Sunday, July 31, 2011

Farewell Koji-san!

For the past few weeks the trade talk had been heating up around the Orioles best pitcher, Koji Uehara.  I have been watching the talk closely hoping that he would not be traded but now he is headed to the Texas Rangers.  His stay in Baltimore was frustrating when he was on the DL, but most of the time when he was on the mound it was lights out. His presence in the O's bullpen will be sorely missed.  Poor Jim Johnson, his arm will fall off now.

I was very excited when the Orioles signed him from Japan because of my Japanese heritage.  My Grandmother on my mother's side of the family was from Japan.

Here's a few of my favorite Koji cards.  I kind of have a PC of him, meaning when I see cards of him I pick them up but don't go out of my way looking for them.  (LMK if you have any you may have for trade)  Topps seemed to recycle the living crap out of the same few photos of Koji so there aren't that many "different" cards of him:

 This is bar none his best regular Topps card.  The Diamond Anniversary parallel really makes the card shine! (literally and figuratively!)
 This is one of the multi-recycle images.  This particular card is #'d 49/99 (blue parallel, notice the blue foil)
 The chromed up version of his 2009 Heritage card.  Man, I love 1960 Topps!
These 2 came through the mail during spring training this year.  He was an awesome TTM'er while in Baltimore.
As far as I can tell, he signs his full name on all of the certified autographs and only his first name on IP and TTM's.

Rangers fans, I know you are going to enjoy watching Koji pitch.

Best of Luck to you in Texas, Koji!


Saturday, July 30, 2011

My Topps Prime 9 Redemptions

While I was breaking my hobby box of 2011 Topps Series 2, I pulled 2 of the Prime 9 redemption cards.  I got redemption cards #1 and #2.  The idea is that you take them to your local card shop during the specified week on each given card and you get a limited edition card of the player of the week.  Basically Topps is trying to drive foot traffic into the hobby shops.

My fiancee was nice enough to drop by the "local" card shop during the first week and pick up  this Johnny Bench:

I got to go back the second week and pick up this Albert Pujols (along with some 800ct boxes):

I'm not particularly attached to either one of them so they are both for trade.

Monday, July 25, 2011

Curiosity Killed the Cat

I should have known better.  I saw some 2011 Bowman Platinum cards hitting eBay so I thought I'd hit Target on the way home and maybe by chance they'd have some packs and blasters.  No luck today.  Somebody really straightened up the card section and there was nothing even remotely interesting on the shelves... Piles of series 1 and series 2 though.  Even the Power Packs reduced price box was gone.  But I did something stupid though.  I bought one of those 3 packs plus a GU card 9.99 deals.  You know, for science.  Here's the resulting carnage:

1 pack of 2007 "Fleer" Ultra 5 card pack (haven't seen one of these in a while!!!):

Conor Jackson, Lance Berkman, Carl Crawfish, Freddy Sanchez and

Jesus Flores Rookie Shortprint!

1 pack of 2007 Upper Deck (only 5 cards, like the Dollar Tree version packs!):

Jose Valverde, Moises Alou, Jason Bay, Ryan Franklin and Jeff Baker Ticket to Stardom Insert

1 pack of 2003 Upper Deck Victory.  I was initially a little happy to see this pack since it was something different.  Then I opened it and realized that it was the year they made a "card game" and was let down again:

Mike Sweeney, Ben Sheets, Barry Zito, Sammy Sosa, Junior Spivey green border (don't get excited, 1:1 packs) and a

Jim Thome Clutch Players insert (1:5 packs)

And the moment we've been waiting for, the GU card:

2006 Topps Update Jermaine Dye Workout Jersey Card.

It has 4 dinged corners and obviously has been well loved.  I don't love it though.

Hide your kids, Hide your wife, and Hide your husbands too.

Stay far away people, I open this crap so you don't have to.

Sunday, July 17, 2011

Card Show Wrap Up: Part 2

Here's part 2 of my card show wrap-up (if you couldn't tell from the title!)

5. 2010 Bowman Chrome Draft Picks Buster Posey Refractor. I think this card was mistakenly in the wrong box. It was nestled deep in the 7 for 5 dollar box so I couldn't refuse to pick this card up. It looks awesome in person and its in great condition. My Scanner refused to pick up the refractory shine this time.

