Wednesday, March 26, 2008

2007 Goudey Jason Bay

Who is this? Pirates outfielder Jason Bay.

What is this? An autograph card from 2007 Upper Deck Goudey, card GG-JB.

Where'd I get it? A hobby pack.

How much did it cost? 5 bucks for the pack.

Why is this so special? When Goudey came out last year, I was in my "Upper Deck Sucks" period and I didn't want to give them any of my money at all. However, the shop I frequent had a promotion - buy $20 worth of Upper Deck packs and you get a ticket for an autograph signing by Braves rookie, Yunel Escobar. Now, this was a real quandry. I wanted the auto, but there was absolutley nothing out by Upper Deck that I was even remotely interested in. The base set sucked, I wasn't interested in all the high end crap and I was much more interested in buying up as much Allen & Ginter as I could. I wasn't going to get another good opportunity to in an in-person signature though, so I resigned myself to getting 4 packs of Base UD and rationalizing it as getting a guaranteed hit in the packs. Lord knows, the base packs weren't going to give up any normal hits, I bought 4 packs that year and got one lonely retro '89 insert. Great value there...

Signing day was coming up and I noticed that Goudey was scheduled to hit the shelves about the same time as the autograph session. I love retro crap, so I figured that would be a better waste of my twenty bucks than the base set. I was apprehensive about how it would look, Upper Deck's first Play Ball set was utterly fantastic, but their follow up the next year was possibly one of the ugliest sets ever made. So would Goudey be 2003 Play Ball or 2004 Play Ball? I didn't have to worry because it was actually 1934-36 Diamond Stars, which was an excellent thing. I got my Yunel auto (and as soon as I get a digital camera that doesn't take pictures that all look like Jimmy Hoffa's last known photograph, I'll show it off), I got four packs of a really good product and my hatred of Upper Deck was lessened, albeit briefly. On top of all that in the very first pack I ripped I pulled the auto box hit, so I ended up with two autographs for the price of one. It cost me in the long run though, as now I have a binder full of Goudey cards and a pile of doubles big enough to choke a mule.

Jason is pretty much the cornerstone of the Pirates' franchise, for whatever that's worth. He's a fantastic outfielder who won the Rookie of the Year award in 2004, in a rout over Khalil Greene. He is a two time All-Star including the 2006 game that was held in Pittsburgh. Last year was injury filled and Jason had an off year, but he's entering his prime years and should bounce back. Jason kind of bit me last year in my work fantasy league. He came off the DL just in time for my championship matchup game. My outfield had been a mess all year and I was rotating mediocre players in and out all year. Jason was available, I wanted an edge to help me win the crown and I wasn't happy with my rightfielder so I picked him up. Jason went on to have an abysmal couple of weeks and the guy I dropped, Brad Hawpe, was on absolute fire as the Rockies came back to win the wild card. Oops. Work fantasy leagues have been kiboshed, so there will be no redemption for me. The signature's pretty though, but I'm not crazy about the orange.

Tuesday, March 25, 2008

2008 Heavenly Vixen

Who is this? Why, it's a Heavenly Vixen, of course!

What is this? An autograph card straight from Heaven. The Florida branch of Heaven at least.

Where'd I get it? Came in the mail, completely unannounced.

How much did it cost? Not a thing. Completely gratis.

Why is this so special? This sorta came out of nowhere in the mail yesterday. The bad week I had last week didn't so much get worse yesterday as it merely got a lot more annoying. This was a welcome mailday treat to take my mind off things, and it came with another goodie I'll discuss on my other blog tonight. This card is hot off the presses too, the ink is just barely dry. Nice looking signature too, very abstract like a Picasso from the Guernica period. Numbered 3 out of 5, Dale Murphy's uniform number. Niice! This is a cool idea and a fun card. One of these days I'll quit being lazy and cheap with the printer ink and do something like this myself. Thanks to Mario and Tatiana for making my day and go check out their blogs and click on all the ads.

Oh wait, there aren't any ads... BECAUSE THEY'RE IN IT FOR THE LOVE, BABY! Yeaaah!

