Thursday, October 31, 2013

Ghost Adventures On Cardboard

The last couple of years I took part in Thorzul’s Nightmare on Cardboard contests but I didn’t have much time to work on any Halloween themed cards this year so I planned on skipping the contest. Tonight my kids decided they didn’t need mom and dad with them when they went trick-or-treating so I sat back to watch the Ghost Adventures marathon on the Travel Channel. Because I have posted my contest submissions for the last few years I wanted to do something so I decided to make up some cards, even though I missed the submission deadline I wanted to post something up.
This year’s theme was “Fear the Fleer”, anything Fleer from any year. I made cards for the Ghost Adventures television show based on 1987 Fleer Football Live Action insert, 1986 Fleer Basketball, 1984 Baseball, 1982 Fleer Baseball and 1961 Fleer Basketball. I just had to include one with Aaron’s scared face, if you watch the show you know the face.
1986 Fleer Basketball Zak Bagans
1984 Fleer Baseball Nick Groff
1982 Fleer Baseball Aaron Goodwin
1987 Fleer Football Live Action
1961 Fleer Basketball

Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Which First Is First For Jose Abreu?

 Last week Panini announced that they would be including the first live autographs of Jose Abreu, who officially signed with the Chicago White Sox a couple of weeks ago, in the upcoming 2013 Prizm Perennial Draft Pick Baseball when it hits shelves on November 6th.
Today Leaf one-upped Panini when they announced that they have begun shipping Jose Abreu on-card autograph cards this morning to fill his redemption cards from the 2013 Leaf Metal Draft Baseball release that came out two weeks ago. Leaf will also be packing out his on-card autographs in the 2013 Leaf Baseball Memories release when it goes live on November 18th. There appears to be at least two parallels of his Leaf autographs, a purple (#/50) and red (1/1).

Monday, October 28, 2013

What Should I Do Puig?

Last week I ended up bidding on a Yasiel Puig Leaf Matrix Blue Refractor card, it was posted with a starting bid at 99 cents and I tossed up a bid of $3.78 and figured it would sell for well over that considering that there were copies sitting at prices ranging from $20 to $50 and some had bids. As the time wound down I was bid up a bit and was waiting for the “You have been outbid” message to show up on my screen, but it never showed up. At the close of the auction my winning bid was $3.64, toss in another $3 shipping and the card was mine.
I am a fan of many of Leaf’s products and I really dig the Matrix cards, I guess I jumped on this one because it was so cheap and I can’t argue against grabbing up a Puig Matrix card.
My question now is should I crack it out of the case?
I do not plan on displaying the card, I would rather store the card in my baseball binder and I am not big on grading modern cards. Maybe if it was a 10 and I planned on selling it I would not question leaving it graded but that is not the case, this card was graded lower due to an 8 subgrade on the corners. The top left corner on the back of the card has a small ding (about 1/3 cm) probably done before the card was even packed out.
If I do crack the case, what is the best way to go about it? I have never removed a card that was encased before.

Friday, October 25, 2013

What If Derek Jeter Headed North?

A number of years ago Mike (Chemgod) from Bad Wax wanted to set up a blog as an outlet for artists of all types to get together and present their custom cards.  On August 15, 2009 the Custom Card Blog went live, Mike’s intent was to run the blog by committee in a similar fashion to the A Pack A Day or A Pack To Be Named Later blogs where the members would submit their own posts frequently so that readers would be able to get a multifaceted view of the custom card world. Sadly within 6 months the posts became less frequently and by May 2010 the last post was made and the site has gone dormant.
I was a member of the blog and one of my favorite type of cards to make are the “What If?” cards where I changed cards to represent what would have happened if a specific event went a different way. I still enjoy designing cards but I have not done many “What If?” cards lately so the other day when I was reading a story about the worst draft picks ever I came across a pick that surprised me, Derek Jeter in the 1992 MLB Draft. Now Jeter is not a blown draft pick by anybody’s definition, the failure was the teams that passed on him before he was taken #6 by the Yankees.
The Montreal Expos had the #3 pick, according to many reports they were actually leaning towards Jeffrey Hammonds (Taken #4 by Baltimore) they also had eyes on Jeter but they ended up passing on both because they feared that both players would demand to much of a signing bonus. They went the penny-pincher route and selected B.J. Wallace. Jeter signed with the Yankees and built a legendary Hall of Fame career while Wallace never made it to the pros and is now in prison for manufacturing meth.
So I decided to make a card representing Jeter's Expo rookie card last night.
1993 Upper Deck SP Derek Jeter
What if the Expos had drafted Derek Jeter instead of B.J. Wallace? Would there still be a team in Montreal? Would the Expos have 5 World Series trophies? Would the 1996 AL ROY be their long time captain anchoring an all-star team?
Here are some of the “What If?” cards that I had posted on the Custom Card Blog. In order of card year:
1969-70 Topps Lew Alcindor

