Chaos and Kanji is the blog where I write about my adventures through Japan!

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Saturday, April 30, 2011

LA or (Pack) Bust 14

Almost done with the 2003 Stadium Club!
Chris Duncan FY, Rafael Palmeiro gold. Someone should tell Johnny Damon that white men can't jump. He's got a good, what, two inches off the ground? Chris Duncan shows what most players don't - using two hands to field the ball. It's like a fundamentals example photo. I wonder what Palmeiro is thinking as another performance-enhanced baseball goes into the stands.
Daryl Clark FY, Scott Rolen gold. Wow, this is a strange pack, because in the previous one, I got Rolen as a regular card and Palmeiro as a gold. Jumping Jeter, without the ball, apparently. It could be in the glove, but I can't see it.

Friday, April 29, 2011

I'm back! A few quick things!

I have returned from my LA-area road trip. I'm going to tell you all about it in a few days, but upon my return there have been several matters that required my attention (and some that still do). I have two trade packages to mail out, I had about 15 envelopes/mailers/boxes waiting for me when I got back full of trade, eBay, and contest greatness, and for the next couple of weeks I am cat sitting. Plus, a friend is in town from Japan and we're meeting tonight for dinner, and I'm going to the A's game tomorrow. Thank you to my daily readers (the five or six of you, I think, that are reading?) for keeping up with my pack openings. With everything still going on, it will probably be Monday before anything really exciting goes on here, but I think there are still a few more pack busts queued up for your enjoyment. And then I have lots of neat stuff to show you.

Meanwhile, Napkin Doon is holding another one of his awesome Big Fun Games! Ten (or maybe 15!) people will be randomly chosen to participate - get on in there now - you have until Sunday!

LA or (Pack) Bust 13

 Manuel Ramirez FY, Miguel Tejada gold. Interesting that the Adam Dunn card isn't horizontal, but that's still a nice angle. We've already seen the Manuel Ramirez disgusting-hat card in gold form.
Adam LaRoche FY, Mark Mulder gold. Larry Walker looks like he's passing kidney stones. The photos today are quite uninteresting, in general.

Thursday, April 28, 2011

LA or (Pack) Bust 12

 Jerome Williams FS, Jose Virdo gold. Three fielders, two flying bats, and Alfonso sliding headfirst.
Drew Henson FS, Marlon Byrd FS gold, Scott Rolen Photographer's Proof 233/299. And Leaping Lizards, it's A-Rod with the Rangers! Leaping! Hah. More bad puns. I kill me.

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

LA or (Pack) Bust 11

 Jose Reyes FS, Miguel Cabrera gold, and Shawn Green Beam Team insert. I kind of like the Miguel Cabrera shot because he's just about to field that ball. I'm not impressed with the Beam Team design.
Il Kim FY, Magglio Ordonez, Paul Konerko Stadium Shots insert. Two packs today, two inserts. I really like the Stadium Shots, so there's another insert set to add to my list.

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

LA or (Pack) Bust 10

Hank Blalock FS, Ivan Rodriguez gold. Another Roy Oswalt? Paul Konerko and that base runner look like they're both thinking the runner's out.
Matthew Peterson FY and... no gold because I got a jersey! John Smoltz! I think I might have this exact card already, but I'm not sure. Nice flip there from Mike Sweeney, though.

Monday, April 25, 2011

LA or (Pack) Bust 9

 Wayne Lydon FY, Preston Wilson gold. More great photography, with Rich Aurilia bending over backwards, and Phil Nevin getting beat down like a catcher. The Jacque Jones photo was taken after the catch, but still nice.
Joe Mauer FS, Il Kim FY gold. What happened to the first base foul line? Looks like it's been worn out by the time this photo was taken. How much better would that image be if it had been taken from the other side? Or maybe not. And those Garret Anderson and Albert Pujols shots are great. Joe Mauer's card is just great photography. Rarely do you have such a crisp closeup of a catcher in his gear where you can see so much of his face.

