Jan 31, 2009

When Will Card Shops Figure It Out?

As my birthday approaches in another week, my wife has been on the hunt for what to get me. One of the nice parts of an early February birthday the last couple of years has been the release of Topps at the same time, which makes for a pretty easy gift. Today my wife headed out to shop while my daughter and I napped. When she returned I found out that she decided to drop by our local card shop to ask a few questions about release dates. Since my birthday is next weekend, my wife wanted to surprise me by getting the cards this week and giving them to me on my birthday, rather than getting them off the internet and forcing me to be patient for a couple of days. I love this lady.

Unfortunately, it all went downhill once she actually arrived at the card shop. The owner and his daughter who run the shop were both sitting outside when my wife arrived, taking their smoke break apparently. My wife and I are by no means high rollers, but we do buy cards from the shop semi-regularly. While the internet is considerably cheaper, I like the idea of getting cards from a shop even it costs a little more. Well, I'm going to need a new shop to frequent after today.

As my wife walked up to the daughter, she was greeted with a curt hello and asked what she needed. My wife explained that she was hoping to find out when the new Topps release would be in the shop, since she wanted to get it for my birtheday the next weekend. She was told when it would release and then apparently made a huge mistake. She asked if they knew about how much the boxes would be selling for. The daughter looked at her father who shook his head in some disgust and let out a sigh. Not exactly the friendly customer service one might hope for. The daughter continued to stare at her father and after a few more seconds without a response, she gave her estimate. My wife then asked what their hours were and if it would be possible to have a box held so she could pick it up and not risk them selling out before my birthday. This was met with another dismissive sigh and a slight rolling of the eyes from the owner. At that, my wife just paused for a second in shock and then walked back to her car.

Are you freaking kidding me?! I know my wife wasn't there to ask about Triple Threads or some other overpriced monstrosity, but does she really need to be treated like crap. My wife is a very patient woman and she came home pissed! She couldn't believe that she was treated with such disrespect and a feeling of contempt from the owner. The woman is coming into your shop with the hopes of giving you money for your product and instead leaves feeling like she's an idiot for asking questions. Is it any wonder that these places are having so much trouble staying in business.

I'm only good for a few hundred dollars a year at the local card shop, which is less than a lot of people probably spend in there in one afternoon, but I can guarantee we won't spend another dollar in there again. Even as I type this, I'm just sort of fuming. I can't see the logic in treating a customer like crap. Thanks a lot card shop owner guy, for once again proving what an a-hole you can be.

Go Halos!

Craptacular Pack Break: The Score Packs Pt. 2

For the finale, we have 1988 and 1989 Score. These packs didn't deliver the best cards out of my break by any means, but after the 1986 Topps League Leaders cards, I think these were my favorite to open.

A lot has been written about '88 Score and their unique colors and design. I don't have much to add, other than I really like it. I remember finding packs of these at a drug store in the middle of Nebraska when my family was on vacation to visit my Great Uncle. On the same trip I discovered Sportflics, but that wasn't nearly as satisfying. The oddest part of the '88s to me is their lack of team name or logo on the front. '89 added the team name to the fronts, but even so it's not terribly identifiable. I've always liked logos on the front for whatever reason, but I have no problem overlooking it for '88 Score.

All that being said, I'll start with the blander '89 Score.
How any card manufacturer ever resisted using a photo exactly like this one for a Franco card is beyond me. Nothing says Franco like this stance. Very clean card and a great photo. My favorite from this pack, by far.

I never realized that Matt Williams was the third overall pick in the 1986. He always seemed like an extremely intense beer league softball player to me.

1989 was the year that the Expos made the decision to trade Randy Johnson for Mark Langston and a few others. They got 24 games out of Langston before he came to his senses and made his way to Anaheim. Along with Finley, Langston was part of the lefty duo that made the mid '90s somewhat bearable, at least on the mound.

Now onto the more iconic and enjoyable 1988 Score.
Zane Smith was a decent enough pitcher, he did stick around for a number of years, but I hated this guy's buck teeth. It's almost like it was impossible for him to keep his mouth closed. His teeth are always poking out between his lips. Because of this, I have always despised Zane. I'm shallow, I know.

