Thursday, February 26, 2009

Masterpieces from Zachary

I'm already starting to fall behind on posting trades, so time for some catch up. A few weeks ago a reader named Zachary contacted me because he had a dozen or so 2008-09 Upper Deck Legends Masterpieces cards that I needed for my set. In return I sent him a package of mixed hockey cards that I hope exceeded his expectations. Hockey cards collectors aren't as common as baseball card collectors in my experience, so I always try to go above and beyond when someone is generous enough to send hockey cards my way. The cards were a huge help towards completing this set, thanks Zachary! Here are my 3 favorites out of what was sent:

#74 - Guy Lafleur - Guy was one of my favorite players when I was younger. By the time I started watching hockey he was in the twilight of his career, but I always liked pulling his cards because he was one of the older players who was grandfathered when they began to require helmets in the NHL. I always think of Guy as a Montreal Canadien (in fact he's got another cards in this set depicting him as a Hab), so this Ranger card was a strange one to include in the set in my opinion.

#23 - Mike Bossy - I bet if you were to ask younger hockey fans to list the players who achieved the 50 goals in 50 games plateau, the name most likely to be left out would be Mike Bossy. Mike was the man back in the early 80's when the Islanders were dominating the NHL. Then Wayne Gretzky and the Edmonton Oilers came along and arguably overtook the Islanders as the team of the decade. This nicely ties in to the final card I'm showing...

#38 - Wayne Gretzky - This is just a great card all around. It depicts what I feel is one of the most memorable and timeless moments from hockey's history, a young Wayne Gretzky hoisting the Stanley Cup with a gleeful expression on his face.

Thanks for helping me get closer to completing my set Zachary! And now, I will shamelessly ask the blogging community for help. If anyone reading this has any of the following 2008-09 Masterpieces hockey cards please get in touch with me, I really want to get this one completed!

2, 4, 10, 11, 12, 15, 17, 19, 20, 21, 22, 25, 26, 30, 33, 34, 35, 39, 40, 42, 49, 50, 52, 54, 58, 65, 69, 71, 72, 77, 78, 79, 80, 82, 84

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Saints of the Cheap Seats Group Break

Dan at Saints of the Cheap Seats recently held a group break. For $22 you could purchase a slot for the team of your choosing. I paid my fee, snagged the Boston Red Sox of course, and waited anxiously for the break to appear on Dan's blog. There were some differing opinions about what he would bust, and in the end it was decided that he'd open 4 wax boxes of 2007 Ultimate baseball. I have to admit that at first I was a bit disappointed, I had hoped that the consensus would be a product with a higher total card count. With 2007 Ultimate there are only 4 packs per box, so Dan was opening a total of 16 packs with just 4 cards per pack, for a total of 64 cards. Nonetheless I waited patiently and finally Dan's videos appeared (which were done extremely well!). I made out better than most, nabbing 3 excellent cards. They just arrived in the mail yesterday, time to show them off. Here they are in the order which they appeared in the break...

#SM-JB - Josh Beckett - Ultimate Star Materials - The first Red Sox card that was pulled was this Josh Beckett jersey card. Nothing too flashy but I was psyched as this is the first Beckett relic card in my collection. Hopefully he can turn it around this year and return to 2007 form. The Sox are going to need that if they expect to keep pace with the Yankees this year.

#PM-JP - Jonathan Papelbon - America's Pastime (#'d 3/50) - Wow! I was beyond excited to see Dan reveal this card. I've got a couple of Papelbon jersey cards, but nothing even close to this. I love the design on the card and serial numbered to 50 is OK in my book. The best part about it has to be that three colored jersey piece though. It instantly became the best jersey card in my collection, but that didn't last long. I would've been satisfied with these two cards alone, but in the very last pack this appeared...

