Saturday, January 26, 2013

Report SPAM. Please help.

Spam blogs are a big problem on the internet. They steal others' posts to drive traffic to their sites, and then they add advertisements or phony links to earn money.

There's a spam blog out there stealing posts from one of my blogs, This Card Is Cool. Literally stealing. If you want proof, go to Google, and search for "Baseball Card Stores in Japan" (use the quotes). You'll see their (stolen) posts first, then mine. There are a couple other spam blogs ripping off my site, but the one at the top of the search lists is the worst - they don't even attribute the posts to me. And it's not just my blog; they're stealing at least one other person's posts.

You can help. Report the site to Google as spam by following this link. It should auto-fill in the URL of the offending site. Then click submit. That's all you need to do. By the way, I'm not mentioning the name of the site or driving traffic to it. If you follow the search above, you can discover the site and see for yourself.

I'm cross-posting this on my three blogs to hopefully help get this site removed quickly. I reported it about a week ago, when I was alerted to its presence, but the site remains.

Thank you for your help!

Friday, January 25, 2013

2003 Donruss

Set Size: 400 cards

Design Notes: Full-bleed photography is the focus of this set, with a team-color bar across the bottom with the player's name, position, and team logo. There is no foil on these cards. Backs contain a highlight and statistics.

Parallels and Similars: Six parallels exist: two convention issues (Chicago and Atlantic City), two sample issues (silver and gold foil), and two pack-inserted parallels (Stat Line Career and Stat Line Season).

Distribution: Cards were sold in packs of 13 cards, with 24 packs per box.

Thoughts: The lack of foil and use of minimal designs make this a fairly attractive set. The team colors help the logo stand out, and the photography is pretty good. Overall, the design is pretty sharp and is one of Donruss's least-cluttered designs (only the similar 2004 issue has fewer design elements). When the photography is top-notch, the cards are beautiful, but posed photos or those with little action are kind of dull. The printing quality is pretty good, though! This issue has no short prints, which makes it a bit easier to complete the 400-card base set.

Thursday, January 24, 2013

2003 Donruss Champions

Set Size: 309 cards (301 cards in the original release, 8 additional update cards)

Design Notes: This set is defined by its large side border highlighting an accomplishment the player made in his career, such as winning awards. Backs contain prior year and career statistics and a write-up describing the player's accomplishment.

Parallels and Similars: Metalized (/100) and Holo-Foil (/25) parallels were issued in packs, as well as autographed and autographed notation partial parallels. Samples with silver or gold foil stamps on the back were also distributed via magazine inserts (partial parallel - 100 cards only).

Distribution: Each box contained 24 packs with 8 cards per pack.

Thoughts: I really like the concept here - highlight players' historical accomplishments by issuing cards that focus on their feats. However, I have a couple problems with the execution. Let's use the Alomar card above. He's pictured with his 2002 team, the Mets, and the card has a National League logo on the left border because of that. However, he won the AL Championship Series MVP in 1992 with the Blue Jays, so he should be pictured with the Blue Jays, the card should have a Blue Jays logo, and the league logo should be for the American League. Additionally, while the back devotes a large space to describing what Alomar did to receive the MVP award, the statistics at the bottom are unrelated; it would be much better to have the stat line from the 1992 ALCS down there instead.

The design isn't amazing, but if I was just starting to build my Awards Collection, I would seek out this set. Actually, I think several of these cards are already in my Awards Collection.

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

2003 Donruss Classics

Set Size: 211 cards (100 in the short set, 100 short-printed Legends and Rookies, and 11 Update Rookies)

Design Notes: A thick silvery border surrounds the image; the top and bottom of the card have extra design added. The player's name, position, and jersey number are on the bottom with a team logo at the top. The backs carry the same basic design and include some statistics and a highlight write-up.

Parallels and Similars: Silver and gold-foil samples of the first 100 cards were included in issues of Beckett Baseball Card Monthly, and cards 1-200 are paralleled for the NSCC with an embossed logo. Packs included Timeless Tributes parallels serial-numbered to 100.

