Archive for the ‘product reviews’ Category

fun and games: Baseball Boss

April 2, 2009

If your understanding of what exactly constitutes a “baseball card” is anywhere close to mine, you may often find yourself trying to wrap your brain around the concept of “virtual baseball cards.” Don’t get me wrong, I absolutely love reading other blogs that feature other collectors’ original trading card designs and retooled retro tribute artwork. In fact, I’m often guilty of that same creative process myself. However, each time I complete a design, or see a virtual card online, the thought that invariably creeps into my head is, “Well, that’s nice. Now what are you going to do with it?”

Let’s face it, the chances of a major trading card company picking up on a design style created by an “outsider” seems slim at best. Giving that designer credit or compensation then, would appear to be even less likely. Thus, if no one is ever going to actually print any of these unique cards, what purpose could they ever possibly serve?

Here is one positive application.

The brain trust behind Challenge Games has developed a nifty online baseball simulation game that utilizes virtual baseball cards as a major element of their product known as Baseball Boss. I was just introduced to this intriguing online game a short while ago, and I can already confirm that it is, well… completely addictive. If you like collecting baseball cards, the thrill of opening packs to see what you will get, and possess even the slightest interest in the history of baseball, I suggest you clear your social calendar.

The basic premise behind Baseball Boss is that you collect virtual baseball cards using various methods available within the application. That sounds like a fun time, right? Wait, there’s more! You use these virtual baseball cards to build a team (or teams) of your favorite players spanning the entire history of major league baseball. Once you have built your team(s) to your satisfaction, you enter into a fabulous cyber world of simulated games against teams from all across the globe. (I don’t think anyone is playing this game aboard the International Space Station… YET!) Baseball Boss features a number of different head to head play modes ranging from single game scrimmages; 3, 5 and best of 7-game challenges; and league play.

You are awarded tickets for playing other teams. You will want to beat those teams like an old carpet hanging over a clothesline. Tickets are currency that can be exchanged for more virtual packs, boxes and cases of virtual cards. Members are also encouraged to make TRADES with other owners, and Baseball Boss even contains an auction house where you can pretend that you have been unleashed on eBay with a monstrous PayPal balance.

Before I continue, I should point out that this game is FREE! It costs you nothing to sign up, get a few packs of virtual baseball cards and set up a team that is ready to begin playing. It is also true that you probably could have been doing all of this in less time that it has taken you to read this far. For those of you high rollers who don’t like to do things that don’t cost anything, the accommodating folks at Challenge Games have also installed various options for anyone who would like to give them some money. I’ll let you discover those options at your own pace.


The virtual Simpsons-themed baseball cards featured here are an example of a new product that was released to unsuspecting Baseball Boss members on Wednesday, April 1st. Throughout the month of April, you can challenge a team called the Springfield Nukes to a head to head match up. Each time you defeat them, you get to add one of 14 limited “Homer at the Bat” inspired virtual cards to your collection. These 14 cards include 9 Major League Baseball players such as Ken Griffey Jr., Jose Canseco, Darryl Strawberry and the great and powerful Ozzie Smith, as well as 5 cards featuring the online game developers. Collect all 14 and you also win another pack of virtual baseball cards to help beef up your team.


The Baseball Boss marketing folks have described their unique product as “iTunes meets baseball cards.” In doing so, I believe they have sold themselves short. Instead, I would describe the concept as 1910s Baseball Game Reproducer meets Strat-O-Matic for a pick-up Wiffleball tournament inside a Marx Toys warehouse that is raided by the entire membership of the Society for American Baseball Research just as Goose Joak begins singing the National Anthem. This definitely isn’t your father’s fantasy baseball! I do believe that I already mentioned it is FREE to register to participate in Baseball Boss, so once again I am astounded to discover that you are still reading this instead of checking out the website for yourself.


The only reason I can think of that you are still hanging on is the hope that I will provide you with a peek at a little of the game action. Okay, you’ve earned it. But just a peek!


If you are thinking that I may have set up a baseball diorama and taken photos to mess with your head, I appreciate that you believe I have that much free time at my disposal. In virtual reality, this image shows you a still of the LIVE ACTION of Brady Anderson hitting a sacrifice fly to center field in the bottom of the 11th inning to plate Bobo Osborne. This run resulted in a win for relief pitcher Mike Fetters of the Albuquerque Aardvarks (my team) while Charlie Haeger got charged with the loss. How about that scoreboard? If you like virtual baseball cards, you are going to be a huge fan of this scoreboard. While the live game action isn’t “perfect,” it remains highly entertaining.


This is a fragment of the series summary page. This gives you line scores of each game, as well as hitting and pitching leader boards for the series. Full box scores are available and usually quite interesting to read. You’ll need to provide your own Cracker Jack, but otherwise, Baseball Boss has you covered.

If you aren’t sold on this game yet, let me add that the simulations can run year-round, and are not impacted by the dreaded All-Star break, player walkouts, owner lockouts or winter. It is like a perfect world made better! Baseball Boss comes complete with official licensing from MLB Advance Media and permission from the Major League Baseball Players Alumni Association, so you can trust that it is the real deal.

Drop me a line when you get your team registered. I am looking forward to completing some virtual trades with you readers, and I will eagerly accept all challenges.

