Saturday, October 31, 2009

Torture Set

A couple of weeks ago one of the sports card blogs that I read had a story about the Center for Constitutional Rights creating a card set called The Torture Team. The card set was created for the purpose to bring attention to the people that the center feels need to be investigated for torturing detainees. You can read up on the set more at the Center for Constitutional Rights website. I requested a 10-card pack to get a better look at the set and the pack arrived today.

Depending on your personal political views you may find the set appropriate or just spiteful. Political beliefs aside, personally I don’t see this set achieving the goals that the designers were hoping for originally. I cannot remember a previous situation where a political or civil rights belief was promoted in such a manor.

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

What Would You Do?

I understand that when your team is in the champion game you some times feel like you would be willing to do anything to get tickets for the game. Apparently there are some people who just ignore all moral judgments and just go straight for the gutter in attempts to earn those tickets. Is the World Series worth a threesome?

Susan Finkelstein of Philadelphia was arrested Tuesday after taking out a Craiglist ad offering sex in exchange for tickets. Her lawyer, in typical fashion, pointed out that while she might have “dropped double entendres in her ad, she never explicitly offered sex”. You have to love lawyers the way they can make the most offensive situation seem less lewd.

What is more obscene, the ad being posted in the first place or that the poster is a 43-year old Univ. of Penn Graduate student who wanted to take her husband to a game?

Monday, October 26, 2009

Tito Ortiz Auto In Next UFC Release

Topps has just confirmed that a Tito Ortiz autograph card will be included on the checklist of their next UFC release scheduled for early 2010. As you can see, the downside is that the autographs are stickers and not hard signed cards.

Sunday, October 25, 2009

Buffalo Bill Cody Redemption Card

Upper Deck announced that the Wild Bill Cody Memorabilia redemption cards are now ready to begin shipping out. There are only 5 copies of the Bill Cody card available.

There are not a lot of Old West memorabilia cards out there so the opportunity to pull a card like this seemed to be a once in a lifetime chance. Who wouldn’t get excited over receiving a piece of Buffalo Bill’s hat or jacket or even better a piece from a gun holster. But instead of using a relic connected to his amazing storied life as a soldier, frontiersmen or even connected to his Wild West Show Upper Deck uses material from a chair in the Cody home.

Friday, October 23, 2009

2009 Razor Memory Lane

You have to wonder how the meeting went at Razor when someone suggested buying up old yearbooks and releasing them in the 2009 Razor Memory Lane Yearbook Edition. Was it a hit when first suggested or was it one of those ideas that got kicked around until nobody had another idea and people are grasping at straws?

I know that there is a market out there for collectibles like this within the right element, apparently people are paying big dollars for yearbooks that include photos of athletes, stars and musicians but this is not a product you would expect from a “sports card” company like Razor. Given that Razor is on the fringe of the collectible world and they have released some interesting and amazing products lately, most specifically the Cut Signature lines.

I know the product will probably sell well and considering that there are only 501 total boxes (1 book per box) available it will most likely sell out too. With people like Mickey Mantle and Joe Montana included on the checklist, it may do well in the sports market but most likely not with card collector specifically.

Monday, October 19, 2009

The Legend of Hal Chase

Hal Chase is probably one of the best defensive First Baseman ever to play professional baseball but yet he is not in the Hall of Fame. He played from 1905-1919 and spent most of that time with the NY Highlanders/Yankees (1905-13).

Chase played 15 seasons in the AL, NL and FL (Federal League) and put up some decent numbers for the Dead Ball Era. His career numbers include; .291 BA, 2158 Hits, 57 Homeruns and 941 RBIs, which compare with HOFers Lou Boudreau (.295 BA, 1779 Hits, 68 HR & 789 RBI) and Ozzie Smith (.262 BA, 2460 Hits, 28 HR & 793 RBI) who were both voted in mainly on their defensive skills.

