Thursday, April 30, 2009

Darkness Surrounding a Rainbow Surrounding a Heart Attack

That's the only real way to sum up this card. Well... it's one way to sum it up at least. You are of course looking at a 2008 Topps Heritage black refractor of George Sherrill, the 2008 All-Star closer for the Orioles. How perfect is a black refractor for the man fondly known as "The Brim Reaper"?

The reason I say heart attack is because if you've ever watched George Sherrill come out of the 'pen in the 9th inning to get a save, you know that he enjoys living on the edge. He's a dangerous kind of guy. Look at how straight that brim is? Does he look like the kind of guy who takes the easy way out? Absolutely not! If the Orioles are up by 3, he'll give up a leadoff single, followed by 2 walks before striking out the next 3 hitters. If they're only up by a run, he immediately records the first 2 outs, before giving up a double, or walking somebody before wriggling his way out of it. Despite his cardiac pitching style he is still an effective closer, and a fan favorite in Baltimore (might have something to do with the fact that he wears #52)

I for one, am not a fan of his nail-biting saves, but do appreciate his flat brimmed stylings.

This is my second Heritage black refractor, and the first from 2008.

'09 Finest Break

Last week I bid on a hobby box of Finest, on good ol' ebay. My max bid was $83.00, and I only bid once. There was no way this box would be mine, right? WRONG! Much to my surprise, when I got back from dinner, and checked my email, I had won it for $82.01. Not too shabby considering the cheapest "buy it now" was $90 even. I wasn't expecting to win this box, and considering my current employment situation...or lack there of, probably shouldn't have bid on it to begin with. I'm sure glad I did, since there was something in there I definitely wasn't expecting.

Base cards: 47, no doubles
Base cards of note: Adam Jones, Brian Roberts
Rookie Redemtions: 1, Rookie #2
Refractors: 4

Blue Refractors: 4

Green Refractors: 1

Gold Refractors: 1

Manu-Patch Autos: 2

Unexpected Finest Moments Auto: 1

All in all I am pretty happy with this box. Despite his slow start this year I am still pleased as punch (where did that expression even come from) to have an Ortiz autograph. The Gamel patch is #'d to 285, and the Parnell #'d to 75. It's always thrilling to pull an auto, and at least it's not some no name. The only negative thing I have to about this box is the parallel doubles. They aren't really doubles, but I got a blue refractor Vernon Wells, and a standard refractor. Same thing with Chris Young except I got a gold and a regular of him. Unfortunately there was not a Nick Markakis to be found in this box, but if anyone pulls one, you know I'm down to trade for it.

Hope you enjoyed my first box break, there will be plenty more to come.

A Collector's Tale

My story is one that seems fairly common these days, but it's my blog, and I'm going to tell it anyway.

Flashback with me to 1986. I am 5 years old, and have just moved to Baltimore. Topps has just released what would become one of my favorite sets of all time, although I had no idea at the time. I don't even remember getting or opening any 1986 cards, but they were in my collection as a kid, so I know it must have happened, and this is where it all begins.

My earliest memories of actually opening packs are from the years 1987-1989. My brother and I would bug my dad to take us to 7-11 for Slurpees and wax packs. This would become the status quo until around 1993, when for some reason I pretty much stopped collecting. I was always a baseball fan, and if you lived anywhere near Baltimore, Cal Ripken was the guy to collect. For some reason his cards never appealed to me, and I sort of found his style boring (oh how wrong I was). My trading buddy, and best friend Mark was really into collecting Ripken, and most of the Ripken cards that I pulled, ended up in his possession. I remember Mark would smell every pack of cards he opened before flipping through, which is something I still think about every time I open a new pack of cards. Those old, glossy K-Mart cards always smelled sweet, which was a smell consistent with their design.

Not being a Ripken collector, I was left to find players of my own. I'm left handed, and have always rooted for lefties, which is probably why I became a Will Clark collector when I was about 9 or 10. He was probably the main player I collected as a kid, but I also remember my brother and I collecting Gregg Jeffries cards, since his name was a combination of both of our first names.

By the time I was 11 or 12 I had amassed box upon box full of cards, and probably had about 5 or 6 various rookie cards stored in top-loaders. This was around the time that baseball card collecting seriously blew up as a hobby, and everyone was talking about rookie cards. There were also TONS of new brands and products flooding the market. I remember Mark was lucky enough to have pulled an 89 Upper Deck Griffey rookie, and I was always jealous of that, since I had ripped tons of those packs looking for that very card. Me, I was stuck with literally TONS of Phil Plantier rookies from 92 & 93. Although his career never materialized, there was quite the hype surrounding both his, and Royce Clayton's rookie cards in the early 90's.

It was around this time that I began to collect Tim Salmon cards, and when I say "collect", I maybe had 10 or 11 of his cards. Cut me some slack, I was 12! He was AL ROY in 1993 and I finally felt like I had picked a winner.

