Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Mail Day (aka eBay Scribblers)

As you may or may not be aware, one of the tasks I have assigned to myself is to gather all 30 mini-framed autographs from the 2009 Topps T-206 100th Anniversary set. I am trying to limit myself to strictly doing this via trade as buying what I need seems to kind of defeat the purpose of the quest.


When an opportunity to gather a mitt full of what I need for a relatively decent price presents itself, I would be a fool not to jump on it. Hence the reason for this post. I managed to add 7 more of the desired cards to the collection, which is now sitting at a satisfactory count of 10 right now.

Today the mailman delivered Josh Outman (OAK), Ryan Perry (DET), Luke Montz (WAS), Kila Ka'aihue (KC), James Parr (ATL), Scott Elbert (LAD) and Clayton Kershaw (LAD)

Now, Parr and Elbert are doubles which helps with potential trades, but it still made for a great deal even with the two doubles. Also included in the envelope, which was never mentioned as part of the auction as far as I know, was a serial numbered 'Cycle' back mini of C.C. Sabathia numbered 44/99.

C.C. is available for trade as well if anyone is interested. Just drop me a line.

When I first thought about trying for this set I balked at it a few times. Now having more of these cards in my possession and seeing them in hand I am glad I chose to attempt it. It is definitely enjoyable chasing down singles and negotiating trades. If you can help me out I would be glad to hear from you.

P.S. - Kudos to the eBay seller for Fort Knox-ing these puppies for shipping!!!


Sunday, March 28, 2010

LFB2B is a whole year older today

Last week sometime I noticed two things about 'Long Fly Ball To Because......'.

Firstly, I was approaching my 100th post, which is a milestone I guess, we all like nice round numbers to chronicle things by. So, I decided to celebrate it with a Box Break of 2009-10 Upper Deck Champ's Hockey.

Secondly, today will mark exactly one year since I decided to start sharing what I enjoy about card collecting with a growing community of people whose interests coincide with mine.

The people I have encountered throughout, some with whom I have had the great fortune to trade with, have helped re instill the passion to collect cards and have served to remind me of the whole reason why I got into this in the first place.

So, to the many, many, many collectors and bloggers out there who have shared in this with me, Thank-you. I look forward to another year with you and I look forward to another year of meeting new collectors and hopefully helping them to enjoy the hobby.


P.S. - What the heck, I kicked the blog off with this a year ago, might as well dust it off for the day.

Friday, March 26, 2010

Box Break - 2009-10 Upper Deck Champ's Hockey

While the wait continues for the next Baseball product I will be forking over my hard earned money for, I decided to stop-gap my craving by collecting Upper Deck's 2010 version of their successful 'Champ's' Hockey which premiered in the hobby last year. The big chase cards out of this release are the 'Museum Relic' cards which feature fossilized dinosaur remains and are seeded at 1 redemption card per case. Hopefully luck is on my side and I pull one.

As usual with LFB2B Box Breaks now, first things first.

Soundtrack - Black Rebel Motorcycle Club - Baby 81

Box Breakdown - 20 packs per box
Pack Breakdown - 5 cards per pack (3 Full Size/2 minis)

Full Size Base Cards (blue border) - 49/100 (49%)
Mini Base Cards - 32/480 (6.6%)

The simplest way to describe 'Champ's' is to think of it as a set collector's AND a player collector's dream. There are so many different variations and combinations that come into play here that there is something for everyone. Where Topps 'Allen & Ginter' and UD's 'Goodwin Champions' are full sized base sets with mini parallels, 'Champ's' is a full sized AND an extensive mini base set with variations AND parallels. What makes this work is that NONE of the parallels or variations make up ANY of the base set, leaving the set collectors happy and giving the player collectors a formidable task. I know that the capitalized words are wearing thin now so I will stop, I think I made my point.

Let's get to the cards........

The full sized portion of the base set is made up of 100 cards featuring stars of today and yesterday. There are 4 parallel versions of these 100 cards all with varying insert ratios. The base set is a blue bordered card with a photo of the player in an outdoor frozen pond setting surrounded by an antique looking gold frame. Also featured on the front of the card is the position of the player and their jersey number, a nice touch.The muted colours of the jerseys help with the overall look of the cards and give it an excellent retro feel. Here is a few.........

