Posts Tagged ‘Triple A baseball’

2009 albuquerque isotopes team set (P)review

June 17, 2009

SPOILER ALERT !!!!

If you already have tickets or otherwise plan to attend the Omaha Royals – Albuquerque Isotopes game on Thursday, June 18, 2009 and do not want to see images of the 2009 Albuquerque Isotopes team set before you have one in hand, DO NOT continue reading. Instead, you should revisit this post after the game if you are interested in my thoughts on the cards.

On the other hand, if you are in the area and trying to decide whether or not you want to go, I urge you to read on and keep in mind that team sets will be distributed for FREE to the first 3,000 fans through the turnstiles. After that, team sets will be available for purchase in the stadium team shop, or via the internet.

………..

2009 Albuquerque Isotopes team set
Official Score – COMPLETE GAME two hitter
Manufacturer: MultiAd Sports
SGA date: Thursday, June 18, 2009
Retail price: tbd

After setting the bar high with their 2008 team set, the Albuquerque Isotopes certainly delivered a first pitch strike by including a checklist on the back of the team photo card- the first of 35 cards in the 2009 team set. The team photo features a crisp, bright image with the players dressed in white uniforms.

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1 – Isotopes team photo (checklist)
2 – Tim Wallach (manager)
3 – John Moses (hitting coach)
4 – Jim Slaton (pitching coach)
5 – Greg Harrel (trainer)
6 – Giancarlo Alvarado (p)
7 – Danny Ardoin (c)
8 – Henry Bonilla (p)
9 – Dee Brown (out)
10 – Nick DeBarr (p)
11 – Blake DeWitt (inf)
12 – A.J. Ellis (c)
13 – Shawn Estes (p)
14 – Sergio Garcia (inf)
15 – Charlie Haeger (p)
16 – Jamie Hoffmann (out)
17 – Chin-Lung Hu (inf)
18 – Mitch Jones (out)
19 – Hector Luna (inf)
20 – Luis Maza (inf)
21 – Brian Mazone (p)
22 – James McDonald (p)
23 – Eric Milton (p)
24 – Valentino Pascucci (inf)
25 – Xavier Paul (out)
26 – Miguel Piñango (p)
27 – Dwayne Pollok (p)
28 – Stephen Randolph (p)
29 – Jason Repko (out)
30 – Jovanny Rosario (out)
31 – Scott Strickland (p)
32 – Erick Threets (p)
33 – Jeff Weaver (p)
34 – Sophie
35 – Orbit (mascot)

The cards are non-glossy, and therefore require no surface treatment prior to autographing. The 2009 Albuquerque Isotopes team set utilizes MultiAd’s “Style O” template on the front, and “Style 4” template on the back. Card backs consist of two-color (black and red) printing over white matte, with player stats and short bios. Player headshots on the card backs are essentially a cropped, greyscale version of the image depicted on the fronts.

The light grey borders help lighten the overall appearance of the cards. The set contains one card each of the Isotopes coaching staff, trainer, mascot* and fan favorite Sophie. Manager Tim Wallach and his coaching staff are all depicted in black jerseys. I find Jim Slaton’s card the more engaging of the non-player cards. This card demonstrates that random candid shots make for better baseball cards than posed headshots.

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(*There is a non-numbered variation of the mascot card that is not included in the official team set. In a nutshell, the second card was printed with the set, but will be distributed by Orbit during “personal” appearances. If you ABSOLUTELY HAVE to have one, I would recommend asking in the team shop if you can purchase an uncut sheet.)

The 28 player cards include a nice mixture of different uniforms that helps keep the team set interesting. This mixture includes nine black, eight white, six red and five Dodger blue uniforms. Uniform aficionados should note that the blue uniforms are only worn during Sunday home games. Similarly, the team set contains generous helpings of prospects and major league veterans.

Half of the player cards in the set feature pitchers. With the exception of Charlie Haeger, all were shot on the mound. That does get a little monotonous, and it would be nice to see a photo of a pitcher laying down a bunt or running the bases while wearing an Isotopes jacket. Here are three examples that best demonstrate a need for a little more variation when it comes to cards of pitchers.

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The 2009 Albuquerque Isotopes team set contains two cards of catchers. Both Danny Ardoin and A.J. Ellis are featured in full gear near the plate. Unfortunately, Ardoin was sent to the disabled list soon after being forced to bend down in order to fit into his awkwardly cropped photo.

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The six cards of Isotopes infielders contain the best action photography in the set. This card of Blake DeWitt is a great example of the level of play Isotopes fans are treated to game after game.

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“Determination” would be an apt title for the outfielders subset. Again, excellent photography persists as is obvious in this fantastic shot of Jovanny Rosario scrambling back into first base to avoid being picked off.

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Whether you are a casual fan or a hardcore baseball card collector constantly on the hunt for night cards, mid-air moments or even umpires, the 2009 Albuquerque Isotopes team set offers something for everyone. You can bet that baseball fans all across Dodgertown will show an interest in the 2009 Albuquerque Isotopes team set given that eight players included in the checklist have either already spent some time with the NL West leading parent club or are currently on board for what is proving a magical season. There is no reason to suspect that the list won’t continue to grow as the season progresses.

This is going to be a fun and challenging set to get autographed!

