Friday Info Dump

2007 Ticket UtleyThose of you who followed this blog for long enough know that I regularly alternate between somewhat frequent posting for a few months with disappearing for a few weeks or months. So, going nearly three weeks without posting is really not all that noteworthy. However, I must state for the record that recent changes WordPress made to its image upload tool certainly aided and abetted in my most recent stretch of silence. In particular, they removed the ability to easily add frames and spacing to images, and I relied heavily on those functions when posting images of my cards to this page. Although I can still do so (as evidenced by this post), it takes a lot of time-consuming, manual HTML. While not completely to blame for the recent lack of posting, it certainly provided a lot of disincentive when time was at a premium. I will adapt — I’d much rather WordPress got its damn act together and reincorporated border and spacing options for images — but only because I hate the thought of transferring everything to a new site.

With that mini-rant out of the way, here’s comes a giant info dump of stuff covering the past few weeks…

I was both pleased and disappointed 2014 Topps Phillies Byrdwith the 2014 Topps Phillies Team Set. Based on the cards that overlapped with the offerings in the first series of 2014 Topps, there doesn’t appear to be any unique photos in this year’s team set — although we should withhold final judgment until we see both the second series and 2014 Topps Update Series. The lack of foil on the cards again confirms how unnecessary it is on the flagship product, so I like the look and feel of the Topps Phillies Team Set much better. Of particular interest, for now, are the Marlon Byrd and Freddy Galvis cards. Topps used an older picture of Byrd from his first stint with the team as opposed to digitally editing a newer photo — the opposite of what they did with Placido Polanco and Jim Thome in their second stints with the Phils. Aside from the completely natural look to the photo, the biggest giveaway is the number on his sleeve — 2014 Topps Phillies GalvisByrd wore “29″ when he first played for the team. As for Galvis, this marks his first official Topps-issued MLB card (as opposed to his Bowman Prospects inserts, which we all know are not officially MLB cards, rookie or otherwise — wink, wink, nudge, nudge, say no more). Sadly, we don’t see his face, or The Rookie Card Logo. Without an explanation from Topps, I’m willing to bet that since the logo is jointly administered by MLB and the MLBPA, Panini gets credit for releasing Galvis’s official rookie cards back in 2012. Or, maybe, this is going to be a case where the is no “official” rookie card.

And now, for the blipverts portion of today’s post:

2014 Topps Museum RufWith the addition of his 2014 Topps Musuem Collection Autographs card to my collection, I now have 30 Darin Ruf cards in my collection, and 13 of them are autograph cards. In terms of combined cost and availability, his autograph cards may very well be the easiest to acquire of any current Phillie. There’s still one more Ruf autograph card on its way to my house: his 2013 Topps Supreme is currently enroute from Korea. One day, I’m sure I’ll look back on all his autograph cards in the same manner as I view Gavin Floyd’s or Marlon Byrd’s…

I’m still waiting for Phillies to start properly catering to the nostalgia of Gen Xers such as myself — i.e., for more than just one night per season. When it does, I fully expect to see the Phillies jersey from the ’70s & ’80s become a regular alternate home jersey for the club. I don’t care whether they use the home pinstripes or the road powder blues, so long as semi-regularly I see the classic maroon “P” on the front of the jerseys again…

2009 UD Signature Stars BlantonI was surprised to see Joe Blanton’s sudden retirement. I never imagined I’d be able to pull his jersey out of my closest this quickly. Yes, he really wasn’t good for the past couple years, and I attended a couple games he pitched against the Nationals which made me question my decision to get his name and number on my one and only (so far) alternate home jersey. However, I will always appreciate what he did for the Phillies in 2008 — especially in Game 4 of the World Series. In a related development, I’m very happy to see that I will need leave the Randy Wolf jersey on its hanger for just a little while longer (screw you, Mariners front office)…

I need to give proper credit to Uncle Chris, who provided me with the 2007 Phillies ticket featured at the top of this post. While I catalog them in the database and treat these types of tickets as cards, they are very low priority on my want lists. When I received this one yesterday, it came as a pleasant surprise — my uncle gave me no advance warning that it was coming in the mail…

2009 MLB Fan PakFinally, I will post an updated version of the Phillies Baseball Card Database sometime early next week. I want to properly incorporate all the information from Topps Heritage, Topps Gypsy Queen, Topps Museum Collection and (2013) Bowman Chrome Mini releases before posting it. However, I must admit that I’m glad to say that amongst the various updates is one delightful oddball set that recently came to my attention and that is now prominent in my wantlists: Enterplay’s 2009 MLB Fan Pak. More about that set in a future post.

Featured Cards: 2007 Phillies Season Ticket Holder Ticket Stubs (no #), Chase Utley; 2014 Topps Phillies Team Set #PHI-2, Marlon Byrd, & #PHI-15, Freddy Galvis; 2014 Topps Museum Collection Autographs #AA-DF, Darin Ruf; 2009 Upper Deck Signature Stars #125, Joe Blanton; 2009 MLB Fan Pak #56, Jimmy Rollins

Opening Day!

