Unexpected package of goodness

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When I checked my mailbox, the thing I most like to see was inside - a red and white card notifying me that I had a package that doesn't fit in the box. Since I had been buying quite a bit on eBay lately, I figured it was one of those packages - but it wasn't. It was something totally unexpected, out of the blue, with no warning whatsoever, from fellow White Sox fan Steve at White Sox Cards.

When I opened it, there were two full-to-bursting team bags of cards, each containing all sorts of stuff. Have a look:

Some 2010 Heritage for team-set building purposes. Plus, the obligatory Hebrew Hammer, which is nice.

Also a pair of 2011 Heritage Ichiros with razor sharp corners.

More 2011 cards - this time, Opening Day. Steve was obviously paying attention when I talked about being a sucker for cards with throwback uniforms on them. (Green and gold FTW!) By the way, when did the Reds get that mascot? And what the hell was wrong with Mr. Red?

Some 2010 Upper Decks. That set, thanks to the whole licensing kerfuffle, is a mother lode of uniform back cards. The 2010 Bowman Markakis is not part of the set, but doesn't look out of place next to the other two.

Not only is Jose Lopez shiny and bendy, he's also refractory. If that's even a word.

I'll take a Topps Attax card if it has Stubbsy on it. And that is such a pretty picture of the GABP.

Some Moments and Milestones. It's a tie between that and Upper Deck Documentary for the Set That Wouldn't Die. The Radhames Liz is numbered 1/25 - maybe I should sell it on eBay and put lots of exclamation points in the title.

Here's two more cards concerning my monumentally stupid decision to collect all of the Cards Your Mom Threw Out. Did I mention that I want to collect all the original backs, too?

Finally, it wouldn't be a package from White Sox Cards if he didn't include, well, some White Sox cards. Anytime you open a package containing Luis Aparicio, it's going to put a smile on your face...Luke Appling had one of the best nicknames ("Old Aches and Pains") in baseball history...there was a good selection of current and recent Sox players, with Vizquel, TCQ (a National Chicle card I don't completely hate), Ordonez and shiny Manny...when I was a kid, Jack McDowell seemed to be just about the coolest guy on the planet...yes, that is a real 1961 card of Al Smith, and it's in great shape...the Conlon Collection is one of those sets that everybody in the blogosphere should help each other complete. Donate your cards of teams you don't collect to people who do...mini Carlton Fisk, wearing the uniform that made me fall in love with the White Sox. Shame that his hand is covering up the number on the pants leg.

That's quite a haul, and guess what? That's only one of the bags in the package. I haven't even opened the other one yet. See you tomorrow for those results.

(Okay, I did have a peek at the other bag. There's a mojo relic of a Zeppelin tee.)

You're damn straight I updated The Belt

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That is all.

A dignified farewell

Posted by Jonathan @ RGB Cards | Posted in

Sad news today from the Baseball Hall of Fame, which released a statement that Harmon Killebrew is in the final stages of his battle with cancer of the esophagus.

"It is with profound sadness that I share with you that my continued battle with esophageal cancer is coming to an end," the statement, written by Killebrew, said. "With the continued love and support of my wife, Nita, I have exhausted all options with respect to controlling this awful disease. My illness has progressed beyond my doctors' expectation of cure."

The slugger, whose 573 career home runs put him in 11th place on the all-time list, has been an advocate and fundraiser for hospice care. Now, he will avail himself of those services.

"I have spent the past decade of my life promoting hospice care and educating people on its benefits. I am very comfortable taking this next step and experiencing the compassionate care that hospice provides. I am comforted by the fact that I am surrounded by my family and friends. I thank you for the outpouring of concern, prayers and encouragement that you have shown me. I look forward to spending my final days in comfort and peace with Nita by my side."

Of course, this is incredibly sad news, not just for Twins fans or baseball fans, but most of all for Killebrew and his family. But I am heartened by the words in his statement that shows he is at peace with his decision. Not only that, but when the time came for this difficult decision, he practiced what he preached, choosing to enter hospice care. I have a lot of respect for him for that.

I wish him all the peace and comfort in the world.

Contest loot - Play at the Plate

Posted by Jonathan @ RGB Cards | Posted in ,

Back in March, I won a contest over at Play at the Plate, and the prize was a hanger pack of Topps Series 1. After busting my jumbo box, then only getting one card I needed to complete the set from the blaster I purchased from Amazon, I didn't really hold out hope of putting too big of a dent in my want list with this pack.

Boy was I wrong. Of the 72 cards in the pack, 11 of them were cards that I needed, including eight base cards. It was quite a good score, I must say. Here's the results.

First, the base cards. This might be the only time you ever see Arthur Rhodes get pride of place over Roy Halladay and the recently retired Manny Ramirez (why couldn't I have gotten that card a month ago?). But let's face it - Arthur Rhodes was awesome for the Reds last season, while Manny dropped a big steaming turd for the White Sox and Halladay broke the Reds' hearts in the playoffs. I really shouldn't be showing those two cards at all, come to think of it.