4. 2009 Upper Deck Signature Stars USA Star Prospects 18U National Team UD Game Jersey Manny Machado. What a mouthful to say! I got this card on the cheap from a guy who had a ton of Team USA cards. Most of the higher end Manny stuff was out of my price range but I did drool a little bit on the glass!
3. 2001 Pacific Private Stock Brady Anderson bat card. I've been looking for a Brady Anderson relic card for some time now and I finally got one! He doesn't have many but this one looks awesome! There is even a short bio on the back along with stats. When was the last time you saw a relic card with those on the back?
2. 2007 Upper Deck SP Legendary Cuts Legendary Materials Brooks Robinson. These last two cards I got for a combined 20 bucks a triple relic card #d to 99 of a Hall of Famer and.... you'll see. This is a great looking card. Maybe one of these days I'll feel bold enough to open a box of Legendary Cuts.
1. 2009 Topps Chrome Blue Refractor Autograph Nolan Reimold. I'm sorry if you feel a little let down by the top card on the countdown. I really have a soft spot for Nolan for some unknown reason. Maybe its because he is one of the few legit prospects the O's have in the Upper Minor leagues right now. Regardless this is my favorite card of the show. It doesn't look like it but the autograph is actually on card!
I hope everyone enjoyed seeing my favorite cards from the show!

Saturday, July 16, 2011

Card Show Wrap Up: Part 1

I went to the Chantilly card show last weekend and I am just getting around to posting up the results of what I was able to pick up. I'm going to show my top 10 favorite cards over 2 posts (the second post will be tomorrow). Without further ado:
10. 2008 Bowman Sterling Prospects Zach Britton. I've been looking for this card for a while now and I found it in none other than a bargain bin for a quarter. That's right Bowman Sterling for a quarter. It makes me wonder why "collectors" will pay so much for a "box" of cards and end up selling the base cards for peanuts. I personally will never pay more than 5 dollars for a pack of cards no matter what.

I feel bad for Zach though. He was demoted to double-A which he was none too happy about. I was expecting this sort of move by the Oriole front office at some point during the year to stave off his free agency another year (like the Rays did with Longoria and Royals with Hosmer and Moustakas this year.) The Orioles officially say that it was performance related (he has been getting knocked around the park lately) but O's fans are smarter than that. The O's front office wasn't going to bring him to the big leagues until late April/ early May just for the reason of keeping him under team control for another season. I think McPhail was just waiting for Zach to have a bad outing and use that as an excuse for a demotion. The mid-summer circus has truly arrived in Baltimore and won't be pulling out until the end of September.

9. 1967 Topps #1: THE CHAMPS. I did pay a little more for this card but it is totally worth it. This card really is a classic combo card. Not like the garbage of Jose Reyes and Hanley Ramirez standing around in the outfield with their hands down the front of their All-Star warm up jerseys.
8. 1954 Bowman Dick Kryhoski. I like 1954 Bowman better than the 55 version. Period. It just seems more classy than the woodgrain TVs.

7. 2010 Bowman Chrome 18-U USA National Team Manny Machado. This is one of my Top 10 Most Wanted Orioles cards. I haven't figured out a replacement for this one on the list yet.
I'm trying to get in on the ground floor with this guy before he really turns into the mega-prospect all the scouts think he'll be. I picked up a few other of his cards at the show and you might see him later on in this countdown.

6. 2001 Upper Deck SPX Brian Roberts Rookie Card. I have other Rookie cards of Brian but not as nice as this one. It has a low serial # which is cool but not like it matters. It was a little pricier but I'm happy with the purchase.

There are 2 schools of thought on Brian right now. There are a lot of people saying he is done and others say he still has some fuel in the tank. I'd like to say that I think he still has some good years left in him. Injuries have totally messed up his last 2 seasons but when he gets fully healthy(and stops sliding head first into 1st base) he will be fine.

Stay tuned tomorrow for the conclusion of my card show report.

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Trade with John of The Pursuit of 80's(ness)

This is my first international trade that I have completed. I had the pleasure of dealing with John from The Pursuit of 80s(ness). He had some feelers out for a bunch of different team collectors and I bit on the Orioles. I think he is still looking for a couple of other team traders so you might want to check him out. Anyways, here's my take:

Here's a sweet looking Jim Palmer Mini from 2008 Goudey. It's undeniably 2008 because of Derek Jeter's mug taking up most of the bottom of the card.
Another version of Orioles Obscure Cards of Obscure Players. Omar Daal, wow, he was terrible while donning the black and orange.
Damian Moss wasn't much better as an Oriole. Both had ERA's in the 6's. Geez!