What if the Suns won the coin flip?
In 1969 the NBA held a coin flip between the two worst teams, Phoenix Suns and Milwaukee Bucks, which the Bucks won and they drafted Alcindor out of UCLA. With Lew Alcindor on their roster the Bucks won 4 Division Titles, 2 Conference Titles and an NBA Championship while the Suns won only 236 games over 6 seasons with a miserable .480 winning percentage.
1984 Topps John Elway

What is Elway sacked up, quit his whining and stuck with Baltimore?
In 1983 Elway was drafted by the Baltimore Colts, a team he insisted that he would never play for, starting off a media he said/she said tiff with the team. He threatened to play for the Yankees if he wasn’t traded. There are reports that the 49ers were interested in a Montana-Elway trade, the Chargers were interested in a Fouts-Elway trade and that the Patriots wanted him too. In the end he went to Denver, going to 5 Super Bowls and winning two along with a collection of hardware and records. The Colts ended up moving to Indianapolis the next year, the Cleveland Browns moved to Baltimore, becoming the Baltimore Ravens, 12 years later.
1984 Fleer Michael Jordan

What if Portland decided to bring in a young kid at guard to back up Jim Paxson?
In 1984 the Portland Trailblazers selected Center Sam Bowie because they already had an All-Star Guard with Jim Paxson as well as another young Guard, Clyde Drexler who they drafted the year before.
The Bulls, who lost out on Magic Johnson on a coin flip prior to the 1979 NBA Draft, jumped on the opportunity to draft His Airness. The Trailblazers went on to have some success, even making it to the NBA Finals in 1990 and 1992, but nothing like what happened in Chicago. The Bulls went on to win 6 NBA Championships, set a ton of records and add a nice collection of hardware to Jordan’s shelves.
1997 Topps Chrome Tim Duncan

What if Boston won the NBA Draft Lottery with their 36% chance?
During the 1996-97 NBA season the Celtics ended up with the second to worst record behind the Vancouver Grizzlies, but because they had two Lottery picks they actually had the best percentage chance of winning the #1 position. Instead the Spurs picked #1 taking Duncan while the Celtics selected Chauncey Billups (#3) and Ron Mercer (#6), both were traded within two years.
The Spurs have won 5 Conference Titles and 4 NBA Championships since that draft while the Celtics have had success, winning two Conference Titles and 1 NBA Championship it was with a whole new group of players including Garnett, Allen, Pierce and Rondo. With Duncan I would think there would be a couple more banners hanging from the rafters in Boston.
2000 Upper Deck SP Authentic Tim Duncan

What if Duncan took the big free agency money and signed with the Orlando Magic?
Following the 1999-2000 NBA season the Orlando Magic were working to build a team around a super star, that man was Tim Duncan. The Magic brought in Duncan, Grant Hill and Tracy McGrady to talk. They opened the checkbook to make the signing happen including enlisting Tiger Woods and Dr. J to make a sales pitch. They used Epcot Center and laser light shows to make it sparkle in the Magic Kingdom all for Duncan and Hill. Hill signed, McGrady too but after spending time with David Robinson, Tim Duncan decided to remain a Spur. The Spurs won 3 more titles since retaining Duncan while the Magic had some success, even making it to the NBA Finals in 2009, but the whole Dwight Howard fiasco over shadowed much of their success.

