Friday, April 25, 2008

Vacation...all I ever wanted.....

No silly, this isn't about The Go-Go's. I'm really going on vacation!

I'm leaving tomorrow with my pal Chris for a week long baseball road trip. The schedule looks something like this:

Sunday April 27: Philadelphia Phillies @ Pittsburgh Pirates
Monday April 28: Pittsburgh Pirates @ New York Mets
Tuesday April 29: Detroit Tigers @ New York Yankees
Wednesday April 30: Detroit Tigers @ New York Yankees
Thursday May 1: Pittsburgh Pirates @ Washington Nationals

I'll have all kind of stories, pics, and video when I return!

2007 SP Legendary Cuts

Want to see me smile? 

Put color pictures of HOFers and such on cards and I'm smiling like a new bride. 

Unfortunately the scan doesn't do the cards justice. The gold foil really pops off the card. 

I found three of these in a commons bin at my local card shop. I could buy commons like these all day.

I've tried to research to see how many are in the team set using ebay, and I think I came up with five. Since the cards I have are all numbered closely, I'm assuming that the teams have been grouped in this issue. Here is what I came up with.

33 George Kell
34 Hal Newhouser
35 Al Kaline
36 ???
37 Harvey Kuenn

I guess there could be a 32 and/or a 38 too. I don't know. Normally I look here first for team checklists:

But alas, he doesn't have these listed.

Anyway, it's a great looking set featuring a bunch of great old time players.

2007 Upper Deck Spectrum

Tetris meets Tron.

I'm going to put about as much effort into this entry as UD did into this set.

15 Ivan Rodriguez
16 Magglio Ordonez
17 Carlos Guillen
18 Justin Verlander

I lied. I put in more.....

Best 80's Albums No One Ever Listened To: Chapter 2

I know what you are thinking and just stop right there. You just think you've heard it. Don't believe me? Ask the person sitting to your left if he/she has heard it. Now the right. Thought so. 

Face it, it you are under 40 you certainly didn't buy this album when it came out. You just remember hearing In The Air Tonight some 84 billion times during the first season of Miami Vice several years after the album was released in February of 1981. And no, it is not a song about Phil Collins watching somebody watching somebody else drown. In fact, it's a song about someone catching their lover cheating on them.

See, Old Phil was going through a d-i-v-o-r-c-e during this time in his life, and channelled that into the lyrics on this album. But despite the dark tone of the album, Phil's debut solo recording blends a vast assortment of musical styles to pop perfection.

Phil takes us on a roller coaster of love and loss, from the sweet sultry ballad This Must Be Love and the bittersweet remorsefulness of If Leaving Me Is Easy to the upbeat funky ditties Behind The Lines and Thunder And Lightning. He had also had minor hits with Misunderstanding and I Missed Again that have held up quite nicely.

So go ahead and treat yourself to an album that still sounds as fresh today as a breezy spring afternoon. Take that leap and dismiss everything you remember about Phil Collins and hear him for the first time before he became a Top 40 hit making machine. 

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

2008 Upper Deck Series 1

I'm only doing this because I feel obligated. There is nothing much at all interesting going on in this set. The base cards look like 1995 Upper Deck. The O-Pee-Chee insert cards sorta resemble 1969 Topps, and the Hot Commodities insert cards look like insert cards from one mid 90's Fleer. Nothing much original at all going on with these. 

This is the first year in a long time that I've collected Upper Deck and that's only because these fell in my lap so to speak. I see I haven't been missing much. I do like the card of Chad Durbin, where you can see Curtis Granderson way back in center field getting ready to make a mad dash to whichever wall this ball ends up going over. Anyhow, on to the checklist.

47 Edgar Renteria
80 Jacque Jones
261 Jeremy Bonderman
262 Chad Durbin
263 Andrew Miller
264 Bobby Seay
265 Todd Jones
266 Brandon Inge
267 Sean Casey
268 Placido Polanco
269 Gary Sheffield
270 Magglio Ordonez
377 Magglio Ordonez Team Checklist
385 Curtis Granderson Season Highlights
394 Justin Verlander Season Highlights

I always liked '69 Topps. But these just flat out suck. You can barely make out the player's name with the light gray metallic ink used. There was not much effort put into these at all.

OPC-MO Magglio Ordonez
OPC-ER Edgar Renteria
OPC-GS Gary Sheffield

And yet another lackluster insert set. Oooh, flames in the background. I get it. Hot Commodites. Oh boy! Didn't Fleer do something like this about ten years in a row with the Smoke N Heat insert cards. Yawn.

