Grand Cards: October 2009

Saturday, October 31, 2009

The Grand Scheme Welcomes You To The Club

What is the Grand Scheme? Explanation Here

I Want This

Welcome To The Club
It has been some time since I added any blogs to my “Card Blogs Of Merit” section of the sidebar. In fact, it was last February when I welcomed Night Owl Cards to the list, and have since added about a billion RSS feeds to my Google Reader. In so doing, I find that there are some blogs that consistently produce great content that I find myself compelled to read every time they post. With that, welcome to the club:

Wrigley Wax
Beardy’s Baseball Blog

I’m not going to attempt to justify their inclusion on the list over anybody else, so don’t try me. I will say this though, every time they post, I find myself clicking over to read what they’ve written—seldom do their posts linger unread.

Yes, there are other blogs out there that I like a lot, and as more time passes and I find myself continuously drawn back to certain blogs, they too will invariably make the list. For now though, welcome to the club you two, may extra hits from my site rain upon you freely.

Curtis Wins 2009 Marvin Miller Man Of The Year Award…
Yeah, I wrote about this yesterday but Curtis Granderson officially won the award, as revealed on Mike & Mike In The Morning The news was picked up yesterday afternoon by the Detroit media, one who presented the underwhelming headline “Tigers’ Curtis Granderson Recognized For Volunteer Work,” which, um, understatement of the year, considering what he won? I hate to say it, but the Free Press article isn’t much better. Don’t hurt yourselves fellas.

...Sponsored by Upper Deck Baseball Cards
That’s right. This was the long precursor to the Granderson announcement that I’ve been hearing all week: All week here on Mike and Mike in the morning we are presenting the 2009 MLB Player’s Choice Awards presented by Upper Deck. “It’s Not Worth Collecting If It’s Not Upper Deck.” This was often preceded and followed by an Upper Deck radio ad on ESPN radio.

Woah. First of all, good for Upper Deck on this trying to increase the profile of baseball cards on a national level. I was surprised that these ads were airing and am on board 100%. Isn’t it weird though, that this is happening right as Upper Deck is about to lose their MLB license? Obviously, they are not conceding baseball cards, and seem to be strengthening their relationship with the MLBPA by sponsoring these awards. Yet to someone in the know (me), this seems like a defensive move to prevent the HUGE DROPOFF IN SALES that will accompany cards with no jersey logos or team names. To the average listener though—likely someone who hasn’t thought about baseball cards in quite some time—they may be compelled to buy a pack or two, which may draw people back into the hobby to some degree. If nothing else, it is reintroducing baseball cards into the public consciousness. I’ll be interested to see how this works out and if Topps pursues a similar type of mass media marketing at some point (like by sponsoring the actual end of the year MLB awards—that would be a real F U to Upper Deck, no?)

Is This Good Or Bad?
In the category of “this has a point but you need to stick with me,” Mark Teixeira has signed an exclusive memorabilia agreement with Steiner Sports. Why do I care?

This is why.

I posted that nary a month after I started this blog, so it is very, very likely that you have never read it. As it is close to my heart, it is recommended reading.

Skipping the story, eh? Here’s a picture:

Now go read.

Given all that, this begs the question, is this good or bad for me? On the one hand, my chances of getting my replacement ball signed have now gone up exponentially—he will probably have mail-in signings that I can take advantage of. However, the cost of getting my ball signed has also exploded, much to my chagrin. I’m thinking that ship sailed as soon as he joined the Yankees, but this drives it home. Also, this pretty much kills my chances of explaining the story to him in person at a signing, since I won’t really be able to make it up to New York much.


Topps Series 4 Exclusives
Like that Kaline card up top? Yeah, me too. I find I'm often disappointed with a final team checklist because I always end up finding one or two players that should have had cards and others who really shouldn’t have. Imagine my pleasure then when I saw these:

Oh and there are more. DavidSB over at the Detroit Sports Collectors Forum put together a complete bonus set which, if manufactured, I would buy today.

Empty Cup Of Coffee
Once upon a time I did a parallel post of Tigers who were only Tigers for a tiny bit of their careers. This was intended to follow posts made at The Spot Starters. Unfortunately, he went way too fast on the next five installments, I got overwhelmed looking for cards of these guys that were damn near impossible to find, and it just stopped being worth it. Moral: something about biting and chewing. My apologies.

Misc. Zach Putnam has two starts in the Arizona Fall League and a 0.00 ERA. More team set addendums from Wrigley Wax--also Bobby Scales has a rookie refractor but not a regular base card in Topps U&H (!) I don’t care what you say, this card is awesome. Looks like another card belongs on my 2005 Topps Wantlist. You give a little, you get a little.

Friday, October 30, 2009

Curtis Granderson Wins 2009 Man Of The Year Award

...I think.