Sunday, April 24, 2011

LA or (Pack) Bust 8

More 2003 Stadium Club
 Franklin Gutierrez FY, Manuel Ramirez FY gold.What is Roy Oswalt doing buried in the pitchers mound? That's such a strange photo. And somebody please get Manuel a new hat! Has he had that hat since he was 12?
Marlon Byrd FS, Wayne Lydon FY gold. The Raul Ibanez card has a blue tint to it. But that's a good Chipper card, and I like the Randy Winn bunting card.

Saturday, April 23, 2011

LA or (Pack) Bust 7

Continuing with 2003 Stadium Club. The names on these card can be a little hard to read since they're in such small print using foil, but the point of Stadium Club is to focus on photography.

 Wilson Betemit FS, Sammy Sosa gold. I like Stadium Club horizontal cards, and that's a pretty nice Pat Burrell.
Carl Crawford FS, Luis Gonzalez gold. This is a pack with some really awesome photos. Nomar is in the process of a stinging hit off the end of the bat, Posada's helmet is flying to the ground as he centers on a foul popup, Piazza looks like he's really busting his butt, Magglio is hitting a shot down the line.

Friday, April 22, 2011

LA or (Pack) Bust 6

I've got all my Tickets now, so I can join the Stadium Club! (Hah, another bad pun!) These 2003 cards came in an auction lot at a good price - the seller warned that two of the packs had been opened and searched, and I assumed all of the packs were searched. I'm not expecting anything other than base and inserts. Cards over #101 are SPs in this 125-card set (though there are two versions for each of the SPs, making the master set 150 cards). This was called the Relic Edition because one in 24 packs contained a relic card - there weren't really any autographs that you could expect to pull (a couple were inserted but at astronomical odds). The 2003 Stadium Club set is one of a few that I still need to finish my run of that issue - I still need 1993, 1997, 1999, and the 2003 and 2008 clusterflips. These packs will go towards that '03 set.

So let's get started! Six cards per pack, with one of them being a gold chunk. These are the two pre-opened packs:
 Ed Rogers FS, Jason Giambi gold. Lance Berkman is doing voodoo levitation with his bat.
Juan Camacho FY, and Aramis Ramirez gold. Jeff Kent was yet another player on my '03 MVP team. There are three great plays up the middle in this pack, and I'm not sure what Aramis is doing with his broken-looking ankle.

Thursday, April 21, 2011

LA or (Pack) Bust 5

These are the last two packs of Ticket to Stardom. Anything special pop up at the end?
 A different insert this time - Jose Reyes. And Garret Anderson is in crinkles. Scott Rolen and Garret Anderson are a couple more players who were on my "MVP" team of 2003.
The last pack gives another one of those Ticket to Stardom inserts. Jay Bruce this time. And the last crinkle guy is Zack Greinke. Not a great finish, but overall a decent selection of cards.

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

LA or (Pack) Bust 4

More Ticket to Stardom! Packs 7 and 8 of 10.
 Glen Perkins is the crinkle cut in this pack, but there's something better: the Joe Crede is a blue #80/99!
And this pack has another insert: the David Wright Seasoned Veterans. David Price is the crinkle, by the way. I like the look of the Seasoned Veterans card, probably because it feels a little like 1989 Topps, where I got my start in collecting. This is actually a pretty good pack - Miguel is now a Giant, Yadier, Hanley, and Jorge aren't that bad on the field, and Felix Hernandez is one of the best pitchers today.

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

LA or (Pack) Bust 3

We'll pass the halfway point of the Ticket to Stardom packs with this one.
 Another Andrew McCutchen? But this time he's the crinkly cut. (BTW this is one of his rookie cards.) And there's a Chipper in this one, so this is an acceptable pack.
Another Ticket to Stardom insert, and with a better picture.

Monday, April 18, 2011

LA or (Pack) Bust 2

Continuing with Ticket to Stardom:
 Hey, an insert! Jason Bay is crinkle cut. That's a fairly lame picture of Grady Sizemore. They didn't have one of him looking less like a bat boy? And there's a Jeter in this pack, so that's something.
Ryan Zimmerman is crinkly. I remember when Travis Hafner was supposed to be awesome, or at least in my mind. I really liked him back in 2003. And look, a Manny! How awesome! This will be worth hundreds when he gets into the Hall of Fame... oh, nevermind.