Monday, March 24, 2008

2006 Bowman Cory Rasmus

Who is this? Braves prospect Cory Rasmus.

What is this? An autograph card from 2006 Bowman Chrome, number DP78. The card is a refractor serial numbered 199/500.

Where'd I get it? In a trade with Chris Harris from Stale Gum.

How much did it cost? A 2000 Donruss card that may or may not exist.

Why is this so special? This is another autograph card I picked up from Chris Harris in the big 2001 Donruss trade we made. This card here was the one that finally pushed me over the edge. I was a little hesitant to trade off the CC Sabathia Redemption card Chris coveted, but a shiny chrome refractor of some prospect with a bum arm finally pushed me over the edge. It is a very nice very shiny card and it is my first autographed refractor so at least in ten years when Chris is buying a house with his ultra-rare CC card, I'll be able to stare deeply into the rainbow reflectiveness of this card and mesmerize the bad thoughts away.

There isn't a whole lot of info out there on Cory, not surprising since he missed all of last year with a bad shoulder. He is the brother of Cardinals' phenom Colby Rasmus, and supposedly is equal in talent. A 97-mph fastball prompted the Braves to develop the pitching talent instead of the bat. The lost year notwithstanding, the Braves' farm system definitely needs more arms than bats, so this may have been a good move. If it doesn't work out, maybe they can pull an Ankiel and get that bat working. He was also on the 1999 Phenix City, AL Little League World Series Team with his brother which is kinda cool. This isn't exactly a Joba Refractor auto, and I probably could have picked this card up for a couple bucks if I tried, but Chris got what he wanted and I got what I wanted so the trade is a good one in my eyes. With any luck Cory will be pitching in Rome this year and I'll get a chance to go watch him pitch. Hey, maybe I can get this card autographed! Ok, maybe not. I'll buy a team set at the gift shop and get that signed instead.

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

1993 Classic Best Derek Jeter

Who is this? Yankees shortstop Derek Jeter.

What is this? An autographed 1992 Classic Best Blue Bonus card, number BC22.

Where'd I get it? In a large autographed lot from Yahoo! auctions.

How much did it cost? Less than a buck per card.

Why is this so special? I've mentioned a few times that I've gotten cards from a huge Yahoo! auction lot and this is one that I got. I don't remember the details of the auction, just that there were a whole bunch of autographed cards (75 to 80 at least) for not a whole lot of money. It seemed like some one was just liquidating a collection, and I had a little extra cash so I pounced. Yahoo! auctions has been dead for a while now, but if anyone remembers the good ol' days when they had free listings, it was a haven for cheap cards. Lots of commons auctions, lots of deals and many sellers blowing out stuff cheap because they didn't have the overhead that eBay charged. Yahoo! killed the golden goose though and started charging listing fees and kaboom, the auction site was dead in a couple of weeks. They finally shut down for good a year or two ago.

This lot had a couple of really good cards (Jeter being one of them) a bunch of non-certified on-card autos, a bunch of minor league autos and a few late 90's one-per pack autos. The Jeter was a nice surprise, but I couldn't figure out where it was from. The Classic Best set inserted these blue prospect cards one in each specially marked jumbo pack (there was another type of jumbo with red foil inserts) but none were inserted with autographs. I do remember seeing some packages for sale in the early 90's with one autographed card for 10 or 15 bucks at book stores. The packages featured such luminaries as Sam Militello and Pat Listach, but there was also signed cards of Ryan Klesko (still kicking myself for not getting one of them) and Good 'ol Derek. There was no COA for Derek in the lot so I couldn't be sure if it was from one of those packs or not. There was quite a few non-certified cards in the lot, so I just assumed it was had signed in person. Maybe the guy I bought it from got it in person, maybe not. I compared the sig to some other Jeter autos and it looked legit to me, so I stuck it in a top loader and filed it away.