– Kris

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2008 albuquerque isotopes dav team set review

December 13, 2008

2008 Albuquerque Isotopes DAV team set
Official Score – seeing eye DOUBLE
Manufacturer: Disabled American Veterans (undetermined printer)
Sponsor: Disabled American Veterans
Retail price: FREE SGA– not available for purchase

I’d like to promise that this will be my final post about the Isotopes this year, but you never know. I definitely wanted to get this review completed this calendar year since the Isotopes and Marlins have parted ways, in order to clear the path for many posts dealing with new (and old) Isotopes and Dodgers connections.

DAV night at Isotopes Park took place on July 25, 2008. Official attendance that evening was recorded as 13,390 fans. Only the first few thousand fans through the turnstiles received this special limited edition 10-card team set. Between the free baseball cards and an Isotopes loss to the Sacramento Rivercats, there wasn’t a dry eye in the house.

Here’s the checklist.

1 – [195] John Baker (c)
2 – [196] Chris Barnwell (if)
3 – [197] Andrew Beattie (if)
4 – [198] Tagg Bozied (if)
5 – [199] John Gall (of)
6 – [200] Bobby Keppel (p)
7 – [201] Jai Miller (of)
8 – [202] Lorenzo Scott (of)
9 – [203] Taylor Tankersley (p)
10 – [204] Ross Wolf (p)

Most importantly, the 2008 Albuquerque Isotopes DAV team set included cards of three players that were not included in the regular 2008 Albuquerque Isotopes team set. They are as follows:

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Ross Wolf has made quite an impression on me over the last two seasons. Always a pleasure to talk to, and I can’t remember a conversation that I’ve had with him that didn’t end with him thanking ME for coming out to the ballpark.

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Taylor Tankersley pitched very well for during his stay(s) with the Isotopes in 2008. The Tank hurled 31 and two-thirds innings over 29 appearances, managing to keep his ERA at 1.71 in spite of a WHIP of 1.55. Taylor has one unique signature.

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Lorenzo Scott was one of two Isotopes players on the 2008 roster who shared my birthday. Again, that is a surefire method of having one’s cards highlighted on this blog. If I could run half as fast as Lorenzo, I would have been a track star.

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Tagg Bozied put together a great season for the Isotopes in 2008, hitting .306 with 36 dingers in 425 at bats. He was also one of the true characters on the team as is apparent in this video of Tagg Bozied announcing the starting lineups prior to one of the games.

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I’ve blogged about Chris Barnwell before, and it appears that the girls at Dinged Corners have a slight crush on him. I think I read that Chris is a free agent, but I’m not completely sure about that. Do you notice anything “missing” on Barnwell’s card? That’s right- a signature. Unfortunately Chris had to leave town for personal reasons right before the end of the 2008 season, so I didn’t get have the opportunity to tell him how much I enjoyed watching him hustle day in and day out. I’ll be sure to tell him the next time he passes through Albuquerque- then hit him up for an autograph.

Overall, the set includes a fair share of pitchers pitching, fielders fielding and hitters hitting. My only real complaint is that 80 percent of the cards depict players in black jerseys instead of spreading the love and representing the other uniforms worn throughout the season.

Card surfaces are a semi-gloss that required no treatment prior to autographing. I believe you can tell from the scans that the autographs add a great deal to the overall look of the cards. If you flip one or more of these cards over, you shouldn’t be surprised to find only the DAV ad mentioned in previous reviews of these limited edition team sets.

You cannot purchase these cards from the Isotopes team shop- online or in person. I did see one sell on eBay recently for just less than six bucks, so that could be an option. Probably if you put your thinking cap on, you would be able to think of one baseball card blogger who might just have an extra one of these sets (unautographed) available for trade…

– Kris

2008 salt lake bees dav team set review

December 10, 2008

2008 Salt Lake Bees DAV team set
Official Score – TWO RUN TRIPLE
Manufacturer: Disabled American Veterans (undetermined printer)
Sponsor: Disabled American Veterans
Retail price: FREE SGA– not available for purchase

The Salt Lake Bees are the Triple-A affiliate of the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim. A long-time member of the Pacific Coast League, the Bees play their home games at picturesque Franklin Covey Field, in Salt Lake City, Utah. If, like me, you guessed that Franklin Covey might be the name of a tough old mountain man who dedicated his life to hunting beaver along the streams that drain the nearby gorgeous Wasatch Mountains long before Brigham Young relocated his flock to the valley, you are wrong. Feel free to chuckle at my expense if you want as you click here to discover who (or what) Franklin Covey actually is.

Hopefully, you will find the names of Salt Lake players included in this team set more recognizable than the stadium’s namesake. I wonder why the set was split into two separate groups in the 2008 DAV minor league master set. It appears that the DAV could have utilized one or more of Franklin Covey’s planning tools in order to avoid the numbering gap.

Here’s the checklist for the entire 29-card set.

