 4.3 WAR.  He is an ace, a certifiable ace.  We all know that, me, you, the pundits, and the hobby.  If the Nationals can keep him and Harper healthy and under contract, they are a force to be reckoned with.  Washington did not use him in the NLDS.  Let me repeat that, they did not use their best arm in the playoffs.

I understand that Washington wanted to shut Strasburg down after 160 innings.  He is a young pitcher coming off Tommy John surgery and they didn’t want to push his innings ala Mark Prior.  They wanted to “protect their investment” for years to come.  But why are they invested in him?  The answer: to win.  They want to build a winning club.  But they have built a winning club, this years club.  They had the best record in baseball behind the best pitching staff in the majors.  They were set to win this year and they blew it because of an artificial innings cap that they created.  This could have been their year but they will never know because they wouldn’t allow Strasburg to pitch at least six more innings.  One Strasburg start in the NLDS could have made all the difference in the world.  They were one win away from moving on.

The Nationals set a four man rotation of Gonzalez, Jordan Zimmermann, Edwin Jackson, and Ross Detwiler for the NLDS.  In their defense, we saw solid performances out of Gonzalez and Detwiler.  Jordan Zimmermann was shelled in game 2 and Jackson in game 3.  Now, we know that Zimmermann remains in the rotation even if Strasburg is in it.  If Strasburg starts a game then either Jackson or Detwiler are displaced, most likely Detwiler, as he was the fourth starter.  Now, you may be saying that you’d basically be replacing one of their solid starters in the series, and you’d be right.  But you’d also have a different pitcher for game 2, assuming that Strasburg is slotted as the nubmer 2 starter to avoid giving him two starts, which was a huge loss for the Nats.  Strasburg starts game 2 at St. Louis, maybe works some magic and they go back home up 2-0.  This takes a lot of pressure off of the other starters, gives Zimmermann a home field advantage and maybe we’re talking about a San Francisco and Washington NLCS.  But we’ll never know because Washington decided they weren’t all in for this year.

I sincerely hope, for the sake of the Nats fans, that they make the playoffs in the years to come, because if they don’t sitting Strasburg may go down as one of the dumbest moves of all time.  You always have to play for this year.  Next year may never come (at least the playoffs may not).

This card has sold for some ugodly sums of money. He still hasn’t started in the playoffs though. Frowny face for Nats fans.

P.S.  I’m really tired of the Cardinals.

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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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The Show. Or, go to hell Topps.

Card show today.  Card show today.  So excited.

That was the reaction I had to card shows as a kid.  There were regular sports card shows at the El Con Mall in Tucson from my age 8 until I was about 12.  I loved them.  They were big shows by midsize city standards, with about 15-20 tables and plenty of oppotunities to buy packs and singles.  I generally had about $20 to spend at shows as a kid, and most of that was spent on packs.  None of this is particularly interesting to any audience but it sets up two things.  The first is that the communal experience and the build up to shows is what fed my love for sports cards.  It is those memories, primarily, that fuel my collecting to this day.  The second, is that it stands in stark contrast to the lame state of card shows today.

I went to a card show with my dad today.  I’ve always collected with my dad, so we still make it a habit to go to card shows when they are in town.  There are currently semi-regular card shows at the mall that is really far from my house.  These happen about 6 times a year and generally consist of about 6 tables.  Most of the tables are selling lower end autograph and relic singles and one table sells boxes.  No packs to speak of, which is a bummer, because I still love to buy random assortments of packs (which is my usual card shop fare).  I believe me and my dad are the only regular attendees of this semi-regular event and the sellers now lick their chops when they see us.  How else would they unload their Nick Swisher relics and Ian Desmond autographs?