When compared with the Top 5 First Baseman (all in the HOF) you will see my point. All the numbers I use are based on when they played at First Base only:

Hal Chase 1,815 Games 18,185 PO 1,049 Assists .980 Fielding %

#1 Lou Gehrig- 2,137 Games 19,510 PO 1,087 Assists .991 Fielding %
#2 Jimmie Foxx- 1,919 Games 18,584 PO 1,222 Assists .992 Fielding %
#3 Hank Greenberg- 1,138 Games 10,564 PO 724 Assists .991 Fielding %
#4 Eddie Murray- 2,413 Games 21,225 PO 1,865 Assists .993 Fielding %
#5 Dan Brouthers- 1,633 Games 16,365 PO 654 Assists .971 Fielding %

His largest fault on the field was his ability to control the ball; he made a horrifying 402 Errors at First Base.

Now that his playing ability has been dissected you can see that based on those numbers, both offensively and defensively, he has a good argument for being in the Hall of Fame. What is the hold up you ask? He was banned from baseball for life in 1920 for allegedly bribing players and officials to blow games. He was a well-known gambler and it is believed that he may have been a go-between during the Black Sox Scandal.

After a solid career though with HOF numbers the collectors should appreciate him, maybe not for his off-field exploitations but for his playing career. His cards are unfortunately sitting on the bottom of the heap waiting their turn to be used as kindling. You can find a number of Hal Chase cards from 1908 through 1915, but his most common card(s) is the T206 cards, which there are 4 versions.

Sadly you can find graded versions selling well below $150 and raw copies below $10. I was actually surprised to find a PSA 1 selling at $3.25 and a PSA 5 at $35.99

Sunday, October 18, 2009

Patch Works- Urlacher

Player: Brian Urlacher
Team: Chicago Bears
Set: 2005 Leaf Certified Materials - Gold Team
Card #: GT-5
Serial # : 01/25
This patch appears to be either a part of a letter or number because of the black jersey pieces on each side of the patch and the stitching.

I am not a fan of foil and all but this card doeas appeal to me, it was one of the few cards I kept when I recently sold off 90% of my collection.


Have you ever had a card that you were determined to pull? No matter how many times you saw one up for auction you were dead set against bidding because you just knew you would eventually pull one on your own.

That is how I have felt about the 2009 Goodwin Champions Ken Griffey Jr card. I wanted to pull one so bad but I was having no luck and actually considered just bidding so I could end my quest. Well, my journey finally ended tonight when my wife told me to grab a couple of packs while we were out. I know it is not a $500 card, it does not have an autograph or relic but being a Griffey fan, this is easily my favorite card of 2009.

Now I just need to pull the Griffey mini and a relic and then I can begin hunting down his Moonlight parallel.

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Captain Lou Albano RIP

Famed wrestler Captain Lou Albano passed away this afternoon in Carmel, New York, he was 76 years old. The cause of death is listed as “Natural Causes”

Having grown up in the 70s and 80s I remember him as a badass wrestler & manager who helped usher in the world of wrestling and help make it what it is today. His connection with Cyndi Lauper created a union between the WWF and the music world in what was later billed the “Rock N Wrestling” era, which included the introduction of Wrestlemania. Albano began his wrestling career in the early 50s and he eventually switched over to manager where he helped guide numerous wrestlers to a slew of titles.

Because Captain Lou left wrestling in 1986 before the current collecting age began, he does not appear in many releases, most notably the 1985 Topps WWF set and the 1991 Image Wrestling Legends set. The ‘85 Topps set contains 2 Albano cards and 3 stickers and the ‘91 Wrestling Legends set contains an on-card Captain Lou autograph. You can actually pick up every card & sticker of Captain Lou including the hard-signed auto and still receive change back from a $10 bill. It does not seem fitting for such a legend.

Now if we could just forget about his acting career:

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Early 2009 Donruss Releases

As the NFL season began and early releases started to hit the shelf I decided to grab up packs of various product to review. I chose to stick with one company’s releases with my reviews and Panini-Donruss is that lucky brand that I selected.

The 4 sets that I am using for a review are 2009 Donruss Classics, 2009 Donruss Elite, 2009 Donruss Threads and 2009 Rookie & Stars. The first thing that you will notice is that the card designs have a number of similarities between the sets, an action photo of a player, all backgrounds have been removed and clearly Panini designers love lines and patterns.

