31 March 2013

Not always baseball, not always "Blue" Jays

I don't expect too many pageviews today. It's one of those family holidays, you know.

You should all go outside and enjoy the what-seems-like-Spring weather out there. I mean it. I won't be offended.

A couple years ago I started a fantasy baseball league at the University at Buffalo, where I completed my master's in - can you guess what? in May of last year. We were always away from our families, mine being across New York, two from New Hampshire, one not close with his family, Maine by way of Orono, and I added some high school and undergrad friends - one with the NAVY in Mississippi displaced from his family in Connecticut, and others from my hometown uprooted in Pennsylvania, Texas, New York City and other far away dreamlands. Last season, one of our league strongmen moved all the way to Singapore for a post-doc at a Volcano Observatory. Sweet gig, amiright?

We always drafted the evening before the season started, watching the Opening Night game projected in the Climatology office/grade student office, grilling hot dogs on a George Foreman-esque grill and drinking Budweiser out of flag cans. To me, the Easter season became less about hiding eggs and eating ham (which I eat almost every week anyways) and a lot about missing my buddies from the past decade-and-a-half.

Needless to say, I scheduled our draft during all three of my localish families festivities for today. I felt like I owed it to my old friends to be present. My Easter family, if you will.


Sorry about that. I had been guilt tripped a bit by some extended family, and I wanted to get that off my chest a little.

Now, on to some cardboard.

I've wanted to add something different to this blog, and aside from my other less-conventional antics, one of those things was adding a bit more of a hockey presence to the local community.

Hopefully, 85% of you haven't tuned out at this point.

This is a Zach Parise dual relic, in wonderful Devil's red, supplied to me by mostly Hockey-oriented blog Cardboard Conundrum. If you like hockey or have Cubs or Texans cards to unload, He can take them. He also rips a ton of product that I couldnt afford with my old budget allocations, so maybe we can spark up another trade, soon.

I am a sucker for anything Parise after I drafted him LAST overall as a sophomore in college in one of my first hockey leagues, and he and Evgeni Malkin carried me to a Championship over my die-hard Sabres fan roommate.

Also included was this premium UD Ice - probably one of the best-looking sets ever - Rookie /999 of Jason Zucker. I mean that thing is sexy. 

Always a Maple Leafs fan, I have taken a liking to the Minnesota Wild with their signing of Zach Parise last summer. It took a long time to click, but they're been on a hot streak of late - until the last couple of awful games.

If the name Jason Zucker sounds familiar, this is probably why: Not cool, Corey Perry

Zucks has since been sent to AHL Houston (kind of like the Blue Jays getting sent to Las Vegas) to get more ice team. It worked with Nazem Kadri.

I sent Matt a hockey Hall of Fame relic, a baseball Hall of Fame relic, and a Sidney Crosby, dual-color  Artifacts (just like the Parise) jersey, and thus I was rewarded with quite the haul.

I mentioned this one briefly in trade talks before, and said it was optional to throw it in.

He threw it in anyways, and I am glad to see it. This is my only soccer relic after selling off a Landon Donovan jersey ($!) a few years back, and it's a good one.

Might also be one of my first ever orange jersey swatches.

Very cool.

But of course, there was baseball. First, some more orange:

I've decided that I must have all of these Bowman's Best cards, prospects and pros. The 2011 effort was much, much better than the 2012. 

I've also started building up a nice cache of Manny Machado cards. No big deal.

We finished my adding one more rookie, but this one much more significant to me, but also a third baseman with an elite ceiling, defensive flair, and a solid line-drive bat. I am babbling at this point to maintain the integrity of the formatting of this post. It's getting kind of difficult. Oh well, another bite of my coconut cake donut and a sip of my Caribou Blend coffee.

That's a damn fine cup of coffee you have here made of Caribou. And damn fine cherry pie.

Oh right, baseball cards:
Hey! Brett Lawrie! He's kind of awesome, eh?

Has anyone else notcied that pretty much every serviceable third baseman is injured right now? I have. In my drafts I've been grabbing Freese, Headley and Lawrie on the cheap because people are passing them up.

The season is won at the end of the year, dingus, not April.

Matt also included a quite-awesome autograph of a unique Blue Jays prospect in Justin Jackson.

I say unique because Justin is currently undertaking the Sergio Santos experiment. Sergio struggled in the minors as a hitter, but his arm was always an impressive tool. Seeing what they possibly had in him, the White Sox sent him to A-ball in hopes of converting him to a pitcher. The Blue Jays waited for the White Sox to sign him to a team-friendly deal, and made a trade of mega-bust Zach Stewart for him.

Jackson seems to like his conversion to the mound so far. I wish him the best, both from a Blue Jays fan's sake and buying up a bunch of his cards for cheap as he toils in the very low minors.

I've grown quite a liking to the TriStar ProspectsPlus autographs from whatever season this is. I currently have Justin Jackson, Brett Cecil and JP Arencibia. I just love black cards with autographs.

Anyways - Matt, thanks for the huge trade. I think more jersey material moved from here to North Dakota than cardboard. 

Cannot wait for the next one.


29 March 2013

New JPAs from COMC (White Whale)

COMC is hosting another wonderful sale. This one, involves free shipping and sales from what seems like most of the sellers on the site. As this is often the best time to buy on COMC, I jumped on some John-Paul Arencibias that had my attention.