Thursday, October 24, 2013

Random Blaster: 2013 Panini Cooperstown Baseball

So while I was on the hunt for a horse head mask for my son’s Halloween costume, no luck, I hit a number of stores including 2 Walmart stores and a Target and while I had no luck on the mask I stopped by the card aisles to see if anybody had one of Panini’s Monster Boxes, no luck. So after a successions of strike outs I grabbed a blaster of Panini Cooperstown baseball at the last Walmart I hit so I didn’t end the day empty handed. The blaster included a handful of packs plus 3 Green Crystal parallels. I like the designs this year, the darker border and close up images just come over a lot better. 
There is a pretty good variety of Hall of Famers, whenever I see Johnny Evers I think of Baseball’s Sad Lexicon poem about the Chicago Cubs with the line “Tinker to Evers to Chance”. Evers had a solid early career, winning the World Series three times and being named the 1914 NL MVP player.
Dan Brouthers was an old-school player, he began his career in 1879 with the Troy Trojans. He played 17 seasons and retired with a .342 batting average, which puts him as the 9th highest batting average in MLB history. What made me laugh was the description on the back of the card that says he was called “Big Dan” because he was 6-2” and weighed 210, a size that would now earn him the nickname “Dan”. I think CC Sabathia would eat Brouthers lunch and then give him a wedgie. But when you consider the time period he was the big boy on the block at that size.
Satchel Paige, this guy was just a freak of nature for his talent. It is said that he was the Negro League’s answer to Babe Ruth. His MLB record of 28-31 with a 3.29 ERA is no indication of his true accomplishments. He is said to have had 300 career shutouts and a win total in excess of 1,500 wins in the Negro Leagues. He won a Negro League World Series title with the KC Monarchs and MLB World Series titles with the Cleveland Indians. He was 60 when he pitched his final professional game for the minor league Peninsula Grays, the catcher? Johnny Bench.
A couple of Green Crystal parallels including Frank Chance, to go with my Johnny Evers. Mr. “Baseball is ninety percent and the other half is physical” himself Yogi Berra and the long time St' Louis Cardinals's Red Schoendienst, this guy won 4 World Series titles as a player and another one as a manager.
A couple of Colgan’s Chips disc cards, I am very happy with my group.
I closed out with a Lumberjack wood card. This is the second wood card that I have pulled, I pulled one from a Topps basketball release a couple of years ago, and while these cards are very cool you need to be careful because the wood will actually crack and split if you handle them to roughly.

This is a very cool product and there is a great on-card autograph checklist with players like Reggie Jackson, Cal Ripken Jr. and Brooks Robinson. The best thing about the set is that every card is a Hall of Famer, so you can not really go wrong.

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

Not Really A Contender

For 21 years now Contenders Football has been chugging along. What started as a simple design from Playoff in 1993 has matured over the years probably topping out with the 1998 design, which included the iconic Playoff Ticket rookie autographs led by Peyton Manning, began to change with the Donruss takeover a decade ago. Donruss tried to build off of the 1998 set with little luck but they were able produce a pleasant design. Panini’s takeover of the product has brought around a nice return to the popular late 90s designs with the exception of the autograph inserts.
Panini has been previewing some images over the past few weeks and what they put up today us just jaw dropping and not in the good way. The cards are an amalgamation of the popular ticket design, artistic flair and for some reason a liberal use of grunge brushes, torn paper edging and a dropped shadow effect. I am pretty disappointed, I think had they not used so much artistic options it could have come out nicely.

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

Greek Star Wars Olympiada Cards

I came across an interesting bootleg version of Star Wars cards that made me laugh, they are from Greece and the set was released in 1980 around the time that the Empire Strikes Back movie was released in the U.S. They were released by Olympiada.
An overview; the set contains a 200-card checklist with various images and was released in pack form. There were 80 packs (as best I can tell) per box and 5 cards per pack. Inserted in to random packs were “Instant Win” redemption cards plus there were an additional 7 “Formal Information” cards that could be used to win a prize. Each of the cards had a corresponding prize, for example card #20 got you a key ring, card #100 won you a leather football and card #200 won you a bicycle.

Instant Win
 The Formal Information win cards (seen below) has the banner across the bottom corner that says "Formal information". The card number determined what you won. The #50 Luke card won you a Chinese Lantern and the #200 Lando Calrissian won you a bike.
What first caught my attention was how horrible these cards are, which I guess what should be expected of a bootleg set. There were images from Star Wars, Empire Strikes Back and Star Trek (WTF?). To add to the confusion the images used were taken from the original official cards so the text, card numbering and design varies based on what the original card looked like. Because they used images from elsewhere some of the images sizes were adjusted to be larger or smaller to fit the bootleg card, a couple of cards have scan lines and they even used stickers for images so some cards have what appears to be a sticker and even includes the “Peel Here” outline but they are in fact not stickers. You even find that some of the cards were duplicated in the set so you have two cards with the same image but different card numbers.
These scan lines are on the card, not from a scanner

This card was duplicated from two cards on one, you can see images from another card over the Tusken Raider's left shoulder

Most of the cards can be found running around $5 with the “Formal Information” cards running quite a bit higher, with the #200 card being the most rare and in turn most expensive. Sealed packs can be found in the $25 range and I found some incomplete sets that were missing cards, including the “Formal Information” cards, selling for $600 each.

