Thursday, February 28, 2013

2010 Topps USA Baseball Carson Kelly Autograph

I picked up my second Carson Kelly autograph this past week.  According to FanGraphs, Kelly is rated as a Top 10 prospect in the deep Cardinals minor league system.  While the front of the card lists Kelly as a right-handed pitcher, he is playing third base in the professional ranks and projects to have a very good bat with power potential.

2010 Topps USA Baseball Carson Kelly Autograph

As I mentioned before, this is my second Carson Kelly autograph.  My other Kelly autograph is also an on-card USA Baseball issue, but the signature clearly has evolved over time.  I actually prefer the signature on the 2011 card better, but still prefer this card to his first professional autograph which was issued in the Bowman Sterling set last fall and features a sticker autograph.  

2013 Topps Chasing The Dream Lance Lynn Jersey Card

Besides the Carson Kelly card, I also picked up a Lance Lynn jersey card.  This seems to be the basic Topps jersey card for the 2013 set, or the most common, but I am still happy to pick up a nice card of the Cardinals hurler.  

Wednesday, February 27, 2013

2012 Topps Triple Threads Dayan Viciedo Jersey/Autograph

Proof that it is not Tigers week on my blog.  The appearance of a Chicago White Sox card.  I picked up this Dayan Viciedo autograph last week on the cheap after spending the better part of a year looking off and on for one of his cards.  He also has an autograph in the 2010 Bowman Chrome set which usually sells for around $20.

2012 Topps Triple Threads Dayan Viciedo Jersey/Autograph

I first saw Viciedo playing for the White Sox AAA team the Charlotte Knights a few years ago.  While the Knights are usually pretty thin in talent I was really impressed with the power that Viciedo displayed in the game by hitting a rare home run to the left-center field of the Durham Bulls ballpark.  That corner of the field is a reasonable 371 feet away from home plate, but also features a 20 foot wall. Viciedo cleared the fence quite easily and has moved up from Charlotte to the middle of the White Sox batting order.  

Tuesday, February 26, 2013

2012 Topps Five Star Miguel Cabrera Jersey/Autograph

The Five Star release was easily the best product put out on the market last year by Topps.  While it is definitely a high-end product, the cards are well worth the money.  Especially if you can find some of the single cards out on the secondary market.  My favorite part of this product is the fact that Topps actually put out a high end product with on-card autographs.  I completely understand why a box of base Topps might have sticker autographs to keep prices low, but when you are selling people a box of cards with one pack for a couple of hundred dollars, you can pay some players to actually sign their cards.  Which brings me to the latest addition to my collection:

2012 Topps Five Star Miguel Cabrera Jersey/Autograph

I have been working on adding more Cabrera cards to my collection during the past year and have added several really nice cards.   This autograph might be my favorite.  While Cabrera does not have the most artistic signature, he is very consistent in how he signs his name.  This card has a great signature and a piece of white Tigers home jersey.  A definite keeper.

Monday, February 25, 2013

2013 Topps Silver Slugger Award Prince Fielder

I picked up one last Silver Slugger award for the collection in the middle of last week.  I was happy to see Prince Fielder's name on the checklist a week or so before the 2013 Topps product dropped, but was a little reluctant to pick up the card when I saw that Prince was wearing a Brewers jersey on the card.  I dabbled a little bit with Prince cards during the past year with him ending up on the Tigers last off season, but I haven't gone all in on Prince.

2013 Topps Silver Slugger Prince Fielder

Fielder actually won the Silver Slugger last season for the Tigers in his first season in Detroit.  I also got to check out a Tigers game last summer where I learned that Prince cannot slide.  Really, check out the video below.  Just like my Matt Kemp Silver Slugger card, the Prince is a very thick card and the metal bat on the side is really metal and is pretty heavy.  I am finished picking up manufactured cards from the first series of 2013 Topps cards unless I can find the Ken Griffey Jr. Silver Slugger card for a reasonable price.  

Sunday, February 24, 2013

2013 Topps Cut To The Chase Ken Griffey Jr.

I have spent a little bit of time raving about the first series of the 2013 flagship product for the past few weeks and am going to bend your ear for a few more minutes this afternoon.  Again, this product has been one of the best Topps issues in recent memories and there is plenty of good to go around.  One of my favorite inserts in the 2013 Topps set is the die-cut Cut To The Chase Set.

2013 Topps Cut To The Chase Ken Griffey Jr. 

I have not devoted a post to this insert yet, but I did put a scan of the Andrew McCutchen card in my glance post when the 2013 Topps set first dropped.  This insert set reminds me a lot of some of the die-cut cards that Pacific used to put out every year.  Topps, Upper Deck, Pinnalce, Fleer, Panini and all the other card companies that have existed in some form or fashion during my time collecting cards cannot hold a candle to the die cut cards of Pacific.

Topps tried die-cuts back in the mid 90's with their Topps Laser product, but the cards were so complexly cut that they were hard to keep in mint condition.  Topps started working some nice die-cut cards into some of last year's products, but I was really impressed with the Cut To The Chase inserts and will make these my final mission for my 2013 Topps collection.  I am hoping that Topps will continue this insert into the 2nd Series and the Traded/Update set, however no picture is shown in the released photos.

