Tuesday, May 28, 2013

Random Blaster Box: 2013 Bowman Baseball

Last week I picked up a 2013 Bowman Baseball rack pack and I like the design of the cards this year so when I was out with my son Sunday night I decided to pick up a blaster box. Surprisingly I had some sort of a hit in every pack including an auto and blue parallel. I went through various message boards and I have seen some people calling them hot boxes while others have said it is pretty common, either way it was a fun break.

I will begin with the Bowman base set and the Arizona Diamondback players. Adam Eaton is still on the DL but is going through medical tests now and could be back soon, Paul Goldschmidt is having an MVP year so far and Aaron Hill is putting up some very respectable numbers.

I pulled two Mariners; Raul Ibanez is in his third tour with the Mariners and quite possibly his final season. He is 10 years removed from his best seasons and is at his worst right now; he is hitting a miserly .236 with 23 RBIs. Hisashi Iwakuma on the other hand is the #2 pitcher behind Hernandez and is 5-1 with a 2.36 ERA in 72.2 innings pitched.

A couple of rookies, Profar is the #1 prospect right now but unfortunately the Rangers are unsure what to do with him and have him playing out of position at 2nd Base. Maronde is having some trouble in Double-A and is still years away from the majors. Perez is another one who needs a little more time in the minors, he was rocking it in Triple-A but played 5 games with the Nats and ended up with zeros across the board.

A couple of parallels including two Cracked Ice parallels. You pull two Gold parallels out of each pack, as you can see Mardone and Perez (and Profar in the Ice parallel) seemed to be a theme.

On to the Bowman Prospect subset, I begin with a Mariner and two Diamondbacks.

The best player that I pulled from the Prospects list is this guy, Carlos Correa, the 2012 MLB #1 Draft Pick.
With the rack pack you receive three Purple retail parallels. I did pull this Carson Kelly Blue parallel #005/500. I had never heard of this kid so I looked him up, he is playing Single-A ball and is batting .239 in 32 games.

The final subset is the Bowman Chrome checklist; you get two Chrome per pack. A DBack and a duo of Mariners.

I close out with the inserts:
Two Chrome Refractor minis

A 65th Anniversary Top 100 player

Two Hometown Flags, oddly both from the Toronto Blue Jays. Mitch Nay is a local boy and graduated from the high school that my son will be attending in a year.

A Josh Hamilton Rookie Reprint, I have the original 1999 Bowman card too.
I finish with an autograph of Jesse Hahn. Another kid I had to look up, but he seems to be a legitimate prospect for the Rays. He is currently in Single-A but in 84.0 innings he has a 2.04 ERA with 87 strikeouts. The only downside would be that he has started 24 games his is only 2-2 which means he does not last too deep in to the game. He is only making it in to the late 3rd/early 4th inning on average. Either he has to work on his stamina or he may be switched to a middle reliever.

Monday, May 27, 2013

Memorial Day, A Day To Honor!

Today we honor all of the men and women who have given their lives in the service of our country. Since 1775 over 1.34 million U.S. soldiers have died during war and another 1.5 million were wounded. They have given all to ensure that the rest of us have our freedom, for this we thank you and your families.

Friday, May 24, 2013

Preview: 2013 Panini Cooperstown Baseball

Scheduled Release Date: 8/14/13
Box Configuration: 24 packs/box and 6 cards/pack
SRP: $86/box

Box Break:
1 Hall of Famer autograph
24 Colgan’s Chips Disks
12 Cracked Ice parallels
4 Historic Tickets
3 Museum Pieces
2 Cooperstown Lumberjack Wood cards
2 Base card Short Prints
1 Box Topper

What to Expect:
For $86 you truly get a lot of value when you take in to consideration all of the inserts that you will be pulling including one Colgan’s Chip Disk card in every pack and a Cracked Ice parallel in every other pack.

The base set is made up of 100 cards plus 10 colorized short prints for a 110-card checklist. There are five Cracked Ice parallels for each base card; Green (6 per box), Blue (#/499, 3 per box), Red (#/399, 2 per box), Gold (#299, 1 per box) and Black (1/1).

The inserts include Colgan’s Chips Disks, based on the cards inserted in to packages of chips between 1909 (E254 1909-11) and 1913 (E270 1912-13). Historic Tickets focus on important games like World Series games. The Museum Pieces spotlights equipment of museum quality from Hall of Famers. Cooperstown Lumberjack Wood cards are printed on wood to have the appearance of a baseball bat.

You will also pull one of two box toppers, either a 5x7 Cooperstown Lumberjacks Die Cut card (not sure if it is wood) or a Pennant.

My Thoughts:
The ugly base cards are back with desaturated images, though slightly better than last year’s unpleasant design this year’s design is still ugly. I am not sure why Panini insists on using browns in the set’s design. Even with the base design being what it is the set will still probably do well. The price is ideal, the autographs are on-card and HOFers (or buyback autographs) and the inserts are interesting.