First, some gold:
There be gold in 'dem packs.
Gold Rush cards were available via wrapper redemption from some Topps product last year...probably series 1 or 2. I don't know for sure, as I wasn't really back into it until late summer. I won an auction on ebay for the autograph version of this, which although stickered, is still a swell card. These actually give a little bit of a gold look and feel. I like them, but I don't plan on getting any more that don't have Brett Lawrie on them.

Some Black:
Once you go black, you realize you don't have this one in green.
 The black parallels from last year's Gypsy Queen were a step back from 2011, and 2013 also seem to look a bit better. I cannot complain, though, as JP is absent from both '11 and '13 (and will be from mostly all 2013 releases.) So I'll take what I can get.

Gold, black...how about some Blue?:
Left: Awful Spring Training pose
Center: JP disgusted in Dome attendance.
Right: Air JP
What you see above is 2010 Bowman/2011 Bowman/2012 Topps. Blue parallels in Bowman are so much better than those from SprawlMart in Topps releases, but you cannot beat that photograph of JP, placing a tag on a lowly Oriole. The photo on the '10 Bowman RC is probably my second least favorite JP card, while the 2011 Bowman is one of my favorites od all time. I mean that thing is awesome

The Blue Bowman parallels are very underappreciated on the secondary market. I don't think a single one of these cost me more than $.80.

Keeping the theme of 2011 Bowman paralles, I present you this:
Boy, do you think next year you could commit a crime in Orlando, Florida?
Ahh, International parallels. You are my favorite. Too bad America's wang is shown in the background. 2011 was a terrible year for International parallels.

If you came here looking for the White Whale that I mentioned in the title, wait no longer. This card was produced in 2007 (possibly 2008), many years ago, before JP even had a fitting for a Blue Jays jersey:
White Whale Landed.
Oh yes. I like. Amazingly, this card has foil board on the front and back. I just find that awesome. It is also numbered 002/500.

Hope you enjoyed the new adds. More to come.

28 March 2013

Completeness: 304

Topps Series 1 of 2013 was released sometime in the middle of January. After a week or so of it being out, it was obvious that the base set was greatly improved from recent efforts (cough, 2010, puke, 2011) and the inserts were the same-old retreads of minis, rookies and dead guys.

The set did, however, offer the player collector a massive amount of parallels. Ten of them, to be exact...or reasonably close. The retails gigantes of SprawlMart, Target and Toys 'R Us produced blue, red and purple borders, respectively; while inserted within all packs were Topps go-to gold borders (/2013) jungle fever or mouth wash of fresh field greens salad mega-foilboard, the eunexpectedly awesome pink and just plain "meh" camo borders. Inserted within hobby packs were the black borders numbered to only 62, which I have always been a fan of.

On top of those - Topps offered a redemption plan to those with deep pockets for a five-card pack of "silver slate" parallels - but good luck if you wanted a slate one, as they're limited to 10 and most packs were filled with the much better looking blue slate parallels, limited to what some have guessed to be about fifty - let's call those the...Deep Blue Matrix parallels. Eh?

I decided to drive myself crazy over the time between series 1 and 2 with a hot pursuit of all of these parallels - aside from the silver slates...I am not made of money. A blue, red, purple, green, gold, holoblue, camo, black and pink of my favorite Blue Jays and other players, which in this set consists of Brett Lawrie, Colby Rasmus, Adeiny Hechavarria, Ricky Romero, Drew Hutchison, Kyle Drabek, Edwin Encarnacion, Rajai Davis, Jose Reyes, Carlos Santana and (gasp) Starling Marte.

Today, in the mail, I received a major milestone in my search:
Deep Blue Something
   ...which lead to this:
Click to embiggen!

I knew that one I completed my first page, all would be right with the world. What magnificence!

27 March 2013

2012 Bowman Box Break (3)

And now in to the goodies associated with my retail box of Bowman. My expectations for this box, in regards to insets, was simple: 4 Bowman's Best, preferably prospects. On the back of the pack, Prospects are listed as 1:4 and veterans also at 1:4.

Well, I received my four Bowman's Best, and they are as follows - starting with the sole veteran:

Of course, since Adam Jones isn't in this insert set (that I know of), my veteran insert is Clayton Kershaw. I have been seeing quite a bit of him in 2013, and that's fine by me. I'll go as far as to say every blogger reppin' the interlocking L-A would love this card, and at my last count, there are 678 Dodgers bloggers, comprising 75% of the blogospheroid, with 24% fighting over the Cubs. The remaining one percent wallow in the shadows hoarding Blue Jays, Mets and Cardinals.

That being said, I will entertain offers for this card.

I'll do the prospects in oder of my interest in said prospects:
I was all-in on Bauer at the end of last season. Then he made his debut, got knocked around, and pouted all winter, got into wars with twitter followers (they're just trolls, Trevor, they're not real people) and pouted some more. GM KevTowers & Co. saw what they had and shipped him off to Cleveland before he blew up further on Miguel Montero and the other gritty/edgy/Gibsony Diamondbacks.
Kid Canada Part II was fun to watch in legitimate competition this month in the World Baseball Classic. I'm glad Canada finally has a decent pitcher to throw out there...and the Pirates, too, but Jameson will begin the season in the minors until the Pirates front office realizes that Jonathan Sanchez and Jeanmar Gomez are on their pitching staff (I don't think anyone has told them yet.)
Match the background to the unifrom? Topps laughs at you.
That's more like it. Manny Machado is a studski. Early on, Manny had Alex Rodriguez comps. Please, Manny, do not take excessive amounts of PEDs, get yourself painted as a centaur, kiss yourself in a mirror or date Madonna.

