Thursday, December 31, 2009

My #1 All-Time Auto Pull

I have never busted any boxes that cost over $100, so my all-time auto pull won't match a lot of folks.  But my hands shook because I was so excited and nervous when I pulled this one (sometime last year).  Being an Orioles fan helped.

These are digital camera shots.  I'm still experimenting with how to do this best.  The first is without flash and the second is with flash.  Which is a better shot?  I think the first picture looks better but I dunno.

Unfortunately my first digital camera was a bust.  It wouldn't turn on and burned through batteries at a goofy rate.  Actually, the batteries were fine, the camera just insisted they were dead.  They work in everything else.  At any rate, the camera was impossible.

My new one came today (different brand) and I love it so far.  The battery is rechargeable and seems to last.  I don't have a memory stick yet so I can only snap three pics at a time.

2008 Upper Deck Masterpieces Retail Box Breaks (5 boxes, Just The Hits)

2008 Upper Deck Masterpieces Retail Box
24 packs, 4 cards per pack
Cost:  $9.99 (Blowout Cards - Black Friday deal)

The first six boxes were a lot of fun to open.  These were too, but perhaps the hits in these were not quite as good.  This finishes off the Masterpieces bash.

Box 1:

A pinstripe is a lot harder to pull on these than one would expect (at least in retail boxes).

s/n: #49/50

Box 2:

s/n: #19/25

Box 3:

s/n: #67/100

Box 4:

s/n: #54/75

Box 5:

s/n:  #14/50

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Ebay Treats (Part 2)

Cost: $1.00
Details:  1976 Topps #270
Card Comment:  I like the front design of this set but the back with black writing on a dark green background makes it difficult to read.

Stargell used a sledgehammer to warm up in the on-deck circle.  At one point in his career he held the record for the longest homers hit in almost half of the ballparks in the NL.

Don Sutton once said of Stargell: "I never saw anything like it.  He doesn't just hit pitchers, he takes away their dignity."

Cost:  $1.00
Details: 2007 Topps Chrome #162 (Red Refractor, s/n: #94/99).

Cost: $2.00
Details:  2007 UD Masterpieces #SG-HS (auto)
Card Comment:  All Stroke of Genius autos from this set are welcome in my collection.

Cost: $2.00
Details:  2007 UD Masterpieces #SG-JB (auto)

Cost: $2.00
Details: 2007 UD Masterpieces #SG-HI (auto)

Early in 2009 I watched Rich Hill of the Orioles dominate the Seattle Mariners lineup.  He pitched seven innings, giving up just three hits and no runs.  His curve ball and high fastball made the Mariners look silly.  We were all very hopeful and excited on the Orioles Boards that night.

Unfortunately, in Hill's remaining ten starts his era rose from 4.15 to 7.80.

Cost: $1.00
Details: 1964 Topps #109
Card Comments:  Love the giant trophy and Staub's hat.

In 1963 Staub was just 19 years old.  He played 150 games in the majors that year (585 plate appearances).  He hit just .224 with 6 home runs (.617 OPS).  Ouch.  In 1964 he had nearly identical stats (.216 ba, .618 OPS) .

But by age 21 he straightened things out and put up many years of solid stats (including a 30 home run season).  He finished his career with 2716 hits, 292 hr, and a lifetime .279 batting average.

Cost:  $1.00
Details:  1974 Topps #215
Card Comment:  A legend who had just one more season left at the time of this photo.

Kaline would collect his 3007th career hit in 1974.  He fell one home run shy of 400.  Interestingly, Kaline's final season (age 39) was not one that came with much rest.  To find a season in which he had as many at bats, you'd have to go all the way back to 1961 (Age 26).  And he needed just about every one of them to reach that 3000 hit mark.

Kaline is the youngest player to ever win a batting title (.340 ba, age 20).

Some may be surprised to learn that Kaline never hit as many as 30 home runs in a season.  However, he won 10 gold gloves, made 15 all-star teams, and finished in the top 10 for MVP voting nine times.

Cost:  $1.25
Details:  2009 Topps Heritage Chrome Refractors #C16 (s/n: #173/560)

Cost: $1.25
Details: 2009 Topps Heritage Chrome Refractors #C73 (s/n: #407/560)

Davis had a whopping 150 strikeouts in just 391 at bats in 2009.  He struggled so mightily that he was demoted to AAA to work on the holes in his swing.

Right before his demotion I watched Davis hit a tapper to an infielder.  He hustled like mad down the line, diving head first into the base.  The announcers and everyone watching felt sorry for the kid.  He clearly has heart and wants to please the fans and teammates.  But he was hitting under .200; the writing was on the wall.

