Thursday, July 28, 2011

Movie of the Week - Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 2

The movie has been out for almost 2 weeks so you may be sick of hearing about it but we only just saw it last night. We decided to wait until the crowds died down a bit. The 7:35, non-3D showing still had a packed house.

I've only read the first two books but I've seen all the movies. The movies have been mixed for me. Sometimes not enough story, sometimes hard to fallow without having read the book, but on the whole I've enjoyed them.

Deathly Hallows Part 1 was pretty long and kind of dull. It was all set up for the final confrontation between you know who and Lord Shall Not be Named. We watched it again last week just to remind us of what happened. My opinion is that the final movie is great. It is about as satisfying a conclusion to the series as could be hoped for.

Throughout this series, Harry Potter has grown from a young boy, unsure of himself, unsure of his friends, and unsure of the danger that he is in. He is ignorant of the world and his place in it. Powers that he doesn't understand have control of him. Throughout the series he has grown and matured. He learns of his power. He learns of the forces arrayed against him. In this movie, now confident, although still scared, he knows he has been a pawn, has been shaped as a tool toward a specific end, but accepts his role and is willing to make whatever sacrifice to save what he can of those he loves and who love him.

Lord Voldemort has gone from a vague shadowy presence, an unknown force that cannot be named to become the great power that he always knew himself to be. Supremely confident in his power, he cannot believe that lesser beings than himself have prepared the way for his downfall, using his own power against him.

I was totally justified in my belief that the motivations of Snape were not what they seemed.

Be warned, that this movie is pretty violent. Great magically powers are harnessed against Harry and great magical powers are on his side. At the interface of those powers, people and creatures die left and right.

Sunday, July 24, 2011

Song of the Week - Mondo '77 by Looper

For reasons I don't understand, I own the soundtrack from the Tom Cruise movie Vanilla Sky. I've never seen the movie. Anyway, this song, called "Mondo '77" is on the soundtrack. I was getting late making this post when it came up on iTunes and I said "That's the one". I never would have guessed from listening to the song, that Looper is a Scottish band. According to Wikipedia, they give their music away, supporting themselves by royalities from their music being used in commercials and big name movies, like Vanilla Sky.

Saturday, July 23, 2011

Birthdays of the Week July 17-23

July 17
1972 Topps #167 Deron Johnson
Deron was born in 1938 in San Diego, CA. He was signed as a free agent by the Yankees in 1956. He was mainly and infielder (1st and 3rd) who had a 16-year career. In addition to the Phillies he played for the Yankees, Royals, Reds, Braves, A's, Brewers, Red Sox, and White Sox. Whew! He had a career BA of .244 and hit 245 home runs. Johnson was serving as a coach with California when he was diagnosed with lung cancer, which claimed his life on April 23, 1992, at the age of 53.

July 18
1998 Scoremasters #36 Mike Greenwell
Gator was born in 1963 in Louisville, KY. He was the Red Sox 3rd round draft pick in 1982 and played his entire 12-year career there. An outfielder, he had a career batting average of .303 with 130 home runs. According to Wikipedia, he obtained his nickname in spring training one year when he captured a alligator, taped it's mouth shut and put it in teammate Ellis Burks locker.

July 19
2000 Metal Emerald #250 Rick Ankiel
Rick was born in 1979 in Fort Pierce, FL. He was the Cardinals 2nd round draft pick in 1997. Although not as big a phenom as Stephen Strasburg (see below), he was still a highly regarded prospect who had a big impact on the hobby. He had an 11-7 record in 2000, his first full season, with 194 strikeouts. In the 2000 playoffs however, he completely lost the ability to throw strikes. He went back to the minor leagues in an unsuccessful attempt to regain his pitching. In 2005, he switched to the outfield. He returned to the majors in 2007 as an outfielder for the Cardinals. He currently plays for the Nationals.

