Trade Bait! (2012 Topps Blaster patches, Part 2)

Posted by Jonathan @ RGB Cards | Posted in ,

In case you missed Part One, I displayed the 2012 Topps Retired Number and Historical Stitches manu-patches that I purchased on eBay last week. Part Two is all about the patches I actually pulled myself, from the five blasters of Series 1 and Series 2 that I bought online. Of the five, there's only one that I want to keep. And that's just because Hank Aaron is badass:

Hank's Brewers years are largely forgotten, and for good reason. It was like Willie Mays returning to New York for the Mets, or Babe Ruth playing for the Boston Braves. Going back to the town where you started your big league career sounds good in theory, but it rarely works out. Right, Junior?

Still, the Hammer played for the Brewers for effectively a season and a half, and they still retired his number. Respect.

Now for the ones that I am looking to move. The list of Retired Number cards I'm collecting is at the bottom of these lovely pictures. I am entertaining all offers. Yankees, Twins and Blue Jays fans especially, I'm looking at you:

Now, here are the ones I want to collect, and the ones I already have:

Sparky Anderson
Joe Morgan GOT!
Johnny Bench

Frank Robinson GOT!
Brooks Robinson GOT!
Jim Palmer GOT!
Cal Ripken Jr.

White Sox
Frank Thomas
Carlton Fisk

Reggie Jackson GOT!
Rickey Henderson
Catfish Hunter

Lou Boudreau
Bob Feller

Roberto Clemente
Willie Stargell

Number 8s
Yogi Berra GOT!
Gary Carter

(I must say, I'm a bit annoyed, because the only other retired #8 in baseball is Carl Yastrzemski, and Topps didn't do a patch for him, just one of the Historical Stitches. Y U H8 ME TOPPS?!?)

Historical Stitches (sigh)
Sandy Koufax
Ichiro Suzuki
Ken Griffey Jr.

Yes, I need these three Historical Stitches cards for my PCs. My preference, of course is for retired number cards, but if  you have one of these cards and want to trade it for the Mattingly or Molitor, I'm up for it.

Mail Call! (2012 Topps Blaster patches, Part 1)

Posted by Jonathan @ RGB Cards | Posted in , , ,

This is a special two-part post. Part one is the fun part - I found an eBay seller, based in Australia, who sells singles of patch cards, relics and such. He had a absolute ton of stuff up last week, including some of the manu-patches from the 2012 Topps blasters. I bought out all the stuff from that series that he had, and I wanted. They arrived today.

First up, the Historical Stitches. I got two - Luis Aparicio and the patron saint of RGB Cards, Frank Robinson:

The thing I love about the Robinson card is that it portrays him as a Red. Frank Robinson's Cincinnati career is often forgotten, but he was absolutely amazing at Crosley Field. You know that he was MVP in 1961, right? The whole "only person to be MVP of the American League and National League" thing? Yeah, it doesn't happen without the Reds. Believe it or not, Robby played more games in a Reds uniform than any other. He was with the team for ten seasons!

However, now that I have these two cards in my position, it confirms what I thought all along; the Historical Stitches set is stupid. It's manu-patches at their worst, because there's no real historical context or events that they're based on. "Featuring stitching designed to replicate his vintage jersey"? What does that even mean?

However, as bad as Topps whiffed on the Historical Stitches, the retired number patches are just that many kinds of awesome. I've always been fascinated with uniform numbers - which ones people choose, how they select them, what new number a person gets when he changes teams and can't get his old number, and yes, which numbers are retired. That's why this set is so awesome. But what do you expect from someone with this book in his personal library?

I got three - a Reds patch, an Orioles patch, and an Athletics patch. And there's that man Robinson again:

I've decided to collect all the Reds, Orioles, Athletics and White Sox patches, along with Sandy Koufax (duh) and all the number 8 cards. Yes, this means I am actively seeking a Yankees patch card, but I'm cool with it because it's Yogi Berra and he's awesome.

By the way, I already bought the Koufax, but the seller doesn't ship to Australia so it's at my parents' house. Along with what seems like half my collection.