Beginning with the Classics set. The good includes nice action shots and players on their new teams (i.e.- Houshmandzadeh with the Seahawks). The bad, a background design that belongs on a doily and a card back that includes little more then 1 season of stats and a few player bio lines. The Classics release just does not seem to draw the interest that it once did. The inserts may be the biggest draw from this set, but lick & stick autographs appeal to almost nobody now. When a Jim Brown auto #/15 is selling for the same price as a Michael Crabtree auto #/250 you have to realize that there is little appeal for the autographs.

Donruss Elite is an old favorite, I don’t know if it is sentimental or what but I have always liked the Elite releases. Could be the Signature Series of the early 90s or the Throwback Threads relics, but I love the set so I had big expectations for this release. All I am going to say is “Disappointed”. For some reason lines, borders and patterns seem to be used on every release with no regard for aesthetics. The inserts are mundane and overly designed, jerseys and autographs are often inserted obscuring the player and ruining the insert completely. I really have nothing else to say about the release.

The Threads release surprised me the most. The cards themselves follow the rest of the pack; action photos surrounded by overly designed cards with lots of lines and obscured player images. Many of the inserts are similar, but the thing that left me feeling positive about the release are a couple of the inserts. My favorite being the Gridiron Kings Auto set. A simple painted design with the player in their college uniform with a sticker autograph. Besides the sticker auto, Donruss really got this one right and it made an impression on me. The relic/patch version of the Gridiron Kings should have been scraped though. You have to love any release that includes an autographed version of rookie Lettermen patches.

The Rookie & Stars release is a simple, down-to-Earth release. A low priced set for the every day set collector. There is nothing beautiful about the base set, nothing special about the rookie cards and nothing encouraging about many of the inserts. The only point of interest in this set for me is the rookie patch autographs. I just love the logo and autograph mixture; it is a nice pull for most collectors.

The only saving grace out of my experiment was pulling an Adrian Peterson purple jersey relic out of one of the Rookie & Stars packs.

Monday, October 12, 2009

Chris Chelios The Next Legend?

It is rumored that Chris Chelios had skated around with the AHL’s Chicago Wolves during practice earlier today and may possibly sign with the team some time this week. After playing 25 seasons in the NHL, AHL, IHL and Swiss League it looks like Chelios is not done playing the game that he loves so much. Recently he even said that he would like to return to the NHL, so this may be the first step for him to return. The Chicago Wolves are the Atlanta Thrashers’s top minor league team so there is a possibility of call-up from the NHL team.

Is Chelios this generations Gordie Howe? Not counting Howe’s one shift with the Detroit Vipers of the IHL in 1997 he played a total of 2,421 games over 32 seasons of professional hockey. If Chelios, who has played 1,673 total professional games, does sign with the Wolves this will be his 26th season so it is not inconceivable that he may play another 6 years.

Besides Graded copies of his 84-85 OPC rookie and a couple of upper-end autographs his cards are actually quite affordable. You can find raw copies of his 84-85 OPC rookie for less $30 if you don’t mind an un-graded version.

Saturday, October 10, 2009

Whats Next?

We have seen insects, fossils and hair strands imbedded on to cards in various releases, what are next… human bones? It just seems that this may be the way that card companies are going to draw collectors in on the next big thing. If you cannot get collectors to buy cards with jerseys and sticker autographs let us move down the shock value scale.

The Japanese seem to be leading the pack in this category. Over the years sets like Racing Queen, Japan Model and Juicy Honey have pushed the envelope and you wonder if Topps, UD and Donruss/Panini are considering similar avenues. Not long ago Mario at Wax Heaven wrote about the Juicy Honey set, which beginning with the 11th series included some interesting, and perverse, hits such as lingerie swatches, nipple stamp cards and pubic hair DNA cards. I don’t see American companies releasing sets of this extreme nature due to a small portion of the American population feeling the need to censor the rest of the country but I do think that some companies are considering the next level.

