Grand Cards: July 2009

Thursday, July 30, 2009

Curtis Granderson Tees Off in Tiger Stadium West

Last night, with The Ballpark at Arlington's Tiger Stadium-esque right field, Curtis Granderson performed like the Tigers mashers of old.

2009 Bowman #26 Curtis Granderson Gold

2009 Bowman #26 Curtis Granderson Blue (#003/500)

He hit a Home Run to lead-off the game in the first inning. Then he followed it up with a 2-run shot in the second.

2009 Topps #CBR-CG Curtis Granderson "Career Best" Silver (#08/99)

Those two home runs tie his career best for most home runs in a game, something that he had only done one other time.

The most interesting note actually came after the first home run. According to John Lowe over at the Detroit Free Press, the leadoff home run was Granderson's 20th of his career. This puts him second on the All Time list for Detroit Tigers leadoff home runs. Second! This is only Granderson's 4th full season! The only man in front of him is none other than this guy:

That's some pretty select company, considering that Lou played for the Tigers for 17 full seasons and was on the hall of fame ballot (and was inexplicably snubbed by not staying on the ballot after his first year). How many leadoff home runs did Sweet Lou have? 23. That's only three more than Granderson has in his 4th season! Pretty impressive if you ask me, or can read into what excessive bolding of words in this post implies.

All of this happened in a game in which Justin Verlander also tied his career high for strikeouts in a game with 13. I'll bet he was pretty pleased about that.

2007 Goudey #286 Justin Verlander "Heads Up"


All of these cards (except the Whitaker) are recent and previously unposted-about acquisitions that seemed perfectly appropriate to showcase after last night's game.

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

This Just In: A sticker autograph I'm okay with

A very brief lunchtime post here.

I had trouble deciding whether I was going to include this card in my Granderson collection or in my Topps Tigers Team set collection. Right now it's in the Granderson box, but we'll see if it stays that way. Either way, my internal battle is no reason to keep the card from the public eye:

2009 Topps #BCA-CG Curtis Granderson WBC Autograph

Yes it is a sticker autograph. No, I don't care. Who can resist a Granderson card in a Team USA jersey? Not I, apparently. For the moment this is a unique item in the collection for that reason alone. Of course, that can all change in a wink, especially with Updates & Highlights giving us a dose of WBC Dual and Triple relics this fall. Count me in. Anything to prevent another plain white jersey swatch.

Sunday, July 26, 2009

This Just In: Bonjour, Curtís

Ok fine, the new O-Pee-Chee cards aren't just french versions of Topps cards anymore, relax. However, they are (sometimes) really nice. I've battled over whether to pick up an OPC Tigers team set this year. It's about $9 plus shipping and gives out 20 cards (there are actually 21 cards in the set, but nobody is including the Miguel Cabrera RBI leaders card) and includes a good selection of this year's team, including newbees.

Of the few O-Pee-Chee's that I have, all of the game action shots are really nice looking, but the studio portraits are less than impressive. From what I can tell, the Tigers have a disproportionate amount of studio shots which is something I'm none too enthused about. This isn't one of them though:

2009 O-Pee-Chee #331 Curtis Granderson

That there is one of the better posed baseball card shots that you will find. The cropping works well, his body is at a slight angle to make it more interesting, he isn't looking right at the camera, there is something other than a gray curtain in the background and oh, did I mention--he has the largest smile ever seen on a Curtis Granderson card? Look it up.

Not to be outdone, the black parallel counterpart checks in very highly as well. I go back and forth between which card I like better, so we'll call it a draw.
2009 O-Pee-Chee #331 Curtis Granderson Black Border

I've yet to see a mini black border or a blank back black border surface, but seeing as how they will all look the same as these cards, they're probably pretty nice.

Friday, July 24, 2009

Friday Ginterization

This has been the most exhausting and difficult week of work that I can remember in quite some time. Sadly, I've got some more to carry me into the weekend. Happily, I've now got these to carry me through - my first Allen & Ginter cards of 2009:

Let's start with the perpetual man of the hour on this blog, you might recognize him from round after round of Gint-A-Cuffs. He was worth 5 points as an SP after all.

2009 Topps Allen & Ginter #332 Curtis Granderson (SP)

Next, we have Magglio, still with his Samson hair, in what may be the best pose of the set. In my pessimistic state though, I'll just assume that he's either searching for his power or watching one of his standard issue pop-ups. Boy, I really like this card though.

2009 Topps Allen & Ginter #262 Magglio Ordonez

With all of the recent confusion, I thought a picture of the real Rick Porcello might be useful:
2009 Topps Allen & Ginter #316 Rick Porcello RC (SP)

I'm liking these National Pride Inserts--too bad not all the WBC Tigers were included:
2009 Topps Allen & Ginter #NP9 Carlos Guillen National Pride

2009 Topps Allen & Ginter #NP59 Miguel Cabrera National Pride

Of course, how could I leave out the best Tiger card in the set? I'm a big A&G fan, but I'm an even bigger fan when they look like this. Wow.
2009 Topps Allen & Ginter #54 Carlos Guillen

These cards all come from a team set (w/ SPs and Inserts) that I picked up on eBay for $5.50--including shipping, which I am ecstatic about. Oh, and there was one other thing that I paid twice that much for, but was worth every penny:

2009 Topps Allen & Ginter Detroit Tigers Mini Team Set

Welcome to the weekend!

