2009 MLB Predictions

April 5, 2009 at 11:48 pm | Posted in Baseball | 10 Comments

So here we are, the night before Opening Day for the 2009 Major League Baseball season.  This is the first Opening Day that I’ve had a blog.  I always make predictions about every new baseball season, and it’s fun to have a public forum for posting my predictions for the first time.  Now, at the end of the season, everyone will know exactly how incredibly horrible my predictions turned out to be…

American League East

1. Tampa Bay Rays
2. Boston Red Sox
3. New York Yankees
4. Toronto Blue Jays
5. Baltimore Orioles

The A.L. East is obviously the division that I follow most closely, and the one that I care about the most.  Strangely enough, my predicted standings are exactly the same as the final standings in 2008.  I’m sure that everybody knew that I’d pick the Rays to win it, but honestly, they’re still a young, improving team.  I expect to see better seasons from Scott Kazmir (now that his his out pitch – his slider – is back), B.J. Upton (with a healthy shoulder, he’ll hit for much more power), Carl Crawford, and Carlos Pena.  Evan Longoria is only going to get better, and I expect David Price to give a boost to the rotation in May when he returns from Durham.  I think that Matt Garza may break out as a Cy Young candidate, and I’m predicting that he’ll throw a no-hitter last year (he came close twice last year).  I also think that the bullpen is improved with a healthy Troy Percival, and the new additions of Joe Nelson, Brian Shouse, Lance Cormier, and Jason Isringhausen (when he’s activated from the D.L.)

I believe that Boston is the second best team in MLB, and they’ll easily win the Wild Card.  It’s going to be another great division race between the Sox and the Rays, and I wouldn’t be surprised at all if Boston ends up winning it.  They’re likely to get at least some good contributions from all of their free agent signings (most likely from Saito and Penny) and they’ve got a ton of impressive young players.  Look for Jed Lowrie and Justin Masterson to break out.  Clay Buchholz should also make an impact when he’s called up.

I’m less impressed with the Yankees.  Sure, they added Teixeira, but now A-Rod is hurt, so the lineup isn’t improved – at least til A-Rod comes back.  But that demonstrates a key point about the Yankees.  Their roster is filled with old players who are injury prone.  Lots of guys are going to spend significant time on the D.L.  I wouldn’t be surprised to see Sabathia and Burnett on the D.L. either.  Burnett seems to get hurt almost every year, and Sabathia has thrown more innings than anybody over the last two years.

I’m picking Toronto for 4th, even though I really like the direction that Baltimore is going.  Toronto quietly gave up the fewest runs in the A.L. last year, but they lost Burnett, and Shaun Marcum and Dustin McGowan are both hurt.  Their rotation is very thin, but their bullpen is still very good.  I’d take Baltimore’s lineup over Toronto’s, but I still think that Toronto’s pitching is better.  Baltimore has some nice pitching prospects in the minors, but in the majors, their pitching staff is awful.  Look for Matt Wieters to have a huge rookie year for the O’s and Travis Snider to have a huge rookie year for the Jays.  They’ll be 1-2 in the Rookie of the Year voting.

American League Central

1. Chicago White Sox
2. Minnesota Twins
3. Cleveland Indians
4. Detroit Tigers
5. Kansas City Royals

Chicago’s still the best team in the Central in my opinion, but it’s a very weak division.  Top to bottom, I like their lineup better than anyone else in the division, and they have pretty good pitching.  John Danks could have a huge year.  Minnesota has great pitching, but I’m not impressed with their lineup besides Morneau and Mauer (who is hurt for the first month of the season).  The rest of the division is really, really bad.  I’m picking Cleveland for third, but I don’t think they’ll win many more than 70 games.  Their starting pitching is really bad, especially if Cliff Lee comes back down to earth this year.  Two of their key players on offense, Victor Martinez and Travis Hafner, both seem to be on the down side of their careers.  Detroit is similarly unimpressive, with a weak pitching staff and a lot of old guys in the lineup.  Kansas City has some decent pitchers, but their lineup continues to be horrible.  I wouldn’t be surprised to see Alex Gordon have a break out season, but that would still give the Royals only one really good hitter in their lineup.