We have seen Kiss cards throughout various wrestling releases, so this is nothing really new, we have also seen various clothing relics in almost every set based on a movie or television show. The thing is that many collectors tire of the dime sized bland white jersey swatch and bit-player autographs that have become commonplace in every release. Something has to be done to keep collectors buying your product. Many people have even pointed out that unless the hobby changes collectors may end up moving away from collecting because the sets have become cookie cutter sets. The inserts are even worse, often time the insert is the same cookie cutter base card with a jersey or sticker auto forced in to the design ruining anything aesthetically pleasing that remained.

Friday, October 9, 2009

UFC Dual Auto Redemption

It looks like Topps is having some more issues with the UFC Round 1 redemption cards. The other day they announced that they will be replacing the Roger Huerta autograph with a special Rich Franklin auto and today they announce that all Dual Auto Relic redemption cards will be replaced with a special Lyoto Machida/Diego Sanchez dual auto relic card.

Now this is not a bad substitution but originally the checklist called for 4 different cards in the Dual Auto Relic set: MacDonald vs. Herman, Silva vs. Leban, Nogueria vs. Herring & Edgar vs. Griffin.

Lyoto Machinda is 15-0 and recently won the Light Heavyweight Championship this past May and will be fighting again at the end of this month in his first defense since winning the title.

Diego Sanchez is 21-2 with both losses coming on decisions after 5 rounds, so equally impressive. He will be fighting in December at UFC 107 against BJ Penn for the Lightweight Championship.

Is Tony Worth The Hype?

We are now ¼ of the way through the NFL season and I believe we may finally be seeing Tony Romo’s true colors. I have always felt that he is more hype then talent, someone more interested in who he is doing compared to how he is doing. He falls apart in the big games and is hyped based on a few good games. He is even currently ranked behind “superstars” like Matt Schaub, Jason Campbell and Kyle Orton.

This season Dallas is 2-2 no thanks to Romo and could have easily been 1-3. Game 1 has been his big game of the year and it was all because Tampa’s Defense faulted horribly. Against Tampa he threw for 353 yards and 3 TDs for a 140.6 QB Rating, but dissect the game and you will see what I am talking about. The 3 TD passes were all long plays going for 188 total yards, a 42-yd catch to Austin a 66-yd catch to Williams and an 80-yd catch to Crayton. What is not shown in the box score is that all 3 passes were short passes and Tampa’s Defense had broken coverage. The yards were all after catch.

So, for arguments sake lets say Tampa’s Defense actually shut down the plays after a 22-yard gain each, which were Dallas’ avg yds per pass for the game. This changes Romo’s numbers to 16 of 27, 231 yards and 0 TD and a QB Rating of 87.1 and without those 3 TDs the game would have actually ended up as a loss for the team (13-21).

Now lets take a look at his season using these more realistic numbers:
Romo: 76-131 58.0% Completion 868-yds 1 TD 4 INT and a 67.9 QB Rating

Who knows, he may turn it around this season. He may even end up following in the footsteps of QBs like Elway who didn’t win the big one until the end of his career. But until that point when he can prove that he has the talent can anyone please explain to me why his cards are in demand and commanding the prices that
they are?

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Crabtree Signs On The Dotted Line

Now that Michael Crabtree has finally signed with the 49ers you can say that one battle is over and a new one about to begin. After finally ending his 72-day holdout, which Crabtree hinted that the entire ordeal was in his agent’s hands from the get-go, he now has to earn the trust of his teammates. Sure he got an additional 1-year and $12 million over the initial offer but was it really worth it in the end?

Crabtree may be a talented player but he now looks like a greedy and selfish diva who put his wallet in front of his professional career and his new team. He has missed out on so much between the mini camps, the pre-season and the first 4 games of the year, games that many will point out as being well played even without the “go to” player. He obviously will not be playing Sunday and the 49ers have a bye week the following week, which puts him in line with finally seeing playing time in Week 7 against the Houston Texans.

Ann Killion of SI brought up a good point in her covering story when she asked if the Jets picking up Braylon Edwards in a trade with the Browns had anything to do with Crabtree finally signing... Inquiring minds want to know?

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Roger Huerta Redemption Card

Topps announced today that for unspecified reasons the Roger Huerta autograph redemption card from the UFC Round 1 set was going to be replaced with a special Rich Franklin autograph card.