Saturday, February 23, 2013

A Quick Glance: 2013 Topps Turkey Red

Topps released it's second product of this year this week in the form of their Turkey Red product.  This is a relaunch of a product for Topps who used this brand name in the mid 2000s and dropped the label after a few years before picking it back up this year with a couple of changes to the line.  The first few Turkey Red releases by Topps featured a mid range price point with the possibility of an autograph per box along with about two relics.  The base set wasn't hard to assemble, nor difficult to buy on the secondary market.  The mid 2000 Turkey Red releases were also available at retail outlets which greatly increased the number of cards produced and drove down the price on the secondary market.  This year's Turkey Red is completely different.

2013 Topps Turkey Red Adam Wainwright

The boxes of 2013 Turkey Red cost around $40 give or take depending on where you find the box.  Each box is essential one pack with ten cards and one autograph.  It's a high end formula, one pack per box, with a slightly lower than normal price.  The base cards are nicer than the mid 2000s issues of Turkey Red, but you can tell from my Adam Wainwright above that they are essential a very similar card.  The base set is composed of 100 cards which means it will take a minimum of 10 boxes, or $400, for a shot at a complete set.  The price point and limitations on completing a base set have actually made the base cards pretty valuable on the secondary market.  However, the real key to opening a pack per box product is always the autograph.  There are always some good and not so good cards that can come out of these boxes that can make or break your purchase. 

2013 Topps Turkey Red Felix Hernandez Autograph

In my box of Turkey Red cards I was able to pull a Felix Hernandez autograph which made this product well worth my $40.  The card has a print run of 20 and is selling nicely on Ebay.  Haven't seen any for trade yet, but I think this one might stay right here with me.  My only suggestion for improving the product would be to have the autographs be signed on-card.  Turkey Red used to be a $70-$80 box, or a $2.50 retail product with on-card autographs.  Now it's a $40 pack per box, one autograph product and we get sticker autographs?  Charge me $50 and get the players to sign the cards.

2013 Topps Turkey Red Zack Greinke 

Overall, this is a really nice product and given the value of the base cards at the moment collectors can easily break open a box and get their money back if they desire, or feel justification for their money spent if they are adding to their collection.  For collectors trying to build a set, a box might be a good starting point to a good challenging set to assemble.  I really like these cards and Topps is 2 for 2 in my book for the year.  

Friday, February 22, 2013

A Pair of Pumas

Baseball starts tomorrow for my Cardinals tomorrow when they play their first spring training game.  In a few weeks they will begin their regular season and a quest for the 12th World Series Championship in the franchise's illustrious history.  The last championship for the team occurred in 2011 and last season the team came within a game of returning to the World Series falling to the Giants in the National League Championship Series.

The Cardinals have generally left the roster alone this off-season making a few small moves to add or subtract players.  In my opinion, the biggest move this year was the the subtraction of first baseman/outfielder Lance Berkman.  Understandably, Allen Craig has established himself as the everyday first baseman and the outfield is crowded with Jon Jay, Matt Holliday, Carlos Beltran, and uber prospect Oscar Taveras.

While the team is in good hands for the future and Berkman only played one healthy season, with the 2011 World Series team, during his time in St. Louis, the presence of the Big Puma will be missed.  My favorite Berkman moment came during the sixth game of the 2011 World Series.  While many people remember the show that David Freese put on tying the game in the 9th inning with two outs and two strikes, and then later winning the game on a walk off home run, I will always remember the Berkman at-bats that made it possible.

First, in the ninth inning Berkman walked in front of Freese and scored from first base when the Cardinals third baseman tripled to left field.  The Rangers came back in the tenth and took a two run lead when Josh Hamilton hit a two run home run.  That home run set the stage for the Cardinals second at-bat of the night taken with two outs and two strikes.  My favorite Berkman highlight:

Of course, I also knew Berkman for the many years he played on the Astros as the Cardinals rival.  While I was not pulling for the Astros to win, their teams featured classy players and were much easier to watch and enjoy than the mid 80s Mets teams, or frankly any Cubs team from any year.  So, even though the Big Puma has taken his talents to the Rangers for the 2013 season, I am still going to add more Berkman cards to my collection.  Especially ones where he is wearing the birds on the bat.  

2013 Topps Chasing History Lance Berkman Jersey

First up this evening is a Lance Berkman from the newly released 2013 Topps series one set.  The card hails from the Chasing History set which features a small piece of Cardinals road jersey and a blurb about a record the player has, or is chasing.  In this case, the card recognizes Berkman as the National League's all-time OPS record holder for a switch hitter.  I was quite surprised that he ranks ahead of Chipper Jones, but he does indeed hold the record.  

2012 Topps Triple Threads Lance Berkman Jersey

Last one for the day.  I also picked up a 2012 Topps Triple Threads Lance Berkman jersey card.  This is my second Lance Berkman Triple Threads jersey card from the 2012 set, but I like this one since Lance is sporting his shades.  Look through a stack of Lance cards, or just watch him the next time you see a Rangers game on and chances are good that Lance might be rocking some really cool sun glasses.  

