Saturday, January 31, 2009

Song of the Week - Listen Up! by The Gossip

I have 6,341 songs in iTunes, this is one of them.

Sometimes, iTunes throws something up for me to listen to and I wonder, where did that come from. I got this song as a free download from the Apple iTunes store in August 2006 and had never listened to it. The song is from the Gossip's 2006 album Standing in the Way of Control. I know nothing about them except for their Wikipedia entry here.

So Listen Up! Get up and dance.

Thursday, January 29, 2009

Movie of the Week - Ink Heart

Ink Heart is based on a children's book of the same name. My daughter, our resident children's literature expert, loved the book and convinced us to see the movie.

The story is about a man, named Mo (Brendon Fraser) who is a "Silver Tongue". When he reads aloud from a story, characters or items from the story appear in the real world and, the logic was a little fuzzy here, someone from the real world ends up in the book. 9 years ago, Mo was reading aloud to his daughter and his wife from a fantasy book. He unleashed some unsavory characters from the book and his wife ended up in the book.Mo and his daughter have been wandering the world, hiding from the unsavory characters, and looking for a copy of the book so he can free his wife.

My daughter said that the movie wasn't very much like the book but she liked it anyway. My wife and I liked it as well. I'd recommend it if you like that sort of thing. I think it would be a great movie for kids, even as young as 7 or 8. It might be a little scary in parts but Harry Potter type scary rather than Saw III scary.

Oh, and speaking of Harry Potter, the Half-Blood Prince movie comes out in July. I haven't read the book but from the trailer I can tell you I have no idea what it's about.

1996 Part 3

You can see Part 2 of this series here.

This was a 300-card set produced by Fleer/Skybox. In 1995, the set was just called Emotion. In 1997, it will be called E-X and will continue to be produced with some name variations until 2004. The base card has 2 plies. The green border is actually a frame glued to the outside of the card. The shield-like thing in the bottom right is silver foil. This sort of card (with a frame) will be done again but I think this was the first time. I never bought any of this set new. The Dykstra card was picked up as a loose single at a card shop. 5-card packs cost $4.99 which is probably why I didn't buy any.

Emotion-XL D-Fense
D-Fense was a 10-card insert set in Emotion-XL (inserted 1:4 packs). The design carries along the frame from the base set but one better. The color image if the player is actually part of the silver frame. The background photo has no gloss. All of the text on the card is silver foil. This was acquired on eBay for $2.49 in 2004.

Emotion-XL N-Tense
Another 10-card set inserted at 1:12 in Emotion-XL. This card was also 2-ply. The photo is die cut where the white triangles are and then glued to a white card as background. The card has high gloss front and back with lots of silver foil. I got this card on eBay in 2004 for $2.49.

There are two other inserts in this set, Leagion of Boom (1:36) and Rare Breed (1:100) which I don't have.

This was the fourth edition of Finest. It consisted of 112 cards with 5 distinct designs. There were also 2 parallel sets. The base set was Bronze and the parallels were Silver and Gold. The 5 designs were called Stirling (shown above), Prodigies (shown below), Intimidators, Franchises and Phenoms. I only had a handful of these. A 6-card pack cost $5.00.
Finest Silver
I have one Silver parallel. These were inserted at 1:4. I don't have any of the Gold paralles (1:24) or the Refractor versions. The Bronze Refractors were 1:12, Silver Refractors were 1:48, and the Gold Refractors were 1:288.

This was also the 4th year for Flair. I always looked on these as the Fleer equivalent of Finest. A 7-card pack went for $4.99. I only have this one card from the set which I got on eBay in 2004 for $1.99. The front has a high gloss finish and it is printed in heavier card stock than most cards.

Flair Diamond Cuts
A 12-card set inserted into Flair at 1:20. The front of the card is a textured, refractive foil. It's quite an attractive card in person. I got this on eBay for $2.11 in 2003.

Flair Powerline
Another Flair insert. 10 cards inserted at 1:6. It has a hard glossy finish and a thick card stock. I paid $3.24 for this on eBay in 2004.

There are two more insert sets in Flair which I don't have, Hot Gloves (1:90) and Wave of the Future (1:72).

In 1996, Fleer made a dramatic change in direction with their flagship product. This 600 card set is printed on plain white cardboard with no gloss. The text and logos are in gold foil. By 1996, every major card set had a hard glossy finish. I believe that this is also the first card to feature full bleed printing without a glossy finish. There were no subset cards in the main set. Instead, many of the themes reserved for subset cards were made into inserts. An 11-card pack cost $1.49.

Fleer Tiffany
In the 1980s, Topps, Fleer and Donruss produced glossy, limited edition versions of their sets. Fleer and Topps both called these glossy sets Tiffany. in 1996, one Tiffany card was included in each pack. The foil was silver on these.