Today saw the arrival of some new sellers.  Excitement ensued.  Then died.  They were selling vintage commons and semi-stars and an unholy amount of “in-person” autographs.  As an aside, I do like vintage cards…theoretically.  There are some fantastic designs (1956 Topps, 1961 Topps for instance) and a lot of history.  But the only cards I really want (Mantle, Clemente, Mays) are out of my price range, so I usually find myself admiring them then moving on.  I turned my attention to the tried and true guys, who I will refer to lovingly as “nice asian guy,” “fatty mcslob,” “long hair,” “nothing less than book,” and “the mogul.”  The mogul runs the show and sells the boxes, he is also and huge pain in the ass, more on that later, and got his nickname because his attitude reminds me of Dave Hester from Storage Wars.

Nice Asian Guy  is always my go-to.  He has a decent assortment of $3 autos and relics and will negotiate on some of his higher-end stuff.  Also, he is nice.  I mention this because some card guys, like comic book guys, can be a little hostile about their hobby, more on that later.  Nice Asian Guy didn’t disappoint, I picked up a 2010 Allen & Ginter Jeff Samardzija Relic (a guy I’m high on because of his apparent skill and his fortunate team association, Cubs fans will spend on their guys) and a 2012 Topps Museum Collection Alexi Ogando autograph (same reasons as Samardzija) for $5 total.  I’ll hold on to these for a while, the hobby upside on both guys is high.  Pops also picked up a Nick Swisher relic from Nice Asian Guy for three bucks. This is the second show in a row that he has purchased a Swisher relic.  I think Chris Olds at Beckett has some competition in the Swisher fandom department.

Fatty McSlob and Long Hair are usually busts and this show was no different.  Their inventory generally consists of late 80’s and early 90’s packs, along with team sets, and miscellaneous brick-a-brack like pennants.  These guys are for the casual collectors, not for seasoned collectors like myself (dismounts horse).   Nothing Less Than Book never sells anything for less than book value.  He has nice stuff, including the Bowman Albert Pujols rookie that I’ve been hunting for a good price.  But I never buy anything from him, because buying stuff for book value is not a good strategy.  At the last show he offered to trade, but I think he might be setting me up for one of those situations, as Mike Birbiglia described, where I end with less cards worth less money than when I started.  There is another dealer who is usually present, but noticeably absent this time, her name is “nerdy lady.”  Nerdy Lady sells cards and also Russian Nesting Dolls.  She usually has some good foot traffic for the dolls, but not for the cards.  Like Nice Asian Guy, Nerdy Lady has a good assortment of $3.00 autos and relics.  Sometime last year I got a Matt Cain auto for $3 from her that I turned around for a nice profit after his perfect game.  Who’s the mogul now?

Speaking of The Mogul, he is usually who gets most of my moneys.  He sells boxes at the show and has a monopoly on that.  He’s usually about $20 higher on the boxes than you can get on-line, but I can usually negotiate down about $15, so his prices end up nearly reasonable.  Notably, today he was selling a box of Topps Mini, see previous post, for $95.  This product is available, currently, on the Topps website for $50 a box.  That is ridiculous markup and I hate seeing people prey on the ignorant.  Shit like that is why people have such a hard time getting into the hobby.  He was also selling Topps Archive boxes for $99, which is almost $30 more than they go on-line, lame.  He sells singles for about half book price, which, to his credit, is fair.

I spent the bulk of my time today at the mogul’s table.  I bought six singles and a box from him.  The singles: 2007 SP Legendary cuts Paul O’Neill jersey card for $3 (I’ve always wanted more O’Neill memorabilia, he was one of my favority Yankees growing up and a woefully under-appreciated by the baseball loving community), two 2009 Bowman World Baseball Classic gold Aroldis Chapman cards for $4 each,  a 2001 Upper Deck Vintage Ichiro rookie card (very nice retro design) for $4, a 2005 Bowman Heritage Adrew McCutchen rookie card for $3, and 2005 Bowman Heritage Mahogany Andrew McCutchen for $3.  McCutchen is a beast, but you already knew that.  Odds that he plays his whole career with the Pirates? 1000:1? 10000:1? A million to one.