This year I look forward to the Lumberjack wood cards, I do like some of the oddball ideas that Panini comes up with in some of their sets. This isn’t the first time a company included wood cards but I just like the way that these appear as bats. The interesting thing about this insert is that there are variations so one player may have four or five different versions.

I don’t plan on buying a box but I will probably pick up some packs and maybe some singles down the road to add to my collection. I am a fan of the Deadball Era so the wood cards appeal to me.

On-card autographs
Hall of Fame checklist
Cooperstown Lumberjack wood cards
Lots of inserts
Reasonable price

Not a pleasing base card design

This is a difficult set for me to rate because I dislike the base set, which is the focus of the release, so I am leaning towards a lower rating but the autographs, Colgan’s Chips disks and Lumberjack wood cards really interest me so I find myself torn. I think to be fair I am going to hold up on a rating at this time.

This card is just a mockup, this is not Chance's real autograph

Thursday, May 23, 2013

My Personal Tribute To Brian Urlacher

With Brian Urlacher’s retirement announcement another Chicago Bear legend is in the books. After 13 seasons in Chicago he closed out his career, regrettably, as a free agent after the Bears unceremoniously released him in March. I wish that they could have worked out at least a one-day contract to let him retire as a Bear properly.

I believe that Urlacher will get elected to the Hall of Fame; he had a solid career that includes 8 Pro Bowls, 5 All-Pro selections, Defensive Player of the Year (2005) and Defensive Rookie of the Year (2000). Add on that he set the Bears’ season tackle record (2002) and career tackle record and he ended up playing 182 games in a Bears uniform, only 2 games less than the one of the greatest Bears ever, Sweetness himself. The only knock would be the lack of a Super Bowl ring but at least he made it to the big game, Super Bowl XLI vs. the Colts.

One of my best pulls ever was this Brian Urlacher patch card that I pulled in 2005 from a box of 2005 Leaf Certified Materials. How do you top a three colored patch? You pull an eBay 1/1 card (I don't like it when sellers claim a card is a 1/1 because of a certain number, aren't all cards 1/1 in some way?), card #1/25.

Wednesday, May 22, 2013

Preview: 2013 Panini Rookie and Stars Football

Scheduled Release Date: August 2013
Box Configuration: 24 packs/box, 8 cards/pack
SRP: Not Announced Yet

Box Break:
2 Autographs
2 Additional Hits (Auto or Memorabilia cards)
8 Inserts (2 Crusades)
6 Parallels
2 Additional Inserts or Parallels
24 Rookie cards

What to Expect:
When R&S is released it should be under $100/box and when you consider what you get for that price it is a pretty good break. Each pack will contain one rookie and most packs will also contain a hit or insert/parallel.

A number of inserts are returning like Rookie Premiere Slideshow Signatures, Team Chemistry, Rookie Materials Signatures, Game Plan and Touchdown Club. There will be some new inserts including Cross Training Materials. There are a number of parallels throughout the set; base cards have an Emerald parallel and a handful of the inserts have numbered cards (#/99, #/49, #/5 and 1/1).

My Thoughts:
This is a set that is geared to the set builders and pack busters; there are plenty of autographs and relics too. Over the years Panini has used some nice images but they were often ruined by the overwhelming designs. Last year they began moving in the right direction and this year they have continued that trend of focusing on the player and not the angles, lines and visual texture in the background. Some inserts still are overdesigned but at least the base cards are a strart.

Crusade and Rookie Crusade will probably draw some attention along with the dual-autograph Team Chemistry cards

Nice photography
Good value

Sticker autographs
Some over designed elements in the inserts

This is a pretty solid set and 3 out of 5 would be a fair rating because Panini is starting to drop the over design aspect and focusing on the players.

Tuesday, May 21, 2013

Return Of The Jailbird Relics

Titus Young, the newest inductee in to my Jailbirds relic card series. He now sits among giants of the sports criminal world like Gilbert Arenas and Lawrence Taylor.

Question, do you prefer the old design that I used with Agent 0 and LT (and below) or do you like the new Jailbirds design that I used above? I lost my original design template when my computer crashed so I figured I would play with the layout when I made a card for Young.

Monday, May 20, 2013

Sometimes You Just Get Stumped

Have you ever looked at autographs and thought “Do they even care anymore?” The Tennessee Titans Chris Johnson is notorious for his simple “CJ” and the UFC’s Alastair Overeem challenges Johnson for the laziest autographs but there are some signatures that you see and you have to wonder if it is a doodle, abstract work of art or someone’s autograph.

 Tonight I was looking through some Leaf Inscriptions and I came across a number of cards that had me wondering if they were signed by an adult or was this a case of a kid with a crayon doodling.

