Saturday, December 31, 2011

Christmas Cards

I always put "Packs of Baseball Cards" on my Christmas Wish List.  Every year, my family asks, "Well, what kind of baseball cards?"  My response: "Any kind!"  I don't care if they are the latest wax packs or a discount piece-together - I'll take baseball cards for Christmas any way, shape or form.

This year, I received several packs of cards and a "Big Pack" blaster box.  The scans are some of the hits from all the cards that came out of those.  I use the term "hits" in two ways: First, Tribers and cards that catch my eye.  Second, inserts, parallels, etc.

Let's kick things off with the Tribers in the bunch: Jason Kipnis, Lou Marson, Alex White, and Chris Perez:

I chose the following for specific reasons.  Topps photography was better for the 2011 set than I have seen in years.  The quality, the action, the overall presentation. Finally, some decent work.  First, we have Dustin Moseley in mid air, about to kick Drew in the head.  Okay, not exactly, but dang close enough that Drew is ducking out of the way!  Derek Jeter is, well, Derek Jeter.  And Derrick Lee is signing autographs along with other players in the background.  That is a great "fan-reach" photo right there.

And speaking of reaching, how about a laid out Nyjer Morgan with the ball just at glove's tip from this angle.  This is a great in-the-moment photo!  Does he make the catch? Is the ball too far out of reach?  Excellent!

The next three cards feature ToppsTown versions of Joe Mauer, Mark Reynolds, and Kevin Youkilis:

Serially numbered gold cards have become an annual Topps standard, and I snagged two of them: Troy Polomalu, er, Tulowitzki, and Aaron Harang.  Why is it that #/2011 should sound like a very limited run, yet feels like an overproduction!?  Ah well, in any case:

I also managed a handful of shiny/sparkly Diamond Anniversary cards.  Some are silver and some are gold, or bronze, or something other than silver, which is actually probably supposed to be platinum.  As you see, my terminology among inserts/parallels/etc is not up to par.  I got Michael Dunn, Deavid Eckstein, Hunter Pence, Zach Duke, and Nick Blackburn:

Among the cards in packs and boxes, I also found a handful of mini Champions cards!  I like these a lot, and the player selection ain't bad, either!  How about recent HOFer Bert Blyleven!? Yeah, buddy!  Oh, and then Paul Molitor!  He's probably one of the few Brewers I could name off the top of my head without thinking.  Arkansas native Cliff Lee joins the group followed by Mike Stanton. I like that Lee is pictured in a Philles hat, yet the 'sketch' at the bottom is clearly an Indians uniform.

I pulled three Topps60 cards: Lou Gehrig, Joe Mauer, and George Sisler.  Nice trio, if I must say. And, of course, I must!

These next two are blue-bordered. I have no idea why. I should feel ashamed at my lack of hobby-related knowledge.  But, I don't.  So, I present Juan Uribe (No, Run your own eBay!) and George Sherrill.  I friend Amy with the same last name as George - I wonder if they are related...

I got one "60 Years of Topps" card, and it is Curt Shilling on a 1990 Topps layout.  I also got a "Before There Was Topps" card of American Tobacco 1911: T201.  I also received a "Diamond Duos" card featuring A-Rod and E-Long.  See what I did there?

The next card actually came out of pack of cards, and not the big blaster, which I found quite surprising.  Why?  I've actually talked to the guy who restocks the cards at our local Wally World and it is quite evident that he collects the 'hits' from packs he receives.  I figured the chances of ever pulling a material card from a pack there were just about zero.  And, thus, here is my "just about" card: All-Star game-worn workout jersey (really? a workout jersey??) of Paul Konerko:

Not to be outdone, my mother-in-law snuck a pack of football cards into my stocking (for the Christmas record, she makes up stockings for everyone in the family each year. She is not stepping on ol' Santa's toes with this).  When I opened the pack of Score cards, Big Ben was staring me in the face!  Hey, if you're gonna get me football cards, pulling a pack with a Steeler in it is a sure-fire way to win me over!  I also got a "Millennium Men" insert of Antonio Gates and Jake Long card (among other cards).  Why post the Jake Long?  Because it features James Harrison, of course.