#UTM-FJ - Fergie Jenkins - Ultimate Team Materials (#'d 10/25) - I don't even know what to say about this one. What a great card! This is an actual patch as opposed to a jersey swatch, and it's the only patch in my collection so far. Not only that, but a Red Sox patch of a Cy Young winner and Hall of Famer to boot!
Despite my initial worries I couldn't have been happier with how this break went. I made out pretty well, others made out better, some worse. All in all I thought the break was a huge success. I was pretty naive as this was my first break, but I think you really need to do an elite product like this. After all, isn't the point of a group break to get some cards you could never normally afford on your own? Not only that, but it worked out great that the number of total cards was limited, it kept the break from going on for too long. Not only that, but a product like this where almost every card is a "hit", had me at the edge of my seat for the entire break.
Dan, thank you so much for organizing this! The break was awesome, the videos were great, and I couldn't be happier with my cards. If you ever decide to try one of these again I am definitely in!

Friday, February 13, 2009

Sorry Jay Pandolfo

I work in IT as a Systems Admin for a law firm up here in New England, and Wednesday night I had to complete a SQL migration that went into the early hours of Thursday morning. This was up in our Boston office, so thanks to my employer's travel reimbursement policy I left work early and extremely tired on Thursday with about $50 cash in my pocket. Even though I was exhausted I called the only local hobby shop that I frequent on the off chance that they had gotten a shipment of 2008-09 Upper Deck series 2 hockey in. It was released officially on Tuesday but I hadn't run across any yet. It was my lucky day, as the owner had just received the product earlier that afternoon. I picked up 12 hobby packs to get started on my set. I've opened 9 so far, and my favorite card at this point is Scottie Hartnell's:

How's that for an action shot? Scott just delivered quite a blow to New Jersey's Jay Pandolfo. I think the shaft of his stick is actually connecting with Pandolfo's face, and if you notice Jay seems to be completely airborne with neither skate on the ice. Shots like this are why Upper Deck has the best looking base sets in my opinion (alright so they've got a monopoly on the hockey card market but this goes for baseball as well), at least since I started getting back into collecting. I just had to share this one!

Thursday, February 12, 2009

Zistle Want/Trade Lists!

Recently I raved about a new web-site called Zistle, dedicated to creating the largest online library of sports cards out there, and at the same time providing some great tools for individuals to organize their collections. I've been totally addicted to this site for a couple of weeks now, and have been populating the hockey card library like it's my job.

Well, Ashley and Josh are hard at work on a daily basis, improving the site based on their original ideas as well as feedback from users. This is one of the greatest things about Zistle in my opinion, Ashley and Josh are collectors themselves and are really passionate about turning Zistle into a great online library and collecting community.

A couple of new features have been released over the past week or so, including the ability to indicate how many copies of a card you own. This is very handy, especially for trading purposes. Even better than this though is the ability to imbed your Zistle want and trade lists on your blog. You can check my Want and Trade lists to see how this looks. The great part about this is that by using these embedded lists on your blog, your trade and want lists become dynamic. Browsing through your collection on Zistle and come across some cards you'd like to part with? Just one click of the "Add to Tradelist" button and the card is instantly added to your Zistle tradelist, and your blog is automatically updated with no further effort on your part. Want to collect the entire 2009 Topps baseball set? Just one click adds the set as a whole to your want list. Every time you pick up a pack of 09 Topps or make a trade, simply add the cards to your Zistle collection and they are removed from your want list.

I'm already taking full advantage of this feature myself. In my last post I commented that I really seem to like Tony Esposito cards. I hopped on Zistle and added Tony Esposito as a player to my want list. Every Esposito card that's in the Zistle library that I don't already own (about 17 of them) was added to my list instantly. Best of all, if anyone adds new Esposito cards to the library going forward those will automatically be added to my want list as well. This is great stuff!

If you need any proof that Zistle is catching on with collectors, they just surpassed the 250,000 card mark in their library! I really encourage you to try it out if you haven't seen the site yet. If you're curious as to what's down the road for Zistle, they've put together a feature pipeline to lay out some of the features they hope to add going forward.

Finally, since for some reason I feel guilty creating a post without any picture in it whatsoever, here's one of my absolute favorite cards from my collection, a 1971 Topps card of the REAL home run king...

Monday, February 9, 2009

Random Thoughts on a Monday

Here's an awesome Tony Esposito card, his 1983-84 O-Pee-Chee. Nice glove save and nice mask. Every time I come across a Tony Esposito card it instantly becomes a favorite. I might have to start collecting this guy...