Tito's boy. I guess he manages or something these days. Whatever.

El Presidente. What's not to like about this card? The border color completely clashes with the card, but it works. Martinez is rocking the baby blue uniform, the tri-color hat and his in coiled up pitching motion. Almost card, very good pitcher.

The red borders look nice with red uniforms, but nothing beats the blue on blue. Raffy, pre-scandalous end to his career. In '88 Raffy actually made the All-Star team for the first time, although I'm not entirely sure why. For the year he hit .307, but only had 8 home runs and 53 RBIs. Perhaps he had all of those numbers by July and I'm just not recalling this. Odd.

First of two Hall of Famers. I never really appreciated Jim Rice as a Hall of Famer and I'm still not sure whether I regard him as HOF caliber, but one look at the stats on the back does reveal that this guy had some monster seasons. Even so, he was definitely aided by the steroid backlash.

The second Hall of Famer is a great looking card. Again the border color doesn't really work, but it just doesn't matter. I miss the old Orioles hats and logo. I'll never understand why the decided to abandon the cartoon Oriole for the one that looks like it came straight out of a book on ornithology. Cool card of Cal creeping in on the carpet. I like alliteration.

So that does it. The craptacular pack break is over. I definitely miss this innocent side of collecting and find myself drawn to it more and more. That being said, I was at Target this morning like many other bloggers hoping the 2009 Topps had hit the shelfs. I need my up to the date fix!

Go Halos!

Jan 30, 2009

Craptacular Pack Break: The Score Packs Pt. 1

As the craptacular pack break winds down, we're looking at 1990 and 1992 Score. I'm a big fan of the 1988 cards, so I decided to save '88 and '89 for the finale.

First up, a Hall of Famer.
There's no denying how good Robin Yount was, but I've always held a grudge against the guy. In 1989 I really like Ruben Sierra and I was sure that he would walk away with the MVP, only to have some "old guy" from Milwaukee win it. Oh well. One of the best parts about opening up the old stuff is coming across the cards that take on a whole new meaning now. Then, he was a guy who cost Ruben the MVP, now he's a Hall of Famer and probably the greatest Brewer of all-time.

Next, a couple of rookies.
Hal Morris obviously made his mark with the Reds, not the Yankees and that's just another reason to like this card. I guess you could label me a Yankee hater, so I do enjoy the careers of guys who leave the Yanks and flourish. The one thing I remember about Morris is the way his feet never stopped moving when he was at-bat. Odd, funky and awesome.

A poory scanned Halo rookie.
Frist round pick...uggh. This is one of the many reasons that the '90s were not so kind to Halo fans. The best part about Orton? His career batting average of exactly .200. Take that Mendoza.

Dream Teamer Will Clark
These cards seemed sort of plain and boring to me in 1990, but getting one now I almost felt like it had an Allen and Ginter quality to it. The white border, semi-washed out photo/portrait and the colored background. Definitely a card I appreciate more today.

On to 1992 and Bone.
Buhner was one of the more enjoyable personalities of the 1990's. He put up some big-time power numbers from 1995-1997, but you have to wonder how many more fans he gained because of the exposure that Griffey brought to the entire Mariners organization. Added bonus, a former Yankee that flourished as well as part of one of the great Seinfeld sports moments.
Frank Costanza: What the hell did you trade Jay Buhner for?! He had 30 home runs and over 100 RBIs last year. He's got a rocket for an arm. You don't know what the hell you're doin'!

Steinbrenner: Well, Buhner was a good prospect, no question about it. But my baseball people loved Ken Phelps' bat. They kept saying "Ken Phelps, Ken Phelps."

The guy who wore his helmet in the field.
It's amazing to think that this guy reached base well over 3,000 times in his career and only stole 11 bases. I remember three things vividly about Olerud. 1. He wore a helmet in the field after suffering a brain aneurysm in college. 2. He was incredibly slow. 3. When he was with the Mets he did that thing where he kinda held runners on, but really played the field, but...well I still don't really understand it.