Sunday, April 17, 2011

LA or (Pack) Bust 1

I've been saving this post for a while. Today I head down to the greater LA area for a road trip. I'll be seeing many of the sights and going to ballgames in eight or nine different parks (San Diego is the iffy). Of course, I'll be needing tickets to get into the stadium. So in honor of that trip, I'm posting some pack busts of 2009 Topps Ticket to Stardom and 2003 Stadium Club! Clever, huh?! I'll post two packs at a time. I've got 10 packs of Ticket to Stardom and 20 packs of Stadium Club (if I can count right).

Let us begin! We'll start with Ticket to Stardom. These were value packs at Target. I'm not expecting any hits but hopefully I'll get some decent inserts.
 Jose Contreras is the crinkle cut. Not a great pack.
Chris Young is the crinkle cut (this time you can kind of tell). Again, not a great selection here, but that Andrew McCutchen picture is awesome. You'll probably see that again sometime in the future.

Saturday, April 16, 2011

One hundred posts!

This marks my 100th post. I was thinking, as I approached this number, that I would do something totally awesome, but it isn't going to be the case. I'm preparing for my road trip, and I haven't had time to put anything special together. I will tell you a little about my trip, though.

I call it a road trip but really I'm just heading down the coast to the LA area. I'll be seeing a lot of the sights - both Getty museums, the Music Center, etc. I'm catching a game with the Dodgers, Angels, and the Padres, in addition to the six(!) minor league teams in the greater LA area. I have plans to also tour Dodger Stadium and Angel Stadium. I toured Petco Park when I spent a week in San Diego in December. In addition to museums and such, I'll be visiting a few filming locations, like the high school used as Sunnydale High in the Buffy the Vampire Slayer show. And I'll be hitting some important baseball locations. I'll be saving those for my return.

I've been to Los Angeles twice before on week-long trips, and spent an additional day there on the way back from San Diego. This should almost finish everything I want to do in LA.

While I'm gone, I've prepared some quick pack-busting posts that start tomorrow. I'm sure you'll enjoy them if you're into that sort of thing. And then I can share a few more of the thousands of pictures I've taken. (Yes, I took all these photographs in the LA area.)

Derek and Scott, your packages went out today. Hopefully they find you well. And for anyone else I'm working on trades with, I'm going to follow up any emails tonight and I'll try to keep up with emails while I'm gone. I'll finalize anything we need to do when I return.

Last, but not least, thank you to all my readers out there, all 15 or so of you! I haven't been around long, but I've enjoyed every minute of it so far. I know not all my posts are hard-hitting journalism at its finest (are they ever?) but I try to bring a bit of interest in there.


A little over a week ago I posted on a trade with Greg of Plaschke, Thy Sweater is Argyle. His cards haven't arrived yet, and I fear the worst for them. They were supposed to go from northern California to southern - not exactly a two-week trip. Maybe they're going the long way via Montreal, but I think they've been lost.

I'm going to see that Greg gets what he deserves for the trade, but I'm posting this for your help. I doubt this is the case, but if for some reason I put the wrong address on the envelope, and you ended up with a bunch of Dodgers cards including a Russell Martin jersey, please let me know. I'll pay you in cash or trade to forward the cards along.

Friday, April 15, 2011

Going Postal 4: A Bunch of Firsties

I watch too much G4. About an hour a day - Candace Bailey and that guy on Attack of the Show. And I watch Web Soup. That's enough G4. If you watch G4, especially Web Soup, you know where that term comes from.

It's appropriate because this week marked several firsts in the arrivals bin of my garage door.

My first tint variation from Heritage. It's green, and for a team with green colors. How appropriate. This came from the Bay.

And my first Then and Now from 2011 Heritage. (And what should be my only.) This came today courtesy Derek of Tomahawk Chopping, but it wasn't my first trade with him. It is, however, the first time I've received a trade before I had a chance to mail my side of the deal. Let's hope that doesn't become a trend. Derek, thank you very much, and your goodies will go out tomorrow! (He doesn't know what he's getting yet, so I'm going to let it be a surprise. Hopefully he likes it!)