Monday, October 21, 2013

A Grading Question

This has been a head scratcher to me for years. How can a punched out card with perforated edges come back graded as a Gem Mt 10? Isn’t the definition for a grade of 10 to have perfect crisp edges? I realize that this card has a 9.5 Edge subgrade but still, is that a realistic grade?
I remember when people started getting the 1996 SI Kids Tiger Woods cards graded it seemed like half of the hobby was flipping out because they felt that perforations are damage to the edge of the cards while the other half of the hobby were pointing out that punched cards need to be graded on a different scale because the cards are only available as sheets and to be removed they were going to have the perforations on the side and that the card edges should be graded without considering the perforations. Some people are even arguing that if perforations are fine than why are trimmed cards or cards cut from an uncut sheet (like the T206 Honus Wagner card) graded lower or even refused to be graded?
Personally I lean towards the “How can a perforated card be a 10?” side, it isn’t that I have a problem having them graded but they should be graded using different standards. We are talking apples and oranges here, why should a card pulled from a pack require a razor sharp edge for a 10 grade while a card ripped from a magazine can grade a 10 with perforations on all 4 sides?
I am just wondering because I came across a couple of punched cards graded pretty high with this Tiger leading the charge with a $35k BIN price tag.
A question I would like to toss out there:

If I were to purchase a raw Tiger Woods SI Kids card, trimmed the perforations and submitted it for grading should it be considered an altered card and rejected or should it be graded as pack fresh?



Agree? Disagree? Input? Where do you stand on punched cards getting a Gem Mt 10 grade?

Friday, October 18, 2013

A GPK Take On The Olympics

I am not a Garbage Pail Kids collector, I was hitting my teens when they were first released. I looked for the cards that played off of my name but those are long gone but my daughter loves them now so I get a chance to see what is out there and I have to say that some of the artwork is quite clever.
What got my attention from the upcoming 2014 Series 1 release are the inserts. Following trends from both sports releases and comic releases we have seen chrome versions, parallels, printing plates, inserts, sketch cards and artist autographs but Topps stepped it with Full Bleed Canvas cards, Olym-Picks Motion cards and Textured Relics.

Because the set is being released around the time of the Winter Olympics in Sochi, Russia there are a number of Olympic related cards. There will be cards based Olympic sports, medals and lenticular motion cards showing “Epic” crashes.
Cloth stickers and Full Bleed Canvas cards are pretty cool. Cloth stickers are not new, they have been in Topps products before but the canvas cards are printed on an actual canvas. Sketch cards, artist autographs and bonus stickers are back with the addition of die-cut sketch cards.

The cards that caught my attention are the Texture Relics, they are manufactured relics added to some of the cards to give a new dimension. I figured that they would be similar to the manufactured relics that we have seen taking over in sports so I didn’t give two thoughts to it until I saw a relic card and got a laugh. They are 1:48 packs (every other box) so they are not super rare but I think GPK collectors are going to grab them up because they are different.

Thursday, October 17, 2013

A Couple Of Black Eyes For The Hobby

Trimmed cards, shill bidding, questionable grading and fake jerseys are bad news for the hobby.
In July 2012, after three years of investigations, the FBI released indictment charges against Bill Mastro, the founder/CEO of Mastro Auctions. He was charged with 14 counts of wire and mail fraud, charges which he finally pleaded guilty to last Thursday (10/10/13). The charges indicated that Mastro (and some of his employees) misrepresented some items and were involved in shill bidding to inflate the prices of certain collectibles. Some claims have also been made that Mastro and PSA worked “favorable” grading for certain items. This leads to the McNall-Gretzky Honus Wagner card that was graded a PSA 8 in 1991, which also happens to be PSA’s first graded card ever.
There is a very interesting 28-year history to the Wagner card, to keep it short I will go with the abbreviated story, if you want to read more on the history of the card you can check out the background story from the March 25, 2001 story in the NY Daily News archives or Keith Olbermann’s personal blog. For some very good additional reading check out the Hauls of Shame, I came across quite a bit of the trackable history of the card along with a picture of the Eddie Plank card from the same printers sheet.
Abbreviated story: The owner who sold the card to Mastro in 1985, Alan Ray, acknowledges that the card came from a printer's sheet. He states he did not cut the card from the sheet but when he sold it to Mastro it had oversized edges with rounded corners. He even has pictures of the card showing that it was much larger before he sold it to Mastro. When McNall bought the card in 1991 he had two reputable people (including Keith Olbermann) verify the authecity of the card. Both stated that they believe the card had been trimmed. McNall himself agreed but bought the card anyway and thus beguns the meteoric rise of the most (in)famous card.

