Thursday, July 30, 2009

Mariner Trades

This time of year usually turns in to a time of depression for the average Mariner fan as we see players being let go to clear out payroll dollars. But this year may be different. The team is only 7 ½ games out of first place in the West and only 5 ½ games out of the Wild Card spot with 61 games still to play.

Will there be redemption this year? Will the Seattle Mariners be playing well in to October?

In the last 2 weeks the Mariners have made a number of trades, and it looks like not only are they plugging holes but also they are trying to bring in some help. Some needs have been filled, specifically at Shortstop, and some young pitchers have been brought in too. The big question on everyone’s mind is what will become of Jarrod Washburn?

UPDATE 7/31-

In a last minute trade before the 4pm deadline, the Mariners traded Jarrod Washburn to the Detroit Tigers for a couple of pitching prospects. This season is turning out to be a pleasant surprise; I guess you can probably tie the Mariners woes to ex-GM Bill Bavasi. The current GM, Jack Zduriencik, is making trades that are filling needs as well as setting the team up for the future.

While Washburn is having a decent season, he is a 34-year old .500 pitcher with a career 4.02 ERA, so to get 2 young arms in return looks to be a good move for the future of the team. I think if Bedard had been healthy the Mariners would have worked some more deals but I am pretty happy with the way that things are going. It is nice to see Seattle working trades in their favor.

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Michael Vick's Return

It is official now; Michael Vick is now back in the NFL, I guess I can put aside my “Vick in the UFL” talk for now.

OK… now that Michael Vick has been conditionally reinstated back in to the NFL lets rush and sell every Vick card that we can get our hands on (I am saying this sarcastically). In the last 24 hours there have been well over 100 auctions added and while many of the postings are reasonable you do come across the random oddity. Is a 2007 Topps Chrome Refractor Vick error card really worth $750? As Susan Powter would say “Stop the Insanity!”

With that said, I decided to go take a look to see what Vick cards I have hiding away and actually came across a couple of decent jersey cards packed away in a binder. The Ultimate Super Jersey was pulled from the same box that I pulled my Omar Jacobs Rookie Patch. I don’t remember when I pulled the Triple Artifacts; damn memory fails me now that the temples have begun to grow silver. But I do know that I will be holding on to the cards for now and see how things go with Vick’s return.

Sunday, July 26, 2009


In a USA Today story, Hank Aaron said that he would accept players who have been linked to steroids to be admitted to the Hall of Fame under one condition, that the players HOF plaque contain an asterisk. This announcement by Aaron has drawn some strong opposition from other Hall of fame players who stand determined to argue the admittance of any player connected to performance enhancing drugs including Goose Gossage and Mr. October himself, Reggie Jackson. As a collector and this being sports related, I have my own opinions regarding the subject which also affects my collecting habits.

I personally agree with Gossage and Jackson on the subject. Unfortunately there are players who have been implicated without any proof and there stands the difficulty on who should be admitted to the Hall and who should be denied.

This is one debate where I do not expect any decisions to be made any time soon by the spineless Bud Selig and will continue to be put in to the hands of the Hall of Fame voters to make the final decision. The fans know players are juicing, the managers and owners known players are juicing and even the commissioner knows that players are juicing yet very little has been done to counter this blight.

I now have no interest in collecting players like McGwire, Bonds, Clemens and Sosa. I know that there are collectors out there who still collect some of the players listed in the various reports or in rumors, but I see this as violation of the rules and I just cannot support these players.

Saturday, July 25, 2009

Legendary Pioneers

I was reading through a recent announcement from Upper Deck regarding their 2009 SP Legendary Cuts Baseball set. The first collector who completes the entire Cut Signature set will receive a 1 of 1 Legendary Pioneers Quad Cut signature card containing the signatures of Abner Doubleday, James Naismith, Knute Rockne and Fredrick Stanley. This card is no doubt an amazing and interesting card.

The Cut Signature set consists of 321 cards this year and Upper Deck announced that there are at least 5 autograph cards of each player. They did this to entice collectors to attempt to put together the entire set. I love the Legendary Cuts set, the best box I ever busted was a 2001 SP Legendary Cuts, but this promotion seems a bit ludicrous due to the seriously limited availability. Out of 321 total cards, 138 cards have less then 10 copies. That is 43% of the entire set is limited to less then 10 copies. To make it even worse, 75 cards are limited to 5 copies making it a whooping 23% of the set is limited to just 5 copies of each card.