Fleer Checklist
The 10-card checklist set was inserted at 1:6. It has a glossy finish front and back. I got this in a repack in 2006.

Fleer Golden Memories
This 10-card set was inserted at 1:10. It features a refractive foil background and high gloss. I bought the entire set on eBay in 2004 for $4.08.

Fleer Lumber Company
A 12-card set inserted at 1:9. This card has a non-glossy finish. The "Lumber Company" brand is embossed into the card.

Fleer Post Season Glory
A 5-card set celebrating the 1995 playoff season. Remember when the Braves were great?

Fleer Prospects
This was a 28-card set inserted at 1:6. This is the only one I have and I probably got it new in a pack. I guess this wasn't a good year for prospects as Beckett doesn't list a single card from this set separately.

Fleer Road Warriors
Another 10-card set, inserted at 1:13. I bought the whole set in 2003 for $6.99. It features a nice group of mid-1990s players: Mark McGwire, Greg Maddux, Mike Piazza, Tony Gywnn, Frank Thomas, Tim Salmon, Matt Williams, Derek Bell and Mo Vaughn. Some of these guys didn't hold us as well as others.

Fleer Rookie Sensations
A 15-card set inserted at 1:11. The right side of the card is refractive foil. Beckett doesn't list anybody from this set either. I'm happy to have the Nomo card.

Fleer Smoke 'n' Heat
10 cards, 1:9. In a set featuring Roger Clemens and Greg Maddux, I pulled Todd Stottlemyre.

Fleer Team Leaders
28 cards, inserted at 1:9. This time I got luck and pulled Ripken.

Fleer Zone
The hardest card to get was Fleer Zone, a 12-card set inserted at 1:90. I bought this on eBay for $3.99 in 2004.

I'm only missing 1 Fleer insert, Tomorrow's Legends (10 cards, 1:13). I just scored the Manny Ramirez from this set on eBay for $2.30 including shipping.

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

1955 Bowman Billy Cox

This is another card I got at the baseball card show last weekend. This was the last set produced by Bowman before it was acquired by Topps. It is the design used in the 2004 Bowman Heritage set.

This is the first of these I've owned. Beckett lists commons from this set in near mint condition at $12 to $30 depending on the series. Beckett lists wrappers for the cards at $60. Imagine having had the foresight in 1955 to save a box of wrappers! If this card were near mint it would be in the $12 category. I got it for a dollar. It's in pretty good shape, good corners, no paper loss, a single unobtrusive crease. It is badly centered top to bottom however. I think no matter the physical characteristics of the card, the centering would keep it from being graded high. Which is why it was in a box of dollar cards.
Cox was an infielder who played between 1941 and 1955, mostly with the Dodgers. He seems not to have been a regular player (less than 100 games per season). He had a career BA of .262 with 66 home runs.

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

2001 E-X Wall of Fame Scott Rolen

Here's another of the relic cards I scored at the baseball card show last weekend. I didn't look real close at these when I bought them. My criteria mostly was: was it a player I liked and a card I didn't think I had. So as I've been cataloging them, I've been surprised at some of what I got.

As I looked at this, I was wondering, from what part of Scott Rolen's uniform did this relic come? It seemed like a weird fabric and a weird color.

It's a piece of an outfield wall! As usual, the wording on the card is maddeningly vague. Is this a piece of the wall that Scott Rolen hit two home runs over on May 17, 2000? That's what the wording leaves me to believe. The Phillies were home against the Cardinals on that date and won the game 5-4. If my conclusion is right, then this piece of outfield wall is from the departed Veteran's Stadium. And as an added bonus, May 17, 2000 was my 20th wedding anniversary.

Monday, January 26, 2009

2008 Topps Lettermen Xfractors

Isn't this a beaut of a card? Want it?

This is a 2008 Devin Thomas Topps Letterman Xfractor numbered 5/20. I've also got a LaDainian Tomlinson (Chargers) one numbered 3/25. I got these in an eBay auction. The problem? They are not what I thought I was buying. I was supposed to get a 2008 Mike Schmidt Donruss Threads parallel numbered to 500. Imagine my surprise? The seller was very accommodating and immediately refunded my money. And didn't ask for the cards back. But I don't want them. I wasn't able to find any of these cards on eBay but non-serial numbered cards of these guys aren't going for much. I did see a 1/300 card of Thomas with an asking price of $11. I'd like to trade these to someone who'd like them. What I'm asking for in return is a couple of autos or relics of Phillies or Astros that I don't have. I don't care who the players are as long as I don't already have the card. Send me an email with an offer.