Awesome Halo card.
This guy was putrid with the Angels, but you gotta love the pose on this card. It's tough to beat the relief pitcher, in his sneakers, acting like he's making a leaping catch to rob a home run card. This will find a special place in the Halo binders.

Finally, a BEAST.
This guy had one of the better 4 season offensive runs of any player I've ever witnessed. The menacing stare and attitude of Joey, errr excuse me, Albert Belle was one of the best parts about watching him play. I would have hated having to stand 60 feet 6 inches away from this guy and toss a ball in his direction. On top of that, this card is awesome. Albert slamming up against the Monster, hat flying off, sunglasses flipped up and body askew. For a set with an only decent design, this card looks great.

2 more packs away from the end of the Craptacular Pack Break.

Go Halos!

A Thank You to 30-year old Cardboard

One of the absolute best parts about baseball card blogging is the people you come across. When reading blogs I was always surprised to read about Blogger X sending Blogger Z this card or that card. So, now that it's happening to me, it's even more surprising. When I started this blog a little under a month ago, I figured maybe a few people would stumble across it and read for a moment, but my expectations didn't go too far beyond that. Now, I find myself actually receiving unsolicited cards from other bloggers and it's hard to fathom.

The other day I received an address request from Brian at 30-year old Cardboard and a few days later 15 Halo cards arrived.
Above are 9 of the 15 cards.

So this is just a thanks to Brian and an appreciation to those who spend a couple of minutes out of their day to read this blog or take a minute to comment on it. It is much appreciated.

Go Halos!

Jan 29, 2009

I Miss The Fun Card Back

I know a lot of baseball card purists like seeing the stats from every season of a player's career on the back of their cards and while I certainly can appreciate that, it doesn't do that much for me. Especially in this internet age where baseball-reference.com is at my beck and call. So what do I like in my card backs, I like pictures, wacky pictures. No one did this better than Upper Deck. Wacky pictures on the front are great, but I prefer my hardcore baseball action on the front and a lighter side on the back. I have a huge stack of these cards sitting on my desk, so I scanned a few for your enjoyment.

First up, Murph.
Dale Murphy is the case for a guy's career stats being on the back of his card. He had a number of great seasons that new collectors at this time might not have been aware of, but I like that his card back has a picture of him signing autographs for a number of sheisty individuals who will certainly be turning right around and selling this stuff.

Another nice autograph card back, Dave Stieb
Gotta love Stieb just relaxing on the tarp at the Big A, signing some autographs with sweet mullet in tact. You gotta wonder if the kid on the back of this card has a stack of them sitting in a shoebox somewhere.

Some card backs are fun for different reasons, like this Ed Sprague card.
Although Sprague was initially a catching prospect, he made his mark at third base and the front of this card shows Ed creeping in at third. The card even lists his position at third, but there he is on the back, full catching gear, behind the plate. Not as exciting as our next card back, but still fun.

This is one of my favorite card backs I've come across recently. Scott Ruskin.
While Scott certainly didn't have the most distinguished career, he should be a part of the Card Back Hall of Fame. I can't figure out who the doofus is next to Scott, but Ruskin is clearly owning him right here. There are very few moves in history that rival the bunny ears in a picture. Scott, you now have a place in my collection for eternity.

Finally, the Hud-Man.
Hudler is renowned for his kooky antics and off the wall behavior, that's why he is perfect for these type of card backs. A plain back with all of Rex's stats just wouldn't tell the story of his career the same way it would for Dale Murphy. Instead, a card back like this truly shows you what Hudler was all about.

As I come across more of these, they'll be going in my binders and up on this site to be appreciated by those of us who care as much about the back as the front.

Go Halos!

Jan 28, 2009

Craptacular Pack Break: 1986 Topps League Leaders

This was the pack I was most interested in opening out of this lot, mainly because I had never opened a pack before. So without further adieu or any adieu for that matter, here is 1986 Topps League Leaders.