My first prize arrival. From The Adventures of Napkin Doon - that was a really cool contest and I hope I can play again! It's coming up on the time for me to do my first contest. I think that'll happen next month... I should have traded for the autograph or picked a different number. These are great cards, but I missed out on an awesome HD die cut card. And I don't think I need them, so they will unfortunately have to be trade bait. Unless I decide to frame them and put them on the wall. I do like leaping Ozzie.

My first (and only) autographs of these guys: Ryan Sweeney and Daric Barton for the A's collection, and Pat Burrell for the Giants collection. I used to dislike Burrell because he played for the Phillies and I'm a Braves fan. I think he hit a home run or something against us once. But here he is, now, in my autograph collection. Go figure. All these are eBay finds.

My first Blue Jays team issue cards. I picked up a lot of these 1993 McDonalds cards. Most of them feature Great Moments, and most of those feature the 1992 World Series win over the Braves. There are some player specific cards like the Olerud too. I like the McGwire-cameo card. It looks like Stretch Armstrong there is punching the catcher in the face. While on his knees. McGwire's a big guy. And that catcher is tiny. Sorry, I'm not a Jays fan so I don't know who that is. I only really want one of the cards for the collection - I'll keep the McGwire card, so the rest are for trade, Blue Jays fans! I know you're out there somewhere. Watching. Waiting.

My first Joe Buck card. I guess I'm stretching the theme here, but Joe Buck finishes my "non-player" collection from Fan Favorites '04. I picked this up while working towards finishing my '06 and '99 UD sets on Sportlots.

My first 1994 Topps Pre-Production cards. Again, stretching a good bit here. I would have said "my first Topps Pre-Production set" but I'm missing Wade Boggs and Nolan Ryan. There are actually three Nolan versions based on orientation and card number in this set. So I'm four cards away from a master set. Whoop-dee-doo!

My first completed parallel rainbow. All the other cards are in a box in Georgia, but this Carlos Lee #/5 finishes the 2006 Co-Signers rainbow. There are 12 cards to the rainbow, not counting the fact that each card has three variations (based on the second player). Not all the cards are Carlos Lee, in fact, I'd be surprised if I have two of the same player. Someday I'll put together a nice rainbow of a single player.

Last, my favorite arrival this week. My favorite collection is the one that contains my autograph and relic cards. I don't talk about the non-baseball side much. I have 138 relics and autographs from movies and women in sports, ranging from Alicia Silverstone to Drew Barrymore. In fact, I also have several complete pieces of wardrobe (tops, jeans, full outfits) from several celebrities. One very elusive celebrity has been this elfish darling I've been a fan of since I was a kid - Natalie Portman. I know she's had some cut autographs in a couple releases, but this is her first attainable relic, from the movie Thor.
Left on the movie want list without cards is Jennifer Connelly, Rachel Bilson, Zooey Deschanel, Kate Hudson, and Reese Witherspoon. On the sports side with cards is Sasha Cohen and Nastia Liukin (she's on the list just because she has a card). And on the actor side (Pop Century cards) - I'm listing them here more for myself than anything else - Jack Black, Tom Hanks, Dustin Hoffman, Bill Murray, Adam Sandler, Lea Thompson (autograph), and Wierd Al Yankovic (autograph). Elizabeth Banks was in Spider-Man 2's autograph list but usually goes for way more than I'm willing to pay.

I'm about to grab dinner (it's 9pm) and get back to this list of stuff to get done by the end of the day tomorrow. Have a good night!

Why are cards so expensive now?

