Thursday, March 31, 2011

1962 Topps

This year's Topps Heritage set is based on the Topps 1962 set. I sure wish I owned more of those. I was 10 years old in the summer of '62 but I wasn't collecting baseball cards then. My allowance mainly went to comic books.

Topps #17 Johnny CallisonJohnny Callison was my favorite Phillie back then. I acquired this card for $1.00 back in 1994. The 2011 Topps Heritage card #17 is former Phillie outfielder Jayson Werth, in his new Nationals uniform.

Topps #46 Jack BaldschunI don't remember this guy at all, nor do I know when I got this card. The #46 Topps Heritage card is current Phillie pitcher Cole Hamels.

Topps #104 Ted SavageAnother guy I don't remember. I wonder if the photographer told him to look 'savage' for the shot. I paid $1.00 for this in January 2009 at a card show in Houston. #104 2011 Topps Heritage is rookie Phillie outfielder Domonic Brown.

Topps #111 Dallas GreenDallas Green spent most of his 8-year career with the Phillies in the '60s. He will come back to the Phillies as the manager of the 1980 World Series winning team. The 2011 Topps Heritage #111 is Phillies pitcher Brad Lidge.

Topps #146 Don DemeterI acquired this card for $4.99 at a card shop in the Philadelphia area in August 2009. We were on vacation in Philly then and my wife agreed to drive around the area looking for card shops. The 2011 Topps Heritage #146 is Phillies infielder Placido Polanco.

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Movie of the Week - Sucker Punch

We'll let's just start off by quoting the science fiction web site "Sucker Punch is such an awful movie that it raises the bar for what counts as terrible". After we saw this, I told my daughter that at least it would make an entertaining blog post. I said I'd start it by saying "If you see only one terrible movie this year, make it this one", but she seriously doubted that I should recommend that anyone see it under any terms.

Is it the worst movie ever made? Is it even the worst movie I ever saw? Probably not but it is quite a mess. Little did I think that I'd find a movie featuring scantily clad beautiful women wielding swords and sub-machine guns boring. The plot, such is it is, concerns a young woman locked away in a mental institution by her evil step-father. It hardly matters why. In five days a 'specialist' is coming to perform a lobotomy on her (with an ice pick no less). She has to escape by then. Her escape attempts consist of elaborate fantasy sequences which, while inventive, are too long and boring, and, ultimately, meaningless to the audience. In the first, she meets a guy who tells her she needs five things to escape: a map, fire, a knife, a key and a mystery. This is the plan she sells to the other girls (with out the mystery part). Most of the movie is a fantasy within a fantasy (sort of like Inception is a dream within a dream, but making even less sense).

The guy shows up in the various fantasies giving the girls advice before each mission, such as "Remember, girls, if you don't stand for something, you fall for anything". At least that makes sense. His next piece of advice was "Don't write a check with your mouth that you're not willing to cash with your ass". Huh?

Are there holes in the plot? My daughter said in answer, "If you put Swiss cheese in a blender, does is still have holes?"

I'm not really going to recommend that you see this, although if you do, stick through the credits. Perhaps the only redeeming virtue of this movie is the sound track. Most of the music consists of great covers of great songs. The last half of the closing credits features an inventive cover of Roxy Music's "Love Is The Drug" performed by the movie cast.

Monday, March 28, 2011

Random Phillies cards of the Week

1976 Topps #586 Ron SchuelerSchueler was a reliever and spot starter for the Phillies from 1974 through 1976. He had a 16-20 record with 4 saves with the Phillies. He was sold to the Twins before the 1977 season.

1988 Fleer #316 Rick ShueShue was signed by the Phillies as a free agent in 1980. He broke into the majors in 1984. He was a third baseman and was ultimately looked on as Mike Schmidt's eventual replacement. It didn't work out that way and in March 1988 he was traded in a blockbuster deal to the Orioles with Keith Hughes and Jeff Stone for Mike Young. OK, maybe it wasn't a blockbuster deal.

1992 Score #568 Danny CoxCox was signed by the Phillies in December 1990 and was 4-6 for the Phillies in 1991. He was released after a 2-2 start in June of 1992. You may remember that the Phillies were 70-92 that year. If you couldn't make it with that team you may not have been able to make it anywhere. But he was picked up by the Pirates and finished the 1992 season with them, going 3-1. He was signed by the Blue Jay in 1993, and pitched 3.1 innings in 3 games against the Phillies in the 1993 World Series, giving up 6 hits and 3 runs.