July 20
2010 Bowman Draft Gold #1 Stephen Strasburg
Stephen was born in 1988 in San Diego, CA. He was the Nationals #1 draft pick in 2009 and made his major league debut on June 8, 2010. To say that Strasburg was a phenom is to understate his impact on the game. Sports Illustrated called his debut "the most hyped pitching debut the game has ever seen." He went 5-3 in 2010 before being shut down by an injury. He had Tommy John surgery requiring 12-18 months of rehab. He was also a big phenomenon in the baseball card hobby with people paying incredible amounts for autograph cards and other rare cards.

July 21
2008 Upper Deck UD Game Materials 1999 #99 C. C. Sabathia

Carsten Charles
was born in 1980 in Vallejo, CA. He was the Indians 1st round draft pick in 1998. He pitched 7 years for the Indians before being traded to the Brewers in 2008. After the 2008 season he sighed a $161 million, 7-year contract with the Yankees. Including this season, he has a career record of 171-93 with an ERA of 3.50. He is a 5-time All-Star and won the AL Cy Young Award in 2007. He is also one of the best hitting pitchers today with a career batting average of .250 with 3 home runs.

July 22
1992 Upper Deck #99 Dave Stieb
Dave was born in 1957 in Santa Ana CA. He was drafted by Blue Jays in the 5th round of the 1978 amateur draft. Dave pitched 15 of his 16 years for the Blue Jays. He was one of the most dominating pitchers in the 1980s. His career record was 176 wins and 136 loses with an ERA of 3.44. He was a 7-time All-Star and was named the AL TSN Pitcher of the Year in 1982.

July 23
1990 Topps All Stars #11 Don Drysdale
Don was born in 1936 in Van Nuys, CA. He was signed as an amateur free agent by the Dodgers in 1954. He pitched his entire 14-year career for the Dodgers, 2 years in Brooklyn, the rest in LA. He was one of the most dominating pitchers in the 1960s. During his career he had 209 wins vs 169 loses with a career ERA of 2.95. He was an 8-time All-Star and won the NL Cy Young Award in 1962 when he was 25-9 with a ERA of 2.83. He won 3 World Series with the Dodgers. Don was elected to the Hall of Fame in 1984. After his career he became a broadcaster. He died in 1983 of a heart attack. He was found in his hotel room in Montreal where he was to cover the Dodgers-Expos game later that day.

Thursday, July 21, 2011

2011 Summer Clearance Trade with Madding and final wrap-up

All good things have to come to an end. It's the official end of the 2011 Summer Clearance Trade. I expect a trade or two more from latecomers but I'm going to wrap up the stats now. Last year I sent our 611 cards to 11 people. I got 241 cards back, of which, I needed 118. So 44% of the cards I got back I needed. I was pretty happy with that.

This year I sent out 1,000 cards to 12 people. I got 851 cards back. Amazingly, 44% of them, or 378, were cards I needed. I'm even happier with this year's trade. To put it in another perspective, it cost me about $31.50 to mail all those cards. 378 cards works out to about 8 cents/card. No way I could have gotten all of these cards for 8 cents each on eBay.

The last post are cards from Madding at Cards On Cards. You can see some of what I sent him here. I'm really happy with what I got from him, especially the first cards up.

1978 O-Pee-Chee #42 Greg Luzinski
This card puzzled me at first. There is no Topps logo on the front and the back is a weird brown. Then I noticed the French on the back. It's a 1978 O-Pee-Chee! I never saw ones of these before. And Madding sent me 4 Phillies from the set. Thanks!

1988 Topps Big #67 Juan SamuelCards from this set aren't hard to come by, in fact, as I'm writing this, you can buy the entire set on eBay for $6. I get most of my 1980s cards these days in repacks and you're not going to find an over-sized card like this in a repack.

1993 Upper Deck #247 John KrukI thought I had the entire Phillies set from 1993 Upper Deck, but I was missing this Kruk card. This card is my nomination for the Dirtiest Uniform on a Baseball Card Award.