Sunday, January 25, 2009

Song of the Week - This Land is Your Land

If you saw any inaugural coverage this past week you may have seen Pete Seeger and Bruce Springsteen singing this old Woodie Guthrie favorite. This is Bruce singing this solo in 2006.

Saturday, January 24, 2009

Results of the show

The last time I went to this show was in the mid-1990s and I remember being disappointed. I had to pay to get in and had to pay to park and I didn't see much I wanted to buy. This time was much different. I still had to pay to get in and park but I found lots I wanted to buy I'm just going to highlight a few items today. I'll probably get more posts out of this trip.

2005 Biography Mike Schmidt HR Materials

These cards had been randomly inserted in Donruss Leaf products. There were 10 different players featured. I can't say for sure what the cards of the other players actually featured because I've only seen the Schmidt cards. The Schmidt cards celebrate his first 55 home runs (why 55, who knows?). The 'base' card has a die cut number from 1 to 55 on the front with foil behind the numbers. I have #46. This is the materials card, with a game-used jersey piece. There is also an autographed version.

2003 Topps Tribute Contemporary Tribute to the Stars Dual Relic Todd Helton

I picked up 15 relic cards for $3 each. This one has everything going for it: gold foil, refractive finish, a photo, a game-used jersey and bat cut into the shape of a player with a bat on his shoulder. And the jersey piece has a stripe.

1964 Topps Art Maahaffey

As hard as it is to believe, when I was a kid I didn't really follow baseball that much. I grew up in Philadelphia and was 12 years old in 1964 but the famous collapse of the Phillies that year hardly has left a ripple in my memory. But for some reason, just about the only Philly I can remember from that area is Art. He was 12-9 for the Phils in 1964. I also have his 1960 rookie card. This is the first 1964 card I've owned. All this for a buck. Along with this card I picked up a bunch of 1950s and 1960s Phillies cards for 1 to 2 bucks apiece.

1993 Upper Deck Iooss Collection Nolan Ryan

I already had a card from this set but someone was selling the entire 26-card set for $3.00. Walter Iooss was a famous baseball photographer. The 26 players represented in this set are about as fine an example of the state of baseball in 1993 that you can imagine. Each card is beautifully composed and Iooss explains on the back what he was trying to do with each subject. Beckett lists this set for $30.

2003 Fleer Rookies & Greats Jeff Bagwell

I got a box containing 35 different Jeff Bagwell cards for $8.00. A pretty good deal. This card is from, what I have to guess, is a pretty obscure Fleer set. I had the Mike Schmidt card from the set which I accidentally found on eBay. Fleer produced a lot of different sets over the past 10 years or so of its existence. If anybody can name them all of them off the top of their head, well, that person needs to find something better to do with their time.

Friday, January 23, 2009

Tristar Baseball Card Show

Just a short post. On Saturday I will be attending the big Tristar Baseball Card Show at the George R. Brown Convention Center in Houston. I've never been to this event. Usually when I find out about it I can't make arrangements to go but this time I heard about it two weeks ago and planned accordingly. Maybe I'll get home in time to make some comments on Saturday afternoon.

Thursday, January 22, 2009

1996 Part 2

Part 2 of my series on 1996 baseball cards from my reference card collection. See Part 1 here.

Collector's Choice
Upper Deck produced the Collector's Choice for 5 years from 1994 to 1998. It was the first new set from Upper Deck in 1994, and in 1996, Upper Deck was still making only 2 different sets. Collector's Choice was meant to be a low-cost alternate to their Upper Deck set. a 12-card pack in 1996 cost 99 cents. There were 730 cards in the set which was issued in two 365-card series. The cards were mostly white bordered, either vertically or horizontally oriented. The backs feature an Upper Deck holographic logo.
The Collector's Choice set featured a number of subsets. This Tony Gwynn card is from the All-Star subset. Notice that although the back is the same, the front features full-bleed printing. The other subsets were: Rookie Class, Stat Leaders, International Flavor, Fantasy Team, Checklist (which featured a player photo), Traditional Threads, and All Rookie. Most of these had difference designs than the base cards.

Collector's Choice Gold

Collector's Choice Gold cards were inserted in packs at a ratio of 1:35. These were a full 730-card parallel set with gold borders and gold foil facsimile signatures on the front. Beckett lists these at a considerable premium over the base cards, 15 to 25 times the base.

Collector's Choice Silver
The silver parallel set was easier to get as one was inserted into every pack. It featured silver borders and a silver foil facsimile signature.

Collector's Choice Nomo Scrapbook
This cards from this 5-card set were inserted at a ration of 1:12 Series 2 packs. Nomo-mania was still in full swing in 1996. I never got one of these in a pack but bought the entire set on eBay in 2004 for $3.25.