1 – [32] Nick Adenhart (p)
2 – [33] Giancarlo Alvarado (p)
3 – [34] Jose Arredondo (p)
4 – [35] Erik Bennett (pitching coach)
5 – [36] Henry Bonilla (p)
6 – [105] Dee Brown (of)
7 – [106] Matt Brown (if)
8 – [107] Ryan Budde (c)
9 – [108] Jason Bulger (p)
10 – [109] Brad Coon (of)
11 – [110] Jim Eppard (hitting coach)
12 – [111] Terry Evans (of)
13 – [112] Nick Green (p)
14 – [113] Jeff Kennard (p)
15 – [114] Shane Loux (p)
16 – [115] Bobby Mitchell (manager)
17 – [116] Kendry Morales (if)
18 – [117] Kasey Olenberger (p)
19 – [118] Gary Patchett (if)
20 – [119] Adam Pavkovich (if)
21 – [120] Sean Rodriguez (if)
22 – [121] Freddy Sandoval (if)
23 – [122] Alex Serrano (p)
24 – [123] Coby Smith (of)
25 – [124] Rich Thompson (p)
26 – [125] Matt Wilhite (p)
27 – [126] Reggie Willits (of)
28 – [127] Bobby Wilson (c)
29 – [128] Brandon Wood (if)

Let’s get to the cards…

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While choosing which cards to highlight in this review, I had to decide between Kendry Morales and Dee Brown. Ultimately I went with Brown based on his willingness to sign autographs for fans without acting as if they have just asked him to jump-start their car in the middle of a hailstorm. That’s a beauty of a grass stain on Dee’s left knee. Those pants would certainly make for an interesting batch of game-used relic cards.

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Brandon Wood is one of those unpredictable players that you never can tell how they are going to react to an autograph request. Normally he will sign one item per fan per day without having much to say. Catch him away from the crowd and you might see him chat up a storm while signing a handful of cards. My take Wood is that he’s a nice kid who is still learning to deal with the pressure of having been billed as the next Cal Ripken Jr. before he was old enough to buy a beer. At any rate, this card is going to autograph quite nicely, and I plan on being there when that happens to thank him for his time.

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Hey, Jason Bulger makes an appearance in consecutive posts. This is starting to get out of control. Bulger is one of a dozen pitchers included in this set. While a few of the faces are obscured by shadows, all but two of the photos are serviceable. All but two of the cards featuring non-pitching players depict the players in the act of hitting. That gets a little tedious because we all know that there is so much more to baseball than just swinging a bat. The lack of variation stands out as an area where the set could easily be improved upon.

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This is a very nice card of Bobby Wilson. An action photo in full catcher’s gear, yet a mask does not obscure his face. The focus is a bit soft, but I’m willing to forgive them given the overall appeal of the card. Wilson did appear in seven games with the parent Angels during the 2008 season.

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Reggie Willits is a super nice guy who will always give his team 120 percent. He’s the kind of player who will crash into the wall in foul territory to make the third out in the top an inning, then some up to bat second in the bottom of the inning and lay down a sacrifice bunt to advance the runner from first into scoring position. Yet it appears that the jury is still out on whether or not that is going to be enough to land Reggie a full-time spot on a major league roster.

Willits is one of only three players in the team set not wearing a white jersey. From an autographing standpoint, if a team is going to feature the same style of uniform on the majority of the cards in the set, I would prefer that they follow Salt Lake’s lead and select the lightest color.

The Salt Lake Bees have one of the best looking logos and overall color schemes in the Pacific Coast League. The logo is most visible on the cards of manager Bobby Mitchell and pitching coach Erik Bennett.

As is the case with all cards from the 2008 DAV promotion, these puppies have a semi gloss surface that are ready for the Sharpie directly out of the pack. The card backs exhibit the standard DAV ad instead of stats. I am of the opinion that the Salt Lake Bees have one of the best looking team sets included in the 2008 DAV minor league master set. Weighing in at 26 players and 3 coaches, what you get here is basically a full team set. I haven’t seen the actual 2008 Salt Lake Bees team issued set, but I am guessing that the images used for that differ significantly from the ones utilized for the DAV set. While the Bees offer bracelets for sale thru their online team shop, they do not offer baseball cards. Go figure!

I did see one of the 2008 Salt Lake Bees DAV team sets sell on eBay for $7.50 plus shipping with five unique bidders showing interest. I would say that is about as low as you might expect to pick up one of these sets on the secondary market- assuming you are fortunate enough to find one for sale. After all, the Bees did finish 1st PCL Pacific North division.

– Kris

2008 louisville bats dav team set review

December 7, 2008

2008 Louisville Bats DAV team set
Official Score – base hit
Manufacturer: Disabled American Veterans (undetermined printer)
Sponsor: Disabled American Veterans
Retail price: FREE SGA– not available for purchase

The Louisville Bats are the Triple-A affiliate of the Cincinnati Reds. After running away from the competition in the Western division of the International League in 2008, the Bats’ magical season ended when they flew into the wall that was the Durham Bulls in the first round of the playoffs.

When the home team takes to Louisville Slugger Field for opening day in 2009, they will be playing on a brand new surface of Kentucky Bluegrass thanks to sod recently imported from Indiana. The difficult part of writing that last sentence was deciding whether to end it with a period or a question mark! It is interesting that the Bats front office opted to replace the playing field the season after they hosted the 2008 Triple-A All Star game.

At any rate, a six-card team set hardly needs a checklist. I’m including one just the same because you never can tell who might be Googling for more information on Tom Shearn.