2013 Topps Cy Young Commemorative Bob Gibson

The first series of 2013 Topps has now been out several weeks and I am still interested and adding more cards.  That has not happened in awhile with a base Topps set.  Over the past four or five years there have been good parts of Topps set, but this is the most complete product that Topps has slapped their flagship label on in years.  So, there are still a few Cardinals cards and inserts which are floating around and I am still hoping to add to my collection.  Earlier this week, I crossed one of those cards off of my list.

2013 Topps Cy Yong Commemorative Bob Gibson 

Last weekend I had posted my Chris Carpenter Cy Young Award card, but did not consider my collection of Topps cards from series one complete without this awesome Gibby.  Just like the Carpenter, this is an extremely thick card and the Cy Young award on the right-hand side is metallic and not plastic.  Very nice card recognizing the Cardinals Hall of Famer's legendary 1968 Cy Young performance.

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

2011 Topps USA Baseball Carson Kelly Autograph

I remember ten or fifteen years ago going out and trying to find all the cool Cardinals prospect cards.  The list included Joe McEwing, Bo Hart, Jim Journell, and many other not so fabulous names.  Hart played a great half a season.  So did Super Joe McEwing, but the Cardinals generally lacked real talent.  Even J.D. Drew turned out to be a bit of a flop.  I guess at least the Cardinals traded him for Adam Wainwright.

Times have changed for Cardinals and for collectors looking for great young players in their farm system.  The team has been on the rise for the last several years and are now widely regarded as the top minor league by several different well respected baseball sites.  Finding Cardinals minor leaguers on cardboard has gone from a crawl to a sprint over the last several years.  It seems like there is always a new name to look for and they are getting hard and more expensive to find.  Meet my latest find:

2011 Topps USA Baseball Carson Kelly Autograph

Carson Kelly was drafted by the Cardinals as a third baseman last summer by the Cardinals.  He is often listed as a pitcher on his baseball cards, but is sticking with the hot corner for his professional career.  It's a little bit tricky to get a good read on where Kelly will fall as a professional.  He ranks highly with several different prospect sites, but his numbers in the minors are not all that great.  For example, FanGraphs ranks him in the top 10 with a very highly ceiling.  They even go as far to compare him to Buster Posey.  Not sure I am ready to get too hyped up about Carson Kelly, but his autographs usually sell in the ballpark of $5 to $10.  If you are going to roll the dice on someone who is a high ceiling prospect than I suppose that is a small price to pay.

2012 Topps Five Star Jumbo Jerseys

There is an old adage that buying a brand car is a horrible investment since the second you drive it off the dealer's parking lot you've lost thousands of dollars.  Honestly, I like new cars and both of the cars I currently own I bought brand new straight off the lot.  They both had that terrific new car smell and are still both fun to drive.

 In many way baseball cards a little bit like new cars.  Last fall one of the last releases of the 2012 card year put out by Topps was the Five Star set.  Collectors loved this high-end product and flocked to buy up the wax.  Cards also popped up all over the secondary market and were really popular.  I picked up several along the way focusing mainly on the autographs.  Since they were low-print runs and on-card autographs, I figured that many of the cards would run dry after a short time on the market.  My favorite autograph I picked up was this Evan Longoria:

So, how does this all relate to driving a brand new car of the lot?  If you could move back the hands of time to the week that Five Star was released and set a goal to trade or purchase three jumbo Five Star jersey cards you would likely have paid fifteen to twenty dollars in trade for each of the cards.  Collectors opening wax were quick to throw the large jersey swatches up on Ebay and recoup some of their money.  I had three primary targets: David Price, Matt Moore, and David Freese.

The week of the Five Star release I had the opportunity to buy all three for around $65 delivered.  I did not like the number, so I waited.  While cards maintain there new card luster a little longer than a new car, the price eventually does float downward.  You just need a little bit of patience.  So, this weekend I was looking around for some cards when someone approached me with two Rays jumbo jerseys.

2012 Topps Five Star David Price Jumbo Jersey

 2012 Topps Five Star Matt Moore Jumbo Jersey 

I naturally picked up both cards and was able to swing a day later that day for my third, and final, jumbo jersey card from my target list.  David Freese.  All in all, it was a successful day and went a long way in wrapping up my collection of Five Star cards.  I have one more autograph I am trying to track down and I will be able to put this set to rest.

2012 Topps Five Star David Freese Jumbo Jersey

Tuesday, February 19, 2013

1998 Topps Tek Set Update

I am still working on completing my 1998 Topps Tek set with the goal to complete the set by the end of month.  That gives me a little more than a week to find and acquire the remaining cards in the set.  Let's take a look at where I was after the last update:

2 Kerry Wood, 3 Barry Bonds, 6 Frank Thomas, 16 Brady Anderson, 17 Vladimir Guerrero, 18 Dave Justice, 19 Chipper Jones, 21 Roger Clemens, 22 Mark Kotsay, 23 Tony Gwynn, 26 Andruw Jones, 29 Gary Sheffield, 32 Curt Schilling, 33 Robin Ventura, 34 Larry Walker, 42 Derek Bell, 45 Kenny Lofton, 51 Cal Ripken, 52 Jason Kendall, 60 Juan Gonzalez, 62 Jose Cruz, 64 Edgar Martinez, 76 Derrek Lee, 79 Jeff King, 80 Mike Mussina,  86 Mike Piazza

