Tuesday, June 30, 2009

2009 Goudey Baseball

I am a fan of many of the throwback sets. Because I collect vintage cards I enjoy seeing some of the better-designed sets making a comeback. Some of my favorite sets of all time are the Goudey sets of the 1930s, so of course I really liked that Upper Deck brought the set back, keeping it old school but tossing in some new ideas to keep it current.

My wife surprised me tonight with a couple of packs of 2009 Goudey that she picked up from a local shop. This was actually my first chance to bust open some of the 2009 series so I was pretty eager to see what I was going to pull.

The cards are based on the 1933 Goudey set with a solid color background, the player image and “Goudey” along the bottom. The cards are surprisingly similar to the original set from 1933. A couple of cool additions include the Heads Up subset which is actually based on the 1938 Goudey set and the Sport Royalty subset which seems to be loosely based on the 1933 Sport Kings set.

I got a nice variety of players ranging from rookies to veterans to all-time greats. The 4-in-1 cards are unique, some cards have four players that play the same position and other cards have four players from the same team.

#65- Dexter Fowler

#181- Bob Gibson

#251- Adrian Peterson Sport Royalty

#278- Manny Ramirez Heads Up: Like Manny needs a bigger head

#35-40- Mariners 4-in-1 card

I have been a Mariner fan most of my life so this card was a keeper for me. I have been through the good times (1995-2003) and the bad times… every other year; I sure miss 2001 some days. The player selection for this card has me a bit confused.

Ichiro and Hernandez are a given.

Tuiasosopo has some potential down the road but may even have some trouble making it in AAA this year, not to mention that Beltre is cemented at 3rd Base when he is healthy.

Bedard is another one that has me confused. He is a decent pitcher, but he is by no means a Mariner at heart. Hell, he has been with the team only a year and will most likely be traded by the deadline. He is 5-2 with a 2.47 ERA for a team sitting around .500 with 86 games to go; the Mariners are going to trade him away while he has value.

Better choices would have been Griffey, the “Ultimate Mariner” and possibly Beltre, Johjima or even Betancourt (my second favorite current Mariner behind Griffey).

Finally, the card that I was hoping to pull and definitely made this pack busting a positive experience

#46- Ken Griffey Jr… as a Mariner!

Saturday, June 27, 2009

2009 HIT Football High Series

I wanted to take a break from basketball and decided to grab a pack of the 2009 HIT football High Series. The pack contains 6 cards of players in their college uniforms and all information refers to their college career. The front has a picture of the player in an action shot, the player name, college team, jersey number and position. On the back is a black and white photo along with some basic player bio information along with the stats for the last 4 years.

#5- Michael Crabtree

#23- Javon Ringer

#57- Teammates Sanchez/Malualuga

#66- Andre Brown

#74- Johnny Knox

#82- Jamarko Simmons

With draft pick sets you usually can get some good action shots of the players and when you pull autographs, jerseys or other insert you have something different. This set did not really impress me though, I did not care for some of the pictures, specifically the Crabtree card, and the checklist was not impressive. I think I will stick with Press Pass sets if I am looking for a decent draft pick set.

Friday, June 26, 2009

NBA News- 6/26

Well, I was pretty close with the Top 6 picks; Sacramento threw a wrench in to my picks by taking SG Tyreke Evans instead of PG Ricky Rubio, leaving Rubio for the Timberwolves. Which in turn left PG Stephan Curry for Golden State to draft.

The rumors seem to have heated up regarding a possible trade of Amare Stoudamire. The buzz is now coming out of Oakland. It appears that PF Amare Stoudamire may be heading to Golden State in exchange for the rights to PG Stephan Curry, C Andris Biedrins and possibly another player to be named (possibly PF Brendan Wright or SG Marco Belinelli).

Oddly enough, I kind of agree with this scenario. I hate to see Stoudamire go but he has become more intent on leaving the Suns since Shaq came to Phoenix and his output decreased. It is believed that Stoudamire would option out of his contract following the 2010 season any way.

