Minnesota Twins Collection

Thursday, April 30, 2009

My First 2009 Topps Short Print Variation

Today, I made the usual trip into Target, looking for the baby's diapers and other household necessities. As I usual do with each trip to Target, I stop by the sports cards at the front of the store and browse through the blaster boxes looking for something interesting. I looked through the 2009 Topps Series One blasters, checked the UPCs and saw one was different. I was hoping this would be the box with the Target retro variations.

After I got home from work... after my wife and girl were gone... and after the boy fell asleep... I opened the box. I opened the first pack and, to my disappointment, they were regular cards. Looking at what has been posted on other blogs, I realize I picked the wrong UPC.

The disappointment wouldn't last much longer. Four packs into the box, I pull my first short print variation: Babe Ruth.

2009 Topps - Babe Ruth

For those collectors who don't know... and almost everyone who has bought some 2009 Topps knows... Topps seeded a number of short print variations. The short prints have the same numbering as the regular Topps cards and the same design, but feature some of baseball's greatest legends: Babe Ruth, Pee Wee Reese, Rogers Hornsby, Jackie Robinson, Cy Young, Ty Cobb, George Sisler, Christy Mathewson, Jimmie Foxx, Honus Wagner, Roy Campanella, Mel Ott, Tris Speaker, Walter Johnson, Lou Gehrig, Thurmon Munson and Johnny Mize. There are also short prints of C.C. Sabathia as a Yankee and of President Obama. I pulled #1 Babe Ruth... the regular #1 is Alex Rodriguez.

Anyone who knows me knows that I collect the Topps set every year. I have every Topps set complete from 1976 through 2008 and will be looking for 2009. Part of the fun in building the sets in recent years is also to add in insert cards and variations. While I am not normally a fan of the variations Topps has done in the past, I really like what they did with this year's variations.

My question: What do I do with Babe Ruth?

However, the short print variations are very difficult to pull: one card in every 119 packs. With one card pulled, it will be insurmountable odds to pull the other 18 short print variations. Buying the needed cards off of eBay would cost over $30 each. Likewise, I could sell the Ruth card for that much and recover what I paid for the blaster. The card itself is looks very nice and it would be hard for me to let it go. I will be thinking more on that one.

With this Topps blaster, two more Twins cards will be added to the collection:

2009 Topps Turkey Red - Joe Mauer

2009 Topps Toppstown - Justin Morneau - Gold

I already have the base cards from Series One thanks to the other team collectors.

Labels: , , , ,

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Number 9,000

Last week, I reached another milestone in my Twins Collection. The one below came from Matt, the Colorado Rockies Team Collector.

2009 Topps Heritage Chrome - Joe Nathan

As many of you know, I receive the majority of my Twins cards from other collectors in the Team Collectors group. The way our group works is that I sent out my unwanted cards of other teams to the other collectors and they send me their unwanted Twins cards. What is unwanted by me might be wanted by someone else.

After joining the group about three years ago, I catalogued my Twins cards and came up with a list of just over 3,000 cards. Now my collection is about 3 times that and continues to grow.

Thanks to the Team Collectors!

Labels: , ,

Monday, April 20, 2009

The Minnesota Twins of Minneapolis

I haven't written much about this year's Twins since the season started, but I'm very happy about the Minnesota Twins sweep over the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim. The Angels have been one of the teams that Twins have had a hard time to beat over the past few years, so a sweep feels so much better. Unfortunately, I didn't get to go to a game this weekend and I certainly missed out on Joe Mauer Bronze Statue night.

In addition to Friday's 7-run eighth, Glen Perkins eight innings on Sunday or Delmon Young taking a walk two games in a row, the biggest highlight this weekend was Jason Kubel. Kubel hit for cycle on Friday, including a grand slam in the eighth inning. The Twins organization has waiting for a long time for Kubel to show his superstar stuff. Does this look like we are starting to see it?

Labels: , ,

Thursday, April 16, 2009

It Was Bound To Happen

In the baseball card world, the news is out that Topps has filed suit against Upper Deck over the design used on this year's O-Pee-Chee cards.