Thursday, July 23, 2009

Elsewhere in Cyperspace: Topps Backlash Edition

My full thoughts on the "Topps screwed us all with this retail BS" situation are now up on the Cardboard Connection. No, it's not just me up on a soapbox.

Here's an excerpt from the full article:
By pulling what was essentially a bait and switch, Topps has screwed the whole thing up. Sure, people may buy a blaster for the novelty, but they have wrecked the set and team collectors that were looking forward to this release. It is now either financially impossible or simply too frustrating to go after these cards in their limited release and they will turn elsewhere.

In writing this, I looked back on the first article I wrote about these retail cards, back when I was excited for their release. I couldn't help but notice what now appears to be an ominous closing paragraph:
So now, with Series 2 upon us, I can’t wait for Topps to tell us which UPC codes to use this time so that the chase can begin. Somehow, through some dark magic that I will never understand, Topps has gotten me excited to collect three versions of the same basic set. Kudos. Just don’t do something tricky or secret to screw it all up. We may be idiots, but we’re not dumb.

No, we're not. Read the full article, "Topps To Collectors: Drop Dead" over at the Cardboard Connection.

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Up For Trade: Alex Gordon/Billy Butler 1/1 Dual Autograph

This is the first time that I have posted an open trade offer like this, and it will likely be the last. However, something has come up.

First, my 2007 Sweet Spot Black Ink/Black Stitch 1 of 1 Alex Gordon & Billy Butler Dual Signed card has arrived from Upper Deck. My camera cord has gone MIA, but I'll get a picture of it up as soon as I can. It is this card that is up for trade.

Second, I am putting up for trade for this reason. It seems as though my dream card has become available again. There it is just sitting on eBay, waiting for me to buy it. Unfortunately, I'm a little short on that whole "money" thing. However, I do have a newly acquired asset to swap--that 1/1 mentioned above.

So here's what I'm proposing: I will trade the 1/1 Gordon Butler Dual Auto for whoever will buy me (or trade me) this card.

For the link-clicking averse, you might recognize it as this:

I'll get a picture up as soon as I can find my camera cord. The card is still in its original packaging from upper deck, but does suffer from the typical signature issues found on 2007 sweetspot. Still, it is a 1 of 1 card, of two young guys with big bats. Anybody interested in pulling this off can leave a comment or send me an email. The auction ends in 4 days. Any bloggers who feel like spreading the word are welcome to do so as well.

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Ultimate Checklist: 2009 UD Icons Detroit Tigers

To be honest, I don't really care much about this set, but here's the checklist I've been able to gather so far through my typical eBay perusal:

27 Curtis Granderson
67 Justin Verlander
73 Magglio Ordonez
80 Miguel Cabrera
102 Rick Porcello
129 Ryan Perry

Porcello and Perry are Rookie cards numbered to 999. The regular base cards appear to have a silver parallel version as well. There are also a few inserts numbered to 999:

IC-JZ Joel Zumaya
IC-CA Miguel Cabrera
IC-GU Carlos Guillen

Some relics:

IC-VE Justin Verlander
IC-CA? Miguel Cabrera

An "Immortal Letterman" manufactured patch card that spells out "MR TIGER" and is numbered out of 60:

IL-AK Al Kaline

And, most interestingly, what I believe is the first Rick Porcello autograph card since he became a pro, numbered to 100:

154 Rick Porcello

Ooh! Is that signed on-card?! Do you think that Porcello noticed that he was signing a picture of Ryan Perry?

Oops. I know that it can be confusing for those poor, overtaxed card companies, but you should really strive to get the right picture of players, especially in this day and age of digital photography and especially when that player is the organization's #1 prospect.

As always, I'll flesh out this list as more information becomes available. Any updates, and the rest of the 2009 checklists can be found right here, a link to which is also provided in the sidebar.

Monday, July 20, 2009

Official Topps Response

Regarding our beloved "Black" and "Throwback" cards:

Due to an overwhelming response from our customers, we adapted the Series 2 product to include 2 black or throwback parallel packs, depending on the specific blaster exclusive. We always strive to take the customer opinions into account and develop our products in ways that will assist as many of our customers as possible. Unfortunately, we do not have any plans to release all black or throwback blasters at Target or Walmart currently for Series 2.[ed: emphasis mine] We will, of course, forward any information or suggestions that you have in regards to these products to the brand management teams for review and consideration for future product.

I've got a crazy day at work today, but I wanted to get this out here. I'll be writing a full commentary on all of this, most likely to be posted on the Cardboard Connection.

This Just In: Old Time Curtis & Friends

With card collectors' collective hearts still fluttering over a certain vintage set, it seemed appropriate to unveil a few recently acquired cards from another, more criticized, less loved set from this year.

2009 UD Goudey #35-37 Cabrera/Ordonez/Granderson/Guillen

This is, of course, the 4-in-1 card from 2009 Goudey that mimics the old 1935 4-in-1 cards (hence the odd numbering on the back). I do tend to like multi-player cards, so that is a plus. A downside is the fact that Ordonez and Guillen have been non-factors on the team, replacing them with Verlander and Jackson would have been awesome, but considering that Jackson isn't even in the set, I'm not going to worry about it.

