Grand Cards: June 2009

Tuesday, June 30, 2009

This Just In: Topps Co-Signers with Curtis and a Yank

I've never been a big fan of Topps Co-Signers. In fact, the 2008 iteration drew considerable ire in my Ultimate Checklist review last year. So many parallels! So little difference! Of course, there is one thing about Co-Signers that kind of works and is free from the parallel bug --the whole reason that the set is called Co-Signers in the first place:

2007 Topps Co-Signers #CS-GC Curtis Granderson/Melky Cabrera

First of all, in 2007 this pairing made a lot of sense. Two up-and-coming centerfielders destined for stardom, or at least solid MLB careers. This is Granderson's only pairing with a non-Tiger in this set. His other two cards feature Jeremy Bonderman, who used to be a pitcher, and Craig Monroe, who used to play in the Major Leagues.

Secondly, let me speak for a moment about the use of sticker autographs. Yesterday, Dinged Corners put together a wonderful piece on autograph collecting which included a hierarchy of autograph desirability. Using their list, which I highly recommend become the accepted standard industry-wide:

Best: meet and talk with the player in a pleasant interaction

2nd best: Player signs and says a few words but doesn't make eye contact

3rd best: Player signs but looks like he'd rather be swimming with alligators

4th best: Through the mail with a personal note from player

5th best: Through the mail, autograph only

6th best: "Certified" autograph pulled unexpectedly from a pack

7th and STINKY: Sticker autograph

Boy, those sticker autographs don't come in highly. I understand why--there is no player interaction--the player didn't even touch the card--they are impersonal, they throw off the aesthetic of the card etc. I wholly agree with this from an autograph collecting point of view. From a card collecting point of view, I'm less of a stickler. In this sense, I can get on board with sticker autographs. For one, they allow more cards of my player of choice to be autographed. For two, they can allow for interesting combination autographed cards. Three, the much maligned cold shininess of the Topps sticker can work, especially in a product like Co-Signers, which is already rather cold and much too shiny. This set was discontinued for a reason, people.

In all, the design of the card can accentuate the problems of sticker autographs--far too much attention is given to the sticker and not enough to the players--as is the case with these Co-Signers offerings. Still, all of these flaws make cards like this eminently affordable, and who doesn't like the opportunity to add a signed Curtis Granderson card to their collection for the same amount as a low-numbered hyper-plaid, X-Shininator Co-Xtreme parallel with no signature at all?

Monday, June 29, 2009

Curtis Granderson Answers Your Questions

Not my question, but the card blog community was proudly represented by two of our favorites:
You have an excellent reputation as a player who is willing to sign autographs. One of the stories we've heard is that as a kid, you sent a card to Kirby Puckett for an autograph and he sent it back to you signed, so you know from personal experience how much that can mean to a kid. Is that a true story? And are there any other baseball memories that inform your willingness to sign? Thank you for your time.

— Patricia and Lucy, Dinged Corners

Head over to "The Grandstand," Curtis' blog on Big League Stew to read all of Curtis' answers to a wide range of reader questions.

Get That Man a Baseball Card: Fu-Te Ni

With a DL assignment for Nate Robertson, the Tigers dipped into the farm system for another lefty reliever. The result is Taiwanese (Chinese Taipeian?) import Fu-Te Ni. I must admit that my call to see him on a baseball card is a bit hasty. In fact, Ni already has two cards in 2009 releases. The first was from the 55-card WBC set by Topps. The second was a Topps Series 2 release, also of the WBC ilk. Not only that, but it is a game used jersey card to boot!

2009 Topps #BCR-FTN Fu-Te Ni

Of course, this card is a part of my Series 2 Tigers quest and came at a relatively modest cost. Surprisingly, this card goes for consistently more on eBay than the Magglio Ordonez WBC relic. Speculation at hand?

So, with this card now safely in my binder, and Fu-Te Ni making his major league debut for the Tigers in the days ahead, I'll revise my call for his cardboard immortality. He has a baseball card, but he still needs an official rookie card or, better yet, a card in a Tigers uniform. I'm looking at you, Updates & Highlights (or Heritage High Numbers)!

Card Cost: $2.35
Shipping: $1.50 (1/2 of a $3.00 combined shipping order)

Totals so far
Cards: $14.92
Shipping: $12.25
Total: $27.17

Saturday, June 27, 2009

The Ultimate Checklist Expands

It's been quite some time since my last Ultimate Checklist post and I can say with certainty that I will continue to work my way up through the years, and do a full wrap up for 2009 as well. However, while that particular checklist ("Curtis Granderson" under the Ultimate Checklist tab in the sidebar) is a continuing work in progress, I realized that it is only really useful to other Granderson collectors. While it is true that I fall squarely into that category, I am also a Detroit Tigers collector. Sure, I limit myself to a few sets here and there, and only truly chase the Topps master set, as well as some other simple base sets, but I realized that it might be nice to have an "Ultimate Checklist" of all the Tigers cards that come out. So that's what I did.

Introducing--the 2009 Detroit Tigers Ultimate Checklist. This will now be found in the sidebar as well, and will be a continuously updated checklist of all of the Detroit Tigers cards from this year's releases. Cards are split into release along the bottom, and there are little arrows in the lower right to scroll along the sets.

Unlike the Curtis Granderson checklist, which is made "Ultimate" by the hyperlinks that go to pictures of the cards, these are Ultimate because they are a comprehensive list of all Detroit Tigers cards in a given year. In theory, I will stay up with current cards and go backwards to older releases, although that will certainly take some time. In the meantime, if you are curious about your favorite Tigers player or just want to pick up a team set (or team master set), the Ultimate Checklist is there for you. Enjoy, and as always, if it is not on the list then I probably don't know about it so shoot me an email with any new information or things that I may be missing.

This Just In: 2008 Topps Finest Gold (Redux)

This has happened once before, but in a lesser incarnation. Sure, it was a Gold Refractor, numbered to 50 from 2008 Topps Finest, but something about the design, and that same ol' running picture kept that card from going above and beyond. Enter a card a bit more worthy of carrying the "finest" banner.
2008 Topps Finest #FM-CG Curtis Granderson Gold Refractor (#07/50)

What a great card. The pose, the Gold, the refractory goodness, this card has it all. It is an insert (a "finest moments" insert, to be precise) with a superior design to the base card, although it follows all of the parallel versions of the regular. With this in hand I now have the Gold and Blue refractors, but a huge gap in the rest of the set. Still, considering the Golds are on the harder side to pick up, I'll take what I can get and fill in those holes later.

Friday, June 26, 2009

Elsewhere in Cyberspace

I've been on the road for business for the last two days and only get sweet little tastes of the internet in the evenings. Still, I was able to put a little piece together on the future trouble upcoming with the 1/1 Alex Gordon/Billy Butler card that is coming my way.

You can read all about it over at the Cardboard Connection.

Regular posts should resume this weekend, although I may be able to squeeze one in tomorrow before I head off to the airport.

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Ask Curtis Your Questions!

I've been on the road working all day, enjoying Louisiana's 102 degree heat, but just returned to my air conditioned hotel room to find an email from Greg telling me about a unique opportunity to for a Q&A with Curtis Granderson through the Big League Stew site (where Curtis runs his blog).

You can either ask questions there on your own, or post your questions here and I will submit them all as a series of questions from "Grand Cards Readers". You can make them about anything, although he'd prefer non-baseball questions for this one.