I wrote a quick post over the weekend when I was watching SportsCenter and saw that Rodriguez reportedly tested positive for steroids back in 2003. Very disappointing and not really the world's biggest surprise. Well today Alex Rodriguez acknowledged that he took illegal substances during his years with the Rangers. While I still lose a great deal of respect for the guy, he at least has the decency to admit his mistake, and thus will only be relegated in my mind to the level of Jason Giambi and Andy Pettitte. That's a much better place to be than on a par with say Mark McGwire, Rafael Palmeiro or even (shudder) Barry Bonds.
He's still an ego-centric jerk as far as I can tell, but at least today's admission prevents me from having to rid my collection of all Alex Rodriguez cards.

Finally, here's a 2008-09 Upper Deck card of Adam Burish. Thanks to Hockey Night in Canada, which I get on Vs. here in the states and DVR every week, I just learned that the Blackhawks winger at one point served as a security guard on the Jerry Springer show. There's a free nugget of knowledge you can use next time you're at a cocktail party with some Blackhawks fans. You can thank me later.

Saturday, February 7, 2009

A-Rod Too?

OK, keep in mind that I have not seen this verified anywhere else, but I'm watching SportsCenter a few minutes ago and they have apparently broken the story that Alex Rodriguez tested positive for steroids in 2003. Anybody else heard this?
UPDATE: Confirmed

Friday, February 6, 2009

Monster Box of Sox from Slette - Post #1

I'm really, really behind on this one. A few months back a reader named Eric Slette (whom I know a lot of the blogging community is familiar with) contacted me. He was looking to downsize his collection and focus on New York Yankees. He wanted to find a home for all of his Boston Red Sox cards. Of course I agreed to dump off my Yankees for his Red Sox! I sent him a fairly large package with a bunch of Yankees cards, almost all of what I had. Look at what I got in return!
This was an 800+ count box completely stuffed with Red Sox cards. That's my guard dog Eli in the background inspecting the package. There is absolutely no way I will be able to show all of these, so I'm just going to post a few every so often as time allows. Here are some of my favorite 2008 cards from the bunch:
Upper Deck Baseball Heroes #24 - Jacoby Ellsbury (Emerald Parallel #'d 499)
Awesome card! I don't think the Heroes set was too popular with most baseball card collectors but I think it's great. This is the first emerald parallel in my collection.
Upper Deck X Xponential Daisuke Matsuzaka
Again, Upper Deck X was a product that I literally purchased none of this year so I really appreciate this insert. It's not a terrible looking card but the design of X is just a little too busy for me.
Also included were a few 2008 Masterpieces cards, another product that I didn't really spend any money on...
#11 - Carl Yastrzemski

#12 - Wade Boggs

#14 - Daisuke Matsuzaka

#16 - (constipated) Jonathan Papelbon

Topps Chrome #ARC23 - Dustin Pedroia
Your reigning AL MVP!
This is by far the largest set of cards I've ever received in a trade. Who says that Red Sox and Yankees fans can't get along? I can't thank you enough Eric for the great box of cards. I think you doubled my Red Sox collection with a single package!

Wednesday, February 4, 2009

Awesome Package from Saints of the Cheap Seats

A couple of weeks ago I received an email and subsequent package from Dan at Saints of the Cheap Seats. He had more than 100 2008 Upper Deck cards that I needed and wanted to send them my way. Dan, this was extremely gracious of you, I can't thank you enough!

I'm really behind right now but I assure you I will be looking over your want lists and sending a return package your way. This package was most appreciated because 2008 Upper Deck is the one baseball set that I am focusing the most on trying to complete right now. Am I the only one who just isn't impressed with 2009 Topps baseball? I haven't had the urge to pick up so much as a single pack yet.

I obviously can't show all of the cards, so I've picked out 5 of my favorites:

#436 - Julio Lugo - I don't know what the Red Sox plan to do with this guy. He's got virtually no trade value. I thought they may try to dump his salary by packaging him with a prospect or two in a trade but nothing so far. I for one won't be disappointed to see him go.

#747 - Mike Lowell - I love this Season Highlight card depicting Mike with his World Series MVP trophy.

#96 - Miguel Montero - Looks like a definite out pictured on this card. One of hundreds of examples from this set proving that Topps can't hold a candle to Upper Deck when it comes to photography.