See if you can guess who signed these four cards below. I will give a couple of hints but the answers will be listed at the end of the post so no peeking until you are ready.

Hint 1: They are all male actors who started in the 1980s but are still active

Hint 2: Three are known for their television roles (Two are currently on the same TV show), which could be considered significant/memorable shows. The fourth is known more for a recent movie trilogy and a classic 80’s movie

Hint 3: Some character names connected to the four actors Bud, Tony, David, Greg, Aaron, Mikey and Sam

Card #1

Card #2

Card #3

Card #4

Card #1 David Faustino, he played Bud Bundy on Married With Children

Card #2 Joe Mantegna, he plays David Rossi on Criminal Minds. He also voices Fat Tony on the Simpsons

Card #3 Thomas Gibson, he plays Aaron Hotchner on Criminal Minds. He played Greg Montgomery on Dharma & Greg

Card #4 Sean Astin, he played Mikey in the Goonies and Samwise Gamgee in the Lord of the Rings trilogy

Saturday, May 18, 2013

Topps "Heavy Metal" Checklist For 2013 Archives Baseball

When Topps releases 2013 Archives Baseball in two weeks there will be a group of musicians included in a Heavy Metal subset. The set includes 10 rockers from the 1980s; there will also be autograph versions#/25 and a solid metal version (not sure if it is numbered).

The announced list includes:
Axl Rose
Sebastian Bach
Tommy Lee
Kip Winger
Reb Beach
Lita Ford
Bobbie Brown
Stephen Percy
Scott Ian
Dee Snider

I don’t have a problem with the list, more or less they are 1980s rockers except for Bobbie Brown, who was married to Jani Lane (of Warrant) and not a musician herself. Personally I would have rather seen a list of stars that are more associated with the hard rock from the 1980s. Topps put together more of a hair band list instead of a heavy metal list, outside of Rose and Lee.

If I was working on the original list I would have went with, in addition to Axl Rose and Tommy Lee;

Ozzy Osbourne
James Hetfield or Lars Ulrich
Bruce Dickinson
Klaus Meine or Rudolf Schenker
David Lee Roth or Eddie Van Halen
Cut signatures from Ronnie James Dio or Freddy Mercury

Thursday, May 16, 2013

Which Is Which?

This morning I was looking through my saved sellers list and I noticed something odd about a couple of Cam Newton autograph cards that one person was selling so I did a general search for Newton autographs on eBay and noticed that he has two different signatures. The most notable differences are the placement of the capital “C” in the beginning and the “t” at the end.

Signature One: (Real?) On-card, equipment and photo autographs
Signature Two: (Fake?) Sticker autographs

What stood out is that the signatures that are on-card match up with signatures that can be found on photographs, jerseys, helmets and footballs. This signature also matches up with his autograph on the 2011 Topps RPA cards, which were signed in front of a Topps employee.

The signatures that were done on stickers are noticeably different which leads me to believe they were signed by someone else. I know that it is common place for clubhouse signatures but this was just odd, I have never seen them this uniform before.

I went through dozens of web sites and hundreds of autographed cards, pictures, helmets, jerseys and footballs today. Some of the autographs were done in person, some were TTM and many were authenticated by various groups. On-card autographs, pictures and equipment were signed one way while sticker autographs were signed a different way. I did come across one UDA football signed with the odd signature but all the rest matched up.

Panini, Topps and Upper Deck each had cards with different signature while Leaf appears to only have the questionable autograph. Press Pass cards have me uncertain because while the questionable autograph is easily discernible someone signed some of his Press Pass cards using a mixture of both autographs.

2011 Panini Crown Royal Silhouettes (Real)
2011 Panini National Treasures (Fake)

2011 Topps Football (Real)
2011 Topps Platinum (Fake)

Upper Deck:
2011 Upper Deck Exquisite (Real)
2011 Upper Deck SPx (Fake)

2011 Leaf Metal Draft (Fake)

Press Pass:
2011 Press Pass All American (Not Sure)
2011 Press Pass Saturday Signatures (Fake)
2011 Press Pass Saturday Signatures (Questionable/ mixture of both)

In the age of sticker autographs it has become easier for friends, family or an agent/employee to sign the autographs. Gone are the days were a company rep would deliver the cards, watch as the athlete signed the cards and then package everything up and send it back to be packed out. Now sheets of stickers are mailed out or handed to an agent along with an agreement asking the athlete to agree to sign the cards themselves and we know how that works out.

The best advice is to stick with autographs you know to be real and do research if you are unsure.

Additionally I pulled up a number of images showing his signature on 8x10 photos, jerseys, helmets and footballs. You will see that they all match up except for the last image which is the UDA football.

These last two images are UDA authenticated footballs, the first one has the autograph that appears authentic and matches up but the second football (Even shown with its COA) has the autograph that I believe to be signed by someone else.