Tomorrow, I'll be posting the manu-patch cards I actually pulled from my blasters. With one exception, I am looking to flip these cards for ones I actually want. Yankees collectors will definitely want to check back tomorrow.

Can you help me solve a mystery?

Posted by Jonathan @ RGB Cards | Posted in

Last night I was opening a blaster of 2012 Series 2 when I came across something unusual. One of the cards was #395, Rod Barajas. When I got to the page in the binder where #395 goes, in the space I saw...Jonathan Lucroy.


Even more, I saw another Rod Barajas card, only it had #391 on it. And, furthermore, the back was printed upside down.

Now this, to me, is where it gets really confusing. The Barajas-395 was printed perfectly. If that was the mis-numbered card, then shouldn't it be the one that's misprinted, too? You can't have two #395 cards. If Barajas is really 395, then what number is Lucroy supposed to be? And if Barajas is 391, then why was my card printed upside down? Is it possible I have two Barajas error cards; one with the right number printed the wrong way, and one printed the right way, but with the wrong number?

The more I think about it, there isn't any way I don't have two error cards. One of those 395 cards is right, and the other is wrong. And there's no disputing that the 391 is printed upside down.

Has anyone heard anything about numbering shenanigans with Topps Series 2? Or have I stumbled on a one-off? Any help would be appreciated. Thanks.

Thoughts on Ichiro

Posted by Jonathan @ RGB Cards | Posted in

I woke up today to the news that Ichiro Suzuki had be traded. There is was, in blue and white, as a message on my iPhone: "Yankees Acquire Ichiro Suzuki". I re-read it again. And again. And it still didn't really sink in. Not only did Ichiro get traded, but it was to the Yankees? Was I still asleep?

I must admit, the first thought that ran through my head was that I'd have to stop collecting his cards. But after I got out of bed and started making breakfast five minutes later, I realised that was silly. Of course I'll keep collecting his cards, no matter the uniform. Besides, I get so damn many unwanted Yankees cards, it's time for a few I actually do want.

I read an article this weekend on the USS Mariner web site about how it was time for the Mariners to cut their ties with Ichiro at the end of the season. I didn't want to entertain that notion. I had this idea that Ichiro would get his 3,000th major league hit, his 4,193rd professional hit, and maybe even win a World Series (or at least a playoff series), all while wearing a Mariners uniform. Now, not even a week later, the M's didn't wait - they traded him to the team that just happened to be in town for a three-game series. Contrary to what the ESPN website seems to think, Ichiro did not help his new team beat his old team last night, unless you count going 1-for-4 and getting stranded at third base in a 4-1 game "helping"

I guess I should be happy for Ichiro. He's going from the league leader in losses to the league leader in wins, and he has a very real chance of going far in the post season. He's left the Mariners without a lot of the bad taste that Junior Griffey part deux put in everyone's mouth, and, like Griffey (and not like Alex Rodriguez), no matter what else he does in his career, he'll always be associated with the Mariners first and foremost. Five years after he retires, he'll become the second Mariner in the Hall of Fame (or third, if the Hall gets their act together on Edgar Martinez, or fourth, depending on what Randy Johnson decides).

More than that, without Ichiro's manifold success, players like Shin-Soo Choo, Hideki Matsui, and even to an extent pitchers like Hiroki Kuroda and Yu Darvish wouldn't have the big league careers they enjoy. It's hard to think now, but in 2001 there was a real feeling that while Japanese pitchers might be okay, position players wouldn't hold up to the "rigors" of a 162-game season. It seems like a ridiculous notion now. Hideo Nomo might have pried open the door, but Ichiro Suzuki kicked it down.

Besides, maybe he'll leave the Yankees after the season and play somewhere else. Oakland's got a nice big outfield...

Baseball 35

Posted by Jonathan @ RGB Cards | Posted in

It's not like I haven't been doing anything with myself lately. Sure, things have been a lot busier with my boy around, but I've been able to make the most of the time when he's sleeping, especially now that he's sleeping a bit better.