Aubrey Huff was a decent player for the O's for a couple of years. As I continue to obtain more cards for the base set, the Black Bordered Orioles continue to trickle in! Maybe one day soon I'll have the entire set.

And I'll close out this trade post with a neat card from 1994 Upper Deck Fun Pack. This card folds out (obviously!) to show an action shot on the inside. Pretty ground breaking stuff for the mid 90's!

Thanks for the trade John, your return package is in the mail. I hope you like what I found for you!

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

June Group Break Cards from Cards from the Quarry

I know these aren't great scans of the cards I got from Johnny's June Group Break but I'm getting lazy from the summer heat. I'm really enjoying these cheaper breaks because it helps me fill out my team collection at a cheaper price than going to a card show.
All three of these Cal cards bolstered my PC as I didn't have any of these three. I'm really loving the stained glass insert on the right. I was very lucky in regards to Johnny actually pulling it from the box. It actually is a diecut card that is see through. I took it and pointed it towards the sun and it really is a neat concept for an insert set. I wish we could see that creativity in todays card market.

Monday, July 11, 2011

Trade with David the Rhubarb Runner

David (AKA Rhubarb Runner) of the famed "e rayhahn, rayhahn" blog and I just recently completed a trade. I sent him a bunch of Twins he needed and he sent along some really nice Orioles in return. Lets get right into the goods:

By the way that Vladimir Guererro is swinging these days, its only appropriate that I get a card of another creaky kneed DH in Harold Baines. The only thing is that Harold actually could still hit for some decent power in his 3 stints with the Orioles. Meanwhile Vlad Guerrero seems to be done with his career on life support.
The runner of rhubarb found several cards from my set want lists. I am slowly buy surely knocking out cards from the Goudey sets and O-Pee-Chee. I thought this card of Jake Peavy is an interesting card showing him getting ready to round 3rd Base. Also I like the Santana card with the cityscape in the back. I really hope he can bounce back from injuries because I enjoyed watching him pitch.
Apparently either David has a great amount of Vintage cards laying around or he did some shopping for me at his LCS. I was able to add the Orioles Team card from 1973 Topps to my collection. I only need Dave McNally to finish out the team set.
I didn't used to like 1966 Topps that much but it has grown on me over time as much as any set has from yesteryear. I'm happy to add these two semi stars to my team set. I'm really getting close to completing some vintage team sets so I'm getting pretty excited about that.
And this wouldn't be a true post if I didn't show an obscure card of an obscure player for the O's. Looking over Juan's stats as an Oriole, they look pretty crappy. At least when we traded him to Cincinnati, we got BJ Ryan in return and he was good for us for a few years.

Thanks David for the nice trade. I look forward to trading with you again in the future.

Sunday, July 10, 2011

Cal Ripken Cardboard Appreciation #15

2000 Upper Deck UD IONIX Atomic

As always, the scanner doesn't do this card any favors, it looks great in person.

Saturday, July 9, 2011

Trade with Bob of '59 Topps Blog

Bob of the '59 Topps blog and I just completed an awesome trade. Awesome as in I don't think I have ever recieved such a great amount of collectables in one package. He really outdid himself when he sent my package. Lets get right into the good stuff.

Everybody has seen Starting Lineups before. I even have some myself but they are not in their original packaging anymore. I think I have the first year Cal Ripken at my father's house somewhere but I know for sure that his glove arm is broken off! I am very proud to have this one from 1990. I am thinking about starting a collection of just Cal SLUs. We'll see!

I have never seen one of these before. Heck I didn't even know they existed and was puzzled when pulling it out the box. Obviously its a stand up plaque with the Iron Man on it but it really is a cool collectable.
Here's the extent of my Cal Ripken sticker card collection. I didn't realize the one on the right was upside down until I had already binderized the trio. So laziness prevails and they will remain this way in this post. I hadn't really paid much attention to Odd ball Cal stuff in the past, but now I know that kind of stuff just doesn't exist anymore. It just makes them so much cooler.
I distinctly remember seeing this card at the show I went to a few weeks ago. I wanted to buy it but ran out of cash and couldn't get it. Two days later it shows up in my mailbox! Everything happens for a reason.
I believe this is my first Ron Hansen card. He was a good player for the Birds but had mixed success after he was traded from the Charm City.
And this is probably the favorite card of the trade. Im a big fan of 1960 Topps and I might build the set one day. For now this Brooksie with have to just fill a gaping hole in my O's team set.