I do have to say that at least UD is being realistic about the contest, they set a deadline of December 1, 2009 and if nobody has collected the entire set they will be awarding the card to the collector who is furthest along in completing the set. Good luck to all you cut signature collectors and happy hunting.

While I do like this card, I have some problems with it too. I prefer to have an image or photo of the player because it adds some visual appeal to the card. This card does have some strong signatures though, only the Stanley signature is illegible. The smeared “e” in Knute Rockne’s signature really detracts from the card too, I am sure they could have found a better specimen to use for such a special release.

Thursday, July 23, 2009

Omar Jacobs

A couple of years ago I decided to take a chance on some upper end product and picked up a box of Ultimate Baseball and Ultimate Football.

Last night I was reading through Bad Wax and came across a story about ex-Pittsburgh Steelers Omar Jacobs failing in the NFL and doing well in Arena Football. It got me wondering how it is that a player that “played” for 3 different teams in 2006 and 2007 but never actually played for any of those teams actually made it in to so many different football card sets in 2006? Even worse is that he made it in to some upper end products such as Ultimate, Exquisite and National Treasure.

So reading the story got me thinking about my Ultimate experience, so I pulled out a binder I have sitting in my closet to see what I had pulled from the set and sure enough I was fortunate enough to pull a Omar Jacobs Ultimate Rookie Patch #/25. I look back now and think I should have skipped the box and instead picked up individual cards. This card and $3 and I could pick up an Iced Chai Latte at Starbucks.

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Losman in the UFL

The UFL (United Football League) gets their first big name (sorta big name anyway) today with the signing of J.P. Losman by the Las Vegas team. Losman was the 2004 1st Round draft pick of the Buffalo Bills, who had high hopes for the youngster out of Tulane, but he never seemed to really take command of the team.

Hopefully signing with a new team in a new league will give Losman the opportunity to start fresh and prove something. Now that a semi-established NFL player has moved on to the new league, the question is “Who will follow?” At this time the rumors seem to be leaning towards Michael Vick possibly joining the UFL if Roger Goodell does not reinstate him in the NFL at their meeting later this week. If Vick does join the UFL it is quite possible that some other NFL players may follow his trail to the infant football league. Can Adam Jones be far behind?

2009 Upper Deck Icons Football

I have been waffling with the 2009 UD Icons releases. I am just not that impressed with what I have seen so far but in reading some of the reviews it seems that some collectors like the set so I decided to pick up a retail box just so I could get a taste of the set. I also picked up a 2009 UD Icons Baseball box at the same time and will review that at a later date.

To start, I should have gone with my gut on this one; I am not to impressed with this release. When it comes to the cards design things just have a sloppy look. You have a nice action shot of the player, which is great, but then there is a sepia colored, de-saturated image of the player in the background and to “artsy” things up someone decided to use a grunge brush. In my opinion it actually muddies up the entire card design and was a poor decision. The back of the card is simple, an image of the player, team logo, name and stats. Keeping the back simple was a nice addition, it kind of balances out the card design overall.

The retail box also contained Silver Board Parallels, which are essentially the base cards where the background image on the card front is chromed up a bit. Otherwise there is nothing special about this parallel. Another insert pulled was the “Class of 2009”, which in my box I pulled Clay Matthews, Green Bay’s 1st round pick, #/450. The Class of 2009 card was a nice addition, while not a true rookie card it added an extra insert to portray the rookies. One thing that I did like about the retail box was that it also included a pack of “America’s Team”, an all-Dallas Cowboys subset. Not that I am a Cowboys fan, but still a cool subset.

Finally was the “Game Day Gear” jersey card, an Upper Deck generic set jersey card used as an incentive in retail boxes. I actually liked this design better then the “Sophomore Sensations” and “Decade of Dominance” jersey cards that are part of the Icons checklist so I am not complaining.

Saturday, July 18, 2009

Seattle Sounders FC

I know that soccer matches are not something that you normally would find on a sports cards blog, but I have been a Seattle Sounders fan for a number of years now and even though I can not attend the games anymore I still keep up with the team in their inaugural MLS season (prior to 2008 the Seattle Sounders were a USL First Division team until the MLS offered an expansion to Seattle).

Anyway, the Sounders FC played in a Friendly against Chelsea FC this afternoon at Qwest Field. For those who do not know, Chelsea is one of the elite teams of the world. Since 2004 the Blues have been Premier League First Division Champions twice and Runner-up twice. They won the FA Cup twice (and are currently the FA Cup Champions) and the League Cup Champions twice with 1 Runner-up. They were also European Cup Runner-up in 2008. So, to play against Chelsea FC is an honor for a first year MLS expansion team.

