Friday, March 30, 2012

Random Cards From My Collection #19

Card #6190
1995 Stadium Club Members Club Baseball #49 Bob Hamelin
This was a 50-card boxed set available directly through Topps. There was a similar set offered for football and basketball. I own the entire set but I don't remember how I got it. I know I didn't join the Stadium Club club. Hamelin was the 1994 Al Rookie of the Year. He played for 6 years but didn't amount to much.

Card #18636
2005 Fleer Showcase #62 Scott Rolen
This 135-card set featured silver foil and high gloss. The cards numbered over 100 are unnumbered short prints. Cards 101-111 are rookies and the rest are veterans. Fleer, I think, pioneered this idea of including short printed cards as part of the regular numbering.

Card #8397
1991 Topps Traded #4 Jeff Bagwell
One of my favorite players of all time.

Card 21597
1997 Collector's Choice #418 Kevin Stocker
I wonder what he is doing.

Card #19543
1990 Score Rookie Dream Team #10 Eric Anthony
This was a 10-card set available in a factory box of 1990 Score. This is the only one I have. I like the design.

Card #16476
2010 Topps National Chicle #133 Andrew Bailey
This is one of my favorite sets from the recent past.

Card #30734
2011 Topps 60 #104 Alex Rodriguez
This is one of my least favorite sets from the recent past. One of the dumbest ideas for a card theme I've ever seen.

Card #4217
1996 Select Claim To Fame #18 Barry Bonds
Beckett still claims that this card is worth $30. I wonder. Only 2100 sets were produced.

Card #24470
2006 Topps Heritage #356 Jason Lane

Card #10574
2008 Upper Deck Goudey #142 Chase Utley
This was one ugly set.

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Movie Review - The Hunger Games

We just got back from seeing this movie and I fully recommend it.  The store is based on a series of young adult novels by Suzanne Collins. On the recommendation of my daughter, I had attempted to read the first book of the series a few years ago and found it tough going and gave up about a third way in. She saw the movie over the weekend and liked it, and since it had gotten great reviews, we decided to go. My daughter joined us for her second viewing.

The story takes place in some dystopian future (apparently America). The country of Panem is divided into 13 districts, ruled from a nameless Capitol. Katness, the girl on the poster, lives in District 12. It looks like depression era Appalachia.  70 years prior to the story, the districts had revolted against Capitol and were brutally put down. District 13 was apparently wiped off the map.

The Hunger Games are a reminder from Capitol that the districts are firmly under their boot. Each year 2 children, between 12 and 18, a boy and a girl, are chosen by lot to represent their district in the Hunger Games. The chosen, called Tributes, compete in a televised battle-to-the-death. Katness volunteers to take her 12-year-old sister's place.

There is a lot of substance here, portrayed very well. The abject poverty of District 12 compared to  Capitol. The sullen acceptance of the lottery. The little acts of rebellion. When Katness and the boy. Peeta, chosen from the District are paraded on stage prior to their departure, the quislings on the stage call for applause. Instead, the residents raise their right hands in what looks something like the Boy Scout salute. We don't know what it means but it's clearly meant as a sign of resistance. This hand sign takes on a particular poignancy later when, after a particularly sad event, Katness turns to a camera and gives the sign.

The kids, once they get to Capitol,  are cleaned up, given a few days of training, rated by a panel and try to get sponsors who can offer help during the game. Then they are injected with tracking devices and let loose into the woods. A woods filled with hidden cameras and mics. A director controls the images streaming out to the populace. He also can rig the game if necessary.

I can't tell you any more than this without spoilers. Jennifer Lawrence, who played Raven in X-Men: First Class, is excellent as Katness.  The sporting cast of kids are all pretty good although not many of them get much screen time, much less names. Katness's training team is headed by Woody Harrelson, as the only previous survivor from District 12. Although it's a relatively minor part he does a good job. Elizabeth Banks plays one of the quislings I mentioned early, a District 12 resident, working for Capitol. As such, she wears the absurd styles of Capitol which make her wildly out of place in the district. Her makeup and clothing are so outlandish that I didn't realize it was her until I saw her in the credits.

The movie is rated PG13 and I would strongly recommend that younger children do not be taken to see this. Each child who dies in the Game dies pretty graphically and almost all of them die on screen.

