Thursday, March 31, 2011

Hockey TTM: Joe Pavelski

  • Joe Pavelski 1/1- When I received an envelope postmarked from San Jose today, I couldn't think of what it could be, as I knew it wasn't a spring training return and there aren't any baseball teams from there. I forgot all about this one, as it was my very first hockey sendout back in October. Joe signed his 2010-11 Victory card from the Sharks' stadium in just over five months. Sent 10/22/10 (159 days)

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Spring Training Return: Kevin Kouzmanoff

  • Kevin Kouzmanoff 2/2- I recently picked up a hand-collated base set of 2008 Allen & Ginter on ebay for $12 as a secondary set to work on in addition to the 09 Topps. Kevin signed his 08 and 09 A&G cards in blue sharpie from A's spring training. Sent 2/28 (30 days)

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Spring Training Return: Alcides Escobar

  • Alcides Escobar 1/2- One of the major trade chips in the Zack Greinke trade, Escobar kept my 09 Topps card and signed a 2011 Topps from Royals camp. Sent 2/17 (40 days)

Monday, March 28, 2011

Spring Training Return: Matt Palmer

  • Matt Palmer 1/2- The Angels righty signed his 2010 Topps card and kept an 09 Topps Updates & Highlights. Sent 2/12 (44 days)

Saturday, March 26, 2011

2 Spring Training Returns: Chase Headley & Zach Duke

Two returns from Arizona today as Opening Day is rapidly approaching:
  • Chase Headley 2/2- The Padres' third basemen signed 09 and 10 Topps cards in blue sharpie. Sent 3/11 (15 days)
  • Zach Duke 2/2- Entering his first season with a new team, Duke was slated to be the Diamondbacks' 4th starter in the rotation until a line drive broke his hand a few weeks ago. It looks like he'll be out for a few months, so I guess he has some extra time on his hands to catch up on mail. Zach signed his cards from the 09 Topps and Updates & Highlights sets. Sent 2/12 (42 days)

Friday, March 25, 2011

Spring Training Return: Clayton Richard

  • Clayton Richard 2/2- The talented young Padres hurler signed his 09 Topps U&H and 2010 Topps cards in fine tip blue sharpie. The team is loaded with top pitching prospects and Richard should be a top performer this year behind Mat Latos. Sent 2/14 (39 days)

Thursday, March 24, 2011

Spring Training Return: Clint Barmes

  • Clint Barmes 2/2- With only one week until Opening Day, the spring training returns are starting to slow down. Barmes signed 09 and 10 Topps base cards from Astros camp. Sent 2/18 (34 days)

Monday, March 21, 2011

2 Spring Training Returns: Jeff Suppan & Tyler Greene

  • Jeff Suppan 2/2- The pitcher, restaurateur, and TV actor signed 2009 and 2010 Topps cards from the Giant's spring training camp. Suppan is pitching for his 7th different team in 16 seasons in the majors. Sent 3/1 (20 days)
  • Tyler Greene 2/2- Greene signed his rookie cards from the 09 Topps and Heritage sets from Cardinals spring training. Sent 2/16 (33 days)

Saturday, March 19, 2011

3 Spring Training Returns: Newhan, Saunders, & Rodney

*Update*: I just found this great article on Newhan on Yahoo! Sports. It's an interesting read to see the challenges he's overcome to make it back into baseball.

  • David Newhan 1/1- I sent this card to Phillies spring training a few weeks ago because I thought Newhan was a player-coach with the team, but it was RTS'ed after several days. I did a little more research and realized he signed a minor league deal with the Padres during the winter, so I re-sent and received his 09 Topps card signed in blue sharpie. Sent 3/8 (11 days)
  • Michael Saunders 2/3- The young Mariners outfielder signed his 09 Topps U&H and 2010 National Chicle. Sent 2/18 (29 days)
  • Fernando Rodney 2/2- The Angels flamethrower signed 2009 and 2010 Topps cards in black sharpie. Sent 3/8 (11 days)

My First Trade: Matt Guerrier

  • Matt Guerrier- Last month, I received two of the same cards signed by Kevin Hart. Justin over at Justin's World offered to trade me one of them for a signed 09 Topps of Matt Guerrier. It's a nice, full signature and a great card to add to my collection. Thanks Justin!

Friday, March 18, 2011

Pack Break: 2011 Topps Heritage

It's a beautiful day here in Boston, it's perfect weather for baseball. If only Opening Day wasn't still 2 weeks away...

Today I picked up three packs of 2011 Topps Heritage from my local card shop, Kenmore Collectibles. Topps decided to do away with the gum in every pack this year, so the shop owner suggested I just gnaw on a card for the same flavor and texture.