That's 26 cards left to go.  Last week was a slow week on the Topps Tek front.  I was able to locate several cards, but was only able to pick up a grand total of two cards.  One disadvantage of advertising the fact that you are looking for cards is that some traders will try to make the cards worth a little bit more than what they are really worth.  The two cards I was able to trade for are below:

1998 Topps Tek Brady Anderson 

1998 Topps Tek Derrek Lee

That would bring my checklist down to twenty-four cards except that does not include my progress from this weekend.  My fortunes turned around a bit and I was able to pick up an additional ninteen cards from my want list.  Throw in a trade from Twitter and there are 20 new Topps Tek cards on their way to my mailbox at the moment.  Leaving me with a scant four cards to find over the next week and a few days.  My new list now reads:

David Justice, Tony Gwynn, Jason Kendall, Juan Gonzalez, and Mike Piazza.

New Ray Lankford Cards

I've got to drop a Ray Lankford update in every once in awhile.  The last time I made a post with a new Ray Lankford card a Twitter follower asked me when I was going to post the cards that I normally post again.  I will answer the question early this morning and say: later today.  Every collector needs an interesting player or niche for their collection.  For me, I enjoy finding my Ray Lankford cards.  They are generally inexpensive and has been retired long enough that the cards are a good challenge to track down.  This past week I was actually able to add two more cards to my Ray Lankford collection.

1999 Bowman Chrome International Refractor Ray Lankford 

First up this morning is the 1999 Bowman Chrome International Refractor Ray Lankford.  The International Refractors are limited to a print run of 100 and differ from the normal refractor in the background of the card.  The normal Bowman Chrome card has the same picture of Lankford, but there is a dugout in the background of the regular card.  The International Cards have pictures or flags in the backgrounds depending on the year of the card.  I rather like the flags, but this is still a nice new card to add to the Lankford collection.

1997 Skybox EX-2000 Ray Lankford Essential Credentials 

I have picked up several of the Essential Credential cards for Ray Lankford over the years and posted them in my space here.  However, I had never picked up a copy of the 1997 version until this past week.  Skybox ran the Essential Credentials set as a straight parallel the first year they ran this set.  Meaning that this card is serial numbered 299 along with all the other Essential Credential cards.  The 1998 set began the leveled print runs.

Monday, February 18, 2013

In Case You Missed It: 2013 Snorting Bull Blog Contest

One of the coolest things about having a baseball card blog is holding contests.  I have toyed with different contests during the past year and have decided to settle on holding a single contest every year centered around the launch date of my blog of March 8th.  This year's addition will be starting this afternoon and running through March 8th.  I have enjoyed my time blogging and do not plan on stop anytime soon, so this will be an annual event.  The rules and actual contest are going to be fairly simple.  I have learned that simple is better.  So, here goes:

1st Annual Snorting Bull Baseball Card Blog Contest

On March 8th I will be giving away one copy of a 2013 Stan Musial Commemorative MVP Trophy card to one lucky contest winner.  To enter the contest, you must simply follow the Snorting Bull blog,  like or friend my Facebook page, or follow our Twitter account.  You may enter up to four times if you follow my blog in all four places.  There are no trivia questions or crazy partial pictures of baseball cards to track down.  Pretty simple stuff.  On March 8th, I will randomly draw one follower from one of the sites to win the fantastic baseball card below.  

1998 Donruss Signature Sandy Koufax Autograph

I am always in the market to add a great Hall of Fame signature to my collection, while at the same time try to balance value and finding new autographs of players that I do not have in my collection.  Last spring I was able to pick up an autograph of Sandy Koufax for my collection.  At the time it was my second Koufax autograph and represented a significant upgrade over my other Koufax autograph which was a 1998 Donruss Signature.  I was able to trade this other Koufax autograph for a bundle of cards and fill in some other holes, needs, and wants in collection.

1998 Donruss Signature Significant Signatures Sandy Koufax Autograph

and we've come full circle in a little less than a year.  Why acquire another copy of this card?  One of the best things about the late 90s Donruss Signature Series cards is that they were completely overproduced.  Overproduction means that they often cannot be traded or sold for nearly as much as the depicted player's autograph may otherwise sell.  For example, this Koufax autograph has a print run of 2000.  Most recently issued Koufax autographs are print runs of 100 or less.  They both feature autographs of Sandy Koufax, but this card can be found a little more than $100 if you are patient and in the right place at the right time.  For collectors walking a line between owning great cards and staying within a budget, the Donruss Signature Series cards a great set to check out.

Sunday, February 17, 2013

2012 Topps Skip Schumaker Squirrel Short Print

I waited a long time this past year to pick up the imfamous "Squirrel Card".  I was excited when I the 2012 Topps cards dropped and saw that such a card existed, but a little bit skeptical when the first first couple prints to sell on Ebay crossed $500.  I love the Cardinals, love that they won the World Series in 2011 after the squirrel ran on the field, but not sure that I love Skip Schumaker for $500.  I am not sure that I love Stan Musial or Albert Pujols for $500.  Luckily, the card came down in value and I was able to secure a copy about a month and a half ago.