While the match ended as a 2-0 loss, Seattle walked away with their head held high. Chelsea scored their first goal in the 12th minute and their second goal in the 35th minute, the remainder of the game saw two balanced teams controlling the ball well including some awesome defense by D Zach Scott in the last 10 minutes of the game. An exciting match overall and while a loss is a loss, it was still a great game to watch.

Friday, July 17, 2009

Greg Maddux

One of the greats got some admiration tonight from the team that he will always be connected with, Greg Maddux had his number retired by the Atlanta Braves this evening.

When someone brings up the domination of the Braves, three names will usually come to mind; Maddux, Glavine and Smoltz. These three pitchers were as dependable and domineering as any team manager could ever hope for to have in rotation. In the 10 seasons that all three pitchers were in the rotation they went a combined 425-224-65, that is averaging 42 wins per season just on these 3 starters alone (plus the 2 years that John Smoltz was in the Bullpen).

Maddux retired after pitching for San Diego and LA Dodgers last season, Glavine was un-ceremoniously released last month by the Braves and Smoltz is currently with Boston. Hopefully the Braves will re-sign Glavine in September to allow him to retire properly, letting go a legend like that is just a plain kick in the nuts. It is quite possible that within 6-7 years from now all three men will once again be united at Cooperstown in the Hall of Fame.

Thursday, July 16, 2009

2009 Topps Magic Football

I was a bit uncertain about Topps Magic football release. A number of reviews that I have read have pasted the set as “an average release” which does not give it an appealing aura. I finally decided to take the plunge myself because I am a vintage collector and have felt that many of the re-creations have done justice to the original sets.

I picked up a couple of packs and honestly have to say that Topps did a pretty nice job with the set. There are some positive qualities but there are also so negative qualities. Overall I do like what I have seen so far and definitely will consider picking up a box to break to work on building a base set.

Beginning with the card description itself, Topps did a great job using a similar style cardboard for printing; the cards have a similar feel to the original 1951 release. The fronts contain an action shot of the player in their college uniform with a small black box along the bottom containing the player name, position and team nickname. The backs contain player information, the school logo and a question and answer box. The difference from the original set is that instead of a photo of the college campus the bottom box now contains a state map pinpointing the location where the player played during college.

One thing that bothered me was the way that that Topps photoshopped the player’s image to give it an “old-time feel” and to add a grain. The original set used photos that were hand colored, Topps used filters to give the photos a similar look but instead ended up looking cartoonish. Another disappointment is Topps used some photos of players in practice gear, ruining some of the cards.

The minis replicate the original 1951 release, where the cards were 2 1/16 x 2 15/16. The minis are exactly the same in appearance and feel as the full size cards except they contain a black bordered parallel version. I do not want to even go on to the Magic Thrills cards, this insert seem like it was just an addition to add more filler.

I am a huge fan of the original 1955 All-American set so the addition of the All-American insert set made me smile. I had to wonder though why Topps would make this an insert when in 2005 they released the Topps All-American set which was a re-creation of the original 1955 set. Not that I am complaining. It makes me wonder if Topps will re-create the 1950 Felt Backs as its own set? There was a Felt Back set that was re-created as an insert in the 2005 Topps Heritage Football set, but I think it deserves its own release.

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

The Lost Ball

Have you ever missed out on an amazing opportunity? Something that when you look back on it many years later you feel like kicking yourself for letting it go?

It was the winter of 1992 and I was with my girlfriend wandering around the downtown area of a small town near where we were living at the time. We were looking for antique stores; my ex had a thing about buying anything and everything that was antique. But what caught my eye was a storefront sports collectible shop. It was the kind of place that is small, dark and cramped. An older guy who had been in business for years at the same location owned it. He seemed to have a story about everything in the shop, but overall a nice guy.

After a short time wandering around the shop I noticed a small collection of baseballs tucked away in to a case. There seemed to be nothing special about the collection until the old guy grabbed out a ball that had rolled to the back of the case. He handed me what I thought was just an old discolored ball. I turned the ball in my hand and was nearly floored when I noticed that distinctive “B”. I was actually holding a Babe Ruth autographed ball, a piece of history in my hand.