Collector's Choice You Make The Play
Another baseball card game. One of these cards was inserted into every Series 1 pack. There were 90 cards in the set.

Collector's Choice You Make The Play Gold
The glod version of the You Make the Play cards. These were inserted at a ratio of 1:35 packs. This is the only one of these I have and I actually pulled it from a pack. This is one of the best pulls in the set. There apparently were not silver versions of this card.

There was one other insert set called "Crash the Game" which I don't have.

Donruss started featuring full-bleed printing in 1994. This set continues that practice (which would be continued until Donruss went out of business in 1999). There were 550 cards in the base set, issued in two series of 330 and 220 cards. A 12-card pack cost $1.79. The design of this set is plain and I like the big picture and stats on the back. I do not like the box which appears between Cal's legs. In the box is the team name, team logo, and uniform number. I think the placement of the box is awkward on most of the cards.
There were no real subsets issued. The checklist cards feature a player photo and rookie cards had a Rated Rookie logo on the front. Winfield had retired in 1995.

Donruss Press Proofs
This was a basically a parallel set similar to Stadium Club 1st Day Issue cards. The cards with the Press Proof mark are supposed to be the first 2,000 of each card produced. They were inserted at 1:12 in Series 1 packs and 1:10 in Series 2 packs. I managed to pull two of these from Series 1 packs. The cards are not numbered. Murray hit is 500th home run in 1996.

Donruss Diamond Kings
Diamond King cards were introduced by Donruss in the early 1980s and used to be the first 20 or so cards of the base set. In 1992, Donruss made Diamond Kings an insert set. In 1996, for the first time, Donruss also made them a limited production numbered set. 10,000 doesn't seem so limited these days but these are among the earliest numbered sets. They were inserted at 1:60. This is the only one I ever pulled, and lucky me it was a Phillie (even if it was Gregg Jefferies).

Donruss Elite
Donruss introduced the Elite series in 1992. I believe these were the first serially numbered baseball cards. The cards were numbered consecutively since the 1992 cards. The 1996 set was numbered 61 to 72 and were inserted at a rate of 1:140. I didn't pull this from a pack. I think I bought it in a card shop around 2000. Sanders was coming off an All-Star year in 1995.

Donruss Freeze Frame
Are you seeing a trend here? Yes, every insert card in 1996 Donruss was serial numbered to either 10,000 or 5,000. Freeze Frame was numbered to 5,000 and featured 8 cards. I got this one on eBay in 2004 for $3.49. The card features rounded corners and gold foil logo. Chipper was an All-Star in 1996, with 30 home runs and a .309 average. The Braves went to the World Series but to the Yankees.

Donruss Hit List
A 16-card set numbered to 10,000. These cards feature the Dufex printing process on the front and gold foil. I got this card on eBay in 2003 for $2.99. 1996 was another big year for Baggy, with 31 home runs and a .315 average. He won an All-Star berth as well.

Donruss Power Alley
A 10-card insert set numbered to 5,000. The front of the card features a refractive foil design. I got this on eBay in 2004 for $4.50. Albert Belle was still a big player in 1996, hitting 48 home runs with a .311 batting average.

Donruss Round Trippers
A 10-card set numbered to 5,000. The 17 on the card is for the 17 home runs Griffey hit in an injury shortened season in 1995. He hit 49 home runs in 1996. I got this card on eBay in 2003 for $6.40.

Donruss Showdown
This 8-card set featured a pitching/hitting matchup. I'm not sure how many times Griffey batted against Maddux. I think this is the only card in the set to feature players from different leagues. These also feature Dufux printing and gold foil and are numbered to 10,000. I got this on eBay in 2004 for $5.75.

In mu quest for 1996 cards I actually have all the inserts from the Donruss base set. Stay tuned next week for Part 3.

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

2001 Topps Fusion

For 2001, Topps had an interesting idea. They put out a set which combined their 'premium' card brands at the time, Stadium Club, Gold Label, Gallery, Finest, and Bowman's Best. It was a 250 card set featuring 50 players. There are 5 cards for each player, one for each brand. What is perhaps most interesting, is that the cards don't feature the actual designs used on the brands in 2001, or in fact, in any year. Instead, the designs are in the style of each brand. The fronts of the cards all feature the Topps Fusion logo at the bottom of the card. The backs of each brand are different, except for a block at the bottom with the Topps logo, copyright info, other logos and the card number. I liked these cards and bought a box in 2001 (at about $0.75/card). I managed to get Jeff Bagwell in 4 of the 5 brands. 2001 was the only year Topps produced this set.

Stadium Club
Gold Label
Bowman's Best