2012 Topps Skip Schumaker Squirrel Short Print

Last week, I ran into another copy of the Skip Schumaker squirrel variation and was able to swing a trade for the card.  The card is a little bit gimmicky, but is a really cool card that will continue to remain popular and valuable.  I kind of think about it being in the same class as the 2006 Topps Alex Gordon card.  Another pretty ridiculous card, but still really popular and still highly sought after.  I was also able to pick up another sweet card in the trade too.  

2010 Topps Triple Threads Ivan Rodriguez Relic/Autograph

I was also excited to get my hands on this card.  I have used the word "dry" on my blog before in describing a card and been asked questions about it, so I will take a few minutes to explain it here, since this card is definitely a "dry" card.  Anytime you are buying, selling, or trading a card there are different reference points a collector can use to help determine the value of a card.  The least valuable is Beckett. It is archaic and dated, further the information is at least thirty days old.  Many times older, which is bad for newer cards which are often initially inflated in value.  The second place reference point is searching for completed sales.  You can ask a dealer or store owner, check out a website like Check Out My Cards, or hunt the completed listings on Ebay.  So, what happens when you cannot find the card? 

That's when you can say a card is dry.  Ivan Rodriguez currently has three Triple Threads cards on Ebay that are for sale or have sold and one on Check Out My Cards.  The completed listing on Ebay was for a triple autograph with Johnny Bench and Carlton Fisk and sold for $180.  The current two listings are for a simple three piece jersey for $24 and this card for $90.  COMC has one jersey card for just south of $20.  Find an Ivan Rodriguez collector and they will tell you that you can find lots of different autographs, but the Triple Threads are almost all gone and rarely come up for sale.  As a Matt Holliday collector I can tell you that the same thing happens with his Triple Threads autographs too.  Always nice to add a card like this to your collection.  

2013 Topps Cy Young Award Chris Carpenter

I've been working on putting the finishing touches on my 2013 Topps Series 1 collection by picking up a few manufactured pieces.  Topps has really done a great job with this set and I have enjoyed picking up a few patches and Silver Slugger awards during the past week.  Yesterday, I added my third different type of manufactured card from Series I with the addition of a Chris Carpenter Cy Young Award.

2013 Topps Cy Young Award Winner Chris Carpenter

This card is a really sweet find and very well done piece by Topps.  I was surprised at the thickness of this card, which is actually thicker than the Silver Slugger Award cards.  The Cy Young Award on the right hand side of the card is a nice thick metal replica, not plastic.  The best part of all is the fact that the card features Cardinals pitcher Chris Carpenter.  Topps has not put out a lot of cool Carpenter cards, but I guess he has only really pitched one full season since the company has landed the exclusive licensing rights for Major League Baseball cards.  I have one more Cy Young award card en route and a Silver Slugger to finish out my manufactured pieces for Series 1.  

Saturday, February 16, 2013

My Two Cents on Scrubbing Charlie Hustle

Much has been made this week surrounding a Yahoo Sports Blog regarding the fact that Topps has scrubbed Pete Rose off of their baseball cards.  To summarize: Topps recently issued the 2013 Topps Series cards.  On the back of each players cards there is a line in between their personal information and career stats which highlights a career chase statistic showing the distance the featured player is away from a great baseball milestone.

In particular, much as been made out of the cards that highlight the distance players are away from the all time hits record.  The A.J. Pierzynski card shows that he is 2,611 hits away from the record.  However, other cards featuring other records name the player that holds the record.

For example, Matt Holliday is 533 home runs away from Barry Bonds all-time home run record.  Throughout the set pitchers are compared to Cy Young's win total and Nolan Ryan's strikeout record.  Hitters are compared to Bonds, Tris Speaker, Rickey Henderson, and other all-time career holders.  It appears that Rose was deliberately snubbed by Topps.  However, the article does point out a card that Rose appears on:

The 2006 Topps Update set features a Shawn Green card with a Pete Rose cartoon in the upper left hand corner.  This card has lead many collectors to the conclusion that the decision to snub Pete Rose has been a recent decision.  However, I think that this card is more likely a product of lax quality control on the part of Topps.  Let's face it, quality control and attention to detail happens some of the time at Topps, but not all of the time.  My guess is that the cartoon on the back of the Shawn Green card simply slipped through the cracks.

Topps has not issued a single Pete Rose card since he was banned from baseball.  His last regular issue card was this 1989 Topps card.  Since this card, they have not produced one single card of the all-time hits leader.  Since Rose is banned from Major League Baseball and they issue a license to Topps to print and manufacture baseball cards, it's easy to see why the Reds great has been absent for the past 24 years.  Topps ability to keep and maintain their license would probably take a turn for the worst if the issued a Pete Rose card.  They are kind of walking on egg shells.  It also hasn't stopped other companies and Pete Rose from still cashing in on his name.

Leaf and Rose have been issuing a set of cards together for the past several years.  The cards are all about Pete and feature tons of autographs.  Frankly, the move has helped Leaf stay afloat without having a full licensing agreement, you can imagine it will never get one now, but cheapened the signature of Pete Rose.  This card can be found for around $25 or less on Ebay.  Way cheaper than standing in line to get Pete to sign something.  