Card 1: Rick Reuschel
What an epic way to start the pack. What's not to like? The dazed look on Rick's face, The sweet oddly shaped Pirates hat with multiple dents and most of all, despite Rick being a talented pitcher for a number of years, I will always remember him as the guy who gave up the blast to Bo Jackson leading off the All-Star game. LOVE this card.

So what did Rick lead the league in to deserve this card? 4th in ERA with a 2.27. A note was also made that he tied for 6th in Complete Games with 9.

Card 2: Jack Clark
Jack was a beast in the '80s, although I remember him more for his clunkiness in the '90s.

So what did Jack lead the league in to deserve this card? Jack was 4th in On-Base Pct. with a .393. A note was also added that Jack tied for 7th in Base on Balls with 83 and was 8th in Slugging Pct. with .502.

Card 3: Carlton Fisk
One of the cooler parts about these cards is their size. For some perspective here is Fisk with his back-up Ron Karkovice.
As for the Fisk card. Gotta love the catcher's helmet worn forward as a hat, the hideous blue and red stripes of the White Sox uniforms and the knee high pants. Well played Mr. Fisk, well played.

So what did Carlton lead the league in to deserve this card? Fisk was 2nd in Home Runs with 37. I had no idea Fisk was such an offensive juggernaut in 1985. He also ranked 7th in GW-RBI, 8th in Runs Batted In and 10th in Slugging Pct. with .488.

Card 4: Tom Browning
1985 was Tom's rookie year and it was a great one. He finished 2nd in the Rookie of the Year voting behind Vince Coleman and his 110 Stolen Bases.

So what did Tom lead the league in to deserve this card? Tom was 4th in Victories with 20, 5th in Shutouts with 4, tied for 2nd in Games Started with 38, 6th in Innings Pitched with 261.1 and 9th in Strikeouts with 155. It was quite the league leading year for Mr. Browning.

Card 5: Wade Boggs (Our first actual outright league leader)
One sidenote to this card, I miss players wearing actual stirrups like I wore all throughout Little League and beyond. I realize that fashions change, but this is one that needs to make a comeback. Wade was an absolute beast in 1985 and finished 4th in MVP voting.

So what did Wade lead the league in to deserve this card? Wade was 1st in Batting Average at .368, 1st in On-Base Pct. with .450, 1st in Hits with 240, 3rd in Doubles with 42, and 4th in Total Bases with 312. Willie McGee won the NL MVP with numbers inferior to these in 1985, however Boggs only managed a 4th place finish.

Card 6: Ryne Sandberg
As I've discussed before, I watched a lot of Cubs baseball while living in Texas in the late '80s and early '90s. While Grace was my favorite player by far, Sandberg was also a guy I loved watching. In 1984 Sandberg was an MVP, so 1985 was a bit of a letdown, but still a very solid year for Ryno.

So what did Ryne lead the league in to deserve this card? Ryne was 4th in Runs with 113, 4th in Stolen Bases with 54, 4th in Hits with 186, 6th in Slugging Pct. with .504, and 8th in Batting Average with .305.

So that ends what may have been the most enjoyable six card break I've had in a while. I'm used to feeling underwhelmed these days when I get a pack of six mediocre cards that I paid 6 dollars for. 1986 League Leaders is officially on my radar, even if only one player in my pack actually led his league in anything.

4 packs of Score is coming soon. The scanning is taking its toll on me.

Go Halos!

Jan 27, 2009

Craptacular Pack Break: The Steroidy Leaf Pack

I have a few 1992 Leaf cards in my collection, but I don't remember really opening any packs of this stuff long ago. An odd trend showed up in this pack as I flipped from card to card. The "magic" of the '90s was revealed.

The pack started innocently enough.
The black card with gold foil is apparently a one per pack parallel. Not often that you see a speedster with DH as his listed position.

Next up was a card that left me a bit puzzled.
I didn't even realize Gary Carter had a final run with the Expos. Was all of Canada clamoring for this move to be made?

