Thursday, March 31, 2011

Tribe starting line-up unveiled

The starting line up for Friday's home/season opener has been released:

A. Cabrera
O. Cabrera

Notice the lack of Sizemore there?  Yeah, he is on the disabled list for a knee injury.  He has had a slew of injuries, keeping him far, far away from him prime playing days.  I hope he can get (AND STAY) healthy.  On the other hand, if he can't, the Indians rally need to consider other directions for him and the team.

Speaking of other directions, the Tribe released Jayson Nix to the Blue Jays.  Somehow, I see a Joe Carter moment here.  Though Nix did not do well in the Spring for the Tribe, I see him maturing into something of a force to be reckoned with.  Of course, I have no basis nor track record with these things.  Oh wait. Yes I do.  Can you say Jim Thome?

Speaking of Thome, here he is talking Opening Day:

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Time Flies.. Ouch

I did not realize how long it had been since I posted something here on Tribecards!

Well, I am working on a post about "Cardboard Treasure" that will appear this weekend, but in the meantime, here's something for Tribe fans to watch for:

Watch the Bob Feller Memorial Service live on SportsTimeOhio and tomorrow at 11am. (I assume EST)

Sunday, March 27, 2011

Awesome Night Cards features Indians card and great analysis

Night Owl runs a regular feature called "Awesome Night Cards" on his blog.  Number 105 turns out to be the 1988 Topps Indians Leaders card featuring Joe Carter and Cory Snyder.  And while the card itself is worthy of a Night Owl post (who specializes in night-time sports cards), what transpires in his post covers the really, REALLY bad years of Cleveland baseball.  Well, more than that, it is about the broken promise of a breakout season. 

I could do no justice in summing up his remarks or in adding my own.  Instead, I strongly urge you to read the post yourself, traveling down memory lane to a dark place we Tribe fans would hope the world would forget:

Saturday, March 26, 2011

2006 Medical Mutual Hall of Fame Indians

I was trolling through eBay the other day, browsing more than anything else, when I came across an auction for something like "Cleveland Indians Hall of Fame Set."  Okay, I'll bite.  What is a "Hall of Fame set?"  Well, when I saw the photo, I knew I had to snag them up for my collection.  Why?  Because I had never seen them before!

The cards are smaller than standard baseball cards, each measuring 2" x 3" overall.  The fronts feature a parchment-style background with a player photo in the center.  The photo sits in a diamond shape.  The player's name and Indians seasons (in dates) appear at the top.  At the bottom, the 2006 Indians stadium logo appears on the left.  On the lower right, the Medical Mutual logo and "Official Health Insurer of the Cleveland Indians."  Shown above are Ray Chapman, Al Lopez, and Al Rosen.

The next three cards feature Addie joss, Sam McDowell, and Herb Score.  I seriously question the term "set" as used in the auction's description because I cannot believe there would be a Hall of Fame tribute set without the team's greatest supporter: the late Bob feller.  But, I could be wrong.

As you can see, the backs feature a plaque similar to the ones used at the Baseball Hall of Fame.  Each card features the years the player was a Triber plus a write-up about him.

I don't know how many cards are in the full set because I cannot seem to find anything about them anywhere online or in the few card almanacs I have.  If I find out more info, I'll pass it along to fellow Tribe fans!

eTopps T-206 is back. Excited?

eTopps announced that T-206 cards are back for 2011.  Does this make you excited or does it make you sick?  It fascinates me that a brand can do more to polarize the collecting hobby than to help it.  Collectors either seem to love the eTopps cards or they hate them.  And, perhaps that isn't quite right.  I'm sure many collectors like the cards themselves, but can't stand the manner in which the cards are produced and distributed.

eTopps cards are released in an "IPO" setting, where members buy potential copies of a certain card.  For example, eTopps releases a Shin-Soo Choo card.  The print run is known at the time of the offer.  Let's say the print run is 750 cards.  Potential buyers know there are "only" 750 of these cards in the world.  eTopps sets an offering price (say, $7.50).  Members put in bids for how many cards they would like to TRY to claim.  So, let's say I put in a request for 3 of the cards.  Why three?  Because, buyers are not likely to get all the cards they ask for.

eTopps uses an unpublicized method of distribution.  It is a lottery of sorts.  Supposedly, every buyer gets one card and then if there are more cards than buyer names, each buyer then gets additional cards based on some kind of lottery formula.  In reality, though, some people receive multiple copies as others receive nothing.  It is a flawed system that has been in place (though tweaked) since eTopps first came out 10 years ago.