– Kris

2007 ogden raptors team set review

March 14, 2009

2007 Ogden Raptors
Official Score – DOUBLE
Manufacturer: Grandstand
Retail price: $ tough luck

The Ogden Raptors were the 2007 Pioneer League affiliate of the Los Angeles Dodgers. The Raptors finished the 2007 season in third place of the South Division with a record of 34 wins against 41 losses. The Rookie League players included on the Raptors roster ranged from 18 to 25 years old.

There is no printed checklist for this team set. While compiling a comprehensive list for this review, the thought occurred that many of you might scan the entire list without recognizing a single name. I guess one of my pet peeves while watching videos of box breaks of current Topps and Upper Deck products is when the collector reviewing the cards expresses disdain for the manufacturers because they don’t know who some of the players are. The funny part is that those collectors are failing to accept the responsibility to actually follow the sport well enough to recognize players who have already appeared in major league games. Prospects are not grown on major league benches. Instead, they are raised in minor league farm systems. Of course YOU already know this, or you probably wouldn’t be reading this blog.

Here then is the official checklist of the 2007 Ogden Raptors baseball card team set.

1 – [52] Craig Bjornson (pitching coach)
2 – [6] Bobby Blevins (p)
3 – [47] Rodney Brantley (p)
4 – [23] Doug Brooks (p)
5 – [22] Jeremy Brown (of)
6 – [45] Johnny Caraballo (p)
7 – [8] Jeff Carter (manager)
8 – [37] Henry Cruz (hitting coach)
9 – [9] Parker Dalton (if)
10 – [34] Chales Dasni (p)
11 – [36] Wilfredo Diaz (p)
12 – [3] Justin Fuller (if)
13 – [31] Austin Gallagher (if)
14 – [49] Alex Garabedian (c)
15 – [41] Kalen Gearhart (p)
16 – [12] Tim Gray (p)
17 – [10] Michael Gardner (p)
18 – [16] Jonathan Haldis (p)
19 – [15] Elian Herrera (if)
20 – [50] Kenley Jansen (c)
21 – [5] Erik Kanaby (of)
22 – [51] Paul Koss (p)
23 – [43] Kristopher Krise (p)
24 – [14] Given Kutz (p)
25 – [40] Matt Sartor (p)
26 – [35] Brian Mathews (if)
27 – [33] Jessie Mier (c)
28 – [21] Jaime Pedroza (if)
29 – [‘07] Tycen PoVey (of)
30 – [27] Jovanny Rosario (of)
31 – [11] Cal Stanke (p)
32 – [26] Travis Vetters (of)
33 – [29] Matt Wallach (if)
34 – [‘07] Cody Cure (strength coach)
35 – [‘07] Pete Hite (trainer)
36 – [‘07] Oggie (mascot)

I am not including a scan of the Raptors dinosaur mascot “Oggie.” I don’t care for mascots. Baseball insiders will tell you that mascots are needed to keep children interested. While I’m not buying into that argument, I did have to laugh when I read Oggie’s bio and discovered that his hobby is “eating children” because “They Taste Like Chicken.” The Ogden marketing staff must suffer many sleepless nights given that they have a mascot that consumes their youngest fan base.

One non-player card that almost earned an appearance in this review was that of strength and conditioning coach Cody Cure. He would have made the cut had he been the team’s athletic trainer. However, New Mexican Pete Hite had already filled that position.

This team set consists of a total of 31 player cards, including 15 pitchers, 3 catchers, 8 infielders, and 5 outfielders. Although each of the five outfielders is depicted on offense, there is plenty of variety in the action, backgrounds and uniforms to make sure that there is no feeling of redundancy. Leading off for the outfielders is this card of Jovanny Rosario captured in the process of preparing to slap a bunt down a third base line.


Even within the eight-card infielder subset, the angles and backgrounds are so varied that you’ll likely have to look two or three times to notice that 75 percent of the players are wearing the same style of uniform. Jaime Pedroza is not among the majority.


The three catcher cards included 2007 Ogden Raptors team set exhibit a considerable level of variation in all areas. A representative sample of cards for this position is this offering of Alex Garabedian.


Selecting one of fifteen cards of pitchers to feature was never easier than with this team set. If I were to compile a starting lineup of baseball players that share my name (as has been the recent rage of baseball card bloggers Kevin, Billy, Greg, Jim, Steve, Harold and Paul), I would be certain to name Kristopher Krise my team kaptain. But fear not, I’ve never been much of a joiner.


Next up, Henry Cruz. What do you know, a former big leaguer. Cruz actually only played in the majors for part of four seasons. The rest of his playing career was spent in the minors and in Puerto Rico. The Cleveland Indians also employed Henry Cruz for a decade as a scout. Cruz hit .353 for the Albuquerque Dukes in 1977 before he was released by the Los Angeles Dodgers, and was signed by the Chicago White Sox.


Surface treatment of the cards is a semi-gloss that requires no surface preparation prior to asking politely for an autograph. Photo credits for this team set are given to Noall Knighton. Overall, I believe Mr. Knighton did a very good job of photographing the Raptors. You can tell that he didn’t take all of the photos from the same location, and that really helps fans get a feel for the home ballpark.