1993 Milk Bone Super Stars #20 Craig BiggioI love these cards which used to be packaged with food products. This set was produced by Michael Schechter Associates, aka MSA. They produced cards included in Post cereals, Pepsi and other products. MSA had a contract with the Player's Association but not with Major League Baseball. I'll bet that Player's Association logo hat that Biggio is wearing was a popular item.

2007 Upper Deck Holiday Inn #35 Carlos LeeThis set got added to just a few weeks ago. I'd never heard of it. If you stayed at a Holiday Inn during a specific 2-month period in 2007, you got a cellophane pack with 4 cards from this 60-card set. What a long, strange trip that would have been to complete the set.

2009 SP Authentic #199 Ryan HowardI have very few cards from this set and only one Phillie. This card looks like and insert but it's actually a subset.

2011 Topps #421 Domonic BrownI had most of the Phillies from 2011 Topps but not this one. Here's hoping this guy turns into a great player.

2011 Topps Heritage #72 Chase Utley and Jimmy RollinsThis is the last Phillies card from this set that I needed.

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

2011 Summer Clearance Trade with BA Benny

Only one more trade package in-hand after this one. Mike (aka BA Benny) sent me a nice package of cards in return for Mets. There were 20 cards I needed. The highlights follow.

1986 Fleer Star Stickers #52 Von HayesThe man the Phillies fans called 5-for-1 Hayes. I had just started collecting baseball cards in 1985 and for the first few years only bought Topps. I had a few from this set which I pulled from repacks but this is my first Phillie.

2003 Topps Chrome #405 David BellNot such a great player for the Phillies but this is the only Phillie I have from this set.

2006 Artifacts #67 Bobby AbreuThis is a set I always liked but had only bought a single blaster. Only the second Phillie from the set that I have.

2008 Finest #21 Chase UtleySince the demise of my local card shop some 6 or 7 years ago, I rarely buy Finest. I've never seen a blaster of this product and the big box stores never have single packs. I only have a handful of cards from this set and this is the first Phillie.

2008 Topps Chrome 50th Anniversary All Rookie Team #9 Jimmy RollinsNice card. And I didn't have any of these, Phillies or otherwise.

2008 Topps Heritage #350 Jimmy RollinsThe last card I needed to complete the Phillies set.

2009 Topps Heritage #185 Kyle KendrickKendrick is mainly used as a spot starter this year by the Phillies. Especially since Oswalt has been down. He pitched a pretty good game against the Mets on Sunday, leaving the game after 7 with an 8-1 lead. The Phillies hung on to win that game 8-5.

2010 Topps Attax Silver #21 Roy HalladayLike I've said before, I'm not a fan of these Attax cards, although the silver versions were pretty cool. I didn't have any Phillies in the silver. Mike also sent me the Jimmy Rollins. The worse thing about the 2010 Attax is that you have to look the cards up on to figure out the card number.

2010 Topps Heritage #77 J. A. HappHapp was part of the trade to the Astros in July 2010 to bring Roy Oswalt to the Phillies. I liked this year of Topps Heritage. Mike also sent me Placido Polanco from this set.

Monday, July 18, 2011

2011 Summer Clearance Trade with Play at The Plate

We're starting to wind down on the 2011 Summer Clearance Trade. Only three more to share. I was pretty happy with the 2010 trades but I think this was even a better year. I guess I'll do it again in 2012.

Brian from Play At The Plate sent me a pile of Astros and Phillies for a bunch of Rangers cards. Of the cards he sent, I needed 67 of them. Here are the highlights.

1999 Fleer Mystique #103 Glen BarkerI think that Fleer was the first to make rookie cards numbered inserts. Here is an example from 1999. Too bad this guy went nowhere.

1999 Topps All-Matrix #26 Curt SchillingThe movie The Matrix was big in 1999. Was Schilling really "The One"?

1999 Upper Deck 10th Anniversary Team Double #12 Jeff BagwellA re-creation of the Upper Deck 1989 design all duded up with gold foil and Dufex. Back then, who would have thought that Upper Deck wouldn't have much to celebrate on their 20th anniversary?