My last goal, and one I thought would be least attainable, was an autograph. I didn't expect much, and honestly I never even looked at the odds of grabbing one. But hell, why not, here it is:

Of course.
Bowman Flagship autographs are classic. Aside from the sticker, this is exactly the way that autograph cards should look. Fine-tipped pen, easy contrast, photo fade.

Of course, it's a Barve. I don't like the Barves, and I keep pulling them anyways. Especially autographs.

On to the Review: Inserts (Weighted 25%)

They're good, but they're not great. Previous issues of Bowman have had more, which is what I would prefer, but I am not a case-breaker, thus, I carry no clout in this industry. I buy retails and singles, I am a peasant to Topps. I should stop before this escalates further.

Back to inserts. The Bowman's Best are okay - I wish they had done what they did in 2011 and used an older design. Maybe they did and I just never saw that particular set. It's also nice that it's an insert set and not another $300/2 mini box separate  product, and that there are parallels - but they;re a tough, tough pull. I'd like to see more than one insert, 3-4 would be fine, but anything like the Topps Trend in burying the collectors in bullshit inserts and fifty parallels of players that had no place in today's sets is most unwelcome. 3.9/5.

I like that Bowman doesn't include retired players and short prints. They're about getting prospects and rookie cards at a reasonable price, with the chance at pulling a great card always looking.

Overall, Bowman 2012 is probably a 4/5. I want to give it a 5, but that's reserved for something as perfect as 2004 Studio. So instead, I am going to use the Scout Scale (20-80), and give 2012 Bowman a high 60.

26 March 2013

2012 Bowman Box Break (2)

It's parallel universe time!

For fans of seemingly limitless parallels, Bowman is a treat for collectors. Their 2012 effort has it all. Paper, chrome, refractory.

With 24 packs in a retail box, you're guaranteed 24 gold parallels, one silver ice and 2 chrome prospects in very pack.

Green (/450) and blue (/500) veterans have no stated odds, but you should expect one of those or possibly an unnumbered purple prospect parallel. Refractors of the chrome prospects exist, but even base refractors are /500, thus with Bowman's exceptionally high print run, are more of a "maybe" in a retail box.

In the non-color variation  genre you have the International parallels, which of all the parallels in this set seem to have the strongest staying power - they are unnumbered and feature a flag of the players homeland draped through the background of the card, with veterans getting a black border and prospects keeping their white borders.

My goals for the parallels were as follows:

-24 Gold
-3 International, at least one prospect
-48 chromes (which can be replaced by Bowman's Best inserts)
-1-2 of the green, blue or purple variations, preferably purple or green
-maybe a chrome refractor

Seems reasonably attainable. Let's see how the parallels shook out:

First, Aurum:

Of the twenty-four gold parallels, none really stood out. I chose Ryan Howard here because I don't really like him, so of course I pull his parallels all of the time. Beachy is someone I don't pull very often, so it was a nice change. He should be back by the All Star break. The third that I chose was RA Dickey, who despite being a stand-up guy, was actually traded to my Blue Jays in December. Very nice shot on this card.

The golds are a nice touch at one per pack, but I just didn't get anyone I truly care about. If you're looking for someone in particular, let me know and I can maybe hook you up.

Next, we have some prospect chromerz:

Easy choices.
Maybe you're wondering why a Yankee-unfriendly blog is mentioning a nobody Yankee prospect. Well, his name is Rookie. That's about as Bowman as it gets, right there. And of course, I had to juxtapose him with someone of an extremely opposite name, Adonys Cardona.

And of course, with 46 total chromers coming out of this box, we get some mega-prospects:

Danny Hulzen, Oscar Taveras, Nick Castellanos
The three you see above are some of the more money prospects coming out of 2012 Bowman. Hulzen should see big-league time the soonest, but trusted scouts see an extraordinary ceiling in Oscar Taveras and serious power potential in Nick Castellanos.

For a $35 price tag on this box and current going prices on COMC, Oscar Taveras could have really helped the resale value, but I plan on flipping nothing from this box and just collecting the set. If you're wondering why I made that previous Taveras comment, wait no longer:

I've been keeping an eye on this and some other International parallels. I would place an average sale value on this one at $18 ebay and $15 on COMC. Definitely not one which I would buy on my own, and if I dare say so, my "hit" of the box. If you stay tuned, however, there is more of a true hit coming later.

Internationals land 1:8, so I was due two more.

I received one American (sort of):


And an Aussie!

I love the International parallels. Luckily for me, they will be back in 2013, but this time I think they will be more like "state and home town", so possibly a map like in 2011, which I am totally fine with, as long as they don't use the chromed-up Playskool maps like 2011.