Fire away in the comments or send them directly over there.

Lest we forget, Curtis was a collector himself as a child, so I'd imagine that collecting questions would be fair game.

Up first: What is your favorite baseball card of yourself?

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Of Cards Incoming, Outgoing

A lot of great packages from bloggers and readers alike have crossed my desk recently and will be opened, sorted and posted about in due time.

I also want to say to Marie, Jonathan, Mike Gellner and Guy Payne that you guys haven't been forgotten--I am working to try and get your cards packaged tonight and taken to the post office (via my wife) tomorrow. I am heading out on business first thing in the morning and won't be back until Friday evening. Please forgive me, I haven't forgotten about you.

However, it is entirely possible that I have forgotten about someone. Are you still waiting for cards from me as part of a trade gone unfulfilled? Please let me know or forever hold your peace.

As for other cards on the way, I got this pleasant little message from Upper Deck this morning:

Congratulations Dan!

We shipped the following redemption(s):
Please allow up to 10-14 business days for delivery. We hope you will enjoy your new collectible! For more information on Upper Deck products, please visit

Thank You,

The Upper Deck Company, LLC
When it arrives, you'll all be the first to know.

Monday, June 22, 2009

A Final Goodbye

No? How about this one.

Still nothing? Last chance:

(Robin Buckson/The Detroit News)

This afternoon the Upper Deck of Tiger Stadium collapsed, completing the demise of a wonderful piece of baseball history. Of course, you already know my feelings on this. It was time my foot. It may have been time a few years ago, but now was hardly the time, you know, when there was actually a chance to do something about it.

Today's collapse comes at an interesting time, just a few days after the Old Tiger Stadium Conservancy sent a message to everyone who donated to the redevelopment effort. Not being a rich man, I gave $20 about a year ago and have watched on disappointed as the situation worsened. In the interest of getting this information out there, and to give people a sense of what happened on this project, I'm going to post the full text of their letter to donors. I will say this: While this letter may be biased in one direction, it tells the polar opposite side of what you could read in the local papers or on sports radio. The media was lined up against this project, as though they thought there was no plan in place at all. Maybe this will set the record straight to some degree, so that down the road we can look back and realize what we lost. Or maybe somebody will find a way to recognize the site for the historical gem it was or even *gasp* play baseball on it again instead of turning it into some retail strip or perpetual vacant lot.

Statement of the Old Tiger Stadium Conservancy regarding the recent demolition of Tiger Stadium

June 19, 2009

We are shocked at the recent demolition of Tiger Stadium. It dishonors the hundreds of thousands of dollars raised by the Conservancy, the State of Michigan changes to the historic tax credit laws to enhance this project, the federal appropriation granted by the U.S. Congress and signed by President Obama, and the thousands of volunteer hours contributed by the Conservancy, its consultants and its supporters in advancing this effort. We believe – and the DEGC has said they agree – that we had made substantial progress toward our redevelopment goal with a strong likelihood of ultimate success in the worst economy in decades. Then out of the blue, we received notice that the DEGC was tearing the stadium down. In answer to misleading statements made to the press and the City Council by the DEGC, we offer the following:

The OTSC received no extension of any deadline from the DEGC from the date the city agreed to spare the Navin Field portion of Tiger Stadium in 2008. Prior to that time, extensions were only received following intervention of the City Council. The DEGC never granted any extension of its own accord.

The OTSC raised more than $600,000 in cash from more than 700 contributors – individuals and entities – and secured the $3.8 million federal appropriation in the past nine months.

Experts in tax credits and historic preservation commissioned by the OTSC identified tax credits totaling more than $18 million for which the project was likely eligible. The OTSC made substantial progress in the complicated process to secure these tax credits. Potential buyers for the tax credits had been identified and the sale of the tax credits would have provided $18 million of cash for the project. This is exactly the same financing structure that was used for other projects in the city, including the Book Cadillac Hotel development, so it was not an unfamiliar process to the DEGC.

The OTSC deposited $300,000 in escrow with the DEGC to secure demolition costs and the purchase price of the stadium.

The OTSC paid $93,000 for security and maintenance for the period through June 30, 2009 and was able to pay additional sums required in the future for security and maintenance costs at the Stadium.

The “increased demolition costs” cited by the DEGC as a reason for immediate demolition were a function of the current low steel prices, which will likely turn around with the economy and produce lower demolition costs again in the future.

Demolition now will cost our financially stressed city $250,000 more than the funds deposited in escrow by the OTSC. Is this the highest priority of the city to spend taxpayer’s dollars on demolition at this time?

We had no notice from the DEGC of any meetings of the City Council or the Economic Development Corporation where the fate of the project was considered. In particular, we had no notice of the EDC meeting of June 2, 2009, which was conducted out of public view, and our first notice of the meeting and the demolition decision was from the press. At that meeting, the EDC members received no explanation of the OTSC’s substantial progress to assist its board in making an informed decision. Moreover, though required under the Memorandum of Understanding (MOU), the EDC Board did not make the determinations and findings required to terminate the MOU and authorize the demolition of the stadium, nor did the Board ratify the action taken unilaterally by the DEGC (in the name of the EDC) when it notified the OTSC a day earlier that the MOU was being terminated.

We had been working under the current MOU with the DEGC for less than one year, not since 1999, when the Tigers left for Comerica Park, as DEGC representatives have stated publicly. The OTSC was only incorporated in May, 2007, and the current board has only been in place for the last year.

We were able to obtain a temporary restraining order on Friday, June 5, 2009 at 5 p.m. in an attempt to avoid significant damage to the stadium. At about the time the TRO was granted, the demolition resumed and later intensified until a supporter jumped the fence and gave the TRO order to the demolition operator at about 6:30 p.m. The demolition seemed to be intended to cause the most damage to disparate parts of the stadium in the shortest time. The demolition sacrifices in excess of $12 million of historic tax-credits to the city.

The DEGC provided us no technical, financial or organizational support whatever in our redevelopment efforts, and no other encouragement of any kind. For example, recently, the OTSC’s request to the DEGC for access to the field for press and fundraising purposes was denied.

Though the DEGC has made public statements that neighborhood residents were supportive of demolition, in fact the Corktown neighborhood, the neighborhood that surrounds the stadium, was strongly in support of the efforts of the OTSC. The neighborhood’s own community development organization has two members on the OTSC board, and many residents of the neighborhood contributed both their money and time.

Despite repeated characterizations by the DEGC and media of the remaining portions of Tiger Stadium as a “stub” or “remnant,” the structure the city is currently demolishing was a viable, historic major league ballpark, circa 1930. It was not an incomplete or unusable remainder.

Before the demolition began, DEGC intimated that they were in talks with outside developers – developers interested in a cleared and vacant site. Since demolition has begun, the DEGC has acknowledged that there are indeed no serious development proposals for this site.

Not only the city, but the state and the entire country have lost the opportunity to redevelop an historic treasure that would have anchored a significant enhancement of the near west side of Detroit and spurred much-needed economic development in the years ahead. Instead, we will have an empty field at the corner of Michigan and Trumbull to further blight the landscape of our city. This historic “corner” will have a new meaning.

We thank our many supporters for their steadfast support and encouragement, as well as their time, money and passion for this project. You gave us the strength to carry this effort forward and we regret that the DEGC, the EDC and the city did not provide us the continued opportunity to achieve this objective.