1999 Upper Deck MVP Dynamics #12 Jeff BagwellUpper Deck MVP sure had busy looking inserts. See some below from the 2000 issue. This is for the Reference Binder.

2000 Upper Deck 2K Plus #9 Scott RolenThere were two Phillies in this 12-card insert set. I already had Pat Burrell.

2000 Upper Deck Statitude #15 Craig BiggioAnother insert in 2000 Upper Deck. I previously only had the Sammy Sosa card from this 30-card set.

2000 Upper Deck MVP Pure Grit #5 Scott RolenHe also sent me the Craig Biggio card from this insert set.

2000 Upper Deck MVP Second Season Standouts #4 Ken CaminitiAnother insert from 2002 Upper Deck MVP. There's a lot of stuff going on on this card.

2002 Fleer Golden Memories #12 Pat BurrellI didn't have any cards from this insert set so this goes into the Reference Binder. This is an interesting design in that it is a card with out any gloss but with gold foil.

2002 Topps Gold Label #48 Jeff BagwellA nice looking card from this premium set from Topps.

2005 Fleer Showcase #53 Chase UtleyIn the 2000s, Fleer put out some many different sets it was hard to keep up with them. I had only bought a few packs of Fleer Showcase and didn't have any Phillies from the set. Brian also sent me Wagner and Thome.

2008 Topps Dick Perez Ryan HowardI like this. Any Howard card that I don't have is a card I want to have.

2008 Upper Deck Documentary Gold #423 Lance BerkmanI've gotten quite a few Phillies and Astros from the 2008 Documentary set but this is the only Gold variation. I didn't have any Phillies or Astros Gold.

2009 UD A Piece of History #72 Ryan HowardI only bought one blaster of this product back in 2009 and didn't like it much. I only had one Phillie from the set. In addition to Howard, Brian sent Utley as well.

2010 Bowman Gold #24 Raul IbanezRauuuuuuul!

Sunday, July 17, 2011

Song of the Week - Like A Hurricane by Neil Young

On Facebook, I am in the middle of a Neil Young Challenge. I'm attempting to post a video from every Neil Young album or album in which he has new material. 43 videos in all. This is what I posted yesterday. The song is from his 1977 American Stars 'n' Bars album. This was a mostly forgettable album of studio material he recorded between 1974 and 1977. But among that material is "Like a Hurricane" one of his most well known songs.

Saturday, July 16, 2011

Birthdays July 10 - July 16

July 10
2003 Topps Shoebox #69 Andre Dawson
The Hawk was born in 1954 in Miami, FL. He was the 11th round draft pick by the Expos in 1975. He was the NL Rookie of the Year in 1977 with the Expos. The bulk of his 21-year career was with the Expos (11 years) and the Cubs (6 years). An 8-time All-Star, he was the NL MVP in 1987 when he hit 49 home runs and had 137 RBIs. He was finally elected to the Hall of Fame in 2010, his 9th year of eligibility.

July 11
1991 Stadium Club Members Only #3 Andy Ashby
Andy was born in 1967 in Kansas City, MO. He was signed as an amateur free agent by the Phillies in 1986. He put together a 14-year career for the Phillies, Rockies, Padres, Braves, and Dodgers. He had a career 98-110 record with a career ERA of 4.12. He was a 2-time All-Star with the Padres. His best season was 1998, when he went 17-9 and helped the Padres get to the World Series, where they lost to the Yankees in 4 games.

July 12 2010 Topps Allen & Ginter #189 Howie Kendrick
Howie was born in 1983 in Jacksonville, FL. He was the 10th round pick of the Angels in 2002. In 2010, his 4th with the Angels, he seems to have finally become a full-time player. He hit .279 in 158 games last year, playing infield and outfield positions. He's hitting .302 so far this season, good enough to get selected to play in his first All-Star game.