I needed the Rhodes for my Reds team set. The next three cards, plus the two horizontal cards are all ones I didn't have in my collection (out of 20 - an excellent pickup) while the two (Duensing and Greinke) are cards that I did have, but had foil problems. Now I have pristine cards for those players in my binder.

It was a real mixed bag on the inserts. The Bobby Abreu card is one I needed for the 60 Years of Topps, and the presence of Barry Larkin saves the Diamond Duos card (plus, I didn't have it), but it would figure that I already had that Big Hurt Topps 60 card (*sigh*). I don't care about the Kimball Champions and CMG reprint sets, so those cards are available. But hey, Arthur Rhodes is back and he's bedazzled this time!

The hook for this particular product line is the presence of "Blue Sapphire" cards, available only through Wal-Mart. There's 15 cards on the checklist, but only one player on it, Ichiro, that I really cared to collect. So I knew the odds were slim. And I was right.

Cards from the pack that are available for trade:
Base: 2, 3, 15, 20, 32, 33, 46, 50, 54, 60, 61, 63, 69, 73, 76, 93, 98, 105, 109, 110, 136, 149, 154, 156, 161, 168, 178, 182, 184, 185, 187, 188, 191, 194, 216, 217, 221, 222, 224, 242, 247, 256, 265, 274, 293, 295, 299, 303, 307, 310, 311, 321, 323, 327
Vintage Legends: CMGR-17 (Jimmie Foxx)
Topps 60: T60-35 (Frank Thomas)
Kimball Champions: KC-5 (Carlos Gonzalez)

Topps Town: TT-34 (Felix Hernandez)
Wal-Mart Sapphire: WHP15 (Miguel Cabrera)

Ideally, I want a card from my Topps 60 want list for the Frank Thomas, from the Kimball Champions want list for the CarGo, and the Ichiro Sapphire Blue card (WHP13) for the Miggy, since that is the only player on the Sapphire checklist I care about having. I'd also be happy with an Ichiro Red Diamond from Target, an Aroldis Chapman Blue Diamond from Wal-Mart or Ruby Red from Target, or a Tim Lincecum Purple Diamond from Toys R Us.

Thanks for the prize, Brian. I looked forward to the end-of-year contest, now that I'm qualified for it!

A score of Ichiros

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More cards from my weekend of impulse eBay buying. This time, it's another lot of Ichiros for 99 cents - twenty of them. Only one duplicate from the last pack, but sadly quite a few cards I already had. Still, there were some good additions, as you'll see.

These were the Topps and Bowman cards that were included. I really like the look of the Peak Performance card in the top left. It seems like I got everyone else's Peak Performance card in the boxes I busted, so it's nice to finally have this one.

There were also nine Upper Deck cards in the pack. Of course, I already had the Heroes and Spectrum cards, as I collect the entire Heroes set and am building the Spectrum rainbow. The Marquee Matchups cards with Dice-K is one that I've contemplated getting from Al's for a few trips now, but never did pick up. I guess I don't have to, now.

That's 18 cards. What were the other two? You guessed it - Ichichromes:

2009 Topps to go with my two 2010 Topps, and a 2009 Bowman Chrome as well.

Coming soon, another blaster of 2011 Topps, plus a pack of 2011 Australian Rules Football cards.

A bundle of Ichiros

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A few weekends ago, I was home by myself with 60 bucks in my Paypal account and an Australian dollar worth $1.05 US. That's a recipe for buying cards if I ever saw one. I have four saved searches set up for auctions ending soon worth 99 cents or less - one for each of my player collections. One of the listings was for a bundle of 25 Ichiro cards, and the seller shipped internationally. Sounds like a winner to me.

With these packages, you know you're going to get plenty of base cards. But the nice thing about players like Ichiro and Griffey is that there are so many insert cards floating around out there, that you're bound to get some cards you don't have anyway.

As for the 2011 Topps, I only realised it had scanned crookedly after I put the cards away. I wasn't going to pull them back out to re-scan a card I have ten of already.

Here's some of the gems of the set. The 2002 Topps rookie cup card was a nice inclusion, as well as the Bowman Platinum. I also liked getting the National Baseball Card Day card, and I thought the Sporting News insert was pretty neat. In bundles like these, you might even find the odd base card you don't have - such as that 2007 Upper Deck. We all know that the 2007 Upper Deck set was phenomenally ugly. Let's face it - between that and Topps, if I had gotten back into collecting in 2007 instead of 2010, I doubt I would have stayed for long.

Finally...Ichichrome! I already had one, and this one is just as bent, but hey...ICHICHROME!

What I like to do when I'm not blogging

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Besides collecting baseball cards, my hobbies include watching baseball games on television, reading baseball books, listening to baseball games on my iPod, long walks on the beach, and playing computer baseball games. Pretty standard stuff, really.