I want to take this opportunity to than Bob for the awesome cards and collectables that he sent. Also, go check out his blog, its very well written and you'll be able to learn alot about 1959 Topps and the players in the set.

Friday, July 8, 2011

Trade with Ted of Crinkly Wrappers

Ted from Crinkly Wrappers and I just completed another trade. We've been pretty good trading partners even before he got his blog up and running. He contacted me about the Joe Morgan Legends shortprint that I pulled out of my series 2 hobby box and a new trade was born.

I already had this card but it is an upgrade of the rough conditioned one I had in my team set binder. I like the early action shot of Boog here calling for the pop up. I like these mid 70s action shots because you just don't see action shots like this nowadays.
Speaking of Team sets, Ted also sent me a full team set of 2005 Upper Deck Past Time Pennants. All 4 of these cards has great shots of the greats from the Orioles past. This was an interesting set that you could even get a real felt pennant out of your hobby box. Apparently the gimmick wasn't enough of a pull to warrant Upper Deck making a followup set in 2006.

Ted also offered up a near team set of this year's Pro Debut. I seem to dabble in prospecting so Pro Debut is right up my alley. I am a little confused as to why Topps is only putting out one series this year. I really like this shot of Manny Machado. It looks like it was taken a nanosecond before the picture on his '10 Bowman Draft Picks Prospect card.
Thanks to Ted for sending these nice cards my way. Good luck on your Vintage Legends personal Collection. I can't wait to see the finished results!

Thursday, July 7, 2011

7-3-11: Baltimore Orioles at Atlanta Braves

Sunday July 3rd was the final day of the Braves series and the final day of my roadtrip down Interstate 85 to Hotlanta. I woke up around 7:30 and got all my stuff packed up and ready to go. My Friend and I went down for breakfast early and soon found ourselves at our respective players entrances.
I was determined not to miss Baseball Jesus (Matt Wieters) today. He was the first to show up that day as his wife dropped him off. He was dressed to the nines and was in a good mood. (Maybe he knew that he was going to be named an All-Star later in the day!) He signed my 8x10! I wish I would have gone with a medium tip pen but the autograph still looks great!
Matt would turn out to be the only autograph I got all day but it didn't matter because I was still on cloud nine. I had a couple of opportunities to get more 'graphs but since I had gotten most of them in the last 2 days I didn't want to be a pain and seem greedy. One player I didn't have and wanted was Derrek Lee. He was very "elusive" to say the least. It didn't seem like he really wanted to sign the autographs that he did give. He did one on Saturday and 2 on Sunday morning. I was not lucky enough to get one. Oh well, maybe TTM will lead to better results. I also was unable to get JJ Hardy who was a target of mine going into the weekend. He didn't sign either day but at least he was nice about it, politely declining.

I was excited to see Zach Britton get the start for the Orioles this day and he cruised through the Braves order for the first couple of innings. He even hit a homerun to help himself out but it would not hold up. He ran into some trouble in the 5th or 6th inning and in came the bullpen. Being down by one run Mark Reynolds stepped up to the plate with a man on and hit a bomb deep into the seats in left field. It was his 3rd in 2 days! The bullpen came in and shut the door on the Braves and the Orioles salvaged one game of the 3 game set.

I would say my time in Atlanta was a positive experience. There wasn't a single negative thing to put a negative spin on the weekend other than having to leave to come home.

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

7-2-11: Baltimore Orioles at Atlanta Braves

Saturday was a long day that had me and my friend about 12 hours at and around the ballpark. We got ready and went over to Turner Field for the tour. It was relatively educational and getting to see all the different areas of the ballpark was pretty nice. I even got picked on by the tour guide because I was more or less dressed from head to toe in Orioles gear. After the tour was over we looked around the Braves Hall of Fame and then walked across the street to a Restaurant call "The Bullpen". The food was good and it had air conditioning. It was stifling in Atlanta all weekend.

