Sunday, January 29, 2012

The problem with "Game-Used"

(image from someone else's card listed on eBay)

A lot of press has resurfaced regarding the 2000 Pacific Invincible Manny Ramirez "corked" bat card.  I say resurfaced because there was a TON of press the first time the cards started showing up.  Was it corked? Was it Manny's? Was it a publicity stunt? What's the deal?

Well, according to recent happenings on "The Cardboard Connection" blog and radio program, it was something that should have never made it to production.  Frankly, that's not what I am interested in here.

My problem is one of, well, semantics, I suppose.  Now, I realize this was back in 2000.  That's BEFORE companies started using terms like "USED" versus "GAME USED" and "WORN" versus "GAME WORN" in their descriptors.  And, maybe it is because of this card, the industry changed some of its ways. I don't know.

According to Scott Mahlum of Mill Creek Sportscards, “That was the only Ramirez model in the bunch. It showed a ton of use, and a ton of handle wear. It’s definitely a bat that had been used, whether it was in a game, batting practice, winter league, whatever.”

"...whether it was in a game, batting practice, winter league, whatever!?"  Shouldn't this be a bigger concern that "whatever" would indicate?

I look at today's "memorabilia" cards and wonder why anyone even bothers to collect the stuff anymore.  Companies have resorted to manufacturing patches and sticking them on cards, using terms like "authentic clothing," and have avoided terms like "game-used" altogether.

As a collector, it DOES matter to me where and how the said swatch was obtained.  Well, sort of.  What matters to me is that the card discloses what kind of swatch - I don't want "authentic piece of clothing" on the card. Seriously. Are they pants, jersey, jock strap, or what?  Cause if it is the latter, I'd like to make sure I wear gloves before opening a pack.  If the bat was used in practice, then just say so.  Of course, the problem continues when you have equipment that is "used" in the sense that player once held it during a game. Or maybe they just touched it as they walked by.

As I said, though, I'm surprised folks are even bothering to collect the stuff any more anyway.  Well, yeah, I know why... Because we COLLECT. It's what we do. I'll keep collecting whatever junk is out there as long as it Indians-related. I can't help it. I'm a cardboard slut. What can I say? At least I have a limit - I'm not paying 5 grand for the card pictured above!

Saturday, January 28, 2012

Sometimes, we only learn by doing

I've read the horror stories of folks busting open packs and boxes of American Pie or Americana.  I've read how badly these products suck.  I've seen the pack-breaking videos that resulted in a pile of cardboard being lit aflame - okay, slight exaggeration there.

Did those things stop me from buying a pack of each of these products?  No.  How bad was it?  Well, since I was driving, my wife actually opened the packs for me while we cruised down the road between shop stops.  When she had opened both packs, rattling off the titles/names of each card, she said, "Wow. You got ripped off."  Yes. Yes, I did.

Does it even matter which cards came from which packs?  No.  But, here we have Topps American Pie "Marciano Retires Undefeated," Miles Davis," and "Catch-22" to start things off.  Okay, I admit, the Miles Davis is pretty cool.  And, if you thought things couldn't get worse, you'd be wrong.

The other three cards in the pack (Yes, you get a whopping six cards for $2.99 or $1.99 or $56.75, whatever it cost. No matter what it cost, it was too much to pay for this crap) are: "Fads and Fashions: Troll Dolls," American Top 40 Debuts," and "The Simpsons Premieres."  Look, I don't give a rip about Trolls Dolls.  Top 40 is all well and good for the sake of music and long distance dedications, I suppose.  I have never been a fan of The Simpsons. In fact, I would venture to say that I have never watched a complete episode.  So, anybody want some junk wax? Free for the asking.

As if that weren't bad enough, I also bought Panini Americana.  Why?  i don't know, I guess I was feeling rather patriotic. I shouldn't have. I won't ever again.  My wife read off the names with a severe disdain tone to her voice (or maybe it was bewilderment): "Lorna Luft" - My wife turned the card over to read that she is the daughter of Judy Garland.  "Stephen Baldwin," she said, followed by, "Seriously?"  The third one is "Selma Blair."  No comments were made on that one. It wasn't worth a comment.