The next year, something happened. I don't even quite know what exactly, but I stopped collecting cards. It was probably middle school, and girls. No one wants to be the nerdy guy who collects pieces of cardboard...of other guys no less. I'm not sure what happened to the bulk of my collection, and at that point it was ancient history to me anyway. My focus now was on playing baseball, not collecting little cardboard idols. I did manage to salvage a few cards from my parent's house in 2007. There were only a few in top loaders, and I grabbed whatever was in good shape.

Flash forward to 2007. On a trip to Cooperstown with my girlfriend and her family I wander into a card shop, simply for nostalgia's sake, and have a look around. I am intrigued by all the different types of cards, and for some reason am drawn to the retro-vintage look of Allen & Ginter packaging. I remember thinking Turkey Red looked cool as well, but A-Rod was on the front, so I almost didn't buy it. I walked out of the card shop with 2 packs of each. I opened the Turkey Red first, and inside that first pack, the first pack of baseball cards that I had opened in 14 years, was the single card that would bring me back to the hobby. I had no idea why it was shinier than the rest of the cards, or seemed to change colors when the light hit it, but I did know that it was of my favorite current Oriole, Nick Markakis.

Of course I am talking about a refractor, but at the time, I had NO clue what I was looking at, all I knew was that it was shiny, and I liked it. I bought several additional packs on that trip, and managed to score my first game used jersey card from 2007 Goudey, which was of John Smoltz. Needless to say, I was immediately hooked. Thankfully I already had a great girlfriend, so being a nerd who would never get laid was something I no longer had to worry about. I immediately made up my mind. "Let's do this!"

That just about brings us to present day, or at least the past couple of years. After returning home from Cooperstown, I started browsing ebay, looking for Nick Markakis cards, and whatever else looked cool to me. Refractors and game used cards were all really new to me, and immediately I became a "Joe Collector". I didn't want a 1986 Bo Jackson rookie, I wanted the refractor reprint of it. Needless to say, I bought a lot of crap those first few months, and most of it no longer even gets looked at. I did manage to almost get over the jealousy I felt towards Mark for pulling that Griffey rookie all those years ago, with this card, which is a 1993 UD 5th Anniversary reprint of the most popular card of the 90s.

During 2007 I also discovered Wax Heaven, and various other great card blogs, which while providing great information on what was out there, also made me feel even less nerdy, since Mario's story, and so many others, are very similar to my own. In 2008 I managed to figure out what type of collector I wanted to be. I was going to focus my energy on Nick Markakis, and all other Orioles cards. That's not to say there isn't still a "Joe Collector" mentality trapped in my brain (I hate that stigma, BTW). I love opening packs, and pulling hits. Opening a hobby box is still one of the greatest thrills I get, but now most of the cards are trade bait, since I am not much of a set collector, although I am VERY close to finishing 2008 A&G which would be my first complete set EVER!

It feels good to finally have a focus when it comes to my card collection, and my Nick Markakis collection is currently somewhere around 75 cards, and growing by the week. If you ask me to break it down, I would say I'm 50% player collector, 25% team collector, and 25% Joe Collector.

So, that's my story, all 27 years of it.

Below are some images of the last few remaining cards from the "original" collection, as well as some of my favorite Markakis cards.



Stay tuned for an 09 Finest break, which should be happening this afternoon.

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

You're Gonna Love My Nuts

We all know about Vince, the Shamwow slingin, hooker punchin, Slap Chop madman. I stumbled upon what could be the greatest Slap Chop infomercial remix of all time today, and have posted it below for your enjoyment.

Why I Hate the Yankees Pt. 2

Yankee fans. I probably don't need to say any more than that, but you know I will.

It's great that the Yankees have a humongous fan base that follows them to every ballpark in America. That I have no issue with, and I'm sure almost no one does. I'll admit it's a little discouraging to go see the hometown team play the Yanks, and be outnumbered by their fans, but that's life. What I do have a problem with is the behavior of Yankee fans in visitors ballparks. Even when your section isn't outnumbered, you always know where the Yankee fans are because they will actually turn around, face the crowd, and taunt you every time the Yankees score a run or get out of a jam. Is this really necessary? Why doesn't someone beat these people down? If I were at an Orioles game in Boston, or Tampa, or anywhere really, I'd sit there, watch the game and cheer. There is no way I'd EVER think of taunting the home crowd when I am a visitor, even if the O's are winning big (HA!). My assumption is that most of these people come from Jersey, which is the only logical explanation for such blatant douchebaggery. The only reason they are in your ballpark to begin with is because it's about 100 times cheaper than attending a game at Yankee Stadium, even after transportation costs.

I was at Opening Day this year, at Camden Yards, and there were FAR more O's fans than Yankees fans for the first time that I can remember. There was still a Yankee fan in my section who would turn around and bark at us every time CC struck someone out, or the Yanks made a nice play. BARKED AT US! What the hell is up with that? When asked if he was from Jersey, he responded "Hell yeah, RUFF!"

If any Yankees fans read this, I'm sorry if I may have offended you. I would advise you to sit down and shut up the next time you are at a game in another city. Cheering and being a fan is one thing, but being a taunting jerk-off is uncalled for, and just makes people hate your team even more.