Here's where it got interesting.
I had pretty much forgotten about Danny Tartabull after all these years and as soon as I saw this card I immediately wondered how this guy escaped the Steroid Era wrath. It was an odd thought that popped into my head, but it became even more odd a couple of cards later.

This is how the pack came to an end.
Are you kidding me? I don't know how the McGwire card didn't make it into this pack. It's probably stuck to the back of the Alex Cole. Sosa, Bonds and Canseco. What are the odds on pulling perhaps the three most notorious players from the steroid era in one pack of 1992 Leaf? Amazing pack!!

Finally, to turn up the insanity one more level...
Royce Clayton? Yeah, I know what you're thinking, "What does Royce Clayton have to do with the steroid pack?". Clayton's wife was a former Olympic sprinter and in 1993, Royce was a vocal proponent of MLB instituting steroid and HGH testing. Are the hairs standing up on the back of your neck too?

Go Halos!

Craptacular Pack Break: The Donruss Packs

The late '80s/early '90s crap break continues. Part 1 with Fleer packs can be found here.

The Donruss packs included in this lot were 1989 and 1990. I also have a pack of 1992 Leaf, but it's steroidyness deserves its own post.

Starting off with 1990 Donruss because it was severely lacking. I've never been a huge fan of the red borders. They're just so jarring and the paint droplets make no sense to me.

What better way to start than with the Lemmer, since it's Lemkepalooza.
Still want to punch him in the face. I guess the positive is that I'm half way to the Lemke 1990 base card master set.

Although the steroidy post is coming later, Raffy still deserved a spot in the 1990 highlights.
You can tell this pack was pretty bad since Palmeiro was the biggest star by far. Not that he didn't have a great career, it's just that he went out in such a blaze of shame.

No good or crappy Donruss pack is complete without a Diamond King.
You gotta wonder just how bad the 1989 Phillies were that their Diamond King for 1990 is Tommy Herr. Well, they were 67-95 bad. 6th place in the NL East bad. Personally, I think Von Hayes got hosed on this one.

The rest of the pack was pedestrian at best. I won't bore you with the details.

As for 1989, it was made amazing by one card and you can probably guess the card. And no, it wasn't a Luis Polonia.

First up though, 2 MVP cards.
Alan Trammell was a classy player and deserves all the praise he receives. I always found him to be vanilla and boring, but I've come to appreciate those players a lot more as I age. As for Alan Davis, ehh. I could just never figure this guy out. The bonus is the back of this card where I learned Alan's middle name is Glenn. I wonder if Glenn Davis's middle name is Alan. That would be spooky.

Halo excitement. Bryan Harvey.
I was a huge Bryan Harvey fan as a kid. I can still remember my dad telling me how stupid the Angels were for letting him get away in the expansion draft. A year later I feared he was right when Harvey went on to save 45 games for the Marlins in 1993. Percy finally rescued me in 1996.

Lackluster Diamond King Alert!!
Maybe it was the hype, but most likely it was the mustache. I don't like you Cory Snyder.

Now for the saving grace.
An absolutely beautiful card. I called this the saving grace, but in truth it was the first card in the pack below the puzzle, so the rest of the pack was just icing after pulling the Griffey. It was pretty much impossible to grow up during this time and not love Ken Griffey Jr. I was no exception. Although the Upper Deck rookie is more iconic and beloved, this has always been my favorite Griffey rookie. Something about the combination of colors and the way the Rated Rookie text color is mirrored in the jersey, makes this a standout.

My daughter Hailey was perplexed by the Griffey card. Until that point I had let her handle all the cards and lay them out to count them, but that one went immediately into my hand and away from the fingers of the soon to be 3 year old. Of course this has now led to her constantly wanting to see the special card, but I'm OK with that.

1992 Leaf, very soon to come.

Go Halos!

Jan 26, 2009

Craptacular Pack Break: The Fleer Packs

In my boredom and desire to pick up packs from my childhood, I bought a 9 pack lot of late 80's/early '90s junk. And when I say junk, I say it with no anger. This is the stuff I grew up on, like so many others and it holds a special place for me. Plus, I like opening really cheap packs filled with about 15 cards and flipping through them with the daughter. We had a ball, here are the results of the 2 Fleer packs. 1990 and 1992.