1 – [26] Bill Bray (p)
2 – [27] David Ross (c)
3 – [28] Homer Bailey (p)
4 – [29] Jay Bruce (of)
5 – [30] Jolbert Cabrera (if)
6 – [31] Tom Shearn (p)

I thought I’d start right off with a scan of the Jay Bruce card. So if you are only reading to see that particular card, you won’t need to continue reading this post. Before you leave, wouldn’t this baseball card look sweet with a sticker autograph haphazardly slapped across the front?

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Autograph collectors should note that surface treatment is a semi-gloss that requires no special preparation prior to obtaining a signature. That’s right; just add a player and you’ll be cooking with gas!

Graphers won’t get any help from David Ross’s card in the task of identifying the catcher in his street clothes, but this action photo of Ross in full gear will probably look so good signed that you won’t mind the extra effort that might be needed in the effort. I wouldn’t hesitate to assume that Ross is probably on enough cards where his face is visible that picking him out of the crowd outside a ballpark won’t be impossible.

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This limited edition minor league SGA team set includes two hitters, the aforementioned catcher and three hurlers. With the exception of the Tom Shearn card, all players are wearing the same style of uniforms. I haven’t the slightest idea why the Bats’ DAV team set contains only six players. As I understand it, teams were allowed to submit entire team rosters if they so desired. Apparently, the Bats did not so desire.

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Enter pitcher Homer Bailey… Homer started 19 games for the Bats in 2008, accumulating a record of 4-7 with a 4.77 ERA and a 1.47 WHIP. Bailey struck out 96 batters while handing out 46 free passes over 111.1 innings. He was also touched for 10 round-trippers in the process. Lackluster as those stats may be, he didn’t fare nearly as well during his eight starts for the Reds in 2008. Bailey displayed an enormous amount of determination while pitching for the parent club last season. Unfortunately, that determination manifested itself in Homer’s uncanny impression of Josh Fogg.

There are no statistics on the backs of these cards. Instead you’ll find the same standard ad for the Disabled American Veterans as on all of their cards distributed in 2008. One of the things that I find most appealing about these DAV minor league baseball cards is the fact that only a few thousand sets were created in the first place. That, combined with the high probability that few sets will survive given that the average person who attends minor league baseball games probably doesn’t make any effort to retain baseball cards, should result in a collectible item that will prove extremely difficult to obtain even before a number of these players retire.

I’d like to think that I do a pretty decent job of monitoring the secondary market for these DAV team sets in order to have a little information to pass along about their value. That typed, I have yet to see one of the 2008 Louisville Bats DAV team sets up for auction on eBay. Given the limited supply of these cards, I would expect that this six-card set might fetch between four and five bucks in auction, and the winning bidder could expect to add an additional three to eighteen dollars (depending on the fine print) to have the cards shipped to their home or office.

– Kris

chris seddon revisited

November 11, 2008

This post is intended as a response to Mario’s recent question on Wax Heaven- “Who the heck is Chris Seddon?” Having already discussed Seddon a couple of times, I decided to simply post scans of the rest of the cards that Chris autographed for me in person over the course of the 2008 Albuquerque Isotopes season.

Again, Chris is a quality starter who always seemed happy to take a few moments after a game to chat with fans even though he probably had a long list of things that he needed to get done (just like everyone else). I would have gotten a wider variety of his cards sign, but finding non-autographed Chris Seddon cards can prove to be a time-consuming quest.

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This 2005 Topps Total Chris Seddon card (no. 730) leaves me wishing Topps still produced the Total series. What a fantastic product! Now I need to find Elliot Johnson in order to complete this card.

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It is a little more difficult to make out Seddon’s terrific signature on his 2005 Topps card (no. 300). The fact that the Sharpie skipped a bit even after I had prepared the card surface is why I don’t care for glossy cards. To be sure, I used to think they were way kool before I got into autograph collecting.

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This is Chris Seddon’s card from the 2008 Albuquerque Isotopes team set. This is a fabulous team set by the way. If you don’t already own it, you should seriously explore options and either purchase one from the Isotopes or try to pick one up in TRADE…

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Some smudging is visible on this 2006 Choice card (no. 05) when Chris Seddon pitched for the Durham Bulls. Smudging is a risk you take each and every time you had a player more than one card at a time. Of course, some players have mastered smudging even a single card, so I’d say it is worth the risk to go for two.

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In my opinion, Just Minors products are swell. This Chris Seddon 2003 Just Rookies card (no. 63) is appreciated for being an attempt to be something different.

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I have mixed thoughts about this 2005 Upper Deck Origins Baseball card of Chris Seddon (no. 213), so that is probably why it finds itself at the bottom of the post. I like the sepia tone photo, but not the green frame border or the fact that the background is really too dark for an autograph. I realize that not every card company thinks about producing cards that will look nice autographed… but they SHOULD.

Be sure to read the older posts concerning Chris Seddon if you want to see more of his cards that have been signed, including a 2008 Upper Deck card (no. 292) and a 2005 Bowman’s Best silver card (no. 99).

– Kris

2008 fresno grizzlies team set review

October 29, 2008

2008 Fresno Grizzlies team set
Official Score – HIT BY PITCH
Manufacturer: MultiAd Sports
Retail price: $10.00

Consider yourself warned that you should turn your computer speakers WAY down before you click on this link to the Fresno Grizzlies website.

Okay… perhaps in the future you will take my warnings seriously.