For a brief historical background, starting in 1969, Topps has partnered with the Canadian O-Pee-Chee candy company to produce baseball cards in Canada. The O-Pee-Chee cards used the same design and photography as the American Topps cards with the exception of bilingual (English and French) text. O-Pee-Chee continued producing the Canadian versions of Topps cards through 1992. O-Pee-Chee produced its own original set in 1991 with O-Pee-Chee Premier, as well as the Topps-design regular set. O-Pee-Chee also produced O-Pee-Chee Premier and the Topps-design set in 1992. O-Pee-Chee broke off from Topps in 1993 with its own original set in 1993 and produced its final baseball card set in 1994.

In 2007, Upper Deck bought the rights to the O-Pee-Chee brand name and used the name for their hockey card product. In 2008, Upper Deck included O-Pee-Chee branded cards as inserts in Upper Deck Baseball. The design of the O-Pee-Chee cards mimicked the 1969 design, though not exactly. In 2009, Upper Deck included O-Pee-Chee branded cards that mimic the 1975 design, though still not exactly.

However, later this year Upper Deck has plans to release an O-Pee-Chee product which will include a parallel design of the 1971 set. There have also been images of a 1977 design floating around the internet, as well. Both designs happen to look exactly like the original Topps cards.

Here are some of my thoughts:

* First of all, even if you are trying to inspire the look and feel of the old O-Pee-Chee cards, why in the world would you want to create cards that remind collectors of your biggest competition?

* The new O-Pee-Chee cards are not even bilingual. The only thing that made O-Pee-Chee cards fun back when I was a kid was not because they had the same design as Topps cards... it was because they were bilingual. It made me think it was cool (when I was 10) to have cards that came from another country... even if it was Canada. The fact that the text on the card was in English AND French made O-Pee-Chee cards unique. Even after O-Pee-Chee broke off from Topps, the card were still bilingual.

Labels: , , ,

Friday, April 10, 2009

The Market Is A Cold-Hearted Beast

It is a day removed from the tragic death of Angels rookie pitcher, Nick Adenhart. There is nothing more that I can add that has not already been said or written about the promise of a young man in his rookie season or his potential after the best start of his career or even the havoc of drunk driving or the idea that anyone of us could be in this situation because of someone else's carelessness.

After the death of an athlete, demands for his memorabilia increase, items start going up on eBay and prices go up much higher than they would otherwise. The questions are always asked: Is this moral? How can someone profit from his death?

I remember the day Kirby Puckett died. Kirby was in a hospital in Scottdale, AZ from complications from a stroke. On the local TV stations, updates continued to stream at the bottom of the screen. Kirby Puckett is in a coma. Kirby Puckett's condition has worsened. Kirby Puckett has been read his last rites. Kirby Puckett has passed away. Kirby Puckett was my baseball hero when I was growing up. Although I had never met Kirby, it was as if I was there as he was leaving this world.

Almost immediately, Puckett cards and memorabilia flooded eBay. Thousands of one-day listings popped-up and very common baseball cards were selling for exorbitant prices. Rookie cards which could have been easily had for less than $5 were selling for over $50. Again, the questions were asked: Is this moral? How can someone profit from his death?

I would pose these questions:

If selling collectables and memorabilia after a person's death is immoral, then who is the guilty party?

Should the seller be guily for taking advantage of this demand? It is assumed that the seller is in the wrong because he is the one selling the product. However, if you are selling through eBay, ultimately it is the buyer that determines the final price. This is how auctions work. (Even if a seller has a high opening bid, the buyer is the one who decides to bid.)
If a Puckett rookie sold at $5 instead of $50, nobody would think the seller was taking advantage.

Should the buyer be guilty for creating this demand? After all, one could argue that a seller is offering Puckett items to meet the demand. A buyer could have just as well looked for items before the player's death or wait later on when prices fall to normal levels. (Although, there is the notion from some buyers who think that, now he is gone, they can buy high and sell super-high later on.) However, I think most buyers are reacting based on their affinity for the deceased player.

