Grand Cards: February 2010

Sunday, February 28, 2010

This Isn't Sadaharu Oh We're Talking About

Autographs of foreign players are cool. See?

2009 UD Signature Stars #196 Fu-Te Ni Auto

That's cool. Instead of scribbly, illgible signatures of Americans, foreign players offer us a chance to get our scribbly, illegible signature fix in a way that makes us feel worldly and cultured. They're neat.

But are they so neat, that this card pictured above should be selling for $42 with more than two days to go? At some point, the subject of the card needs to be taken into consideration, no? This is Fu-Te Ni, left-handed relief pitcher for the Detroit Tigers. That will likely remain his role for eternity. He is a good pitcher, who I've come to like a lot, but do you think if he signed his name in english that this card would break $10? $5?

Of course, maybe I'm completely misreading the market for Ni. After all, this is the same player who had an autographed "Pride of the Nation" card from the same set sell for over $350 as mentioned in the Gallery post (Ed- and $366 and $390!). But I can't help but wonder whether people paying such a tidy sum for his signature will be disappointed once they realize that the card is, in fact, of Fu-Te Ni and not somebody awesome.

--Update-- paulsrandomstuff makes an excellent point in the comments, suggesting that country pride may be playing a role. Given the few Taiwanese baseball players that have made the leap to MLB and Ni's relative success in his rookie season. That certainly helps explain the very high cost for the "Pride of the Nation" card, in particular. In light of that, let me extend my apologies to the Taiwanese collectors who are enhancing their enjoyment of the hobby by collecting cards of Mr. Ni. After all, if the card has value to you that's the only thing that matters.

Saturday, February 27, 2010

Tigers Gallery Checklist: 2009 SP Legendary Cuts

Hey, how about a gallery of 2009 SP Legendary Cuts? Sure this is a bit out of the blue, but it's on the list, so why not?

Base Set It's small and it's sweet. I'm not sure what got into the card companies over the last six months, but there has been a serious stamp theme going on. I'm not sure if this one was first or if it was Topps' legends inserts, but either way, it has carried all the way into 2010 Heritage. Anyway, I got Curtis' card way back when and thought it was a winner. I'm holding that line, with my only disappointment being that the base set, such as it is, is only four cards, and the Kaline is short printed at that.

#30 Magglio Ordonez

#84 Curtis Granderson

#85 Miguel Cabrera

#116 Al Kaline (#/550)

Relics There are a few relic subsets going on here, and it seems to me like the "Legendary Memorabilia" group are the nicer ones for some reason, big head shots maybe? I'm not sure. I'm showing off a range of parallels the Green (#/125) for Gibson and the Red (#/75) for Morris. There are a total of five parallels in this subset, totally unnecessarily, I might add. The other relic cards are all fine but let's be honest, Legendary Cuts is all about...Legendary Cuts. We'll get there, I promise.

#JV Justin Verlander

#GS Gary Sheffield

#MO Magglio Ordonez

#GMMP Morris/ Peavy

#GMMV Morris/ Verlander

#GK Kirk Gibson

#GK2 Kirk Gibson

#MO Jack Morris

#MO2 Jack Morris

Cut Signatures Ok. These are the big winners here. Sure, your odds of actually pulling something like these are slim slim slim, but they're out there. The funny thing about cuts is that they're really not that special. Is there a reason that the cut is in a card? Does the card make it more special? I don't know. What I will say is that this set does a great job of procuring some incredible signatures and gives them to us in an accessible format. Also, there are dual signatures each a 1/1 that are really something.

On to the nitty gritty, there are a ton of these. I'm going to throw order to the wind and show the images of what's been out there since I've started looking. Then I'm going to use the Grand Cards logo to fill out the checklist just so you can see how extensive it is. Here we go...

#LC1 Art Houtteman (#/8)

#LC80 Ty Cobb (#/7)

#LC133 Hank Greenberg (#/14)

#LC136 Heinie Manush (#/16)

#LC153 Schoolboy Rowe (#/7)

#LC236 Hoot Evers (#/20)

#LC237 Harvey Kuenn (#/32)

#LC267 Birdie Tebbetts (#/20)

#DC-CC Roberto Clemente/ Norm Cash (1/1)

Still Looking...

#LC19 Dizzy Trout (#/5)

#LC35 Hank Aguirre (#/5)

#LC85 Rudy York (#/5)

#LC90 Harry Heilmann (#/5)

#LC97 Sam Crawford (#/5)

#LC126 Fred Hutchinson (#/9)

#LC137 Hal Newhauser (#/11)

#LC163 Pete Fox (#/8)

#LC204 Aurelio Rodriguez (#/50)

#LC216 Charlie Cehringer (#/36)

#DC-CB Ki Ki Cuyler/ Donie Bush (1/1)

#DC-GH Gaby Hartnett/ Hank Greenberg (1/1)

#DC-GM Hank Greenberg/ Frank McCormick (1/1)

#DC-MG Charlie Gehringer/ Joe Medwick (1/1)

#DC-WH Paul Waner/ Harry Heilmann (1/1)

Oh, and the Quads

#GNTC Cramer/Trout/ Greenberg/Newhauser (1/1)

#GWNV Newhauser/Vance/ Walters/Gomez (1/1)

Friday, February 26, 2010

One Reason Why 2010 Topps Heritage Wins

With 2010 Topps Heritage out and reactions ranging anywhere from "Fantastic" to "Yawn" from bloggers and collectors--which, I feel like is the case for every set that comes out these days. To each his own, I guess--I thought that it's worth pointing out one unambiguously excellent improvement of this year's edition from just one year ago.


Why win? Does that look like Max Scherzer in a Detroit Tigers jersey to you? Yeah, me too. Which is great, because the whole thing is photoshopped. Normally this isn't really worthy of talking about, but I just need to give Topps a big pat on the back for their excellent execution on this. Again, why is this a big deal to me?

This is why.

Nice hat Edwin. Oh, it gets worse, doesn't it Gerald?

Is the word Horrible too limiting in this situation? I mean, the "D" on Gerald's hat isn't even the D that the Tigers use on their hats.

I'm sure that the 5th grade photoshop contest winners that designed last year's cards will be disappointed that Topps didn't go that route again, but I think that when you look at the bigger picture it's probably all for the best.

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

The Grand Scheme Is Keeping An Eye Out

Gotcha, sucka Sometimes, despite my best efforts to be all-inclusive in creating the Tigers Galleries there are some cards that just can't be found. Yet all is not lost. I try to keep an eye out periodically to wrangle in some of the cards that slipped through my grasp. Here are a couple that just popped up for me:

2009 Allen & Ginter #AGA-MCA Miguel Cabrera

2010 Topps #ITN-64 Granderson "N"

2009 Topps Sterling Ty Cobb Cut Auto/Relic (1/1)

Oh, what's that? I haven't posted a Topps Sterling gallery yet? Hmm...I guess you'll just have to wait and see the rest of the goodies then. By the way, that Cobb sold for over $7,000. I don't know what happened, because it is back up there and relisted for $4,500. Faulty buyer? Failed shill bidding?

Also it would be really nice if I actually had any of those cards, instead of just had pictures of them. Someday...

The Secret Juice I'm not sure if you heard, but MLB is going to start testing for HGH after a British rugby player was busted for the drug. That's all well and good, except for one thing.
As the professor quoted at the end of the article notes, this test has been around for several years, and they've caught one dude with it. Does that not suggest to baseball -- and anyone else with half a brain -- that the test is prone to giving false negatives? I mean, it's not like it's reasonable to think that one random British prop is the only guy on the stuff. But hey, if the Daily News is pumping up a single positive, why shouldn't Major League Baseball and everyone else go all-in? Sheesh.
Actually, let's make that two things and note that this part should have definitely come first. The economist in me is screaming for this to gain acceptance by the mainstream media.
After several more conversations with John and following up on his leads I believe that there are no performance-enhancing benefits from using HGH in baseball. There is no documented evidence that HGH improves performance. While studies are sparse due to ethical limits, what studies have been done show that while growth hormone may promote muscle growth that it does not increase strength. This is quite different from anabolic steroids for which there exists evidence of improved strength. Of course, future research may change this, but right now I see little reason to contradict what is out there.
Props goes out to JC Bradbury of the excellent, if sporadic Sabernomics blog. for beating this drum since 2007 at least. HGH doesn't work as a performance enhancer. There is zero evidence to support that it helps in any way. So while MLB and fans and media and everyone freaks out about "what's to be done with this HGH?" the reality is ignored. It's not a big deal. In fact, Bradbury argues that players are only using it (and may be using it more, recently) simply because it is a big deal so they think it works. One solution he suggests is removing the impression that it has any positive effects at all by making it legal. Of course, the dangerous side effects are a perfectly good reason to make it illegal, and can you imagine the PR nightmare?

Still, spread the word. HGH doesn't work. On to other things, then...

Nasty ...What if, what if, what if, what if...
"The ball is flying out of his hand," manager Jim Leyland said. "I watched him throw and asked one of my coaches, 'How does a human being hit that?'

"It's exploding up there.

"I'm holding my breath it holds up because that stuff is nasty. There is no shortage of velocity. That I can promise you."

Zumaya, healthy? Please?

Now batting, the centerfielder... It's springtime, which means that managers are trying to downplay controversy, the media is trying to create drama and fans rollercoaster around with super-heated opinions about things without knowing anything about anything. Ahh, baseball. Among the issues--or non-issues--in Spring Training, is where a certain Curtis Granderson will play in the field. No such controversy exists, says the skipper:
But Granderson’s our center fielder. He’s an above average center fielder and that’s why we acquired him. But to be quite honest if somebody asked, ‘Hey, but is it possible Brett Gardner might be a better center fielder?’ Our defensive metrics on Brett Gardner made him one of the elite center fielders in the game. I’m not saying he’s the top but he’s close to it.
Look at that praise glow! That Granderson is above average. But look at Gardner! He's incredible! I sure hope he can hold down left field. If there is a better way to fuel the fire of controversy by issuing a denial, I'd like to see it.

Also, while we're on the topic of calling Curtis Granderson a good but unspectacular Center Fielder, to this I say: Bah! I'm going to name three things and you tell me what they mean:

1. Magglio Ordonez
2. Carlos Guillen/Gary Sheffield/Marcus Thames
3. Comerica Park

Anybody? Guesses? 1. Is WAY slow and defensively deficient in Right Field. 2. Are WAY slow and defensively deficient in Left Field. 3. Has the worst solar orientation of any Major League ballpark, by an almost ridiculous amount. Nobody has mentioned this other than infrequent comments from people who have played Center Field at Comerica (Ichiro, Torii Hunter, you know, your average shlubs) and have struggled. This is no joke. There is a reason that baseball stadiums are oriented the way they are, in general. You start screwing with things to get fancy downtown views and things get screwed up. In Detroit that makes Comerica a super-glare hellhole up the middle. If I have the time/energy I'll do a more complete post about this in the future, but for now I'll leave it with a not-outlandish prediction: If Granderson plays center field full-time for the Yankees this year, he will win a Gold Glove. Mark it.

Part Deux? I know. I know that we're not supposed to make comparisons between Granderson and newcomer Austin Jackson. It isn't fair to the kid, He needs to be his own player, etc. But Come On:
Ajax looks exactly like Curtis Granderson in that picture. It's not even close.

Right where you belong
"Mostly DH," Tigers' manager Jim Leyland said Tuesday morning.
That is where Carlos Guillen will be playing this season. That is where he belongs. That is where he will perform the best and help the team most. Case closed, Guillen happy, everybody smiles.

Who you gonna call? Scenario: I'm an baseball player who's skills are on the decline, but have done enough in the recent past that I could probably convince a team to pick me up. Sure, I know that the wheels are about to fall off any minute and that I will be instantly transformed into a relatively useless "player" with an albatross of a guaranteed contract. I know this. So who do I call to give me some advice?
Shortly before Johnny Damon signed with the Tigers, he sought the insight of his friend Dontrelle Willis.

Willis, the Tigers left-hander, praised the club to Damon.

“He just gave me a call, and I gave him my honest opinion about how I felt about this organization,” Willis said. “Even though I haven’t played well for the organization, I still spoke highly of it.
I was like "yeah man, this place is great. They'll give you all sorts of money no questions asked and then you can just hope for the best". Once Johnny told me that he thought he was on his last legs I told him that Detroit is the place to be.

Of course, this is all just in jest and not true at all (nervous laughter).

Misc. The Fien-atics will have to find another man. How ambitious is Mike Ilitch? Is this the move that predicates pizza-owned sports domination in Detroit? NYTimes speaks kindly of Johnny who, like everyone throughout history looks excellent in Tigers threads. Which is good, considering he wants to end his career in Detroit There are two ways to do that. Please don't choose the Jarrod Washburn approach.

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

The End is Nigh!

It started innocently enough:

Then today, we're hit with this:

For those of you not in the know, these are the two most recent releases from Topps. Sure, they already had Curtis Granderson as a Yankee in Topps Series 1--but it was in Short-Printed, stealth form. These cards are the regular cards from the set. Curtis Granderson is now officially a Yankee in cardboard.

And I, for one, don't have a problem with that. He is a Yankee after all. The big question is, is this the end of Granderson as a Tiger in baseball cards? I'd like to think that the answer is Yes. Now, don't get me wrong. I love Curtis as a player and more 2010 cards of him as a Tiger would be fine, but I feel like once you've started a path--e.g. including him as a Yankee in each of your first three releases--that you should stick with it. I'm not on board with the back and forth that, say, Thorzul has experienced in trying to chase down CC Sabathia-as-Brewer cards. A chase that has spanned releases over two full years, despite a mere couple of months of playing time. From here on out, if I see a checklist and I see Granderson, I want to know "Yankee." That's just the way it is.

But is this the end? Is it upon us? Or am I bound to see Curtis in the Old English D once more this year. I'd imagine that I will, but given the card companies' love of the Yankees, and the much, much bigger market that they can tap into by slapping him with the ol' NY, I wouldn't be surprised if those chances are few and far between from here on out.