My only beef? We all know what jersey Wayne should be wearing! Tsk,tsk Upper Deck.

The green border parallel singles are inserted at a ratio of 1:5 packs. Following the pastel coloured theme of the set I can see why they might have called these "green", I would have gone with teal, maybe? Could be just me. I pulled Ray Bourque, Patrick Kane, Henrik Zetterberg, Brandon Dubinsky and Doug Gilmour.

The red border parallels look super nice and I am trying to decide if I want to collect this set. 100 cards is very possible and will pose a nice challenge. The insert ratio for these is 1:10 packs. I pulled Steve Mason and Mike Richards.

The yellow border parallels come in two different versions. Seeded at 1:20 packs is the version I pulled featuring Vincent Lecavalier. I searched eBay for a scan of the other version called the 'yellow animal icon' border and found one featuring Sid The Kid, these are seeded 1:80 packs

Now we get to the "meat" of the 'Champ's' set. The minis. Cards #'d 101-580 are all mini cards, however, the way these cards are grouped is what truly makes this worthwhile. The hockey players cease to appear with card #388, from that point on we get 'Wonders of the World', 'Natural History Collection' and 'Historical Figures'.

This for me is how these multi-subject sets should be done. Keep each subject contained within its own subset. That way, those of us who are OCD can feel like a set is complete without having to have all the cards in the entire set. See, there will be no number gaps in what we have decided to collect so we will not feel compelled to fill those gaps with unrelated cards thus needing to collect all the unrelated cards.

Anyway here is how the minis fall.

They are 2/pack with differing seeds. Cards #101-196 are all Rookies and they are seeded 1:4 packs. I got Jakub Kindl (DET), Brandon Segal (LA), Jamie Fritsch (PHI), Matt Pelech (CAL), Sean Collins (WAS).

Cards #197-388 feature NHL players from the past and present with some subjects from the full size set repeated BUT (sorry for the caps, I know) using different photos. WOW!! What a concept!! I pulled 17 all together with a cool slant towards goalies, almost 1/3. Craig Anderson, Steve Mason, James Neal, Mikka Koivu, Scotty Bowman (note the difference from the full size card above), Brian Gionta, Jeff Carter, Evgeni Malkin, Roberto Luongo, Mike Green, Jussi Jokinen, Ilya Bryzgalov, Chris Mason, Tomas Vokoun, Dustin Brown, Alexandre Burrows and Jody Shelley.

Just like the full size set there are parallel versions of the mini cards featuring NHL players. However, these parallels are a bit tougher to pull than their full sized counterparts and the variations are on the back rather than the front. As well, the ratios are different for the Rookies than they are for the Stars. It sounds way more complicated than it is, that is why I am here to clarify. Here are the ratios;

NHL Stars Mini red back (1:20)
NHL Stars Mini blue back (1:80)
NHL Stars Mini green back (1:160)
NHL Stars Mini Parkhurst back (1:320)
Rookies Mini red back (1:240)
Rookies Mini blue back (1:360)
Rookies Mini green back (1:640)
Rookies Mini Parkhurst back (1:1500)

With this box I was crazy-happy to pull a NHL Stars Mini Parkhurst back of the best defenseman of all-time, IMHO. Yeah, he is a Flame so I am a bit partial. Big Al MacInnis.

I did pull a Rookie Mini red back from a pack I bought a week or so ago, just wanted to show it so you know what they look like. Although "red back" is pretty descriptive.

The 'Wonders of the World', 'Natural History Collection' and 'Historical Figures' cards all fall 1:2 packs. Cards #389-416 are the 'Wonders of the World' of which I only got 1, Deep Sea Vents. I am still trying to figure out the card but I think I may have a candidate for "Worst Card of the Year".

I pulled 6 of the 'Natural History Collection' cards which number from 417-514. These are a visually eye catching design and would make a great collection of cards on their own. My six feature The Rocky Mountains, Edmontonia Longiceps, Pachycephalosauridae, Dawson's Caribou, Grizzly Bear and Purple Violet.

Lastly making up the final cards of the entire set, spanning numbers 515-580 are 'Historical Figures' which are comprised of Canadian Prime Ministers and American Presidents which means that YES there is another Obama card. I pulled 3 featuring Louis St.Laurent, Brian Mulroney and John Tyler.