I was driving up to work this morning and had uncharacteristically bad reception on ESPN radio. All week, on Mike and Mike they've been announcing the 2009 MLB Player's Choice Awards. Today, in between garbled voices and static I heard them announce "Curtis Granderson" for something and proceeded to listen to an interview with him during which I was able to understand about 15% of what was said.

Using my powers of deduction, I'm pretty sure that all of this meant that Curtis Granderson won the 2009 Marvin Miller Man of the Year Award, joining such recent recipients as Michael Young, Torii Hunter and Albert Pujols.

So, assuming that I'm right in all of this, congratulations to Curtis, who has devoted himself to kids and education throughout Metro Detroit through his Grand Kids Foundation, and shows the integrity, work ethic and personality that makes him one of the best role models in the game.

Once they post the podcast, I'll try to get it embedded or linked over here.

UPDATE:Sure enough, he is the winner! Congrats Curtis! You can listen to the Mike and Mike interview here.

Thursday, October 29, 2009

Three Times The Charm?

The much-maligned Topps Triple Threads has hit stores, and amidst the complaints about $200 per pack costs, a tired concept, and the continued, inexplicable use of sticker autographs on a high-end product, the simple pleasure of these cards has been lost.

I will never buy a pack of Triple Threads, because this product, more than any other, is why the secondary market exists. For all the crap that people give to Triple Threads, the cards are actually quite nice--they're just not as great as people expect them to be given their cost. Fortunately, markets have a way of sorting these things out.

For Curtis Granderson, 2009 marks the third year that he is in the set. In 2007 he was a "Rising Star"

2007 Topps Triple Threads Curtis Granderson Emerald (#45/50)

Ditto for 2008:

2008 Topps Triple Threads Curtis Granderson Sapphire (#02/10)

As you can see, there is a common theme here. With all the parallel versions that Triple Threads throws out there, both 2007 and 2008 feature cards with die-cut windows that either show three stars (like the ones above) or the letters DET.

So what does 2009 have in store for Curtis? Is his star still rising? Nope:

Looks like it is already risen. From my eBay perusal, these are the three different versions of Granderson's Triple Threads cards this year. As always, there are a bevy of colors to choose from, each of which are serial numbered differently. I've got to say, as with years past, I like these cards. Yes, they have problems. No, they are not worth $200 per pack. But I'll admit, I'm a sucker for the die-cut windows and the shininess and the like. The action shot in the picture spot is nice, as is the "Granderson" sash below it. The "TIGERS" card is excellent--right up my alley. I'm even on board with the "112 RUN" card, although that's a bit of a stretch, considering it neither 1) led the league or 2) was a career high. The "2X3BLDR" card is a disaster though.

The downside is that the numbering on these is on the low side (it appears as though the highest numbered is to 18), which means that the prices will be artificially inflated and I'll probably be left out in the cold. Oh well. These are the kinds of cards that are nice to have, but aren't the collection centerpieces that Topps markets them to be. And so, the third time is a bit of a mixed bag for us Granderson collectors. The cards are now fancier and nicer, but harder to get and odder. Looks like they'll make the list of "if I can find at a bargain," but won't add too much stress to my life.

How about you? Triple Threads Thoughts?

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Shiny Happy Cardboard People

Blogging is an outlet, which means that I can project shiny happiness despite having just spent all of yesterday at airports, being delayed by multiple hours to get down to my final destination of the not-New Orleans or Baton Rouge parts of Louisiana. Where it is raining. Consider prolonged blog absence explained.

Anyway, this is a good early morning post, as I set myself up for some positive thinking. All of these cards came in over the last few weeks.

I love Refractors on cards. They are awesome. In fact, I've found that I have grown tired of regular chrome cards, to the point where they don't capture my attention at all, but give me some rainbow-reflecting parallels and I'll just lap them up. Like this one:

2009 Bowman Chrome #26 Curtis Granderson Refractor

I already liked Curtis' regular Bowman card this year, and the chrome refractor--especially when you can capture it with the right ratio of colored streaks--is outstanding. Truly outstanding are things like the blue-border refractors and the lower numbered parallels, but those are harder to come by, and therefore not yet in my collection.

With the technology the same, it is no surprise that the Topps Chrome version looks just as good.

2009 Topps Chrome #120 Curtis Granderson Refractor

Seriously. I might consider abandoning my entire collection just to go after all of Granderson's chrome refractors of things, in their multi-paralleled glory. Just look how much better it is than the regular card:

2009 Topps Chrome #120 Curtis Granderson

Not even close.

One exception to this can be found in Topps Finest, where this years cards were uniformly outstanding. The base cards were nothing to sneeze at--they had more dimension than your typical shiny cards--but again, the refractors really pop:

2009 Topps Finest #102 Curtis Granderson Refractor

Of course, Topps hasn't always hit the nail on the head. I was thoroughly unimpressed with what they offered in Topps Co-Signers. To quote myself:
It is fine, I guess, but for me it is way too shiny. That shine is not classy and visually stimulating like Topps Chrome, it is disorienting and bothersome, like a mirror to a cat. Notice my hands and camera sharply reflecting off the card.