She read the next two flatly, "George Kennedy and Eric Roberts."  That was when she rifled through all the cards again, saying, "You got ripped off.  That's it?" (Or something along those lines)

Save your money, people.  Don't buy this junk.  I was hoping to score the elusive Frank Zappa card sought out by several collectors.  Instead, I would have done better with a pencil and some 'insert filler' cards to draw on myself.

Seriously, if anybody wants any of these, they are yours for the asking.  But, really, who would even admit to wanting them?

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Packs to be named daily

On Monday, I opted to "celebrate" the day off by posting a slew of non-sport pack busts over at "A Pack To Be Named Later."  I've got them set up to post one a day, and basically they are set to post around 1:35pm or so CST.  Why?  Well, because hat was when I busted the first pack and I didn't change the post time, just the dates.  I am semi-lazy that way, I suppose.

Packs include 1979 Rocky II, Star Trek, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, New Kids on the Block, and I don't even remember what all else was in there. It was kind of fast and furious. Speaking of which, there was a pack or two of Vintage American Motorcycles.

Feel free to hop over to APTBNL and check out each day's post!  Here's how you get there:

Sunday, January 15, 2012

Dimwit Does (w)Right

Okay, so between my scanner and my own inability to read filenames, the pictures in this post are actually in something of a random order.  Go figure, and welcome to my world.  You know, the world in which I am supposedly some kind of "tech geek" yet can't quite figure out the technology I use almost every single day?  Yeah, that's me.

Alas, I digress, as I often do.  Sam, over at TheDailyDimwit held a group break recently in which participants got to pick a team (three guesses as to which one I picked) and then were assigned a team at random.  My random team was the Mets.  And, I have to say that if I were a Mets fan, I would have done pretty well by this break.  As it is, I am an Indians fan, and I did VERY well (as you will see later, since the Tribe cards actually ended up at the end of the post - see above regarding technical aptitude).

So, what's up with the post title?  How about more David Wright cards than you can shake a stick at.  Well, okay, maybe not.  I suppose it would depend on just how large the stick was, and if, in fact, you were holding it in order to shake it.  But, it appeared that every other card was a Wright (in retrospect, there are four. Maybe I need some more caffeine).

The first cards here are 2009 Upper Deck Piece of History.  We've got Santana, Parnell, and Wright.  I like the design of these in that they appear to have marble borders. Classy with a touch of gold-ish trim around the player.  I miss Upper Deck baseball.

Next up, Niese, Niese, and a "Cut from the Same Cloth #02/25) Martinez and Santana.  Okay, so one of you gets to tell me why the second Niese card is more tan than grey.  I assume it is a parallel of some kind and I am too lazy to look it up.  Well, I did look at a list from UD, but still didn't see anything that explains what it is. 

The next cards from the 2007 Upper Deck "MLB Artifacts" set.  These feature Reyes, Beltran, and Wright.  I know these are supposed to look like they have some kind of dark marble or something on the border, but to me they look like Cocoa Pebbles or Archway Holiday Cookies.  Then again, maybe I'm just hungry.

Phil Humber rounds out the last of the Mets Artifacts cards.  Now we switch to  2009 UD SP Authentic Baseball.  Here you see Reyes and Delgado.  The cards are crisp white with colorful accents.  I think they could have trimmed the borders a bit and made the photos bigger.

More SP Authentic include Santana, Wright, and Beltran.

Sheffield finishes out the regular Authentic cards, which leads us to the final David Wright card in the pot:  SP Authentic Faces of the Game.  Now, THAT'S a card!  I love close up shots of the players.  What a great idea for a subset!  The last card in this trio is a UD 20th Anniversary Retrospective of... the Wilkins Ice Shelf.  More to the point: "Global Warming" and the ice shelf.

Ah, and now that the Mets are out of the way, we can get to the real reason you came: MOJO!  The "hit" of the break for Indians comes in the form of a 2009 UD SP Authentic "By The Letter" manufactured patch card of Trevor Crowe.  It's autographed to boot!  And, it is the letter "H."  H?  Let's see, and it is yellow.  A yellow H?  I dunno man, I just collect 'em.  The next two are from "A Piece of History" and feature Victor Martinez and Scott Lewis.  For whatever reason, when I saw this, I thought of Mark Lewis from Tribe days gone by.  I don't know why that should be.