The backs consist of four-color printing over a white background with a stylized grey baseball seam and short bios. There are no stats on the backs of these cards, but paleontologists around the globe are salivating over the presence of the Ogden logo that features a cartoonish green raptor. You were expecting what, a caveman?

Only time will tell how far many of these players advance through the system, but it is reasonable to assume that as many as half may play in Albuquerque within the next few seasons.

Possibly you can still pick up a 2007 Ogden Raptors team set at the team shop at Lindquist Field the next time you find yourself traveling through Utah. No need wasting your valuable internet time searching for it on their website though- they don’t offer them. Your best bet is to purchase one on the secondary market, where you should expect to shell out between $15 and $19 plus shipping.

– Kris

2007 jacksonville suns team set review

February 19, 2009

2007 Jacksonville Suns
Official Score – leadoff SINGLE
Manufacturer: Grandstand
Sponsor: Jacksonville Sports Cards, Comcast, 102.9 the point
Retail price: That ship has sailed.

Again, the Jacksonville Suns served as the Double-A affiliate of the Los Angeles Dodgers during the 2007 season. Of course if you are searching for individual players, that shouldn’t matter in the slightest. The 2007 Jacksonville Suns team set includes eleven pitchers, two catchers, seven infielders, four outfielders, and six* manager/coach/trainer cards. What, no checklist? That’s right. I don’t think the folks at Grandstand know what a checklist is.

1 – [43] Brian Akin (p)
2 – [29] Luke Allen (of)
3 – [14] Alberto Conception (c)
4 – [41] Eric Cyr (p)
5 – [44] Danny Darwin (pitching coach)
6 – [9] Cory Dunlap (if)
7 – [17] Scott Elbert (p)
8 – [15] A.J. Ellis (c)
9 – [25] Juan Gonzalez (if)
10 – [36] Zach Hammes (p)
11 – [13] Chin-lung Hu (if)
12 – [54] William Juarez (p)
13 – [45] John Lindsey (if)
14 – [8] Luis Maza (if)
15 – [23] Marshall McDougall (if)
16 – [5] Mike Megrew (p)
17 – [22] Jonathan Meleon (p)
18 – [50] Alvis Ojeda (p)
19 – [34] Justin Orenduff (p)
20 – [6] Xavier Paul (of)
21 – [11] Anthony Raglani (of)
22 – [7] Matt Riley (p)
23 – [40] Jimmy Rohan (if)
24 – [26] Wilkin Ruan (of)
25 – [12] Luis Salazar (hitting coach)
26 – [12] John Shoemaker (manager)
27 – [16] Wesley Wright (p)
28 – [‘07] Trevor Dorian (strength coach)
29 – [‘07] Yosuke Nakajima (trainer)
30 – Marty McCall (proprietor – Jacksonville Sports Cards)


* Note: the final card in the “manager/coach/trainer” subset features the owner of Jacksonville Sports Cards, whom I’ve arbitrarily designated as the team’s official baseball card coach. Every ballclub should have one! Normally I will not feature scans of non-player cards as part of my team set reviews, but given that this fellow runs a card shop and appears to have sponsored the team’s card set giveaway, I’ve decided to give him the nod. The bio on the back of Marty’s card indicates that he has a green thumb- something I can certainly identify with.

You don’t get a lot of variation in the cards featuring outfielders. Ruan and Raglani are pictured in the batters box, Allen appears to be running out a pop fly, and here is a scan of Xavier Paul taking a conservative lead off third base. I have no idea what it is, but something appears to have been distracting the majority of the fans along the third base line when this photo was taken.


The cards of infielders exhibit considerably more variation than the outfielders. Four of the players are depicted in the field while the other three are hitting and/or base running. For those of you who have placed a wager that I will be including a scan of Chin-Lung Hu from this set, you need to pay your bookie. Instead, I present John Lindsey’s card due to the rare horizontal alignment. This team set also includes a horizontal card of manager John Shoemaker “helping” an umpire be the best that he can be.


Both cards of catchers in the 2007 Jacksonville Suns set are keepers! Both are typical of the overall nice photography that helps make this team set fun to flip through. Ellis in full gear and a huge smile walking from the dugout to the plate gets bumped so I can feature Alberto Concepcion, Jr., who played for the Albuquerque Isotopes for part of the 2008 season.


Without question, the cards of pitchers vary the most from one another as fans are treated with a few posed headshots, and a number of action photos. Although all of the action photos are mound shots, the angles vary enough to keep the photos from becoming stale, and there are even a few that appear to have been taken at night (for those of you into that sort of thing). In deciding which pitcher card to feature, I chose Alvis Ojeda’s in order to highlight his Dodger blue glove.


The card backs consist of typical player stats, short bios and company logos printed over a muted image of a glove and a few baseballs. Easily read, but nothing to get excited about. Graphers in the southwestern United States should note that thirteen cards in this team set feature players that could end up on the 2009 Albuquerque Isotopes Opening Day roster

You can purchase this 30-card 2007 Jacksonville Suns team set online, but not directly from the team. Instead, you are looking at dropping between $8 and $13 per set (plus shipping) on the secondary market. I would say that anything in that range is a fair price for this set.