American League West

1. Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim
2. Oakland Athletics
3. Seattle Mariners
4. Texas Rangers

The Angels are a worse team than they were last year, after losing Teixeira and having injury issues with three starting pitchers, but they’re still head and shoulders above the rest of the division.  Oakland is an impressive young team, and the lineup looks pretty good with the additions of Holliday and Giambi.  Their pitching is very young, but they have a lot of upside.  Seattle is another team with some upside.  They’ve got some good young pitching, and Erik Bedard can make a huge impact if he’s healthy this year.  Texas continues to not have any good pitching, and I’m not as excited about their lineup as most people.  Remember that Josh Hamilton saw a huge drop in production after the All Star break.  Unless he returns to his first half form, their lineup looks a little weak.

American League Award Winners

MVP – Evan Longoria
Cy Young Award – Roy Halladay
Rookie of the Year – Matt Wieters

National League East

1. New York Mets
2. Philadelphia Phillies
3. Atlanta Braves
4. Florida Marlins
5. Washington Nationals

The Mets can’t possibly collapse for a third year in a row, can they?  With their significantly improved bullpen, I’d be surprised if they didn’t clinch the division a few weeks before the end of the season this year.  They’re loaded with talent, and I think it’s about time for them to return to the playoffs.  The Phillies are still a very good team, but I’m very unimpressed with the addition of Raul Ibanez, who’s a bad fielder, and yet another lefty in the middle of their lineup.  Their starting pitching behind Hamels is pretty suspect, but that didn’t hurt them last year.  I’m picking the Braves for third, mostly because the teams below them are pretty weak.  I think they’ll be about a .500 team.  They spent way too much money on an aging Derek Lowe.  The Marlins have some underrated pitchers, but they’re still pretty young all around, and they’re a couple years away from contending.  The Nationals are even further away, although Adam Dunn is a nice addition to their lineup.  Their main focus should be signing Stephen Strasburg, and then building their team around him.

National League Central

1. Chicago Cubs
2. Cincinnati Reds
3. St. Louis Cardinals
4. Milwaukee Brewers
5. Houston Astros
6. Pittsburgh Pirates

The Cubs still have the most talent in the division, and it’s tough to see them not repeating.  I think that the Reds will be much-improved.  Their pitching looks pretty strong, and I really like a lot of their young players, especially Jay Bruce and Joey Votto.  I believe that they’re good enough to win the N.L. Wild Card.  I’d be very surprised if they don’t have a very good season.  St. Louis is a solid third place team.  There are some question marks in their starting rotation, but they’re an all around solid team.  Milwaukee’s starting rotation looks pretty weak to me without Sabathia and Sheets, but Braun and Fielder lead what’s still a pretty good offense.  Houston is old and fading, while the Pirates should be better.  I give Houston an edge for finishing in 5th, but I wouldn’t be surprised to see Pittsburgh finish as high as fourth if enough young players step up for them this year.

National League West

1. Arizona Diamondbacks
2. Los Angeles Dodgers
3. Colorado Rockies
4. San Francisco Giants
5. San Diego Padres

I really like the Diamondbacks.  As the Rays’ expansion brother, they’ve always been one of my favorite N.L. teams to watch.  Webb and Haren are probably the top 1-2 punch on any starting rotation in baseball.  The rest of their rotation and their bullpen is solid too.  And their lineup includes many improving young players.  I think that this is the year where Justin Upton will break out as a star, and I like Chris Young, Stephen Drew, Conor Jackson, and Chris Snyder.  Remember how good the D-Backs were last April?  That’s how good I think they can be all year.  The Dodgers will finish in second.  They’re still a good team, but Manny can’t possibly be as good as he was at the end of last year, and their pitching isn’t that great.  I like Billingsley and Kershaw, but there’s not much after them.  The Rockies should be about a .500 team in 3rd place.  The Giants have some nice pitching, but their lineup is a complete joke.  The Padres are in rebuilding mode.  With Peavy and Young in the rotation, they won’t be horrible, but I still think they’ll finish in last.

National League Award Winners

MVP – David Wright
Cy Young Award – Johan Santana
Rookie of the Year – Dexter Fowler

Postseason

American League Division Series:

Rays over Angels
Red Sox over White Sox

American League Championship Series:
Rays over Red Sox

National League Division Series:

Mets over Reds
Diamondbacks over Cubs

National League Championship Series:
Diamondbacks over Mets

World Series:
Rays over Diamondbacks in the battle of 1998 expansion teams!