So let’s fast forward to July 2012, Mastro is indicted for all his stupid shiznat. April 2013 he tries to work a plea bargain but U.S. District Court Judge Ronald Guzman tells him “No way”, he appears in court last week and finally admits guilt on all counts including that he trimmed the Wagner card. He now faces up to 5 years in prison.
So now that Mastro has been implicated where does PSA stand? It is likely that they knew the card was trimmed but if they acknowledge it now they will be destroying the company’s integrity as an authority in sports cards. If they claim they were innocent they appear ignorant and leave questions about all of the cards they have graded since 1991.
So there we have black eye number one.
Now we find out that 5 dealers that had been working directly with the major sports card companies have been supplying fake jerseys to be used in memorabilia cards. Topps, Upper Deck and Donruss have all been identified as receiving fake jerseys.
This has actually been in the court systems since 2011 but we are now finally getting closure. The first two dealers, Steve Jensen and Bradley Wells, got a slap on the wrist for their indiscretion, one got 6 months in jail and the other probation. The other three are awaiting their punishment trial on October 26th.
Sadly Wells stated during his trial that the companies he worked with had to know the jerseys were not real because of the low price he was charging them. I guess that would be part of the reason he was the one who got the six month jail time instead of only probation. Based on his logic it would be like selling the Mona Lisa, painted by your 6-year old nephew, as authentic but charging only $500,000 and saying the buyer should have known the difference.

So there is black eye number two
To make the hobby look even worse is that Panini has already filed a $10 million+ claim against Jensen and Wells. They are claiming that the amount represents what the value of the jerseys would have been had they been real.
According to the FBI report that was released with court documents yesterday states that when Panini purchased the Donruss name they inherited $125,908 worth of relics, which most had already been cut up and ready for insertion in to cards to be distributed. I think we can safely assume that Panini (unknowingly) has inserted most, if not all, of these relics in to cards which have since been packed out. If these relics have all been distributed since 2009, when Panini bought Donruss, than they have not lost any money.
Time for another analog (Using Panini’s logic this time), your great-aunt Meredith buys a box of cards at a yard sale for $12.59 that she leaves you in her will, you then sell those cards for a small profit to a card shop. You then go back and sue the people running the yard sale for $1,000 because the cards were fake even though you made money selling the cards yourself..

OK, my rant is done

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

The Beauty Of A Good Beard

The Red Sox are bringing the “Playoff Beard” to new levels, some are even reaching epic proportions.  You know who else had a beard?

Grizzly Adams
So… back to beards…

Here is my list of the Top 10 beards in sports (past and present), some are playoff beards while others are every day chin whiskers that are worthy of their own zip code. I am not listing any Red Sox players because they may not be done growing, who knows how monstrous those beards will become if the team makes it to the World Series.
10. Alexi Lalas- Retired (US Soccer/MLS)
9. Mike Hartnell- Philadelphia Flyers (NHL)
8. Kimbo Slice- MMA
7. Nick Mangold- NY Jets (NFL)
6. Logan Mankins- New England Patriots (NFL)
5. James Harden- Houston Rockets (NBA)

4. Bill Flett- Retired (NHL): Flett looks like he came straight out of an Old Spice advertisement
3. Brett Keisel- Pittsburgh Steelers (NFL)
2. Brian Wilson- LA Dodgers (MLB)
1. Ken Morrow- Islanders: Not the bushiest monster of a beard but Morrow (and the Islanders) is considered the guy who started the Playoff Beard so he rightfully earns the #1 position
Honorable Mention
Any beard from the 1970s

Rollie Fingers- Retired (MLB): He never had a beard but his handlebar mustache is iconic

Mike Beltran- UFC Referee (MMA): His mustache puts some of the beards on this list to shame

This guy- Retired (Blogger)


So what do you think? Did I miss anyone?