I’ve been sitting on this team set for too long while trying to decide if I like it or not. Some days I think it is very nice. Other days I get annoyed as I thumb through the set, but I’m not sure if that is due to the overall darkness of approximately one-third of the cards, or if because I am of the opinion that the team logo in along the left portion of the cards is a bit much. I guess I’m getting ahead of myself.

The 2008 Fresno Grizzlies 35-card team set contains no printed checklist. That is countered by the fact that the set only contains two non-essential cards. Here’s what you get:

1 – Nate Schierholtz (out)
2 – Geno Espineli (p)
3 – Jim Bowie (hitting coach)
4 – Bartolome Fortunato (p)
5 – Todd Jennings (c)
6 – Patrick Misch (p)
7 – Brad Hennessey (p)
8 – Guillermo Rodriguez (c)
9 – Eliezer Alfonzo (c)
10 – Matt Palmer (p)
11 – Ivan Ochoa (inf)
12 – Emmanuel Burris (inf)
13 – Dan Rohn (manager)
14 – Alex Hinshaw (p)
15 – Dayton Buller (c)
16 – Kevin Gryboski (p)
17 – Brian Bocock (inf)
18 – John Bowker (out)
19 – Julio Cordido (inf)
20 – Clay Timpner (out)
21 – Justin Leone (inf)
22 – Scott McClain (inf)
23 – Nick Pereira (p)
24 – Anthony Reyes (trainer)
25 – Eugenio Velez (inf)
26 – Brian Horwitz (out)
27 – Brett Harper (inf)
28 – Randy Messenger (p)
29 – Ryan Sadowski (p)
30 – Eli Whiteside (c)
31 – Victor Santos (p)
32 – Jesse Foppert (p)
33 – Mike Caldwell (pitching coach) [talking to Victor Santos]
34 – Travis Denker (inf)
35 – Parker (mascot)

While I generally make it a rule to not post scans of mascot cards in my blogs, I’ve decided to make an exception in this case as I am offering this card as the prize in a fun little contest. Meet Parker. He’s a bear. I suppose he’s a grizzly.

Parker was named “best mascot in all of professional sports in 2007.” Why am I always the last to hear stuff like this? Possibly it is because I am extremely cynical, or because I am about as anti-mascot as one could be.

If there were a time and a place for mascots in professional baseball, I would accept that it MIGHT be making silly videos during the off season- when the rest of the grizzly population is hibernating. You don’t need to purchase anything to enter this contest, but you will be required to watch at least some of this- “The best minor league baseball off-season show on the entire internets…” Afterwards, simply leave a comment with your guess as to which part not only made me laugh out loud, but also caused A&W Root Beer to squirt out my nose.

(Content warning: Video contains country music, so you may prefer to leave your speakers turned low.)

A note to the winner: I will ship this card directly to your home or office as you wish. Alternatively, I will be happy to ship this card gift-wrapped in your name to your favorite card blogger who collects cards featuring mascots, musical folding chairs and/or smiling kids- all courtesy of Aardvark Trading Company.

Photo credits for the entire 2008 Fresno Grizzlies team set go to Don Davis. Don has some very nice photos on his website. I was going to include a link to an image that includes ex-Isotopes first baseman Derek Wathan, but I think many of you will really enjoy this photograph more.

The Grizzlies opted for MultiAd’s logocentric (Style D) template for their 2008 team set. (What I’d really like to find out is if any team used MultiAd’s fantastic (Style K) template.) Card thinness suggests that the Fresno Grizzlies are doing their part to conserve natural resources by selecting the thinnest cardstock available. Hey, it isn’t like cardboard grows on trees.

The 2008 Fresno Grizzlies team set contains the aforementioned mascot, one trainer, three coach cards, a dozen pitchers, FIVE catchers, nine infielders and four outfielders. And that concludes this review.

Just kidding…

Five catchers in the same team set? I find that somewhat puzzling. Apparently so does Todd Jennings.

Another catcher card that has earned the distinction of being featured in this post is Eli Whiteside since he was CAUGHT IN THE ACT of signing autographs for fans. Thanks Eli!

The nine cards of infielders include a nice mixture of players fielding, hitting and running. This shot of Travis Denker represents the better end of the images in the set.

This shot of Eugenio Velez is representative of what I consider to be overly dark cards. I can’t help but wonder just how much quicker this young speedster would be if his rear pockets weren’t loaded down. It appears that besides a batting glove, Velez is also toting around a pocketful of baseball cards- possibly to trade with the infielders of the opposing team as he rounds the bases.

The four cards of outfielders are evenly split depicting players batting and fielding, as well as sporting different version of the Grizzlies’ uniforms. Well done!

John Bowker gets the nod for inclusion here since he helped my 2008 fantasy baseball team with some badly needed homers at times when my regular outfielders were on the mend. In fact, John spent more time on my fantasy team than he did with the 2008 Fresno Grizzlies where he accumulated only 27 at bats.

Of the dozen cards of pitchers in the 2008 Fresno Grizzlies team set, seven feature a Grizzlies pitcher in a white uniform, the other five in a black jersey. And that is where the variety ends. To be fair, the shots are from slightly different angles and capture the pitchers in slightly different stages of their delivery- but only slightly. This subset is clearly the weak link in the product, and could have been improved simply by including a photo of one pitchers laying down a sacrifice bunt, or another charting pitches in his street clothes. Since none of the cards stand out as being above or below the others, I’ve chosen to include a scan of ex-Isotopes pitcher Randy Messenger to give you an idea of what these ALL look like.