So there you have it.  Now everyone can laugh at me at the end of the season when I’m proven dead wrong.  Or shower me with praise if any of my predictions come to fruition…

What’s up

April 5, 2009 at 10:49 pm | Posted in Personal, Random | 5 Comments

To all of my readers, I’m sorry for the lack of updates recently.  I’ve been back from vacation for more than a week, but so far my only new post has been a solicitation to get people to join one of my fantasy baseball leagues.  It’s true that I’ve been busy at home and at work, but the biggest reason for my lack of updates recently has been a decline in my interest in the baseball card hobby.  I wish that I could point to a specific reason for this, but really it’s a combination of things.

For one, the release calendar for 2009 is filled with baseball card products that I could care less about.  The only sets that I really care about at this point are Topps Heritage and Allen & Ginter, and I’m less enthused about even those products than I was last year.  Over the last month or so, all that I’ve really cared about is adding to my Evan Longoria collection.  I’m pretty sure that I’m done buying any boxes or packs of cards for the year, with the exception of Allen & Ginter.

Another factor is that my collection is literally a mess right now.  Because I’ve spent so much time blogging, buying new cards, and making trades, I’ve spent virtually no time organizing my cards in the last several months.  So I’m not very interested in making the mess worse right now.  I need to spend a lot of time organizing the cards that I have, and probably getting rid of many cards that I don’t really want.  I’ve started to realize the wisdom of collecting quality and not quantity.

So for the foreseeable future, I’ll only be adding Evan Longoria cards, and some cards of other Rays, to my collection.  I’ve also decided to take down the “Trade Corner” page from my blog.  I don’t want to make any more trades.  I’ve lost most of my interest in building sets, and when people send me Rays cards, it seems like 90% of the time, it’s cards that I already have.  Also, I simply don’t have the time anymore to put together packages of cards to send out to people.  There are about 20 people out there who know this very well because they’ve been waiting a long time to receive cards from me.  I do apologize to everyone who has been waiting to either receive cards from me or to receive responses to emails about card trades.  If you’ve already sent cards to me and you’re waiting to receive something back, or if you’ve already sent me email to propose a trade, I will still send the cards that I owe you.  I don’t want to screw anyone over.  But in the interest of maintaining my sanity, I don’t want to make any new card trades at this point in time.

As the new baseball season starts, I think that you’ll start to see some significant changes to the blog.  Expect to see less content about baseball cards, and more posts about the actual baseball season and fantasy baseball.  I am very excited about the new season, and I’d much rather write about the actual games than about cards right now.  When I do write about cards, it’ll be mostly about Longoria cards that I’ve added to my collection or other Rays.

I’d like to thank everyone out there who reads this blog, especially the people who have kept coming back over the last month even though there’s been very little new content.  I hope that you’ll keep reading the blog in the future, even if I don’t write about cards as much as I have in the past.  I think that it’s important for any blogger to write about the things that they’re most interested in and passionate about, and that’s what I intend to do…

I’m back – and a quick plea for help…

March 30, 2009 at 3:12 pm | Posted in Fantasy Baseball, Random | 3 Comments

Hey all – I returned from my trip to Florida over the weekend.  I’ll have a post up about my experiences at spring training very soon.  I had a great time, and I wish that I was still on vacation.  In other news, the Fielder’s Choice Blogger Fantasy Baseball League had its draft last night.  I’ll write a post about that too – and in the mean time, you can check out all of the team rosters here.

But the reason for this post is that I need some help.  I have another ESPN fantasy baseball league with a draft set for 9:15 PM EDT tomorrow, March 31.  The league includes a bunch of my friends who aren’t card bloggers.  However, a few people backed out of the league and we only have 6 of the 10 slots filled.  If you’re interested in playing fantasy baseball and you’re available for the live draft tomorrow night, please contact me as soon as possible so that I can invite you and we can fill up the league!

The league is set up the same as the blogger league.  Here are the details:

  • It’s a traditional 5×5 scoring league, meaning that the statistical categories will be: Batting Average, Home Runs, RBI, Runs, Stolen Bases, Wins, Strikeouts, ERA, WHIP, and Saves.
  • The format is head-to-head, meaning that every week, each team will play directly against another team and they’ll get a win or loss in each of the statistical categories.
  • There are 10 teams in the league.
  • The player universe is all of MLB (not just A.L. or N.L.)
  • Each team will have a 25-man roster (C,1B,2B,SS,3B,CI,MI,OF,OF,OF,OF,OF,UTIL, 9 pitchers, 3 bench slots, and 2 DL slots).