The recent actions of the city, the EDC and the DEGC raise questions about the city’s priority regarding demolition and the use of the city’s funds. Why the urgency to spend hundreds of thousands of dollars of city money to demolish at this time? Why is the DEGC so quick to demolish the Navin Field portion of Tiger Stadium when there are thousands of vacant and abandoned structures throughout the city that are in need of immediate demolition and are clearly a danger to Detroit’s citizens and firefighters? What are the plans for the site that require immediate demolition? The political leaders of our city need to address these issues and take charge of setting the development priorities of the city.

Senator Levin has informed us that the Conservancy remains entitled to utilize the $3.8 million Federal appropriation that the U.S. Congress so generously provided for economic development in or near the stadium site. In conjunction with the southwest Detroit community, we will determine how the money might best be invested and leveraged to have some good come of Senator Levin’s steadfast effort and support. We hope the city will assist us with these efforts for the good of the city and its citizens.

The failure of the DEGC to support the Conservancy is a tragic loss of a unique opportunity for economic development in the City of Detroit. The larger question the people of Detroit and the entire region should ask is why the DEGC is allowed to heavy handedly run roughshod over the efforts of the not-for-profit and preservation communities and the thousands of citizens who are supporters of development efforts. The DEGC should be encouraging and assisting these efforts rather than quashing them at every turn.

Old Tiger Stadium Conservancy
June 19, 2009

The Dane Sardinha Experiment Is Over

How's that for dramatizing a mundane backup catcher roster change?

Dusty Ryan was called up at the start of the weekend to replace Dane Sardinha as the Tigers backup catcher. Normally, that sentence is all that is warranted for a move like that. However, there is a curious statistical anomaly associated with this move that I noticed back when the Tigers were in Baltimore.

Dane Sardinha played in the Saturday game of the Tigers/O's series, during the game, on Camden Yards' big new scoreboard, I noticed something odd.

Batting Avg: .095
On Base %: .091


Now, I consider myself knowledgeable in the ways of baseball, but this one had me stumped. How could your On Base Percentage be lower than your batting average? I asked around the stands and everyone was stumped. One person offered up that perhaps Sardinha tried to stretch a double and got thrown out, which would count as a hit but he wasn't on base. Not a bad guess, but it just didn't sit right.

I thought perhaps it was a statistical error, so I looked up his stats. Hmm... Apparently he has had this dubious statistical distinction for the whole year, and now, having been sent down to the minors, leaves the team with a .097 Batting Average and a .091 OBP. This adds to the already abysmal track record of Tigers backup catchers, given that Matt Treanor ended his season this year batting .000 (but an OBP of .071!)

But that still doesn't answer the question of how that is possible. A look at the game log reveals that this has been the case since his second game of the season. That 1-4 day looks pretty straightforward to me. Back to his first game, then. There it is in big bold letters: SF: Dane Sardinha.

For those of you in the know, a Sacrifice Fly does not hurt your batting average, as they do not consider it an At Bat due to its positive outcome and your willingness to give yourself up. However, Sacrifice Flies are considered in calculating your on base percentage, as it is a plate appearance in which you do not end up on base. In order to have a higher Batting Average than On Base Percentage you need to have more Sacrifice Flies than you do Walks.

Sardinha's totals: 1 SF, 0 BB.

So now you know, and knowing is half the battle.

Sunday, June 21, 2009

Series 2 Tigers: Career Best Miguel Cabrera

This is the last of the three "Career Best" relic cards from Series 2, shown here in the regular version. The other two are of Curtis Granderson and Magglio Ordonez

2009 Topps CBR-MC Miguel Cabrera

Obviously, the design holds true to the "Career Best" theme and looks very similar to the other ones. Cabrera, while still young, certainly warrants a "Career Best" card--this guy is a stud. I couldn't be happier that he is locked up as a Tiger for years to come, as I think that he is emerging as the second best 1st baseman in the game, behind only the incomparable Albert Pujols. For some reason though, whether it is Granderson's popularity, the fact that he came over with Dontrelle Willis, the fact the he seems relatively quiet--I'm not sure what--he does not seem to have a major following among Tigers fans. If they were still running the "Who's Your Tiger?" campaign, he would fall somewhere down the line, behind guys like Granderson, Inge and Verlander. That's a shame. At some point, people are going to realize that Cabrera is something special, and I think that will be sooner rather than later.

Card Cost: $1.34
Shipping: $2.35

Series 2 totals so far:
Shipping: $10.75
Total: $23.32

Friday, June 19, 2009

Topps Throwback/Black Group Break Update

So far, I am yet to find the blasters containing these cards "in the wild." In fact, I haven't seen the cards themselves on eBay yet, indicating that they haven't made their way into stores yet. If I recall, the Series 1 blasters were supposed to be released after the regular issue, but were released simultaneously. It is possible that Series 2 variations will come as a second wave.

In the meantime, I will continue to be vigilant in tracking these down, and I ask all the group breakers to be patient. As soon as I see or hear of them existing I will give you full instructions to send payment. I'm waiting until then because I see no reason for you to send money now for such delayed gratification.

To rehash the specifics (full details here) we will bust 3 or 4 Blasters, based on availability, from Walmart to get the "Black" base cards. We will do the same at Target to get the "Throwbacks". If we do 3 blasters cost is $6 per break. 4 blasters will cost $7.50. ALL PRICES INCLUDE SHIPPING. You will receive all cards from your team, including the base variations, inserts, commemorative patches, autographs, relics and anything else that is pulled.

We are an official go on the break, but still have spots available. Leave a comment if you'd like to fill in the blanks.

Here's the list as it currently stands:

Angels: I Heart Halos--Both Breaks

Tigers: Grand Cards--Both Breaks
Indians: Baseball Dad--Both Breaks
White Sox:

Red Sox: Thoughts & Sox--Both Breaks
Yankees: Flash--Both Breaks
Blue Jays: Blue Jays Cards--Both Breaks

Dodgers: Night Owl--Both Breaks
Dbacks: Tim Rooks--Both Breaks

Cubs: Lake Effect Cards--Both Breaks

Marlins: Wicked Orteaga--Both Breaks
Phillies: Dan (The Other World)--Both Breaks
Mets: --David (Tribe Cards)--Both Breaks
Nationals: NatsTown--Both Breaks
Braves: Capt. Canuck--WALMART ONLY

RANDOM TEAM (From Unclaimed Teams)
1. --David (Tribe Cards)

Thursday, June 18, 2009

Curtis Granderson: Avid Grand Cards Reader


How else do you explain this:

Yesterday, I blogged about Curtis being close but no cigar to a deserving appearance on the AL All Star Team. Last night, he responded by going 3-for-4 with 2 Home Runs, a Walk and a Stolen Base

But that's not all!

A number of weeks ago, when weekly fantasy baseball wraps were still on the docket, Curtis received the "No Thanks To" callout for being a pathetic drag on my team.

A few days later, he responded with a 2 Home Run Game. And finished the week winning my fantasy Gold Star.

This is no coincidence! The only logical explanation is that Curtis is embarrassed by the occasional public shaming on this here site and can't stand the thought of disappointing his legions of fans.

For this, Grand Cards nation thanks you.

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Curtis Granderson: All Star?