Surface treatment appears to be a semi-gloss that shouldn’t require preparation prior to obtaining autographs. (Normally I would perform a Sharpie test using a mascot card, but I won’t in this case since I will be sending it to someone else- possibly YOU!)

The card backs consist of two-color (black and orange) printing over white matte, player stats and short bios. Greyscale photos of the players on the backs aren’t particularly useful in player identification since they are simply tightly cropped headshots from the same photos used on the front. If you are a fan of nighttime baseball cards, the 2008 Fresno Grizzlies team set might be for you. Then again, if your résumé fails to note that you are a big time supporter of the San Francisco Giants and their farm system, then perhaps not so much.

Personal bias completely aside, the 2008 Fresno Grizzlies team set is a MUST HAVE any self-respecting grapher who lives in, or frequently visits a Triple-A city. In addition to the 2008 team set, the Fresno Grizzlies’ online store provides the opportunity to pick up team sets from 2002-2004 (for only THREE BUCKS each!!!), plus the previously reviewed 2008 PCL Top Prospects set for $10. Shop smart and save on shipping!

– Kris

topps 52s in-person autos: 2008 season wrap-up

October 27, 2008

It appears that I finally found enough spare time to sort out the rest of the Topps 52s that I got autographed this season and thought I’d post an entry about them in an attempt to generate new and renewed interest in trading for this particular product.

If you are hoping I will list these cards by player height, this is your lucky day. After you are done reading, I suggest you run out to the nearest convenience store and purchase a lottery ticket.

Paul LoDuca (2007 – no. DF12)

LoDuca returned to the Duke City for a short stint near the end of the 2008 Albuquerque Isotopes season. In addition to hitting practically anything and everything that was pitched while he was in the batters’ box, Paul also put on a catching clinic that included a number of dazzling plays while serving as the Isotopes backstop before being called up to the Florida Marlins to finish the year.

LoDuca’s approach to dealing with fans proved that he is a class act, and helped make him appear to actually stand as tall as 5’10”- his height listed on the back of his card. I understand that Paul owns a barn of race horses- something I intend to ask him more about if he ever happens to return to Albuquerque, say as a coach for the Dodgers.

Joselo Diaz (2007 – no. 211)

Jose is currently home in the Dominican Republic playing winter ball and I assume trying not to think too much about his 2008 season. The 6’0” right-handed pitcher was more than happy to sign his 52 Topps baseball card for me during a rain delay between the Oklahoma Redhawks (Texas Rangers) and the Isotopes. Interestingly, I just noticed that Jose’s birthday is April 13th- the day after Paul LoDuca’s. Baseball cards are so kool!

Tim Corcoran (2006 – no. 230)

This 6’2” right-handed hurler broke into the majors with the Tampa Bay Devil Rays during the 2005 season. Following in the footsteps of his younger brother Roy, Tim wanted to experience the challenge of pitching at altitude in the foothills of the Sandia Mountains so he signed a minor league contract with the Florida Marlins. Amazingly, Tim maintained his lowest ERA of the season in the thin air of Albuquerque, where he performed better than either Jupiter or Carolina. For those of you scoring April birthdays, Tim was born on April 15th. It is also worth noting, that I never encountered either of the Corcoran boys after a game when they weren’t sporting a grin that stretched from ear to ear.

Kelvin Jimenez (2007 – no. 122)

Kelvin Jimenez is a 6’2” relief pitcher in the St. Louis Cardinals organization. He is currently home in the Dominican Republic- presumably celebrating his 28th birthday (TODAY) with family and friends. Kelvin signed my 52 Topps card while in Albuquerque with the Memphis Redbirds in the middle of August. I don’t believe there is any correlation between the fact that he signed a couple of cards for me before a game, then went on to cough up five earned runs through three and two-thirds innings over a three-game stretch- elevating his season ERA to 2.92 over 52 innings.

Brendan Ryan (2007 – no. 153)

How could you not like a ballplayer who has the nickname of “Boog” and enjoys playing wiffle ball? Ryan, a 6’2” shortstop, had a rough time stringing together enough quality at bats to justify the St. Louis Cardinals carrying him on their roster all season, but his demotion to Triple-A Memphis was well-timed in that it provided me with an opportunity to get his 52 Topps card autographed in person. Don’t correct me if I’m wrong, but isn’t that really what it is all about?

Hanley Ramirez (2006 – no. 77)

I know what you must be thinking- “When exactly did Hanley Ramirez make an appearance in Albuquerque this summer, and why did you wait until the end of October to tell me about it?”

Relax… it isn’t really Hanley Ramirez pictured on the card, but rather 6’3” right-handed reliever Carlos M. Martinez. How’s that again? Best I can figure, Topps screwed up (again). I asked Carlos to autograph the card after a game this past summer, and he was more than happy to oblige.

Technically, Martinez had no business on a baseball card from the Topps 52 series because he didn’t make his major league debut until this season, but what is a collector to do with when Topps hands them lemons? Besides, what are the odds of me ever getting Hanley to ever sign a card- let alone an error card?

