Tuesday, April 15, 2014

2014 Topps Stickers - Who cares?

I've had these for several weeks and am finally getting around to them.

This is the 4th year of Topps Stickers.  Does anyone care about this product? The answer must be yes because Topps keeps trotting them out there. For me, they were a novelty the first year. Since then, I buy a few packs just to add to my reference album. Admittedly they're cheap - a $1 gets you a pack with 8 stickers. Are kids more attracted to this product than regular cards? I want to see Topps market research!

So here's one. If you want to see more you're just gonna have to buy your own.

Monday, April 14, 2014

2014 Topps Heritage - The Inserts

Just the inserts I got in the 3 rack packs and 2 basters I bought. With one exception, same as in past years (at least what you might expect to get in a blaster.

Topps Heritage Blue Border #444 Yu Darvish
As they've done for a few years, Topps has included a subset of the cards with colored borders. I pulled one blue card from the 3 Walmart rack packs.Topps Heritage Red Border.

Topps Heritage Red Border #500 Miguel Cabrera
 I pulled one red border card from each Target blaster. The backs of the cards look like the normal card and are numbered the same as the regular card, even though there are only 25 cards in the parallel sets.

Topps Heritage Chrome#33 Michael Cuddyer
The Chrome cards are serial numbered on the back to 999. I will confess, that although I like the chrome parallel, it has never made much sense to me in a retro set.

Topps Heritage First Draft #JB2 Johnny Bench
This seems to be a new insert. There are only 4 cards in the set, Nolan Ryan, Grain Nettles and 2 Johnny Bench cards. All three were drafted in 1965. 1965, of course, was the first ever draft. I looked at the players picked in the first few rounds, and I guess these 3 guys were the best.

Topps Heritage News Flashbacks Aleksei Leonon
Quite an achievement. I'm not sure that Topps would have put a Communist on a card in 1965.

Topps Heritage Then and Now
Not to denigrate Darvish's 277 K's in 2013, but Koufax had 382 in 1965!

Topps Heritage New Age Performers

Topps Heritage Clubhouse Collection Relic
I managed to pull a relic from one of the blasters. Remember the good old days when they promised a relic in every blaster?

Thursday, April 10, 2014

Movie Review - Captain America: The Winter Soldier

In my opinion, humble or otherwise, this is one of the best Marvel movies.

It's hard to say much about this movie without giving away major plot points. The movie is a direct sequel to the first Captain America movie and doesn't follow at all from, say, the recent Avengers movie. In fact, I'd strongly suggest that you re-watch the first Cap movie before seeing this.

For once, the trailers don't give away the story. The trailers consist of shots from several action set pieces from the movie but really tell you nothing about the story.

Samuel L. Jackson has a lot more to do in this movie then we've seen of him, as Nick Fury. You've probably seen the trailer where he's being shot at by what appear to be the DC police.

The story in a general sense is about how much of our actual freedom are we willing to give up to the people who are supposed to be protecting us. Actually, the movie is about how much of our freedom should the people who are supposed to be protecting us, take from us without our knowledge, to protect us. A very real issue in these days of NSA spying. And then, how can our enemies, who are trying to destroy our freedoms, exploit that tension between us willing (or unwittingly) to give up some freedom for protection and our desire to remain free.

The special effects are just amazing as you would expect. We saw the movie in 3D and I'll say that the 3D was so good that I mostly forgot that I was watching it in 3D.

You don't go to a movie like this expecting to Oscar winning performances and you won't see any here. The acting is adequate to the needs of the movie. Robert Redford is pretty good as Nick Fury's boss (Nick Fury has a boss?). The movie tries desperately to develop some rapport between Chris Evans' Captain American and Scarlett Johansson's Black Widow but pretty much fails at that.  There is much forced banter between them where she suggests girls he can date. Anthony Mackie is pretty good as the Falcon, he does actually provide some comic relief that actually works. The special effects of him flying around however, are probably the weakest in the movie.