– Kris

Hu’s on second (sometimes)

January 18, 2009

Granted, it would have been more accurate if I had entitled this post “Hu’s on Short,” since that is where Chin-lung Hu spends the majority of his time on the diamond, but it didn’t sound as funny. The awful truth is that for the past season or so, Chin-lung Hu hasn’t been spending nearly enough quality time on first, which is the main reason I’ve chosen to stock up on his baseball cards – my belief that he will open the 2009 season in Albuquerque.

I also wanted to use Dr. Hu’s cards as visual supplements to this second installment of my understanding of the 2008 Topps Stadium Club baseball card product line. I am confident that such a discussion would be completely useless using words alone. I remain unconvinced that the visual aids are going to help all that much either.

As of this moment, I really only technically need one card of one player (Carlos Quentin) before I stick the proverbial fork in this turkey. One thing I need to decide is whether I will hang onto my duplicates to offer in trade, or dump them on eBay while there is still any demand for bunches of these cards.

At any rate, here we go… again.

There are 150 non-autographed cards listed on the printed checklist that Topps inserted into seemingly every fourth pack. That is the portion of the set I am discussing here. Cards 1 through 100 include images and stats of veteran players and dead guys. After that, things get a little more complex.

I have yet to see for myself, hear, or read of anyone finding a plain old base card for cards with numbers that are evenly divisible by “three.” That is not to say that they don’t exist. In fact, I suspect they do exist, and either have been, or will be distributed unevenly among major Topps stockholders in an effort to talk them down from window ledges.

Thus, the “base” cards with numbers evenly divisible by three appear to be those bearing the foil 1st Day Issue stamp. Hold the phone, there are short-printed, non-1st Day Issue versions of these cards, and they are serial numbered to 999 on the back. There are also serial-numbered (to 599) short print 1st Day Issue foil-stamped parallels of the rest… I think. I’m not sure because I didn’t purchase a hobby box.

Still with me?

Good. Now let’s examine the Rookies (numbered 101 – 150). Keeping in mind that the aforementioned “rules” of the veterans and corpses more or less also apply to the Rookies, there is the added twist that each Rookie card has two different images. Time to bust out some scans…

First, this is the base card for Dodgers shortstop Chin-lung Hu (card no. 133-a). For those of you who haven’t gone to the fridge for beer, 133 / 3 = 44.33333333etc. Thus, we’ll have none of that “power of three” nonsense with this card.


Nice photo of Hu poised to make a ghost tag of second base after receiving the ball from the third baseman to kick off a typical major league double play. Nothing up the sleeve so far! This is what the back of this card looks like.


Here is a scan of Chin-lung’s variation (no. 133-b-690/999). Moderately short-printed and serial numbered on the back to 999, I think I could have dealt with this set if the madness had ended here. As you can see, the photo is significantly different from the base variation type “a.” However, the backs of the two cards are identical (ignoring the serial number).


Next up is the 1st Day Issue foil stamp variation of the card we just examined. I’m calling this thing no. 133-b-1d. One item I noticed while looking at this photo is how far Hu is outside of the batter’s box. I wonder if that has anything at all to do with his plummeting batting average.


So far, each of the three cards exhibits the same back (again, overlooking the foil serial number where present), and all three are identical in all other dimensions… width, height and thickness.

Thickness? Oh no!

Because I can, and since the checklist provided by Topps is completely lacking in any real information, I have arbitrarily numbered this next card 133-a-1d-T-187/599. Similar to the base card in many ways, this specimen is also quite unique. Yes, it bears the silver 1st Day Issue foil stamp on the front. It is also serial-numbered in gold foil on the back. Less obvious from the scan is the fact that this card is mounted on some sort of foam board, making it approximately as thick as two and a half of the regular cards- justifying the “T” in my numbering system. I believe these variations are only available in hobby boxes…


Now do you have it? That is unfortunate, because I’m not finished.

I can’t imagine that there are fifty collectors foolish enough to attempt building a master set of these cards, but if there are, I have bad news for one of you. I have in my possession a gold foil, serial-numbered (to 50) photographer’s proof card of Chin-ling Hu, and do not anticipate ever releasing it back into circulation. Here then is a scan of Hu’s 133-b-PP-44/50.


So we have every reason to believe that there are at least five cards for each of the 50 rookies. Other variations that MAY exist include a gold photographer’s proof variation for the base card (133-a-PP-##/50), blue foil photographer’s proof cards for one or both variations, and possibly even photographer’s proof cards for both variations also stamped with the 1st Day Issue silver foil stamp- although that seems like overkill.

For the life of me, I can’t understand why anyone would ever think that anyone else would want to build a set of what, some 450+ cards of only 150 players. I currently have 201 “different” cards, and this exercise stopped being entertaining about, oh, 75 cards ago. I am beginning to think that the proper thing would be to drop the entire mess onto eBay and let some other poor bastard deal with them.

I can’t wait to begin hearing about any error cards that may have been released for this set. It should be fascinating! I’m also on pins and needles waiting to read that someone has discovered a card that features a different back.

I’m not positive, but seem to recall that Chin-lung Hu is one of those players that will sign one card per person per day or game. That’s fine. If that proves to be the case, I already have enough of his cards to last through the 2009 All-Star break. But please keep offering them in trade as I can always exchange them with fellow graphers at Isotopes Park. Besides, players often tend to become “better signers” as they begin putting up better numbers, and I can’t think of a ballpark in the United States that will prove more beneficial to Hu while working on his power stroke.