Distribution: Cards 1-200 were sold in packs; each box contained two mini-boxes with nine packs each, and each pack contained seven cards. Each mini-box contained one legend, one rookie, and one hit; the legends and rookies are serial-numbered to 1500. Cards 201-211 were randomly inserted into packs of DLP The Rookies, and are serial-numbered to 1000.

Thoughts: The silver border looks kind of dull on this card, since there's no foil or foilboard to make it jump out. Yes, I don't like foilboard, but thick, plain grey borders just remind me of an overcast day. And for those who complain about how tough it is to finish Topps Heritage, consider that with 4 SPs per box, this 200-card set with 100 SPs would take at least 25 boxes to complete with perfect collation. This isn't a bad release, it just blends in with other issues and can become easily forgotten.

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

2003 Donruss Elite

Set Size: 200 cards

Design Notes: The mostly-empty foilboard background is interrupted by two horizontal white lines, between which is a blurry background photo. The player's name, team, and position are easily found along the side. The backs are much easier to view (and scan) with recent statistics and a highlight writeup.

Parallels and Similars: There are five parallels to the set: Aspirations and Aspirations Gold, Status and Status Gold, and an Atlantic City National parallel. Donruss Elite designs, similar to Bowman, remained somewhat similar from year to year. Additionally, the Extra Edition set made things a little more confusing. However, the Donruss Elite logo contains the year making identification fairly easy.

Distribution: Hobby boxes had 20 packs with five cards per pack. The last 20 cards in the set are serial-numbered rookies (/1750).

Thoughts: Foilboard never scans well on my scanner, and that makes it impossible to see the small background photo. I enjoy that part of the photo, because the foil helps it stand out as almost holographic, especially on the gold parallels. Elite sets were much more beautiful in the 1990s, though (especially the inserts) - the 2000s issues have gone the way of Bowman with a lazy design concept and instead relying on rookie and/or hit (autograph/relic) selection.

Additional Images: COMC image of Status Gold to show background detail:
2003 Donruss Elite Status Gold #128 - Bartolo Colon/24 - Courtesy of

Friday, January 18, 2013

2007 Upper Deck Spectrum

Set Size: 162 cards (100 veterans, 42 autographed rookies, 20 rookie exchange cards)

Design Notes: The foilboard background looks like a shiny mirror-like corner of a room with an S-shaped flooring design; the player's name and team are printed sideways on either side of the card. Backs use the same basic background with player statistics.

Parallels and Similars: Die-cut parallels were issued in three colors.

Distribution: Five-card packs came 20 packs per box.

Thoughts: Spectrum ended up being another pointless issue made by Upper Deck solely to appease collectors' interests in relics and autographs. The design is minimal, though with a small bit of additional effort it could have been a good looking card. I like the mirror-like floor and wall surface. But this is a release that could have been created on a computer in about 10 minutes at most.

Thursday, January 17, 2013

2008 Bowman

Set Size: 220 cards

Design Notes: A television-style red border surrounds the veterans, while a green border is used for rookies. The player's name, team, and position are printed at the bottom, and a facsimile autograph is placed in a semi-opaque box at the bottom of the photo. The backs contain a scouting report ("Briefing" for veterans) plus some statistics.

Parallels and Similars: Red, blue, gold, and orange parallels were inserted into packs, and the design was also used for the Bowman Chrome and Bowman Draft Picks & Prospects sets. Additionally, a Prospects set for each of these releases uses the same design with white borders. Flagship Bowman cards are identifiable by the card number having no prefix, and the front logo being just "Bowman" instead of "Bowman Chrome".

Distribution: Cards were sold in hobby (jumbo and regular) and retail (various pack types) configurations. Due to the inclusion of Prospects and Chrome Prospects cards in the Bowman flagship release, only a percentage of the cards in each pack were from this set.

Thoughts: I'm glad to have John Smoltz as my type card for this set, as he is one of my favorite pitchers. The design is similar to all of Bowman's designs for at least the past 12 years, and none of them stand out as good. I've come to dislike black borders, too, due to my scanner auto-cropping the cards. It isn't ugly (I don't like the row of dots above the team name) but it's one of Bowman's weaker designs.

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

2008 Bowman Draft Picks and Prospects

Set Size: 55 cards

Design Notes: A green "shiny" border circles the card. The player's name, team, and position are beneath the photo and a semi-opaque white rectangle at the bottom of the photo frames a facsimile signature. Backs use the same basic design, reminiscent of a modern television screen. A detailed scouting report and some statistics fill the majority of the card.