Roger Huerta has an impressive 20-3-1 MMA record over the past 6 years but this past January announced an indefinite leave from fighting so he could work on his acting career. He did fight last month to complete his UFC contract but as of now is not slated to fight again any time soon. He can be seen in the upcoming live-action Tekken movie that will be released later this year.

Rich “Ace” Franklin has an equally impressive 26-5-1 MMA record over the past 10 years and is a former UFC Middleweight Champion as well as being a coach on Season 2 of The Ultimate Fighter. Franklin seems to be on the downslide of his career and is 3-3 over his last 6 fights dating back to 2007.

I found only 1 Roger Huerta auto redemption card on eBay sitting at a whopping $1.25 with 1 day left though there are plenty of other UFC autograph cards to be found up for auction ranging from a penny all the way up to a couple of hundred dollars.

Panini or panini? Part 2

Last week I wrote about a panini sandwich that had been put up for auction on eBay. The sandwich had been autographed by Blake Griffin while he was doing an autograph session for Upper Deck at their Huntington Beach Store.

The auction has since ended, and after an unbelievable 22 bids, the final price was set at $190.50. Oddly enough the price is not the only surprise of the auction; more interestingly is who the winning bidder was. According to Upper Deck’s Facebook page, Panini is the winner of this most unorthodox auction.

Upper Deck Congratulations to Panini on winning the Upper Deck Authenticated Blake Griffin panini sandwich. They paid over $190 for the item on eBay this week. As the sandwich makes its way to Arlington, TX this week, what do you think Panini will do with it?

What could be on the mind of the Panini staff?

Monday, October 5, 2009

Michael Crabtree Negotiations

The countdown has begun on the Crabtree negotiations. October 20th, just two weeks away, is the trade deadline in the NFL and all teams must have their Draft Picks signed by November 19th or the player can return to the draft pool.

In the last two weeks there have been accusations of the Jets tampering with the negotiations as well as rumors of Crabtree caving in and ready to accept the 49ers offer and of course based on Crabtree’s agent, Eugene Parker, there is the claim that Crabtree will sit out the year and enter the 2010 NFL Draft. The Jets tampering is being looked in to and there has been no proof provided as of yet on that accusation.

Today sources said that Crabtree was returning to San Francisco to renew contract negotiations, which could be a positive thing for both parties. Right now, as it stands, the 49ers have offered Crabtree 5-years and $20 million with $16 million guaranteed. This actually seems like a fair offer based on the draft position, but I also understand Crabtree’s side where he feels he is worthy of a better payday. He was an excellent college WR but has yet to prove that in the NFL, do you pay him on his college experience or how you feel he will do in the pros?

If Crabtree does return to the draft it is quite possible that he may fall even further then the 10th Pick next year. There are some decent Receivers next year and Crabtree will have shown that he can be difficult in negotiations not to mention that he will have been out of football for well over a year by the time the 2010 Season starts. You could potentially see Dez Bryant, Arrelious Benn and Brandon LaFell all go before Crabtree in the draft. One mock draft I saw had Crabtree being drafted 10th by the Cowboys next year, probably a stretch too.

Thursday, October 1, 2009

The 2016 Olympics and Upper Decks Predictor Card

On Friday October 2nd, the IOC will announce which city will host the 2016 Summer Olympic Games. The announcement may end up being some big news for the country, for the State of Illinois and for the city of Chicago, one of the final four cities up for nomination. It would be a tremendous windfall for the city, thousands of jobs over the next 5 years not to mention the billions of dollars that would be dumped in to the economy from international tourists.

But a Chicago selection would also be some good news for collectors thanks to Upper Decks Predictor cards. The company inserted “Predictor” cards in 2009 Upper Deck Series 1 baseball packs and one of the predictors was that Chicago is named the host of the 2016 Summer Olympics. UD has said that if Chicago is selected then they will do “something big” for the occasion. Yesterday Upper Deck announced that the special promotion for Chicago winning would be a free pack of baseball cards to fans across the nation while supplies last. I guess we will find out where things go tomorrow after the announcement.