1990 Fleer may be one of my least favorite sets from this time period. There are essentially no memorable cards from the set, the design is bland, and the photography is not exactly top notch. The saving grace...Stickers!
This was by far Hailey's favorite part of the packs. She has quickly absconded with them and they are slowly showing up around the home. The first one I ran across was the Twins sticker on the laundry hamper in the bathroom. I'd really like to see a company bring back stickers to the base product. The Upper Deck holograms were always a highlight to me.

The next card is appropriate mainly because today is a special day. Lemkepalooza 2009 has begun over at Cardboard Junkie.
I've never been much a Braves fan and I always kinda wanted to punch Lemmer in the face, but hey he was born in Utica, NY and I was born in Syracuse so we were basically neighbors until I moved to Texas 9 months later.

Next, a former Expos superstar.
A little baseball history for Hailey. I miss the Expos. Their stadium was hideous, I found watching their home games to be difficult, but I just can't get into the Nationals. As for Grissom, this guy was an absolute stud for a while. For a speedster, he hit a surprising 227 homeruns.

1985 NL MVP Willie McGee
Gotta love the contortion on this card. No disrespect for Willie, but he's not exactly the guy I picture when I think of MVPs of the past 25 years.

The Dual Prospect card of Matt Kinzer and Wayne Edwards
Kinzer - 9 games, 0-2 record.
Edwards - 62 games, 5-5 record
A prospector's dream.

The rest of the pack:
472 Bill Landrum
366 Allan Anderson
477 Rick Reed
510 Keith Comstock
267 Mike Boddicker
547 Steve Rosenberg
425 Rick Mahler
509 Darnell Coles
75 Matt Williams
406 Willie Randolph
192 Jay Tibbs

Now onto the pack of 1992 Fleer, it was slightly less lame than the pack of 1990.

Super Star Specials Barry Larkin and Kirby Puckett
It's weird, when I get a card like this in base Topps, I cringe and think why would you pair up this "Classic Combo", but for some reason I love this card. Maybe it's just the nostalgia and looking back at two '90s stars that I really liked, but it just works. The modern Duo cards just never seem to do it for me. This card was a definite highlight to the pack.

Ellis Burks
Although Burks had a really solid career, he always seemed like a disappointment to me. He was one of those guys whose cards I would horde away in my star boxes, expecting greatness and it just never happened. He had a couple of great years like 1996 in Colorado, but I thought he was destined to be a stud alongside Greenwell in Boston for years. Not so much.

Bo Jackson
Maybe my favorite athlete from my youth. This guy was just fascinating. His 1989 All Star homerun in Anaheim is still one of the coolest sports moments I've ever been a part of. Obviously the hip injury with the Raiders killed the momentum of his career, but I still remember being excited whenever he stepped to the plate.

Jim Abbott
How is this guy not a bigger legend? He pitched at a high level in the major leagues with one frickin' hand. I didn't even try to explain this one to my daughter. I just pointed out that he was an Angel and she was thrilled. He ended up 20 games under .500 in his career and certainly didn't live up to the expectations of the 8th pick of a draft, but the man was simply amazing.

The rest of the pack:
563 Joe Redfield
232 Scott Kamieniecki
405 Bill Doran
659 Pat Rice (Prospects)
207 Gene Larkin
342 Todd Stottlemyre
437 Xavier Hernandez
440 Rob Mallicoat
618 Bip Roberts
191 Dale Sveum
560 Llloyd McClendon
459 Orel Hershiser
620 Benito Santiago

Overall, the 1992 Fleer cards destroyed their 1990 brethren. The nostalgia factor was high for 1992 with cards of Bo, Kirby, Larkin, Orel, Abbott and Burks. Plus my boy Bip Roberts showed up, always a treat.

Still left to come, 1989, 1990 Donruss. 1992 Leaf. 1988, 1989, 1990, 1992 Score. 1986 Topps League Leaders.

Go Halos!