There are a few parallel versions of this card:
2009 UD Goudey #35-37 Cabrera/Ordonez/Granderson/Guillen Blue Border

2009 UD Goudey #35-37 Cabrera/Ordonez/Granderson/Guillen Green Border

All of the pictures on this card are shrunken-down head shots of the players regular Goudey card. This isn't really a problem for any of the Tigers cards, as they seem to have avoided the "cadaver treatment" in which they looked washed out and half-dead in their cards, although Cabrera and Ordonez don't look their absolute best.

In all, these cards a perfectly enjoyable and a nice departure from a typical card layout and design--all welcome things when putting together a player collection. Sure, it's not that other vintage set, but it will have to do for now.

Saturday, July 18, 2009

Good Retail Cards Erase Bad Retail Thoughts

I'm still privately stewing over this whole black/throwback thing. I'm interested to hear Topps' response to my email, but I'm having a hard time figuring out how this is anything but greedy greediness at hand.

So, to temporarily forget my troubles, I turned to some Topps and Walmart Exclusives that don't upset me. Since it's 2009, and Topps and the Tigers, it can only mean one thing: Tyrus Raymond himself.

2009 Topps #GR-5 Ty Cobb Gold Refractor (Target)

This little number comes all the way back from Series 1, as the Target cereal box exclusive. It uses the same picture as his regular legends of the game card, but it's gold and refractory, which is always a plus. Strangely, Cobb didn't have a Wal Mart equivalent, which meant that I didn't even need to consider going into a Wal Mart to buy cards (except for those pesky "black" cards. Wait, here come those feelings again...) Hurry, to the next one!

2009 Topps #GR-13 Ty Cobb Gold Refractor (Target)

Ooh, that's what I'm talking about. This one is even nicer. I don't know what it is, but that Series 1 shot of Cobb doesn't do it for me. This time, they change things up and give you one big straight-on headshot. You get full details of the old uniform (is that a safety pin?), the slightly different "English D" before time passed and it because the Old English D we know today, and we see Ty Cobb. I don't know if there is a more appropriate look for him. At the same time, he looks serious and a little pissed, with a glint in his eye that says "I am the greatest, just try to beat me." You can tell from this shot alone that his nasty reputation was earned, but that he was one hell of a competitor.

Wal Mart has a version too. It is the same, minus a card color switcheroo:
2009 Topps #PR-15 Ty Cobb Platinum Refractor (WalMart)

Look at those dates: 1905-1928.

1. That was a really long time ago.
2. He played for 23 years!
3. He never won a World Series. The Tigers won their first in 1935. It wasn't for lack of trying though. The Tigers played in the World Series in 1907, 1908 and 1909, losing each time. Cobb was decidedly un-cobb-like in the first and the last, batting .200 and .231 respectively. In that 1908 series it wasn't for lack of trying though. Cobb hit .368 with 4 RBI, 2 SB and an .821 OPS, which is pretty solid. Oh, and he was only 21 at the time. Imagine that after age 22, arguably the greatest player of all time never played in another World Series.

Oh, what's that you say? Not the greatest of all time? Well, I'm sure you have your reasons. However, let me say two things:
1. When he was inducted to the inaugural Hall of Fame class, he got more votes than any other player, including the revered Babe Ruth. This tells me that, among people who actually saw him play, (and despite his sour demeanor) Cobb was considered the greatest player of his era.

Point number two:

If not the greatest, he was pretty darn good. I think that is something we can all agree on.

Friday, July 17, 2009

Group Break Chaos: Topps "Black" and "Throwback"

This is why we wait...

NachosGrande is on it, Hand Collated is pissed, and the rest of us are just searching for answers.

Indeed, I have been to the mountaintop, but there is no promised land before us. I went to my own walmart today to find that there were specially marked blasters there, with "black background parallels" seeded in 2 packs per blaster. The serial number on these had the "13" that Dayf told us to keep our eyes out for. At this point, it seems as though the walmart "black" cards (and presumably the throwbacks at target) are seeded at 2 packs per blaster.

I have emailed Topps and await their response. For now, the Retail Group Breaks are on indefinite hold, as it makes zero sense to buy blasters of this product with only two parallel packs in them. I'll let you know what I discover. Also, I'm anticipating a more extensive post about this at the Cardboard Connection, as they have a bit wider of a distribution than yours truly.

Give us the truth, Topps and the truth will set you free.

Curtis Granderson 1/1 Wood Mini Unearthed

Well, it has been found.

As before, in the interest of posterity, I have captured the picture and posted it here for all to see.

This time though, I have gone a step further and uploaded the card to Zistle so that the lucky winner can put it in their precious digital collection and the rest of us can just gawk and drool over what could have been.

With 4 days to go, this card is sitting pretty at $67. Here's the thing--If I had any serious amount of money to spend, I'd go for it. Sadly, I do not, so I'll just watch it slip through my grasp. The big question is: how high will it go? The 2009 Topps Platinum 1/1 variation went for something like $120, and this card is infinitely better in all respects. I guess we'll just have to wait and see.

What's Ty Cobb Without The "O"?

I was going to think of a bad joke to put there, but as my wife can attest, I am incapable of telling bad jokes, so I'll just leave you hanging. Feel free to comment with your ideas though.

Up to this point in my Topps Series 2 quest for Detroit Tigers, we have discovered the following:

I have spent 51.93 (including shipping) out of my $60 Hobby Box Budget. In return, I have received:

  • A complete team set of base cards
  • Magglio Ordonez and Fu-Te Ni WBC Relic Cards
  • Dual Relic Cards (#/99) of Ordonez/Carlos Lee, Miguel Cabrera/Albert Pujols, Gary Sheffield/Jim Thome
  • Carlos Guillen Silk Card (#/50)
  • Curtis Granderson and Miguel Cabrera "Career Best" Relics
  • Magglio Ordonez and Miguel Cabrera "Career Best" Silver Relics (#/99)

I also received a few cards that Marie sent me: Curtis Granderson Toppstown and two separate Ty Cobb Inserts.