Vacation!

March 20, 2009 at 1:44 am | Posted in Personal, Random | 4 Comments

Vacation time is finally here!  That’s great news for me, but bad news for my readers.  It’s unlikely that I’ll be able to post anything new until at least March 28, when I return home.  Here are my plans:

  • My wife and I are leaving Friday morning 3/20 to drive from our home in Apex, North Carolina to Fort Lauderdale, Florida.  Arrive in Fort Lauderdale Friday night.
  • Attend the Tampa Bay Rays vs. Baltimore Orioles spring training game on Saturday 3/21 in Fort Lauderdale.  I’m planning to meet two of my favorite bloggers at the game: Brian from 30-year old Cardboard and the legendary Mario from Wax Heaven!
  • We might go to the Florida Panthers hockey game on Saturday night against the Columbus Blue Jackets.  If we go, that will mean that I’ll have been to every arena in the NHL’s Southeast division.  I’ve been to the RBC Center in Raleigh many times.  The others are the Verizon Center in Washington, Philips Arena in Atlanta, and the St. Pete Times Forum in Tampa.  Of course, I’ll be rooting hard for the Blue Jackets to win in order to help Carolina’s playoff chances.
  • Saturday night, we’re driving across the state to Port Charlotte, the Rays new spring training home.  We’ll be attending the Rays vs. Yankees game on Sunday.  I’ll get to meet one of my readers and his son at the game, and they’re both fellow Rays fans.
  • We’re driving Sunday night from Port Charlotte to Orlando, and checking in at Disney’s Coronado Springs Resort.
  • We’ll be at Disney until Friday 3/27.  We’ll be celebrating my wife’s 28th birthday on Thursday 3/26.

It’s been a hectic week trying to get things done before the trip.  I was hoping that I’d find some time to mail out some card packages to people that I’m working on trades with, but I never did find that time.  So unfortunately, I won’t be able to send anything out until I return.  I definitely appreciate the patience of everyone who is waiting on something from me (and the list is getting pretty long).

Of course, I will be back in time for the Fielder’s Choice blogger fantasy baseball league draft on Sunday 3/29.

The only bad thing about the trip is that Evan Longoria was just added to the United States roster for the World Baseball Classic, replacing the injured David Wright and Chipper Jones at third base.  That means that I won’t get to watch him play in the two games that I’m going to see.  But despite that, it’s going to be a great time and I can’t wait to get down to sunny Florida!

When I get back, I should have some good pictures and stories to share about the games.

mickey

My last trip to Disney World, July 2005

A reason to Re-Joyce!

March 15, 2009 at 12:19 am | Posted in Autographs, My Cards, Trades | 2 Comments

I know that I am very far behind in posting about recent card trades; if you sent me something in the last month or so and I haven’t posted about it yet, rest assured that you’re on a list and I will be posting about it soon.  But I received something this week that I really wanted to post right away.  It was the first time that someone has obtained an in-person autograph and sent it to me.  Justin from Tampa Bay Sports Wasteland is a fellow Rays fan (although he’s an Orioles fan too) and we’ve made a few card trades in the past.  He attended the Rays Fan Fest at Tropicana Field a few weeks ago and he was kind enough to get a 2009 Matt Joyce card signed for me!

joyce_auto

That was a totally awesome thing to do!  Joyce, as you may know, hit 12 home runs in 242 at bats for the Tigers last year, and he was traded to the Rays for Edwin Jackson.  He grew up in the Tampa Bay area and he was thrilled to become a Ray.  Unfortunately he hasn’t been able to play in spring training yet, due to tendonitis in his lower right leg.  Because of that, he’s likely to start the season in Durham where I’ll get to see him play in person.  But it’s only a matter of time before he takes over Gabe Gross’ role as the lefty in the Rays right field platoon.  I think that he has the potential to be a big contributor to the Rays for many years to come.