A more-or-less guaranteed parallel in every 24th pack of 2012 Bowman is a silver ice parallel. I like these fine and all, but there's just a terrible separating in quantities between the commons (Silver, 1:24) and the rare (Red /25; Purple /10). Here was my guaranteed silver:

Nick Maronde

Ugh. Sick of Nick Maronde already. I've seen him pitch once in Cactus League action this Spring, and he got pummeled. Oh well, can't win them all.

Finally, someone who I've seen too damn much of this year already, Adam Jones:

Blue, /500
I realllllly like this blue with the orange of the Orioles...umm...inner borders? Piping? Who cares. This card is baller, but I am willing  to trade it to some foaming Orioles fan. I guess I just feel sorry for them since they'll probably finish 4th this year.


On to the review: Parallels (Weighted 25%).

Bowman is a parallel-lovers dream of late. It was in the past, too, but it seems like they're more common, with more cards per pack and higher quality than they were in the past.

The blues are beautiful, and the Silver Ice are fantastic in the right light. As for the Internationals - as someone who loves the varying backgrounds as much as I do, as well as a closet flag-nerd, these may be the best yet, with honorable mentioned going to 1998 Bowman Flagship and Chrome and a Bowman's Best set that I cannot remember the year of.

Overall, 5/5. Bowman nailed the parallels in 2012. well done, chaps.

25 March 2013

2012 Bowman Retail Box Break (1)

Cue rapid heartbeat.

Let me get this off my chest, early on.

I love Bowman flagship, and I am extremely unapologetic about it.

Bowman provides collectors with a robust but not watered-down checklist. Tons of prospects but stars aplenty. Easy coloured parallels. A manageable retail price. The chance for hits is low, but no so rare as as bottom quality sets and not nearly as expensive as multi-hit boxes.

A hobby box of Bowman nets you one guaranteed autograph of what is very likely an unknown product. A year after it's release, I found a box of 2012 Bowman on Amazon for $50. That's half the price of a hobby box, same amount of cards, no guaranteed lame ass autograph.

Worth the gamble if you like the product, which I adore, and hey - you net about 30 parallels and a bunch of rookies and prospects. Sounds like money to me.

First - I had some goals for this box.

  1. 24 Gold Parallels - They're guaranteed, so this will obviously be fulfilled.
  2. 1-2 Blue (/500) or Green (/450) parallels. There are no stated odds, so I don't know what to expect.
  3. 4 Bowmans Best Prospects/Veterans. They're seeded 1:4, so there should be two of each.
  4. Individual Players: Xander Bogaerts and Oscar Taveras. I don't have any cards of these guys yet, so it would be awesome to finally get some. Ultimate goal is the International parallel of Xander Boaerts, featuring the flag of Aruba in the background. 
  5. 3 International Parallels: They fall 1:8, which is kind of steep for their meager "market" value. Bowman's main fault is that it is extremely overproduced, and the paper cards are "worthless" to many breakers and are even thrown out in some cases.
  6. An autograph. After pulling an auto from a Bowman Sterling rack pack and a Francisco Peguero autograph from a 2010 Bowman Chrome blaster, I am convinced their is a reasonable shot to get one, on average, in every retail box, row of blasters or row of rack packs.
I'll start with some base cards, but I won't address any of the goals or inserts in this post. I've seen other bloggers do this. Kind of a tease, I suppose, but oh well.

Hey, look you guys! Bowman base cards!
I grabbed just about every one of my favourite players, including Blue Jays - which many of the readers here helped out with since my return in September or so. If you want some Blue Jays from this set, let me know, as I have tonsssss. But I am also okay with hoarding them, so if you don't want them, I will take them.

I know they're not spectacular, but aside from 2008, Bowman is always a clean-looking set, with good color usage under-appreciated photography and subtle and dignified design. It's no 2010, which most find incredibly boring, but 2012 is a very solid year for Bowman. Before this box arrived I had decided to go after the complete set. I stand by my decision. 

Brarper Jr.
Prospects and veterans are equally represented in Bowman. No short prints.

Doesn't that sound like a novel idea? 

Say it aloud to yourself:

No short prints.

I am willing to bet a smile came across your face.

I did pretty well with prospects, scoring two highly sought-after ones pictured above in Bryce Harper (which I dinged after scanning) and Jackie Bradley Jr. Also, these two guyers:

Dillon Maples is one of the better pitching prospect of the Chicago Cubs (#4 on one of my more trusted sources if I remember correctly) and is also the subject of that sweet 2012 Bowman Platinum Autograph I pulled last month. Lindor, of course, has full-on Man Crush credentials at this point, and has become one of my stronger player collections of those who have never made a major league at-bat outside of Spring Training - and is the Cleveland Indians #1 prospect.

On to the review: Base Cards (Weighted 25%)

The design is clean. Crisp lines, solid colors matching team's primary . The foil is unnecessary and the lack of it would probably reduce price. A good deal of the prospects are photoshopped to horrific proportions, and recently traded players also show the same. Sometimes, the logos are placed directly on the crotch of the player due to poor photo cropping decisions.

Overall, nothing is offensive about the design and the checklist is very, very good. Overall, I give the base cards 4 out of 5.

23 March 2013

First Anthony Gose autograph is a thought provoker.

I scored a 2012 Panini Signature Series Rated Rookie* autograph manu-patch of ebay on Thursday for a very manageable $5.32 green American dollars.