2008 Topps #532 Tim LaheyYou'll be excused if you don't remember this guy with the Phillies. He was a 20th round draft pick by the Twins in 2004. According to the back of this card, he was claimed of waivers by the Phillies in December 2008. He started the 2008 season in the Phillies bullpen but on April 5th, he was designated for reassignment, and reclaimed by the Twins. He did not appear in any games for the Phillies. A few years ago, Major League Baseball said that baseball cards could only have a Rookie Card designation if the player had actually appeared in a major league game. Again, according to he has not appeared in the majors. This picture is probably from a 2008 spring training game.

Sunday, March 27, 2011

Song of the Week - Benedictus by the Strawbs

From their 1972 album Grave New World.

The wanderer has far to go
Humble must he constant be
Where the paths of wisdom
Distant is the shadow of the setting sun.

Bless the daytime
Bless the night
Bless the sun which gives us light
Bless the thunder
Bless the rain
Bless all those who cause us pain.

Yellow stars may lead the way
All diversions lead astray
While his resolution holds
Fortune and good will will surely follow him.

Bless the free man
Bless the slave
Bless the hero in his grave
Bless the soldier
Bless the saint
Bless all those whose hearts grow faint.

Friday, March 25, 2011

Movie of the Week - Limitless

Eddie Morra (Bradley Cooper, Face from The A-Team movie) is a writer with apparently terminal writer's block. He's gotten a big advance to write his book but he can't get a single word down in the page. He looks like he's been living on the street but he actually has an incredible crappy apartment, just one level up from the street. He has a beautiful girlfriend, Lindy (played by the lovely Abbie Cornish) who finally, as her career as an editor is taking off, dumps him. How could things get worse for Eddie?Here's how. He bumps into his ex-wife's low life brother, Vernon, whom he hasn't seen in 7 years. Vernon offers Eddie a pill, a pill which he says will open Eddie's mind to it's full potential. Why Vernon has such a pill, where it came from, or why Eddie would believe anything Vernon says, are never explained. But Eddie says, how can things get any worse and takes the pill. Suddenly everything is clear. He cleans up his apartment, screws the landlord's wife, while helping her write a term paper for her law course, and gets about half his book written. But the next morning, he's the same old dull-witted Eddie.

The rest of the film concerns Eddies rise to fame, after he improbably manages to score a large supply of the pills. The drug is called NZT.

If you can buy the premise, that a drug could unlock the full potential of your brain and make you a genius in 30 seconds, then you can over look the other improbabilities and go with the flow. Cooper is engaging in the role, easily moving back and forth between shambling idiot and world-beater genius. Robert Di Niro, plays a Wall Street kingpin, who takes Eddie on when he sees the kid's potential. Di Niro is pretty much a caricature of avarice but he's De Niro, so he pulls it off pretty well. I don't remember seeing Cornish in anything before but I see that she's in the upcoming Sucker Punch (which is another good reason to see that).

The movie was enjoyable enough that we left our disbelief at the door.

Thursday, March 24, 2011

2011 Topps Heritage - Men Without Hats

Is it my imagination or does this year's Topps Heritage feature a lot of cards of guys without their caps on? Based on these cards, I'm not sure this is a good look for most ballplayers.

#182 Cody RossThis guy hit two home runs off Roy Halladay in last year's NLCS. And apparently without hair.

#370 Matt HollidayJust back from playing winter ball on the planet Remulak.

#155 Brain WilsonYikes! Hatless and beardless. The less said about this the better.

#174 Jon GarlandClassic hat hair. That line across his forehead indicates that perhaps he normally has his hat screwed on too tight.

#171 Edison VolquezSome guys like the dreads...

#44 Justin Upton...and some don't.

#221 Jeremy GuthrieRecently released from boot camp.

#264 Jeff NiemannMore hat hair.

#241 Josh JohnsonHis hair seems to be running down the side of his face and dripping off his chin.

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

2011 Topps Opening Day

I bought 2 blaster boxes of Topps Opening Day. It remains an inexpensive product, being half the cost of regular Topps blasters. The set features 220 cards. The designs, and for the most part, the photos are the same as the regular Topps set. The Opening Day logo was redesigned for this year. Topps usually takes this opportunity to Photoshop players who changed teams during the off season into their new uniforms. I pulled 5 cards which have to be Photoshopped but I only have one of the players from the regular set. They used a different photograph in the Opening Day set for that card.