Really, the whole Pete Rose thing is awkward and weird at this point.  After the Pete Rose gambling investigation ended he was banned from baseball and the former commissioner of baseball, Bart Giamatti died shortly afterwards of a heart attack.  Many blamed Rose.  Rose on the other hand has gone into walking a bipolar line between thumbing his nose at Major League Baseball and pleading with Bud Selig for reinstatement.  Really, at some point I think that Rose will be recognized by Major League baseball and be reinstated.  Even Elect to the Hall of Fame.  However, I also am not going to be surprised if Major League Baseball does not let Rose get to see himself in the Hall of Fame.  Until then most in baseball will pretend that Rose never played, while others will tip toe around the issue.  I can't really blame Topps for dodging the Pete Rose name on the back of their cards this year, but perhaps they could find a subtle way to give Charlie Hustle a shout out.  The Reds walk this line every year.  Do you see the nod to Charlie Hustle in this picture?  

Friday, February 15, 2013

2010 Topps Sterling Andre Dawson Six Piece Relic

I am thinking that this card could possibly be the greatest Montreal Expos card in my collection.  It depends if we are counting the Nationals, or if the Nationals are claiming the Expos.  I've been intrigued during the past two years with the emergence of Nationals fans springing up around central North Carolina, along with a MASN appearance on several local cable carriers, to hear their take on the world of baseball.

Growing up a Cardinals fan I know that I have had it really good.  The Expos, on the other hand, made one playoff appearance in 1981, which I do not remember, and should have made another in 1994 when the strike derailed their season.  The other thirty some years that I have followed baseball, the Expos/Nationals have been pretty irrelevant.  Worse is the fact that many of the other professional baseball teams that have called Washington home have also been terrible.  The city's streak of playoff futility is rivaled by only the Chicago Cubs.

However, the irrelevance is now starting to change around the team.  They have several great young players and seem poised to be a very good team for the next several seasons.  The team has also created a Ring of Honor, kind of football like, to recognize past players from the Expos and other Washington baseball teams.  One of the players appearing on the Ring of Honor is Expos great Andre Dawson.

2010 Topps Tribute Andre Dawson Six Piece Relic

Dawson was recently elected to the Baseball Hall of Fame as an Expo becoming the second player to do so.  The first was Gary Carter.  Despite his direct connection to the franchise along with his Hall of Fame credentials, I am often disappointed when Nationals fans, or worse the team's broadcasters, scoff at the teams history.  There are two takes: The Nationals started in 2005 and Ryan Zimmerman is currently the greatest National until Bryce Harper or Steven Strasburg can pass him for the honor.  Or... The Nationals greatest player is Walter Johnson or Andre Dawson or Harmon Killebrew or Josh Gibson or Gary Carter depending on the day and whether or not we are counting the Expos or not.  Somedays we count the Senators, somedays not.  Somedays one of the Senators teams, but not the bad one.  Oh, they were both pretty bad?  

I was encouraged when the Nats created the Ring of Honor and was hoping that they would do a great job of marketing the direct past history of the franchise by honoring some of the great Expos players I watched growing up like Andre Dawson, Tim Raines, Pedro Martinez, and Larry Walker.  I would also love to hear about some of the great players that have played for Washington baseball teams like Walter Johnson and Josh Gibson.  

I think that many fans understand that the franchise history of the Expos/Nationals has not always been great, nor has the history of many of the Washington baseball teams.  However, it would be nice if the franchise and fans were more consistent in honoring the players featured in the Ring of Honor by not claiming that your 19 year old right fielder is the greatest right fielder in the history of the franchise.  Or knowing that before Steven Strasburg pitched in Washington, Walter Johnson was one the greatest pitchers in the history of the game. 

So to clarify my statement from the first line.  This card is the greatest Montreal Expos card that I own and I consider it to be one of my better Washington Nationals cards too.  Now, if we can get the Nationals to start selling some Expos shirts, or at lease a Senators shirt, we would be in business.  

2002 Topps Gold Label MLB Awards Ceremony Joe Torre Jersey

I've spent the past six months doing a 30 Year Top 50 countdown were I picked out the best sets of that time.  I almost thought about turning my countdown into a year long celebration of cool cards from the past thirty years, but settled for the countdown format instead.  If I had picked out a few sets every week to write a blog post on the 2002 Topps Gold Label set would have definitely made an appearance somewhere along the line.  The base cards in the set are alright.  Glossy and high end in appearance.  The relic card set is really cool though.  

2002 Topps Gold Label MLB Awards Ceremony Joe Torre

Meet the latest addition to my collection, which comes from the 2002 Topps Gold relic set.  The whole concept behind the relic set revolves around former MLB Award winners.  Hence the name of the set, MLB Award Ceremony.  Topps actually ran this same set in the 2001 Gold Label release, but greatly improved the set the following year by adding in older players from the 60s, 70s, and 80s.  I own several other cards from this set including a sweet Bill Buckner and Bill Madlock, so I was happy to add this copy of Joe Torre.  The card recognizes Torre as the 1971 National League MVP and features a piece of grey polyester jersey.  

The cards can be condition sensitive so be sure to check the card over carefully before plunking down good money or cards for one of these in purchase or trade.  The left hand side of the card has a silver metallic finish that is often scratched on these cards.  The relic pieces are also held in place by a thin, flexible piece of plastic (it almost feels like plastic wrap) and can also wear.  Lots of great names in this set and cool cards.  Be sure to check them out and add a few to your collection.  