One of the things I've done is create a long-term baseball sim. Baseball 35 is a "what if?" world that asks the question - what if the Pacific Coast League was able to become a Major League in 1935? And, for good measure, it took the International League along with it. Four major leagues, 32 major league teams in 1935. A couple of things, as I see it:

  • American and National League teams wouldn't have moved West. Not if there were already major-league caliber teams in Los Angeles and San Francisco.
  • West-coast born major leaguers would have been more likely to stay on the West Coast. For example, Joe DiMaggio started out as a San Francisco Seal, but the Seals were a AAA team. What if they were a Major League team, and they didn't have to sell him to the Yankees?
  • The International League had teams in Toronto and Montreal, and by the 1950s, they even had a team in Havana. International baseball in the 1930s? Major League baseball in Cuba by 1955? It's fun to imagine.
The league in is the 1936 season (i.e., its second) and just had its first Hall of Fame inductions. I'm blogging about it over at the Baseball 35 blog. I'm not going to bombard you with cross-posts; this is a baseball card blog, and that's a baseball history simulation blog (and a work in progress to boot!). I will keep a link for Baseball 35 on the right-hand side, and if you're a fan of baseball history, or alternative history, or baseball on the West Coast, or computer games...well, you get the picture. I encourage you to check it out, bookmark it and comment.

I try to update it when I can, but as you can imagine, it takes more time doing the write-ups than it does actually simulating the games!

Pack Wars! Battle Blaster 1 (Part 2)

Posted by Jonathan @ RGB Cards | Posted in ,

Welcome back to the final three battles of Pack Wars! Battle Blaster I. Just a reminder, I am certainly willing to accept sponsorship for this feature. It's time to get into it, because we've get three battles to get to today.

Battle 3
Albert V vs. Albert VI

Albert V
Ramon Hernandez
Carlos Santana (+1 for following the ball with his eyes)
Ryan Sweeney
Eric Sogard (+1) (Athletics)
Hanley Ramirez Cut Above insert
James Shields
Travis Snider (+1 for sporting a Gerald McRaney moustache)
Alfonso Soriano

Total Score: 3

I bet you think I should give that die-cut HanRam card at least a point, right? Well, I'll refer you to the official scoring "+2 Any other insert card that's worth keeping" (italics mine). Frankly, I don't get the die-cut craze. If it's a player I collect, I'd keep it. Otherwise, nil points.

A Gerald McRaney moustache, on the other hand, is worth celebrating and rewarding.

Albert VI
Matt Thornton (+1) (White Sox)
Tommy Hunter (+1) (Orioles)
Chris Volstad
Chase Headley (+1) (Gold)
Golden Giveaway (0 - I unlocked Lou Gehrig, who I immediately traded for Roberto Clemente)
Elvis Andrus
Nathan Eovaldi (+1 for having the very rare "EO" combination in front of his name)
John Mayberry

Total Score: 4

Now, before you start complaining that my random point for Nathan Eovaldi having two vowels at the front of his name broke the tie, handing the win to Albert VI, I would like to point out that I gave a point to Travis Snider for a freakin' moustache! Albert VI was going to win, anyway.

See, it's not completely random.

Battle 4
Albert VII vs. Albert VIII

Albert VII
Willie Bloomquist (-1 for wearing a "Los Dbacks" jersey - c'mon, that's not even real Spanish!)
Carlos Gonzalez
Scott Hairston
Josh Hamilton Career Day insert (+1 for being from Raleigh)
Joe Mauer '87 mini (+2)
Ricky Romero
Tsuyoshi Nishioka
Daniel Murphy

Total Score: 2

What a stinker. If it wasn't for the inserts, the pack would have finished in double digits. And before you ask, any Brewers that appeared in "Cervezeros" jerseys would indeed get bonus points. Because "Cervezeros" is just plain cool. And proper Spanish.

Albert VIII
Carlos Zambrano (-1 for being a clubhouse cancer)
Alex Rodriguez (-5)
Alex Presley (+1 for being the second straight Alex in the pack)
Vladimir Guerrero checklist (+1) (Orioles)
Jim Palmer Golden Moments insert (+3) 
(Orioles +1, insert card I'm keeping +2)
Josh Collmenter
Kenley Jansen
Andy Dirks

Total Score: -1

I thought it was going to be much worse. I kinda felt bad docking Albert VIII a point for Zambrano when A-Fraud came up straight away, but to protect the integrity of Pack Wars I have to go with my first instinct when it comes to bonus points. Besides, I docked Albert VII a point for a totally capricious reason, too. Albert VII wins the battle. But really, we're all losers in this one.