HC13 Justin Verlander
HC15 Gary Sheffield

I just happened to pull two of the Yankee Stadium legacy cards that were games against the Tigers. Whitey Ford and Kevin Maas. Whitey didn't even play in the game he's pictured on. I would put up a pic of one of them, but I just realized that I've lost total interest in this set. Plus the Tigers game is about to start and I want a beer.

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

A Tale of Two Saturdays

We are now two weeks into the 2008 baseball season and I have made a trip to each of the parks in my new hometown of Chicago. (Well, Elgin, but I'm working on it...)

So here is a brief recap.

Weather at Wrigley: Beautiful clear skies, temps in the upper 50's.

Weather at The Cell: Torrential downpour, temps in the upper 30's.

Statue unveiled at Wrigley: Ernie Banks

Statue unveiled at The Cell: Juan Uribe

Seats at Wrigley: 7th row behind home plate, $60

Seats at The Cell: 18th row behind right center, $32

The View at Wrigley: Do I really need to describe this?

The View at The Cell: 30,000 empty seats.

Overheard at Wrigley: Do you serve Heineken?

Overheard at The Cell: Detroit Sucks!

Prominent Sponsor at Wrigley: Budweiser

Prominent Sponsor at The Cell: Jim Beam

Entertainment for kids at Wrigley: Cheering for Kosuke Fukudome.

Entertainment for kids at the Cell: Getting a tattoo out in right field.

They don't call 'em clich├ęs for nothing.....

Here are a few links to some video I took at both games.
All joking aside, The Cell was a lot nicer place than I thought it would be. The winter weather and Gavin @&#^$% Floyd almost pitching a no-hitter against out Murderers Woe just left me with a bad taste in my mouth. 

Someday I'll go back, preferably when Hawk Harrelson and A.J. Pierswhazhizname are dead. YOU CAN PUT 'EM IN THE GROUND........YES!!!

Thursday, April 10, 2008

Slacking Off

I have been incredibly slack this week. I had hoped to have something up from my trip to Wrigley Field last Saturday. I also hoped to have something up about the 2008 Upper Deck Series One release. Or more of the goodies that I found at the card show. At the very least a review of a cool 80's album, something along the way of 'Til Tuesday or The Hooters.

But they week has come and gone, so these will all be topics for next week. 

This weekend I'll be braving the arctic conditions of my first trip to "The Cell" to see the Tigers take on the White Sox. With the Tigers sitting at 1-8 right now, this could be a very long weekend. But it should be an eventful one that will give me plenty to discuss by the time Monday night rolls around.

Thursday, April 3, 2008

Best 80's Albums No One Ever Listened To: Chapter 1

The Tigers are 0-3, Lost is a repeat, my beer isn't cold, and I need something to cheer me up.

I said when I started that this wouldn't always be about the Tigers or baseball cards. Well, I'm not lying.

This is the first in what will surely be a long list of great 80's albums that for whatever reason just didn't make it big. I've never written about music, except to say things like "The Joshua Tree rocks!" or "Slippery When Wet sucks!" I don't have a thesaurus full of music terms in my head. I won't offer up any reasons as to why so and so's album didn't make it big. I'm just giving the straight dope on some great tunes that were somehow overlooked.

Let me give a little bit of backstory about me. I was recently released from a 20 year sentence of living and working in Memphis, TN and now reside in the Windy City. The difference between the two is night and day, and the subject for somewhere other than here. 

A few years ago, my car was broken into, and my radio was destroyed. Not stolen mind you, just utterly fucking destroyed. As that was the umpteenth time that I'd been robbed while living in Memphis, I finally said fuck it, and just left goddamned destroyed radio there in the car as a deterrent to any more sorry Memphis motherfuckers who decided they needed my shit more than I did.

Well now that I've got that out of my system, this brings me to yesterday, when I went to Big Box and purchased a new car stereo. Imagine my surprise to find that they make stereos that you can plug an iPod into! Oh boy!

On my commute home from work today, I queued up this fantastic, forgotten album by The BoDeans, Outside Looking In

Imagine if Bob Dylan and Jackson Browne added lead vocals to the E Street Band and the Heartbreakers for a fresh and exciting mix of rock and roll in the time of hair bands and Yo! MTV Raps. Would you listen to such an album? Hell yes you would! And you'd be one of about three people....

From the anthemic rockers Dreams, Only Love, Forever Young (The Wild Ones) and What It Feels Like, to the melodic pop of Don't Be Lonely and Runaway Love, the gospel soul of Fool, and the wispy alt-country ballad I'm In Trouble Again, this is that rarest of albums that spans so many genres and does them all very well.