It's that time of year again, when All Star balloting is in full swing and the starting rosters are becoming more and more clear. With the release of the most recent results, the ridiculousness of the process dawns on me yet again. However, I am not going to dwell on the relative merits of the voting system other than to say this: The game is for the fans, and given that managers have the ability to fill out rosters, deserving players are on the All Star team more often than not (Curtis Granderson's 2007 snub notwithstanding, thank you very much Jim Leyland).

Sitting at 14th place, Curtis is unlikely to be voted on to the team, nor does he seem to deserve to. What is more interesting to explore is whether he deserves to be on the team at all. I'll take a semi-analytical approach to this, using the available data. As of this sentence, I am conflicted as to whether Curtis deserves to be on the team--hopefully the data will help push me in one direction or the other.

Based on 2008 All Star Game rosters, approximately 7 outfielders will make the team. The current top 15 vote-getting outfielders are listed as follows. How does Curtis compare?

1. Jason Bay
2. Josh Hamilton
3. Ichiro Suzuki
4. Carl Crawford
5. Torii Hunter
6. Ken Griffey Jr.
7. Nelson Cruz
8. Johnny Damon
9. Adam Jones
10. Jacoby Ellsbury
11. Nick Markakis
12. J.D. Drew
13. Grady Sizemore
14. Curtis Granderson
15. Bobby Abreu

When you think All Star, you think offense. It is the glamour number, easy to quantify and compare. People recognize excellent defense, but rarely does a defensive whiz make an All Star team without impressive batting numbers. Meanwhile, highly suspect defenders frequently make the midsummer classic despite being defensive liabilities. In the interest of sparing people's feelings, I won't name names.

The Averages
Oh, the averages. The numbers that show your consistency, your well-roundedness and your ability to get on base and score. There is no prestige in baseball like being a .300 hitter, and despite its somewhat antiquated use, it still has a better ring to it than being a .900 OPSer. There are three averages worth paying attention to:

Batting Average: Curtis checks in with a paltry .257 batting average, well below his historical averages. This is attributable to a horrendous start to the season, during which time he frequently flirted with the Mendoza line. Recent improvement has been sporadic, as he hit .270 just last week before dropping back down. Among AL Outfielders with 150 at bats, Curtis Ranks 26th.

On-Base Percentage: Curtis sports a .336 On-Base Percentage, which isn't bad considering his low average. Still, he sticks at 26th among AL Outfielders with 150 at bats.

OPS: This wonderfully pure measure of a hitter's power and ability to get on base is a bit kinder to Curtis. He sits at 18th.

As expected, the Averages are Curtis' downfall so far and are clearly sub-All Star caliber. The question is, has the rest of his game been strong enough to bump him into that elite Top 7?

The Power
We're talking about the numbers that bring home the hardware. Home Runs, Extra Base Hits, RBIs. The money numbers.

Home Runs: The number that everyone oohs and ahhs about, Curtis ranks 5th among AL Outfielders with 14 Home Runs.

Extra Base Hits: Those Home Runs have come at a price however--what used to be doubles and triples have been going out of the park. Curtis is 14th in Extra Base Hits.

RBIs: Batting Leadoff for the majority of the season doesn't help here, but moving to 5th in the order has. Curtis' 33 RBIs are good for 10th among AL Outfielders. For what its worth, Jason Bay towers above the field with 63.

The last offensive hope, Curtis is tied for 12th in Stolen Bases, checking in with 10.

Hmm...That doesn't look very promising, does it? Curtis only falls into the Top 10 in two statistical categories (HR, RBI), which does not bode well. Even fancy pants statistics don't help him much. Fangraphs lists Curtis Granderson at 20th among AL Outfielders in offensive production. Perhaps his defense can redeem him?

Defensive statistics are rough, to say the least, but the best metric that we have is provided by fangraphs once again. Granderson is ranked the #7 AL Outfielder defensively, behind the likes of Ichiro, Nelson Cruz and Juan Rivera as the players with legitimate All Star claims.

Fortunately for Curtis, and not unexpectedly, many of the big hitters have been pretty weak in the field so far this year. When you factor in both offense and defense and positional factors, Curtis looks much better. He is ranked 5th in Wins Above Replacement player.

For those of you who say, "that's a bunch of sabermetric hooey," Here's your top ten, in order:
1. Nelson Cruz
2. Torii Hunter
3. Carl Crawford
4. Ichiro
5. Curtis Granderson
6. Jason Bay
7. Juan Rivera
8. Adam Lind
9. Shin-Soo Choo
10. Matt Holliday

I don't see too many glaring omissions there, do you?

And herein lies the problem. Traditional Offense is weighted too heavily, and defense not enough. The value of players like Granderson, Choo and Cruz is elevated when the player is viewed as a whole. I would argue that you could justify the inclusion of any one of these 10 players on the All Star team, based on the seasons that they're having. Adam Jones and Nick Markakis would likely have a gripe with this, as would Swisher, Abreu, Drew and Damon. Still, shouldn't All Star teams recognize the best players in the game?

That brings us back around to it: Is Curtis Granderson an All Star?

So, is he?

My heart says yes, but right now, the answer is no. Home Runs and spectacular defense notwithstanding, he has not been a difference maker offensively, hasn't carried the Tigers' weak offense to key victories and has had a few too many 0-fers for my liking. That said, this doesn't mean that Granderson can't be an All Star. I think that he has played tremendously well on the defensive end and has been strong offensively, just not as stong as some of his AL brethren.

In my opinion, if he can bump that batting average from .257 to .270, that alone should be enough. If he gets to .280 he should be a shoe-in. I hate to simplify everything down to batting average, but the proof is in the pudding. The HR power is there, as is the speed and he's never been much of an RBI guy. His faults lie within the percentages and boosting those will give him the well rounded resume that will allow him to jump past some players with more gaudy numbers.

Series 2 Tigers: Platinum Maggs

Each "Career Best" relic card in Series 2 has two versions: a regular version and a "platinum" version numbered to 99. Here's the latter, Magglio Ordonez edition:

2009 Topps #CBR-MO Magglio Ordonez (Platinum #48/99)

I would like to give Topps credit for getting this right. Parallels are a tricky mistress and it is a fine line between doing them right and screwing them up.

Step 1: The card is a completely different color and fully distinguishable from the regular version. Not a different tint or sheen or refracticity, but completely different. The color is more prestigious and attractive, making the card correspondingly more desirable and less likely to be overlooked by collectors.

Step 2: The card is serial numbered, tastefully, on the front. More importantly, it is numbered to a low, but collectible 99 copies. Really rare cards (below 50 for some, 25-ish for others) discourage team collectors from going after them for fear of high costs and unattainability. Making these cards available in 99 copies still makes them a challenge to find, but a prize worthy of a little work.

The best praise? I don't feel like a sucker when buying these parallels. Well played, Topps.

Card Cost: $5.95
Shipping: $2.15

Totals So Far
Cards: $11.23
Shipping: $8.40

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Series 2 Tigers: Career (Worst)

As much as it pains me to say this, I am about to show you what is hands down the worst card in Topps Series 2. Not because of anything about this card per se, but rather...I'm not sure how to explain it. Pictures!
2009 Topps #CBR-CG (Series 2) Curtis Granderson

Sure, I'm tired of that reconstituted running picture of Curtis, but that's not the problem. It's not the tons and tons of red, or anything about the design or content. It is something that only another 1000 words can properly explain.

2009 Topps #CBR-CG (Series 1) Curtis Granderson

These are two different cards. One from Series 1 and one from Series 2. Oh, you can't tell? The sizing of his name is slightly different! There are some different things on the back! Unforgivable. I am so disgusted by this that I don't even want to write about it anymore, and I'm a man who likes to write about Curtis Granderson cards. Just...ugh.