Miraculously, the card made it from San Francisco to the far eastern end of America's Rust Belt by mail delivery time this afternoon. Upon ripping open this package and being stunned at how awesome an unlicensed card can be, a number of thoughts come to mind on baseball cards, logos, rookies and life.

If you're just here for the cardz, here's the front:
And the back, since some of you are in to that:

Patch-haters look away. Lovers of all things awesome, bask in the awesome.

Anthony Gose has a nearly indecipherable autograph, but it is consistent and not confusable with anyone else's. I like it, I think. It looks kind of purple, but I am pretty sure it was signed in fine-tip blue Sharpie.

I missed the Rated Rookie logo. I mean, damn. That's just straight nostalgia. Donruss and their affiliates or partners or tentacles were some of my favourites back in the day.

Which leads me into thought #1.

1. Panini needs a license.

Immediately, this is what I though. Then I gave it more of a gander. Do they really need a license? This card wasn't licensed by MLB. The MLBPA logo on the back makes this card possible with the likeness of Gose's face and name. The card looks great. A bit of the cap it photoshopped, sure. I have a hat with a Blue Jays logo. Topps pumps me full of logos.

I think I can get by.

Do Panini, Leaf and Upper Deck need licenses? Panini maybe not. They seem to be doing just fine, and have NHL, NFL and NBA licenses to make up for it. As far as I can see, their sales are fine and their products are savory. Leaf needs the license, I think. I just don't see them succeeding without one. Upper Deck, however, is thriving in hockey - taking an unfilled niche and running with it. Competition with Panini seems to give them  just enough of a boot in the ass to progress the product, but I think we're in the modern golden age of hockey cards.

Best of luck, Leaf.

2. Rookies and Spring Training statistics

Yasiel Puig is great. Francisco Lindor will also be a great player. Then you see guys like my man Anthony Gose. On a stat sheet, he's killing it in Spring Training, but there are some things you must consider.

Much of Gose's playing time has been against minor league pitchers, similar to those he blasted off in 2011 and 2012 in the Pacific Coast League, before tripping up in the Bigs. Many of his hits have dribbled through infields of career minor leaguers and out of shape major leaguers. NEVER take speed stats seriously in the Spring - ground balls get through, the wind rips balls all over the outfield, the scorers are full of shit and pitchers just aren't that good.

So temper your expectations. For years I have watch Brett Cecil mow batter down in Spring Training, you know, when he's not cutting his hand open trying to separate frozen chicken breasts.

3. Baseball cards in 2020.

The fat cats at Topps and MLB have extended Topps' "exclusive license" through 2020. That's seven more years of Topps Flagship releases, Allen and Ginter and Gypsy Queen and Heritage retreads (at least Heritage can change every year) and airbrushed logos from competitors.

Rather than looks forward, let's look backward. 2006 was seven years prior to now...you know what? No. This will get it's own post. Sorry.

4. Ebay Seller Shipping

As an occasional seller on the Bay, I pride my account on excellent customer service. Yes, I recycle bubble mailers and I rarely use USPS Tracking Information.

I do try to get a package out as quickly as a buyer pays. Pay immediately? First chance to get to the PO and I'm there. Take a week? I may take a week to ship.

Lately, I rarely have good ebay experiences. The Gose above blew me away, though. IN other news, I see more and more PWEs with low-numbered cards in them. Not amongst friends, the PWE is a huge risk. This week I received a 2013 Topps Black (/62) Edwin Encarnacion. The card cost me $6 and came in a PWE. Scary.

I have NO issue with PWEs among bloggers, though. Keep 'em coming.

That's it for now. Your thoughts would be appreciated, as always.

*I hereby declare that Rated Rookie shall always be italicized.


21 March 2013

Baseball Card Forensics (II)

First, a few things:

1. I found this today sifting through cards for Check out my Cards. I am willing to trade it to an Orioles fan, but I would expect QUITE the haul. But do send me an email if you are interested.

2. Check out the Getting Blanked Podcast. It's delicious baseball news. This is a bunch of real talented bloggers who started out bitching about Cito Gaston and turned it into a legitimate full-time job. Obviously, all of our little blogger dreams come true.

3. There are some good follows on the Tweetz I want to alert you to. They are as follows:

  • @brentandbecca - He breaks cases of cases of new product, shows 'em off, and has some giveaways. Overall a fun follow.
  • @professorparks - He's a scout, and he's right about prospects a large amount of the time. Often engages with other tweeters and doesn't treat fans with snark and sarcasm like so many others.
  • @samuelpair - Topps Trading Cards is taking a big dump on Astros fans, and Sam, of The Daily Dimwit, is letting them know about it. In these days of mass instant communication, we need everyone we can to stick up to bullies like Topps.
  • @BertDBacks - Steve Berthiume used to be a shill to the ESPN nazi state of Tim Tebow reporting, but recently was awarded with play-by-play duties for your Arizona Diamondbacks, and he's one of the best in the game - and accepts advanced statistics! REJOICE!
Okay. On to some Baseball Card Forensics!

If you're new to the blog, this is kind of how it goes.

So without further Apu, Volume 2 of Baseball Card Forensics: 2013 Topps Opening Day Adeiny Hechavarria!