This potential trade would give Phoenix some help now and set the team up for the future too. Curry would become a backup to one of the best Point Guards to run the game, Steve Nash. Bringing in C Andris Biedrins would also give Phoenix a true Center. Phoenix drafted 4 Forwards this year, which seems extreme, but could help solidify the lineup even more. Jason Richardson would move back to Shooting Guard and Robin Lopez can stick with being a Center.

In other trade rumors the New York Knicks and Minnesota Timberwolves may be working a deal to send PG Ricky Rubio to the Knicks. As of now there has been no further details involving this potential trade, if this deal is pulled off the Knicks may turn out to be one of the winners of the draft.


In the most recent reports, Golden State coach Don Nelson has stated that he has no intention of trading PG Stephan Curry no matter what. This may be an announcement just to shut down the rumors or this may actually be the truth, only time will tell.

Thursday, June 25, 2009

Late News on the Shaq Trade

The deal has been done and Shaq is on his way to Cleveland. In return the Suns receive Ben Wallace, Sasha Pavlovic, the 46th pick in this year’s draft and $500,000. As I posted before, it does look like Wallace will retire and the Suns will buy out his contract and Pavlovic will probably be cut and only $1.5 million on his contract is guaranteed so in the end the Suns end up saving almost $10 million when you count in the Luxury Tax.

As numerous people have pointed out, the Shaq for Marion trade has been a bust for the Suns. They went from a 60-win team to only 46 wins this past season and a Lottery pick. Marion is also a Free Agent this summer so the Suns could have ended up saving $21 million, but hopefully this is a lesson learned for Steve Kerr.

There are still rumors that Amare Stoudamire may be traded, hopefully it is just that, a rumor. If a Stoudamire trade does happen we can only hope that it will not be in a disappointing Draft Day deal. The fans are still feeling the pain following the 2006 Draft and 2007 Drafts when the Suns traded away Rajon Rondo and Rudy Fernandez for cash deals.

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

2009 NBA Draft

We are now down to less then 24 hours until the NBA Draft takes place and besides the #1 pick the Top 5 seems to be a game of musical chairs.

The Clippers will be taking PF Blake Griffin, which is a given, but then there are no certainties over the next four picks. Most draft boards have those picks down to C Hasheem Thabeet, PG Ricky Rubio, SG James Harden, SG Tyreke Evans, PG Stephan Curry and PF Jordan Hill.

At #2- Memphis: Memphis could actually use a Power Forward, which could be filled by drafting Jordan Hill but another option and possibly even a better option would be to take C Hasheem Thabeet and use Marc Gasol as a Power Forward.

At #3- OKC Pirates- The Thunder are set at Point Guard, Small Forward and Power Forward so logically they could use a Center or Shooting Guard. Since there are not many quality Centers in the draft after Thabeet I would think that they would be better off going with a Shooting Guard. There are a couple of options here, but the best choices are either Harden or Evans. James Harden seems to be more polished between the two options so I would say that they should draft SG James Harden with the #3 pick.

At #4- Sacramento: The Kings could use upgrades at almost every position. They do seem to have solid performers at Shooting Guard and Center, so it would be best to focus on a quality Point Guard. There really is no waffling about this pick; the Kings should go with the best player still available and probably the best Point Guard in the draft, PG Ricky Rubio. The only concern may be the buyout from his team in Spain.

At #5 & 6- Minnesota: The Timberwolves just traded away their backcourt and now have 4 picks in the First Round. So obvious needs will be at Point Guard and Shooting Guard but they also need a Small Forward. The obvious choice here would be at Point Guard because you want to pick up a quality player to run the team, so one pick should be used to select PG Stephen Curry. The second pick would best be used on SG Tyreke Evans and select one of the numerous remaining Small Forwards with the #18 or #28 picks.

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

The Theft of the Sonics

I had lived in Seattle for 15 years, and while I am a Suns fan through and through I still supported the home team while I lived there as long as it did not conflict with my Suns allegiance. So, like everyone else in the Seattle area I watched the drama unfold in the daily news as Bennet and his cronies threatened to steal away the Sonics.