I love that my family supports my cardboard habit!  As a matter of note, I also received several other 'hobby-related' items including Indians shirts and shorts, "The Perfect Game" on DVD, and "The Funniest Baseball Book Ever" in paperback.  I'm sure there were other things, too. I just can't remember them now that it's been almost a week.

Friday, December 30, 2011

Topps 2012 Series 2 on Facebook

Topps released pics/mock-ups of their 2012 Series 2 line for next year.  I made comments on each and every one of them as a way to provide customer feedback, and because I generally can't keep my mouth shut about anything these days, it seems.

My number one complaint: stickered autographs.  Oh, I know, to some collectors, just having an autograph is fantastic in and of itself.  For me, though, an actual on-card auto far outweighs the coolness factor of signed sticker.  Why?  Because with an on-card auto, you know the player actually touched the card in order to get the auto on there.  With a sticker, it just seems... I dunno... removed somehow.

My other issue is the large 1-of-1 letter patch cards and the 'retro-look' cards.  Come on. Using designs from past sets is played out. Has been for years.  Collectors want something new, fresh.

I actually like the designs of the base set for 2012 on the vertical cards.  The design, to me, does not work at all on horizontal versions.  Why not?  The "swoop/swish" thing takes up too much room.  On a vertical card, there is still plenty of space for the player photo.  On a horizontal card, though, that same element squeezes the player's photo.

By far, my favorite styles for the 2012 Series 2 are the Team Ring cards and the Gold Futures Coins.  I think they should do a "coins" version for HOFers/Legends though. Nice.

There are lots of additional pictures on their Facebook page (link below).  Topps has their version of "Upper Deck X" as well.  It's a so-so design, but looks far too much like "X" for my liking. I mean, sure I liked "X" die cuts and all, but once again - played out.  What I'd really like to see if the return of Pacific-style die cuts.  I mean, if we're going to do die cuts, let's get wild with them: Christmas tree ornaments, baseballs, whatever!

*The 2012 Series 2 album is here:

Saturday, December 24, 2011

Merry Christmas, Tribecards style

(okay, so I am repurposing last year's Christmas post. does that count as regifting if it's a gift I gave twice?)

MERRY CHRISTMAS!!  I hope you and your family have a WONDERFUL Christmas full of little bits of cardboard goodness!

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

2012 Baseball Hall of Fame ballot/thoughts

This is my first foray into picking HOFer, er potential ones anyway, as a member of the BBA.  I will probably match many of my fellow bloggers on most things, given the players listed for 2012.  But, if you've been reading along at all, you know I have some pretty weird quirks and I'm sure some of those will find their way into my decision making.  My criteria for choosing certain players hinges on one thing - do I think the player is "Hall-worthy."

And, before we get started, let's just clear something up right here: The late-great players that have been in the Hall since its inception (not all, I know!) have been boozers, potheads, schizos, womanizers, whatever.  As I read on another post, I'm not looking for players that helped old ladies across the street (though that helps in my book), but players who should be listed in the Hall because they deserve to in the Hall of FAME.  Are they baseball-famous?  Would a sports fan, possibly even a casual one, know who this person is due to their contribution to baseball?  Infamy can work just as well as fame. Well, maybe. Sometimes not so much.

Naturally, these are not sorted in any form or fashion. However, I will list my top 5 or 10 or whatever at the end.

Barry Larkin - One of my favorite players during the height of my early collecting years. HOFer? Maybe. He's a cusp vote in my book. Vote: MAYBE

Jack Morris - Another cusp vote. Hard to say outright, but with the other names on here, I don't see him making it. Fair or not, that's the way it happens. Vote: MAYBE

Juan Gonzalez - How is he not already in? Seriously. He'd get a yes from me. Vote: YES

Lee Smith - Without looking up any numbers whatsoever, I don't recall much about Smith. I'll say no based on that alone. Vote: NO

Jeff Bagwell - Of course. Bagwell, for me, is synonymous with the Astros and a name that stands out among the others. Er, well, some of the others. Enough to get my vote. Vote: YES

Tim Raines - How is he not already in? Yes, it is time to put Tim Raines in the HOF. Vote: YES