Fast forward from the early 90's to a couple of months ago. Mario at Wax Heaven made me a trade offer of a bunch of Braves cards for all the Cansecos I could find. Sure, I said and started plowing through boxes. Goddamn, I got a lot of boxes of cards. Mario said take your time and sent a sweet package of stuff, including one really nice card. (I'll show that one off later) I scrounged through my cards, pulled all the Cansecos I could find and started sending them off. At the same time his wife Tatiana started getting into cards, and became a big Derek Jeter fan. While I was looking for cards to post here I found this card. Thing is, I had also recently pulled a redemption card for an Upper Deck Artifacts Jeter autograph just a few months ago. One Jeter autograph is plenty for someone who doesn't specifically collect Jeter, so I slipped this card in a package for Mario and sent it off. Apparently Tatiana enjoyed the card. Now I got cool cards, Mario has cool cards and Tatiana has a cool card. Trades where everyone wins are one of the best parts of this hobby.

Wednesday, March 12, 2008

2005 Studio Johnny Estrada

Who is this? Braves catcher Johnny Estrada.

What is this? An autograph card from 2005 Donruss Studio, card number 29. It is serial numbered 15/50.

Where'd I get it? In a trade with Chris Harris.

How much did it cost? Some 2001 Donruss cards.

Why is this so special? Johnny was only on the Braves for just over two years but he's one of my favorites. Johnny was a key piece in the Braves' 2003 offseason disaster that saw Tom Glavine bolt to the Mets in a huff, Greg Maddux accept arbitration out of nowhere and Kevin Millwood traded as a salary dump for magic beans. Estrada turned out to be those beans. In 2003, Millwood was pitching a no-hitter for the Phillies while Estrada was in Richmond, unable to knock Henry Blanco out of the backup catcher's job. The next year, Millwood was on the DL while Estrada took over for Javy Lopez after he signed with Baltimore for a zillion bucks. That year he went nuts offensively and ended up winning a Silver Slugger award. It looked like Estrada would be the Braves' backstop for a while, at least until the Angels' Darren Erstad decided to give him the Ray Fosse treatment in a play at the plate. Estrada got knocked into a parallel dimension and some kid named McCann had to be called up to take over. That pretty much ended his Braves career and he has bounced around between Arizona, Milwaukee, the Mets for about five minutes and now he's trying to win a spot on the Nationals' bench. I'll always remember him as the silver lining in that cloudy offseason.

The card itself is one of the more understated Studio designs. A black & white portrait on top of a tinted time-lapse photograph of the home city's skyline. This card shows the I75-I85 connector in downtown Atlanta heading south to Turner Field. One of those blurs might have been my car. This card was acquired in a Trade with Stale Gum's Chris Harris, in a blockbuster that will be discussed on my main blog later this week. There's two more cards coming up from Chris whenever I get around to it this week. This card was actually Chris' choice, I told him to pick between this one and some Bowman Chrome prospect I hadn't heard of before and he chose to keep the Chrome. Works out fine for both of us actually, he'll probably be able to trade that one off to a Chromie pretty easily if he wants to and I got a Brave with actual Major League service time. The autograph itself is pretty cool, Johnny opts for an "all in one stroke" approach to his signature. Too bad the shiny sticker doesn't fit the design of the card in the slightest. This card is also serial numbered to 50, which as Chris and myself have both discussed recently, means absolutely nothing anymore.

Friday, March 7, 2008

2002 Donruss Dee Brown

Who is this? Royals outfielder Dee Brown.

What is this? An autograph card from 2002 Donruss, card number RC11. It is from the Rookie Crusade insert set and is serial numbered 450/500.

Where'd I get it? Out of a pack.

How much did it cost? Couple bucks.

Why is this so special? Dee is kind of a fringy player but this is a pretty sweet looking card. Shiny refractor like purple with the outline of a dragon in the background? We meed more sets like this! I never quite understood the meaning of this insert set with knights and heralds and shields and dragons and such, not even when it first appeared in 1998 Donruss, but it does look cool. The shiny card has a shiny sticker certified by an authentic stamp crimping the card. No one does that anymore and it makes me sad. Instead of putting a tiny sticker on the card or guaranteeing the authenticity of the autograph with a facsimile signature on the back, I think the card companies should hire a notary public to personally crimp each card with their little crimpy authenticating seal thingy. I'm old school like that.