2008 Topps Co-Signers #33 Curtis Granderson Green Parallel (#180/200)

See? Way too shiny. Co-Signers was card fail, even in the rarer parallel versions. Kind of. It was fail until I got the "hyper-plaid" parallel versions. I will use my pictures here in place of 3000 words:

2008 Topps Co-Signers #33 Curtis Granderson HyperPlaid Blue (#18/50)

2009 Topps Co-Signers #33 Curtis Granderson HyperPlaid Red (#024/100)

2008 Topps Co-Signers #33 Curtis Granderson HyperPlaid Bronze (#12/75)

Those are awesome. It just goes to show that there are good cards in bad products. Topps may never make these again, and the pictures may not even do them proper justice, so I recommend running out and picking up a "hyper-plaid" card for yourself. They are like Xfractors on acid.

So, that's it for today. Shiny cards abound to brighten up my dreary day on the Bayou. Regular posting should continue in the future as soon as I'm back surrounded by the comforts of home (and can take more pictures of new cards).

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Programming Note

In a couple of hours I'll be headed back to Michigan for the Michigan-Penn State football game this weekend. Posting this weekend may exist, or may not, depending how plans shake out, but things are trending towards the "not", as we've got families and friends to see etc. At the least, I will be back on Monday happily resuming posts, hopefully with a Michigan win safely tucked in my back pocket.

Wednesday, October 21, 2009


Quick, let's get back to baseball cards:

2009 Topps #HOB2 Rick Porcello

2009 Topps #HOB3 Ryan Perry

I have a love/hate relationship with factory set bonus cards, with each of these coming from the 2009 Topps Factory Set (Hobby Edition). There is a very, very hard to find bonus card of Rick Porcello from a JC Penny Edition Factory Set, that The Drizz had posted about but now is missing from his blog.

As of right now, it doesn't appear as though any Tigers are in the Factory Set: Holiday Edition, but you know how these things can change. Anyway, the hate comes from tracking these cards down. The love comes in once I have them. If you've ever tried to get cards with a limited or exclusive release, I'm sure you know what I'm talking about.

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Today's Lynn Henning is an Idiot Moment

So, this is funny. Yesterday I wrote a post called "Today's Lynn Henning is an Idiot Moment" based on a post he wrote on his blog. In it, the following gem was buried:

But for now, as Tigers fans lament Willis' troubles and Cabrera's all-too-frequent drinking incidents, the Marlins camp would love to have that trade back.

And I started to rant about how "all-too-frequent" isn't usually used to mean "two," and is a disingenuous way to insinuate that the Tigers needed to drag Cabrera off of bar stools just to get to the stadium on time. Ultimately, I deleted the post because I thought that it constituted unnecessary ranting and I just wasn't in the mood for negativity.

Then Today Happened.

We are treated to an article entitled "How the Tigers can stay in Contention" by a credible former baseball executive that understands the ins and outs of roster and payroll management. Oh wait, no. It's by Lynn Henning. Now, I will say that this is exactly the type of article that sports columnists are supposed to write, and I have no problem with that whatsoever. However, it should come as no surprise that the article touches on a familiar topic.

They will trade Curtis Granderson for two players. I cannot shake a personal belief that dealing Granderson is their only way out of heading into 2010 with zero chance to win the division. This is said with the understanding that losing your center fielder and leadoff man is not an ideal way to get better.

But I believe the Tigers will get a bullpen arm and a position player for Granderson (either a corner outfielder or a shortstop) that, coupled with some creative approaches to center field, will make them a better team in 2010. I'm probably in a group of one who has this conviction, but every time I play GM I come up with no scenario other than inducing another club to deal handsomely for Granderson. And I believe some club will do just that.


I've tried to comment on this via creative license. I've tried to flatly refute it as half-baked and needless speculation. But to no avail. Henning keeps on writing it and then other media picks up on it and before you know it there is a call for a trade. It can happen. But this is getting ridiculous, no?

Henning is the only person who is legitimately calling for this to happen. HE EVEN SAYS SO:
I cannot shake a personal belief that dealing Granderson is their only way out of heading into 2010 with zero chance to win the division... I'm probably in a group of one who has this conviction

You're probably right. A team would pay handsomely for Granderson because he is an above average player with a below average contract who you surmise could be had for a bullpen pitcher and corner outfielder. That would be highway robbery.