It was obvious from the beginning that Clay Bennett wanted to move the team to Oklahoma City. His claims of “doing everything humanly possible to keep the team in Seattle” was a slap to the face of every citizen of Seattle. The lawsuits, the court cases and the attempts for a new arena in Renton were just steps down the road until the day of the move. It did not help that David Stern supported the move too, way to go Commissioner, way to support the City of Seattle and all of the Sonics fans.

Now I will give it to the NBA fans of Oklahoma City, they did turn out to support a team that went 23-59 in their initial season in OKC. The team ended up in the Top 15 in attendance average per game. But one has to wonder how much longer will the fans continue to support a sub-par team? How long will the young nucleus of Durant, Westbrook and Green stick around before they leave to free agency? With LeBron James, Dwayne Wade and Amare Stoudamire all coming up for Free Agency in the summer of 2010, Durant and Green would both make wonderful consolation prizes for a contender.

2007-08 Fleer Hot Prospects

I picked up a couple packs of 2007-08 Fleer Hot Prospects the other day in hopes of getting some Durant cards while he was still in a Sonics uniform. It is no secret that I am not a big fan of Clay Bennett, the captain of the OKC Thunder (nee Seattle SuperSonics) pirate ship.

I do not think I have opened a pack of Fleer Hot Prospects since Fleer was actually Fleer, but I am pretty happy with the card design. You have a close up of the player in action; the player is centered with the background hued in the team colors. The card has large borders along the top and bottom that contain the product name, player name, jersey number and position. The backs have a design using the team colors; near the top are the team logo and an additional photo of the player. There is a short blurb about the player and their last 5 years of stats along with their NBA totals.

Excellent choice for the poster boy of the product

I was kind of surprised to pull a Jordan card in a pretty current set, but I guess UD does what they can to get him in to a release.

Supreme Court and Notable Newcomers subsets

Overall I really liked the set because it does have an artistic flair to it, a good checklist and whenever you can pull a Michael Jordan you should be pretty happy.

Monday, June 22, 2009

Nintendo Game Pack

A bit back I wrote about having found a pack of Disney Rocketeer cards in one of my drawers, well I also came across a pack of Nintendo Game Pack cards. These cards were released by Topps in 1989 and were based on Nintendo games of the time. The pack includes 3 Scratch Off Cards and 2 Stickers. The scratch-off cards were a game where you scratched off the little circles to try and win, basically a lottery ticket with a better chance of winning. The stickers, well what can I say… they are stickers.

The cards are pretty poor in coloring, probably cheap ink used during the printing phase not to mention that they are 20 years old now. The stickers had a better quality of ink used so they look a tad better but still could have used better quality ink.

Mario and Link heading in to trouble

Piston Honda
Wait for the jabs then pound him in the face

Mario wondering why his name looks like it is on a movie theater marquee

Little Mac taking it to Glass Joe

Well, it was a time when Topps would take on any license and turn it in to a card set.

Saturday, June 20, 2009

2007-2008 Topps Chrome Basketball

OK, so tonight I was out with my son and we stopped by one of our local shops. We decided to grab some of the older packs that were sitting in a discount bin. He grabbed a handful of football packs and I grabbed up some basketball packs. Given there was a mixture of both hobby and retail packs, but the fun is in opening the packs and checking out whose cards you get.

The first pack that I opened was a 2007-2008 Topps Chrome Basketball pack. They stuck with the clean theme that Topps is known for, but then they went overboard with the chrome. The logo is chromed, the team name is chromed and the player’s name is chromed. The only color besides the player image is the 4 boxes around the player image in the team colors. It is unfortunate too because had the team name and player name been in the team colors the cards would have come out aesthetically pleasing.

On to a selection of the cards that I pulled:

61- Richard Hamilton

104- Kevin Martin

Veteran 57-58 Variation Kobe Bryant

Like I pointed out with the 08-09 Topps, the Variation cards use blurred photos which when mixed with chrome make an almost hideous card. Take the Bryant Variant card I pulled, the name/team bar is nice and clean. Good coloring and no fuzziness but the image has the appearance of a 3D photo without the glasses. You get a headache trying to focus on the player.