Well, I officially blow out the last of the Hobby Box budget with this:
2009 Topps #LLCP-TC Ty Cobb "Legendary Letters" (#21/50)

That's right, a manufactured patch. I will give you a moment to boo.

Here's the thing though, I actually like this one. Here's why:

1. It spells out his Name. In Series 1, the Manufactured Patch spelled "GAPEACH" Lame.
2. It is attainable. His name is Cobb--4 cards. If this were Carl Yastrzemski, I'd probably feel different
3. The patch has a vintage look and feel to it, which is nice.
4. I envision these four cards fitting in well on a page with some other Cobbs in the set.

Of course, I'm not going to go out at pay $20 or more for one of these cards, which is--shockingly--what these (and the Series 1 versions) often sell for. However, I'll spend a little to pick up these HTA exclusives.

And I did: $8.99 for the card, $2.50 for shipping. That brings my totals to $41.92 for cards and $21.50 for shipping--or $63.42 total.

In all, I'd say that this Series 2 experiment went well. I would have liked to have saved a bit more on shipping--something that I could have done at the expense of time and energy searching eBay for sellers that had multiple cards--but in all, I got far more "hits" than I could have expected to get out of a Hobby box. Remember, the Hobby version guarantees 1 game used or autograph card per box. I got 9, a silk card and an HTA only manufactured patch.

The downside is that I have no trade bait at all from this set, but given that I have my team set, I don't know what I would have used regular Topps to trade for. I also still need to pick up some of the harder to get cards. The Sheffield Autograph has been selling for $17-22, the Granderson Auto for $20-25 and the Granderson Quad Relic for $20-25 as well. Those three cards are the cost of another box right there.

Now certainly, I'm not one to discourage box-buying. I find it fun and exciting. However, for the team collector (in case you hadn't already picked up on this) it makes no sense at all, and the initial fun may be a bit outweighed by an abundance of cards you don't care about and the need to hit eBay to fill your set anyway. For now, I'm happy with how I ended up. The cost of a box poorer, but many cards the richer.

Thursday, July 16, 2009

The Catch Up

Well, it's been a surreal, whirlwind of a week for me. In order to collect my thoughts, I think a bulleted post is necessary.

-Granderson was killer in the All Star game. 1-1 with a Triple?! If not for Crawford's Granderson-esque catch, I think we would have seen the first Detroit All Star MVP in the history of baseball. Boy, that would have been nice. Not to say that Crawford didn't deserve it, and I'm certainly one to appreciate excellent defense, but he was only 1-3 with a single. Granderson hit what was essentially a double and used quick thinking and hustle to push it to a triple, single-handedly setting up the winning run. Say Crawford doesn't make the catch, and he single-handedly sets up the tying run. Regardless, great job by Curtis, shining his brightest on the national stage.

-I have a billion packages to go through, with all sorts of cards in them. In fact, here's one that you can feast your eyes on:
2009 Topps Attax Curtis Granderson Silver Foil
This hereby closes my 2009 Topps Attax set.

-Speaking of sets, I've been compiling checklists for the public good. Only 2009 so far, but I will keep it updated and start working backwards.

-Speaking of the public good, I am now a full-fledged Zistler. That's right, I am on board with Zistle after realizing that I could supplement my checklists with a collector's tool. I have slowly been uploading checklist information to Zistle and will add pictures as new cards come in.

-The Series 2 retail group break is on and active. I will speak more about this in a separate post, but Hand Collated has discovered that the cards will be released in about 4 weeks. Slots are still open, by the way.

That should wrap it up for now, there are many many posts to come, although I'll try to spread them out to some degree. In the meantime, I leave you with another new addition, this one of the game used variety:

2009 SPx WM4-VGSZ Verlander/Granderson/Sheffield/Zumaya

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

A Last Bit of Tiger Stadium

I have been MIA for the last few days to be with my family, for all the reasons that one would disappear to be with his family--I hope to get back home and back in the swing of things by the end of the week.

With Tiger Stadium almost completely demolished at this point, the Cardboard Connection has informed me that there is one final surviving batch of Tiger Stadium seats up for sale. At $400 for a row of 4, that is actually not a bad deal for what is essentially the last remaining piece of Tiger Stadium. They can be purchased directly from the Detroit Historical Society, for anyone who is interested.

On a personal level, the timing of this is eerily appropriate and with this final relic soon disappearing, I swallow a lump in my throat and for the last time say goodbye. Your memories will live on in all of us forever.

Friday, July 10, 2009

Series 2 Tigers: Relics Galore

I know that everyone is Allen & Ginter crazy, and I understand. For those of you willing to look at something else, I've continued my fervent quest for 2009 Topps Series 2 Tigers cards. In this edition: three of the four dual relic cards have arrived.

2009 Topps CBDR-OL Magglio Ordonez/Carlos Lee

2009 Topps CBDR-CP Miguel Cabrera/Albert Pujols

2009 Topps CBDR-TS Jim Thome/Gary Sheffield

I really, really like these cards. I think part of it is the fact that I'm a fan of multi-player cards in general. Being that I'm a Tigers collector, it is my only real opportunity to pick up cards of other stars from around the league. Also, I think that cards like this provide an insight on the psychology of the card industry. The pairings, in these cards at least, are done so for a reason, and the creation of a good pairing improves the card immeasurably.