Wednesday, February 13, 2013

2013 Topps World Series Champions Buster Posey Patch/Autograph

Topps began issuing a set of relic and autographed cards from the previous seasons World Series Champion starting with their 2006 set which featured the White Sox.  The cards are usually pretty popular and usually get swallowed up pretty quickly.  I first took interest in the cards when I pulled a Frank Thomas jersey card out of a pack of 2006 Topps.

2006 Topps World Series Champions Frank Thomas Jersey

I thought the cards were a pretty cool idea, so I have made finding one card from the World Series champions card set a priority for my collection.  Some years I will settle for any card from the set if I am indifferent about the team, but other years I try to pick up a certain player.  For example, I was really excited to put together a few cards from the 2007 set with the Cardinals.  I could have easily gone after a Pujols card, or one of the other name Cardinals players, but instead went after a card of Jeff Weaver.  

2007 Topps Word Series Champions Jeff Weaver Jersey

Weaver pitched a great clincher game for the Cardinals in the 2006 World Series and had several other great pitching performances in the earlier rounds of the playoffs.  I figured if I was ever going to hunt down a Jeff Weaver card, this was the one to find.  While I wouldn't say no to a Pujols card from this set, they generally trade or sell for over $100.  Yawn.  Which brings me to this years World Series Champions addition:

2012 Topps World Series Champions Buster Posey Autograph/Patch

I am not a huge fan of the design of these cards, especially the blue plaid stuff up at the top of the card.   However, I love the patch piece with the gold, orange, and black piece.  Great piece of patch and Topps has sprinkled many great ones throughout the set with many of the Giants players including Posey.  Now, I've been on a bit of a Posey kick lately and figured that this would be a sufficient addition to cover having a card from this set for this year.  

Monday, February 11, 2013

The Snorting Bull's Guide To Chris Carpenter Autographs

Although Chris Carpenter is not officially announcing his retirement, I am going to consider last week's bad news about his reoccuring nerve damage in his throwing arm the end of his career.  I would love to come back here in this space next year and be completely wrong and spend a post eating my words.  I am just not counting on it.  Carpenter has been the greatest Cardinals pitcher during my lifetime and has been among the better Cardinals pitchers not named Bob Gibson.

My three favorite Carpenter games were the 4th game of the 2006 World Series, the fifth game of the Division Series versus the Phillies in 2011, and the 7th game of the 2011 World Series.  All really good games were Carp pitched at a high level on the biggest stage in the game.

The recent news also promoted me to take a little bit of time to shuffle back through my Chris Carpenter cards I've been able to pick up since he joined the Cardinals in 2003.  He's a pretty tough find for autographs, but I have been fortunate enough to add a few of his cards to my collection over the past decade.

First, a word of warning.  There are actually three different Chris Carpenter's that have autographed baseball cards.  There is Cris Carpenter who pitched for the Cardinals, Rangers, and Brewers during the late eighties through the mid 90s.  Cris Carpenter, spelled Chris Carpenter on the card, has an autograph in the 1996 Leaf Signature Set.  There is also Chris Carpenter who pitched for the Cubs and Red Sox the last two years.  He has lots of generic Chris Carpenter autographs for Razor products.  Then there is the real Chris Carpenter:

1999 Skybox Autographics Chris Carpenter Autograph 

Carpenter played during some of the large autograph sets of the 90s and early 2000s, but his only autograph during that time was this 1999 Skybox card.  The autograph is on-card which is extremely rare for Carpenter.  The overwhelming majority of his cards are sticker autographs.  This card is not too difficult to find and will set you back somewhere between $20-$30 depending on where you look.  

2007 UD Elements Chris Carpenter Jersey/Autograph

The UD Elements autographs are probably the next easiest Carpenter autograph to find depending on the variation of card.  I believe that there are two or three versions of this card with different foil colors and serial numbers.  It's a nice card that I have always enjoyed and again, not too difficult to find.  The price tag is going to be similar to the Skybox card, but the higher print run of 350, can sometimes drop below $20 on Ebay and Check Out My Cards.  

2007 MLB Artifacts Divisional Artifacts Chris Carpenter Jersey/Autograph

The remainder of Carpenter's autographs are very similar.  All of them are Upper Deck products, most are from the mid 2000s, and most of them have a low print of 25 or less.  There are several that I do not own, but they do not vary much from the last three that I am going to display.  Starting with the card pictured above from the 2007 Artifacts set.  

2007 UD Ultimate Collection Chris Carpenter Jersey/Autograph

He actually have several cards where he appears with another player, Roy Oswalt is a pretty common one, but I prefer single sighed cards for the most part.  Many of the single signed Carpenter cards also are attached to a jersey relic and in most cases you can find the card signed and unsigned.  

2009 Upper Deck Piece of History Chris Carpenter Jersey/Autograph

The Upper Deck autographs can be tough to track down especially if you are looking for one specific autograph.  If you are looking to add an autograph of a great pitcher and display a little bit of patience you can find any of the Upper Deck issues for around $30.  Sometimes the ones on Ebay end up in bidding fights and drift towards $50 or higher.  Personally, I am hoping that Carpenter will sign something on card in the future, but if not I have a nice collection going.  

