Odds & Ends + A Bonus Rant!

I’m still here I guess.  Been busy with the sketch cards & was sick all day yesterday.  Looks like we’ve run out of time on the group break, to get it done on opening day at least.  If the six or seven who’ve shown interest still want to do it sometime though, I’ll keep the option to do one open until we do get enough people who want in, however long that may take.

And I haven’t forgotten about any trades or people I still have to send cards too.  I’ll get on that sooner or later, I swear.  Baseball Dad and part 1 (because I forgot to put the McGriff sketch card in it, so there will be a second package with that & translucents & the Rich Hill joisey etc) of the Great Sports Name Hall of Fame‘s stuff is as good as on it’s way and maybe I can just devote an entire day to trying to all the others together whenever I take a day off from card drawing and am not otherwise distracted.

To reference the maybe still vaguely relevant to things Yu-Gi-Oh!, my heart just hasn’t been in the cards lately.

«~•°•°•°•≈Warning, I feel a rant coming on…≈•°•°•°•~»

I’ve almost sworn off ripping new stuff (with two possible minor exceptions later in the year) due to that now infamous patronizing bullshit press release by MLB, and distaste for a topps exclusive (if not topps itself, jury’s out) in general.  topps has never done it for me.  I think I’ve preferred pretty much every other brand that came and went in the past thirty years over topps.  Maybe even Pacific!  And frankly I don’t give a rats ass about topps’ history and tradition, that they so enjoy shoving down our throats.

Look, I loves me some real vintage cards of all kinds.  I love that I get them in trades once-in-a-while and would pick more of them up on my own if I had access to decent (or any) card shows or shops around here.  I happen to have a sweet tooth for history in general, it truly fascinates me.  But something rings hollow about topps’ hanging their hat pretty much entirely on their history, and the history of others whom they’ve acquired the rights to (206, Allen & Ginter, and Bowman going wabac).  It’s like topps has nothing but history (and shitty gimmicks, though I don’t personally mind those) to offer.  And I, like probably most that grew up and started collecting in the 1990s or later, have no real connection to that.  My very first cards weren’t even made by topps (seven packs of 1991 Upper Deck on my 7th birthday)!

Maybe topps really doesn’t have anything else to offer.  Aside from the surprisingly decent flagship, the only good stuff they did in 2009 were the usual suspects Chrome and Allen & Ginter, the latter decidedly retro and the former has been around for about 15 years (their A&G brand is no rookie either, starting in 2006).  Heritage was only notable because it pulled a good year design-wise in 1960 (and because I pulled a Gordon Beckham auto from retail).  topps206 was an uninspired ripoff of the A&G formula (though I guess the A&G formula got it’s start in the original 206 sets from topps from 2002-2003, but A&G perfected it, so the point stands).

And despite Upper Deck’s releases never really rising above mediocre in 2009 and usually falling well short of even that, topps still managed to put out probably the two worst reviewed sets of the entire year in Ticket to Stardom (with it’s wonderfully nonsensical tickets and little overall bang for the buck) and Unique (I can think of about ten reasons it sucks just off the top of my head).  And it’s pretty well known that topps’ high end is… wait, let me put this in a way that topps will understand: utt erc rap.

So yeah, maybe they’ve got nothing more to offer, though I’m starting to think topps was never anything special to begin with.  Sorta the McDonald’s to all the exciting and interesting companies that came and went from 1981 until 2009.  Just a tepid, mediocre product with name recognition and the “tradition” and “heritage” that comes with being around the longest.

I’m sorry, but I don’t have the connection to look back at topps’ history with the rose colored glasses of nostalgia.  And I can’t look at topps offerings with anything other than disdain if they insist on shoving history down my throat and every attempt at something new is riddled with crippling flaws or just plain uninspired.

I’m not even going to delve into topps’ laughable cluelessness when it comes to the marketing towards kids & whatnot.  Another rant for another time, perhaps.