For the past few years, I've been absolutely hooked on Out of the Park (OOTP). Many of you may or may not be familiar with it already. For a few years, I had been looking for a strategy-based game that didn't look like it was ported over from an old DOS version, and one that allows for me to act more like a general manager than a field manager. Lots of folks think they can do better, or just as well, as Tony LaRussa or Joe Torre. But I've always compared myself to the Billy Beanes and Theo Epsteins of the baseball world.

The great thing about OOTP is that it is all things to pretty much all people. Do you want to manage the games, set lineups, pitching rotations, and calls to the bullpen and pinch hitters? Fine, you can play the game like a straight-up managerial sim. Heck, set the defenses up the way you want to. However, if you're like me and you want to build a roster and let some other poor schmuck make the decisions on the field, then fire him when things go wrong, you can do that, too. Heck, you can even channel your inner Connie Mack and take on both roles if you so desire.

Speaking of Connie Mack, are you much more interested in how things were in the good ol' days? Well, OOTP ships with every Major League season since the Dead Ball era included. When I found that out, I was very excited because it meant not having to pay extra for historical seasons. You can also play out the current season - and by current, I mean 2011, not just 2010 (you can do that one, too). Finally, you can create your own league, based on any time frame you chose and located in any cities (and countries) you want.

I've had versions of OOTP since 2008 (when I was still in teacher's college) and it's given me hundreds of hours of fun. I've played current seasons, past seasons and made-up seasons, based on how I was feeling at the time. The only problem - I was tied to my computer when playing it. Until now.

Yesterday, OOTP announced that it has released iOOTP. As you probably guessed by the name, it's for the iPhone, and the iPad. No Android version yet, unfortunately that won't be live until next year. But if you do have an iPhone (like me), you'll be freed from the tyranny of your desktop. Playing OOTP surreptitiously in meetings when I should be paying attention? This could be dangerous for me.

I know it sounds like I'm shilling for OOTP but I'm really not. I enjoy playing this game, and I'm looking forward to the iPhone version as well (although my wife, less so). I hope to get my hands on it in the near future. When I do, look for a review here on the blog.

(The screenshots are from iOOTP, not the desktop version. Those have a lot more information. VORP, anyone?)

Little Package of Goodness - Dawgbones

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When I got back from my holidays, there was a package waiting in the mail for me from Richard over at Dawgbones, a Phillie Fan. He and I had been working on a trade, my first involving cards from 2011 Topps. Thankfully, I had a lot of cards that he needed for his collection, and he had more than a few to fill some gaps in my set. While these cards aren't all of them, they are a representative sample.

Richard sent about 15 of the 2011 base cards. These three were the ones that I didn't have, although there were also quite a few White Sox and Orioles for my team sets as a few cards that were upgrades from the damaged cards I pulled from my box. But thanks to the Dawg, I now have Messrs. Wright, Conger and Revere in the binder.

There were also some insert cards - once again, I'm being a fool and attempting to collect the 60 Years of Topps set, even though I haven't finished collecting last year's Cards Your Mom Threw Out (a fact shown by the Maris card from that set that I needed). Thankfully, the Diamond Duos set appears to be a much more reasonable target, even though the pairings are a bit strange. Hornsby and Holliday? Outside of the uniform, there doesn't seem to be much in common. Ramirez and Stanton are at least teammates, so they're a duo that shares a diamond.

As I was hammering out the trade details with Richard, I pulled out my 2010 Allen & Ginter binder and realised that I have a lot of work to go on this set. Thankfully, he had 13 cards from A&G to put in the binder, so I only have a great deal of work to go now.

Now for the big-ticket items. As you might remember, I had pulled a Matt Holliday manu-patch out of my 2011 blaster. I also pulled a Hank Greenburg short print so it wasn't a total loss. Thankfully, not only did Richard want my manu-patch (since he collects players who were the No. 7) but he had an Ichiro patch card from the same series to trade. In fact, I think this my have been the impetus for the trade in the first place.

Another thing that Richard collects is currency. And for the price of AUD 3.85 (approximately US$4.00), which is one of each coin (that's right, we have a dollar and a two-dollar coin, and they're lovely), he was kind enough to throw in this card. It's not a manu-hit, it's the real thing. Ichiro's 2007 Night Before the All-Star Game batting practice jersey, all cut up and preserved for posterity. I like the color.

Besides the cards, which I was expecting, were a few things that I wasn't. First up, these three Fatheads, which will find a place on the front of their respective team binders. Now I'm going to have to chase up the Orioles and the Athletics, too.

But the best thing in the package wasn't even a card, or a Fathead. Richard included a really, really nice note that let me know how much he enjoys reading my blog. It was very touching because, as I've said before, I write this for all of you. I enjoy getting to share my collection, and my opinions on the game, but it's the comments and the interaction with you guys that keep me writing.

He specifically mentioned my Travels With Raleigh series, which was abruptly cut off due to our arriving safely in Derby and not having any internet access up here for a few weeks on my arrival. By that point, it was time to start writing about cards and the new baseball season again. But I should finish the series, because there's a few more stories to tell. Richard's note is the impetus to get that finished. Please hold me to this.

Thanks for an absolutely great trade, Richard. I hope to complete another one with you in the future!