As if that weren’t enough, Justin threw in a few other cards too.  The best one is this Upper Deck Cam Ward jersey card:

cam_ward_jersey

This is a card that even my wife is excited about.  Cam Ward is her favorite hockey player.  We attend a lot of Hurricanes games together.  For the third year in a row, the Canes are battling for one of the last playoff spots in the Eastern Conference.  Hopefully they will succeed in actually making the playoffs this year, for the first time since 2006 when they won the Stanley Cup.  If they do, Cam Ward will need to be at the top of his game in the net.

Justin also sent an Evan Longoria Documentary card that I needed, three 2009 Topps cards (Longoria, David Price, and the Longoria/Price dual card), and a Wade Boggs card and Jonny Gomes card for my collection of old Devil Rays.

Thanks again Justin, for your awesome generosity!

Amazing card acquisition – Part 3 (or maybe not so amazing)

March 13, 2009 at 12:43 am | Posted in My Cards, Upper Deck | 7 Comments

You can check out Part 1 of my “amazing card acquisitions” here and Part 2 here.

This post has been in draft mode for a while now.  Check out my third amazing acquisition:

coveleski_cut_auto

coveleski_cut_auto_back

Stan Coveleski is a name that is familiar to most baseball fans.  He’s a Hall of Famer, but not many people know much about his career – at least I didn’t until recently.  A little over a month ago, I had just finished watching the 3rd inning of Ken Burns’ Baseball documentary on MLB Network (covering 1910 – 1919) in which Coveleski was mentioned.  I had trouble falling asleep that night, so I walked over to my computer and started looking at eBay auctions that were about to end.  This card was one of them.  The only cut signature card that I owned was the Enos Slaughter that I pulled from Sweet Spot Classic (see it here) and I thought that it would be cool to add another cut signature of a Hall of Famer to my collection.  I had seen many cut signatures sell for well over $100, so I was very pleased to be able to get this one for $43.57.

Coveleski was a Polish kid who grew up in the Pennsylvania coal mines.  He made his major league debut for the Philadelphia Athletics in 1912, but he had his best years with the Cleveland Indians between 1916 – 1924.  The highlight of his career came in the 1920 World Series, in which he had quite possibly the greatest pitching performance in World Series history.  He pitched three games, completing all of them, and giving up only two runs in 27 innings.  He won all three games and had an ERA of 0.67 for the Series, a record that still stands today.  He was a master of the spitball, which was outlawed after 1920, but Coveleski was one of several pitchers who were still allowed to throw it until their retirement.  After his tenure in Cleveland ended, he went on to pitch for the Washington Senators and New York Yankees, retiring after the 1928 season.

Coveleski wasn’t one of the elite pitchers of his era – that group includes Christy Mathewson, Walter Johnson, and Grover Cleveland Alexander – but he was definitely in the second tier of great pitchers.  He was finally elected to the Hall of Fame in 1969, and he passed away in 1984.

I think that it’s awesome to own a signature of a legendary Hall of Famer who pitched almost 100 years ago, and who passed away 25 years ago.  However, in light of the recent allegations about card companies, including Upper Deck, allowing fake cut signatures into some of their products, the card has lost a little bit of its luster for me.  The wording on the back of the card that the signature was “independently authenticated by a third party authenticator” doesn’t inspire much confidence.  I think that there’s a pretty good chance that the signature is real, if only because counterfeiters would probably be focusing their efforts on bigger names than Stan Coveleski, but it’ll always be a question mark in my mind.  I probably won’t buy any more cut signature cards in the future, unless the card companies do something significant to give collectors more confidence that they’re completely authentic.

As you can see, the card pays tribute to 1920, when Coveleski had his amazing World Series performance, but a photo on the front of the card would’ve been nice – especially since many collectors probably have no idea what he looked like.  So I present to you a photo of Hall of Famer Stan Coveleski in action:

coveleski

Watch out for Part 4 of my amazing card acquisitions, featuring a player who played even before Coveleski…

More on 2009 Topps Heritage

March 12, 2009 at 2:23 am | Posted in My Cards, Topps | 14 Comments

As promised, here’s my follow-up post on my two 2009 Topps Heritage hobby boxes.  You can check out the videos here if you missed them.  First, here’s the breakdown of what I got in each box:

Box 1:

  • 171 base cards (1 – 425)
  • 8 short prints – Carlos Gomez (433), Elijah Dukes (440), Frank Thomas (454), Pirates Coaches (467), Austin Kearns (473), Troy Tulowitzki (478), Chipper Jones All Star (486), Kosuke Fukudome All Star (492)
  • 5 chrome cards – Nick Markakis, Aramis Ramirez, Mat Gamel, Ken Griffey Jr., Jay Bruce
  • 1 refractor – Travis Snider
  • 1 New Age Performers – Tim Lincecum
  • 1 Then & Now – Bob Friend & Cliff Lee
  • 2 Baseball Flashbacks – Mickey Mantle, Luis Aparicio
  • 2 News Flashbacks – USS Seadragon Surfaces at North Pole, First Televised Presidential Debate
  • 1 “Real One” certified autograph – Taylor Phillips (ROA-TP)
  • 1 1960 Buyback – Ruben Gomez (82)
  • 1 Advertising Panel – Cole Hamels, Juan Pierre, Yunel Escobar

Not counting the box toppers, I got 192 total cards in my 24 packs.

Box 2:

  • 169 base cards (1 – 425)
  • 8 short prints – Zach Duke (437), Kevin Millar (448), Rays Coaches (462), Brad Ausmus (471), Josh Willingham (474), Lance Berkman All Star (482), Dustin Pedroia All Star (483), Matt Holliday (494)
  • 4 chrome cards – Derek Jeter, James Loney, Adrian Gonzalez, Travis Snider
  • 1 refractor – Nick Markakis
  • 2 New Age Performers – David Wright, Cole Hamels
  • 1 Then & Now – Mickey Mantle & Adam Dunn
  • 2 Baseball Flashbacks – Juan Marichal, Frank Robinson
  • 2 News Flashbacks – 50-star U.S. flag, JFK elected as 35th President
  • 1 Clubhouse Collection relic – Kevin Millwood (CC-KM)
  • 1 Advertising Panel – Corey Patterson, Pat Burrell, Brian Bannister

I got 190 cards in this box, two less than the first box due to the thickness of the jersey card.

The amazing thing is that I did not get ANY doubles in my two boxes!  I was happily surprised by this.  So I already have 340 of the 425 non-short print base cards.  In addition to not receiving any doubles, the lack of black back parallels makes 2009 Heritage a much easier set to build than the 2008 version.  Because of this, I don’t plan to buy any more hobby boxes or packs.  I’ll just buy the 85 cards that I still need on eBay or Sportlots.  Of course, the hobby boxes are ridiculously overpriced right now anyway.  They’re currently selling for $80 or more, which is way too much to pay for a product like this.  I was fortunate enough to snag my hobby boxes for $62.50 each (with free shipping) during the pre-sell period.

I really like the cards, at least as much as I liked 2008 Heritage.  1960 Topps was a very nice, colorful design, and the cards have a lot of character.  The chrome and refractor parallels are great as usual, and the same standard Heritage inserts are included.  Unlike 2008, it’s easy to determine which cards are short prints, since they’re all grouped between number 426 and 500, and their backs are darker.  The “hits” are worthless, but that’s pretty much expected with Heritage.

By now, everyone knows what the base cards look like, and if you don’t, you can see every one of them in my videos.  Here are some scans of the inserts that I pulled:

taylor_phillips_auto

I had never heard of Taylor Phillips before I pulled this card, and for good reason.  He had a very lousy career as evidenced by his statistics.  I really wonder why Topps bothered to put autographs of such a worthless player in the product.

ruben_gomez_buyback

Speaking of players who had lousy careers, here’s my buyback card of Ruben Gomez.  It turns out that he actually had a few decent seasons with the Giants early in his career, but this card is definitely nothing to be excited about.  You can check out his career stats here.

millwood_jersey

By now, I’m sure that you understand why the “hits” in Heritage are worthless.  Millwood is completely washed up; his last decent season was in 2005.  In 2008, I actually pulled some jersey cards of really good players in Heritage.  Millwood is not a good player (but he used to be).

mantle_dunn_tn

Here’s a Then & New insert of Mickey Mantle and Adam Dunn.  I know that Dunn is a very good power hitter, but is he even remotely comparable to Mantle?  I don’t think so…

lincecum_new_age

New Age Performer insert of Tim Lincecum.  You can bet that this card will wind up in a mailbox in La Jolla, California very soon!  I have insane luck in pulling Lincecum cards…

jfk_flashback

One of the greatest things about 1960 is that one of the greatest Presidents of all-time was elected that year, as you can see in this Flashback card.

markakis_ref

Here’s a refractor of one of the most talented hitters in the A.L. East and one of my favorite non-Rays in MLB.

snider_ref

And my other refractor is of a player who soon will be one of the top hitters in the A.L. East.