Edgar Martinez - Mariners perennial. As soon as I see the name, I think of a kickin' 3rd baseman that I watched play for many years. A career Seattle player that ought to be in the Hall. Vote: YES

Alan Trammell - I know the name instantly. Is he Hall-worthy, though? Not that I can think of. Maybe his numbers say something else, but not off the top of my head. Vote: NO

Larry Walker - Like Trammel, I know the name, but can't see him in the Hall. Sorry, guy. Vote: NO

Mark McGwire - Ah, the steroids poster boy. Here's the thing: Pete Rose is booted for life because he got caught betting on baseball, as a MANAGER. McGwire used 'roids as a PLAYER. The "Pete Rose Barometer" needs to be abolished. He and Sosa should be in Hall. Period. Steroids or not, a player still has to hit a ball coming at them at 95+ miles per hour. Steroids or not, I can't do it. Can you? Oh, I know, the argument is more about the distance, power, etc.  Whatever. You could walk up to just about anyone on the street and mention his name and people will know who he is. Vote: YES

Fred McGriff - The Crime Dog!  Of course he goes in the Hall!  DUH! Vote: YES

Don Mattingly - How in the heck is DON "FREAKIN" MATTINGLY not already in the baseball Hall of Fame!?  Seriously.  Don Mattingly!?  Hello, people! Vote: YES

Dale Murphy - Refer to comment above.  It is DALE "FREAKIN" MURPHY here, folks!  Come on. How do people like Murphy not get into the Hall on the first ballot!?  The system, my friends, is broken.  Vote: YES

Rafael Palmeiro - Ah, yes, another 'besmirching' name for the Hall.  Like McGwire, I would venture that even non-fans know his name, probably would say he was an Oriole (without even knowing who the Orioles were), and would say, "Isn't he in the Hall with Babe Ruth?" Well, okay, maybe a stretch there at the last, but you get my point. Vote: YES

Bernie Williams - I could see him in. I could see him not in. Another cusp player for me. Vote: MAYBE

Vinny Castilla - Probably not. I have no reason other than my gut telling me no. Vote: NO

Javy Lopez - I don't know why, but I think he should be in there.  For me, Javy is one of those players that immediately brings baseball to mind. And for that alone, I'll say yes. Vote: YES

Ruben Sierra - Meh. Like several others, I know the name but very little about his career or his contributions to baseball as a whole.  For that, I say maybe. Vote: MAYBE

Jeromy Burnitz - I can't think of why he would be in the Hall. Vote: NO

Tim Salmon - Nothing jumps out at me here. Vote: NO

Tony Womack - Never heard of him. Vote: NO

Phil Nevin - I actually thought he was a pitcher. Turns out he was an infielder. There's all I need to vote. I didn't remember anything about him. Vote: NO

Brian Jordan - Okay, another name that rings no bells whatsoever. Vote: NO

Eric Young - Hmmm... Trying to recall... Nope. Nada. Sorry, man. Vote: NO

Bill Mueller - Again, nothing rings a bell.  In fact, I'm starting to get cobwebs up there. Vote: NO

Terry Mulholland - Ah, pitcher. A name I know. Not sure Hall-worthy, though. He's probably cusp for me at best. Vote: MAYBE

Brad Radke - Another name I know, but not sure if he is Hall material.  Let him ride the fence. Vote: MAYBE

So, let me review my picks (in order of appearance, not my voting order):
Juan Gonzalez, Jeff Bagwell, Tim Raines, Edgar Martinez, Mark McGwire, Fred McGriff, Don Mattingly, Dale Murphy, Rafael Palmeiro, Javy Lopez

And now, let's put them in order of my vote:
Dale Murphy
Don Mattingly
Jeff Bagwell
Juan Gonzalez
Edgar Martinez
Tim Raines
Javy Lopez
Fred McGriff
Rafael Palmeiro
Mark McGwire

And, lookie there, I ended up with exactly ten names. Without even trying.  I guess things just have a way or working out, eh.  Feel free to comment.  Have fun!