Think about it: Sheffield and Pujols is not as cool of a card as Sheffield and Thome. Why? Both Sheffield and Thome are members of the 500 home run club, and there is a distinct possibility that they will both end up enshrined in Cooperstown. Sure, Pujols will get there (on both accounts, likely), but he's not there now and baseball cards are nothing if not for capturing a point in time.

As for the others: Pujols is the best first baseman in all of baseball. Cabrera has the chance to succeed him, or at least be his American League counterpart. Bonus points on the pairing make the card even better. Now, the Ordonez and Lee card isn't spectacular, mostly because Ordonez is having such a rough year and Lee is one of those guys that nobody ever talks about, despite his consistent production. Still, the Magglio batting stance shot is a tremendous enhancement to the card, and photography-wise, surpasses the other two easily.

There is one other dual relic card for the Tigers, a Miguel Cabrera/Ryan Howard verision. Don't worry, I'm on the lookout.

Brandon Inge To Participate in Home Run Derby

In a nice Detroit News article about Brandon Inge making the All-Star team, I uncovered this juicy little nugget:

Inge also said Thursday he will compete in Monday's Home Run Derby.

"I figured it would be something to have fun with," he said. "I watched the Derby more as a kid than the game. (The game) was too long."

Prepare to be amazed, world.

Given the prevalence with which the "big stars" have generally declined to participate in the Derby in recent years, it is nice to see somebody genuinely excited about the taking part in the event. On behalf of baseball fans everywhere, thank you.

UPDATE: Apparently was on top of this late last night. Here's a whole story on Inge "likely" in the Derby.

Thursday, July 9, 2009

And There Was Much Rejoicing


Final Vote Clock is Ticking

Time's almost up. Take 5 minutes and Vote Brandon Inge and Shane Victorino to the All Star Game!

Get That Man a Baseball Card: Luke French

Photo: John T. Greilick/The Detroit News

In just his second major league start, Luke French faced AL uber-pitcher and likely All Star Game starting pitcher Zach Greinke. The result? 6 1/3 IP, allowing 6 hits and 1 Earned Run on the road to his first Major League Victory. Not bad for a guy who wasn't even in major league camp to start the year. Thanks to his first win, which provided a big Tigers series win over the Royals and kept the surging White Sox at bay, I say, Get That Man A Baseball Card.

Merci beaucoup, Mr. French. Nice to have you aboard.

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

2009 Allen & Ginter Detroit Tigers Checklist

A&G is out and people are giddy. It is a wonderful time of year. Given the inherent unreliability of the preliminary checklists, I thought that I'd peruse how the case breakers have done so far and post a checklist of my own. This checklist is based on what has actually been seen on eBay thus far, not any preliminary list. As more information comes available, the checklist will be updated on the 2009 Detroit Tigers Ultimate Checklist available via that link and also conveniently located in the sidebar.

Without further ado:

Base Cards (and all the associated mini parallels)

32 Jeremy Bonderman
51 Ryan Perry RC
70 Carlos Guillen
82 Justin Verlander
122 Dontrelle Willis
253 Miguel Cabrera
262 Magglio Ordonez
316 Rick Porcello RC, SP
332 Curtis Granderson SP

NP9 Carlos Guillen
NP59 Miguel Cabrera

Relics (all Game-Used Jersey swatches)
AGR-MO Magglio Ordonez
AGR-MCA Miguel Cabrera
AGR-DW Dontrelle Willis

Miguel Cabrera*

*According to eBay listings, not only is the Cabrera autograph relatively scarce (it is a "Level A" auto), but it is only available in redemption form at the moment.

As I said before, this list is not conclusive, but any additional cards that crop up, such as box toppers or other inserts will be added to the Ultimate Checklist.

All of your 2009 Detroit Tigers sets can be found over there as well.

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

Free Autographed Brandon Inge Bat Giveaway!

The Tigers are giving away an autographed Inge bat if you vote for him on the team site.

What are you waiting for? Vote Inge!

If you're not interested in the bat (or even if you are, I'm not sure how it works) you can vote from this here blog by clicking the "vote" button above.

Elsewhere in Cyberspace

So, you may have heard that Curtis Granderson is an All-Star. This week, over at the Cardboard Connection I explore what this means, as a collector.

An Excerpt:
There are very few titles as prestigious or well known as “All-Star.” Very good players that haven’t yet earned the distinction are deemed “All-Star Caliber.” The title becomes a standard prefix, like Mr. or Dr.—especially if it has been earned multiple times. “Oh, Frank, was it? I’m Dan, and this is 10-time All Star Derek Jeter.”

For a good time, I encourage you to read the whole thing over here.

Monday, July 6, 2009

Mail Day! of Tigers New and Old

A simple email from Mike Gellner prompted a short but sweet trade. Amidst the highlights:

A 2004 Upper Deck Ivan Rodriguez card, sorely needed to help fill my team set.

One of the last few Justin Verlander Generation Now cards that I need to knock off that subset.

And the first card that I've seen of Tiger newcomer Don Kelly!