In closing, I want to point out that there are many respectful Yankee fans out there who letting a few bad apples ruin the image of the most storied franchise in baseball.

Why I Hate the Yankees Pt. 1

The year was 1996, and for the first time since I'd moved to Baltimore (in 1986), the Orioles had made the playoffs, and looked poised to make a run. The day was October 9th, and the Orioles had a 4-3 lead over the Evil Empire in the bottom of the 8th inning. Derek Jeter hits a shot to right field, but it doesn't appear to be out of the yard. Orioles right fielder Tony Tarasco at least appears to have a bead on it and is tracking it down to preserve the lead for Baltimore.

We all know what happens next...JEFFREY "FREAKIN" MAIER, a 12 year old kid sitting in the first row of the stands in right field, reaches out and knocks the ball back into the stands. The umpires immediately rule that it was a home run, and the Orioles would go on to lose the game in extra innings, and the series in 5 games.

Evidence clearly shows that the ball would not have left the yard, and that at best Jeter should have been awarded a double. I doubt Tarasco would have caught it, but that's an argument for another time.

What I have a problem with isn't even the fact that Maier helped the Yankees "cheat", or that the Orioles lost the series. What makes this the #1 reason why I hate the Yankess is having to hear Yankess fans chant "JEFFREY MAIER" over and over again at Camden Yards for the next 10 seasons whenever I attended an O's-Yanks game. The kid couldn't even catch the ball! The best he could muster up was to deflect it back into the stands.

Also, check out the douchebag look on his face in the heat of the moment.

And that, ladies and gents, is part 1 of why I hate the Yankees. I encourage all the other Yankee haters out there to please share your stories, and remember that hatred of the Yankees is a natural, zesty enterprise. You are not alone!

EDIT: I also love it that his wikipedia page says "see also: Steve Bartman"

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Go Caps!

Even though I am not a big Hockey fan, and frequently pick on my little brother for being "Canadian" since he loves hockey so much, I've got to give the Capitals some props for coming back from being down 2-1, and winning a big game 7 tonight.

Here's an Ovechkin auto just for you

*the opinions expressed in this post in no way constitute hatred for anyone or anything Canadian, especially not their awesome state run healthcare system.

Ryan Freel wants to be traded

Good riddance! He's like 1 for 50 at the plate this year as it is, and with Felix Pie already sucking it up in LF, we don't need a second sub-par player blocking our 2 top OF prospects, Nolan Reimold and Lou Montanez. Freel has been on the DL for the past couple of weeks after getting pegged in the head by a throw while stealing a base. He's apparently upset because he was asked to take a post-concussion medical test before being cleared to play, which he apparently failed.

Here's part of what he had to say:

Freel was asked if he wants to stay with the Orioles.

"I think change is good for people. I think the expectations were for me to come here and perform in a different way than I did. I don't think I met the expectations the way I did in spring training. There is nothing wrong with change. I don't think I fit here. I can't control what they do with me. It's putting a damper on my career."

The whole story can be seen here (courtesy of MASN)

Does anyone know much about this guy? I know he was a decent high-energy type player with the Reds, but honestly, he hasn't shown me much in his limited chances.


One of the things I have half-heartedly been trying to accomplish for the past 6 months or so is completing some vintage Orioles team sets. I'm pretty lazy, so it's not something I'm closely focusing on. I also have ADD, so you know, I move on to other things pretty quickly. Let's ride bikes! Wait...what? Here are some of the '59 Topps cards I have managed to grab, one way or another. If you have any that aren't seen here, and want to trade, please contact me. I'm too lazy to even consult a checklist and see who I'm missing, but I know it's quite a few.

Most of these are beat to hell and off-center, but it really doesn't matter to me. I just think it's cool to own cards that are 50 years old.

New additions and first post

If you're looking for Bobby Brown, please click here. If you actually care about the cards I've picked up in the past couple weeks, by all means continue reading.

First up is this Frank Robinson Triple Threads card celebrating his 586 career dingers. I'm not necessarily a fan of Triple Threads, but won this beaut for $9.99, and already love it.

Next up is a Nick Markakis 2009 Heritage Black Refractor. This is the first black refractor I have ever owned, and although it was a little pricey, he is my favorite player, and it is a nice looking card.

All I have to say about this card, is a dollar well spent.

This jersey card celebrates Eddie's 1977 ROY award. This was included in a lot of O's cards that I won on ebay. It wasn't shipped properly, and one of the corners is dinged, but you can't tell that from the scan (grrrrrrrr!) Some of my first baseball memories are of the crazy fans at Memorial Stadium stomping on the bleachers and chanting "Eddie, Eddie". Good times!

This is a sweet Topps Finest Moments Paul Blair autograph that I am proud to say ran me less than $4, including shipping. He was a great player, and at worst I think Adam Jones will play like his clone.

Last, but certainly not least is a Jim Palmer autograph from UD Heroes. Even though he pitched the majority of his career before my time, he is still my favorite O's pitcher EVER, and now I own his autograph.

If you've read this far, thanks for sticking with me. This is the first of what I hope to be many posts.