Monday, March 26, 2012

2012 Topps Heritage First Look

I went to the local big-box store and bought me some 2012 Topps Heritage over the weekend. I bought 2 packs, 2 rack-packs and 3 blasters. I'm not planning to buy a hobby box this year so I was hoping to get a good selection. I'm actually pretty happy with what I got. I got at least one of all the easier to get inserts, and I pulled a relic card from one of the blasters. I got a reasonable collection of Phillies, Astros and Players I Collect. Here's just a small sampling of the base cards. I'll put up a post on the inserts later and I'll probably do a more extensive posting next week.

I've only have the cards from the packs scanned so far. This is the first card I saw. My first question was, who is this guy? He was a late call up by the Royals last season and appeared in 44 games. Topps has really been putting a lot of energy into producing cards of guys like this. No particular knock on Mr. Giavotella. He did hit .247. I can perhaps understand these cards in a larger set like Topps but the Heritage set only has 500 cards. That's not even enough cards to cover the 26 man rosters.

Floating heads! At least there are a couple of Phillies on it.

I had read that players who had changed teams were Photoshopped into their new uniforms. I'm OK with that but couldn't they at least find a photo they hadn't used before?

Another Illustrated Man in baseball.

I thought that the Topps Heritage set was supposed to based on a design from some past Topps year. If that is the case, why was this year based on 2001 Upper Deck Vintage?

Oh, wait, the design is based on 1963 Topps?

I guess that makes more sense. This is the only 1963 Topps card I own.

Sunday, March 25, 2012

Song of the Week - Love Song For the Dead Che - The United States of America

When I saw this CD in my local library I could hardly believe it. The United States of America was a dimly remembered band from the psychedelic era. Their single eponymous album was released in 1968 and got a lot of air play on the various so-called "underground" radio stations operating in Philadelphia at the time (WMMR, WDAS, etc.). I never knew much about the band and since they disappeared almost immediately, there wasn't much to know. Here's what Wikipedia has to say about them.

This song of theirs just popped up on iTunes so I went and looked on YouTube. I'm sorry there's no video but this band came and went so fast that I'm willing to bet there is no video of them available. Most of their songs are available on YouTube. If you want a real taste of late 1960s pyschedelia, try "The Garden of Earthly Delights".

Friday, March 23, 2012

Random Cards From My Collection #18

Card #26570
1990 O-Pee-Chee Checklist #1
I got this gem in a Fairfield repack box last year. Even though it says Topps on the front and back the tiny copyright notice on the left side of the back identifies it as an O-Pee-Chee card.

Card #17738
1997 Upper Deck #203 Ivan Rodriguez (Global Impact)
Not an insert card but a subset card. Over the years there have been a number of insert sets and subsets highlighting the international origins of baseball players.

Card #22017
2001 Upper Deck #236 Randy Wolf
The Phillies starting pitchers in 2001, in addition to Wolf (10-11), were Robert Person (15-7), Omar Daal (13-7), Dave Coggin (6-7), Amaury Telemaco (5-5), and Bruce Chen (4-5). Larry Bowa managed the team to an 86-76 record, good for 2nd place in the NL East.

Card #8739
2005 Topps Update #4 Michael Tucker
The Phillies got Tucker from the Giants for Kelvin Pichardo in a late season trade. He played 22 games for the Phillies and was released at the end of the season. Kind of a waste of good cardboard here.

Card #1064
1997 Upper Deck #63 Travis Fryman
Another 1997 Upper Deck card pops up. This the base card. I always liked this year of UD.

Card #30814
2011 Topps Team Sets #HOU7 Wandy Rodriguez
Topps has been producing Team Sets since at least 2006. They have the same design as their base set and usually the same photographs. They are distinguished by the card numbering. I usually pick up the Astros and Phillies sets each year. There are often a couple of players included who didn't make it into the main set.

Card #5023
2005 Donruss #19 (Diamond Kings)
Jim Thome - once a Phillie and now a Phillie again.

Card #5174
2004 Upper Deck R-Class #75 Ryan Klesko
Upper Deck R-Class was only produced in 2004. I bought a couple of packs. I was never clear what R-Class was supposed to mean.

Card #28853
2011 Topps Lineage #14 Kendrys Morales
I wasn't real fond of this set. I bought a couple of blasters and found a lot of quality problems. It doesn't look as if it's coming back this year.

Card #7105
2007 Upper Deck #722 Morgan Ensberg
One of my least favorite Upper Deck designs. It's the bulging side borders that kill this design for me.