I'm sorry, but I just fail to see any scenario in which trading Granderson for those pieces makes the team more competitive in 2010. The Tigers are hamstrung because of a $18 million to Ordonez, $13 to Guillen, $12 to Willis, $12.5 to Bonderman and $10 to Robertson. Heck, even $6.6 to Inge is more damaging than the $5.5 million that they will pay Granderson next year. I'm not saying that next year is a lost cause, but I don't see how trading one of your youngest, most productive and least expensive players helps the team in any way. Give me an actual scenario. Name some names. Sure, it will be wild speculation--but that's all this trade talk is anyway, so why not go for the gusto?

Maybe because no reasonable scenario exists. Until you find one, just stop writing. And please, please, don't make me write any more of these posts. They are getting so tiresome.

An Ounce Of Gold

Did you know that some suckers are paying over $1000 for an ounce of gold right now? I paid $2.95...and that included shipping.

2009 Topps #451 Ryan Perry Gold (#1580/2009)

This is the second of the big Tiger rookie cards this year. The updates set actually pairs Perry with Porcello, a card that I am excited to get my hands on. This is all very reminiscent of the Justin and Joel stuff from 2006 when Verlander and Zumaya were the hot rookies. I just hope that we can keep Perry's arm attached long enough for him to establish himself.

2009 Topps #538 Carlos Guillen Gold (#2007/2009)

Ladies and gentlemen, your 2010 starting left fielder for the Detroit Tigers...sigh.

And finally...
2009 Topps #566 Dontrelle Willis Gold (#1030/2009)

How do you put the best possible spin on acquiring a Dontrelle Willis card, a player who is arguably represents the worst contractual decision in baseball history? By making him the last card you need to complete your 2009 set of Gold Detroit Tigers! Sure, I've got the Updates & Highlights to go after now, but Series 1 and Series 2 are finished, and look shiny and beautiful in binder pages.

And, just for good measure, as oil prices are also on the upswing:
2009 Topps #425 Curtis Granderson Black (#42/58)

No, that was not included in the cards that I got for $2.95, but it is the first Topps Black Granderson card that I have. I really like the look of Topps' parallels, but I will say that for all the accolades that the 2009 design has received, I think that the big gaudy borders of years past really shine in Gold (note the 2008 card clippings at the top of this post). Not that I'm complaining.

Monday, October 19, 2009

2009 Upper Deck Update Checklist

Sorry for the quick successive posts, I guess I should have actually researched this prior to posting the Grand Scheme.

Anyway, following up on Cards on Cards' discovery of a stealth update set in 2009 Upper Deck Fat Packs, here is a full checklistof the 50 card Update set, straight from the horse's mouth. Pictures below embiggen themselves upon clicking.

Your Detroit Tigers:
U4 Wilkin Ramirez
U39 Fu-Te Ni

The Grand Scheme Moves to the Paris of Oklahoma

What is the Grand Scheme? Explanation here.

A Moment of Silence
Yesterday, three people died within 16 minutes of each other while running the Detroit Half Marathon, in one of the most tragic days in distance race history. As I read the race reports last night in utter disbelief, I learned that one of the men caught Magglio Ordonez’s ALCS clinching walk-off home run in the 2006, inadvertently placing himself in Detroit Baseball History. Fox 2 Detroit has the story.

I remember that guy from back in 2006, which humanizes this tragedy even more. Also, this happened a week after an MIT grad student died while running the Baltimore Marathon—my wife and I ran the half marathon the same day—and I can’t help but notice that these things often happen without warning to otherwise healthy and typically young people. I am a young, healthy distance runner and these stories freak me out. What’s more, a very close friend of mine, another young otherwise healthy individual, just “celebrated” the one year anniversary of surviving the stroke that she had early in last year’s Detroit Marathon, suddenly, unexpectedly and without warning. She has recovered tremendously well and is working herself back towards running again. The wishes of this blog go out to all of the families and friends who have been affected by running tragedies like this.

If A Tree Falls
In the category of “this is crummy news, but not really that bad considering how this post started,” the Detroit Shock WNBA team is apparently leaving Detroit for Tulsa. The Shock won championships in 2003, 2006 and 2008, but suffered from the fact that they were a, uh, WNBA team. You better get your 2009 set while they last, or start tracking down the team's full cardboard history for yourself.

Topps Retail Parallels: Updates & Highlights Edition
Remember those retail exclusive parallel versions that everybody loved? Remember how in Series 2, Topps decided to make them nearly impossible to collect? Well, that fabulous tradition continues with Updates & Highlights. Preempting the retail release, I decided to ask Topps how they were planning to distribute the Walmart “Black” and Target “Throwback” versions. The answer is: poorly.

Thank you for your letter regarding Topps and its products.

Currently, the retail U&H products are slated to contain two packs of black or throwback cards similar to the Series 2 release.

We hope this information is helpful to you. As always, please do not hesitate to contact our Customer Service team (By phone: 1-800-489-9149, or by if you ever have any other questions, comments or suggestions. A customer service representative will be available to answer your questions between the hours of 8:30am - 4:30pm (EST), Monday through Friday.