I like the idea of the 57-58 Variants but they should have used clean photos, it really ruins a nice subset.

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Meathead begets Meathead

After a few days of a nasty flu bug I am back to work…

OK, so while everyone else in the world could figure that Sammy Sosa was juicing, Paul Konerko, who is a jackass in his own right, is now demanding proof that Sosa used steroids. OK, lets take in to account that in his first 9 years of pro ball he hit a total of 207 homeruns. Over those 9 years he also hit for a .284 average while having a .492 slugging average.

Now, lets look at the insane jump over the next couple of years. He hit an unheard of 243 homeruns over a 4-year period. In those 4 years he also hit for a .311 average and a .663 slugging average.

He also suddenly bulked up from 185-195 pounds to well over 220 pounds in just a year. That has got to seem concerning because his weight was all muscle and while he was most likely working out daily that is still a lot of muscle to put on over an off-season. Put it all together and all you get is accusations and an assumption that he was juicing, but as a fan I still believe that he illegally affected the game that I love.

I do have to say, Konerko has a point… he said that the names should not be released because the players signed a contract regarding the tests stating that the results would not get out.

Fine, my response to that is Bud Selig has proven that the “interim” should have never been removed from his “Commissioner” title and someone with a spine should have been put in to place, someone who would have never agreed to a confidentiality clause. As Commissioner their job is to protect the players, the owners, the fans and the sanctity of the game. Selig protecting those 104 players on the list from 2003 is not looking out for the sanctity of the game; he is giving in to the MLBPA and turning tail. Now there will always be a question in the fan’s mind on who is on the list.
Way to go Sammy! *

Sunday, June 14, 2009

Shaq Coutdown

Well, after sitting on the backburner for 4 months it looks like it might possibly be time for Kerr to pull the trigger on the Shaq to Cleveland trade.

I've grown up in Arizona and I have been a fan of the Suns since the mid-80s. The 1993 Finals is still a painful memory for me (along with the 2005 Super bowl, but that is a different story all together).

While I do like Shaq and he has proven to be a dominating player over the years he is now on the downward slide of his career. He can still prove to be a presence in the paint but he has slowed quite a bit and ended the season with below career numbers in rebounds, blocks, assists and points per game.

As much as I like Shaq, I felt that the trade was a very poor decision for the Suns. Taking on an aging player with frequent injuries for Marion and Banks, not to mention the 2 years and $40 million left on his contract. This was a poor fit for the Sun’s Run-n-Gun play and this was a poor fit for the Sun’s Luxury Tax. Don’t get me wrong, I love the idea of seeing the big guy in Purple and Orange but I would have preferred to see the Shaq Diesel of 10 years ago.

So, here we are now, the season over for the Suns and Cavaliers and its time for Kerr and Ferry to start looking at what needs to be done for the 2009-10 season. Ferry can pick up a once-dominating center that can still provide some help against the strengthening Eastern Conference and the Suns in turn can get some help towards their salary cap and allow them to begin looking towards the future and the post-Nash era.

It now looks like the trade would be Shaq to Cleveland for Ben Wallace and Sasha Pavlovic. Wallace is another player I would have loved to have seen in Purple and Orange a couple of years ago, but is now also in the final stages of his career and has even discussed retiring following the loss to the Magic in the playoffs. So, if the trade were to go through Shaq’s $20 million would be gone to Cleveland with Wallace and Pavlovic coming to Phoenix. If Wallace were to retire, his contract would then be bought out leaving only Pavlovic’s $4.9 million on the books. Pavlovic is a bit-player who plays mainly garbage minutes and if was actually let go would only cost the team the $1.5 million guaranteed contract. This could turn an Albatross around the Sun’s neck in to a potential buying spree in the free-agent market.

The free-agent market over the next couple of years is looking really great so it could be an amazing turnaround for the Suns to return back to prominence once again

Saturday, June 13, 2009

My Holy Grail

I am a fan of vintage cards, when I say vintage cards I am talking pre-war. Sets like Play Ball, Goudey, Cracker Jacks and even going back in the 1800s with the Old Judge and the Allen & Ginter sets. This was when cards were simple and original. You had a picture or printed image on the front and either an advertisement or player/sport list on the back.