I think people need to see the market for what it is. That is, the market doesn't care who dies and it doesn't care about morals. The market thrives on demand and a supply is created to meet that demand. (If you really want a good example of how economics really work, again, look at eBay.) A demand is created based on a life event (the death of a baseball player), values rise and a buyer is willing to pay more for an item. Because of the increased demand and increased values, sellers are driven to provide a supply for that demand (collectables and memorabilia of the baseball player.) Likewise, if there is no demand for a good, values are lower, buyers are willing to pay less and there is less incentive for a seller to provide goods.

Once you see the market as it really is: a cold-hearted beast, then you can get past the idea of a guilty party and let it all play out.

Labels: ,

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

Opening Day Thoughts

It's a great day when the baseball season starts again. The players play for real. The stats start to count. The drama begins.

Every year, I always catch Opening Day on TV. When the Opening Day game is a day game, I either skip class or leave work early. Fortunately, this year the Twins' Opening Day game was at night game.

The big story the Twins organizations is pushing is that this is the last Opening Day in the Metrodome. Not sure if it should be that big of a deal since the Twins having been trying to get out of the Dome for more than the last ten years.

Although the Twins lost, here are some of my Opening Day thoughts.

* The Twins are attempting to juggle four outfielders. Out of the four outfielders: the one who had the best Spring Training is also the one who is riding the bench.

* Denard Span caught a pop foul in deep left in which Adrian Beltre tagged up and ran home in the second inning. Say what you want about Delmon Young's defense, but there is no denying he would have thrown him out at home.

* Michael Cuddyer struck out... three times... looking.

* With two out and one runner on, Mike Redmond was substituted at the plate for... not the hotted hitting Twins outfielder riding the bench... but for Jose "will never be more than an injury call-up" Morales who proceeded to ground out.

* For Opening Day, the Twins wore their retro 1982-style uniforms. In 1982, the Twins lost 102 games... the most of any season in the Metrodome.

Labels: , ,

Wednesday, April 1, 2009

The Holy Grail

With any collection, there is one feature card that you feel would make your collection so much better. When I started my Twins collection, that card was 1984 Fleer Update Kirby Puckett.

Not only was this card much sought after for my Twins collection... it was much sought after well before I started a Twins collection. Kirby Puckett was my favorite player as a young Twins fan. As a young collector, I had tried to get every Puckett card I could, but this card always alluded me. I called it my "Holy Grail". The card always seemed to be rare to me... at least moreso than regular 1984 Fleer cards. Mostly, the cost of the card was well out of my reach.

Of course, there was no eBay when I was a kid. eBay made me realize that the card is not as rare as I thought. Of course, the price of the card was still pretty high, but, as an adult, I have much more money at my disposal. I still wanted to find the card at a good value.

Last year, I found my "Holy Grail":

This was an eBay find and I decided it was time to add the card finally to my collection. I chose a PSA graded card for a couple of reasons:

First, with the various cards on eBay and the varying degrees of the photos, it can be difficult to tell the exact condition of a card. At least a PSA grade gives me a standardized grade and then I can compare the costs between grades. I am not necessarily a stickler about grading, but when you are spending a lot for a card you want to be sure you are getting the best value.

Second, a PSA graded card at least assures me the card is authentic. With some cards in the 1984 Fleer Update set, especially the Roger Clemens card, there are a large number of counterfeits. Up close, it's easy to tell if you have an authentic 1984 Fleer Update card. However, you cannot tell from looking at someone else's photographs... and many collectors do not notice the differences in an authentic card and a counterfeit. At least with a PSA graded card, I know that a reputable source has verified it as being authentic. Although, 'reputable' is still a matter of opinion. Some people would argue that PSA, or any grading company, is not reputable at all, but that's a discussion for another time.

Now that I have the 1984 Fleer Update Kirby Puckett as part of my collection, which card becomes the next "Holy Grail"?

Labels: , ,


The Team Collectors