Once cards are bought and distributed, owners can sell or trade the cards.  Ancillary sales are done through eBay.  Some cards can reach $100 or more in the aftermarket.  More likely, however, cards sold after IPO drop off the map and can be had for pennies on the dollar. 

The lottery distribution and the resale effects of the cards drives the polarization of collectors.  It has been quite some time (probably a year or so) since I even put in a bid on IPO eTopps.  I have learned that if there is a particular card I want, I just go to eBay and buy it cheaper than the initial price.   Some cards (like some of the Bob Fellers) are more than the initial offering, but if it is something I want for my collection, then I have to decide if it's worth the asking price.  Often times, it is not.  At least not during baseball season.  I have never seen anything like the seasonal price fluctuations that eTopps cards exhibit - baseball cards sell too high during the season then drop off dramatically once the season is over.  Same for football, etc. 

One thing I forgot to mention about eTopps: Card owners can request delivery of the cards they buy.  A lot of collectors leave their cards in the vaults of Topps.  The theory is that Topps can provide a better environment than most collectors: temperature control, humidity control, lack of human interaction with the cards, etc.  I prefer to add the cards to my personal collection, so I have mine delivered to me.  To each his own, I suppose.

So, back to the original question: Are you excited about T-206 coming back to eTopps?  Do you collect eTopps?

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

"Cardboard Treasure" to air on MLB Network

Thanks to Chris Harris for posting the info!  I thought I would share it here as well.

On Tuesday, March 29, MLB Network will air a "special" called "Cardboard Treasure" - A 60-year history of Topps and how it has been the epicenter of the baseball card industry. (quote from MLB Network).  The show airs at 10pm EST, 9pm CST.

Topps as the "epicenter?"  Hmm, I gotta watch it just to see how badly this show kisses Topps' rear-end.  Hmm, I wonder if they will cover the FIRST monopoly Topps had for the card industry and then the latest monopoly they enjoy these days.  Will they talk about the manner in which they forced the other card companies out of MLB licensing contract renewals?  Will they talk about the junk they've been trying to peddle at insanely high prices?  Will they talk about the re-hash of brands gone-by?  Will they talk about the awful photos of recent sets?  Of course not.  You see, this is Topps 60th Anniversary.  We will look back at the good ol' days, skip over the 90's and jump ahead to the days of game-used inserts, autographs, etc.

While I do think some of the show will be worth watching, I have a feeling that watching an hour-long Topps infomercial will provide for some gut-churning nausea.  And for that, I will be watching for sure.

FTC: 1979 Sportscaster Andre Thornton

Between 1977 and 1979, collectors could subscribe to a series of multisport cards from Sportscaster.  These cards feature large pictures, rounded corners, and measure about 4.5 x 6 inches.  I have no idea what the little symbols (icons) mean, other than the one indicating the sport.  This card reminds me of those animal cards I used to get in the mail every once in a while.  The copyright info says: (c)1979 Edito-Service S.A., Geneva A, Photo Jerry Wachter - Focus on Sports, Printed in Italy, 03 005 53-07.

After a little research, I found that the last two numbers (53-07) serve as the card number.  The first part is the "series" number and the second is the card number within that series.

The card backs feature a rather lengthy write-up about the player/item featured on the front. 

I picked the Thornton up on eBay on the cheap and snagged it because I had not seen these before.