It's always nice to pull an auto out of some random pack picked up at a retail store, even if they guy isn't a star. It's a much better feeling than when you spend a bunch of money on a hobby box and you find out that this is your big hit. When I first pulled the card I thought of this guy. The baseball Dee never quite made the impact as the basketball Dee, but he managed to stick in the Royals organization for 7 years and is currently trying to make the Angels' roster. Dee's signature is pretty simple, buy consistent as seen in the Baseball Almanac link up above. Dee adds on his uniform number which is a nice touch. Dee's actual signature is done in only one stroke, but once you start adding octothorpes, that really adds a lot of work to the autograph. This is one of those autograph cards that popped up at me out of nowhere. I was looking for a card to send to Chris Harris in a big trade we just pulled off (and which you will be hearing more about very soon) and while looking through my 2001 Donruss set I found this card hiding in the 2002 cards. That's one of the reasons why I started this blog, to sort out all these hiding autographs I have. No more Donruss Box for Dee though, He gets to live with all my other formerly lost autograph cards on The Island of Misfit Autos.

Wednesday, March 5, 2008

2005 Sweet Spot Marcus Giles

Who is this? Braves second baseman Marcus Giles.

What is this? An autograph card from 2005 Sweet Spot, card SS-MG. It is serial numbered #004/350

Where'd I get it? Flea market dealer.

How much did it cost? $7.50

Why is this so special? Short version: A Brave Sweet Spot auto. I freaking love Sweet Spot Autos.

Long version: There's a card dealer that comes to the local flea market once a month or so. He used to come every weekend, but a few years ago this area started building up quickly. Another flea market down the street was condemned, sold, and turned into a SuperTarget shopping center. The local crooks county officials set their sights on the flea market he had been selling at for years and got it shut down one winter due to zoning violations or some such thing. The owners fought back and make all the improvements that they were required to do to keep from getting shut down permanently. The pols lost their new strip mall and the dealers lost a Christmas season of selling. A lot of the regulars stopped coming and last year they guy quit coming every week, instead cutting back to once a month.

It sucks that he doesn't come around all that often anymore, the guy is a fantastic dealer. He always has lots of stuff. Inserts, autos, relics, wax and something a lot of dealers don't even bother with anymore, commons. Lots of commons. Cheap ones too - you won't pick out a bunch you need to a set and then get a whopping bill for them. During the winter he blows out a lot of stuff too. New commons for a nickel apiece. Junk commons for a penny apiece. Junk wax three for a buck. You can go there with twenty bucks an leave with a massive pile of cards. You just never know when he'll show up now.

A day after I bought my 2008 Heritage (which is increasingly turning into a debacle) I got an e-mail from him stating he would be there the next Saturday. Oh great, I just blew all my cash and the best dealer in town is making his last appearance before the season starts. I scraped up some loot anyway and made my way to the flea market this weekend. I got a moedest haul, a handful of odd wax packs, a couple boxes of dreadfully old gum, a pile of 1981 Topps I needed for my set, a bunch of cheap Braves and inserts. The tough choice I had was down to my last purchase of the day. I had about 8 bucks left and I had to choose between a box of '88 Score and this auto card. I just wrote a bunch of stuff in conjunction with Wax Heaven on 88 Score and I kind of wanted to rip a box, but the lure of a Sweet Spot auto was too great. A week earlier or later and I would have walked away with both and a dual auto of Chuck James and Anthony Lerew. Oh well, maybe next time.

Giles was the star second baseman for the Braves up until last year. He was a fan favorite who fit nicely in the 2-hole with his average and doubles power. After an all-star year in 2003 though, his stats started to slip while his salary started to rise. Last year, faced with a 6 million plus contract in arbitration, the Braves first tried to trade Gilly to the Orioles (kiboshed by the meddling Angelos) and finally just had to non tender him outright. This was a tough shock for the fan base already restless from missing the playoffs mainly due to Time Warner's tight purse strings choking the payroll. Giles signed with the Padres and joined his big brother Brian while the Braves relied on a rookie outfielder who never played the position. Somehow the stars aligned for the Bravos, Giles was a flop in San Diego and Kelly Johnson turned into a solid performer. Marcus is now fighting for his life in Colorado, meanwhile Kelly's star is rising. I'm rooting for Giles, but things don't look great for him in Colorado as he has to beat out a highly regarded prospect, Jayson Nix, who is out of options. Marcus has the talent to play in the league, I hope he finds a job somewhere.