Now to the box.  The f***ing box. I decided that I wanted to make my first foray into the world of high-end cards today.  For reference I’ve never spent more than $20 on a single pack of cards.  I noticed that The Mogul had a box of 2011 Topps Tier One for $95.  I felt like this would be the right product to initiate myself into this world of caviar and champagne.  As usual, I refused to pay The Mogul’s full price for the box, knowing full well that it is $20 than on-line price.  So I offer The Mogul’s assitant $100 for my six singles ($21 total) and the box.  The assistant is not permitted to make this deal, appartently.  He finds The Mogul and conveys my offer.  The mogul inspects my six singles, twice, then references his price sheet.  Then a man walks up and asks The Mogul if he has any Peyton Manning cards.  The Mogul puts down my box and singles and begins helping the man find Peyton Manning cards.  Now, in general, Peyton Manning cards, with the exception of autos, are under $10 affairs, so at best the mogul stands to make $10-$20 off the new guy.  I still have a $100 offer on the table.  (Gets back on horse) You’d think he’d prioritize me?  Nope. (Dismounts).  He spends a full five minutes helping this guy sort through the Colts cards.  It’s worth noting that he is not particularly nice to new guy, so this is not one of those situations where he is an ambassador for the hobby, he is actually a bit annoyed to be taking on the task.  I look at the assistant, he looks back uncomfortably.  Finally the assistant clears his throat and reminds The Mogul about me.  The Mogul is annoyed.  This is weird, but reminds me again why “card guys” are not helping to expand the hobby.  We need to band together for civility, or something.  The Mogul looks at my singles two more times, says something to the assistant, who then comes over and says “how about $105.”  To which I respond, “he just made me wait 5 minutes and now he wants five extra dollars?”  Assistant goes back to The Mogul and returns to accept my original offer.  /End Rant.

Excitedly, pops and I return to my house.  I extract the single pack from the double box.  I slowly tear into it.  Mel Ott. Justin Upton. Ozzie Smith. Umm…Adam Lind autograph.  This has to get better.  WTF…Brad Hand autograph.  Who the hell is Brad Hand.  No one knows who Brad Hand is.  Why is his autograph in a high-end product.  Nooooooooooooooooo.  Roberto Alomar relic.  Joe Morgan blue parallel.  Book value of my $80 pack, $35.  Expected realized value, when I try to resell this awful haul that I never want to think about again, $15.  Go to hell Topps.  Adam Lind, I can accept that, he seemed like he might have a nice career at a time.  Robbie Alomar is a hall of famer.  But Brad Hand.  In a high-end product.  Go to hell.  This is not right.  He wasn’t even a true prospect.  The cards themselves are printed on thick stock and have a simple, pleasing design.  The autographs are on-card and the relic is neither big nor small.  I just wish the players on the cards were as nice.  Product Design 4/5.  My Box -1000000/5.


I’m sticking to mid and low-end stuff.  At least when I get Brad Hand in those packs I didn’t spend $80 on it.  BTW, to all those people who consistently pull 1/1 and Ty Cobb cut autos and all that stuff.  Go to hell.  Just kidding, I’m not a hater.  But please, start telling me where you’re buying your boxes, because it’s certainly not at the Tucson card show.

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Profar Progood

My favorite Profar card, because I own it, 2011 Bowman Platinum Prospects Xfractor

Jurickson Profar hit a home run in his first major league at bat.  I’m not going off a limb to say I expect big things from this kid.  I’m just wondering whether it will be in Texas or somewhere else.  With Elvis Adrus blocking him at short, the only options are to trade Andrusor move him to another position, but will he really displace Kinsler or Beltre?

As far as cardboard is concerned, Profar has been featured in most of major prospect sets and insert sets (see Bowman, Bowman’s Brightest, Topps 100), so his cards are easy to come by at the moment and are relatively inexpensive.  Unless he really gets some major power numbers I don’t see his cards attaining Trout or Harper status, but now is still the time to buy because next season could really be a breakout for him.

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Left Field Cards

Letterpress baseball cards, postcard-size.

Bad Wax

Musings of a Card Collector


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