#169 - Austin Kearns - This shot of Austin signing for the fans looks like it could belong in a Collector's Choice set. I always appreciate the occassional card that shows a player doing something other than playing the game.

#229 - Manny Ramirez - This is easily one of my favorite photos from the entire set. I can think of very few baseball cards that capture a moment so well. The fans and Red Sox players have erupted from their seats, Manny's arms are extended up in the air, and the bat has yet to even hit the ground! Too bad Manny has been an awful, greedy prick this off-season. There, I said it. As a Red Sox fan I appreciate everything Manny did to help the team win in his time here, but as an individual he just seems like a total jerk.
Dan, thanks again for the awesome package! This knocks off a huge chunk of my want list and gets me much closer to completing the set. I'm really looking forward to participating in your group break, which will be my first one ever.

Monday, February 2, 2009

Zistle! Come Join the Movement

Ever since I got back into collecting around 2 years ago, I've been looking for a way to better organize my collection. After all, it goes without saying that card collecting and organization go hand in hand. What good would all of your boxes of cards be without a way to tell what you have and what you want or need? Unfortunately, the sloppy hand-written checklists of my youth just won't cut it any longer. I've been desperately seeking a better method, and I've talked to a good number of other bloggers and card collectors who have struggled with a similar goal.

My first attempt was spreadsheets, but with a different spreadsheet for every year it was impossible to get some of the information I wanted. For example, I couldn't tell you without hours of painstaking labor exactly how many cards I had of a particular player. A while back I posted here looking for feedback or recommendations. I checked out Beckett's online database and found it confusing, bug-riddled and just plain annoying to use. Finally, I settled on creating my own Access database, which gave me some of the functionality I was looking for. I'm no developer though, and even this solution left me wanting something better.

A few days ago I received an email from someone named Ashley, who had read the post about my Access database and wanted to know if I had any interest in trying out a site called Zistle that she and her husband are developing for tracking card collections. I signed up for an account and have been absolutely hooked ever since!

This site is EXACTLY what I have been looking for! Ashley and her husband Josh have created an absolutely fantastic (and free!) online database for card collectors to use to organize their collections. This site has everything that Beckett and other online databases have been missing. The layout looks fantastic, is not overly busy, and is very intuitive. After spending less than a minute creating a username and password, you can begin to build your collection, adding cards from any of the four major sports. Filter by set and year, or search for a card specifically, and when you see a card you own, simply click on the thumbnail to add it to your collection. Doesn't get much easier than that! Once you've added cards you can view your collection at any time in either thumbnail or list format. You're presented with a view like this:

Simply expand a year/set from the folder tree on the left and you can instantly see all of the cards you own from that particular set. Flip over to the "Edit Your Collection" screen and you can filter each year and set to show all cards, only the cards you own, or only the cards you need.

Can't find the card that you're holding listed in the library? That's the beauty of this site! Just click the "Add it to the Zistle Library" link and add the card yourself (it will show up for you at first and then the rest of the users upon approval). In this fashion the library will be built up by the people who know the cards best, collectors!

Best of all, Zistle will track your want lists for you. For example, say I'm interested in collecting 2008 Allen & Ginter baseball. I can indicate that I want this set, and the site will automatically subtract the cards that I already have in my collection and add the rest to my Want List! No more long hours of manually updating text files on your blog. Zistle will even suggest trading partners to you based on your want list and what others have available.

There's even a section to track box breaks. Just click on the box you busted, fill out a few quick fields (ie how many parallels, autos, etc did you receive) and then rate the product. You'll acquire contribution points for submitting box break info or adding/tracking cards. This could become a great resource for someone looking for more info before picking up a box.

I cannot stress enough just how amazing this site is. If you are still reading this, what are you waiting for? Head over to Zistle ASAP and create your free account. Please don't take my word for it, go see for yourself! It literally takes less than a minute and you can then begin to enjoy your collection in an amazing new way. Best of all, this site has been created by two people who are passionate about cards themselves. They truly care about making the site an even better experience for collectors out there and would love to hear any feedback you might have. If you're one of the many people out there with a card blog, chances are they have already linked you, so please do them (but more importantly yourself) a favor and go have a look around!
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