Davis didn't sulk when demoted to AAA.  He worked hard.  He stopped swinging for the fences and focused on contact.  In AAA he hit just six home runs (165 ab) but managed a .327 batting average.

When he was called back to the majors his strikeout ratio dropped from around 50% to about 35%.  Yes that is still too high and may be what costs him a major league career ultimately, but I am rooting for Chris Davis.

Cost:  $1.00
Details: 1963 Topps #123
Card Comments:  I have very few 1963 Topps cards.  Great pick up for a buck.

Of Big Frank's 382 lifetime home runs, he hit 172 of them (45%) in a four year stretch (1967-1970).  

Cost: $2.00
Details:  2000 Team Best Rookies (auto)
Card Comments:  An unpopular set but a nice way to get reasonably priced autos.

Cost: $1.00
Details:  1979 Topps #330
Card Comments:  Off-center, otherwise perfect.

Cost:  $1.25
Details:  1969 Topps Deckle #31
Card Comments:  This may be just my second Deckle card.  Not sure.  I think I will start collecting these when the price is right.  Vintage stuff, cool look, reasonable prices.

One of the more amazing things about McCovey's career is that he managed to win the Rookie of the Year award despite having only 192 at bats (1959, .354 batting average, 13 hr).  And he did so with a unanimous vote.  Although I did not confirm on a year by year search, I assume there is not a hitter with fewer at bats to claim the ROY award.

Overall Review:

Card prices, condition, and safe packaging make this seller a winner.  The variety is nice as well.  It's not too easy to find a good seller that has both vintage 60's cards alongside shiny '09 stuff and autos.  The only negative is that the shipping isn't capped.  So while the prices are great, at .25 cents extra a card, shipping starts to add up.

Overall Rating:  8.5

Monday, December 28, 2009

Ebay Treats: Cards Taste Great (Part 1)

Have you ever had dinner with friends and when the bill came you imagined the cards you could have purchased with that money?  It happens to me all the time, especially after I've already widened my face with food not yet paid for.

Everywhere I go I get sad over the cards I could have had.   Sandwich meat could be six Heritage chrome cards.  Pizza and drinks could be an entire Hobby box of Masterpiece packs.

I buy a can of carrots at the grocery store and I think about how that dollar could have been a 1968 Vada Pinson I'd forever own.  Instead I get stupid vegetables that I only force myself to eat because they are healthy.  But should I sacrifice cards in the name of health?  Maybe sometimes the right thing to do is wrong and bad.

When I buy cans of peas that dang check out scanner beep doesn't sound like a beep at all.  It sounds like "1973 Tony Oliva, 1974 Frank Robinson, 1977 Rod Carew, 1985 Don Mattingly."

So, for all its frustrations and shenanigans, Ebay can help balance the sadness of losing cards to sustenance and responsible grown up behavior.

"The good news is you're healthy, the bad news is this doctor's visit will cost you the equivalent of a Willie McCovey rookie in near mint condition."


Package:  000 Bubble-lite mailer (Approx: 5x8 inches)
Postage Listed on Package:  Not shown
Postage Paid By Buyer: $7.00 ($3.00 first card, .25 each additional card)
Total Cost of Cards: $29.00 (includes the $7.00 shipping cost)
Total Number of Cards Purchased:  17
Date Purchased: 12/22/09
Date Received: 12/24/09 (Note: Seller lives within 100 miles)
Signature Required: No

Card Packaging:  One Packet.  All cards were in a sealed team bag. Within the bag there was a top loader on top, cards penny sleeved in the middle, and a top loader on bottom.  No cards were without a sleeve.  The packaging was a traditional and highly effective method.

Card Packaging Rating: (1-10 scale: 1 worst, 10 best): 9

Cost: $1.00
Details:  1968 Topps #90
Card Comment:  One of the least attractive sets of the sixties.

Pinson had 2757 lifetime hits with 256 hr, 305 stolen bases, and a .286 batting average.  His career was quite similar to Al Oliver and Bill Buckner.  They were players every team was happy to have in the lineup.  They were cogs. Heat up some Pinson, sprinkle in some Olivers, add a dash of Buckner, and Tada!  You have a far above average meal.

When you factor in that Pinson played most of his career in center field, his statistics mean even more.

Pinson's best season came in 1961 when he hit .343 with 208 hits and 16 home runs.  He won a gold glove that year and finished third in the MVP voting.

Pinson is one of those players I like to pick up while buying others.  He is always affordable and had a very nice career.

Cost: $1.00
Details:  1963 Topps #43
Card Comment:  I dislike most modern combo-cards, but I tend to love old cards with multiple players.