Since the design and photos are the same as regular Topps, I'm just going to focus on the inserts. I think there was an insert in every pack. As a result, I pulled at least one of every insert. The ones I missed were Topps Opening Day Attax (according to and the Superstar Celebrations Autos. There are also Topps Ticket to Toppstown cards which I'm not showing since they are the same boring cards as from the regular set.

2011 Topps Opening Day Mascots #8 Dinger
A 25-card set featuring team mascots. There are 30 teams. Do 5 teams not have mascots? I pulled 5 of these and managed to get the Phillies classic mascot, The Phillie Phanatic. I also pulled Junction Jack, the Astros mascot.

2011 Topps Opening Day Blue #118 Rafael SorianoA complete parallel set with blue borders. The cards are serial numbered on the back to 2,011.

2011 Topps Opening Day Stars #9 David PriceA 10-card set featuring a 3-D picture on the front. You might think the cards would feature players who started in a season opener, and maybe that was the idea. But, according to the back, David Price has never played in an opening day game. Huh?

2011 Topps Opening Day Superstar Celebrations #6 RaysA 25-card set featuring a team or player celebration after some game-changing event. This particular celebration was after the Rays won and 11 inning game on a suicide squeeze bunt, scoring Longoria from third.

2011 Topps Opening Day Spot the Error #8 Hanley RamirezThis is apparently the front of the card.
And, I think, this is the back. Can you see the difference? I pulled four cards of this 10-card set and it took a lot of staring to figure out the 'errors'. I have yet to figure out the Derek Jeter card.

2011 Topps Opening Day Presidential First Pitches #9 John F. KennedyTopps didn't confine themselves to Opening Day presidential first pitches. The scoreboard in the background clearly shows this to be an All-Star Game. Apparently, Kennedy was the first president to throw out the first pitch at an All-Star Game, in 1962. the things you can learn from baseball cards. I don't know if this is any indication of Michael Eisner's political leanings, but 3 of the 4 cards I pulled from this set were Democrats.

2011 Topps Opening Day Stadium Lights #3 Robinson CanoA 10-card set featuring photos of players taken from ground level looking up to the lights. The back features some player statistic comparing their daytime and nighttime stats. Is it a surprise that a player might have more of some stat (say home runs) at night? Especially when most games are played at night.

Monday, March 21, 2011

2011 Topps - The Inserts

I posted regular base cards last week. I had bought 3 blasters, 1 from Target, 2 from WalMart for a total of 0f 300 cards, 184 were base cards, the rest inserts. There are 46 inserts and parallel cards in the Series 1 set but I only got a small selection. Overall, while I'm happy with the design of the base cards, I'm not so happy with the inserts. Outside of the Diamond Platinum parallels and the Kimball Champions, nothing much grabbed my attention.

2011 Topps Gold #224 Milton BradleyNo matter what the stated odds of the gold cards (this year it's 1 in 17 packs) I usually don't pull more than one or two in a year. Series 1 yielded just this Milton Bradley card. As usual, the cards are numbered to the set year. I got card number 1,822.

2011 Topps Diamond Anniversary Platinum #191 Jay BruceThis parallel set is pretty cool looking. They are inserted 1 in 4 packs and I pulled 7 of them. All the cards I got were base cards, no checklists, no leader cards. Also no Phillies, Astros or any players I collect. Maybe I'll have better luck with Series 2.

2011 Topps Throwback #163 Carlos PenaOnce again, this parallel set, printed on heavy gray card stock with the old Topps logo, is available only in Target blasters. There are 2 packs per blaster. I think I prefer these to...

2011 Topps All-Black #1 Ryan BraunThis parallel set is, as usual, only available in WalMart blasters, 2 packs per blaster. The novelty of these cards is wearing off.

2011 Topps 60 Years of Topps Reprints #19 Reggie JacksonI actually think this is a good idea as a 6oth-anniversary insert set. Except they did the "Cards Your Mother Threw Out" set last year and this looks just like that. I pulled 11 of them. The criteria for picking a card from each year doesn't seem consistent or even rational. For example, the 1989 card is the Royals Leaders card with Bo Jackson. Is this the best card, by any criteria, of 1989? I don't think so. There is an "Original Backs" version of these at a tough to pull 1:36. I got the 1987 card featuring Dennis Eckersley. Why Eckersley on the 1987 card? Who knows.