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

2003 Post, Upper Deck, EA Sports, RealOne CDs

Remember when Topps cards appeared on the bottom of Hostess boxes or were included in boxes of cereal?  Well, in 2003, Post teamed up with Upper Deck, RealOne Networks, America Online, and EA Sports to bring collectors a look into the "21st Century Collection."  What did these new-fangled collections come on? CD-ROM, of course!

I recently found a stash of the discs in a pile of other ancient games and CD's, and realized I never completed the set.  Heck, I'm not sure until today I even ever opened a single disc.  I did not have AL Central in my stash, so I found a seller on eBay, bid and bought it. 

There were six discs in all, one for each division.  According to the promo video that plays, if you collected all six discs you could order a real set of cards from UD.  More on that in a moment.

Surprisingly, the CDs still play on a Windows 7 machine, though there are some weird glitches. If you plan to pick these up, I suggest you run them in the Windows XP Mode download from Microsoft.  The install puts RealOne on your computer if you don't already have RealPlayer.  Not sure what it does if you *do* have RealPlayer already.

The promotion was officially called "Three Ways to Score" and featured the title screen below.  One could run a demo of EA Sports MVP 2003 Home Run game where you face off against another player (human or computer) and you have to hit enough home runs to accumulate 5,280 feet (a mile).  I played as Jim Thome against the computer as Sammy Sosa. Let's just say I have to practice on timing.

The other options from the title screen are to watch "Huge Home Runs" - a video collection featuring homers from the teams featured on the particular disc.  You could also view you virtual trading cards.  You may recall my post about CyberAction collectible trading cards.  These were the the-modern day version.  We'll see those in a bit.

Right now, check out the screenshot from the "Huge Home Runs" video of the Indians.  The video can be played full screen, but by today's standards, the quality doesn't even rival YouTube low quality. It's a bit rough to watch outside of the default size (my guess about 320x240 maybe).  You can't see it in my screenshot, but the bottom half of the layout has icons of the teams to choose from.  When you pick one for the first time, the program copies the videos to your computer.

The last option on the title screen is to view your collection.  This actually two parts to it: the virtual cards and a checklist system for UD's MVP series for 2002.  Why?  I have no idea.  The cool thing, though, about the checklist: you get a front and back view of each card.

Next, we get to the virtual cards.  First, we see a checklist of the cards available on THIS disc.  You have to insert the right CD to view the right cards.  That is sooo 2003...  So is telling people to click on the HIGHLIGHTED names.  Because, you know, we were so dumb in '03 we didn't understand hyperlinks and all that fancy web-page stuff.

The cards themselves are actually kinda cool, for digital cards that is.  Again, the resolution of today's computers make reading these a bit rough.  However, you get the general idea:

I will have to see if I can find the actual card that goes along with Thome's virtual one.  I don't think I ever knew they had physical counterparts.  That's actually a very clever idea, Upper Deck.

Since I am only missing #'s 3 and 5, I may hit the 'Bay and snag them up - or a full set, probably cheaper.

Sunday, December 18, 2011

Packs to be mailed

Hey all, just thought I'd drop a quick line to let you know that I am still here at Tribecards.  Been offline from the site a bit as life has taken me away from blogging about my beloved Tribe here lately. Hopefully, that will turn around before too long.

In the meantime, I have several packs of cards I'll be sending out this week: some folks are still awaiting their "Starter Packs" from the Topps Hobby box I opened many moons ago and I have random packs of kindness that I will be shipping out.  Eric S's was sent to an old address, returned, and then promptly placed on a shelf to be mailed out, which never happened - D'OH!

In the meantime, I hope everyone has a VERY Merry Christmas and a happy off season! :-)

Monday, December 5, 2011

Jim Thome Baseball Game

Evidently, in 1997, Jim Thome was asked to put his name and likeness on a dice/board baseball game.  I had never seen nor heard of this beast until I saw a recent post on  From there, I just had to look around. Sure enough, there are several on eBay...  I may have to add this to my Christmas wish list, just for kicks.

For those who enjoy "airburshing," you can see this game is NOT licensed by the MLB in any form or fashion.  Sure, he may be wearing an Indians uniform in these images, but you're not supposed to know he is...  Based on the work done, it probably would have been cheaper to get the rights than pay the person to airbrush the images.  Then again, I know several of you could whip that out pretty quickly.