Card Cost: $0.99
Shipping: $2.00

Totals so far:
Cards: $5.28
Shipping: $6.25

I'd complain that my shipping costs are exorbitant, but they really haven't been, I've just gotten ridiculously low prices on some of these cards to start. I'm sure that will change.

Series 2 Tigers: A Venezuelan Jersey

2009 Topps #BCR-MO Magglio Ordonez (Game Used Jersey)

Where's the bright yellow? Oh well. With the base team set out of the way, the chase for the many, many relics and such is underway.

First to find its way to my home in the comfort of a yellow bubble mailer was this game used jersey of Magglio Ordonez from this year's World Baseball Classic. As inserts go, I'm perfectly fine with these cards. I like the WBC cards because they just show another side of a player that I'm used to seeing in a Tigers uniform. They are unique, fun and (my favorite), mark a specific event or historical moment. In 20 years, when we look back on the defunct World Baseball Classic and think, what an odd failed experiment that was, we'll have these cards to remember it by and think of all the great players that played and the crazy upsets that occurred. I'm sure that they could have done something a little better for them, but in all honesty, the placement of the relic inside the WBC logo was a great move that avoids the obtrusive, ugly swatch placements, right Gellman?

Card Cost: $1.04
Shipping: $2

Total So Far:
Cards: $4.29
Shipping: $4.25

Wow, the shipping and cards costs are almost the same at this point. We are beginning to see the single greatest drawback of buying cards off of eBay.

Monday, June 15, 2009

Yes, Please

Photo: Gene J. Puskar/AP

Sadly, there are not many pictures to choose from, so I'll just use this one as an example (an awesome shot, but not of a Tiger). However, there MUST be some pictures of either the Pirates or Tigers in their 1909 throwbacks from yesterday. Personally, I'd like a shot of Andrew McCutchen, who looked like totally badass in his--almost like a Star Wars style guard or something. I certainly wouldn't object to a shot of Granderson, of course, but when you can't get the ball out of the infield, it isn't particularly deserving of commemoration.

Topps, Upper Deck or whoever--get me some 2010 baseball cards with these throwbacks. Or even better *PRODUCT IDEA ALERT* 2010 Allen & Ginter should be the current players ALL pictured in throwbacks, preferably in some sort of "posed action shot." That would be killer.

Series 2 Mission Has Commenced.

Finally, a sunny weekend in Baltimore. That, and some friends visiting from out of town kept this blog on the back burner for the weekend. Nevertheless...

A few weeks ago I was faced with a dilemma. Do I go out and buy a hobby or hta box of Topps Series 2 or do I just buy the cards that I need individually. There are obviously tradeoffs associated with each option. With a box I get the (usually fun) element of surprise, a better memory and cards to trade with to get the ones that I really need. Buying individually, I get exactly what I want, but nothing more. There is the risk that the final achievement may feel lessened.

At the time, a Hobby box was around $60 and an HTA was $125. That second number has fallen to about $95-100, so that's what I'll go with. I decided, given my current financial situation, that it would make the most sense to try and complete the set via individual purchases and that I would track each purchase to see how it matched up to the budget of one HTA or Hobby box.

Since then, the cards have started to come in, starting with the team set.
2009 Topps #339 Jim Leyland

The skipper himself leads off the set, in a rare and awesome action shot. While I think that a better action shot would be in the tense moment when a chainsmoking leyland tries to light a new cigarette with the dying embers of an old one in the tunnel to the clubhouse, I guess this will do.
2009 Topps #458 Jeremy Bonderman

Bonderman rejoined the team last week to pitch for the first time in a year, after recovering from an odd blood clot in his shoulder. He was shelled and went on the DL again yesterday. The latest reports are looking at a September return, at best. What a sad story.

The budding star, rookie of the year contender makes his regular issue baseball card debut for us in this set as well. I was expecting to have to wait until Updates & Highlights, so this is a pleasant surprise.
2009 Topps #658 Rick Porcello

Maggs, Looking a little apprehensive as if thinking, "hey, where has all of my power gone?" Spit and be happy, my friend, spit and be happy.
2009 Topps #395 Magglio Ordonez

And finally...WHAT?
2009 Topps #529 Fernando Rodney


And so ends the first installment of Tigers that I need to complete my Series 2 set. The base team set put me back $3.25 with $2.25 shipping. I will be keeping track of total costs for this set in the sidebar (under the Running Tally, where else?) to see just how much it costs to put it together. I will presumably perform some sort of analysis on this when it is all said and done. With many inserts, relics and such to go this will be a fun and exhausting set to put together.

Friday, June 12, 2009

Group Break is On (but not full)!

But first, a future baseball card shot, perhaps?

This is from Curtis Granderson's Game-Tying, 9th inning, 2-out Home Run last night (from the Detroit News). Sadly, the Tigers lost in the bottom of the inning. In my cry for more Curtis Granderson non-running action shots in cards, I thought that this one would do nicely.

Onto the real news, the Group Break for Topps Series 2 variation cards (black and throwback) from Target and Walmart is now officially on, thanks to NatsTown claiming the Nationals from the set. That gives us 14 teams, which means that we are a go!

But that's not all, there are still plenty of great teams left, some of which I know have card-blog followings. Here's what's left, as of this morning:

AL West: A's, Mariners, Rangers
AL Central: White Sox, Twins, Royals
AL East: Rays, Orioles

NL West: Giants, Rockies, Padres
NL Central: Pirates, Reds, Cardinals, Astros, Brewers
NL East: Braves

Click on the link for all the specifics and you can either leave your comment over there or on this post if you would like one of the available teams.
It's only $6 including shipping to get three blasters worth of your team of choice, including inserts etc. ($7.50 if we can find four blasters), and you can choose just the Walmart break, just the Target break or both!

As soon as these blasters become available, I will be on the lookout for them, so stay tuned. Once I find them, I will require payment before the break goes forward, just like last time.

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Willis v. Bondo

I don't know how this little tidbit got past me.

Apparently, Willis is sticking in the rotation and Bonderman is heading to the pen. Hmmm... I don't know exactly what to say here, as I don't know what the right managerial move would have been. Bonderman got shelled in his season debut, but Willis has been bad in his last few starts, making his one good start look very much like an outlier. I'm talking real bad, for clarification--a 2.00 WHIP in your last start will do that. I will say that Bondo doesn't look ready either. His velocity is gone and he still can't throw a change up, I'm not even sure that the bullpen is the right choice for him, given his historical penchant for having terrible 1st innings. I don't know if there is data to back me up on that, but ask anyone--it is as good as fact. The article mentions a possible trip to the minors, but apparently such talk has not been broached in the clubhouse.

Sigh. Such is the life of a team that appears one piece short of the puzzle. Both Bonderman and Willis look like borderline #5 guys right now, which just isn't going to cut it. I'll be interested to see how this all plays out in the next few weeks, although Willis does have the advantage of being a lefty in a rotation of all right-handers. Certainly, I wish them both the best and would like to see them return to their former selves.

Also, I'm going to throw it out there because it went through my head when it first happened, even though the chances of it happening are .00001%, but for a team that needs a lefty, how about taking a flier on Tom Glavine down the stretch for a championship run if it comes down to it? Just a thought.