But I will close by saying this: If we’re going by current companies that make the best quality cards, then neither topps OR Upper Deck really deserve an MLB license, let alone an exclusive.  Upper Deck’s baseball had been on the decline for at least a couple years before losing their license and I think I miiiight have mentioned above that topps could use a good kick in the pants to shake the perpetual creative mediocrity and stupid nostalgia kick they’re on.

Honestly MLB, since the decision to even let an exclusive happen in the first place is ultimately on your shortsighted and archaic-thinking head, I’d take Tristar, In The Game, and good lord even Panini over topps (and Upper Deck for that matter) right now.  Even their average stuff is better and more importantly, more FUN, than all but very best of what topps has to offer (well, Panini is still a work in progress, but showing improvement).  You should be begging them to make cards for you.  So fuck the confusion noise, because I don’t give a damn.  It’s not a good time to be a baseball card collector.  Period.

Rant mode off.

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Wicked Ortega: The First Trade

Ya know what’s funny?  Due to the distraction of coloring sketch cards, that last post actually took at least five hours to do, lol. 😛

Anyway, here’s a selection of cards from my first trade with the Don hisself, Wicked Ortega.  And remember, this is less than half of what he sent.  He sent so much, there were even multiples of a few cards.

Sweet Lou

Start it off with the manager.

Aramis and KOSUKE~!

Why do Sweet Spot’s base cards have to come from hit-a-pack packs that cost $20??  The three years I have some from (2005, 2008, and 2009) are about the nicest looking sets from each of those years.  If set builders could get just the base cards in the standard 8 pack, 5 cards per pack, $20 blaster version with an outside chance at a hit (instead of those horrible ripoff $30 tins), they’d be all over it, or at least far more likely than with retail versions of more expensive sets like the always hugely uninspired SP.  Hell, you could even guarantee the jersey in the $20 blaster, because the Sweet Spot jerseys look like utter crap this year.

Wait, what was I talking about?  Oh yeah, the trade.  Umm, the infield power insert is hella tight, and the O-Pee-Chee subsets, inserts, and black border parallels have grown on me a lot.

Big Z!

I want to get all the versions of the Fukudome and Zambrano topps cards.  I think I have four of Z, the three above, and a Chrome refractor, and I think I have three Fukudomes, though I’d have to check.

Then we have Zambrano’s no-no.  Umm, no-hitter.  Is anyone still bitter about that?

OPC would’ve been so awesome if Upper Deck wasn’t so stingy with the amount of cards per pack.  This is a recurring problem I have with them.  It seems like they are as clueless with low end cards as topps is with the high end stuff (UD flaship very aside, though I’m very hesitant to even call it low end).  It really is a shame, because OPC mostly kicked ass otherwise.  It really nailed the fun, colorful ’70s retro feel without resorting to using a past design (yes topps, that jab was at you).  I just couldn’t bring myself to buy more than a couple packs when there were so few cards per pack and I knew there was no chance at anything special.  At 8 cards for the same price, I can guarantee I would’ve bought at least another half-dozen packs.

Goodwin Champions suffered from this too, maybe worse than any other, though SP and Icons aren’t good for making retail versions, and need a couple more cards per pack just to mitigate the suck, like topps did with Ticket to Stardom.  8 cards per pack is pretty much the cutoff point where crap retail versions of higher end than flagship stuff to starts to become tolerable.  It is also where I stop caring so much that stuff like OPC is the cute chick that has nothing else to offer.

Hmm… I seem to be mode-locked in rant mode.  More cards!

Yes!

I love the arty old arty checklist cards.  Was so glad they brought them back in ’09 Upper Deck Heroes football (even though I pulled a Packer).

All kinds of good stuff!

We got vintage!  We got minis!  We got more proof that blue makes any design they throw on card look better (the Derrek Lee Timeline)!  We got Shawon Dunston Rookies!  My Shawon-o-Meter is at .298 and rising.  How about you?

A Turk Wendell rookie, Dwight Smith cuz I can, a Randy Myers Silver Signature parallel, and... a scandalous pic of the mayor of Souvenir City poopin' in a bucket of baseballs.