The old guy was selling it on consignment and there was a COA, which now means as much as showing a piece of TP, but at the time was something of a comfort. It was selling for around $1650, which was within my price range, but damned if my ex didn’t step in and bring me down to Earth. I was given the ultimatum of leaving with her or the baseball. I look back now and kick myself for making the choice I had made (saying this half-jokingly). But, I do look back as an opportunity missed.

Monday, July 13, 2009

Base Cards

The base cards hold no essential value and I only use them to trade with other set builders while trying to complete a set. Most collectors have plenty of 5,000 count boxes hidden away some where in a closet or in an extra room that contain only base cards. Every couple of years I will lighten up my collection and will either give a 5,000 count box to a neighbor kid or donate them to a local children’s hospital or a foster home. I make sure to toss in a couple of jersey and autograph cards too to make things a bit more exciting. To you these cards hold little value but to a new collector it is a whole new world. To a child in a hospital a handful of sports cards can go a long way to helping them smile.

In addition to clearing out some room in your home you can feel good about introducing your hobby to a new generation of collectors. As an added bonus you can also write off the donation on your taxes. The write off is based on FMV (Fair Market Value) so just don’t go overboard on estimating the value of the cards, like claiming 5,000 cards are a donation equivalent to $5,000.

Of course there are other options available to you when you want to lighten up your collection such as recycling or as Rob from VOTC suggested… fire kindling.

Sunday, July 12, 2009


Have you ever sat down and attempted to evaluate the value of your collection? There are a number of options to assist with determining values such as price guides and auctions. I know that some people will sit down, grab a Beckett and begin to count off all of their base cards then start to calculate the price of the semistars times the total number of base cards. This is how you get collectors claiming that they have a $15,000 or $20,000 collection when all they have are cards from the 90's onward. I have been collecting for almost 30 years now and I seriously doubt my collection even tops $10,000 but then I set reasonable guidelines for myself when considering the values.

Unfortunately not all sellers are willing to take any advice when evaluating what they have but they are the ones that are left in the end still holding the bag because they over inflated the prices.

Base cards, semi-stars and even some low-end short prints, relics and autographs are valueless. Just because it contains a jersey or is a 1/1 does not mean that the value skyrockets.

Saturday, July 11, 2009

Craigslist Collectors

I find it interesting to spend some time scanning through Craigslist to see what kind of deals are available in my area. It also gives me the opportunity to get the occasionally laugh from some of these “offerings”. It is one thing to see an advertisement where the person posting clearly states that they do not know what it is that they have and are willing to work out a deal but it is a completely different story when the person posting the advertisement is delusional or just attempting to get some unknowing person to pay their bills.

This guy is attempting to sell a 1992 Front Row Derek Jeter for $250, he even posts: 1992 Front Row Derek Jeter Draft Pick #55
Valued at $750 low - $1500 high

I wonder where he is getting his values from because I can pick one up for less then $1 on eBay and another seller is offering the entire 1992 Front Row set including the Jeter for $5.99.

That advertisement had me pretty amazed until I came across this guy who is offering 38,000 cards for $19,000. They may break down to 50 cents per card but how many base cards are even worth that much? If the 4 cards he posted are his best cards then he is seriously confused if he believes that someone is going to be paying over-inflated prices on a bunch of average cards so he can buy a car.

Friday, July 10, 2009

Customer Support

A few years back I picked up a box of 2006 UD Special F/X Baseball when it was first released and the box ended up being short a couple of packs. I contacted UD customer support and sent in the information that they needed and a number of weeks later I received a package that contained 5 packs of 2006 Special F/X; surprisingly each pack contained a Special Endorsements autograph too. Nobody likes being shorted so Upper Deck ended up turning this in to a pretty good situation.

In May I picked up a box of 2009 UD Artifacts Baseball and unfortunately again the box ended up being a couple of packs short so once again I contacted Upper Deck customer support and sent in the information that they requested. Over the last few weeks I have been waiting patiently, hoping that there would be something cool waiting for me in my mailbox. Today I opened up my box to find an over-stuffed padded mailer from Carlsbad, California. Inside was a letter thanking me for being a customer and apologizing for any inconvenience along with 2007-08 Fleer Ultra Uniformity Patrice Bergeron jersey and a retail pack of 2006-07 Fleer Hockey.

This was a bit of a disappointment because I am not a hockey fan; I would have preferred something from a baseball series. I do have to say that I do appreciate that Upper Deck took the time to keep in touch with me and did at least attempt to make me whole in the end.