Hooooookay, so obviously this is photoshopped. Adeiny was traded to the Marlins in The Trade. The Marlins have shown a propensity to tarde for some Cuban players to cater to the large Cubano population in Miami. Then, in the case of Yunel Escobar, just trade them the hell away, in that wonderful Marlin Way.

It's actually a nice card, but Topps made one drastic mistake in this card to give away that this is indeed horrifically photoshopped. Have you seen it yet?


Well, let's zoom in.

Anything yet? I'll spoil it for you: like the original Baseball Card Forensics post, the helmet gives it away. But first, draw your attention away from the helmet.

It looks like a Spring Training shotm which is strage, seeing as Hech's 2013 Topps Flagship is regular season game in The Dome.

I say it's Spring Training for two reasons: virtually no fans in the stands and the photo is very washed-out with very bright sunshine. Adeiny don't care though, he's from Cuba and the brightness doesn't even cause him to squint.

But something looks wrong. Why isn't the helmet washed out?

I don't know how or why they did this, but Topps photoshopped A NIGHT SHOT of a helmet on to midday-Adeiny.


A closer, annotated look shows the damning evidence behind Topps' chicanery. Those, my dear readers, are the reflections of light banks. From a stadium...

...during a night game.

C'mon, Topps.

For those of you pining for the original, here it is:

19 March 2013

Tremendous Jose Reyes Mailday

After a typical St. Patrick's Day weekend, I was checking some ebay package shipments religiously. In between my corned beef an cabbage - soaked in vinegar (drool) and nearly a surprise fantasy baseball draft, coordinating another, I would load up the 'bay. Wait from tracking information to work after tries number one and usually two, and see where some new goodies, and Jose Reyes collection cornerstone, may be wandering about the country.

Saturday evening, it seemed everything Jose Reyes was sitting in a sorting facility in Rochester, New York. Patiently, with the help of said corned beef and cabbage as well as an extremely drawn-out fantasy draft, I made it through Sunday.

And then Monday came. And on my doorstep, a trio of manilla/white envelopes and a flat rate cube.

One of the manillas was from Cardboard Conundrum, and deserves it's own post for another time.

The first, non-Jose Reyes package contained this gem:
No, it's not Jose Reyes,  but it came on un dia de Jose, so get over it. This is a JP that had been eluding me for a while - or rather, teasing. No one had it listed for a BIN of less than $20, which is way too much to spend on a JPA numbered to 99. Eventually, this one popped up, via auction and starting bid around $6, and I snagged it with only one other bid to compete with. Since then, at least one, maybe two colored parallels have popped up with starting bids of $.99...so we'll see how that goes.

In another, overly-large padded mailer contained this:

Ohhhhh yes. Number 8 of 9. Which is now 11, with that damn redemption that I was too late to get in to. This was actually way better-looking than I had hoped. Some of the Camo parallels look rather bland, but this one looks great. I jumped on this one, which to me is an EBAY 1/1!!!!! LOLZ!!1, as it is serial numbered 13/99, the player I wore through my "youth". I now wear #1, or did last summer. We'll see how this summer shakes.

Now for the big one.

I normally don't go after memorabilia or non-certified autographs. But this one came from a legit card manufacturer and memorabilia distributor - Just Minors. While their cards leave little to be desired, their efforts to supply the fans and collectors with game-used and replica-autographs merchandise is tireless, and it usually ends up being an awesome product.

This isn't game-used, but is still awesome:

Click to embiggen.
A Norfolk Tides autographed mini-helmet! When I saw this on Ebay, I knew I had to have it. It came in around $34, but prior to that I had a pretty decent month of sales, so I only ended up putting about $20 into it. Worth every cent, I say.

I like how Just numbers by hand, on the hologram. It's a nice touch, something different.

Joey Kings!
A close-up of the signature/Tides logo medley. This is my least favourite of the Tides logos. Because, come on, man. Tides cannot wear baseball caps. Red ones, no less.

And the obligatory signature close-up. From this angle you can see the logo is a sticker, and not printed on the helmet. Wish I had known that before, but I still would have grabbed it. From this shot you can see the slight smudge in Reyes' last name.

You know what I really love about Just Minors? The belief in their authenticity:
Click to embiggen.
I mean that's just great. This has everything I want to see in an authentication:

  1. Hologram
  2. Picture of whoever signing whatever
  3. The guarantee
  4. Supplemental online guarantee
Yep. I really love this little helmet.

And yes, in case you're wondering - it does fit on the pug's head perfectly.

18 March 2013

Fantasy Baseball Draft 2: Worm Burners

If you read the first one, then you know the drill. Pick, player, thoughts, cardboard. Simple as that.

Except that it isn't.

Only a slight format switch for this one -  as the Worm Burners are part of a 10-team keeper league, in its third or fourth year. Last year I finished the regular season sixth, and rode an underachieving but very hot team into the finals, losing by what could be accounted to a single home run and a .01 bump in ERA. So it goes.

First, I'll start with the 12 Keepers. The first 12 rounds are not in any particular "draft" order. They just, kind of, 'are.'

1. Albert Pujols

The Man: Pujols is a holdover from the innaugural year of this league, in which he was my Round 1 Pick 1 selection. I plan on trading him by the end of the year due to the presense of the guy that comes next.