Votes are in

And NBC is calling it for "Keep doing what you're doing, stupid". I'll keep the poll up just to make sure there isn't a late push for a Rik Mayall blog, but in the meantime, I'll post when I can and make with the writing.

The Joe Pepitone post is finally updated... I gave y'all a little extra since it's been dead around here lately.

Tuesday, March 4, 2008

Metapost - Going Forward

As you all can see the "one a day" concept went by the wayside this weekend. When I started this blog I had lots of time, lots of energy and a 10 day buffer of posts ready. Now I'm busier than a three peckered goat with one leg in a butt kicking contest, ethanol fuel isn't helping at all with my energy crisis and the buffer is looooong gone. Until things get a bit less hectic I can do one of two things going forward:

1) Only post about 3 or 4 times a week, but do it in the same format with a paragraph or two about each card,


2) Post one every single day without fail with or without the paragraph.

Basically the choice is between the cards or the stories. You can let me know in the comments or by voting in the poll on the top left. This week is going to be rough so you're getting option 1) for the next couple days, but I'll give it a few days to get some feedback. Hopefully in a couple months things will calm down and you'll get the one good post a day again.

Thanks for your input!

Monday, March 3, 2008

2004 Upper Deck Yankee Classics Joe Pepitone

Who is this? Yankees first baseman Joe Pepitone.

What is this? An autograph card from 2004 Upper Deck Yankees Classics , card number AU-38.

Where'd I get it? From a card shop, but I don't remember which one.

How much did it cost? A few bucks at most. Let's say five.

Why is this so special? Ball Four tie-in post. Details later no time. White hole spewing time engines dead air supply low advise please.

Ok, Holly's back online and things are (more or less) calmed down. Now, let's talk about Joe here.

The Braves are my team, and they always will be. I like 'em all, from Boston to Milwaukee to Atlanta. Every team from when Harry Wright was in charge of the club, to the Frank Wren era. The Bravos will always be my #1 love in baseball. That's not to say that there aren't other teams I like. I have relatives in Pennsylvania that got me interested in the early 80's Phillies with Lefty, Schmidt and Rose. I had a lot of '81 Topps cards and they were the Worlds Champs, it said so right on the card. I also loved the White Sox of the early nineties. Black Jack, Big Hurt, Pudge, Bo, Rock, One Dog, Robin, Ozzie, Joey and those slick black caps. One of the biggest disappointments in sports is when we ended up with a Phillies vs Blue Jays World Series instead of my Braves/Sox dream matchup. The first team that fascinated me though was the Yankees.

I knew and loved Hammerin' Hank at an early age, and Hank is forever associated with Babe Ruth. I found that I liked Babe just as much as Hank and got really interested in the powerhouse teams of the 20's. Gehrig, Lazzeri, Hoyt, Dickey, Lefty, Meusal. Then DiMaggio showed up and brought Heinrich, Crosetti and King Kong Keller. Now it's the 50's and you have the Mick, Whitey, Scooter, The Big Cat, Allie, Larson, Elston. And don't forget Yogi, who's practically my spiritual adviser. Then the Bronx Zoo gets thrown on top of all that crazy good baseball history. One of my first baseball memories was Reggie hitting three freaking home runs in the World Series. That really impressed this five year old. I know Red Sox fans out there are puking their guts out right now, but hey, I'm from Atlanta. The only Yankees I have any reason to have animosity towards are Grant and Sherman. Ok, I'm not fond of Leyritz either. But I have nothing against the '99 club that whipped our ass, they were just the better team. I'm a baseball fan who loves baseball history, and the Yankees are just stinkin' with history.