Yeah, I went there.  Deal with it. 😛

Lots of groovy random stuff here.

You can never, ever go wrong with sending me Pinnacle cards. And is Ted Lilly playing up to that fat contract or what?

I wonder if these came from the same play...

Lee, Soto, some Sorianos, and Derrick May, my secret shame...

I thought Derrick May was gonna be a superstar when I was little.  I was wrong, and I guess… I’m just gonna have to put it behind me. *sigh* 😥

Yay Rynos!

Okay, I feel a little better now.

These are several thousand year old cave drawings...

But seriously though, Moyer’s been around since I was about two years old.  I dunno how I’m gonna handle it when he retires.  It’s like… he’s been there as long as I can remember.  What am I supposed to do if he’s not around, man?

The fun just doesn't stop!

I know Big Z is a great power hitting pitcher, and if quit pitching to focus entirely on hitting, he could probably go .265-25-80 or better on a yearly basis, but this isn’t Micah Owings we’re talking about here people.  Zambrano is actually a really good pitcher too, he even has a no-hitter.  You don’t have to show him hitting all the time.

Have we got time for one more?… Okay, here ya go:

Fergie!

Good stuff, good stuff.  Give it up for Wicked Ortega everybody!  I gotta sleep some more now.

I still want a Shawon-O-Meter hit counter…

I Like Ticket to Stardom

It’s true.  I’m serious.  I bought two fat packs at Walmart, and there is just something about it.  Getting a retail hit helped, but regardless, I can confidently say I would have enjoyed them anyway.  These cards have a certain charm about them I can’t deny.  Maybe I am just a sucker for ticket themed cards; I have always thought highly of it.  Maybe it’s because everyone else seems to hate them with a passion.  Maybe it’s because the base cards look out-freakin’-standing.  Maybe it’s these admittedly pointless, yet absurdly awesome, parallels with perforated looking top(p)s and bottoms that subtly and excellently further the ticket theme (the very definition of a Hidden Highlight).

I dunno if it’s any one thing.  It might well be all of the above.  No matter what it is, if nobody else will give topps any dap for this great set, I absolutely will.  The relic, and especially dual relic, tickets may be wonkily designed (though I happen to find how they look endearing, in a Wrestlecraptastic Pirate Paul Burchill kinda way), and tickets may come from meaningless games or don’t match the blurb on the back, but those are the only flaws we’re dealing with here.  When the base cards and auto/jerseys are so nice looking, the flaws aren’t fatal.

The worst I can call it is a Jeckyll & Hyde-type set, where the good is great and the bad really blows.  To me, the highs at the very least equal the lows (and most the lows I find quirky and endearing), so to call this set a mess or total failure is bullsh*t to me.  It may have it’s problems, but there are plenty of redeeming qualities too.  Seeing all sides of a situation and the positive side of things is kinda my specialty though, so if your mileage may varies, I understand.

Alright, enough jibba-jabba.  Let’s get to the packs, shall we?  Second pack first (because the hit was in the first pack).

2009 topps Ticket to Stardom fat pack (14 cards)

Pack 2

190 Andy Sonnanstine (Rays)

34 Rich Harden (Cubs)- Keeper!

141 Jeremy Sowers (Indians)

10 David DeJesus (Royals)

177 Alexei Ramirez (White Sox)

109 Gary Sheffield (Mets)

155 Jered Weaver parallel (Angels)- I don’t know what these things are called, but they are awesome.  The top and bottom of the card are cut to make it look more like a ticket.  Ya know, they say that it’s the little things that make something great, and this otherwise meaningless thing that would normally be a bother (if I were a set builder) goes a long way towards doing that for me.  It’s the best kind of genius: subtle.  Not everyone will appreciate it, but the ones that do will think it’s fantastic.