Here's a breakdown of the 3 packs:

Pack #1, aka "Pinstripe-a-palooza":
  • Mark Teixeira
  • Shane Victorino
  • Ian Stewart
  • Mark Teixeira
  • Joba Chamberlain
  • Rick Porcello
  • "Babe Joins Yanks" Babe Ruth Special
  • Andrew Romine RC
  • Marco Scutaro
Pack #2, aka "The Crisis"
  • Freddy Sanchez
  • CC Sabathia
  • "Cuban Missile Crisis Begins" News Flashbacks
  • Brett Myers
  • Chase Utley
  • Tommy Hunter
  • Dillon Gee RC
  • Cliff Pennington
  • Jeremy Jeffress
Pack #3, aka "Shiny and Sweaty"
  • Miguel Tejada
  • Dusty Baker
  • Phil Hughes
  • Jose Bautista Chrome #1691/1962
  • Adrian Beltre
  • Matt Cain
  • Joey Votto
  • Scott Rolen
  • Fausto Carmona

I really like the design of these cards much more than last year's. The pictures on the cards are hit or miss. Miguel Tejada is sweating like a pig, and Brett Myers looks like he's been out in the sun way too long. Matt Cain looks like he's posing for a 3rd grade class photo, cowlick and fake sports backdrop included. I really like the card of Rick Porcello, who looks like he should be on a tourism poster for Hawaii with palm trees in the background.

I'm not sure why Mark Texeira has two cards in the base set, and neither of them are short prints. It's worse that I pulled both in the same pack. I'm not a big fan of non-baseball insert sets in baseball products, so I wasn't thrilled with the Cuban missile crisis card. Besides, they're not the easiest cards to get signed. Anyone have the mailing address for Castro?

The nicest card I pulled was definitely the Bautista chrome. The blue background in the photograph lends itself well to a sparkling ocean effect on the card.

At $4.50/pack for 9 cards, this is usually the product I buy the most of throughout the year besides the Topps base set, and it looks decent so far. I'm interested to see if Upper Deck tries making a retro product in the near future since Topps seems to have command of the vintage-looking market right now.

Spring Training Return: Brian Bixler

  • Brian Bixler 1/1- Sandusky's own Brian Bixler signed his 09 Topps card from Nationals spring training camp. Sandusky, Ohio is the main town of one of my favorite movies, "Tommy Boy". It's also the home of Cedar Point, one of the largest amusement parks in the country. If you can't tell, I don't know much about Brian Bixler and his time in the majors has been fairly limited, but he does have a pretty cool looking signature. Sent 2/24 (22 days)

Thursday, March 17, 2011

Mac Attack!

  • Mark McGwire 1/1- The former Cardinals slugger signed a 2001 Leaf Certified Materials chrome card from the team's spring training camp in West Palm Beach. Despite the controversy surrounding him since his retirement, McGwire still had a huge presence in the game and I'll always remember the summer of '98 as a great memory from my childhood. Sent 3/7 (10 days)

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Spring Training Return: Ryan Spilborghs

  • Ryan Spilborghs 1/1- My first Rockies return of the year. Spilborghs signed an 09 Topps in black sharpie that smeared onto the index card I included with my letter. Sent 2/24 (20 days)

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Spring Training Return: Luis Valbuena

  • Luis Valbuena 2/2- Luis signed cards from the 09 Topps U&H and 2010 Topps sets from Indians spring training and included his jersey number as well. Sent 2/23 (20 days)

Monday, March 14, 2011

Spring Training Return: Orlando Hudson

This was my 2nd attempt sending to Hudson during spring training. A few weeks ago, I sent him two Dodgers cards not realizing that he didn't sign anything related to his time with the L.A. club. He returned the cards unsigned with the following note:

I decided to re-send a few Diamondbacks cards of Hudson a few days ago, and quickly received a return today. He signed his 09 Topps base card and returned his 08 Allen & Ginter unsigned, with this note regarding the A&G card:

While I'm a little disappointed that I didn't get all of my cards signed, I really like that Hudson included these notes with each return. Even though they're not actually signed, I'm going to hang onto them since they're a neat way of learning a little bit more about a player.

  • Orlando Hudson 1/2- Signed 09 Topps card. Sent 3/5 (9 days)

2 Spring Training Returns: Edwin Jackson & Bud Black

  • Edwin Jackson 2/2- The well-traveled former All-Star didn't have any cards in the 09 Topps base set, but he signed both of his cards from the Updates & Highlights of that year. After playing with four different teams in the past three years, it appears Jackson is set to be the #5 starter in the White Sox rotation this year. Sent 3/5 (9 days)
  • Bud Black 1/1- The Padres skipper signed his 09 Topps in blue sharpie. Despite the departure of Adrian Gonzalez, I think the Padres still have a good chance in the NL West with all of the young pitching talent they have on the team. Sent 3/1 (13 days)