There are some pretty intense scenes in the movie, like the scene between Fury and the DC cops (which goes on forever) which I suspect would upset younger children. The movie isn't rated PG-13 for the sex (there isn't any) or the language (remarkably subdued) but the violence. The movie attempts ro interject some moral ambiguity (which I'm sure the ratings people don't care about) that might be confusing to kids. And I'd estimate that about 50,000 people get killed, fortunately most of them off camera.

Tuesday, April 8, 2014

2014 Topps Heritage (Finally) - Part 1, the base cards

I'm apparently not the only one who's had trouble finding Topps Heritage in the big box stores. Does anybody know the story behind that?

I managed to snag 3 rack packs at Walmart last week and finally over last weekend, 2 blasters from Target. The rack packs yielded 1 Blue parallel and the blasters yielded 2 Red parallels and a Clubhouse Collection relic. I've only got the rack pack cards cataloged so let's look at a few of them.

The classic 1965 Topps design. I was 13 years old in the summer of 1965. I wasn't that much into baseball (although I sort of followed the Phillies) and didn't collect baseball cards. I only have a handful of actual 1965 Topps, mostly Phillies.  Looking at those old cards I can see some have cartoons on the back some don't. This Jeff Locke card features a classic pitcher's pose and no cartoon.

Here's one with a cartoon, illustrating a rather impressive stat.  I really like the lettering on the back, especially the capitals.

Rally cap or horrible scalp wound?

Rookie Stars. Some cards feature a team's rookie stars, some feature players from 2 teams.

I'm always happy to get Phillies cards.

Here's a 1965 Topps Phillies 2nd baseman card. The hat logo is similar but the team logo on the card is entirely different.

Manager Mike Matheny looking for divine guidance? I always liked manager cards. Topps hasn't had straight up manager cards since 2009.

It's great to get a card featuring a play you remember seeing live.

This is the hitter equivalent to the Locke card above.

Jedd, about to be poked in the eye by the giant All-Star Rookie cup.

I'm willing to bet that 2013 was the hairiest year in baseball history. And, I doubt that anybody on the 1965 Topps cards had a beard or hair longer than about an inch.

Monday, April 7, 2014

What 90,000 cards looks like

Last Friday I posted my 90,000 card. The majority of the commenters (2 out of the 3) wanted to know how I organize these cards. We have a spare bedroom which has been designated as my den that has a nice sized walk-in closet. about 2/5ths of the available space in the closet is devoted to baseball cards.

I actually did a post on this topic back in December 2008 here. But that was a lot of cards ago. My organization hasn't really changed but here are some updated photos.

Here's a better view of the closet.

 Common cards and players I don't collect are in the boxes. Here's a better view.

There's 40 boxes arranged by year and set (in alphabetical order). I don't arrange the cards in sets in anyway. There is only so much time in a day. I estimate there are about 75,000 cards in boxes. There's no room here for 2014 or later. The other side of the closet has a shelf as well and I'm going to have to do some major rearrangement of the stuff there at the end of the year.

Players I Collect go in 3 and 4-inch binders. I've acquired a lot of binders over the years. Some I've bought, some were discards from where I used to work. I prefer D-ring binders because you can stuff them pretty good without the edges of the pages getting curled into the rings. And I prefer 3-inch binders because a full 4-inch binder is really heavy.  Here's just a short row.

These have been labeled and re-labeled over the years as the amount of cards I have of each player increases or I add more players. There are 22 of these holding holding about 18,000 cards.

I keep one card of each type I have in what I call my reference binders. These also contain all the relic and auto cards I have. Except for Phillies and Astros. These I keep in the Phillies or Astros binders.

I have 9 binders of reference cards holding about 6500 cards.

Finally, I keep Phillies cards and Astros cards since 1995 in binders. Here's most of the Phillies binders.

Eventually I want to replace most of these with newer binders. I have about 8400 Phillies cards and 3700 Astros cards in binders.

These are all stored on some cheap shelving units I bought from Ikea. I'm surprised they haven't collapsed by now.

So that's what my 90,000 cards look like.