2011 Topps 60 Years of Topps: The Lost Cards $3 Mickey MantleThis 10-card set is inserted 1 in 12 packs. This is the not-published, but for contractual issues, might have been 1954 Mickey Mantle card. I was 3-years old in 1954 and I really don't care.

2011 Topps 60 #35 Frank ThomasOK, it's Topps 60th anniversary. I understand the connection. Let's produce an insert set which celebrates the top 60 of something. Top 60 players of all time? Too hard. The top 60 home run hitters? Too easy. What Topps chose to do is to pick players from a list which is categorized something like this: the top 60 players in any category, by all-time, by team history, by individual year, by team in an individual year, by decade, by any of those categories in a rookie season, yada, yada, yada. The listing of players in this set is practically arbitrary. What a waste. The cards aren't bad looking however.

2011 Topps Diamond Duos #DD-HF Heyward/FreemanThe Diamond Dogs, er, Duos set i2 30 cards inserted 1 in 4 packs. I pulled 10 of them. Pretty much a copy of last year's Legendary Lineage set, which I didn't care for either. Mostly a collection of randomly paired players. What will they think of next year?

2011 Topps History of Topps #5Topps makes history by releasing very possibly the most boring insert set of all time. And this is probably the most boring card of the set. At an insert rate of 1 in 18 packs, this is a relatively tough pull. I'm happy I only got the one.

2011 Topps Kimball Champions #7 Mickey MantleHave we run out of ancient cards to reproduce yet? Apparently not. This is a 1888 tobacco card set. I actually like them a lot. The 50-card set was inserted 1 in 4 packs and I pulled 9 of them.

2011 Topps CMG Reprints #26 Ty CobbI'm kind of a sucker for these reproductions of old sets. This 30 card set features a number of different sets. For example, this is a 1932 US Caramel card. Inserted at a rate of 1 per 8 packs I pulled four of them. Three of them were different Ty Cobb cards.

2011 Topps Throwback Commemorative Patches Chase UtleyFor several years, Topps has included manufactured patch cards like this in blaster boxes. Although I'm happy enough to get one when it features a Phillie, I'd rather get an auto or a relic card. In addition to this, I got two different cards featuring Washington Nationals (Zimmerman and Desmond) with Expos patches. Really, who wants something like that?

2011 Topps Ticket to Toppstown #15 David WrightThis is the third year for this insert. Are you as tired as I am of finding one of these cards in each pack of Topps? This year they upscaled the set by adding a foil background. It doesn't make me want them any more.

Saturday, March 19, 2011

2011 Topps

Let's take a look at 2011 Topps. I bought 2 blasters and a couple of rack packs. I'm pretty happy with the design this year. I think I like it better than last year's design. A little less clutter. I like the baseball/logo in the bottom right. I'd have liked it better without the outer circle around it.

Here are some of my favorite cards. I'll post some of the insert cards later.

2011 Topps #260 Freddy SanchezYa gotta like a guy with so much dirt on his uni that he practically fades into the background.

2011 Topps #206 Chase Headley I got 3-4 cards featuring slides and all were head first slides. This is a good angle.

2011 Topps #38 Ryan Dempster A good shot with both the pitcher and batter in the frame.

2011 Topps #139 Eric Young Jr. I always like these kind of action shots, especially when they featuring flying players.

2011 Topps #179 Armando Galarraga Some kind of bold fashion statement.

2011 Topps #62 Jonathan PapelbonWhat a leg kick!

2011 Topps #105 Jonathan LucroyI guess it can be lonely in the dugout when you're a rookie.

2011 Topps #301 Mike NapoliLooks like he got all of it.

2011 Topps #210 Brian WilsonI'm sorry, but I hated this guy in last year's NLCS.

2011 Topps #308 Ian DesmondI really like action shots when I get a bonus Phillie. Looks like Carlos Ruiz.

2011 Topps #27 Ben ZobristThere are a few good outfield plays featured this year. Look at the concentration.

2011 Topps #45 Hunter PenceYou don't often see a guy running out of his shoes.

2011 Topps Throwbacks #252 Michael SaundersI love this shot. Flying outfielder, great catch, giant logo background.