Also in the mix:
1986 Sportflics Lou Whitaker #48

2009 Bowman #119 Magglio Ordonez

2009 Upper Deck SQ-19 Miguel Cabrera Gold Rare

2009 A Piece of History #35 Justin Verlander Base & Red Parallel

2009 Topps Heritage #361 Gerald Laird

2008 Topps Heritage #417 Nate Robertson

2007 Bowman Heritage #94 Kenny Rogers

2004 Upper Deck Vintage #464 Ivan Rodriguez
2004 Upper Deck Vintage #483 Donnie Kelly

Thanks to Mike for the great collection of cards! It is not often that I post all of the cards in a trade, but this one was short, sweet and fun to post. Also, it is my small bit of repentance for lying the other day about catching up on trade posts. That did not happen.

Sunday, July 5, 2009

Your 2009 AL All Star, Curtis Granderson

Well, he did it. Generally absent from the All Star conversation--almost entirely because of a unremarkable .256 batting average, Curtis Granderson was voted to the All Star game by a group of his peers. For as much crap as the fan voting gets, (much of it deserved), I'm not sure that enough credit is given to the player voting. For Granderson to make the All Star game in this fashion tells us that things like Defense actually are taken into consideration. Or that the ability to change a game, via speed, or power or what have you, go further than just the stat line.

For that, congratulations to Curtis Granderson, on his first of what we all hope will be many All Star selections. For those of you who may gripe about the selection, the only candidate I can see with a real beef is Nelson Cruz, who's 20 HR, 13 SB and high-quality defense should have given him a nod as well. However, Josh Hamilton, also of the Rangers made it in, despite not deserving it in any way, shape or form. My guess is that he declines the invitation, due to injury, and Cruz is added to the roster as his replacement. That would be fitting and just.

Onto other All-Star musings: Miguel Cabrera just misses out again. Here's a guy was an All Star in 4 of his first 5 professional seasons, but hasn't been included in his first two years in Detroit. Last year, he led the American League in Home Runs and was in the Top 3 for RBIs behind Hamilton and Arod. Nope, not an All Star. This year, he is tied with Justin Morneau (who deservingly did make the team) for the lead among first basemen in Batting Average (.323). His 16 HR and 47 RBI are greater than and equal to (respectively) those same stats for '09 All Star Kevin Youkilis. He has struck out fewer times than any of the three All-Star first basemen. Now, I'm not saying that the three selected players are not deserving, because it is a tough call. However, Miguel Cabrera seems to me to be the most complete first baseman of the bunch, and I have a hard time finding a reason to keep him out of the game.

Which leads me to a final point: The "Final Vote" competition for the last roster spot.

There are five candidates for this position, one of whom is Brandon Inge of the Tigers. Let's take a look at the group with some brief analysis:

Brandon Inge: Leads all AL 3rd basemen in Home Runs (19), Second (behind Evan Longoria) among AL 3rd basemen in RBIs (54), Arguably the best defensive 3rd baseman in the league, 2nd among AL 3rd basemen in Runs Scored.

Now, Inge is also the victim of a poor batting average (.269), but he is OPSing .874, behind only Arod and Longoria in the American League! And look at him play defense! If there is one player who should feel cheated, it is Inge, who lost out to the defensively inept Michael Young, in his first year as a 3rd baseman.

Although, Ranger teammate Ian Kinsler also has a legitimate claim to the All Star team. He was cheated out of a spot by Dustin Pedroia, who coasted in on the tails of Red Sox nation to a starting spot. Kinsler deserves to be an All Star, I don't know how anybody can argue with that either.

As for the other three:

Carlos Pena: has 23 HR and 55 RBIs--and a .233 batting average. He was nominated because the AL Manager is Rays manager Joe Maddon. He does not deserve it more than Miguel Cabrera. Next.

Adam Lind is having a breakout year with 18 HR, 57 RBI and a .310 average. In a normal year, that is All Star caliber. Oh, but he doesn't play defense and this is a national league All Star game with no DH. Next.

Chone Figgens. I've got no beef with Chone. He's got 24 SBs and a .312 average, but almost no power and doesn't have the same leather that Inge posesses. If he were tearing up the league in Stolen Bases then he'd get my consideration, but that's Carl Crawford and he's already on the team.

So, to me at least, both Brandon Inge and Ian Kinsler have legitimate claims to the Final All Star Slot. I will not be particularly upset if either of those two make the squad. However, I will say that there are already three second basemen on the roster (when you include Ben Zobrist of the Rays) to only two 3rd basemen, and considering this game "counts," who else would you want as a defensive replacement late in the game than Mr. Inge down at the hot corner.

Vote Inge. You won't be sorry.

Saturday, July 4, 2009

Happy 4th!

2007 UD Black #PN-CG Curtis Granderson "Pride Of A Nation" (#54/75)

After some 16th inning fireworks from Curtis and the Tigers last night, it is only appropriate that he wish everybody a happy, safe 4th of July.

Friday, July 3, 2009

Mail Day! Part 1 from A Cardboard Problem

It is possible that this weekend, despite all of the relaxing and around the house things that I intend to do, I will be able to catch up on the piles and piles of cards that have accumulated over the last few weeks.

Since Marie just recognized the fact that I sent her some return cards, I figure that it's high time I show off the cards she sent me in the first place. Part 2 from A Cardboard Problem will be a pile of Grandersons/Tigers that Sooz sent me out of the goodness of her heart.

Having held out on buying Topps Series 2 cards until the retail parallels were released, I have missed out on picking up some of the Tigers inserts that I needed, including a couple of Mr. Cobb himself.