Now we come to the part of the break that most people wait for and probably most people just scrolled right down to, the "box hits". I ended up with three relics and one autograph. The only disappointment I had with the autograph is that it is of a back-up goaltender who, outside of his immediate family, I am guessing has a sparse fan base. Other than that, the autographs are hard signed which is how it should always be. A plus to this one is that it also has his jersey number included in the autograph. I got Pascal LeClaire from Ottawa.

The two hockey related relics I pulled feature a pair of Right-Wingers, one a Hall of Famer, one not so sure. Glenn Anderson and Marian Gaborik.

I specifically said hockey related relic because the last relic I pulled is from an 33-card relic set called 'Hall of Legends'. I cannot find the ratios for these cards but I understand them to be a fairly difficult find. I have seen some on eBay featuring Larry Bird and Magic Johnson and looking at the checklist which has been posted the athletes are truly impressive. I was happy to find Philadelphia Phillie Mike Schmidt in a pack. I especially like that the photo used for the card is an up to date photo. Classy.

Overall I am very pleased with the 2009-10 Upper Deck Champ's product and will be purchasing at least two more boxes trying to build the 'Natural History Collection' and the Mini NHL Stars. This a set that can keep a collector busy for quite some time and offer something different at every turn. There appear to be unannounced inserts in Champ's as well. When I picked up my box at my LCS the dealer showed me an Upper Deck 'The Champions' autograph card of Gaetan Boucher he had pulled from a box he had opened. As far as I know these were only announced in Upper Deck Series 2 hockey and I see no card for Boucher listed.

When you look at the care and thought that goes into the hockey releases from Upper Deck you cannot help but wonder what happened with baseball. If this had been the same model that was applied to Goodwin Champions I think it would have quite possibly been the "Set of the Year" in 2009.

Thanks for sticking with me throughout this break and for constantly checking out 'Long Fly Ball To Because.......'. If you are collecting Champ's yourself then send me an e-mail and let's work together to help each other out. If you saw anything in this post you want feel free to contact me as well, we can work something out I am sure.

Lastly, to play us out is Black Rebel Motorcycle Club


Thursday, March 25, 2010

LFB2B Poll - Update

A few days ago I posted the first ever poll for my blog and it concerns a 13-year-old pack of cards that I have in my collection. Currently the votes stand at;

12 are in favor or ripping the sucker open.
4 have said leave it be.

If you scroll down a couple posts you can see the original post to know what I am referring to. For those of you who are just plain lazy then click here.

Remember, whatever you say goes come Opening Night with the Yankees and Red Sox.


Sunday, March 21, 2010

Time To Focus On Spring Training Again

Woke up this morning and checked out some sports highlights. It seems something happened in Oklahoma City, San Jose and Providence to cause this.........

Somebody get the lights please.........


Friday, March 19, 2010

Poll - To Rip or Not to Rip

Since I first started this blog I had an idea brewing that I had wanted to somehow make my first poll rather momentous. Seeing as with the whole 'Million Card' March that Topps has created quite a stir revolving around vintage cards this was as good a time as any to break out the post.

My previous incarnation as a collector sort of wound to a close when I began to collect anything and everything. No longer was there a clear definition as to what I was doing and it became more of a "job" and less of a relaxing pass-time. In amongst those disjointed obsessions was pack collecting, I had to buy one of almost every release regardless if I collected it or not.

Crazy, I know....

When I returned to collecting and started to pull all of my stuff out of storage I came across a box of unopened packs. Inside was one I had remembered quite well, it was my first and last foray into what at the time was considered "high-end" product.

Obviously the lure of this product was the guaranteed vintage card inside. To me I thoroughly enjoy the pack itself, it just looks cool.

Now, here is the problem I face. When I first bought this pack back in 1997 it was all I could do not to rip it open. It has now sat for 13 years in the very same state since purchase. I have seen boxes of this product listed for $400 and packs for over $40. Every time I look at this pack I get the itch to open it but can always "talk myself down".


Here is a scan of the back of the pack with listed inserts and stated odds.

I have placed a poll regarding the fate of this pack on the right side of my blog. The poll is set to close 1 minute after the start of the very first game of the 2010 MLB season between the New York Yankees and the Boston Red Sox.