I am an opportunistic vintage card collector. I look for deals where I can and pick up what is available. I know that I will most likely never complete any of theses sets and the top players are well beyond my reach in price but I just love the idea of holding a piece of history in my hand. Over the years I have picked up some decent vintage cards ranging from an N28 1887 Allen & Ginters up through a couple of 1955 All-Americans (ok, not exactly pre-war but still classic cards in their own right).

Two years ago I was finally able to land my “Holy Grail”, the 1933 Goudey Lou Gehrig card #92. My wife knew that I have always wanted to get one and she surprised me a couple of weeks before Christmas when she told me that she had been putting away money so she could buy one as a Christmas present for me. That made for a wonderful holiday and that will always be a great memory.

With that card I got that feeling that I finally was able to complete my collection. This is easily the highlight of my collection. The down side is that once you hit that highlight you want to continue. I will always treasure my ‘33 Gehrig, but I have now set my eyes on something new… the 1933 Goudey babe Ruth card #144. It will probably be a couple of years before I can even consider looking but until then I’ll keep collecting.

Thursday, June 11, 2009

Sticker Autographs

Ok, so before I hit the negatives I figured I would try to start off on a positive step and list off the “good” reasons for sticker autographs:

- Using stickers allows the card company can gather a stockpile of various player’s autographs which allows the company to create an autograph set as they see fit without worrying about relying on redemptions in the off case of a player not returning their signed cards

- Using stickers allows the player to sign on their time frame

- Using stickers allows the card company has some freedom and control in how the autograph is to be placed on the card

I have two on-card autos from the 2001 Royal Rookies set. This shows the exact reason why sticker autos can on occasion be good. As you can see, Cesar Saba (on the left) signed on the #/5950 line, because of this the signature is small and difficult to see with the background. In the second card Brian Schmack (on the right) signed, as you would expect the player to sign, boldly across the middle in an area where it is easy to read. Had the company used stickers then the placement would have been uniform.

I am sure that there are other positives about using stickers, but I am hard pressed to come up with some right now.

Now on to the negatives (and I will keep this short so as not to ramble on and on):

- Using stickers causes the collector to loose the “touch-ability” that you feel when you pull an on-card autograph. You know that your favorite player actually handled the same card when they signed it.

- Using stickers can completely ruin the look of a set; for example take a look at the 2008 Topps Lettermen Football to see how to ruin an Adrian Peterson card.

- Using stickers allows scammers to remove a real sticker auto from a low-end card, wipe it and then create fake sticker autographs.

Basically, while stickers may be a good thing for the card companies to have in their arsenal the collector looses out in the end. If stickers are to be used keep it limited to the low-end product and the “Blaster Box” specials otherwise, the collector deserves an on-card auto.

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

2008-09 Topps Basketball Breakdown

The Topps product has always been a clean design and usually some nice photos. The 2008-09 Topps Basketball set contains white borders, clean action shots and foil names. The backs have the standard info; a short player bio and complete career stats (a nice addition in today’s world of minimal stats and poorly designed backs). There are a couple of parallels this year; a Gold Parallel limited to 2008 and an Orange Parallel limited to 1199. The set also includes the ‘58-‘59 Variations which replicate the Topps 1958-59 Basketball set.

On to the cards:

3- Allen Iverson Pre-Pistons trade
AI caught Louis Williams sitting flat-footed and is ready to blow by him

34- Paul Pierce
Pierce gliding in for a well-earned 2 points

OJ Mayo Orange Parallel, definitely one of the better cards that I pulled from the boxes

Derrick Rose 58-59 Variations

Overall I was quite pleased with the set. There are a couple of things that I did not like regarding the photos that were used on some of the cards. Many of the images in the retired subset were blurred or just poor poses. You have a great shot of Magic ready to make a no-look pass then a couple of cards later you looking at a blurred out George Gervin. The photos used in the 58-59 Variants were also blurred. I realize this was probably a tip of the hat to the original set, but honestly the card layout replicating the original set is honor enough, no need to travel back in time and use blurred photos too. Finally, the images for the rookies were mostly from Summer League play so they were not in official uniforms. But, being an early season release I guess this is expected.