2002 Donruss Studio So Taguchi Jersey Card

I am taking a break from my 2013 Topps cards for a few singles I picked up this past week.  I spotted a sweet So Taguchi jersey card and decided to try and work out a trade for it and ended up walking away with a few extras.

2002 Donruss Studio So Taguchi Jersey

So Taguchi was a Japanese outfielder who came over to the Cardinals before the 2002 season.  Many Cardinals fans were excited about the signing, but Taguchi spent a lot of time in AAA when he first arrived.  Eventually Taguchi made it up to St. Louis and was an extra outfielder for a few seasons including the 2006 World Series team.  In fact, Taguchi hit an important home run off of Mets relief pitcher Billy Wagner to win a game.  After securing the Taguchi card, I also ended up with three other autographed cards.  

2011 Bowman Chrome Alex Colome Autograph 

All three autographs were nice additions to my Taguchi jersey card, but this Colome card was probably my favorite of the extra three cards.  Colome pitched last season in Durham and I had been trying to pick up a copy of this card.  I just had not quite accomplished anything in terms of landing one.  Not sure that Colome will be in Tampa this year, but he is a hard thrower and I think he can be an effective relief pitcher in the future.  

2012 Bowman Jedd Gyorko Autograph 

I also picked up this Jedd Gyorko autograph which also filled a nice hole in my collection.  Gyorko played college ball at West Virginia and quickly made his way up through the minors.  He believe that he was a third baseman and has converted to second base, but he has a great bat and should hit in the majors.  Apparently even in Petco he will be a top offensive second baseman soon.  Again, this is another card I had been looking to add to my collection, but just had not had the chance or opportunity.  

2012 Topps Chrome Tom Milone Autograph

Last card in this trade is for a Tom Milone autograph.  He actually started his career with the Nationals and was traded to the A's for Gio Gonzalez before last season.  Seems like a solid starter and a solid cardboard investment.  Happy to add it to my collection.

Sunday, February 10, 2013

2013 Snorting Bull Baseball Card Contest

One of the coolest things about having a baseball card blog is holding contests.  I have toyed with different contests during the past year and have decided to settle on holding a single contest every year centered around the launch date of my blog of March 8th.  This year's addition will be starting this afternoon and running through March 8th.  I have enjoyed my time blogging and do not plan on stop anytime soon, so this will be an annual event.  The rules and actual contest are going to be fairly simple.  I have learned that simple is better.  So, here goes:

1st Annual Snorting Bull Baseball Card Blog Contest

On March 8th I will be giving away one copy of a 2013 Stan Musial Commemorative MVP Trophy card to one lucky contest winner.  To enter the contest, you must simply follow the Snorting Bull blog,  like or friend my Facebook page, or follow our Twitter account.  You may enter up to four times if you follow my blog in all four places.  There are no trivia questions or crazy partial pictures of baseball cards to track down.  Pretty simple stuff.  On March 8th, I will randomly draw one follower from one of the sites to win the fantastic baseball card below.  

2013 Topps Commemorative MVP Award Albert Pujols

I am still working on putting together some more cards from the first series of 2013 Topps.  I know some people are probably ready to move on to other things, but this has really been the best base set that Topps has put out in several years.  I've completed my base set and several of the non-autographed, non-manufactured item insert sets.  I have now started to turn my attention towards finding a few of the nice manufactured items along with a few autographs or nice relic pieces.  The selection of Cardinals and Rays relics and autographs in the first series is limited, so a lot of my attention has been focused on the manufactured items which are very nice this year.  Yesterday, I added a nice Matt Kemp Silver Slugger award, but today I have a Cardinals card to share.  The Commemorative MVP award cards are a manufactured item with the MVP award being made out of a thin piece of metal.  The cards are about the thickness of a half-dollar.

2013 Topps Commemorative MVP Award Albert Pujols

I was happy to see that Topps threw in a card of Albert Pujols in a Cardinals uniform and picked this card last week.  It showed up in my mailbox yesterday and was excited to add it to my collection.  Upon taking the card out of its packaging I noticed one peculiarity on the card.  The picture on the card features Pujols wearing a Cardinals uniform, but the faux MVP trophy shows him as the American League MVP directly above his name in the center of the plaque.  However, Pujols has never won an MVP award as an American League Player.  

Flipping the card over on the back, the card seems to recognize the accomplishments of Pujols during the 2005 season, which was his first of three MVP awards.  However, Pujols won the award in the National League playing for the Cardinals.  I took a quick glance around Ebay and Check Out My Cards and found that all of the Pujols MVP award card feature this glitch.

2012 Topps Heritage Minor League Kolten Wong Jersey

I traded for the Pujols card and was able to pick up a second card in the trade.  This Kolten Wong card hails from the 2012 Topps Heritage Minor League set.  Wong seems destined to be the Cardinals second baseman of the future, so I have been trying to add cards here and there of the former University of Hawaii star.  The jersey piece on this card is pretty cool too.  It's clearly a piece of powder blue jersey, which none of the Cardinals minor league teams wear.  However, Wong appeared in the 2012 All-Star Futures Game in Kansas City and the players in the game wore powder blue jerseys.  Another nice addition.