Part of that fascinating history is how the mighty Yankees crashed and burned in the late 60's. My theory is is was payback for firing Yogi. Who fires a manager after losing game 7 of the World Series (to Bob Gibson, no less) anyway?? You'll notice they burned again after firing Yogi a second time in '85, but I digress. A non-supernatural reason could be because a lot of the young studs that came up to the Yankees in the sixties just couldn't quite replace all the retiring legends from the 50's. One of those almost superstars was Joe Pepitone.

Joe was a bonus baby with a great glove and some serious pop in his bat. His arrival forced the Yanks to trade long time first baseman Moose Skowron to the Dodgers ( a move that really bit them in the ass in the 1963 World Series, but that's another story). Joe was productive for the Yankees and was an All-Star and Gold Glover while hitting a bunch of home runs in New York. Joe was a very popular player in New York, and is kind of an underrated player. He's more well known today for his carousing in New York nightclubs then for baseball. Joe gets a lot of ink in Jim Bouton's Ball Four, and Joe wrote an autobiography that goes over a lot of his extracurricular activities while in baseball that held him back from being the player he could have been. He was traded to the Astros in 1970, again to the Cubs that same year and finished his Major league career with three games as a Brave in 1973. He also had a disastrous stint with a Japanese club in '73 and became synonymous with a high profile bust in Japan. Joe also got into some legal trouble after his playing days were over, but has been walking the straight and narrow for a while now. Joe has been mentioned in Seinfeld and Curb Your Enthusiasm and is a big autograph signer now. One of those autographs is right here on this card, and it's a nice one. That's one classy signature, perfect for a young Yankees superstar in the 60's.

Sunday, March 2, 2008

2006 Topps Alex Gordon

Who is this? Royals prospect Alex Gordon.

What is this? An autograph card from 2006 Topps, card TA-AG.

Where'd I get it? A Hobby rack pack of Topps.

How much did it cost? Three bucks.

Why is this so special? Full write up tomorrow - I'm worn out after this week. I wanted to keep the one a day thing going though.

So much for one auto a day. I deserve a weekend off, yes?

This card was pulled out of a hobby rack pack of 2006 Topps. When I saw that Topps had brought back rack packs and inserted vintage cards in '06, I was giddy. who cares if 90% of the vintage cards were from 1987-1990, I wanted 'em. The local hobby shop had a box and I, like every red blooded American card collector started looking through them to find one with a good card on top. Unfortunately I forgot this was 2006 and not 1986, because the owner freaked thinking I was a pack searcher. If I wasn't a regular for several years I probably would have been shot, stuffed and mounted on the wall as a warning to others. Don't laugh, this shop is in Kennesaw, GA. I was bewildered and he finally realized I was just looking through the cards on top. LIKE YOU'RE SUPPOSED TO. Sorry folks, I don't care how rabidly you're against pack searchers, rack packs and cello packs with clear plastic wrappers that you can see the top card through is totally fair game. I've been scrounging through rack packs since I was a kid at Winn-Dixie looking through 1983 Donruss packs for Diamond Kings on top. You don't want us to look, make the package opaque. It's that simple. I eventually ended up getting a pile of rack packs (one with a Mantle on top!) and vowed to do my rack pack rummaging at Wal-Mart from now on.

I got them home and started ripping. I opened a pack with a random Brave on it (LaRoche, I think) and this card popped up. I sharted my shorts with excitement. There were several reasons for this: First, it was a seriously good autograph. Great prospect, good looking card, and an artistically valid signature. Minimalist, no wasted strokes, yet with strong composition and an emotional depth like a Klee or Matisse. Second, this was pulled at the height of the Alex Gordon pulled/not pulled/cut out/Wal-Mart blasters selling for 50 dollars a pop freakout, when Olbermann was buying them all up like mad and I had a big gaping hole in my set that would never be filled. Well, now I had an Alex Gordon card for my 2006 series one set! l Lastly, if I had opened that pack at the store after rummaging around in there I would have been lynched. Narrowly escaping death is a thrilling feeling.