At any rate, Carlos Martinez is a great kid with potential to carve out a nice career in the major leagues. If you are planning a vacation to the Dominican Republic to watch some winter ball, be sure to take your Hanley Ramirez ’06 Topps 52 card to get Carlos’ autograph.

As of this posting, I have gotten 96 different cards from the Topps 52 series autographed in person. I have also gotten 2 chrome cards autographed in person and 1.5 of the dynamic duo cards signed. Sure, it will take a Herculean effort to get the majority of these cards signed, but I figure it is a project worthy of the time it will take, and will be vastly more satisfying than busting boxes and packs of new products that I don’t care for as much simply because they are available.

I KNOW there are at least a couple of other collectors working on getting these cards autographed that I have yet to reach out to in an effort to establish long-term trading relationships, so that is one of my projects for this winter. If this sounds like you, PLEASE check out my recently updated autographed Topps 52s trade list posted on the Aardvark Trading Co. website.

– Kris

2008 memphis redbirds team set review

September 24, 2008

2008 Memphis Redbirds team set
Official Score – TWO RUN HOMER
Manufacturer: MultiAd Sports
Sponsor: Superlo Foods
Retail price: $6.00

This may be the first set of MultiAd cards I’ve reviewed that does not contain a checklist. But don’t sweat it, the cards are numbered # of 35 on the back. Besides, you have already figured out that when it comes to official minor league team set checklists, Aardvark Trading Company will never leave you hanging. That said, take a look at the players (as well as non-players) included in the 2008 Memphis Redbirds team set:

1 – Colby Rasmus (out)
2 – Chris Perez (p)
3 – Bryan Anderson (c)
4 – Jaime Garcia (p)
5 – Clayton Mortensen (p)
6 – Mitchell Boggs (p)
7 – Joe Mather (out)
8 – P.J. Walters (p)
9 – Blake Hawksworth (p)
10 – Jarrett Hoffpauir (inf)
11 – Mark Worrell (p)
12 – Mike Parisi (p)
13 – Jason Motte (p)
14 – Brian Barden (inf)
15 – Hugo Castellanos (p)
16 – Ron Flores (p)
17 – David Freese (inf)
18 – Cody Haerther (out)
19 – D’Angelo Jimenez (inf)
20 – Gabe Johnson (c)
21 – Mark Johnson (c)
22 – Josh Phelps (inf)
23 – Anthony Reyes (p)
24 – Matt Scherer (p)
25 – Nick Stavinoha (out)
26 – John Wasdin (p)
27 – Rico Washington (inf)
28 – Nick Webber (p)
29 – Chris Maloney (manager)
30 – Blaise Ilsley (pitching coach)
31 – Mark Budaska (hitting coach) & Colby Rasmus
32 – Chris Conroy (trainer) – Ryan Eubanks (batboy) – Tony Martin
33 – Jake Fitts (strength coach)
34 – RBI (Returning Baseball to the Inner City kids)
35 – Rockey (mascot)

The Memphis Redbirds chose MultiAd’s (Style C) template in the creation of their team set for the 2008 season. This style was one of the more popular choices in 2008 (see also 2008 Omaha Royals and 2008 Iowa Cubs). I am a big fan of the greyscale cigar-band style strip across the lower margin of the cards where the player name, number and position are printed along with the team name and logo. The designers of the Memphis Redbirds team set elevated this product to a higher level with the inclusion of facsimile autographs. Sure, you are probably thinking that they passed that additional cost of that feature on to the consumer… That is simply not the case.

Facsimile autographs are particularly useful in determining whether a player really would have preferred to not sign your card. I suppose if you’d rather not know that about players, you may not be that excited to have the facsimile autograph on the front of your cards to tempt you into comparing them.

Card thinness is average for a minor league sets. The card fronts are coated with a semi-gloss leaving them ready for autographing without any surface preparation. The backs consist of four-color printing over white matte, typical player stats and short bios. Color player headshots in the upper right corner of the backs are extremely useful in helping you identify the players in street clothes in spite of the fact that they are all wearing hats in the photos.

Photo credits for the 2008 Memphis Redbirds go to Allison Rhoades. All are first rate- a few perhaps even bordering on Pulitzer Prize material. The vast majority of the backgrounds are light and ideal for autographing. In fact, Rico Washington’s card has one of the darker backgrounds, and he will compensate by turning his card at an angle- then sign his autograph up the length of his white uniform pants.

As entertaining it is that the Redbirds have a strength coach named “Fitts,” I’m not amused enough to include a scan of that card in this review. There are also cards of the 2002 Eastern League Athletic Trainer of the Year and his pals, kids from the Redbirds RBI (Returning Baseball to the Inner City) Program, and Rockey the mascot for people who enjoy baseball cards of non-baseball players.

The 2008 Memphis Redbirds team set contains three coach cards, including manager Chris Mahoney filling out a lineup card, pitching coach Blaise Ilsely tossing batting practice, and hitting coach Mark Budaska coaching third base and chatting with outfielder Colby Rasmus. Regardless of what team or league you follow, it is always a good sign to see one of your top prospects standing on third base wearing a batting helmet and taking off his batting gloves. This isn’t the only card in the set that inspires optimism.