For the record, I like Chin-lung Hu’s 2008 Upper Deck Goudey card more than any of his cards in the 2008 Topps Stadium Club baseball series.

– Kris

rock the wells with cards of non-sport

December 24, 2008

Season’s Greetings from your bloggin’ buddies at Aardvark Trading Company!


Hopefully you are reading this because you are completely finished with all of your holiday preparations, as opposed to using Cards in the Attic simply to avoid wrapping those last few presents and getting them under the tree where they belong. I’ve either completed all of my Krismas tasks with time to spare, or I’ve forgotten to do something altogether. Whatever the case, I might as well take advantage of that time to highlight a 15-year-old set of trading cards that happen to contain a little holiday charm.

The Curtis Publishing Company released the 90-card set of Norman Rockwell Collector Cards (Series 1) in 1993. The cards consist of old covers of The Saturday Evening Post that featured Norman Rockwell paintings and illustrations. The painting above of Santa plotting his gift route was used on the magazine cover published December 16, 1939. I’m sure all you keen-eyed readers had already begun questioning why the fat man had skipped over New Mexico entirely, but rest easy- I didn’t live here (or anywhere for that matter) in 1939, so no harm.

Classifying these cards as non-sport was tough given that nearly one quarter of the cards in the set are related to one or more sports- including baseball, football, horse racing, fishing, weight lifting, swimming, diving, golf, hiking, light outdoors recreation, camping, checkers and marbles. If you aren’t aware that “marbles” is a sport, I recommend sitting down with your grandfather (or his dad) at some point and having a LONG talk. Be sure to ask him about the first time he lost his marbles over some girl as depicted in this painting featured on September 2, 1939.


The 2003 Norman Rockwell Collector Cards set contains five cards that deal specifically with baseball. I am not going to include them all here because I am a firm believer in the joy that comes from personal, first-hand discovery.


Wouldn’t you agree that this painting captures many of the components that are GOOD about the game of baseball? Even though tiny Timmy is calling for the pitcher (let’s assume it is his father) to deliver the ol’ slurve in order to make gramps look silly, it would be next to impossible to not bust the elderly gentleman with a pitch high and inside just to watch him dance like a sugarplum fairy. After all, it’s nobody’s fault but his own if his pocket watch gets broken as it dangles unprotected over the plate. Appearing on the cover on the August 5, 1916 issue of The Saturday Evening Post, this was the third of Rockwell’s illustrations to be used by the magazine. Rockwell was 22 at the time.


It is difficult to make out from this scan, so you’ll have to take my word that this Saturday Evening Post cover from July 3, 1939 reads “100th Year of Baseball.” The painting is fantastic, and I wonder if the baseball article inside is as well written. My guess is that the article should be avoided by anyone not aligned with the Abner Doubleday camp.


This card is one of my favorites in the set. I’d be willing to bet that the majority of you have even seen this image before, as it is quite popular. And why wouldn’t it be? Titled “Bottom of the Sixth,” this painting used on the cover on April 23, 1949 features major league umpires Larry Goetz, Beans Reardon (seriously) and Lou Jorda pondering “what if” as the skies appear to be ready to open up above Brooklyn’s Ebbets Field. More humor is provided along the right side of the painting as Pirates skipper Bill Meyer and Dodgers coach Clyde Sukeforth conduct their own meeting of the minds. I will have to defer to the Night Owl to make the call as to whether or not this constitutes a night game. (Trivia buffs make note that it was “Sukey” who managed Jackie Robinson’s first major league game in 1947. Four years later, it was Sukey’s decision to send Ralph Branca to the mound to face Bobby Thompson in the infamous ninth inning of the third game of the National League playoffs.) This card is a MUST HAVE for Dodgers fans!

A single foil pack contained 10 cards; a full box included 48 packs. While I have seen hand collated sets available on eBay ranging between 9 and 19 dollars, I would recommend picking up a full box for probably right around the same amount of lettuce and building at least one full set. A factory-sealed box also provides an opportunity to pull one or more of these interesting “wood” inserts.


The inserts appear to be printed on a micro-veneer of wood, yet the backs are lined with paper, so I really don’t know what they are all about. A second series released in 1995 contained a short run of chrome Santa Claus card inserts. If you pick up a box of Series II, I would be happy to make some trades, as I don’t have any cards from that set.

Finally, in response to Dinged Corners’ Christmas request for current views of blogger landscapes, I offer the present condition of my Victory Garden that is kept under constant surveillance by my trusted, bodiless scarecrow “Gourdhead.”


Happy holidays to one and all!

– Kris

pandora’s blaster: 2008 topps stadium club

December 14, 2008

I really hadn’t intended to collect 2008 Topps Stadium Club cards, let alone build an entire set- that is, until fellow card bloggers and a national department store chain conspired to present me with an offer I was unable to refuse.


Fourteen blaster boxes later, yes fourteen, and I am still trying to completely wrap my brain around the short print situation and rookie card variations. In a nutshell, out of the 150-card checklist, if a card number is evenly divisible by 3, I do not have a single plain old, non-“1st Day Issue” card. PERIOD! So these must be short printed cards that are serial numbered on the back to 999? Okay, I pulled a couple of those (24 and 33).