July 13
2004 Bowman Heritage Black and White TV #30 Yadier Molina

Yadier was born in 1982 in Bayamon, PR. He was the 4th round draft pick of the Cardinals in 2004. He is a catcher, as are his two older brothers, Benjie and Jose. They are the only trio of brothers to have each won a World Series ring. He is a 3-time All-Star and a 3-time Gold Glove winner. He is generally considered the best defensive catcher in baseball today.

July 14
1999 Fleer Mystique Fresh Ink Robin Ventura
Robin was born in 1967 in Santa Maria, CA. He was the 1st round (10th pick overall) by the White Sox in 1988. He mainly played 3rd base for the White Sox from 1988 through 1998. He was signed as a free agent for the Mets in 1999 and spent three years there before being traded to the Yankees for David Justice in late 2001. The Yankees turned around and traded him to the Dodgers in 2003, and he finished his career there in 2003. He had a career BA of .264 with 294 home runs. His first year of eligibility for the Hall of Fame was 2010 but he only garnered 1.3% of the vote.

July 15
1997 Topps #364 Kirt Manwaring
Not a lot of good choices for today. When in doubt go with a Phillie or Astro. Kirt was born in 1965 in Elmira, NY. He was the Giants 2nd round draft pick in 1986 and spent most of his career in San Francisco (1987-1995) as a catcher. He played a grand total of 37 games for the Astros in 1996 and retired in 1999 after three years with the Rockies. He is currently a catching instructor in the Giants system.

July 16
1992 Topps McDonald's Baseball's Best #7 Terry Pendleton
Terry was born in 1960 in Los Angeles, CA. He was drafted by the Cardinals in the 7th round of the 1982 draft. He played for the Cardinals from 1984 to 1990, losing the World Series with them in 1985 and 1987. After the 1990 season, he was signed as a free agent by the Braves, just in time for their ascendency. In 5 seasons with the Braves, he appeared in 3 World Series, losing all three. There are not a lot of players who can say they've appeared in 5 World Series, and probably even fewer who can say they were on the losing side in 5 World Series. Terry played a total of 15 seasons with a career BA of .270 and 144 home runs.

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

2011 Summer Clearance Trade with the Quarry

I was not familiar with with Johnny R's Cards from the Quarry before he contacted me asking for the Rockies cards in trade. As the trade was winding down, he was running a multiple set box break and I bought in for the Phillies. Nobody picked the Astros. Since he didn't want them, he threw them into the trade.

1996 Studio #49 Jeff Bagwell4 Astros cards came out of the box break but the only one I needed was Bagwell.

1998 Aurora
Another set from the box break This was a set produced by Pacific. In 1998, Pacific had somehow lost their license from Major League Baseball but not with the player's union. The cards clearly show MLB logos, but actual team names are not mentioned. On the back of the cards it says "Pacific baseball player cards are not manufactured, sponsored, or authorized by any team or league".

2004 Topps Chrome
Just a few of the 2004 Topps Chrome cards from the break. I only had one Astro from this set. This was a pretty nice set. They look nice and even after 7 years the cards only have a slight warp.

2008 Upper Deck Documentary #1925 Hunter PenceI've gotten a few of these in these trades. Johnny sent me 8. There are 324 combines Phillies and Astros cards in this set and I'm not where near having them all. Not sure I want them all either.

2009 O-Pee-Chee BlackCoste started the 2009 season with the Phillies and ended it with the Astros. I don't have any 2009 cards with Coste as an Astro.
Hunter Pence cards are always welcome.

2009 Upper Deck Goudey

As nice as the Upper Deck O-Pee-Chee cards were in 2009, Upper Deck managed to also produce this set in the same year. Pretty creepy looking player paintings.

2011 Topps Ticket to Toppstown #25 Ryan HowardRyan Howard cards are always welcome, even Toppstown.