The Card: I've had great luck with patches from 2011 Topps, aside from the pair of Shin-Soo Choos. This is on ebay right now for BIN/BO, but I would be willing to part with it for the right haul.

2. Joey Votto

The Man: Votto is a pure hitter in all of it's cliche essence. High AVG, HR, RBI, everything. No-brainer as a keeper and he'll serve me well as the first baseman of my future.

The Card: Kind of difficult to find a Votto in which he isn't hitting, and this one beat out his 2011 Platinum base card, in which he's receiving a throw at 1B. Came out of the same box as the above Albert Pujols.

3. Giancarlo Stanton

The Man: Mike Stanton kills baseballs. It's simple. I managed to select him in 2011, I believe, before everyone believed in his keeper league ability. He will throw up some tremendous HR totals and is a reasonably healthy option to man my outfield for years to come. This isn't a position-specific league, so a team full of RFrs is plausible.

The Card: I didn't intend on three 2011 Topps, one of my least favourite sets of all time (it is simply puke), but that's how it seems things have shaken out. At leats there was some variety. I've been looking for someone who may love this card more than I for a trade partner, but no such luck yet.

4. Buster Posey

The Boy: I think I picked Buster up during his rookie season, where he came on like wildfire. I've managed some tremendous waiver moves in this league, as is evidenced by "picks" #6 and #8.

The Card: One of the few decent cards I have managed from 2012 Bowman Chrome, which I simply cannot quit. I routinely get bent over by rack packs of the stuff, and I just cannot say no.

5. Yoenis Cespedes

The Man: Yo is going to be a perennial all-star. Drafted him in the late rounds of last year's draft, and when he gets hot, he can carry your team for a whole week.

The Card: I don't own this one, but I kind of wish I did. Not always a fan of cards this green, but yesterday was St. Patricks Day, so don't worry about it.

6. Brett Lawrie

The Man: Canadian Jesus, Brett Lawrie. Also a waiver steal, and also from 2012 Bowman Chrome. Weird how sets are kind of blocked together in this post, but I am just trying to follow the draft results. Reminder: Rounds 1-12 were auto selected from last year's keepers.

The Card: I was happy to get this out of a blaster of Bowman Chrome, even if the card routinely sells for about $1. Pretty harsh for a one-per-blaster-if-you're-lucky insert. The die cut resurgence in baseball cards is..well, it just is. They're nice and all, but they're all pretty much the same.

7. Ian Desmond

The Man: All-star caliber short stop? Sure. Desmond is a decent hitter with reasonable pop and even manages to steal some bases. I don't pay for speed in fantasy drafts. If you overpay for steals, you will lose in HR, RBI and often AVG and SLG...unless you draft Mike Trout.

The Card: Sorry, more Topps from 2011, just chromed-up and refractorized this time. It's actually a pretty awesome shot, and scanned well. I am pretty sure Chooch Ruiz makes a cameo on this one.

8. Manny Machado

The Man: Ahh, September call-up wire adds at it's finest. I nabbed Brett Lawrie in 2011 and Manny last season. I instantly had trade offers for him, but nothing too sexy, so he'll start the season platooning with Brett Lawrie or occupying one of the two UTIL slots on favourable matchup days.

The Card: I really enjoy the design of 2012 Bowman. The Chrome actually takes away from it a bit. I received a much more awesome Manny Machado from Matt at Cardboard Conundrum today, but that will be in a trade post either later tonight or tomorrow. This one is in my Orioles Blogger Trade pile.

9. Madison Bumgarner

The Man: I said quite a bit about Mad Bum in my first post, so I will spare you more in this post. He's pretty unexciting, but that makes for a great fantasy option for pitchers.

The Card: I love, love, love 1987 Topps. I may love the 1987 minis even more. Please send me some...I only have about 5 or 6 from all series in 2012. This card evokes a warm, summertime baseball feel. Wholesome. I love it.

10. Roy Halladay

The Man: Roy Halladay. Not a whole lot to discuss here. He was rough coming down the stretch last season, to the point where I had him benched. Now, it seems, he has some serious stomach issues. Wish him the best.

The Card: Hard to choose just one. Had a nice Phillies one lined up, but I just cannot post him in red pinstripes here. Too soon.

11. Jordan Zimmerman

The Man: You'll hear "2012 was a breakout year for Zimmerman" a lot this season, which is kind of bullshit. Zimmerman really showed what he could do as soon as he returned from Tommy John surgery. He's a hell of a pitcher, and yes, he will have a better year than Stephen Strasburg. AGAIN.

The Card: He's great, but I have no exciting Jordan Zimmerman cards. I thought about claiming a pair of autographs from Matt P in that trade I mentioned already, but I had already cleaned him out of a few gems already. Maybe next time.

***Orel Hershiser just said the Barves rotation is better than the Nationals. He has lost all credibility to me.

12. Tim Lincecum:

The Man: Tiny Tim is back, and he looks like Joseph Gordon-Levitt. Which makes me think: TV Movie. Well, except for the fact that he's far too successful for made-for-tv movies at this point. Both of them, really.

The Card: Another warming, mid-summer San Francisco Giants card. I loved 2008 Topps Chrome Refractors. This one is no exception, and is one of my favourites. In case you have any laying around, I am trying to rainbow this whole set.