Parallels and Similars: A prospects set contains players who had not yet played in the major leagues. Multiple colored parallels of this set and the prospects set, plus chrome and multiple refractor versions were issued. Additionally, this design was also used for the regular Bowman/Bowman Chrome release. This set is identified by the green border and the card number prefix: BDP. Prospects have the prefix BDPP.

Distribution: Hobby boxes contained 24 packs of 7 cards each. Two of the seven cards were from this set, two were Bowman Chrome cards, two were prospect cards, and the final card was one of the parallels.

Thoughts: Ever since Bowman has been using the same basic design and color scheme I've had no interest in the set. The use of the same design over three releases with complicated naming/numbering schemes make the releases difficult to distinguish. With similar designs from year to year, no one year stands out over others.  Of course, Bowman is a prospecting release and most purchasers are interested in the latest rookies.

Tuesday, January 15, 2013

2008 Donruss Elite Extra Edition

Set Size: 100 cards in the short set, plus 75 autographed rookies

Design Notes: The cards use a lot of black in the background on these foilboard cards.White squares surround the player's photo; the player's name is at the bottom. Backs have a tinted headshot of the front photo, vitals, some statistics and a write-up.

Parallels and Similars: There are three die-cut parallels for the short set and additional parallels for the autographed cards.

Distribution: Cards were sold in 5-card packs, with 20 packs per box.

Thoughts: Elite Extra Edition is a prospecting set, and the design is pretty boring. The biggest name in the set is Buster Posey, and I'd like to have a Posey autograph, but it doesn't have to be from this set. I'd rather have a more attractive card.

Monday, January 14, 2013

2008 SP Authentic

Set Size: 100 cards

Design Notes: This design uses a lot of white card-space behind the player's photo; foil printing on the left side of the card has the player's name, team, and position in addition to the SP Authentic logo. An abstract combination of foggy/blurry haze in black and team colors plus geometric white lines cuts across the upper-middle portion of the card in the background. Backs carry over the geometric/foggy design at the top, where the player's name, vitals, and a headshot are located. A short highlight biography follows, and statistics are in the bottom half of the card.

Parallels and Similars: A gold parallel was randomly inserted into packs.

Distribution: 24 packs per box, with five cards per pack. One of those five cards is usually some form of insert.

Thoughts: Travis Hafner used to be one of my favorite players. I had him on my team back in 2003 and he did pretty well for me, and he was a pretty good ballplayer for a few years after that, but injuries have been plaguing him for the last five years.

The card design is mildly attractive, though in traditional Upper Deck fashion it's forgettable. The SP line is about autographs and hits, so I get the feeling that very little time was spent on creating the base cards. But then, perhaps some card designer from Upper Deck will read this blog post and see that comment and get upset because he spent a week making sure all the angles were pleasing and the blurriness/fogginess was just right to be indistinguishable but still noticed as being objects.

Tuesday, January 8, 2013

2008 SP Legendary Cuts

Set Size: 200 cards (100 in the short set, 100 SP rookies)

Design Notes: A horizontal card with a greyish background, the player's name is at the bottom along with his team. A black-and-white action photo is paired with a color head shot. The backs use the same basic design as the front, carrying over the position at the top of the card as well as the headshot. A short writeup and career statistics are included.

Parallels and Similars: Only one parallel set was issued, the 1-of-1 serial-numbered Memorable Moments.

Distribution: Each box had 12 packs of four cards, though four packs held memorabilia cards and six packs included a Yankee Stadium Legacy card, plus there was a chance for autograph cards. Building a short set would take at least three boxes.

Thoughts: I like the design of this set. It's got a lot going on but it's not too busy, and it's not as "clean" as most Upper Deck releases, fitting in with the historical vibe the set was hoping for.

Friday, January 4, 2013

2008 Stadium Club

Set Size: 184 cards (50 SPs and 35 autographs)

Design Notes: In traditional Stadium Club manner, the fronts contain full-bleed photos. Team colors are used at the bottom where the player's name, team, and position appear in a horizontal banner. Backs are vertical with biographical information, statistics, and a highlight paragraph.