Since I have already mentioned Rasmus, I might as well preempt my discussion of the pitching staff and just move on out to the four outfielders included in this set. Of the three cards featuring outfielders on offense, Rasmus is the only one not holding a bat in his hands. I suspect it is much easier to take photos of Colby on the base paths since he spends more time there than in the batter’s box.

Nick Stavinoha’s photo suggests that he his eyeballing the trajectory of a homer, while Joe Mather’s photo captures him poised to knock one out of the yard as well. Cody Haether’s card not only depicts him in the outfield having just tracked down the fly off an opponent’s bat, but while wearing one of four different Redbirds uniforms included in the set. My point being that this team set offers a wide variety of poses that will please every fan except those who prefer redundancy.

How about Haether’s game day signature compared to the facsimile? I’d say that is close enough to say it is consistent.

Readers expecting me to move on to the infielders will undoubtedly be frustrated as I instead take this opportunity to focus on catchers. This set contains three of them. Each depicts a backstop in full or nearly full catcher’s gear. Sure, the helmets do obscure the players’ faces, but graphers may use the full-color headshot on the back of the cards to help identify the players they do not recognize. This set scores high points for that alone!

Personally, I find that Mark Johnson’s card is the weakest of the three catchers, but I chose to include a scan of it here because of the background. No, I’m not a Nashville Sounds fan. Instead, I like the fact that you can see a dedicated fan recording a “2-6 CS” (caught stealing) in her scorebook even before Johnson fires a bullet down to second base. If you don’t absolutely love minor league baseball, I’m assuming you’ve never been to a game. Try to knock that off your “to do list” next season.

The 2008 Memphis Redbirds team set contains cards of six infielders. Three are batting, one is navigating the base paths and two are fielding. As much as I feel that each of these cards warrant scanning and including in this post, I think the proper thing to do is to pick one* and urge you to purchase a set from the Redbirds so you can enjoy seeing them for the first time in person. (*Note: Having already stated in a prior post that I would include a scan of Jarrett Hoffpauir’s card saves me from having to decide which of the infielder cards is my favorite.)

Of course I can’t even begin to think about ending this review without mentioning the various cards of pitchers contained within. There are 15 in case you didn’t keep track earlier when you were scanning through the checklist. Even though all were captured while pitching, the different uniforms, backgrounds and angles employed combine to add a great deal of variety to the team set. Although there is only one horizontal card in the set, all photos used have been expertly cropped.

Castellanos is captured in the process of delivering a pitch to the plate while his teammates lounge in the sunny bullpen and discuss the likelihood that Hugo will have his card featured in Cards in the Attic simply because of the horizontal orientation. So it goes!

Another method of ensuring that your card is included here is to get called up to the majors soon after signing a card for me, and ultimately wind up as one of the players on my fantasy baseball team roster – a strategy that Jason Motte has wisely chosen.

If a stronger minor league team set was produced in 2008, it has yet to be submitted to me for review. I just read the other day that the St. Louis Cardinals have entered into the process of buying the Memphis Redbirds team. I would hope that if the sale goes through, the parent club would recognize the talents of the Memphis personnel responsible for putting this team set together and call them up to the bigs.

I was not able to locate this particular team set for sale on the Memphis Redbirds online team shop, and that is a shame. I don’t particularly care for the current trend in minor league teams shifting to use the “shop.mlb.com” format online team shop. While I may have to accept it, I do not have to like it.

Instead, I am here to tell you that you may still obtain your own 2008 Memphis Redbirds team set (for only SIX BUCKS (plus shipping)) by calling the Redbirds team shop at 901.722.0273. Do not delay as supply is limited, and demand is sure to be high for such a quality product! I haven’t seen any pop up on the secondary market, but would expect them to be priced in the neighborhood of $12.00 and higher on eBay.

– Kris

short and sweet (allen & ginter)

August 13, 2008

Not long after our deal for a case of 2008 Topps Allen & Ginter baseball cards fell through, I decided to skip the chase this time around and look for a decent price on a hand collated set. This resulted in picking up an entire set of the regular-sized cards (including short prints) delivered to my door for a little less than it would have cost for me to hop in my truck and drive to Target and purchase two blaster boxes (assuming they would have any).

While I decide whether or not I will work on the mini parallel set, I can continue to pick up singles as needed. For instance, when the Oklahoma RedHawks recently visited the Duke City for a four game series with the Isotopes, it was absolutely necessary to have this 2008 mini Kazuo Fukumori card (no. 98) to get autographed, so I picked it up on eBay.

Fukumori is a man of few (English) words. With the help of his interpreter, I was able to extend my gratitude to Kazuo for taking the time before a game to sign my card.

The most recent homestand also provided me with a golden opportunity to get Paul LoDuca to sign a few 2007 Allen & Ginter cards for my collection. These include the base card…

The mini parallel…

And this “game-worn” jersey card…

I wasn’t really sure how well the relic card was going to take a Sharpie signature, but I am of the opinion that it looks just great.

If you agree with me and happen to have an extra Paul LoDuca bat card from the 2008 set that you can get mailed by THIS FRIDAY, I will be willing to do my best to do a rare “50/50” autographing trade with you. I will only do baseball cards though, so don’t even think about sending a baseball, jersey, photo, helmet, or anything that isn’t a baseball card. Your understanding on this matter this is greatly appreciated.

– 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