It’s very likely that Topps Heritage will be the only set that I collect in 2009.  I’m only planning to collect the Rays cards from other products.  That’s a testament to how uninspired I am by all of the other products that have been announced so far.  I guess I should start getting ready for Heritage High Numbers this fall…

Quick updates

March 11, 2009 at 9:17 am | Posted in Donruss-Playoff, Football, Panini, Random, Razor, Upper Deck | 4 Comments

As you’ve probably noticed, my posting has been sparse since the beginning of March.  I’ve been very busy at work and at home recently, with very little time left over to devote to collecting, let alone blogging.  This will probably continue at least until the beginning of April.  My schedule is pretty packed for the next week and a half, and then my wife and I will be on vacation in Florida from March 20 – 28.

In case you’re waiting for it, I’m still working on my follow-up post on 2009 Topps Heritage.  It should be ready soon; I just need to find some time to scan some of the cards.  One thing that I can tell you is that I was extremely lucky with my two boxes in that I got ZERO doubles!  Yes, I managed to get 382 different cards.  I got enough base cards that I don’t think I’ll need to buy any more hobby boxes or packs.  I’ll just buy the cards that I still need on eBay or Sportlots.

Of course, any time that I take a break from blogging, huge events start to happen.  Here’s my take on a few of them:

  • It’s absolutely inexcusable that Razor and Upper Deck have allowed fake “cut” signatures to find their way into their products.  I’m sure that everyone has read about this by now, but if you haven’t, the details are here.  I give Brian Gray of Razor credit for trying to rectify the situation after the fact, but I think that some irreparable damage has been done to the hobby.  I know that I’m not alone in saying that I’m much less likely to buy any cut signature card now, but my confidence is shaken in other types of cards too.  For example, I doubt that any significant verification is done on the “game used” pieces of memorabilia that are inserted into cards.  I think that it’s less likely that non-cut certified autographs are fake, but in many cases, the card companies are simply mailing stickers to athletes, who sign them and mail them back.  I do believe that the vast majority of athletes are legitimately signing the stickers (and cards) if only because they don’t want to see their reputations damaged if they’re caught mailing back fake autographs to the card companies.  But the potential does exist that there are some fake certified autographs out there.  If any evidence of that is ever discovered, get ready to watch the entire card industry implode.
  • So apparently Panini is buying Donruss-Playoff (details here).  This has the potential to be a very good thing for collectors.  First, it keeps Donruss in business.  The company was obviously having financial troubles, but Panini seems to have plenty of cash, so that problem is solved.  I think it’s logical that Panini would use the Donruss name for their U.S.-based card business, and keep many of the existing Donruss, Leaf, and Playoff brand names around.  Let’s face it, football and baseball card collectors are much more likely to buy cards with the Donruss name on them than Panini.  Hopefully they’ll keep many of the creative people from the company too.  But this is really great news for basketball card collectors.  After it was announced that Panini had obtained an exclusive license to produce NBA cards, many collectors assumed that the cards that would be produced would be a joke.  But now, the cards are likely to have the Donruss brand name on them, be designed by the Donruss creative team, and be produced at the Donruss facilities.  I don’t really see any negatives about this deal at this point.  Now, it’s going to be very interesting to see what happens to Upper Deck, which is also for sale, and has apparently completely given up trying to make quality baseball card products.
  • If you’ve been reading my blog for a while, you know that I’m a Buffalo Bills football fan.  Even though my blog is focused on baseball and cards, my private conversations with friends and family in recent months have been dominated by talk of my disgust for how the team is being run.  They have a completely incompetent head coach (Dick Jauron) and coaching staff who are coming back again in 2009, their biggest star player (Marshawn Lynch) is unable to obey the law and stay out of trouble, and they consistently make horrible decisions about what players to let go and what players to sign.  It seemed obvious that a 10th straight non-playoff season was on the horizon…