Parallels and Similars: Photographers Proofs in blue, gold, and platinum were issued for all of the cards except for the autographed rookies (variations exist for the short prints in Proof version). The short printed cards all have photo variations where the photo on the front does not match the photo on the back. First Day Issue parallels were issued on regular stock (retail) and/or foam stock (hobby). Additionally, printing plates are available for all cards.

Distribution: Card #1-100, divisible by three (3, 6, 9, 12, ..., 99) are serial numbered to 999.

Thoughts: Stadium Club had disappeared for five years before it came back in 2008. Unfortunately, it is one of the most-confusing releases ever, with short prints, divide-by-three short prints, variations, autographed base cards, and some strange way of determining two different types of the same parallel set. The hobby boxes, with one autograph per pack, cost over $200 each. While the base set photography is pretty solid, the cost and confusion turned collectors off pretty quick. I miss Stadium Club, but Topps should bring it back with a more traditional pack format.

I am trying to build a franken-set of this issue, using the retail First Day Issue cards in place of the #/999 divisible-by-three base cards in many cases. If you have anything on my want list (near the bottom of this page), I'd love to work out a trade. Know that I am currently living in Japan and don't have a lot of options when it comes to trade bait...

Thursday, January 3, 2013

2008 Sweet Spot

Set Size: 100 cards

Design Notes: A fairly pure card front makes this issue of Sweet Spot one of the most beautiful. The player's name, team, and position are printed at the bottom in gold foil, and the Sweet Spot logo appears in an upper corner. Cards are embossed similar to the seams on a baseball, and a team color airbrushing/tinting is used outside those seams.

Parallels and Similars: None (rookie signature cards have a parallel and the relics have multiple-swatch versions).

Distribution: Hobby boxes contained six packs of eight cards each, and retail tins held three packs of eight cards each.

Thoughts: While the memorabilia cards are boring and most people buy Sweet Spot for the baseball leather signatures, the base cards here are fantastic. It reminds me of Ovation, which people didn't care much for. But if Sweet Spot didn't have the baseball leather autographs, would people buy it for the base design? I liked Ovation to some extent, because I enjoy things like embossing and card design and don't care much for the lottery aspect of card collecting that seems to dominate some discussions. Anyway, with a vibrant photo and no borders, this card set is one of those that might be added to my want list eventually.

Wednesday, January 2, 2013

2008 Topps Updates and Highlights

Set Size: 330 cards

Design Notes: As a part of the flagship issue, Updates and Highlights uses the same design as 2008 Topps, distinguished by the team name at the top in alternating team-color circles.

Parallels and Similars: There are several 2008 Topps issues using the design, but the only set that looks identical is the flagship issue this follows up. Parallels are similar to the Series 1 and Series 2 releases: gold foil, gold border, black, platinum, printing plates, silk, and a Chrome refractor rookie parallel.

Distribution: Two cards were inserted into each pack of 2008 Topps Heritage High Numbers. U&H has its own boxes, with 36 packs per box and 10 cards per pack. HTA jumbos and retail packs were also released.

Thoughts: There's not much to say here that hasn't been said about the flagship 2008 Topps set. The rookie selection in this set is one of the strongest in years.

Tuesday, January 1, 2013

1934-36 National Chicle R327 Diamond Stars

Set Size:108 cards, 2-3/8 x 2-7/8"

Design Notes: White borders surround player artwork, with his name somewhere near a border in all capital letters. The backs use green or blue ink to highlight the player's career; the cards carry copyright information including the year at the bottom.

Parallels and Similars: Some players have both green and blue backs and/or statistics variations on the back, making a master set complete at 170 cards. Cards have been reprinted over the years, and Topps issued a throwback National Chicle set in 2010.

Distribution: Cards were sold in penny packs with gum.

Thoughts: The art deco design of these cards is bold and really stands out compared to other issues of the time (like Goudey sets of 1935 and 1936). Putting a set together is out of my price range, so this is another issue that I would enjoy as a reprint set. I enjoy the art so much that I am one of the few who enjoyed the 2010 Topps National Chicle set.

Additional Links: Old Cardboard's page has a checklist and card gallery.