Next up, a couple of Grady's - "A Piece of History" and a "MLB Artifacts."  Add to that a V-Mart to round out the triplet.

In the SP Authentic break, I received Choo and Sizemore.  I love the Sizemore card.  It seems as though the ball is just off the card and he is determined to snag that puppy at any moment!

The final card in the break is neither a Mets nor an Indians card.  Rather, it is the "Disasta Named NAFTA:"*

I have to say a big THANK YOU to Sam for hosting this break! 

*For the record, I don't know if NAFTA is a disaster or not. It rhymed. It sounded funny to say. Save all the political arguments and justifications for your local tavern.

Saturday, January 14, 2012

Blogathon to raise money for Doctors Without Borders!

As part of the BBA, I am asked to help spread the word on various events throughout the year. I received an email from Mike Clair about his Blogathon, which benefits Doctors Without Borders.

Here is the message from Mike:

I just wanted to send an email out to everyone reminding you all of the charity blogathon I'm hosting over at Old Time Family Baseball to raise money for Doctors Without Borders. Here's a post that outlines the whole event, but the general gist is that starting on Saturday morning at 8 am I will be posting every 30 min for 24 hours on Saturday and over 20 baseball writers have contributed guest posts for Sunday. A number of BBA blogs have contributed, as well as a variety of well-known baseball writers including Craig Calcaterra and Jeff Sullivan among others. Here is the link where donations are being accepted: Every donation also enters people into a raffle for a number of prizes including baseball cards, books, movies, and more. 
I would really appreciate it if you guys would help publicize the event and if you enjoyed the posts, passed them along on your blogs or to friends and family. Doctors Without Borders is a really amazing organization and they deserve all the support they can get. 

If you feel so compelled, please visit his site and make a donation to DwB, plus get registered for cool prizes!

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

eTopps kills card-making operation

Topps' "IPO" program, called eTopps, will cease the release of any new cards, according to a press release and info posted on Beckett (

I missed the first year of eTopps because I was collecting CyberAction CyberCards at the time, and the eTopps program APPEARED to be a digital card program.  I was wrong.  In the fine print of the day, eTopps let its users know that they could get the cards in-hand if they paid for shipping and handling.  So, in 2002, I jumped in.  I wasted, er spent, TONS of money in the program.  I owned the complete 2002 set among nearly full sets of most latter years.  Cards from 2001 rose in price beyond what any cards featuring those players should be worth. I bought football, baseball, basketball. I did not buy wrestling or racing or any other "sport" they came up with.

I actually liked the first generation of eTopps better than any other.  Those early cards had a metal signet that was glued on the card, truly separating the cards from any other being made. eTopps lets its users buy, sell, and trade cards that are stored in a warehouse until the final owner requests to move the card from the "portfolio" to in-hand.  eTopps cards "in-hand" arrived slabbed in a sturdy plastic holder.  Those in-hand cards tended to sell for more on eBay than the ones still held in the warehouse ("in portfolio," as they were called).

I ended up selling much of my portfolio in bits and pieces, as I recall.  I had all the Indians I owned sent to my house, along with several other cards.  The other cards were then included in various giveaways, random packs, etc.

Though I haven't actively participated in eTopps over the past couple of years, I am sad to see the program disappear.  eTopps cards, for me anyway, were a much better quality card - thick stock, shiny coating, unique items.  I'll miss eTopps cards.  That reminds me - I need to head online and check the prices for Indians eTopps cards from the past couple years. I need them for my Tribecards collection.

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

ANOTHER player from Prescott, AR!

When I told my son and wife that Mark Aubrey had found Chuck Tompkins' Washington and Lee yearbook photos*, my son said, "Who? Floyd Robinson?"  I said, "No. Tompkins. Who is Robinson?"  He tells me, "He's the only MLB player from here (Prescott) that I know of."