Thank you once again for taking the time to write. We appreciate your interest in Topps products and hope you continue to enjoy our site.


Topps Customer Service team

Thanks guys. Glad to see you evened things out after already shooting yourselves in one foot with Series 2.

Upper Deck Has Inconvenient Updates Too!
Cards on Cards is all over this one. Upper Deck has a stealth update set inside of their retail “fat pack” offerings.

These are technically inserts, but could certainly fall into the realm of cards that I would want for my team set. If it looks like the base set and feels like the base set… No word yet on what the checklist looks like.

Connection Severed
In case you weren’t tipped off by the fact that I haven’t written an article for the Cardboard Connection in months, I am no longer writing for the Cardboard Connection. I submitted my e-resignation some time ago, never got a response and have let things pass. For what it's worth, the Cardboard Connection is a fine internet publication, and one that I read frequently. I just didn’t have the time or energy to contribute over there without sacrificing what goes on over here, while diminishing my own enjoyment of baseball-card related writing at the same time.

Misc. Sorry for the majority downer update and copious complaining. Part 3 of Cup of Coffee Tigers is up at The Spot Starters, cards to follow in the next day or two. Can somebody please print up some sets of RobbyT cards? They are sweet, and he has massive Tigers sets designed from the last few years. Some people dig Ballpark Collection, I will still read their blog anyway. Wax Heaven is giving away the goodies. Dinged Corners summarizes my weekend of reorganization attempts.

Friday, October 16, 2009

Remembering That Cup Of Coffee (Part 1)

As I mentioned in yesterday's Grand Scheme, Blake over at The Spot Starters has put together a list of notable ball players who spent a wee bit of their careers as Tigers. Here is Part One, which is recommended reading.

Being a baseball card site, I thought that it was only appropriate to profile these Tigers in cardboard form. I mean, that's the whole reason baseball cards exist, right? To keep track of and commemorate baseball history? I'm not going to recap Blake's summaries, but may add bits of insight here and there. With that, I give you the Spot Starter's Cup Of Coffee Tigers, in cardboard form.

Earl Averill
1940 Play Ball #46 Earl Averill

Play Ball gets it, just look at the bottom of the card: "A pictoral news record of America's favorite sport". I dare you to define baseball cards better then that.

This card is one of two cards of Earl as a Tiger. The other, a 1939 "Sportservice Tigers" is so obscure that I have no idea what I am even looking for. Play Ball is a legitimate and well known set, on the other hand. The back makes mention of the Earl Averill acquisition:
The Indians, who paid a reported price of $50,000 for Averill in 1929, traded the outfielder to the Detroit Tigers in June last year and while Earl was not up to his par in hitting, he managed to drive in 65 runs with 98 hits, almost half of them for extra bases.

Update: Mark of Mark's Ephemera, in addition to editing my posts, sent me a link about the obscure 1939 set. A little extra research indicates that this set was released by the Tigers and is a 1939-1940 set and is listed as either one, the other, or both. More specifically, 1939 was the first year that SportService was the Detroit Tigers' official concessionaire, which leads me to believe that the cards were essentially corporately sponsored by them, despite being considered a "team-issue". The more you know...

Steve Avery
I loved Steve Avery growing up. He was a Michigander and he was a rising star on the Braves, which for whatever reason, I always liked as a kid. Well, the two worlds converged, briefly, in 2003.

2003 Topps Traded #T42 Steve Avery

Why the Tigers in 2003? The back of the card gives us some insight on this one.
"At the urging of his son, this former Braves star tried a comeback in 2003 after being out of baseball for two years. He signed with his hometown Tigers, beat Atlanta in Spring Training and won a spot in Detroit's pen."

That's neat.

Billy Bean and Billy Beane
The first, and less notable, actually had enough of a presence on the Tigers to warrant a card.
1988 Topps #267 Billy Bean

The other Billy Beane, well known for being the current GM of the A's and the man behind Moneyball, had such a short stint in Detroit that they didn't even bother to make a card for him. He did have a lasting legacy in that other role, however:

Rico Brogna
The last of this group of shortly tenured Tigers is a once rising star in the system:

Rico was a big deal. He got a coveted "top prospects" card in 1992 with a couple of guys who went on to have solid careers (Klesko and Jaha). A bunch of prospect cards preceded that 1992 version as well. In 1993 he got one of his own:

1993 Topps #598 Rico Brogna

This was one of many cards that Brogna had as a Tiger, dating back to 1989. In fact his 1991 Upper Deck card was the one that stuck out with me, but I didn't remember that when I was rushing to pull cards this morning, so Topps it is. This card, the 1993 version, was the end of the brief Rico Brogna era in Detroit and you know that he was only up for a cup of coffee--he is wearing an away uniform and home helmet, a telltale sign of a Spring Training picture, indicating that there wasn't much in the way of regular season game action for him.

And so concludes Part 1. Part 2 is now up at the Spot Starters, and I'll be chasing down those cards just as soon as I can.

Thursday, October 15, 2009

The Grand Scheme Does The Jiminy Jillickers Scene Again and Again and Again

Last week I wrote a post called “The Grand Scheme Of Things” with the intention of giving an overview of goings on from the point of view of this blog. I liked how it turned out, so I have decided to make it a recurring feature at irregular, unpredictable but not infrequent intervals. I am loosely modeling this feature after MGoBlog’s tremendous “Unverified Voracity” posts , which are the Gold Standard of thematically linked state of the world meta-posts, in my eyes. His are about Michigan. Mine will be about the Tigers and Baseball Cards, as you would expect. I also am blatantly plagiarizing the way that site uses the Unverified Voracity title: as a proper noun. So, without further ado, I present “The Grand Scheme” a nebulous person, place or thing that makes observations and commentary about stuff. Enjoy.

Coffee anyone?

The Spot Starters has started to create a list of reputable baseball players who happened to spend a little time wearing the Old English D. These are your Cup of Coffee Tigers. Part 1 is up right now.
I will be running a parallel series of posts that tracks down the rare instances of these stars depicted as Tigers on a baseball card. A preview:

Oh yeah, that’s a Hall of Famer, folks.

Jiminy Jillickers

Every time I think that I’m caught up on checklist compilation another release sneaks up on me. Then I try to catch up, then another release. It is this:
Milhouse: Making movies is so repetitive. I've said Jiminy Jillikers so many times the words have lost all meaning!

Director: We've got to do the Jiminy Jillikers scene again, Milhouse.

Milhouse: [fuming] But we already did it. It took seven hours, but we did it. It's done!

Director: Yes, but we've got to do it from different angles! Again and again! And again and again and again and again and again!

Oh what’s that? You were expecting a video clip? Me too. I consider myself a veritable encyclop√¶dia of Simpsons quotes for use in any real life situation. The internet is not. For all that is out there, the shocking difficulty in finding relevant Simpsons clips disturbs me greatly. So, instead we’re left to “read” and “use our imaginations.”

Anyway, I’ve put so many checklists together that they have lost all meaning. But I need to do it again. And again. And again and again and again. With sensible releases, you know, with base cards and a few parallels and inserts, this is no problem. In fact, I find that the act of putting a checklist together gives me a much better grasp on the product. But with things like Ballpark Collection, which are just horrid nonsensical compilations of extra jersey pieces thrown together, I lose all hope. Even when I turn to Beckett to get a list for these releases, it just pains me to go through it.

Even so, checklists are up and constantly being updated for your perusal and convenience. There are 28 releases up there, with checklists for all but four of them (Ballpark, Ticket to Stardom, SP Authentic, Topps 206). I relish the day when I’ll be able to work backwards, knowing that no products can be released retroactively.

Update Insanity

Yowza. Topps Updates & Highlights is out and Tigers fans everywhere are droolingover fancy (and unattainable) cards. Actually, they’re going crazy over everything, it seems.

Click the picture to make it bigger and...legible. Sorry.

Those are regular “All Star Stitches” jersey cards for Brandon Inge and Justin Verlander. Note that they sold for more than, like $3. Get your wits about you, people! These two auctions are particularly interesting, as they each started a $0.99 and had Buy It Now prices of $2.99 (Inge) and $3.99 (Verlander). The Inge went for three times that! I looked at these when they were first listed, got greedy (there was also an Edwin Jackson that got bought for $2.99) and said to myself, “I’ll bet I can grab these for about $2 when the time comes. I still believe that to be true, but geez, I may have underestimated the demand for these.

And that’s just the “run of the mill” game used cards. This release is chock-full of Tigers, with a full 13 card base set, a slew of inserts and some low-numbered cards that are going to be increasingly hard to come by. Add in a couple of box-toppers and autographs of hot rookies and Tigers fans have their hands full.

Timing Is Everything

Am I wrong to think that this card is sad and ironic on multiple levels at this point? Also, Miguel Cabrera is 108 Years Old.

It sure is neat though. I’ll just take it as a prediction for next year.

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

And Another

Only six of these suckers. Granderson's first jumbo patch, and boy, is it ever big.

Slack Jawed Drooling

Ah, to be an All Star.

Starting price $40, I'll be interested to see how the market shakes out on this.

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Obaks and Throwbacks

This isn't a checklist in the way many of the other Tiger galleries are, but this 2009 Obak Fu-Te Ni is the only Tiger card in the Obak set. Since I wrote about it below, I didn't feel like there was a reason to write another gallery about it.

Things are a little bit busy on my end, but I thought I would show off some cards that came in recently that don't normally fit into my "main" collections, but have been very well received.

The first card is the only Obak card that I cared about:
2009 Tristar Obak #7 Fu-Te Ni

Mr. Ni, shown here as a Toledo Mud Hen, is the only Tiger in the whole Obak set. This card came courtesy of the generous Beardy in exchange for me asking politely for it. Maybe he did it because we live in the same city, but I'm guessing that its just because he's a good guy. Thanks Beardy!

The rest of the cards came from Thorzul's Greats of the Game group break. First, the "hit"
2006 Fleer Greats Of The Game #DET-KG Kirk Gibson Jersey

Gibby Game Used? Yes, please.

I had never really seen any cards from this set, so when I opened the package I was pleasantly surprised. Some of my favorites include:

2006 Fleer Greats Of The Game #2 Alan Trammell

Wow, Tram is number two in this set? And number one is who?
2006 Fleer Greats of the Game #1 Al Kaline


The Gibby base card features a great photo:
2006 Fleer Greats Of The Game #57 Kirk Gibson

And I can't leave out a couple of Birds:
2006 Fleer Greats Of The Game #63 Mark Fidrych

2006 Fleer Greats Of The Game #DET-MF Mark Fidrych

He played four years with the Tigers and is prominently featured in the set. Four years! I don't know that any other baseball player has ever had that much cultural impact in such a limited amount of time (and even less productive time). Truly an incredible Tiger.

Rounding out my haul were:
#6 Bill Freehan
#44 George Kell
#49 Jack Morris
#DET-DM Denny McLain "Tiger Greats"
#DET-TC Ty Cobb "Tiger Greats"

Excellent stuff across the board! (and yes, I realize that those aren't technically throwbacks, but I don't have any new "throwbacks" so give me a break.)

I'm still playing my perpetual game of catch up, but I assure you that there will be more cards uploaded and checklists updated by the end of the week! (I need to sink my teeth into Ticket to Stardom and Ballpark Collection and just can't bear to, and there are more releases already out or around the corner.)

Monday, October 12, 2009

On The Destruction of Wantlists

I've never been a big fan of creating wantlists. I much prefer creating enormous checklists and seeing the spots slowly checking off until I have a whole page of entries with a big "x" next to all of them. But I may be coming around. I am not about to preach about destroying your wantlists. Oh, no. I'm here to sing the praises of DESTROYING your wantlist.

That's right. I've got a "Big Ten" wantlist on the sidebar with the 11 cards that I want the most for my collection. In two quick packages, my list was chopped into little bits.

First, reader Barry, who goes by Los Gatos on the Detroit Sports Collectors Forum decided to play the role of generous benefactor and sent me this:

2008 Topps Updates & Highlights #UH318 Kyle Farnsworth

It's a sad day when you look at your wantlist and see "Kyle Farnsworth" staring back at you. How did I not have this card? Well I do now, thanks to Barry, thereby completing my 2008 team set (Finally!). I now longer have to face the humiliation of a wantlist that includes Kyle Farnsworth as a member

One package in and one card off the Big Ten down. But wait! A trade with Dean-- another friendly reader--for some extra Granderson Moments & Milestone cards yielded the motherload. Not 1, Not 2 but 3 cards off the wantlist! And these were no shlubs either, but cards in the top half! Ladies and gentlemen, I give you Card #8:

2007 Topps #GN285 Justin Verlander "Generation Now"

That's right, this is the last of Verlander's Generation Now cards that I needed for my set. I now have all 17 of his rookie year wins, and a near-2 pages full of these shockingly forgettable cards. Burden: lifted.

But it only gets better with Card #5:
2009 Topps #CBR-MO Magglio Ordonez

Not only was Ordonez blazing hot to end the season, but this is the last of the regular "Career Best" relics that I needed from the 2009 set. I now have the regular and "silver" versions of all three players. Outstanding!

Of course, as is the way with these things, I'll save the best for last. Number 2 (!)
2007 Topps Updates & Highlights #TRC40 Cameron Maybin Refractor (#279/415)

"Ooh, great Dan. You have a Topps Chrome card. This was #2 on your wantlist? Your wantlist is lame."

Did that cross your mind at all? Maybe a little? Well, you stink. This is not just a regular Topps Chrome card (no, not because it is a refractor, wise guy), this is a Chrome Box Topper found in boxes of 2007 Topps Updates & Highlights. This fella, Cameron Maybin, happened to be the hottest rookie from that release and this card has been SO HARD to find, even though Maybin is still stuck in the minors. This card has been on my wantlist for a long, long time and I am thrilled to be able to check off that box. Thanks Dean!

So there we have it, 2 packages, 4 cards and 4 new open spots on the wantlist. I couldn't be any happier.

Friday, October 9, 2009

Trade Granderson Drum Still Being Beaten By One Man

Lynn Henning is not one to let things go. He has been a vocal critic of Curtis Granderson all season, going as far as to blame him for the Tigers' woos and woes. Just last month, he advocated trading the centerfielder, and expressed concern about his trade value dropping. Well, Henning is at it again:

As for the potentially explosive issue of center fielder Curtis Granderson: The Tigers need help, possibly lots of it. There are better ways to acquire necessary players than to trade your leadoff batter and center fielder, but the Tigers may have no choice if the right package is offered.

Granderson has the kind of clout (30 HRs, eight 3Bs, 23 2Bs, 20 SBs) and manageable contract that could make him, at age 28, a player capable of bringing a significant return on a trade. A blue-chip relief pitcher and middle infielder, perhaps, with maybe a replacement-level center fielder as part of a possible two-player acquisition for Detroit.

If there is one player who could be overpaid for in a trade, it's quite possibly Granderson.

Dude. Come on.

Is it even worth the effort to contradict this line of thought any more as long as Henning beats this drum? Yeah, probably. So here we go.

There could be value in the Tigers trading Granderson (!). There could be value in trading anyone, something that Henning qualifies by saying "if the right package" is offered. The problem isn't that Granderson--or anyone--could be traded for the right price, it is what Henning's absurd assessment of what the right price would be.

A blue-chip relief pitcher, a middle infielder and maybe a replacement level centerfielder. Ugh. Let's take this step by step.

1. Never, never, never trade an impact position player for a relief pitcher. It is way too risky. Just ask Brad Lidge or Eric Gagne or Francisco Cordero. In 2008 the Tigers realized that they were thin in the bullpen, so they drafted a ton of big arms that could be major-league ready on short order--Ryan Perry was the first of this group to come up. The bullpen is designed to be filled internally, and to trade any all-star talent for a relief pitcher would be shockingly dumb in 99% of cases. If it turns out that the Tigers are hot and absolutely need a closer to make a playoff run next year they will pull the trigger when the time comes.

2. Middle infielders are really valuable. So valuable, in fact, that they are notoriously difficult to pluck from other teams in trades. So, if the Tigers were to nab a middle infielder in this trade, they would likely end up with either A) a proven, but just past his prime option or B) a prospect with high upside but high risk. If A) they should just resign Polanco. Nobody is trading Elvis Andus (or equivalent) for Granderson, which means that they'll likely a good prospect with some amount of risk. The Tigers have him too--his name is Scott Sizemore and he was the Tigers Minor League Player of the Year. There doesn't seem to be enough value added here to make this deal.

3. A replacement level centerfielder. Oh, like Ryan Raburn? Next. Also, a replacment-level centerfielder quickly becomes a below-replacement level centerfielder when he starts roaming Comerica Park.

I just don't see how you could make a trade like this without explicitly conceding 2010. I'm not saying that without Granderson on the team the Tigers are hopeless. I'm just saying that trading an impact player for three solid but unspectacular players sounds silly to me. You can get these players cheap in free agency, or through lesser trades. Unless Henning starts naming names of a reasonable return for Granderson, his speculative deal--aka "fill all of the Tigers' holes at once!"--is borderline insanity. I find talk like this to be both reactionary and short-sighted. Granderson had an odd year this year, with a low batting average and a below normal line drive rate. Does that mean that he is on a precipitous decline? Or could it be an abberration and he will regress back to a 2008 statistical level mean? This is the same type of talk that led people to believe that Verlander was finished after 2008. Oops. Trading Granderson now would be a mistake, and it seems like everyone except Lynn Henning knows it.

Thursday, October 8, 2009

Former Tiger Brian Powell Dead At 35

I say this with no mal-intent, but many Tigers fans may have just said "who?". Not me. I don't remember Powell from his playing days, per se, but one thing immediately stuck out in my mind.

1995 Topps #244 Brian Powell RC

The Free Press has some details on Powell's journeyman career, and his constant battle to make the major leagues and stick there. He enjoyed two stints with the Tigers, in 1998 and 2002, part of his 59 total major league games. Yet while he may be forgotten by many Tigers fans, at least one Tigers collector remembers him. This was one of the cards that I needed to track down and trade for to complete my 1995 set, and I did so last year. Trivial perhaps, but baseball cards may be bigger than most people realize. If nothing else, they create a lasting record, history and memory of a player, no matter how big or how small. Through baseball cards, you get 2 1/2" x 3 1/2" inches of fame, the same as the Hall of Famers and All Stars before you.

I offer a brief and insufficient eulogy from the back of Powell's rookie card:
The Tigers' earnest effort to rebuild their farm system through pitching yielded the polished Powell in the draft's second round. Brian once struck out 20 hitters in a high school game and was third-round pick of the Angels in 1992. He chose, however, to attend Georgia, where he led the SEC in whiffs in '95.