I did pull 1st Day Issue parallel cards of most of the missing “power of three” cards, which would put me very close to have completed an entire set- albeit half-assed in reality. The sell sheets I’ve seen indicated that these 1st Day Issue parallel cards would be serial numbered short prints, but none of the ones I’ve pulled are. I don’t get it.

Furthermore, the rookie cards and their variations mock me. Thus I will be using scans of Garrett Mock’s card no. 109 in this discussion of my current understanding how those cards are supposed to exist.


Base rookie: Okay, this technically maybe isn’t a base card. Serial numbered 186/999, this Garrett Mock “base” card seems to be a short print. It had been my understanding that each player has one regular card like this.


Base rookie – 1st Day Issue: Again, card no. 109, not serial numbered on the back, but includes the 1st Day Issue foil on the front. Simple enough.


Rookie variation: Also card no. 109, not serial numbered, and I thought these cards would NOT have a parallel 1st Day Issue counterpart. Although this is where another limb branches outward from my tree of confusion, it is not the end.

My main question is how are collectors supposed to know which is the base and which is the variation if we only pull a single card of a player? Actually, even when I pull two I don’t know which is “A” and which is “B.”



These two Gregorio Petit cards illustrate my multiplying confusion surrounding the 1st Day Issue parallels. I didn’t think the Rookie variation card was supposed to have a 1st Day Issue parallel, but clearly they do. At least some do. Neither of these cards is serial numbered short prints or anything like that. I just don’t know. Again, which is the “base,” and which is the variation? Why do I care? Maybe because it is wintertime and figuring this out is more entertaining than watching football.

I am of the opinion that the Rookie auto cards are fantastic. The autographs are on card and positioned as to not compete with the image.



I also really like the Beam Team cards even though I find the sticker autographs distracting and unappealing. (Note to Topps: Sharpies will write on plastic, so knock it off with the stickers already.) These stained glass “Shrinky Dinks” cards would really make for a great set all by themselves- preferably unautographed.


I have posted my “needs” list on the Aardvark Trading Company trade page which will make it easier to keep updated than to attempt to do so here in this blog entry. I will probably continue to chase this set as long as the price is right, but rest assured- I already have enough duplicates, triplicates, and quadruplicates to keep me in trading stock until the Cubs manage to win a World Series.


Finally, here is a scan of an Albert Pujols Photographer’s Proof card (serial numbered 48/99) that I will probably end up trading to a rabid Pujols collector. It is neat and all, but it probably belongs in a collection where it will be appreciated more than it will in mine.

At any rate, please do not hesitate to leave comments or email your thoughts on the issues I’ve discussed, or to make trade offers after reviewing my 2008 Topps Stadium Club Baseball want list.

– Kris

2007 iowa cubs team set review

August 12, 2008

2007 Iowa Cubs team set
Official Score – RBI TRIPLE
Manufacturer: MultiAd Sports
Sponsor: Post
Retail price: $9.99

Regardless of what the printed 30-card checklist says, there is no Sean Marshall card in this set. There is, however, a card of Neal Cotts that was not listed.

1 – Felix Pie (of)
2 – Cory Bailey (p)
3 – Ronny Cedeno (inf)
4 – Rocky Cherry (p)
5 – Buck Coats (p)
6 – Neal Cotts (p)
7 – Mike Fontenot (p)
8 – Jim Henderson (p)
9 – Micah Hoffpauir (inf)
10 – Ben Howard (p)
11 – Mike Kinkade (3b)
12 – J.R. Mathes (p)
13 – Scott Moore (p)
14 – Matt Murton (of)
15 – Ryan O’Malley (p)
16 – Eric Patterson (inf)
17 – Carmen Pignatiello (p)
18 – Clay Rapada (p)
19 – Tony Richie (c)
20 – Geovany Soto (c)
21 – Chris Walker (of)
22 – Les Walrond (p)
23 – John Webb (p)
24 – Randy Wells (p)
25 – Buddy Bailey (manager)
26 – Mike Harkey (pitching coach)
27 – Von Joshua (hitting coach)
28 – Mike Mahoney (c)
29 – Bob Grimes (trainer)
30 – checklist (team photo)

The baseball cards in this team set appear to have been treated with the popular Sharpie-friendly clear coat finish. The Iowa Cubs went with Multi-Ad’s “Style O” template, and I believe it was a wise decision. The backs consist of two-color (black and blue) printing over white matte, player stats and short bios. A grayscale thumbnail image showing a cropped portion of the card front is included on the back of each card except the checklist. Thin cardstock? Does a potato have eyes?

Photo credits for this set include Chris Donahue, Scott Schutz and Larry Woolis. Once again the Iowa Cubs photographers have delivered a nice mixture of players wearing different uniforms, and employed a wide variety of backgrounds. The background on Matt Murton’s card not only matches his hair, but also is so different from the rest of the set that it leaps to the top of the pile as one of the best.

Obviously not content by appearing on only a single card, Murton also makes a cameo appearance in the background of Tony Richie’s card. Nicely done Matt!