Battle 5
Albert IX vs. Albert X

Albert IX
Andrew McCutchen
Chien-Ming Wang (+1 for " said 'Wang'")
Zach McAllister
Jim Palmer Mound Dominance insert (+3) (Orioles +1, insert card I'm keeping +2)
Nolan Ryan Gold Standard insert
Ian Kinsler (+1 for solid fundamentals)
Lonnie Chisenhall
Kerry Wood (+1 for retiring on his own terms)

Total Score: 6

Fun fact - both Jim Palmer insert cards referred to the same game - his start in the 1966 World Series at the tender age of 21. I almost thought of docking this card a point for that duplication, but decided to just not feature it instead.

Albert X
Nelson Cruz
Brandon Beachey
Luis Marte
Ichiro Suzuki Gold (+8) (+5 Gold parallel for my PC, +1 Mariner, +2 Ichiro)
Carlos Santana Gold Futures (+1)
Darwin Barney (+1 for diving/sliding headfirst)
Jason Kubel
Lance Berkman

Total Score: 10

What a way to end the first Pack Wars with a double-digit pack. True, it benefited from the points multiplier, but when you think about it, there are 660 cards in the set, and each has gold parallels. So the odds that I'm going to get one of the 3 gold cards I actually care about are...well, they're 1 in 220, actually...but that's good enough for a bunch of points, in my opinion.

Albert X takes out not only the final battle, but also posts the highest score of the whole blaster. Congratulations Albert X. You win...nothing.

Pack Wars! - Battle Blaster 1

Posted by Jonathan @ RGB Cards | Posted in , ,

Here we go - the first installment of Pack Wars! Come to think of it, I kinda like the title "Battle Blaster" better. And Rule 1 of Pack Wars Battle Blasters is that capriciousness and whims are the order of the day. On with the show...

Battle #1
Pack 1 vs. Pack 2

I liked in better back in 2009, when Topps would put different players on the front of packs. This time, we just have ten Albert Pujolses battling each other. Here we have Albert I vs. Albert II

Albert I
J.J. Hardy (+1) (Orioles)
Dan Haren
Grant Balfour (+3)
Phil Niekro Mound Dominance insert
Albert Pujols Career Day insert
Chase Utley (+1 for sliding/diving headfirst - a.k.a. the Pete Rose bonus)
Alex Gonzalez
Chris Johnson (-1) (Astros)

Total score: 4

One pack in, and I've already shown my capriciousness. I've decided to award Grant Balfour an extra point for wearing the gold A's jersey, and another point for being an Aussie. I can't believe I didn't include that as a category. It is so forever enshrined, and I'll be updating the official scoring system

Albert II
Gaby Sanchez
Brett Gardner (-1) (Yankees)
Wade Miley
Andruw Jones (+1) (Gold) (-1) Yankees = A big, fat zero
Cliff Lee
Zack Cozart (+2)
Robert Andino (+1) (Orioles)
Gerardo Parra

Total score: 3

Zack Cozart gets one point for being a Red, and a bonus point for being one of my favorite Reds. As the cliche goes, "he plays the game the right way." Still, it's not enough - Battle #1 goes to Albert I! It's the leader in the clubhouse, but something tells me 4 points isn't going to hold up. Shall we have another battle? Sounds good!