Of Group Breaks, Present, Past and One of a Kind.

The Topps Retail Group Break that I am hosting for Walmart (Black) and Target (Throwback) cards. WE ARE STILL ONE TEAM SHORT OF A GREEN LIGHT ON THIS BREAK. You can check out all of the specifics over here, then sign up for a remaining team and we are good to go. Let's do it!

Trimming down my backlog of cards even further, the results of I Am Joe Collector's Sweet Spot Group Break are shown here in all of their full-color glory.

Here's the backstory. For $18.50 you get a random team slot. I was assigned the Marlins. I wanted the Tigers for one reason, and one reason only. Any number of Verlander/Granderson dual signed options. Trading was allowed but I was going to be on the road for the majority of the day leading up to the trading deadline. I contacted the man with the Tigers but couldn't get anything worked out before I left. Now, somebody contacted me about getting the Marlins. That's fine with me, whatever makes you happy. He had the Giants and the Nationals. Bailey (of the Nennth Inning) wanted the Giants. He had the Royals. I'd rather have the Royals than the Nationals so a three-way trade was born. Marlins fan gets Marlins, Giants fan gets Giants and I end up with the Royals. Everybody is happy and I figure that, at the very least, I know a Royals fan that I could trade with.

Here's what I got in the group break:

Padres? For those of you confused, this card was sent to me because it was an unclaimed card and the generous host of our group break decided to send it my way. I've always liked Brian Giles, especially when he was a Pirate, and it has been sad to watch him decline in the last few years. I suppose playing at Petco doesn't help at all.

I only got one other card in the break, one solitary Royal:

Hmm... A redemption for an Alex Gordon/Billy Butler Black Ink/Black Stitch Dual Autograph. Wowza, I thought, that is a great card. Then I looked at the product specs again. That is a GREAT CARD. A One-of-One as it were.

Thrilled with my windfall, I have submitted my redemption and trust me, you will all know when it gets here. Then I'll need to decide exactly what I want to do with it.

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

This Just In: Mythical Jersey Card Found!

Some time ago, 2008 Upper Deck First Edition received the "Ultimate Checklist" treatment. In that post, I made the following assertion:
Granderson has that card, a green version of a starquest card and the mythical game used card (#FECG) numbered to 750 that I have never seen nor heard of anyone having. I wouldn't be surprised if that card was announced and never released, but still made its way onto beckett by error.

I made reference to it again when talking about a similarly mythical relic card in 2008 UD Timeline.
This time The Hamiltonian chimed in with some insight:
The Timeline relic card probably does exist. They weren't available in hobby boxes, but were seeded one per blaster box. I have only seen one copy of the Hamilton relic card from the set, but they are out there.

Its a lightly broken product, coupled with being only available in retail, making it very painful for to find the one you need. :(

Seeing as how she is wise in the ways of player collecting, I figured she was probably right. Of course, I used the same logic on the First Edition card and have kept my eyes peeled for an appearance of a card that was not really broken heavily, had a stronger retail presence than hobby and doesn't have particularly good odds for pulling relics etc., given its low price point. After a few months, this little number popped up on eBay, into our hearts and finally, into my home.
2008 Upper Deck First Edition #UDFE-CG Curtis Granderson Jersey

For what its worth, the print run of 750 was listed on Beckett, and may very well be an announced print run, but the card is not serial numbered. I also tend to really like Upper Deck's relic cards. We've got a large, full-bleed photograph of Granderson with a new picture, and a simple, basic design. Sure the gigantic "UD" isn't elegant, but I like a little shape to my swatches instead of just a square, don't you?

Elsewhere in Cyberspace: Prospect Edition

My latest over at the Cardboard Connection is up, in which I look at the risks and rewards of the current batch of hobby prospects. Or mostly the fall on your face potential. There is a reason it is titled "When Prospecting Goes Wrong."

As someone who experienced Wieters-mania first hand, I got a kick out of writing this. Fans who are suffering through Gordon Beckham's 0-13 start, or Tommy Hanson's unremarkable debut will share in the pain.

Read all about it here.

Monday, June 8, 2009

This Just In: 2008 UD Premier (Autograph)

In the 2008 release of UD Premier Granderson was featured pretty extensively, both on his own and on some cards with other folks. For his single cards, there was his base #147 and then a series of Autographed "Milestones" cards. In fact, I've explained the whole thing before, in case you're curious.

Anyway, the base card has a number of parallel versions, one of which is autographed. Behold:
2008 UD Premier #147 Curtis Granderson: Autograph (#08/25)

I still don't have any of the other parallel version, or the base version for that matter, but I figure that the autographed version is the gem of the bunch, so at least that's a good start. Thankfully, Upper Deck didn't really "mail it in" on this card, which is wholly distinct from the "Milestones" version, while still keeping the same general design aesthetic. I'm also a big fan of front-of-card serial numbering, something that Upper Deck has perfected. Now, if I can only track down "The Premier Card" and have the money to afford it then I'll be happy as a clam. Wishful thinking, I'm afraid.

Pure Guillen Gold

Sometimes, when a set is first released, I tell myself "I'm not going to go after cards A,B or C for my team set. They are shortprinted (numbered parallels of relics or autographs, usually) and will cost too much without really enhancing my collection. That's what I thought when I saw the requisite All Star Jersey Cards from 2008 Topps--commemorating the Yankee Stadium All Star Game. There's a base Guillen card, quite nice, showing him ripping that near-game winning Home Run, which actually was a Double off the top of the wall.

I really do enjoy this card, if for nothing more than it allows me to recall my one and only experience at Yankee Stadium--something I both regret and wouldn't trade for anything. Hmm.

Anyway, there are a couple of parallel versions of this card, the most common of which is a Gold version numbered to 50. It, along with the Patch (#/25) and Platinum (1/1) versions were on my "Do Not Chase List."

But for .99, who could resist?

Sunday, June 7, 2009

This Just In: Stealing JayBee's Thunder

But seriously, read his blog.

Now that that's out of the way, what have we here?
2009 Topps #DET3 Curtis Granderson

Oh, I guess I shouldn't have put a caption on that shot.

Anyway, this card is wholly distinct and immeasurably better than the card that Marie sent me last week. That's no knock on Marie--that's Curtis' base card in 2009 Topps, but look at this one! Swinging! If you recall, last year's baseball card offerings were like a Will Smith movie--lots and lots of running. It's nice to see Curtis with a bat this year. Here, Finest, Bowman. Maybe those 13 HRs aren't a mistake after all--the baseball cards have foretold it.

Dear Topps, Thank you for putting different pictures in the team set, and not just a few, but a whole bunch. It makes collecting them so much more fun.

This Just In: the finest Goudey Blue Refractor you'll ever see!

Oh, I'm sorry, did you think that was one super-fancy card?

Let's dissect. Here we have the full bodied version of Granderson's base card in 2009 Goudey:
2009 Goudey #69 Curtis Granderson

You may remember this card from such posts as this one, in which I spoke at length about the card's design, its heisted picture from another one of my favorite Granderson cards and its look as a mini. Now with the full card in hand I can say that this really is one of the better cards from 2009 Goudey in terms of design and quality. Apparently, you just can't make Curtis Granderson look bad in a faux-retro picture.