Now, if you want to see what the massive 2,184-card set entails, just head over to and take a look through an entire database of each of the cards produced in this collection. 

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

A long lost friend

It's been a long time since I posted anything over on "A Pack to be Named Later."  So long, in fact, that I wasn't even sure I was still a contributing member!  Turns out, I am still allowed to share my thoughts on random packs.  And, that is good news for you!

I commented on the Cardboard Bandits Facebook page that I had picked up a pack of Heritage the other day.  That gave me the idea to post the pack on APTBNL if someone hadn't already done one.  Lo, and behold!  No one had.  So, you can hop on over there and read about my first foray into the 2011 Heritage, if you're so inclined (or reclined, as many of us tend be as we read through our favorite card blogs).

Monday, March 14, 2011

30 Clubs in 30 Days - The Heart of Rock-n-Roll?

At the beginning of the show ("30 Clubs in 30 Days"), one of the analysts said (paraphrasing), "(The Indians are) trying to improve over the last two seasons of 90+ losses in each season." That says a lot about the state of the Tribe right there.

Grady is getting healthier, Hafner is better, Santana is back.

"30 Clubs" says the #1 problem: The Indians could not retain or keep their superstars: Sabathia, Lee, Martinez - all traded. Indians have a hole in their own minor league system. It will take the next year or two to rebuild.

Acta's expectations are high for the team. Acta excited about what he saw in 2nd half of the season (4th in pitching, 2nd in relief). Young ball club (even Sizemore is only 27 but has 10 years in MLB).

My thoughts on the potential lineup:

Brantley gets moved to the top of the order. Hopefully, this will help the Indians set up for scoring opportunities. Cabrera flies under the radar and may be the surprise breakout for the team, I think. Of course, Choo batting third is a great place for him. If no one is on ahead of him, he'll be stealing. I don't foresee many (if any) double steals this year. LaPorta has some potential this year, and I think he has got to step up this year to help the Tribe. Kearns is a nice addition, but I don't think he ever developed into the hype that surrounded him. Hafner is as much a question mark as Sizemore. I am a HUGE Pronk fan, but I have serious hesitations and reservations about getting too excited with him in the lineup. I am cautiously optimistic.

Chris Perez matures as a closer - "not trying to throw 100 (mph) every pitch anymore" - "I'd rather walk a guy than give up a hit... Because that's me; I know I did something wrong."

Carmona is set to be the pitching day-to-day guy. I'm not sure if he has the gas to go all the way. I'd love to see him have a kickin' season, though.

As for future prospects, I'm not even going there. I don't put much stock in such things. We all have stories of players that were to be the "breakout superstar of the club's future" only to see that same player disappear into the ether. I think it is a good thing that we have no "phenoms" lying in wait for the Tribe. Let's just do things the way they should be done: slow and steady, wait 'til they're ready.

I think bringing Alomar Jr back to the Tribe as a coach (1st base) was brilliant. I think dumping Skinner was a big mistake (3rd base coach). The commentators mentioned they thought Alomar would find himself a manager of a club someday. I have to agree, especially if he lifts the Tribe this year. What could the future hold? Well, Acta is in his third year of his 3-year contract. Could we see Alomar take over his role after this season (or in the middle even) should things continue to go south? Something to ponder, for sure.

All-Time Single-Season Lineup (from MLB Network):

RF - Joe Jackson (1911)
2B - Nap Lajoie (1910)
CF - Tris Speaker (1920)
1B - Jim Thome (2002)
LF - Albert Belle (1995)
3B - Al Rosen (1953)
SS - Lou Boudreau (1948)
DH - Andre Thornton (1982)
CA - Victor Martinez (2007)
SP - Bob Feller (1946)

The MLB Network guys were surprised that Manny wasn't in there. He came close. But, thankfully, he missed the list. Granted, as a Triber, he was not really "the Manny" he has become and I was a big fan of his until he left. Of course, Albert Belle is in the lineup, and his antics are stuff of legend (infamously).