I will bind myself to your decision and will post the results during that game. I have to say I am a bit edgy about the whole thing but in a fun, excited sort of way. So, vote for your choice. Get your friends to vote for their choice. Get your friend's friends to vote for their choice.

Let's see if this will truly be an "Opening Day" to remember!!


Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Mail Day (aka Unearthing Artifacts)

I received a package in the mail from a new friend of LFB2B the other day.

Roy left a comment on a fellow blogger's site referring to Upper Deck's 2009-10 Artifacts release and so I contacted him hoping to work a deal and gather some much needed singles for the set. Not only did he provide me with some Artifacts but Roy managed to send along some Cubbie and Blue Jay bonuses as well.

Firstly let's get to the meat of the deal.

Upper Deck Artifacts is what I guess you would call a mid-range product. The product itself, from a hobby-box perspective, is hit driven. Each pack contains one of the inserts or serial numbered cards in the set. The base set consists of 100 cards. Cards 101-135 consist of National Hockey League 'Legends" and are serial numbered. Cards 136-150 are also serial numbered and feature the games 'Stars'. The final 50 cards feature the 'Rookies' and are also serial numbered. There are the requisite jersey and autograph inserts to fill out the set. Every single card in the set has 3 different tiers of scarcity as well, those being Bronze, Silver and Gold. Suffice it to say if this were a baseball release it would proudly wear the "gimmick" tag.

The cards themselves are excellently done and if you just want a decent sized hockey set featuring the players of today then the 100-card base, which can be had for a steal, is just that.....a steal. Here's a look at a few of the cards Roy sent.

Goalie cards will always be brilliant. I was lucky enough to get 5 of them in this package.

Marty Turco (Dallas Stars)
Rick DiPietro (New York Islanders)

Peter Budaj (Colorado Avalanche)
Chris Osgood (Detroit Red Wings)

Along with a handful of other singles off my wantlist I also received a pair of cards featuring some Gold Medal heroes of the 2010 Vancouver Olympic games....

Roberto Luongo (Vancouver Canucks)

Sidney Crosby (Pittsburgh Penguins)

I included the backs in the scans because they are just as nice to look at as the fronts. I have read the sentiment expressed before and I tend to agree looking at these cards. If Upper Deck had given their Baseball releases the apparent respect and honor that they give their Hockey releases, I think it quite plausible that there would still be two companies releasing "licensed", and therefore unconfusing, Baseball cards.

Along with the Artifacts Roy took the time to include some cards from my favorite teams and players nicely packaged in pairs. (it is so easy to please a collector with

A pair of Rynos....

A pair of Hills....

...and 2 Scutaros...Hey, Topps!! 2 years and you could not find a new photo??

Not to be outdone I also received a card of the best thing to come out of Calgary, Alberta since Bret and Owen.......

Thanks again Roy and rest assured, I will be busting at least one or two more blasters of '09-'10 Artifacts so your want lists may shrink a little more. I will keep in touch for sure.


Sunday, March 14, 2010

Saturday at the LCS

This Saturday provided me with one of the rare opportunities to devote a substantial amount of time to soring out my collection and cataloguing a few more things that have come out of storage. Of course, it also afforded me an opportunity to visit my local card store as well. Usually I limit visits to during the week and they only last long enough to grab a few random packs and place orders for future product. Today I actually had a chance to thumb through several shoeboxes of singles and the ever-present $1 box, chat with the owner and customers about collecting and basically just hang out.

Armed with a couple wantlists for some of the sets I am working on I wound up with a large number of singles to sort out later. Some of the other, more interesting bounty worth sharing that I came home with helped get me closer to completing some insert sets and started me working on a few more collections.

Having decided not to bother with 2010 Topps Heritage this year has made building the insert sets a bit more difficult to say the least, but I still managed to pick up a few. Three 'Baseball Flashback' inserts featuring Luis Aparicio, Warren Spahn and Roger Maris. Two 'Then & Now' inserts featuring Roger Maris/Albert Pujols and Luis Aparicio/Jacoby Ellsbury and 1 'News Flashback' insert featuring Mohammed Hassan II.

I also picked up 4 of 10 base set cards that will make a nice stand alone sub-set. Cards #'d 401-410 parallel the 'Baseball Thrills' cards from the original '61 set. However, three of the cards' subjects differ from the original set, the others are the same except the Mantle (card #406) is featured with a different photo. Here are the four I picked up today paired with their 1961 counterparts.