Thursday, July 9, 2009


The UFL, United Football League, the latest league to attempt to take on the NFL is taking the field this October. The league seems to have learned from previous upstarts/failures such as the XFL, they are coming along slow and steady and appear cautious. The league has decided to begin small and start with only 4 teams, San Francisco, Las Vegas, Orlando and New York City, which will all play in “Markets” to find out potential expansion locations, games will be played on Thursday and Friday nights with the Championship Game being held Thanksgiving Weekend. Most of the rules seem to mimic the NFL with a few exceptions; the most notorious rule to be dropped is the infamous “Tuck Rule” along with some changes to fumbles, OT and celebrations.

So far not much more is known about the league, the four coaches are Jim Fassel (Las Vegas), Ted Cottrell (NY), Jim Haslett (Orlando) and Dennis Green (SF), the league recently held its annual draft which yielded a few has-beens and a couple of offspring/siblings of current and former NFL players. Other then that the team names and uniforms are to be announced in August with training camp beginning September 1st.

I love football and have always given the new leagues a chance. Very few leagues make it more then a season or two though. Some of my favorite leagues actually lasted quite a few seasons, the WLAF/WL/NFL Europe/ NFL Europa and the AFL. Fortunately the Arena Football League has announced its plans to return to play in 2010. Until then, I’ll give the UFL a chance.

Sunday, July 5, 2009

Steve McNair RIP

In a completely unexpected news release, Steve McNair, former Houston Oiler/Tennessee Titan and Baltimore Raven QB, was found shot to death in a condominium in Nashville Tennessee tonight. He was shot multiple times and the body of a female friend, Sahel Kazemi, was found dead nearby. There was a gun found near the body of Sahel Kazemi and is believed to be the weapon used in this unfortunate death. At this point the circumstances are uncertain, but it may be a case of murder-suicide.

McNair was one of those unexpected great talents who made the Titans the pride of Tennessee. Nobody will ever forget the 2000 Super Bowl when with less then 2-minutes remaining McNair led the team down the field only to have the game end with Dyson getting tackled just inches from the end zone and a tie game. McNair was later co-MVP with Peyton Manning following the 2003 season

Thursday, July 2, 2009

NBA Free Agency News- 7/1

The first shots are fired in the early hours of the NBA free agency period. The Detroit Pistons started things off by working out deals with both Ben Gordon and Charlie Villanueva. This seems like an odd situation for a team loaded with Shooting Guards and Forwards but with Rasheed Wallace, Antonio McDyess and AI all having expiring contracts I guess the deals are not that bad of a move after all.

Next up are the LA Clippers making a trade with the Memphis Grizzlies. The Clippers sent PF Zach Randolph to the Grizzlies for SG Quentin Richardson. I have never liked Randolph; I will always connect him with the Portland Jailblazers. This really could turn out to be a decent move for the Clippers; they open up a position for PF Blake Griffin and add to the depth at Shooting Guard. I think the Clippers could turn some heads next season; they have a nucleus of both veteran players and young players so they have the experience as well as the youth.

Next up are a couple of rumors from various teams around the league.

Both Dallas and the New York Knicks seem to be coveting PG Jason Kidd. It looks like he will be looking at a deal running $25 million over three years. The Knicks have a couple of average Point Guards so adding Jason Kidd could help them out now plus it may work in their favor when they try to lure LeBron James in 2010. I have also heard rumors that PG Nate Robinson may be used as trade bait so adding Kidd would definitely open up that avenue too.

The Portland Trail Blazers are in the lead for the services of SF Hedo Turkoglu who has turned down an offer to re-sing with the Orlando Magic for a reported $36 million over four years. It is believed that the Portland Trail Blazers may be offering a contract for $50 million over five years. The Blazers are short on Small Forwards, so the addition of Turkoglu will fill a need but it is rumored that SG Rudy Fernandez is angered over the potential deal because it would essentially cost him some minutes and he supposedly has talked with a couple of European teams if he can get out of his contract with the team. But there is also the potential that Fernandez could end up getting traded if he is not allowed out of his current contract. It would be nice to see him head back to the team that drafted him, the Phoenix Suns, he would be welcomed back to the Valley of the Sun and he could easily pick up substantial minutes in the Small Forward position.

One team that may have suddenly been thrust in to the free agency market is the Houston Rockets. The hairline fracture in Yao Ming’s foot may have him out for the season and possibly could even be a career ending injury according to the team’s physician. The Rockets do have a number of options on the market but the question is will any of the options fit well within the team? Only time will tell.