2009 Topps #LLG-15 Ty Cobb (Target Exclusive)

I'm a huge fan of the retail-exclusive inserts this year, despite them being a bit cumbersome to pick up. Of course, with people like Marie out there, it makes life a little bit easier. This card, and the Wal-Mart exclusive from Series 1, are the two Cobb inserts that come in regular packs from each respective store. Of course, there is a regular Ty Cobb insert as well, available in all packs:

2009 Topps #LGCB-TC Ty Cobb
I'm less impressed with this card, which is part of the reason that I like the retail exclusives so much. Something about those faded color photos make them much more personal than this even more colorless shot of Cobb outstretched. I think that it is the picture I don't like, mostly. Maybe if he were sliding in to a base to amputate somebody below the knee I would feel different.

I thought that after Series 1 that I would be Cobb-ed out. Honestly, I thought that I was tired of Cobb cards during Series 1, with all of the parallels and exclusives and SPs and the like. What I've found instead is that Series 2 has some very nice Cobbs as well and, considering that he is the greatest player to ever put on a Tigers uniform, I guess I should be glad that he is featured so regularly, instead of, say, a card that looks at the career of Paul Gibson or Dave Collins or something.

Just for good measure, Marie threw another card into the bunch.
2009 Topps #TTT43 Curtis Granderson

Sweet. Bright blue, Tigers logo, Granderson swinging? All good things. He may even morph into 3-d under a digital camera, although I haven't tried that yet.

So, a hearty Thank You to Marie, who made my life so much easier by sending these cards my way. I hope you enjoyed your little return package of Yankees.

Thursday, July 2, 2009

Series 2 Tigers: Carlos Guillen Silk

This is a baseball card blog after all, despite the many recent non-baseball card posts. Helping to share the shipping costs with Mr. Ni was a Silk version of the poor, injured Carlos Guillen:
2009 Topps Carlos Guillen Silk (#22/50)

I tend to like the silk cards for a few reasons.

1. They are cards printed on cloth, which is kind of kitschy and fun. I've recently thought that this idea should be expanded upon and instead of giving us blank pieces of game used cloth in cards, they should just print the cards on the jersey.
2. They are distinct enough to not confuse with a regular parallel. For one, the picture portion is quite small, like a mini card, but it is housed in a regular sized frame. They stand out from the crowd with ease.
3. They are serial numbered on the front, something that I am a proponent of. Granted, in this case the numbering is a bit too big and takes too central a role, but so be it.

The only problem with these cards is that I'm not quite sure how I want to classify them. I normally wouldn't consider them part of the master set because they're so obviously a parallel. At the same time, they're definitely an insert/separate subset: Not all players have them, they have a completely different structure etc. For now, I guess, I'll think of it this way: If I can pick one up cheap, I will, but I'm not going to kill myself trying to chase these down. I do like them, though.

Card Cost: .99
Shipping: 1.50 (1/2 of a 3.00 package)

Totals to Date:
Cards: $15.91
Shipping: $13.75
Total: $29.66

Wednesday, July 1, 2009

What Will You Trade For Your Child (Age 7-17)?

Sooz beat me to it but I also got a random email from Wife Swap seeking for candidates who collect things.

Wife? Check.
Live-in child, aged 7-17? Damn. I guess I can't take home the undisclosed amount of money that comes with being on the show. That's ok, my wife didn't sound too keen on swapping either.

Thinking around the blogs though, I had some ideas for candidates, having no sense of their family situations:

Baseball Dad
Night Owl

If any of you guys (or any other collectors) feel like trying out for Wife Swap, just let me know and I will happily refer you. Heck, if you make it I'll even split my finders fee 50/50 with Sooz, because she asked first.

If Mariano Rivera Was A Tiger, Would He Still Be Mariano Rivera?

Note: Because of formatting on the blog, some of these tables look blindingly small, if you click on them, you can make them big. Sorry!

Craig Calcaterra, of Shysterball fame blogs daily for NBC as well. In today's series of posts one article caught my eye. Apparently, Mariano Rivera was considered in a trade to the Tigers, once upon a time.

This comes from the original NY Daily News article that Calcaterra references:
[Then-GM Gene] Michael had his own 'What if?' moment a few years later, in 1995, when he considered trading Rivera to the Tigers for David Wells. At the time Rivera was still trying to make it as a starter, still throwing in the low 90s, and when Michael asked the Tigers what they would want in a deal for Wells, Rivera was one of the names they put on a list.

Of course the next paragraph talks about how those talks coincided with a jump in Rivera's velocity in the minors to the mid- to upper-90's and that how "At that point there was no way I was trading him." Still, it makes a body wonder what could have been.

Well? Let's say that trade goes through and Rivera becomes a Tiger in 1995. Other than altering the course of NY Yankees history, what does it do for the Tigers? For Rivera?

I started to jump to conclusions i.e., no way Rivera reaches 500 saves, it makes no difference to the Tigers who suffered from poor pitching, hitting and defense in addition to closer issues (although Todd Jones was more than serviceable in his better years), they would have screwed it up and traded Rivera in 1999 for Sterling Hitchcock, so why bother etc.