My overall reaction to the show is summed up by the general feeling I got from the players being interviewed: reserved. None of the players seemed excited about the season ahead. None of the players came across as ready to get out there and take on the season. Instead, I watched an hour-long show featuring a team that looked afraid to say anything for fear of jinxing the whole shebang. On one hand, I understand that. On the other, I was hoping to see some life.

Instead of the Heart of Rock-n-Roll, I heard the oboe barely breathing.

Cards in the Mail

I found two mailers when I pulled up to the house today.  Inside, a slew of Indians cards to add to the Tribecards Collection.  These are all 2011 Topps:

Above: Champions Minis of Shin-Soo Choo and Carlos Santana

Cy Young T205 reprint

Topps 60 Years of Topps The Lost Cards: 2001 Manny Ramirez, 2003 Cliff Lee, and 1955 Bob Feller

ToppsTown Carlos Santana and Shin-Soo Choo and a Topps 60 Shin-Soo Choo

2011 Topps Regular: Shin-Soo Choo, Chris Perez, and Carlos Santana

2011 Topps Regular: Michael Brantley, Fausto Carmona, and Pronk

2011 Topps Regular: Josh Tomlin, Indians "Team Card," and Carlos Carrasco

Before I get to the last card in the mail, I just want to say that the "team cards" are ridiculous.  They do not feature "the team" (as in golden days when the whole team sat for a posed photo), nor do they have a checklist on the back (am I the only one that misses team checklists??).  I don't understand the prupose other than to fill out a team 9-pocket page, maybe.  In any case, I do love the design this year.  It's got a touch of "classic Topps" but didn't flat out rehash what's been done for the last 60 years.

Okay, you've waited long enough...
Oh yeah!  Travis Hafner Topps Diamond Platinum.  This is shiny, sparkly goodness.  I have not followed the general opinion of these from the collecting community, so I don't know what most people think, and I don't really care.  All I know is that I am loving these diamondesque cards!  To me, they represent what was ever right with inserts - clear player, cool background, readable text.  Topps, ya done good here.

Sunday, March 13, 2011

30 Clubs in 30....nevermind

I got the word that the Indians would be featured on "30 Clubs in 30 Days" Saturday night.  Like a good little blogger, I set my DVR and planned to watch it and write about what I saw and what I thought about what I saw.  And then, the Nationals and Yankees game lasted longer than it should have.  My DVR recorded the 9th inning of the game.  No "30 Clubs."  UGH.

Well, I can only hope to find the program online and watch it there (or hope for a repeat performance at some point).

I can only wonder if the Tribe's 2011 season will be reflected in this moment.  We shall see.

Bip Knows Bipping

"Bipping" has been going for quite some time in the card-trading community.  For those new to the term, it occurs when one collector sends another an absurd number of Bip Roberts cards.  If memory serves, it started out as a joke (or perhaps a Halloween 'trick') and has evolved into something of an art form.  Now, you're caught up.

"Gritz76" of Project1962 sent a tweet to Mr. Roberts (@Bipster10) himself regarding the practice, asking if he was aware of the happening.  Bip responded, "I'm of aware of the "Bipping" that's going on out there and find it flattering in a good way."  Now, *THAT* is a good sport!

Sunday, March 6, 2011

Is Acta honing the Hafner Axe?

Manny Acta announced that Pronk may be one of a dying breed - the "DH-Only" player.  While I agree completely that the days of DH-Only players are numbered, I have to question Acta's motivation for bring such a thing to light.  Hafner has a long and storied history of injury ever since he walked into the Bigs.  I understand that the Indians have to try to keep him playing as much as they can without putting him into a position of hurting himself again.  I would guess that Acta's concern is the lack of playability among the "new, young talent" the Tribe has this year for the role of DH.  Basically, the Tribe has no choice but to use players in as many positions and roles as possible.

I wonder, though, if the message behind the message was a warning to Hafner and Indians fans: Hafner may be in his last season with the Indians (or anywhere, for that matter). 

The article appears here: