Thursday, March 31, 2011

The Round-Up for 3/31/11: CAPTION THIS CARD! II Edition

Wow, this snuck up on us, eh? I blame Toppstown and Opening Day (I'm still pissed at the Yanks, but it was nice to see Mike Mussina throw out the first pitch today). "CAPTION THIS CARD! II" ends in just a few short hours, at 11:59 PM Eastern Time TONIGHT! I've also gotta scramble, as I meant to post some more prizes to the list, but I'm not sure if my scanner's going to behave and I've still got to actually pick the prizes out. If I don't get to the listing of new prizes before the deadline, rest assured, there will be more prizes, and I'll surprise y'all with them. So far, there's only one entry (and here The Mojo Beard are complaining about "only" 96 entries to their ZOMG STRASBURG contest), so the field is wiiiiiide open! Head to the "CAPTION THIS CARD! II" link now, and you may still be able to win some stuff! Oh, and those contests that The Mojo Beard are running are AWESOME, so follow that link too.

Player Of The Month may also be delayed a bit, as I'm exhausted right now, and have to make sure I've got scans of everything I want to use in it (though I don't have a lot by this month's player). It's going to be April, so it shouldn't be hard for you to guess who this month's player is. One of these days, I need to pick another player whose cards I have some chance of getting in trade.

Speaking of trades, my trade list is almost fully audited and repaired after the onslaught of Bo Trade II: This Time, It's Personal and a bunch of others. I can't give the "all clear" on new trades just yet, and it's not time yet to do the Trade Bait Draft (which only two of you have expressed an interest in so far, anyway, so that's up in the air), but a ton of progress is being made to restore order in these parts.

There are trade posts to get to, as well! I still have to do a trade post for the Bo trade, and also for trades from Spiegel and Coot Veal (and his Vealtones). Stay tuned for those, folks, they're coming. Cards need scanning, and Scott Crawfords need sleep, or they'd happen right now.

Enjoy the rest of your Opening Day, folks and get those contest entries in NOW! I'll leave you with one of those "Cards I Meant To Post, But Didn't"...

Happy Opening Day, J.R. Richard, wherever you are!

Toppstown 2011

Those of you who've been regular readers of the site for a bit, or who've gotten to know me a little, probably won't be too surprised by this piece. Sometime this week, I believe it was Monday or Tuesday, Topps went live with code entry at Toppstown. As you may remember, I ended up spending a week or so back in January frantically trading up and building a complete set of 230 cards (along with a huge pile of doubles) from just 8 code cards (64 "virtual" cards in all) right around the code deadline. I may well have been the only person above the age of 18 who was really looking forward to the '11 offering, and for the 2 months that code cards were available but non-functional, I was mildly annoyed. Well, once I got wind of things on Tuesday night, I got to work, using the codes from my mostly complete set of Toppstown cards (minus the code from my Roy Halladay card, which someone apparently used before I got it; no worries!). 2 days later, and without any need to create a wanted poster for the Martin Prado card this time, I've got a complete '11 Toppstown "virtual" set!

As I did with the '10s, I'm going to make a gallery of the completed "pages", and as I did with the '10s, I'll issue the following disclaimer with it, which, in a perfect world, wouldn't be necessary, but since we don't live in one of those, it is: 

Since this is actually an entire set's worth of data on a recent product, the following disclaimer is in order: these screenshots are presented for informational purposes only, by a fan who had a lot of fun playing around with Toppstown recently and is proud of nailing a silly achievement like this, even if I used more code cards this time, so I wanted to show off a little! Do not reproduce these for commercial purposes (which isn't my intention, either), don't spoil the look of the cards for your kids, and don't make me regret not using a watermark on the screenshots in question! If anyone at Topps would like me to take these down or at least use fewer of them, email me and we'll work it out, no need to send nastygrams anywhere or such. Thanks for your cooperation, and enjoy!

(For best results, click the images in question and look at the ginormous screenshots of each 2 page spread.)

Pages 1-2: Ichiro (no last name, like Lindsay!) to Domonic Brown. Note that Topps used the cool throwback Padres uni for Heath Bell. They really love that this year.

Pages 3-4: Jay Bruce to Nelson Cruz. The Aroldis Chapman card looks totally menacing.

Pages 5-6: Miguel Cuddyer to Adrian Gonzalez (in Red Sox uniform). I haven't spent enough time examining the pictures to see whether they stalled this year's release a bit to get players in their updated uniforms wherever possible.

Pages 7-8: Carlos Gonzalez to Ryan Howard. Hey, Topps! Where's Bryce Harper?

Pages 9-10: Tommy Hanson to Clayton Kershaw. The Jeter card may be one of the toughest "pulls" in the set. Glad I lucked into one, because I didn't notice anyone trading it.

Pages 11-12: Ian Kinsler to Victor Martinez. Finally, you-know-who shows up in pocket #6 on page 12! I pulled this one, and traded for a double that I haven't used yet (give me a yell if you need it). I don't know if Topps issued an update at any point last year, but there are far fewer "legends" in the '11 set than the '10 one, at least for now. The Liriano card was the last card I traded for, using a 5-for-1, get-this-over-with special to do it.

Pages 13-14: Hideki Matsui to Angel Pagan. Even from this thumbnail, I can see that the Matsui card probably falls in the "hella Photoshopped" category.

Pages 15-16: Jonathan Papelbon to Colby Rasmus. Haha, Prado! Not only did I beat you in Toppstown this year, but I also have you on both of my fantasy teams! (This could be a bad omen for you, my fellow Prado owners.) Also, it should surprise absolutely no one, but if you don't pull it, expect to have to give up a lot to get the Posey card.

Pages 17-18: Jose Reyes to Luke Scott. The set's other "legend" appears on page 18. It shouldn't be too hard to pick him out.

Pages 19-20: Grady Sizemore to Koji Uehara. BEHOLD! ON PAGE 19! THE STRASBURGULAR! That Stanton kid who's, you know, actually playing right now is on there, too. One thing I do like about the "fewer legends" deal is that there's plenty of emphasis on teams that don't play in New York, Boston or L.A.; for instance, Pittsburgh has 4 representatives (Jones, McCutchen, Tabata and Walker) in a set that's mostly supposed to be "stars". I'm sure some kids will curse up a storm about this, but I appreciate the parity, and the few remaining Pirates fans in the world probably will too.

Pages 21-22: Dan Uggla to Jason Werth. Hey, there's Danny Valencia and Brett Wallace! While there wasn't a Harper card, the folks at Topps were pretty OK about including the youngsters in this set.

Pages 23-24 (partial): Josh Willingham to Ben Zobrist. "This is the story of a lonely little Zobrist..." Hey, where's Brian Wilson's beard? They had it in base Topps, but nothing in Heritage or the online Toppstown cards now! Weird.

And that's a wrap. I haven't played Attax online yet, so I'm not sure if anything's changed there, but given that the Toppstown infrastructure looked unchanged otherwise, it's probably the same. That's fine. I can live with familiarity in the age of Facebook changing layouts every three minutes. I made my improvement suggestions in the post about '10 Toppstown, and if they get to them, they get to them.

This year's set, though a little smaller than last year's (which makes me wonder if they're going to do an update or put Attax-exclusive cards in those packs/starter decks), was fun to build, and came together quickly. If any of you are working on building the set, or wanna play Attax some night, I am still...

Sunday, March 27, 2011

The $5 Challenge: Pig In The City! Success!

Let's start by showing you the card I started with, just minutes after the month started...

Card #1: 1999 Upper Deck Michael Jordan Set #1
What did it cost? $.55 shipped
Why did I buy it? As I said earlier, "Because this card is so freakin' awesome I can't stand it."
Card #2: 1996 Old Judge Vladimir Guerrero
What did it cost? $.60 shipped
Why did I buy it? I'm always game for new cards of my pal Vladimir, and this one's pretty old.
Card #3: 1968 Topps AL Strikeout Leaders (Jim Lonborg/Sam McDowell/Dean Chance)
What did it cost? $.99 shipped
Why did I buy it? Despite its 1968-ness, this is a great card that features two players I collect (Chance and McDowell, who I've just added recently; in fact, this was my first Sam McDowell card). 

Card #4: 1997 Leaf Bip Roberts (OH NOES TEH BIPS!!!11), part of lot of 17 Royals from 1990s-present
What did it cost? $.30 shipped

Why did I buy it? This was one of a few qualifying lots I got from totalpackagenapa this month. Plus, it had a Bip in it and a 2001 Topps Heritage card (Jose Rosado, but it still fills a need) and these lots all helped me make massive progress on the killer trade Bo Rosny and I have going on.

(Note: this scan's been ganked from, because I'm not in front of my collection and I forgot to scan my copy of this card.)

Card #5: 1999 Topps Roy Halladay, part of lot of 12 Blue Jays from 1990s-present
What did it cost? $.45 shipped
Why did I buy it? I needed to replace my other '99 Doc, which came in a trade but got dinged in transit. Plus, there was also a 2001 Donruss Studio Brad Fullmer in there (love that set), and I got 10 more cards' worth of trade bait/set fillers as well.
Card #6: 1999 SPx Wade Boggs, part of lot of 13 Rays from 1990s-present

What did it cost? $.39 shipped

Why did I buy it? 1. I love Wade Boggs (I just crossed the 100 card plateau on him, only the 3rd player I've done that on along with Dave Winfield and Reggie Jackson) 2. There was also a bunch of other cool stuff in this lot including a Joey Gathright rookie (love that guy too) and a '99 EX Jose Canseco (I don't love Jose per se, but he's arguably, and for better or worse, the most important figure in baseball over the past 25 years, so I still collect his cards; plus, I'm collecting EX cards now, too).

 Card #7: 2000 Topps Gold Label Jose Canseco Class 3, part of lot of 13 Rays from 1990s-present
What did it cost? $.65 shipped

Why did I buy it? Well, I just mentioned Canseco in the last lot, but this is also a Topps Gold Label card, and I've developed a weakness for these in the same way I have EX cards. There was also a Gold Label Vinny Castilla in the lot, as well as an '01 Donruss Studio Ben Grieve and a '99 Topps Wade Boggs, along with the other tradebait that came in. This was the last lot of the Challenge, as I got back to single cards for the home stretch
Card #8: 2005 Donruss Leather & Lumber Naturals Ted Williams 1847/2000
 What did it cost? $.44 shipped

Why did I buy it? Are you really going to ask me why I bought a numbered Ted Williams card? This is the first numbered card I managed to win in 2 months of doing The $5 Challenge, and it's a beaut. There's a coat of varnish on the card that makes it look and feel like real woodgrain, it's a great design, it's numbered and it's Teddy Ballgame.

Card #9: 1969 Topps Deckle Edge Maury Wills
What did it cost? $.25 shipped (!!!!)

Why did I buy it? It's a 42 year old insert card of a player I collect, in pretty good shape (a nick/crease on the right side that doesn't look out of place with the "deckles", but otherwise, sharp), for a quarter shipped. Very happy with this one.

Card #10: 2009 Topps Ring Of Honor Mark Buehrle
What did it cost? $.16

Why did I buy it? It's not as razzle-dazzle as some of the other cards, but I am building the '09 ROH set (and maybe eventually '08, now that I've got a few of those), and this is a terrific looking card of Mark Buehrle, one of my favorite current players.

Remaining funds: $.22
I win!
Thanks to Johnny at Cards from the Quarry for the inspiration with his own personal take on the Challenge, The Budget eBay Collector, which he also aced this month!

Will I do this again next month? I may, but in the interest of returning Johnny's gimmick to him, I will be doing so privately. You'll still see the cards, undoubtedly, but not as part of this series or with prices unless I get something insane for like a penny.

Some new items from my local...

I was a little on the skint side this week, but like any good addict, I still managed to scrape together a couple of bucks to hit the singles piles at my local, so it's time to look at...CARDS YOU'VE ALL SEEN A MILLION TIMES, BECAUSE EVERYONE'S BUYING AND POSTING THEM AT ONCE!

"So what if everyone's seen my card! Have you seen how hard I can throw a friggin' baseball?"

Ichiro's lookin' pretty proud of himself here. Good shot, though. Weird seeing one where it's difficult to judge what team he's on. Did Topps think Seattle was gonna trade him or something? As if! (Watch the Mariners trade him to the Yanks next week.)

I know Josh hates 'em, and normally I'm no real fan of tattoos, but in his case, they really do work. They give him character, and remind the rest of us how hard he's worked to become who he is. Great shot of him here. He really looks like the player he's become.

Finally on the Heritage front, probably the most respected player in baseball, and the only Yankee who still gets respect from fans everywhere, Mo. This is also a fantastic shot. The photography and color balance on this year's Heritage is a bit uneven, but when they nail it, they really nail it.

After I got done hitting the Heritage, I spied 2 cards from the Opening Day set (a huge improvement over previous seasons, but I'm still not buying wax) that I needed.

First, I committed a wanton act of Strasburgulary.

Then, inspired by Night Owl's recent post of it, I got a card of the best player on the Mets!

(I'm just funnin'. We love ya, Ike and R.A.!)

This card is truly awesome, though, in almost a creepy sorta way.


Things Are Funner Here: The Trade!

Let's start big here. Bucky Jacobsen big! Some of you may be thinking "Big deal! A sticker auto from some guy who played for the Long Island Ducks!", but for me, Bucky represents awesomeness. I signed him to my fantasy team when he got called up from the minors in '04, and got to experience all 9 HR and 160 Major League at-bats of Buckymania! He's still an inside joke shared by about 4 people who were in the league that year. Yet, somehow, I'd never had or even seen a card of his until this sticker-autoed beauty showed up on Julie's trade list, so I pounced, and used it as the basis for a trade where I sent Julie a bunch of Phillies, and I got a bunch of other stuff! Let's have a look!

Julie took pity on my at-the-time meager attempt to build Goodwin, and sent me a healthy stack of her doubles that included our pal Bo here...