My biggest complaint overall was the number of duplicates. Two blaster boxes, ten packs each box with 8 cards per box= 180 total cards. I ended up with 41 duplicates between the two boxes. With a 220-card base set, I only completed 46.8% of the set (102 base cards, 41 duplicates and 37 inserts, variations and parallels).

The Rocketeer

Last night I was digging through my card supplies and I came upon an unopened pack of The Rocketeer cards. Topps released the set in 1991 following the release of the movie by Disney. The pack itself had a tear along the side and the last couple of cards had some scuffing damage, but for an 18-year-old pack I guess I couldn’t really complain about its condition.

At 19 years old, the pack has held up pretty well

Many of the cards in the set have poor quality images, pretty common from that era, but this is probably the best looking shot photo-wise in the pack

Most of the cards were landscape view, this is one of the few that were portrait view. The text was scaled down to fit along the right-hand border, which with the gold background and using white font with a black stroke made the font difficult to read.

This card was the last card in the pack, it has some scuffing on the back that can be seen on the font. Fortunately it was not a great card to begin with.

If the printer had used a better quality image and ink this would have been one of the better cards in the set. This card was the second to last card in the pack so it has some scuffing on the back too.

Ahh… Timothy Dalton… Outside of that short jaunt as James Bond, he has played one of the most likable villains in some great indie films: Prince Barin in Flash Gordon, Neville Sinclair in The Rocketeer and Simon Skinner in Hot Fuzz

Finally the sticker: Nice shot of the Rocketeer getting ready to blast off but using a bland background ruins it.

Sunday, June 7, 2009

2008-09 Topps Basketball

With the economy affecting our budget my sports card purchases have been limited to the occasionally stop at the sports card shop, a deal on eBay or blowoutcards.com or on occasion, picking up a blaster box at a retail store.

About 2 weeks ago my wife and I were shopping at Wal-Mart and I decided to take a look at the sports card section to see what they had available. With basketball season winding down the retailers have been pretty limited on what they carry for basketball, so I was looking to see what I could find. I came across two boxes of 08-09 Topps Basketball; unfortunately a pack searcher got to the boxes and busted them open leaving bent packs all over the shelves. Sad to say, the other day I stopped by again and the packs were put back in to the boxes, the boxes were sealed with tape and put back on the shelf at regular price…

Anyway, I was really in the mood for basketball and while shopping at another store I found 2 sealed boxes of 08-09 Topps Basketball sitting nicely on the shelf so I grabbed them up. I will be reviewing the set in a day or two.

Saturday, June 6, 2009


I wanted to start with a positive spin. In the world today it seems like every time you pick up a newspaper or open up a news website you come across a professional athlete getting themselves in to trouble. Between the superstars being accused of steroid usage, athletes being accused of inciting fights in bars and even the occasional assault or other violent crime you grow weary about how you define a “superstar”.

Not long ago my son asked me who my favorite athletes are and why I admire them. I did not have to think to hard on the question because I have had three athletes that I have looked up to for years. My list: Jim Thorpe, Lou Gehrig and Ken Griffey Jr. As far as admiring sports stars these three have done their best to keep clean and lead by example, as far as collecting goes though I probably selected three of the most sought after players which makes collecting difficult.

New Beginnings

I love sports and I enjoy talking about sports collectibles and the hobby as a whole. Like everyone else in the hobby I have my favorite sports card shops, my favorite brands and my favorite players and I will be talking about each of them. To be fair I will also discuss other topics, that while may not be my favorites, do deserve an equal opportunity in the blog. When I get a chance I will grab up a box or a couple of packs and break down my pulls.

Over time I will discuss current sporting and hobby news, new product, memorabilia and the collections that have passed through my hands over the years. I have been collecting for roughly 30 years now and still remember pulling a 1978-79 Topps Jack Sikma card (not sure why I remember that card specifically but it is still imprinted in my brain). Hopefully this is the start of something good for me and helps with some creative out-pouring in the collecting community.