    And then they signed Terrell Owens this past weekend.  I was completely shocked and blown away by this.  My first reaction was disbelief, and then I quickly decided that I hated the signing.  After all, T.O. is a complete jackass, a horrible teammate, and he’s been a cancer in the locker room of every team that he played for.  I mean, if Jerry Jones didn’t want him in Dallas anymore, that really says something.  The signing also demonstrated the impulsive decision-making in the Bills front office and their complete lack of long-term planning.  But amazingly, the more that I thought about it, the more that I started to like the signing.  First, it’s a one-year deal.  If it doesn’t work out, the Bills can cleanly cut ties with T.O. after the season.  Also, he’s going to have to keep his tantrums to a minimum and perform on the field at a high level if he wants any other team to want to sign him next year.  But most importantly, T.O. is unquestionably an elite receiver, and he’s going to make the Bills offense a lot better.  One of their major problems has been that opposing defenses have been able to double-cover Lee Evans, preventing him from getting open and making plays.  Now, the Bills will have two top receivers, Evans and Owens.  That’s going to cause problems for defenders, and it should allow both of them to make more big plays.  And if the passing game is much improved, then teams won’t be able to load up on the line of scrimmage to stop the run, so Lynch and Fred Jackson should be more productive too.  Finally, one of the things that I hated about 2008 was how apathetic it appeared that the coaches and many of the players were.  They just didn’t have much competitive fire.  Say what you will about T.O., but he wants to win more than anyone, and he’s not afraid to speak his mind if others around him don’t have the same commitment to winning.

    Strangely enough, the signing of T.O. has made me a lot more excited about the 2009 football season.  If nothing else, he’s going to make the team much more exciting to watch, either because of his performance on the field, or his antics off the field.  The Bills weren’t going to do anything in 2009 without T.O. and now that he’s on the team, they have somewhat of a chance.  If the Dolphins and Falcons could improve so much between 2007 and 2008, anything is possible with the 2009 Bills.

It looks like this wasn’t such a “quick” update after all.  I might only have a few more posts for the rest of the month, but I hope that you’ll stick around and keep reading Fielder’s Choice when I’m able to write more!

2009 Topps Heritage Video Box Breaks

March 7, 2009 at 12:03 am | Posted in My Cards, Topps, Video | 12 Comments

Whew.  It took almost an entire day’s worth of effort, but I finally got all four of the videos from my breaks of two boxes of 2009 Topps Heritage uploaded to YouTube.  Here’s some advice for you – if you ever try uploading a video to YouTube, and the upload just hangs for hours at a time, or if you get “Upload Failed: An unknown error occurred” error messages, just use the bulk uploader.  I’m not sure what the problem was; I’ve never had any trouble uploading to YouTube before.  Anyway, after struggling all afternoon, I finally tried the bulk uploader and it worked like a charm.

So check it out, here are my box breaks.  The first box encompasses the first two videos, plus the first minute or so of the third one.  Then I picked up the pace a little, and finished the second box in the rest of the third video and the fourth video.  I pulled an autograph at the end of the second video and a jersey card at the end of the fourth.  Be forewarned though – neither of them are any good.  But I had a blast with these boxes.  I think I might like 2009 Heritage even better than 2008.  I’ll be back with more commentary on the product, and probably some scans, either later tonight or tomorrow.

Video 1:

Video 2:

Video 3:

Video 4:

My 2008 Topps Heritage set is finally completed

March 6, 2009 at 3:15 pm | Posted in My Cards, Topps, Video | 10 Comments

I have some good news – my two hobby boxes of 2009 Topps Heritage finally arrived last night.  But I was exhausted and had a headache, so I went to bed early, and woke up early this morning to bust my boxes on video.  The videos are currently uploading to YouTube, and I’ll share them with you on the blog as soon as they finish.

In the mean time, here’s another video that I filmed this morning.  I received the very last card that I needed from 2008 Topps Heritage (from Sportlots) and put it into my binder.  You can check out my 2008 Topps Heritage collection in this video:

And here is the last card that I needed, #315, Jacque Jones:

jones_heritage

By the way, I’m still working on completing my set of 2008 Heritage refractors (I have 45 of the 100 from Heritage and 51 of the 100 from Topps Chrome).  I’m also still working on 2008 Heritage High Numbers – I still need 31 green backs, 3 black backs, and a bunch of inserts.  You can see the cards that I still need in my Trade Corner.

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