Sunday, March 13, 2011

Pack Break: 2011 Topps Opening Day

I stopped into Target today and saw Topps Opening Day on the shelf, so I decided to pick up 5 packs. I hadn't seen any of the cards or sell sheets online, so I looked on the back of the packs to see the different insert types. Here are the highlights:

  • Barack Obama Presidential First Pitch
  • Cliff Lee Superstar Celebrations
  • Joey Votto Opening Day Stars
  • "Screech" Washington Nationals Mascot Card
  • Daniel Descalso RC Blue Border Parallel #1325/2o11
At $1 per pack for 7 cards, Opening Day serves as a pre-season Updates edition of sorts, with players like Shaun Marcum and Lance Berkman in their new team's uniforms. I didn't pull any "Spot the Error" or glow-in-the-dark "Stadium Lights" inserts, but I was still pleased with the inserts I did receive.

I really like the mascot cards as a fun alternative set to get signed. The Opening Day Stars inserts carry over the Topps 20/20 3-D cards from last year's set. I like the blue parallel set better than the standard gold parallel. The color is more interesting, and the serial number is stamped in gold foil on the back rather than the laser jet Topps has adopted over the past few years. It's the little things that count, Topps.

Saturday, March 12, 2011

Spring Training Return: Collin Balester

  • Collin Balester 2/2- The young Nationals pitcher signed 09 Bowman and Topps cards in black sharpie. Only 500 more cards left to go in the 2009 Topps set! Sent 2/12 (28 days)

Friday, March 11, 2011

Spring Training Return: Aaron Hill

  • Aaron Hill 2/3- The Blue Jays' All-Star second basemen signed cards from the 09 Topps U&H and 2010 Topps sets. I usually try to send out as many Blue Jays TTM requests as I can during spring training so I don't have to worry about Canadian postage during the regular season. Sent 2/16 (23 days)

Thursday, March 10, 2011

2 Spring Training Returns: Ronnie Belliard & Freddy Sandoval

  • Ronnie Belliard 1/2- The new utilityman for the Yankees kept an 08 UD Documentary and signed his 09 Topps card. The USPS sorter must have been in a bad mood, because the card has a nice big crease going through the middle of it. Sent 3/1 (9 days)
  • Freddy Sandoval 2/2- Freddy signed rookie cards from the 09 Topps and 09 Finest sets in thin blue sharpie. I'm usually reluctant to send shiny foil cards from sets like Finest since they bubble easily, but this one looks pretty nice. Sent 2/17 (21 days)

Saturday, March 5, 2011

2 Spring Training Returns: Paul Maholm & Kevin Hart

Two returns from Pirates camp today...
  • Paul Maholm 2/2- Paul signed his 2009 and 2011 Topps cards in black sharpie. Sent 2/12 (21 days)
  • Kevin Hart 2/2- I sent Kevin 09 U&H and 2010 Topps cards, but he replaced my 09 U&H with an extra 2010. If anyone had their cards mixed up, let me know. Sent 2/14 (19 days)

Friday, March 4, 2011

Spring Training Return: Nyjer Morgan

  • Nyjer Morgan 2/2- The Nats outfielder signed 09 Topps and Updates & Highlights cards. Earlier in his sports career, Morgan was an ice hockey player before committing to baseball full-time. Sent 2/18 (14 days)

Thursday, March 3, 2011

Spring Training Return: Scott Olsen

  • Scott Olsen 2/2- Pitching with his third team in three years, Scott signed 09 Topps and Heritage cards from Pirates spring training camp. Sent 2/22 (9 days)

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

2 Spring Training Returns: Aaron Cunningham & Kyle Blanks

2 Padres returns today:
  • Kyle Blanks 2/3- Kyle signed an 09 Topps U&H rookie card, as well as a 2010 Allen & Ginter. Sent 2/18 (12 days)
  • Aaron Cunningham 2/2- The young Padres outfielder signed 09 Topps and Finest rookie cards. Sent 2/16 (14 days)

Eugene Mirman Comedy Show, 3/1

Last night I went to a comedy show at the Paradise Rock Club featuring Eugene Mirman. He has had several recurring TV roles, including appearances on Flight of the Conchords and Aqua Teen Hunger Force. My favorite role of his is from the new Fox animated comedy Bob's Burgers, in which he plays the loud-mouthed son, Gene. After a great set, he signed a 4X6 and 5X7 of his character from Bob's Burgers for me.

2 Spring Training Returns: Alfredo Aceves & Ramiro Pena

On Tuesday I received two cards back from former Yankees batterymates, both from Mexico and both on rookie cards:

  • Alfredo Aceves 1/1- After clearing up some visa issues, Alfredo made it to Red Sox spring training camp last Friday and signed his 09 Topps rookie card. Sent 2/12 (17 days)
  • Ramiro Pena 1/1- The young Yankees catcher signed his 09 Topps RC as well. Sent 2/19 (10 days)