Well, based on my previous post, he was one that I did NOT know about!  How cool!?

What's even cooler?  Jim from Downingtown did an entire post about Robinson in 2010!

Thanks to my son for bringing this guy to light and to Jim for the write-up on him.  That's three MLB players that I know of now, born in our little town of Prescott.

*Thanks to Mark for correcting me on the source of the photos. And for also telling me to update the post.

Monday, January 9, 2012

Prescott, Arkansas and the Indians

After posting about Travis Jackson, I thought it would be fun to see if any baseball players came from the town where I now make my home: Prescott, Ark.  Not only did Prescott generate TWO pro ball players, one of them actually donned a Tribe uniform! Wahoo!

I'll start with the non-Triber who happened to play for the "other" Ohio team: Chuck Tompkins.  Tompkins (shown below in the only image I could find of him) was born in 1889 and played for the Reds in 1912.  He pitched in one game. He pitched three innings. He gave up 5 hits and 1 run, yet netted a 0.00 ERA.  I don't know enough to understand how that happens.  In any case, he lived to be 86 years old and happens to be buried in the same local cemetery as my Dad.

Chuck Tompkins

The second person to come out of Prescott and find his way to the Bigs was Jim Moore (shown below in White Sox garb).  He was born in Prescott in 1903 and played for the Indians from 1928-1929 then played for the White Sox from 1930-1932.  He played in three games with the Tribe.  In his debut, he pitched a complete game giving up 2 runs on 5 hits and 2 errors with 5 batters walked. He netted an ERA of 2.00.  The next season, he pitched in 2 games for 5.2 innings in which he gave up 6 runs on 6 hits, 6 errors, a homer, and 4 walks.  Ouch.  That bit of pitching garnered a 9.53 ERA - the worst of his career. He died in Seattle and is buried in Colorado.

Jim Moore

I was excited to find this small town bred TWO major league players!  I was ECSTATIC to discover one of them was a Triber!

Larkin gets the call to the Hall

Congratulations to Barry Larkin - the only player chosen by the Writers to be elected to the BBHOF this year!  If you read my predictions/picks for the Hall, you are well aware of just how badly I did compared to the Big Boys. Ah well, I think Larkin deserves the nod.  He was certainly one of my favorite players during my earlier collecting years. That is, before I dropped out and then dropped back in again.

Saturday, January 7, 2012

Travis Jackson comes to mind

I live in southern Arkansas (or Lower Arkansas, aka LA), and for a time drove through Waldo, Arkansas, on my way to work every day.  At the time, I was a computer tech for Southern Arkansas University.  When coming back home after work, there was sign that always caught my attention:

I passed by that sign every workday.  I meant to look into who Jackson was, but never seemed to remember by the time I got home.  The sign is long gone now.  For no known reason I can come up with, Jackson's name popped in my head today.  And, so, I Googled him.

According to BBHOF:
Travis Jackson was the hustling captain and clutch-hitting shortstop on John McGraw's Giants teams of the 1920s, playing through the mid-1930s. His outstanding arm, exceptional range and quick release earned him great respect in the field. Nicknamed Stonewall, after the Civil War general and for the wall of defense he supplied at shortstop, he also hit 135 home runs and compiled six .300-or-higher seasons at the plate. Rogers Hornsby praised Jackson by saying, "In all the years I watched him, playing with him and against him, I never saw him make a mistake."
He was so good at stopping the ball, he was actually given the nickname "Stonewall."  Nice!

I did not know that he passed away in 1987 until I started looking in to his information.  That's at least three years before I came to Arkansas.  He was inducted in 1982, five years before his passing.  I would have liked to have met him.

After checking out Jackson, I decided to see what other Arkansans are in the BBHOF.  Turns out, there are at least SEVEN members with Arkansas ties!  How cool!

Bill Dickey, Lou Brock, Dizzy Dean, Brooks Robinson, George Kell, and "Arky" Vaughan round out the rest of the boys from Arkansas.

Jackson was born in Waldo and he died in Waldo.  Between the two, he managed to set himself apart from other baseball players during the "Roaring 20's" playing for the NY Giants.  That's a pretty good life in my book.