2010 Topps Heritage #403 (left)
1961 Topps #403 (right)

2010 Topps Heritage #406 (left)
1961 Topps #406 (right)

2010 Topps Heritage #408 (left)
1961 Topps #408 (right)

2010 Topps Heritage #410 (left)
1961 Topps #410 (right)

Either way it matters to me very little, the only card that might have been better to have in the set was Larsen's Perfect Game but in the end it is still a cool looking page of cards when finished. Hopefully someday I will put together the 1961 set of these 10 cards as well. The last Heritage purchase was a chrome Adam Lind card to go towards this years crop of Blue Jays I will be collecting.

Amongst a handful of base cards for Topps Series 1 I snagged a few inserts too, including a gracious and welcoming Derrek Lee, a card I was never lucky enough to own in the first place let alone risk my mother throwing it out, and a card commemorating THE event in Baseball Card History.

While searching through several unmarked shoeboxes of cards I came across some 2009-10 Upper Deck Champs Hockey minis. When this set first came out it was still fairly early on in my return to collecting and so my sights were set more on reacquainting myself with the hobby and trying not to get overwhelmed by too much product. I ignored this release at the time but some of the sub-set cards were interesting. I found these five cards and decided to try and eventually find the rest.

I wanted to make sure that before I left I would take a trip through the dollar box. Seeing the success that some of the other bloggers have had with "bargain bin" cards I had the itch now. Nothing really amazing to find but a few cards that peaked my interest came home with me. I have gathered a few of the 'Topps 50th Anniversary' Reprints from several sources and added a couple more here.

The Ryne Sandberg 'Spirit of the Game' was just to fill a hole in that player collection. The Heritage mini red-back and the T-205 mini were the first pick-up in what will, more than likely, become a bigger collection someday.

All things considered it felt really good to be able to hang out in the card store and get back to one of the aspects of collecting that makes it fun for me. When you get to gather with other collectors, talk about your collection and listen to others talk about theirs, it reinforces why you do this in the first place. Hopefully I can start to make these Saturday visits a regular occurrence, it sure does the soul some good.


Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Mail Day (aka The Lone Star State serves some T-206 on a Plate)

A long while back I had posted a three box break of 2009 Topps T-206 100th Anniversary baseball and Brian from 'Play at the Plate' expressed interest in one of the Cycle minis I pulled even though it was badly mis-cut. Having vowed not to make that card a part of any trade, we worked out a deal to help each other with some of the base set singles as well as a mish-mash of whatever else we collected. Today I beheld a beautiful sight when I walked through the door after another long day at work.


I have said it before and will say it again, nothing chases the blues away like a stuffed envelope sitting at the door when you come home.

The very first thing that greeted me when I opened it was this handful of minis that will quickly be added to the set I am working to complete. Over 50% of the way there.

Next out of the package were some some of the T-206 base cards as well. 'I Am Joe Collector' has posted a very interesting poll on his blog asking which set collectors prefer from last year, T-206 or Allen & Ginter. The big plus for me is that the photos on T-206 were completely different from other Topps releases that year. Very little photo-recycling as far as I could tell. Also, I collected T-206 so it was an easy choice for me, however, I may just have to do a little more "research" into this and get up-close-and-personal with A&G's 2009 offering!

The "sweet spot" of the trade, for me, was that Brian included one of the framed autos he pulled. I have decided to make the completion of this set my quest. I like everything about these;

#1 - They are on card
#2 - The Piedmont frame
#3 - The sheer challenge of trying to put together the set. I need a challenge.

Last but not least, Brian fed my love of retro based designed cards by sending some 2008 Goudy as well as an '09 High # Heritage card I need. The bundle included some Cubbie goodness.... first Sport Royalty insert from Goudy....

....and I just had to post this card of "Scooter".....

simply because I was watching one of my favorite 'Seinfeld' episodes the other day.

Thanks to 'Play at the Plate' for the trade and rest assured Brian, I am sending out my end of the deal tomorrow as I finally bought more bubble mailers. If you want a great trade partner then check out Brian's want lists and drop him a line. What the heck, check mine out to the right of this article. Let's work something out.