Friday, April 4, 2014

My 90,000th card

I've been collecting baseball cards since 1985, when I was 34 years old. I didn't collect cards as a kid. In 1985 I bought some packs of Topps and I was hooked. I really don't know which is the first card I bought, but I'm sure it's a 1985 Topps card.

I really have no sense of what is considered a large collection but I guess I have a large collection. I'm a pretty eclectic collector and I never discard a card I've bought, unless it is a duplicate of a player I don't care for. When I say this is my 90,000th card, I actually mean I own 90,000 different cards. My collection, counting duplicates amounts to 103,898 cards. And I know this because I'm a careful collector who catalogs each card into a database. I'm not counting the pile of cards that I have waiting to catalog, including 2 blasters of Topps Heritage I found yesterday (one with a relic).

Yes, I am a nerd with an engineering degree. What's the point of having a collection if you don't know what you have? Better than that, I can put my hand on any one of these cards within maybe 10 minutes of being asked to produce it. What's the point of having a collection if you don't know where it is? And for a lot of these cards I can tell you when I bought, where I bought it and how much I paid for it. For me, a large part of the enjoyment of collecting cards is in cataloging them and maintaining the collection.

So without any further ado, my 90,000 card!

 I'm sorry it wasn't more exciting than a 2014 Topps Opening Day. At least it's Tim Lincecum, a Player I Collect. And it's a good photo. The other day I posted the Blue version of this card (which is a little more interesting).

Monday, March 31, 2014

2014 Phillies Opening Day Lineup

The Phillies get the 2014 season going today against the Texas Rangers in Arlington. Here's the Phillies Opening Day Line Up.

Leading off, in center field is Ben Revere (2013 Topps Allen & Ginter #14)
Revere was supposed to be a major force for the Phillies last year but he ended up being hurt most of the season. He hit .294 in 21 games in Spring Training.

Batting second, shortstop Jimmy Rollins (2014 Topps #312)

It's hard to believe but J-Roll starts his 14th season with the Phillies.  As often as not, he's the spark plug that makes the Phillies go. He had a slow spring, only batting .173 with 3 home runs in 19 games.

Batting third, at second base, Chase Utley (2014 Donruss #62)
Utley, starting his 12th season with the Phillies, also had a slow spring, hitting .217 in 21 games. The important thing is that he's healthy.

Batting cleanup, as usual is Ryan Howard at first base (2014 Topps Opening Day #203)

After 2 injury plagued seasons, the Phillies need Howard healthy this year.

Batting fifth, in right field is former Phillie Marlon Byrd (2014 Donruss #151)
Byrd, in is 13th season played for the Phillies from 2002-2005. He's traveled quite a bit since then. His last two seasons, with the Mets and Pirates were pretty good. The Phillies must think Byrd has something to offer since the signed him to a 3-year $24MM contract. He hit .298 with 2 home runs and 8 rbis in 21 games in spring training.

Batting 6th, as the DH is Domonic Brown (2013 Topps Heritage #135)
Brown is the guy we're all waiting for to bust out. He .272 with 27 home runs in 2013, but looks to have had a terrible spring.

Batting 7th and catching is Carlos Ruiz (2013 Bowman Gold #311)
Carlos lost a lot of games last year after failing a drug test. Let's hope that is all behind him. He is one of the best catchers in baseball.

Batting 8th is third baseman Cody Asche (2014 Topps Red Target #4)
Asche opened some eyes as a replacement 3rd baseman last season after the Phillies gave up on Michael Young. He didn't have an impressive spring but he's got the starting third base job anyway.

Batting 9th, of all people, is Tony Gwynn Jr. playing left field (2012 Topps #284)
Junior is not exactly his daddy. In 7 years he has a .232 average and 6 home runs. He spent last year in the minors where he hit .300. The Phillies signed him as a free agent last December. He had a decent spring.

Opening Day pitcher Cliff Lee (2013 Topps Allen & Ginter Relics)
Lee is coming off a 14-8 season with an ERA of 2.87. He pitched 24 innings with a 2.55 ERA this spring.