However, I thought that I would pull a few numbers to see what I could make of it. All of the data that follow comes from the incredible

First of all, the Tigers, as a team, had 789 Save Opportunities from 1995 through 2009. For comparison, the Yankees had 937 save opportunities over the same period. Rivera was obviously given more of an opportunity to earn saves with the Yankees, although he was stuck behind John Wetteland in 1995 and 1996, something that wouldn't have happened in Detroit. Still, for reasons of fatigue, strategy or any other number of things, it is important to note that the closer does not have all of those save opportunities. Of the Yankees 937 SVOPs, Rivera had 562. For simplicity sake (instead of going year-by-year) let's assume that Rivera would handle 60% of the save opportunities for the Tigers, just as he did for the Yankees.

That allows us to break it down year-by-year:

From Grand Cards

To calculate the Win Difference (W +/-) I assumed that 60% of the win opportunities were taken by Rivera at his prevailing save percentage and 40% were taken by the Tigers at their team percentage. Given that the Tigers closers during that time were probably better suited to set-up duty, this assumption is not too erroneous.

Clearly, the Tigers are unambiguously better off with Rivera than without--they have more wins in each year as their hypothetical closer. But, how much better are they really? Do they make the playoffs when they wouldn't have before? How about a .500 season?

From Grand Cards

They certainly would have been more respectable over the last 15 years though. With Rivera, the Tigers would have enjoyed .500 seasons in 1997, 2000, 2004 and 2008 in addition to the actual .500 seasons that they had in 2006 and 2007. Respectability, woo! Also, that disappointing 2008 season? Yeah, the Tigers would have won the AL Central with 90 wins, thanks to the +16 wins attributed to having a solid closer.

And how does Rivera turn out? 60% of the Tigers' 789 Save Opportunities from 1995-2009 is 473. Meaning he would have pitched in fewer save situations than he currently has saves for the Yankees. With his 89% career save percentage, that would have left him with 420 saves, putting him 5th on the All Time Saves list between John Franco and Dennis Eckersley.

But wait, there's more! You may have been thinking: "But with so many fewer save opportunities for the Tigers, he would have been able to pitch in a higher percentage of them!" Fine. For him to have had the same number of Save Opps with the Tigers as he has had with the Yankees, he would have needed to pitch in 71% of the Tigers save situations. What difference does that make?

From Grand Cards

From Grand Cards

Eh, not so much. An additional .500 season in 2005 and enough wins to win the AL Central in 1997--except that the Tigers were in the AL East that year. [UPDATE: It appears as though the Tigers may have been in a playoff against the Yankees for the Wildcard spot in 2007 as well]

So there you have it, the tale of Mariano Rivera: The Tiger. It sure would have made for some more interesting summers in the doldrums of the 90's and early 2000's, if nothing else.

Good Things Come... those who wait.

Sometimes it just pays to stick it out. Think about it. You've bought your ticket, you've committed your day, or night, what's the worst thing that can happen? Maybe you get a little cold, or wet. Or maybe you have to pour an extra cup of coffee in the morning to get going. But think about what might happen if you call it quits! Would you risk missing out?

To date, my go-to example was the 2004 Michigan-Michigan State football game. Losing by 17, about 6 minutes to go and hope appeared lost. The warm, sunny day had started to cool. One of my housemates headed home. Braylon and Braylon, the couple that stood in front of us throughout the season and wore matching Braylon Edwards jerseys, called it quits. And a good chunk of the 111,000+ crowd had headed home. Enter: the Braylon Edwards show, triple overtime and the most electric, exciting game that I've ever been a part of, freezing cold--jumping and yelling to stay warm. Of course, all 111,000 will claim to have been there, but only a fraction of that number actually made it through. For the rest of you, here's a recap.

So why all of this? Last night, with cream-of-the-crop company tickets in hand, I went down to Camden Yards with my wife, a co-worker and his girlfriend. I was excited to see John Smoltz, who I had never seen pitch before (it turns out, that I actually had, in the 2005 All Star Game, when he took the loss), who looked stellar in the first few innings. Meanwhile, U-M alumni Rich Hill was getting destroyed on the mound and before you knew it, the game was a 9-1 laugher.

Then the rains came.

My wife saw it coming in the concession line--an enormous black mass of clouds heading in from the direction of the football stadium. By all accounts it wasn't really supposed to rain, but it did--hard. My first thought was, "ooh, this game isn't official yet, so maybe it will get rained out and we'll have these great seats again." It was certainly raining too hard to walk to my car to go home, so the concourse it was.

Rain Delays are exceedingly dull, by the way. Step 1: find something to do.

"Ok, let's come up with all the words that rhyme with Oriole"
(hilariously wide eyes as we realize how hard that was). We came up with three: (in order) Arboreal, Memorial, Sartorial
More delay. Fewer things to do. No word when the game would start. It started to lighten up after about 35 minutes, and I was cold and wet again, debating whether to stick it out. We decided to stay--we had great seats, we were already there and we only saw 4 1/2 innings of the game, we'll still have plenty of time to leave early if we want. So we stayed.

Witness: The greatest comeback in Baltimore Orioles history and the greatest comeback by a last place team over a first place team in Major League History. I wish I had brought a camera, although I was able to take some halfway decent pictures with my 5 year old cellphone (it was state-of-the art at the time). Here's Nick Markakis studying Jonathan Papelbon's warmups as Felix Pie prepares to march to his ugly, swinging death. Markakis will drive in the winning run, via a double and play at the plate in approximately 3 minutes.

99% of the time it won't be worth it, but that other 1% you'll never forget. Also, never, EVER, take good seats for granted.