This shot of Felix Pie is representative of the quality photographs used throughout the set. Frozen mid stride, Pie appears to be watching a towering fly ball, perhaps watching to see if it crosses the outfield fence in fair or foul territory.

Eric Patterson’s card is one of only three position players depicted in defensive mode. It is fabulous, so I’m not sure why they didn’t include more like it in the set.

I-Cubbies fans that like cards of pitchers pitching will delight in the fact that there are nine included in the set. These Randy Wells and Carmen Pignatiello cards should give you a great idea of what to expect in that department.

And just to mix it up a little, check out this card of Ben Howard…

Baseball purists who enjoy cards of pitchers laying down sacrifice bunts will have to look elsewhere for their kicks. The only card of a pitcher using a bat is the one of Les Walrond who seems to have been captured right after lacing a double into the gap in left-center. RUN LES!!!!

One of the more intriguing cards included in the 2007 Iowa Cubs team set is of manager Buddy Bailey explaining life to a PCL umpire. I’m not including a scan of this card simply because I wouldn’t want Buddy Bailey to ever get angry enough to yell at me. If you want to see this card, I recommend that you call the friendly folks in the Iowa Cubs team shop (515.243.6111) and order an entire set. You won’t be disappointed.

While I haven’t seen any of these sets selling on the secondary market, I would expect one to fetch around $15. So I wouldn’t wait… order directly from the team. Actually, I just noticed that several of the old Iowa Cubs team sets are currently on sale online. At only $7.97 per set, you may end up feeling like you just bought a bitchin’ pair of stereo speakers from a couple of guys in a van circling the mall parking lot- but I think you’ll soon get over the guilt.

– Kris

2002 iowa cubs team set review

July 24, 2008

2002 Iowa Cubs team set
Official Score – BULLSEYE
Manufacturer: MultiAd Sports
Retail price: $9.99

Today I wanted to introduce you to one of the nicer Iowa Cubs team sets from the recent past. The card fronts exhibit classy, well-designed graphics that help highlight the Iowa Cubs logo. Player names are easily read, while the sometimes-lengthy position doesn’t take away from the overall look. The photography is very strong throughout due to the keen eyes of Chris Donahue and Larry Woolis. Thanks guys!

This card of pitching coach Jerry Reuss is a nice example of the half-dozen headshots included in the 2002 Iowa Cubs team set.

The set begins with a 30-card checklist. This one features a photo of top prospect Mark Prior mid-pitch on the front. I always smile when I notice that a checklist has itself “checked off.” Nice touch!

1 – checklist (Mark Prior)
2 – Kimera Bartee (of)
3 – Jayson Bass (of)
4 – Alan Benes (p)
5 – Scott Chiasson (p)
6 – Hee Sop Choi (1b)
7 – Ivanon Coffie (inf)
8 – Will Cunnane (p)
9 – Courtney Duncan (p)
10 – Angel Echevarria (of)
11 – Mario Encarnacion (of)
12 – Ben Ford (p)
13 – Chris Gissell (p)
14 – Bobby Hill (inf)
15 – Mickey Lopez (inf)
16 – Pat Mahomes (p)
17 – Mike Mahoney (c)
18 – Adam Melhuse (c)
19 – Luis Ordaz (inf)
20 – Kevin Orie (inf)
21 – Mark Prior (p)
22 – Jesus Sanchez (p)
23 – Steve Sinclair (p)
24 – Mark Watson (p)
25 – Mike Wuertz (p)
26 – Julio Zuleta (of)
27 – Bruce Kimm (manager)
28 – Pat Listach (hitting coach)
29 – Jerry Reuss (pitching coach)
30 – Bob Grimes (trainer)

As you may have guessed, these MultiAd cards are minor league thin. However, the awesome matte finish on both surfaces makes the cards in the 2002 Iowa Cubs team set ideal for autograph seekers. The card backs exhibit two-color (black and blue) printing over a grayscale image of a baseball surrounded by grass. These cards will not disappoint collectors interested in player bios and stats.

You will find thirteen cards of pitchers in this set, ranging from Benes to Wuertz- and including the Mark Prior checklist in the count. An overwhelming majority of these cards feature pitchers on the mound. However, the backgrounds vary greatly from one card to the next, and they are cropped differently leaving you with a pleasing misperception that the sets contains more variability than it actually does. How about a couple of examples?

Jesus Sanchez was selected for inclusion in this post because I enjoy pictures of pitchers in the act of bunting. Call me easily entertained.

Another sure fire way for players to have their card featured on Cards in the Attic is to always have their tongue sticking out when someone snaps their photo. Just ask Pat Mahomes.

The 2002 Iowa Cubs team set contains two cards of catchers- Adam Melhuse and Mike Mahoney. In spite of the fact that world-renown photographer Anne Geddes wasn’t credited for this photo of Mike Mahoney and his daughter Aubrey, I’m relatively confident that she must have had something to do with the shot.

You will receive cards of 11 position players when you order your own 2002 Iowa Cubs team set. These can be further characterized as five cards of players in the field, two players running bases and only four hitters captured while swinging lumber. I’d say that is a nice mix.

Julio Zuletta collected his first major league hit off current Albuquerque Isotopes pitcher Steve Woodard on May 11, 2000.