Released the same year that The Rolling Stone magazine named them Best New Band of 1987, the album enjoyed critical but little commercial success and that is a crying shame. Given that they are pretty much known only for that really mediocre song from Party Of Five, it is an even bigger shame.

If you find that you are one of the many who missed this great album, you owe it to yourself to find a copy and listen to it really loud. (You can usually find several copies at any given time on ebay for less than a buck)

Tuesday, April 1, 2008

Really Freaking Big Tigers News Of The Week

The Tigers signed Aaron Fultz to a minor league deal this past Sunday.

This is big why you ask?

Way back when, while RobbyT was working his first job in his career in printing, he used to work with Aaron's mom. One of the nicest people I've ever worked with. 

Aaron was still a high schooler back then, a classmate of my younger brother Mark, and I've followed him his entire career. As he's become a journeyman in the last few years, my hope was that he would one day grace a card as a Tiger. Finally, that dream may come true.

At the very least, I will hunt down a picture of him as a Mud Hen and make a 2009  RobbyT "Prospects" card of him. Congrats Aaron, you deserve it.

2007 Fleer Detroit Tigers Variations?

Another one of my finds this weekend at the card show was a team set of 2007 Fleer.

I collected most of this set from buying packs last summer, only missing a few cards. But when I saw the cards at the show I immediately noticed something was different.

One of the cards has the Old English D and the other has an orange one. When I got them home I noticed that the entire team set I bought had the orange one, while the ones I collected out of packs had the white one. My only guess is that the orange variations were put together out of the factory set. 

Anyway, here is the team checklist for what's an ok set that looks a lot like an Ultra release if you squint your eyes just right.

129 Gary Sheffield
213 Kenny Rogers
214 Justin Verlander
215 Ivan Rodriguez
216 Magglio Ordonez
217 Todd Jones
218 Joel Zumaya
219 Jeremy Bonderman
220 Nate Robertson
221 Brandon Inge
222 Craig Monroe
223 Carlos Guillen
340 Andrew Miller RC
349 Kevin Hooper RC
380 Ivan Rodriguez Team Checklist

There is also a parallel set of "mini" cards, somewhat reminiscent of 1975 Topps, but nowhere near as cool since they just look like cards that had the white border trimmed off. The thing I like about 2007 Fleer best is that I picked up a couple of the $20 boxes at Target, and they rang up at the register as $10, so I went back and grabbed two more. 

Even though I opened four boxes, I am still missing the white version cards of Inge, Jones, Rogers, Sheffield, and Zumaya, or roughly a third of the team set. However, I did get four Miller RC, so I'm not complaining.

I also snagged a couple of nice insert cards though.

PA-IR Ivan Rodriguez


RS-JV Justin Verlander

Topps Responds!

The good news is that it appears that Topps has one hell of a customer service department.

The bad news is that they seem to be fully aware of their shady doings.

I received this form letter from Topps today.

Dear Mr. RobbyT

We are sorry your Topps Trading Cards are not to your satisfaction. Here is some general informaiton (sic) which may assist you when sending to Topps for replacement. Your cards have been replaced according to there (sic) guidelines.

Cards which have significant factory produced flaws will be replaced while supplies last or for one year from their release date, whichever comes first.

Up to 25 cards can be replaced on a card-for-card basis per submission. Please enclose a list in numerical order of these cards.

Official Topps Complete Sets will be replaced while supplies last or for one year from their release date, whichever comes first. If less than 25 cards are involved return them with numerical list of the numbers to return the whole set for replacement. (???)

Any cards, products, or other material you value must be sent in a manner that proof of delivery is available if necessary. Topps is not responsible for lost or misdirected mail.

If missing cards from packs or packs from boxes, please send in bottom panel of box along with a list of the missing items.

Please send your request to the address listed above. (I am adding it here)

The Topps Company, Inc.
401 York Avenue
Duryea, PA 18642

Also include your complete mailing address and a daytime telephone number where we can reach you if needed.

We appreciate your interest in our products and would be happy to answer your specific questions at 1-800-489-9149 Monday through Friday between 8:30am-5:00pm.

The Topps Company, Inc.
Consumer Relations Department

Enclosed with my letter were two new cards of the two 2008 Topps Heritage cards that I sent in. One a very nicely centered Kason Gabbard, and the other a very nicely centered Matt Holiday All-Star card. (With a nice little ding in the upper left hand corner)

At least they made the effort. I won't be buying anymore packs of Topps anytime soon, but at least they did something (which I didn't ask for)