Battle #2
Albert III vs. Albert IV

Albert III
Nick Swisher (-1) (Yankees)
Buster Posey (+1) (Orange uniform)
Dan Uggla - not even the base card, the checklist
Ty Cobb Gold Standard insert (-1 for being a horrible human being)
Ken Griffey Jr. 1987 mini (+8)
Carlos Quentin (+1 for the smirk on his face)
Mark Ellis
Frank Francisco (+1 for having the same first and last name)

Total score: 9

Not even having both a smug Yankee outfielder and an unrepentant racist can hold this pack down! Not when there's the coolest insert card in the set! To be honest, I had no idea that Series 2 '87 mini cards featured retired players. And when I was creating the scoring system, I had forgotten that Junior and Topps had kissed and made up, and that he was now featured in 2012 Topps. Since my other PCs get two points, I figure Griffey is worth double because he's retired. Along those same lines, I doubled the '87 mini bonus, too. That's how I got 8 points. See, it's not completely random.

The bonus points for Carlos Quentin and Frank Francisco, well, yeah, that is pretty random.

Albert IV
Rafael Furcal
Gio Gonzalez (+1 for being a part of the Nationals all-conquering rotation)
Charlie Furbush (+1) (Mariners)
Ozzie Smith Golden Moments insert
Domonic Brown Gold Futures insert (+1)
Chris Carpenter
Tim Lincecum (+2)
Carlos Pena

Total Score: 5

Who packed this pack, Tony LaRussa? The last time I saw this many Cardinals in one place was the NL All-Star team. That reminds me - fair warning: if I see LaRussa's mug pop up I'm going to give him -10 points for the way he treated Johnny Cueto and Brandon Phillips. I resisted the urge to give Charlie Furbush a bonus point for his vaguely obscene last name. That kind of stuff shouldn't be celebrated.

Poor Albert IV. That score would have won Battle #1, but it had the bad luck to go up against Mini Griffey. Oh well, that's the way the cookie crumbles. A strong score by Albert III, will it hold up against six more packs? All will be revealed...tomorrow!

Pack Wars!

Posted by Jonathan @ RGB Cards | Posted in

A silly idea I "came up" with while driving up to Perth today...

I bought a few blaster packs of Series 2, and rather than just open them up and post the contents, I wondered how I could have some fun with them. Why not have the packs "battle" against each other for the title of most badass pack in the blaster? Of course, some sort of points or ratings system would need to be devised in order to determine the winner.

Going on the idea that the best (or at least funniest) point systems are completely random (see Whose Line is it Anyway? or RockWiz), here's some ideas. I've got three blasters, so the points system could change completely from one blaster to the next. I will, however, keep it consistent between all packs in a blaster, or else my fake competition won't be fair to the inanimate competitors. And we can't have that, can we?

Provisional point system:
+1  Reds, Orioles, White Sox, Mariners or Athletics
+1  Gold Futures (one of two insert series I'm actually collecting)
+1  Gold card
+1  for wearing a throwback jersey
+1  for being Australian
+1  for being from Raleigh, N.C.
+2  Ichiro, King Felix and The Freak
+2  1987 Mini (the other insert, and one that's twice as cool as Gold Futures)
+2  Any other insert card that's worth keeping, not trading away
+2  Golden Giveaway card (but only if it unlocks something cool)
+3  Short Print
+3  Gold card I actually give a damn about
+5  Gold card for my PC
+5  Gold card that's an SP (Gatorade or otherwise)
+8  Relic or auto (in a blaster?!?)
+10  Any card that prominently features seagulls chasing ballplayers

-1   Yankees, Astros
-3   Any card that has already been pulled in that blaster (this may disadvantage later packs, but honestly, duplicates in a blaster is inexcusable)
-5   Alex Rodriguez
-100  Alex Rodriguez relic or auto (seriously, what a waste)

Points are cumulative, so an Alex Rodriguez card would actually be worth -6, unless he's wearing a Rangers jersey for some reason, then it would be -5. You get the picture.

I reserve the right to add or subtract points for unforseen circumstances, or just because I really like or dislike a particular card.

I'll start the competition with my first blaster, and go from there. There's ten packs, numbered from 1 to 10 (duh!) in the order that I pulled them out of the blaster (double duh!). Pack 1 will battle Pack 2, Pack 3 vs. Pack 4, and so on. This doesn't exactly lend itself to a bracket, since all the information will be out there following the first round. I've already opened the manu-patch, and it's a retired number card of Hall-of-Famer Rod Carew.

Any predictions on which pack (1 through 10) will be the winner? Results to come tomorrow.