This is a very nice card of infielder Bobby Hill. The light background makes it well suited for autographing, and the lighting utilized resulted in an image that can be employed by graphers to help identify Hill even in his street clothes.

Similar to Hill’s card, this shot of infielder Mickey Lopez is superb.

I haven’t found this particular team set to be readily available on the secondary market. If available, I would expect one to sell in the $12 to $15 range. The Iowa Cubs are on the ball by including this team set on their e-commerce site for only ten bucks.

– Kris

“the new phonebooks are here…”

July 20, 2008

Well okay, they are actually postage stamps, but they will make you feel like you’re somebody now. That is especially true for all of you baseball-crazed philatelists lurking out there in the interweb. I wouldn’t be at all surprised to discover that the person who has been reading this blog from NASA also collects stamps.

Possibly you are already aware of the fact that the US Post Office is celebrating the 100th birthday of the song “Take Me Out to the Ball Game” by featuring it on a first-class postage stamp. That’s pretty kool! My house is 100 years old, but something tells me the only way it will be featured on a stamp is if I create it myself using something like Zazzle.

I didn’t realize these things were coming out until I stopped into the post office yesterday to review the latest FBI wanted posters. I think the artwork (on the stamps) is first rate. The only things non-old-timey about this stamp are the self-adhesiveness and the rate. I suspect that in 1908 you could ship a piano from Joplin, Missouri to San Francisco for not much more that 42 cents. I’ve decided to not tempt fate with the USPS by including a scan of an entire stamp on my blog. After all, unlike Topps or Upper Deck, they know where I live!

Speaking of knowing where someone lives, you do realize that you can order these nifty baseball stamps online from the USPS, and they will deliver them to your doorstep- or at least to the next door neighbor’s house.

I tell you one thing friends, if Topps, MLB and the USPS ever pooled resources and came up with the concept of issuing a HUGE set of deceased baseball players on stamps designed to look like one of their baseball cards, I would start paying a lot more of my bills the old-fashioned way instead of online. Who knows, I might even begin to embrace those terrible Hallmark holidays.

– Kris

a case for allen & ginter

July 17, 2008

Who doesn’t remember their first pack of Topps Allen & Ginter baseball cards? Mine appeared in the form of a retail pack from Target during the onset of fall 2006. Intrigued by the wrapper, I knew I was hooked the moment I ripped the thing open (at home, not in the store!). As much as I liked the look and feel of those cards, I thought they were too expensive. The cards also went against one of my personal rules for collecting- namely investing in cards that I feel provide me with even the slightest chance of getting them autographed in person. As you recall, this product isn’t exactly loaded with minor leaguers. In fact, they probably have close to the same number of dead writers as minor league ballplayers. But I also like those, so there you go.

I got a hobby box of the ‘06 Allen and Ginter cards that year for Krismas, and I think I later picked up a blaster box. Still, I never attacked the set seriously. As a result, that set remains on my “To Collect” list.

Billy Butler (2007 – no. 147)

My approach to collecting the ‘07 set, however, was a fish of a completely different color. After suspending my self-imposed rule of collecting cards only to get them autographed, I assembled the entire set of the “regular-sized” cards, and have come within a half dozen or so of an entire set of the minis. I wouldn’t have been able to even complete the base set without having made a number of trades online with other baseball card bloggers and collectors utilizing a couple of baseball card trading message boards. I am of the opinion that the Allen & Ginter cards are the koolest issue since the 1975 Topps series!

Gustavo Molina (2007 – no. 334)

Every now and again, I will luck into getting one of these cards signed in person. As I’m sure you already determined for yourself, these cards look fantastic autographed! Sure, the certified autographed minis are a fun pull, but for my money you cannot beat the experience of meeting a player and watching him ink your card in person. You simply cannot pull that sort of thing from a pack, or a box, or a case.

Rich Hill (2007 – no. 193)

And now you find yourself in 2008, with more than half the pages missing from your calendar. How will YOU approach collecting the 2008 Allen & Ginter baseball cards? If you haven’t already formulated a plan in your head, I suggest you do so in the near future.

Chris Duncan (2007 – no. 301)

Several weeks ago, the masterminds behind Aardvark Trading Company invested in an entire case of the product. Don’t worry; we aren’t in a position to bust the entire thing ourselves. Instead, we will be selling sealed boxes to interested readers of this blog, and customers who navigate the internet to our website without ever having stumbled across our babblings here. With the cards scheduled for release at the beginning of next week, we hope to receive our case by Saturday, July 26th. We anticipate being able to begin shipping out boxes immediately after that. We are hoping that the people who purchase a box from us will let us and the other readers know of any interesting discoveries, and together through the power of the internet, we can study the anatomy of a case of baseball cards. Tell me you’ve never wondered…

Ryan Shealy (2007 – no. 67)

NOTICE (8/4/08): Our case never arrived! Please click HERE for an update…

Mike Rabelo (2007 – no. 69)

Whether you purchase your 2008 Topps Allen & Ginter cards from your local dealer, elsewhere online, or with the AMAZINGLY nice and creative folks at Aardvark Trading Company, you will be encouraged to trade cards with us as we build our personal sets and you work towards whatever goal you set for yourself. I will post a needs list on the TRADE portion of our website soon after I bust my first box- or possibly my second.

– Kris