TTS-1 David Price (Rays) Ticket to Stardom- 1:4 fat packs

188 Adam Jones (Orioles)

139 Andy Pettitte (Yankees)

95 Ryan Doumit (Pirates)

151 Derek Lowe (Braves)

83 Vernon Wells (Blue Jays)- Reminds me of the autograph of him I pulled back in the day from one of the two packs 2005 topps Pack Wars I ever busted.  Also reminds me to let you know that I have five more packs on the way that I hope attempt a youtube break on.  Even if I can’t figure out how to do that, I’m sure there will be some nice new trade bait to offer up. 😉 /cheap plug

148 Akinori Iwamura (Rays)

Three evenly spaced Rays in that one.  Cool beans on a chilly night.  Might there be a certain Troll who could use them?  NEXT PACK!

Pack 1

126 Jason Varitek (Red Sox)- Someone jacked most of the contents of the huge trade package I sent to JD’s Daddy somewhere along the way to him, so this will probably go into a new one.

162 (hehe) Conor Jackson (Diamondbacks)

197 Ian Kinsler (Rangers)

165 Vladimir Guerrero (Angels)- Keeper!

62 Cameron Maybin parallel (Marlins)- I’ve pulled several Cabreras and Maybins (including a Goodwin mini of Maybin tonight) ever since I sent out the trade to Wicked Ortega.  Guess I might need to get another package ready.

I guess these cards count as die-cuts?  That’s how to find ’em on eBay anyway.

TS-9 Albert Pujols Ticket Stub #’ed 065/110- Hi Marie. 😉

Image yoinked from eBay...

Image yoinked from eBay...

That isn’t mine.  I’m plenty lazy on my own, but even still, my chances to scan stuff are… severely limited (which is why I have so many trades that haven’t been blogged about yet).  You can click on the pic to get to the auction it from wence it came.

For the record, mine has a different pic if Pujols in the corner.  The ticket in mine comes from April 6th, 2008.  Pujols went 0 for 2 with two walks and a stolen base on April 6th, 2008 in a 3-0 win over the Washington Nationals.  Nothing special for Albert, but at least it was a win for his team, and the stolen base is nice.  Also, the ticket in mine is better positioned, with Baseball Heaven being fully visible right below the top.  I will make sure I scan mine soon so y’all can see if you think the ticket position makes it look as cool as I think it does.

#’ed Ticket Stubs fall at pretty nice odds in fat packs (1:11 packs).  It looks like they may be the only hit available in retail packs.

111 Carlos Beltran (Mets)

155 Jered Weaver (Angels)

100 Adrian Beltre (Mariners)- Maybe a keeper, I’m waffling on whether or not I want to collect him.

107 Bobby Abreu (Angels)

115 Mark Buehrle (White Sox)- Do you need either of the Sox I pulled, Steve?  I’m still trying to put something together for you for all that cool stuff you sent awhile back.

44 Mat Latos RC (Padres)

Checklist 1 of 2

Like I said, I really like these cards.  To some, I may have overhyped them up top, but that’s how I roll.  Gotta give some love to the things I like as passionately as I can, since I’m so often misaligned with what the general public likes, or dislikes, in this case.  Eh, what do they know anyway? 😛

Oh, here’s the pack of Goodwin Champions I also picked up tonight.

125 Chris Johnson- Tennessee Titans star running back, in his collect uni.  Ayyy, there be a pirate on the back.  Yarrr, I guess it be East Carolina’s logo.

190 Alex Hinshaw SP (Giants)- Cool, this is an SP.  I finally just now got around to looking at a checklist, lol.

234 Cameron Maybin Mini (Marlins)- Ohh, so this is a Mini Exclusive.  That’s cool.  I’m doing quite well with Goodwin minis.  DiMaggio, Lebron, Steve Carlton, a near triple crown racehorse, and this.

That animal insert is cool too, although it’s a killer whale and not a panda.  Meh, they got the same color scheme.  Honest mistake. 😛

118 Bucky Dent- Pfft.

Okay, time to sketch some cards.  I’m falling behind already.  Later gators. 🙂