I feel like I've said this before, but maybe it's just been running in my mind for a while. I apologize if you've seen me write this already.
2011 Topps Tribute
Prices on cases, boxes, and cards are higher this year than last year, and in fact seem to be at their highest since I returned to collecting in 2003. (When I collected before that, there was no eBay or major trading card sites.) Some people point to the Topps monopoly as the cause for this.
I don't think the monopoly, specifically, is the cause for higher prices. I think we're seeing a few things coming together at the right time.
Rookie and player interest is growing - Strasburg, Harper, Posey, Belt are all big names in the past couple of years, which we haven't seen in a little while. And with teams other than the usual suspects in the World Series this past year, there's probably a bit of growth in that area.
Never mind Brandon Belt, where's the card for the person sitting on the bench?
I think we're also seeing some of the people my age return to collecting from their childhood. It's the same This will increase demand.
There are signs that the economy is getting better, and people feel safe in spending more disposable income in cards. Again, this increases demand.
With this increase in demand, there has been a drop in supply. The latest downswing hit hard starting around 2005, between the economy and overproduction. After the mess that was 2005, with the end of Fleer and the removal of Donruss from baseball, there was a return to normalcy. Remember 2005 Donruss Champions? Eight hits per box, for about $80. That's crazy. While Donruss was essentially dumping its excess relic/autograph stock, it's not too far off from the norm for the past couple of years before it. For $20, you could buy a blaster box and be guaranteed a hit. (Okay, so 2011 Topps blasters had a manupatch. It's not a hit. Sorry.)
I saw a rise in prices in relics and autographs a couple years ago, when Upper Deck and Topps were the only companies making products. Both companies really haven't focused on large numbers of hits per box (excluding those high-priced products like Tribute and Triple Threads).
These past two years have seen about half as many releases as the previous years. Even more so this year. While the removal of Upper Deck from the picture created a monopoly, the real issue is a decrease in available product. People went nuts for the flagship Topps because there is no Upper Deck. Tribute is doing so well because there is no Ultimate Collection, SP, or Sweet Spot. There's no Masterpieces, Goudey, OPC, or Goodwin Champions to go up against sets like Heritage, Gypsy Queen, and A&G. So even if there weren't more collectors or more puchases by collectors (maybe there isn't), there is less to buy.

Does Topps need to up production to meet demand? Why?  If Topps ups the production run per set, it'll have the same problem we saw in the mid-80s. If they increase the number of sets produced, it is a repeat of the mid-90s. If they add more relics and autographs, it repeats the problems of the mid-00s.
2005 Donruss Champions
Do we need another manufacturer again? Perhaps. But who? Upper Deck, for all its great photography and innovation, has many enemies. Panini has done some good things lately, and many fans, but they bring the Donruss/Leaf/Playoff legacy with them - including the designing of sets purely as relic holders. (Again, 2005 Donruss Champions.) I would like to see a new company. Regardless, the number of releases needs to be limited, as I think we're just a little lower than is right for the hobby. Take some releases away from Topps - in fact, allow each company to release 12 sets. That would provide two releases per month. And I would require at least two of them to be a multi-series set (in other words, Topps' flagship might be considered three releases). On second thought, Topps would do so much better with almost-monthly series updates to its base set, much like its vintage days with six or seven series. I guess Topps is still printing on 110-card sheets, so maybe a 990-card release spread out over the season would work. Think of all the lame insert sets Topps could create for that many sets!
1973 Topps High-Number Wrapper
Am I angry that cards are expensive? I wish I could find some cheap pickups. I haven't touched a single Tribute card, and I'm having a hard time getting the Heritage hits for my sampler collection. But rising prices are signs that the hobby is growing again, or at least doing something right.

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Tossing some more fuel on the fire.

If you've read most of my posts since the beginning (especially the earlier ones) you know that I don't have any player collections. I tried player collections when I returned to the hobby in 2003.

I did pretty good with Gwynn and Ryan. Gwynn was pretty easy to find, actually. He's never had really high card values and started playing in the early 80's. Nolan cost a bit more, and I think the earliest card I have of his is mid-70s (I might have a '71). The problem came with all those dang parallels, jerseys, and autographs. Tony Gwynn appears on well over 8000 cards now, somewhere around 3000 of them are relics and autographs. Nolan Ryan is on over 9500, around 6000 of them are relics/autos. (Wait, what?) So, needless to say, I lost interest in trying to collect such a large number of cards. If I do base cards only, Nolan appears on nearly 2000, and Tony on 1300. *These numbers are based on Beckett searches, and some of the autographs are relics as well. Some of the base cards aren't exactly mainstream. I accept the total card number to be accurate, but believe the auto/relic/base numbers are higher than actual releases.*

I've been debating new player collections for a while now. There is a small number of autographs in my collection of players I like, and I've left it at that for a while. But let's be honest, I'm never going to touch a Pujols or Ichiro autograph. I'd like to honor a few more players, and in a bit of a larger quantity. So I've decided to start basic. We'll see where this ends up in a few years. The plan is to collect the flagship Topps cards (including any Topps Traded) for each player. Main/base cards only, no subsets, checklists, All-Stars, etc. Of course, if the player appears with someone else as part of a RC (like Nolan Ryan with Jerry Koosman), that'll count. I'll also add a game-used bat for each player.