This card looks much better to the naked eye.

"The key to being a good manager is keeping the people who hate me away from those who are still undecided." -Stengel

Cost: $1.00
Details:  2003 Topps Chrome #426 (s/n: #205/699)
Card Comment:  Shiny and blue can never be bad.

After watching Upton hit seven home runs in the 2008 playoffs leading up to the World Series, I couldn't help but become a fan.

I expected a massive season from him in 2009.  In fact, he was part of the reason I predicated the Rays would finish second in the division and earn a wild card slot.

Upton's 2009 season turned out to be highly disappointing on many levels.  His power (just 11 hr) and batting average (.241) were far below expectations.  Worse though, his walks dropped from 97 in 2008, to just 57 in 2009.  His OPS has now decreased by 100 or so points for a couple seasons (.894, .784, .686).  He will be just age 25 in 2010 but it will be an important season in his career.

His brother Justin Upton is looking like the player I hoped B.J. would be.  At age 21, Justin has a brighter future than B.J..  But I never get to watch Justin play so I'm sticking with his older brother.  Brothers rule.



Cost: $1.00
Details:  2004 Leaf #15 (s/n: #35/35)
Card Comment:  This is a picture I don't recall seeing often.

What exactly is going on behind Frank?  Is it me or does that look like the local small town Sheriff guiding a witness around the infield dirt?

At any rate, the crime scene can wait.  An evidential dig site is secondary to Frank taking a fantastic swing!

I've run out of time.  Back soon with more of this batch of happy.

Sunday, December 27, 2009

Cal Ripken Sr. - What? - Not Junior?

Ball in mid air?  Check.  Serious look on face?  Check.  Red ink?  Check.

Yes the card is way off-center.  I like to think that means the person who obtained this auto was just a fan, not a guy trying to make a buck at the time.  That's my positive spin and I'm sticking to it.

I had a tough time tracking down a reasonably priced Ripken Sr. auto that was certified.  When I saw this one a few years back the quest was finally over.

Saturday, December 26, 2009

My First Photo Attempt - Orioles

Hi!  Hope you all had fun on Christmas.  Lotsa fat lootz?

I got a new digital camera!  I've never owned one of these futuristic devices.  I'm still fiddling with it but I love how easy it is to use.  One thing that seems strange is the batteries only last like twenty minutes.  I'm thinking (hoping) that I just had bad batteries.  That's an awfully short lifespan if that's the case.

I did manage to get a shot of one of my favorite O's auto cards.  Go Orioles! (go where?):

Thursday, December 24, 2009

1981 Topps: Uncommon Commons

I recently picked up about 450 Topps cards from the 1981 set.  If commons are always this fun, color me common:

A lot of you have asked me for an update on Gordy.  As far as I know, Gordy is doing fine.

Here's an interesting stat on Gordy: if Gordy had played from 1979-2000, Gordy's career would have spanned four different decades.  That is a very rare accomplishment.  Unfortunately, nobody gave Gordy a major league contract after 1982, and although Gordy toiled for one more season in the minors (1983), Gordy ultimately had to do what was best for Gordy, so Gordy retired.   

Vuckovich doesn't go in for tomfoolery.  He looks absolutely disgusted.  There's no laughing in baseball.  In fact, there's no fun at all.   

Hm, almost, but not quite right.

Perfect.  Here's the Olan Mills photo shot we've all been looking for.  Believe it or not, Hutton and Underwood are back to back in the set (#374, #373).

One more Yearbook pose.  Stay cool this summer.


"Keith!  Keith!  Keith!  Mr. Hernandez!  Mr. Hernandez!  Can we have your autograph?  Keith!  Mr. Hernand--oh he's gone.  Wait here he comes again.  Keith!  Keith!  Keith!"

"Keith!  Mr. Hernandez!  KEITH!  KEITH! KEITH!"

"I'm not Keith for chrissakes!  He JUST walked by!  I'm Ken Reitz!  R-E-I-T-Z!  Sheesh!  It's everyday with you people!"

Oh no, his hat fell off.  That hardly happens to anyone in the majors.  Actually, I don't remember EVER seeing a pitcher lose his hat from a windup.  I like when photographers capture rare moments.

Oh come on!  You've got to be kidding me.  This happened every pitch?  That's ridiculous.  He's the one guy who can't adjust his hat so it stays on his head?  Now I desperately want to see some footage of the windup that caused this ongoing goofiness.

Mr. "Dennis Lamp" broke rule number one regarding the Witness Protection Program:  keep a low profile.

You never know who might be hiding on a baseball field.