I also got my hands on my first cards from 2009 Topps Finest. The other day, I nabbed a Gold Refractor from 2008 Finest and claimed that, while very nice, it can't hold a candle to the 2009 Version. I was right.
2009 Topps Finest #102 Curtis Granderson Blue Refractor (#319/399)
This is a stunning card, especially in person. While at first I questioned the design technique of adding a bright white orb in the upper left hand part of the card, I really think that it comes through quite well. Oh, wait. Seriously though, the design of this card is awesome, which is strange the borders et. al. are all really really busy and could have been a disaster. However, there are the right splashes of color, a refractor finish, the player in a dynamic action shot outside of the confines of the inner frame. Really, really nice. I'm certainly going to have to chase down the other refractors of this.

Of course, for the traditionalists, we have the base version of the same card. Which is no less awesome, in principle, but lacks the rainbow refractor effect and doesn't have that sharp blue color. Still great though:
2009 Topps Finest #102 Curtis Granderson

So that's three more beauties for the binder. With all of the parallel versions of these cards out there, I'm going to start each on their own page and hope that I can get with the program and use those blank spots as motivation. Here's hoping!

Saturday, June 6, 2009

Topps "Black" and "Throwback" Group Break Update

Word on the street is that Series 2 blasters are starting to creep out. I haven't seen the Topps Black versions (Walmart) or the Throwback ones (Target) but I will now officially be keeping my eyes open. In the meantime, the list for the Topps "Black" and "Throwback" Group Break remains open.

There are plenty of good teams still available, so go to here and leave a comment to claim yours. We still need (at least) three more teams for the green light.

Mail Day from Baseball Dad

Baseball Dad, the man behind All Tribe Baseball watched a certain play a few weeks ago from the exact opposite perspective as me. He's an Indians fan, I am a Tigers fan. I jumped and cheered, his heart sank and he secretly cursed Curtis Granderson.

He was quick to comment about it and a few days later I got a wonderful package that included...a newpaper clipping of Granderson's catch itself! Now here's the thing. I was in the middle of moving and carefully put that package aside. Of course, I really wanted to look at the newspaper, but restrained myself for a few days. When I could stand it so more, I pulled out the thin cardboard casing and out came the paper clipping. It was awesome. I worked to come up with all sorts of different scenarios on how to display it. Since we were still mid-move, I put it back in its cardboard and stuck it in a safe place where it couldn't get damaged. To my knowledge, it is still in that super-safe and apparently ultra-secret place to this day, because I have no idea where it went. I can't begin to tell you how disappointed I was. Fortunately, the package also included this:

A CD full of baseball songs that I could play to drown my sorrows.

Of course, he provided a handful of very fine Tigers pieces as well, but with the loss of the Granderson all I could envision was their heads floating around my head and laughing at me, cartoon style.
Oh, maybe that's why.

Thank you to Baseball Dad for his great package of cards, music and memorabilia. A friendlier Indians fan I have never met.

Thursday, June 4, 2009

Oddball Mail Day!

I love oddball items. Things that are hard to get, tough to find, or require attendance at a special event to get. Don't get me wrong--they are frustrating as all get out if you weren't lucky enough to be at the game/event/cereal box...well, you get the idea. All I can say, is thank goodness for the internet.

Through the virtues of the internet, people have come to know me as somebody who likes Curtis Granderson, and the Detroit Tigers, despite my best attempts to keep it a secret. On occasion, others will send me emails or packages, out of the goodness of their hearts, full of tips and goodies. One of these people is the blogger Core Contrarian. A midwesterner, he happens to be a Tigers fan himself, and was in attendance at a game a few weeks ago where they handed out packs of playing cards at the door. Within one day of the game I had an email asking if I would like them. After much convincing, I reluctantly agreed to take them off his hands.

I'm kidding of course. Oddball cards! But I really didn't know what to expect:

The box, with this year's worthy replacement to the successful "Who's Your Tiger" campaign (how else do you think I became such a Granderson fan?!)

The first card, and the second told me that these were going to be sweet:

Cool. Guess what number Curtis gets?

But number 8 of course. He is a centerfielder after all.

Let's not forget the King of Hearts, renowned for his flowery personality:

These cards are really great. Each number 2-9 is the player in that position. Same picture on each, different suits. Numbers 10 and the Jack are pitchers or Sheffield, Queen is Comerica Park, King is Leyland and Aces are Kaline and Willie Horton. This is an outstanding set, the pictures are great and it is a lot of fun.

Now, the question is, how do I display them? I can't keep them in the box, but I don't want to put them all in pages--that's 54 slots! I think that I'll pull the Grandersons out to display individually in my Granderson Binder, and then stack the same player cards on top of one another in a single binder pocket. Let me know if somebody can come up with a better idea though.

So there we go, oddball cards that aren't baseball cards per se, but fun nonetheless. Hey, not everything can come from a pack of mootown snackers. Thank you very much to the Core Contrarian for generously thinking of me and sending me an item that would have been nearly impossible for me to get otherwise! To everyone else, read his blog! It's really good and covers all of baseball.

Deconstructing the Tiger Stadium Demolition Decision

I have to post something about this because it has been tearing away at me for the last two days—since the Detroit Economic Growth Corporation voted on Tuesday to demolish the last remaining portion of Tiger Stadium.

Many people say “good riddance.” Too many in fact:

Detroit Free Press: “Time to let Tiger Stadium rest in Rubble”
"If they can knock down Yankee Stadium and Olympia and the Boston Garden, then they can knock down Tiger Stadium."

Detroit News: “No More Delays, Tear Down Tiger Stadium and Move On”
“After All, Even Yankee Stadium is Coming Down”

Non-local writers are in on it as well:
Craig Calcattera (Shysterball): “Tiger Stadium’s Suffering is Almost Over”
“While it's too late to give that noble building the noble death it deserved, we can end its, and our, misery.”

Big League Stew: “Executioner to play final notes at Tiger Stadium”
So yes, it's a sad thing when a ballpark dies.
But as even Ernie Harwell admits, it's also time to let go

First of all, just because other stadiums are getting torn down, doesn’t mean that all stadiums need to be torn down. In fact, they’re now trying to save parts of old Yankee Stadium while elsewhere in New York City, $800,000 has been committed to a staircase the led to the Polo Grounds. A staircase! Don’t tell me that saving pieces of a stadium are less important than that.

Onto the meat: To all of these people that have never given a legitimate ballpark redevelopment proposal a chance. I ask one simple question: What’s the point of tearing it down right now?

Here’s some context for you: Right now, the state of Michigan is mired in a deep recession and the City of Detroit faces a budget deficit in the range of $250-300 Million. The large footprint of the stadium has no other plans for redevelopment, and no prospects either, as the odds of developing a large-scale property in Detroit in the current economic climate are slim, at best. The City is not paying for security on the site—that $12,000 monthly tab is being charged to the Conservancy. So for everyone who says that it is time to let the past be the past, I respectfully disagree.

It seems to me, that that time has passed. Of all the historic stadiums in this country, few have stood empty for this long. Years ago, when no plans were in place, this would be a reasonable argument, but not anymore. Here’s the thing about the non-profit group trying to save the stadium: They have actually made progress in doing so, despite having what seems to be the whole damn city standing in their way.

Now people will say, “they’ve had multiple extensions and missed multiple deadlines,” all true things. But who cares? Economically, is it making a difference as long as things are moving forward? The opportunity cost here (aka next best use), is a vacant lot—there are no magic beans to plant to put in a major development right now. They are moving forward, by the way. $3.8 Million in federal funds were secured for the site, and the group just passed an enormous hurdle by securing state historical designation for the remaining portion of the site—the first step towards acquiring millions in historic tax credits.