I've chosen the following players for now:
  • Nolan Ryan
  • Tony Gwynn
  • Albert Pujols
  • Ichiro
  • Frank Thomas
  • Ken Griffey Jr.
  • Barry Bonds (He's no hero in my eyes, but I still want him for this collection.)
  • Jose Canseco (Likewise. But he was my first favorite player.)
I'm not ready to start actually collecting these cards yet. I'll be putting together a list eventually - it won't be too hard - and then I'll start thinking about working on this collection. I mean, it's not as though I don't already have a large and broad enough collecting goal...

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Nobody better lay a finger on my Babefinger.

It isn't real, people. It isn't real. 179 ring trade requests, most of them for my Babe. Heck, there's three on that screenshot all from one person. I have 14 rings, all different right now, and I want to hit 45. So if I end up with another Babe, I'll trade it away, but until then, the Babe is mine.

Speaking of which, I guess that means I need another 31 codes. And the funny thing is, I don't really care much for the cards. That is, until I pull a die-cut, diamond-embedded card, or something really worth it.

Going Postal 3: Spotlight from the Upper Deck

Oh, the puns. I was talking with my grandmother and said a pun at dinner last night, and she said I'm taking after my grandfather. You'll see what I mean in a minute.
LA Dodgers vs. NY Mets, 2005 playoffs
This is a very busy week. On Sunday I head to LA for baseball and sightseeing. I'm excited, even though I've been to LA two and a half times in the past decade or so. There really is a lot to do there! I'll be seeing nine games in nine different parks, touring the two MLB stadiums, and racking up a pretty large number of miles (ugh, gas prices). The only LA-area baseball game I've seen in 20 years is the one above. I took that picture. Mets won, by the way. The series clincher. I was rooting for the Dodgers, just so you know - being a Braves fan I chose the Dodgers over the Mets.
This week is full of preparations for the trip and I have several activities going on in addition to packing. I'll have a temporary addition to the family when I return in the form of a feline, so there's preparations for that as well. And there's the A's game on Thursday. And I just picked up Rock Band 3 and I gotta tell you, those games have been quite a big part of my life in the past year. Plus, I seem to spend an hour or more every day writing and reading blogs. Anyway, what I'm getting at is - there are so many distractions for me, and I have a hard time concentrating, so if you're working with me on trades or something and I don't respond, I will get back to you eventually. If I go a few days without responding, don't think you're insulting me by poking me with another email, although it shouldn't go for that long.

So, now, onto the postal post. Not much lately, which is fine with me. I finally sorted most of my inserts by team, and if I have time this week I'll finally have a good trade bait page. Or maybe next month. Today brought two non-trade arrivals.
2006 Upper Deck Ovation Spotlight Signatures #DD - David DeJesus - Courtesy of

First, a 2006 Ovation autograph of David DeJesus. I'm using this COMC image, because I'm just too busy lazy to scan my own dang card. He's going in the A's autograph stack! (Which really is a stack in a little cardboard box, with a few other autographs and relics from baseball and non-sport, since most of that collection's in Georgia).
2000 Upper Deck #342 - Kerry Wood - Courtesy of
And, my 2000 Upper Deck set is now complete. I'm slowly getting some of these base set runs done, and I'm quite happy about it. Even if I don't put them together by hand. I have such a broad interest in cards, it would take more effort, money and time than I'm willing to provide to hand collate so many sets. I do have several sets that I put together by hand, so I'm not that lazy. In fact, there are about 120 sets right now in various stages of completion. At least 2000 Upper Deck looks much better than 1999 (what I think is probably the ugliest flagship Upper Deck set):
1999 Upper Deck #78 - Bartolo Colon - Courtesy of
So, did you get the pun? Yeah. It was bad. Okay. I'd stop, but it's just so much fun.