Sunday, December 4, 2011

My Two Cents: Looking at the Indians Off Season

As part of the three-part assignment given by Bill Ivie at, my off-season outlook appears on the BBD site here:

The third article in the series will appear in the spring as I'll take a look at the upcoming season based on the players ready to take the field at the time.

For this most recent writing, however, I believe Beau Mills has the highest potential impact for the team, presuming he'll come up from the minors to help out at first.  As I state in the piece, he could actually take the first base position depending on what the Tribe does there.  I think he has been flying just under the radar but is about to bust loose.  Whether for the Tribe or not, Mills is one to watch in 2012.

Under the generosity of Mr. Ivie, the writers participating in this 3-part project have also been invited to write other guest pieces for BaseballDigest Online.  As always, if something I write gets published there, I'll be sure to share!

NOTE: Thanks to the Internet WayBackMachine, I was able to pull the article! I present here:

 Note from the editor: When Baseball Digest first started in 1944, the magazine gathered writers from all across the country to provide insight to the teams that they covered on a regular basis.  This provided content and coverage that was in depth and more insightful than having national writers cover teams and players that they barely knew.

Our featured bloggers that provided us with the in depth Report Card series that has just concluded are back to give everyone an in depth look at what the off season holds for the major league teams they cover.  A look at what each team needs, what each team has already gained and lost, and some of the youth in each team’s system will be examined in these articles.  You can find all of the author’s information at the bottom of the article.

The Cleveland Indians look to have one of the most talked about, possibly most tumultuous offseasons the team has seen in a while.  As of the writing of this article, the Tribe can’t decide if they are re-signing Grady Sizemore or letting him go.  Not the superstar outfielder he once was, plagued by injury, the Indians were right to cut him in the first place.  The biggest question for his future with the Indians: Will a one-year deal be worth it?

The Indians finished just under the .500 mark in 2011 (80-82) after a rough opening start that then turned into one of the most successful runs the Tribe has seen as of late.  That quickly jump started the roller coaster that saw the Tribe ultimately fall 15 games behind the Tigers by the end of the regular season.  There are a lot of areas to be improved.  Primarily, Indians players have got to stay healthy and have got to be on the field.  As shown in the end-of-year report card, every aspect of the team could stand some help.

With so much up in the air, it’s hard to say just what is in place and what had yet to be determined.  Will Lonnie Chisenhall, Jason Kipnis, Jason Donald, or Jack Hannahan man the second and/or third base positions next season?  Will Chisenhall even start in the Majors?  Pitching seems to be shaping up with the addition of Lowe, and most recently Scott Barnes.  Justin Masterson is the star-to-be on the mound.  Asdrubal Cabrera should be secure in his starting position next season as well as Carlos Santana.  The outfield, however, is anybody’s guess.  It also serves as one of the main areas of improvement.

Possible players seeing the end of their Indians stint: Trevor Crowe and Chad Huffman.  These two may lose their place to the Rule 5 Draft.  The team could probably use either one as trade fodder down the line, which is something I’m sure the team management is taking into consideration.

One player that will hopefully come into his own for 2012 is Beau Mills.  Mills could easily come up from the minors to help out Matt LaPorta at first base.  He has several years’ experience in the Minors and consistently bats better than .260 over the course of his MiLB career.  Last season, he moved up from Akron to Columbus, batting .300 in Akron and finishing in Columbus with a .269.  In 96 games, he had 67 RBIs on 101 hits.  He has been simmering, slowly improving and honing his skills.  If LaPorta can’t stay healthy, Mills could step in and fill the job, providing the Indians don’t have another name or two they are seeking out elsewhere.

And, that is the ultimate move to be seen: what players the Indians are seeking out elsewhere.  The team has a knack for putting together a group of players that ultimately brings one or two diamonds-n-the-rough, which are then usually, and un ceremoniously, dumped (read, traded) to other teams for older players or players that are essentially unknown.  In this offseason, the Indians need to get the positions set and start working on building a team of player, rather than a bunch of guys on the field all wearing the same uniform.

David “Tribecards” Henderson
Tribe Cards