“But the longer it stands, the more it will cost to demolish it.” Bullshit. Michigan is in a recession. Construction companies are dying—until things turn around, it will be cheaper to acquire this type of labor than before. Also, $300,000 towards demolition has already been paid by the Conservancy and is sitting in an escrow account for the day when the wrecking ball must come down.

“But it’s an eyesore.” Beauty is in the eye of the beholder. I drove by the partially demolished stadium when I was back in Michigan for Opening Day and I Loved it. It is open, big but not dominating. It is a really, really cool feature on the landscape, now open to the highway. Something tells me that there are worse eyesores in the city that could be taken down, but maybe that’s just me.

“It will never be what it was, just let it go.” You’re right. It will never be what it once was. That is not the point. The point is taking a beautiful old stadium that is empty and worn down and turning it into something that can actually have a beneficial use. Are you telling me that you, anonymous Tigers fan, wouldn’t love to have your kid play a game down at Tiger Stadium? Sure, it’s not the same, but it’s not supposed to be. This is the evolution of the ballpark, into a smaller, more intimate resource that can be utilized by the entire region.

Seriously, I test anyone to give me a legitimate reason why the stadium needs to be torn down right now. One. I DARE YOU. I don’t know what sort of shenanigans have taken place, but for the DEGC to vote against the proposal and to have demolition equipment on site the next day seems a little peculiar to me. That’s the first time that I’ve ever heard of government moving that quickly, especially in Detroit.

My suggestion: take a breath, everyone. The Old Tiger Stadium Conservancy has one lifeline left: the availability of historical tax credits. It is a slow process, requiring approval on multiple levels and absurd amounts of red tape, but they have made progress. Is there any reason not to wait until their application for those credits is either approved or denied?

That is what we call closure. That way there are no “what ifs” or “could have beens” on this project, no black eyes for this City of Detroit or “Worst Person In the World” statements for the DEGC. This is what Tiger Stadium deserves, a chance to either get on base or strike out once and for all. She’s down to her last strike, but don’t call her out before the pitch is thrown.

Wednesday, June 3, 2009

Mail Day! Grandy looking new, others looking old

2009 Bowman #26 Curtis Granderson

This is not the reason that people buy Bowman cards, but shouldn't it be? When this set was released, I heard a groan in the blogging community. Personally, I've never cared much for Bowman. It has just never done much for me, even when I was a little kid seeking out Travis Fryman rookie cards. Granderson's 2007 and 2008 offerings were nothing special, and my expectations were 2009 were unspectacular--I wasn't even sure that Granderson was going to be in the set.

Well he is, and how.

In fairness, Mario's later review of Bowman says that this release is saved by the Dark Veteran cards. I couldn't agree more. This card is really nice and not at all what I expected. Here we have a pretty nice photo, sharply framed, with enough design variation to keep the card interesting while still drawing the eye towards the center of the card. Position and Player Number baseballs are included on the front--I love the player number, which is something that too many baseball cards ignore, even on the backs. All in all, I think that this card is exactly what somebody would want out of a base card. Parallels be damned, just give me this one and I'm happy.

Reader Zach Mills sent this one in my direction. He had originally claimed some of the WBC cards that I was giving away, forgot to send me his address by the deadline and negotiated a trade instead. I turned out to be the happy beneficiary of this fine Granderson number, but also a handful of other cards that I was on the lookout for:

Thanks for the trade Zach, and thanks for leaving me with my first Bowman card of 2009!

Knocked Out: 2009 Topps Throwbacks (Series 1)

I've always had a distaste for buying single cards through the internet--rarely could I envision a scenario where a single card was so crucial that I would spend an inordinate amount on shipping to get it. Fancy cards, like Autos and the like, were generally exempt from this rule, but regular base cards were not. However, when a single seller on Sportlots has the last three cards that you need for pennies on the dollar and shipping for about a buck, you tend to listen.

Because of a woeful Group Break (Tiger-wise) a few months ago, I fell far short of a Tigers complete set for Series 1 throwbacks. Some trades and generous bloggers inched me closer, but I was still three cards short. Not anymore:

You can't really ask for a more star-studded group than that. Verlander has been pitching like a Cy Young candidate, and the other two are of rock-star Miguel Cabrera and the rest of last year's league leaders in Home Runs and RBIs. With these, I am done with Series 1 and anxiously await the release of Series 2 blasters so that I can go at it again.

Speaking of which, we will be doing a little Group Break around here, just like we did last time, to help the team collectors complete their sets without having to go Blaster-mad. Sign Up Here to claim your team--blasters will be on the shelves before you know it! We still need at least three more teams to make this thing go forwards, so read the details and get on board!

Tuesday, June 2, 2009

Mail Weeks!

The result of getting waaaaaaay backlogged on cards is that little packages add up and turn into nice lots. Such is the case with three separate envelopes from Marie at A Cardboard Problem. First, my first Goudey's of the year came to my mailbox, along with two Piece of History cards of the greatest pitcher in the history of May 2009.

Shortly thereafter, this arrived:

Give me an S! Give me a P! Give me a Heritage! SP! I love these Heritage cards and even Placido Polanco's ridiculous head can't screw it up. By the way, I'm pretty sure that Polanco is the most SP'd Tiger in history--a claim that I hope to substantiate when I can find the time.

Lastly, a third package arrived, containing the first Topps Series 2 that I've gotten my hands on, including...


And the defensive whiz that has helped shored up the left side of the infield, shown here swinging a bat and putting the ball in play with a .230 probability or so.

This whole exchange of envelopes started when I would send Marie cards of interest a few months ago. Then she went on a tear that has put me to shame and has made it so that now I'm searching high and low for things to send back in return. Marie, there is more on the way, I promise! I just need to pull them out of packs first!

Monday, June 1, 2009

This Just In: 2008 Topps Finest Gold

Growing up, I never really thought twice about Finest when I was collecting. I was simple Topps and Upper Deck, Fleer, Donruss, Pinnacle, Leaf, Score etc. Come to think of it, why wasn't Finest on the list? In fact, I have no recollection of ever having a Finest card in my collection, ever. Weird, no?

Well, last year I got a couple of Granderson's '08 Finest and the other day (ok, the other week) I ended up with a Gold version.
2008 Topps Finest #95 Curtis Granderson: Gold (#45/50)

Pretty nice, don't you think? I will say, that this particular design is only so-so. It certainly doesn't compare to 2009 Finest, which I finally got in my hands the other day and will be showing off shortly. It also isn't as good as the other Granderson card from 2008 Finest, the Gold Version of which should be in transit to my house as we speak.

Still, I like these cards in all of their colored refractory goodness, a binder page full of them would look mighty fine indeed.

Fantasy Baseball Update

Because of the time it takes and my relative dearth of available time these days, I will no longer be posting my weekly fantasy wraps. I'm guessing that nobody will really care, as this is a site about baseball cards and that there is much better fantasy baseball analysis elsewhere. However, if there is some explosive cry from the depths of the internet to keep these going, then I'll make it work. So, if you want me to keep them going, just let me know in the comments. Otherwise, there will probably be a mid-year and end of year fantasy review along with little comments interspersed throughout normal posts.

Lots (and I mean lots) of cards to come this week, including a slew acquired to start my Topps Series 2 quest.