2014 Topps OD PhanaticAppropriately, my complete team set of 2014 Topps Opening Day arrived today. Every year the Opening Day set proves just how much nicer the flagship Topp set issue looks without foil, and I once again curse Topps for adhering to some weird self-imposed belief that the regular set must have foil. As I entered the Opening Day cards into my Excel spreadsheets, I noted that I now own 55 different Phanatic cards. Mind you, the Phillies team issued sets over the past 3+ decades are responsible for the bulk of them, but it still boggles my mind that I own more cards of the Phanatic than I do of either Tug McGraw or Bob Boone. In another couple years, assuming he continues to appear in both team-issued sets and in Opening Day Mascots insert sets, he’ll surpass Jamie Moyer, Steve Bedrosian, Garry Maddox, and potentially even Mitch Williams in my collection. However, no matter how many more Phanatic cards I eventually add to the colleciton, I doubt we will see another one as awesome as the one Upper Deck printed in 2009.

Featured card: 2014 Topps Opening Day Mascots #M-13

My Luckiest Grab of 2014 (Thus Far)

1915 Cracker Jack KilliferI bid on a lot of low-grade, slabbed pre-WW II Phillies cards on eBay. The overwhelming majority of the time, I’m submitting bids that are at least one-third or more below what I would consider a fair value as I’m just looking to get extremely lucky. (This is not to be confused with instances where I submitted a bid with a maximum amount I considered fair, which is how I’ve ultimately purchased most of my pre-WW II Phillies collection.) The overwhelming majority of the time, nothing ever comes of it. However, once in a rare while, a card somehow slips through the gaps and I end up with a wonderful, unexpected addition to the collection. That’s how I added the 1915 Cracker Jack Bill Killifer card that just arrived at my house today.

1915 Cracker Jack Killifer BackAll things considered, it’s actually a gorgeous card. The only reason it received a grade of SGC 20 is some paper loss on the back of the card. With that bit of missing paper, I easily envision this card garnering a grade of SGC 50 (VG-EX). Regardless, even with that flaw, this card has much better eye appeal than the only other 1915 Cracker Jack card in my collection. A few years ago, I never imagined owning any of the Phillies in this set, and now I have two. There’s no way I’ll ever assemble a complete team set — not with the prices that the Grover Alexander card goes for, even in poor condition — but after this lucky grab I’ll certainly continue submitting low bids for cards of this vintage and condition. I’d much rather spend $60 on a card like this than an equivalent amount on almost any new autographed memorabilia card, no matter how small its stated print run.

Good for Wolf

Although I am highly opinionated when it comes to politics and social issues, I do my best to express my thoughts and opinions in the proper forum. Typically, blogs about baseball cards are not the place for them. However, as much as we all like to conveniently ignore the fact, baseball is first and foremost an entertainment industry, 2006 Fleer Wolfand it is not immune to many of the forces and trends facing other American industries. With that in mind, I have to applaud Randy Wolf’s refusal to sign an amended contract just to make the Mariners roster.

While the Mariners were technically in their right to ask for such a modification (the collective bargaining agreement allows them), it really did reek of negotiating in bad faith. Wolf signed his contract in February with the understanding that if he made the team then the contract became guaranteed. At a minimum, the Mariners could have informed Wolf when he signed the contract that they might ask him for one should he make the team — apparently the team cannot request the 45-day advance-consent clause unless the player actually makes the team. Their attempt to change the terms of the agreement now is another example of how companies in this country are using the fear of losing one’s job to their advantage. They want us cowered and scared, and they want to simultaneously nickel-and-dime us while doing so. Admittedly, we’re talking about professional athlete salaries here and not middle class incomes, but the parallelism is clear and obvious.

Good for Wolf for not playing along with the Mariners financial game. He’s made a lot of money during the course of his career, so he had more bargaining power than the rest of us typically carry. By current baseball standards, Wolf’s contract really was low-risk for the Mariners — they were 2002 MLB Showdown Wolfonly responsible for $1 million in salary for his making the team — and if they really wanted Wolf on the opening day roster then they should have honored the contract that he signed in good faith. If the baseball gods are just, the Mariners will be punished for their attempt to save what amounts to a rounding error for most team’s player salary budgets.

The Wolf jersey I purchased back in 2003 still hangs in my closet. I hope he finds employment with another team. Whether he does or not, I plan to wear it again with pride after his retirement or upon his return to the Phillies, should such an event occur. We can’t rule that out — after all Marlon Byrd and Bobby Abreu are already back.

Edit to add: I really loved this quote from Wolf in a different news story about his release: “The day should have started with a handshake and congratulations instead of a 24-hour feeling of licking a D cell battery.”