Luckily for me, the Orioles player's entrance was basically right across the street from The Bullpen. When I showed up, I was informed that I missed Matt Wieters. Dang it! I had an 8x10 that I really wanted signed. Next up Chris Jakubauskas and Blake Davis arrived via cab. Chris told us it was our lucky day and he was feeling "saucy"... whatever that means.. I used a Blank from 09 OPC on Chris and a blank 10 Upper Deck shot of Camden Yards on these guys. I was the only one that had anything for Davis to sign. He seemed shocked that nobody else wanted his signature.
Next to show up at the park was the Orioles starter for that day, Jake Arrieta. He seemed to be in a good mood and signed for everybody that wanted one. I got his rookie card from 2010 Topps Chrome signed. Its my favorite CARD I got signed all weekend. The blue ink just pops right off the card and his name is fairly legible. See for yourself:
While I was 'graphing all 3 days I met a nice lady who had season tickets for the Braves. Mike Gonzalez is her favorite player I learned after inadvertently bashing him when striking up a conversation. Mike has pitched much better lately and I hope he keeps it up. I think a switch back to his old mechanics has something to do with it. Anyways, he showed up at the players entrance after the team bus and couldn't have been nicer. He took pictures and willingly signed for everybody. Here's mine:
Around this time, about 4:30, we decided to head inside the park. I really like that the Braves allow fans into the stadium 2 and a half hours before first pitch. It seems like a good business model because hot and hungry fans standing are liable to buy concessions and souvenirs when they don't have much to be interested in.
I wasn't interested in eating or buying any souvenirs. I was interested in batting practice and autograph opportunities. We found our seats in right field RIGHT NEXT to the Braves bullpen and watched the Braves take batting practice until we couldn't stand the little ankle biters yelling "HEY""HEY" at the players on the field for a ball. I politely told them to call the players by their names and you might have better luck. They didn't listen, so, annoyed I headed for the Orioles dugout.
Luckily, Mark Reynolds came out and took some ground balls and before heading to take some hacks came over and signed some autographs. Blue ink on the Gypsy Queen cards looks awesome. Check it out:
No other players signed while I was standing there until minutes BEFORE first pitch. Adam Jones signed only minutes AFTER I had left the O's dugout. I happened to glance back and much to my chagrin he was signing away for some of the kids gathered where I was standing.

Fast Forward to the top of the 4th inning. Mark Reynolds at the plate, he crushes a long fly ball to center that clears the fence for his 16th homer of the season.

Now, this may not seem that significant to you but to me it is. Yeah it gave the O's the early lead (which Luke Scott helped relinquish), but is was more significant. I have that very ball. Yes THE homerun ball. I am not in the video but watch where it lands. I'll wait....

The security guard from the Braves bullpen walked all the way over to centerfield and picked up the ball. Apparently, security is not allowed to toss baseballs into the stands because he had it in his hand until he got back into the dugout and tossed it to the bullpen catcher, Eddie Perez. He looks at it and sees 2 scars from hitting the railing and looks around. He sees me, the only Orioles fan in the area, dressed head to toe in my O's garb and tosses it to ME! I couldn't beleive it! I've gotten balls at AA and AAA games but never at a major league game. Not to mention a homerun ball!

So the Orioles ended up losing the game so I decided to stake out the players entrance again. Upon reaching the gate, I told a few people about my good fortune and showed them the ball. About this time, Robert Andino comes out of the door. One of the ladies who I showed the ball to calls out his name. (I find out later that she got to know him really well at Spring Training). He smiles and motions for her to come over. He gets her in the gate and direct access to the players as they board the team bus. It's nice to have connections like that! About 10 minutes later, I hear "Hey Oriole Guy, come over here!" from the lady behind the gate. I hurry over and she asks me for the ball and my ticket and tells me he (Mark Reynolds) is going to sign both of them for me! BADASS! He signs it and hands it back to her and she brings it to me. Check it out:
I'm sorry for the blurry picture, but my camera is old and I don't have any good batteries for it at the moment. You can make out the scars from where it hit the railing or whatever in center field on the right and top of the ball. The signature looks great and Mark even took the time to put the date on it. So I have Mark Reynolds' 136th career home run ball, Autographed. A True 1/1 collectible!

Overall it was a great day! I got plenty of autographs including 3 from Mark Reynolds! Anything that happened on Sunday was just gravy!