Also, love the facsimile autograph.

Now, on to the actual draft picks and my rationalizations of them.

13, 9: Kyle Seager, 2b/3b

The Man: Kyle is a third baseman, but I drafted him to play second base, as he somehow has that eligibility. Currently trying to work out a trade in which I can bring someone in who can play 2B. I did not keep Allen Craig - as his second base eligibility is not going to carry over to 2013, and I already have 4 1B/3B.

The Card: Apprently I have some Kyle Seager luck. I really like the cards next to each other, but I am sure some of the Seattle Mariners bloggers recently crawling out of the woodwork would be happy with these.

14, 2: Jeff Samardzija, SP

The Man: I know very little of Samardzija, accept that all the Cubbies bloggers seem to love him. The moustache could go and I would not be upset. He'll be the Chubs' Opening Day starter, so that must bode well for a 14th rounder, right?

The Card: Boring old Topps, and one of the few Samardzijas I actaully own. May have sent one or two down to Maryland recently.

15, 9: Sergio Romo, CP

The Man: American Dream(boat) and ruggedly bearded, unsersized athlete. My absolute favourite type of player. He's Marcus Stroman two-three years before anyone will realize who Marcus Stroman is. One of the few clozers who's number one pitch is a slider and not a fastball.

The Card: More 2013 Topps. This card is mine, and is currently on sale on COMC. Someone posted it for super cheap and I thought it might make a nice flip-job.

And if no one buys it, I'll hold on to it and enjoy it thoroughly.

16, 2: Kenley Jansen, CP

The Man: Clozer, who recently joined Team Netherlands in the WBC for what might only be one game against one of the greatest teams ever assembled, the Dominican Republic.

The Card: When I wrote up the Springfield A&M post, my only Jansen was a 2013 Topps. Lucky you, I grabbed this one from a blaster on Saturday evening. This is a 2013 Heritage card that I surprisingly do not hate.

17, 9: Michael Morse, OF

The Man: Seems everyone either believes 2012 (and the end of 2011) was a fluke or that Mike Morse's numbers won't translate to the unfriendly confines of Safeco Field, but to me it's budget power numbers and a solid third outfielder and third-string first baseman.

The Card: More purple refractor sexiness. Alternate unifrom, rugged shadow of a beard, thick eyeblack, this is a sneaky great card.

18, 2: Jarrod Parker, SP

The Man: Parker isn't the most exciting guy out there, but while I was drafting I was watching my twitter feed and a bunch of the analytic-influenced scouts were exuding man love over him non-stop. So his name came up and I selected it. Done and done.

The Card: An extra from 2012 Bowman Platinum, this is up for trade and will go easily. Wouldn't mind help putting the set together. Is anyone else going after it? No want list from me, yet.

19, 9: Andre Ethier, OF

The Man: Any new Andre Ethiers that come into my grubby paws are marked for Nomo's Sushi Platter. Of all of the Dodgers bloggers, he seems to be most-appreciative of ever-consistent Andre Ethier.

The Card: Oh, that warm feeling when a card scans perfectly. Sitting right next to the following card in the scanner, this is pretty much as perfect as a base refractor from 2008 TC can be represented.

20, 2: Torii Hunter, OF

The Man: Yes, more Torii Hunter. Deal with it. He had a sneaky hot season in 2012 and is in just as formidable of a lineup in 2013. I am expecting less HRs, but at this point he is my fourth outfielder.

The Card: Also a 2008 Chrome refractor,  this scanned like a chrome base card. I even checked to make sure it was a refractor, just in case. Indeed it was. Finny how fickle scanners can be.

21, 9: Wei-Yin Chen

The Man: ...and more Wei-Yin Chen. Pretty good rookie season in the AL East, but when thinking of the sophomore slump, Chen is going to be on a short leash for me this season.

The Card: Boring old chrome, but I may have an exciting purple refractor somewhere. Or else I traded it to one of the brazillian Orioles bloggers out there.

22, 2: Lorenzo Cain OF dropper for Andre Cashner, SP

The Man: I originally drafted Lorenzo Cain, KC's weak-hitting CFer. I quickly made this move after the draft to add some K's to the end of my "rotation".

The Card: I'd be much happier if I had this card, but I do not. Taken from COMC, its evident that awesome Cashner cards can be had for rather cheap.

23, 9: Starling Marte, OF

The Man: Marte, again. The end of my drafts are often very similar. Seeing as all leagues have let me grab Marte cheaply near the end, you may be seeing more of him in future posts. But I'll have to find some new cards of him.

The Card: Another 2013 Heritage that I don't hate. I made a stack of them a few weeks back. The Love pile was tiny. The Hate pile was about 30% of the set, and the "meh" pile was at least 40 cards. Zero-thrill set.

24, 2: Sergio Santos, CP

The Man: Might as well hoard clozers. Santos should be good as long as he doesn't get so over excited and throw his arm out in the first week again. Clozers are always good trade bait, too.

The Card: Just a sexy gold sparkle from 2012 Topps...Update? Yeah, I think it's update. JP Cameo!

As always, if you can define where my team name came from, leave a comment, and I'll see if I can get a PWE out your way with something you might like.