Featured Cards: 2006 Fleer #267; 2002 MLB Showdown #261

2014 Heritage Woes

2014 Heritage Green AutoI must give Topps some credit for knowing how to proactively kill anticipation for a new product. 2014 Heritage hit the hobby stores on Friday of last week, but as of last night, I still haven’t seen Heritage at any of the three Target locations closest to me. I’m wondering whether I should start a countdown of the number of days it took to reach retail outlets after the set was officially released. At least I have the three Phillies Real One Autographs from this year’s set in my hands — they’re the only cards from the set that I own thus far since I decided that I am going to compile my own team set as I simultaneously assemble a complete base set. At least, that was the plan. If that wait goes on much longer, I’m going to just give up and purchase complete base and team sets off of eBay. I don’t care if the lack of retail product is technically a distributor problem — I still hold Topps responsible.

I should also give Topps 2014 Heritage Bunning Stampdemerits for sheer-headed stubbornness. While I suppose I’m not surprised, I still couldn’t help but be disappointed when I saw the first 1965 U.S. Postage Stamp inserts appear on eBay. I adamantly refuse to look through the collection and count the number of times they’ve done so, but Topps once again used a photo of Jim Bunning from an incorrect era in a one of the Heritage insert sets. I know what’s really going on — it’s the same photo of Bunning they used in last year’s Now & Then insert set, and we all know how much Topps just loves using the same damn image ad nauseam. However, it would really be nice to see Topps just once use a picture that properly aligns with the year that they are attempting to honor.

I suppose it really is too much to ask Topps to pay any attention to this sort of detail.

Weekend Pack Busting

2014 Heritage RevereI was incredibly disappointed last night after arriving at two different local Targets only to find that neither had any Topps Heritage on their shelves. Thankfully, I didn’t require either store to fulfill my urge to open packs of Heritage this past weekend as I already purchased a few packs on Saturday while visiting a card shop I last saw nearly eight years ago, just before I moved from inside the DC beltway to the northwestern fringes of the Northern Virginia suburbs. Nonetheless, I really was looking forward to breaking open a few retail blaster boxes before the end of the weekend. Now it looks like I’ll just have to be patient and wait another few days before embarking on my quest to complete my own set of Heritage.

Since I didn’t want to come home empty-handed last night, I grabbed a few packs of Donruss. While I really would like to make a stab at completing a set, I don’t know how feasible that really is. The Diamond Kings and Rated Rookie subsets are both short-printed — something I didn’t realize when I posted my Phillies-centric review last week — thus making an inordinate percentage of the set more difficult to acquire. Learning this really cooled the affection I felt towards the set.

Finally, my quest for cheap baseball packs 2010 Topps Attax Lidgeled me to a K-Mart just around the corner from the hobby shop I purchased my Heritage packs from. Over the past couple years, I’ve come to rely upon the chain for heavily-discounted aging product such as $5.99 retail blaster boxes of 2009 O-Pee-Chee. Well, unlike Target, K-Mart made me very happy; I walked out of there with multiple starter packs of both 2000 MLB Showdown and 2010 Topps Attax for $1.99 per box. This was not an effort to expand my collection, however. I had my son with me and we are actually going to play with those cards as they were intended to be used. Oh, I’ll almost certainly slip soft-sleeves over each card in order to minimize the damage, but I made this purchase solely for the purpose of giving the two of us something fun to do together.

2009 O-Pee-Chee DurbinUnfortunately, that particular K-Mart — which I also hadn’t stepped into in nearly eight years — didn’t have any 2009 O-Pee-Chee. I’ve been working on that set in fits and spurts over the past few years and my set is about 75% complete. Coincidentally, most of the packs I’ve opened have come from the K-Mart discount shelves. As much as I like the set, the original sticker price really was far too high, and that cost detracted from the fact that 2009 O-Pee-Chee really was an awesome modern throwback set; a set that maintained the aesthetics of vintage card design without replicating or paying homage to previous sets. Anyway, If you happen to have any 2009 OPC duplicates, please email me so that we can work out a trade. I have plenty of additional material that’s not already listed on my Trade Bait page, so I’m sure I can work out some sort of trade with anyone.

Featured Cards: 2014 Topps Heritage #373, Ben Revere; 2010 Topps Attax (# 133), Brad Lidge; 2009 O-Pee-Chee #146, Chad Durbin

Vintage Friday Four

After writing a few rather longish posts this week, today I’m not really up to handling any of the other topics I’d like to write about. In lieu of that, I’m arbitrarily declaring today “Vintage Friday Four” Day and posting from my collection said number of pre-WW II Phillies cards. I may make this a regular feature for future Fridays — I don’t know yet. In the meantime, enjoy.

1912 T207 Moran1922 E120 Snover1927 W560 Williams1941 Goudey Tamulis