...and my first card of Gordie Howe, not to mention the only card I've ever looked at of him where he's under 40!

As I said, there were a bunch of other Goodwins, along with some '10 and '11 inserts, some '10 Update cards I needed even after I got Crinkly Wrappers-bombed, a couple '11 Ginters and some other stuff that you've seen a bunch recently, so I'll spare the scanner some abuse. Julie was very, very generous with what she sent my way, though, so she is awesome and you should send her all your Roy Halladays, Roy Oswalts, Stephen Strasburgs, Ryan Zimmermans and Cliff Lees! (Well, some of them, anyway. I collect 3 of those dudes.) You should also read Julie's site, Things Are Funner Here, because they are, yeah.

There was one more card that got me started on this deal along with the Bucky, though, and here it is:

Yep, it's a little worse for wear, and some wisenheimer decided to "preserve" the black border a bit with a marker, but it is indeed Warren "I can throw this ball through the center of the Earth, off-balance, and it'll still keep going" Moon's NFL rookie card, and I'm psyched to have it! One of these days, I need to start working on tracking down his CFL stuff, or, really, CFL stuff in general. I need to go to another Ti-Cats game soon, too. I'm off on a tangent, though, so let's wrap this up!

Thanks again for spoiling me with the pile-o-Goodwins and the other stuff, Julie!

Night Owl Cards: The Trade!

It all started with an innocent Duke Snider puzzle card...

...moved onward and upward to a Seattle Pilot I still needed (7 more base Topps cards to go!)...

...then came the glory of the Wockenrookie! (Or is it the Rookenfuss?)

From there, Wade Boggs took an unexpected trip to Ames, possibly in search of more Miller Lites.

Meanwhile, Babe Ruth took a trip to Brooklyn, in search of a managerial opportunity that never came. Damned if he doesn't look awesome in a Dodgers uniform, though.

Finally, we wrapped things up in the surreal, but uncreased landscape of a '74 Topps Steve Garvey card!

Night Owl is one of the best people out there writing about cards, and this trade was pretty OK, too. Enjoy your cards, man, and over time, I'll actually try to find some Dodgers that you don't have (which, man, that's a chore if you've never tried, people!). Thanks again!

Here it is, folks! CAPTION THIS CARD II!

For those of you who played Round 1, you know the score. For those of you who didn't, catch up here. We're gonna go quick and dirty here, with the contest starting now, and a single winner being chosen by me after the deadline of 11:59 PM Eastern Time on Thursday, March 31st, 2011.

Without any further ado, here is the card I'd like you to caption!

Write a caption for this Pacific Ryan Express "Great Friends" card. Favorite entry, as chosen by me, gets the prize package posted below (more items to be added throughout this week). I'm not sure how the prize package will measure up this time, as I don't have too many Ripken rookies laying around and that was a first contest here, but I'll do my best and will add to what you see below throughout the week as I find cool stuff. It might not be amazing stuff, but I think it's fun stuff and hey, you're only required to come up with one line of funny to win it, right?

This contest opens now and ends March 31st, 2011 (Thanks, Mark!) at 11:59 PM Eastern Time. One entry per person, no edits allowed (check carefully for typos and put your best foot forward on the content side), and no creating pseudonyms to try to win with multiple entries or I will end you.
Without any further ado, the prize package, as updated on 03/27/2011!

One 1970 Topps NL Pitching Leaders card, featuring 4, count 'em, 4 Hall Of Famers and 2 300 game winners!

One 1976-1977 Topps New York Islanders Team Card!

One 2010-2011 Upper Deck Victory Brandon Yip Rookie, courtesy of Upper Deck, even though they gave this to me for winning a contest, rather than to include in one!

One letter from Upper Deck proving that this card came from a NPN contest!

One 1/1 super awesome vandalized decoy card personalized to the winner, and drawn on by yours truly!

One gen-u-ine Babe Ruth business card from our pal Gary Cieradkowski!

One slightly miscut (because it was probably hand-cut) Infinite Baseball Card Set promo card of Mr. Frankie Zak! This is also, obviously, courtesy of our pal Gary Cieradkowski!

One completely awesome 1976 Topps Traded Dock Ellis card, courtesy of The Lost Collector!

One 2009 Upper Deck Goodwin Champions Cole Hamels card, courtesy of Things Are Funner Here!

One 2009 Upper Deck Goodwin Champions Dick Allen card, courtesy of Things Are Funner Here!

And finally (for now), one creased as hell but still awesome 1974 Topps Steve Garvey card, courtesy in a roundabout  way of Night Owl Cards, who sent me a much better one this week in a trade!

Again, all you have to do to win all this fun stuff is come up with the best caption, as judged by me, for this card: 11:59 PM Eastern Time on Thursday night, 03/31/2011!

Get to work, you lugs!