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Tag Archives: Card Breaks

Rather than giving each box its own post, I figured I’d condense by compiling everything into one post.

First up, Upper Deck. Most of us already know what the base cards look like. A pretty easy task considering many players had double issues in this set — among the Dodgers, Ramirez, Blake, Billingsley, Martin, Kemp, Loney, Furcal, Broxton, Kuroda, and Ethier were all repeats in series II. UD could’ve easily made this set considerably easier to finish (and a lot less boring and repetitive) had they not insisted on going with a 1000 card base set.

So did the inserts get any more interesting this time around? From left to right, a 1989 UD buyback, an O-Pee-Chee preview, and a USA National Team card.

I imagine there are more than a few collectors out there with piles and piles of worthless early 90s Upper Deck cards. Sure, 1989 was UD’s “rookie year,” but a foil stamp isn’t going to make me want those old cards any more than I already do (which is not at all).

All legal issues aside with O-Pee-Chee, I almost wish the base set looked like these rather than the design they went with.




The Ordonez jersey was a box-topper “buyback.” I don’t quite understand the meaning of the term buyback in sports cards vernacular. I do imagine it’s along the same lines as an investment “buyback,” which is an effort to re-acquire outstanding shares in order to reduce the available quantity. So in that sense, vintage “buybacks” such as Heritage, Play Ball, Goudey, etc. make sense in that they’re reacquiring old cards — though not specifically to reduce available quantity, but to include as purchase incentives.

But do cards from 2006 (such as the Ordonez) and the production glut of the 90s really fit the definition? Isn’t it fair to say that UD probably already had these on hand to begin with, thus negating the need to buy back anything?

As entertaining as it is to open a pack and find an auto/gamer in it, I really would rather it didn’t, especially if it meant box prices would be that much lower. A huge consideration since this particular box produced only 300 cards of the 500-card base set.

And now, Topps. The base set continues where series I left off, with much of the same stellar photography. Predictably, lots more spring training photos had to be used in order to accomodate many of the rookies/free agent signings who were unavailable the first time around. Given that, wouldn’t it make more sense — and add value to series II — to wait to depict the big free agent signings?



Nothing really too exciting here, although the Pedroia silk should command a nice trade/sell premium. The insert sets are continuations from series I, with Legends of the Game (10 in this box), Ring of Honor (10), and Turkey Red (10) returning. New for series II are Career Best Legends (two in this box) and WBC stars (five). Returning from 2008 are the Red Hot Rookie redemptions (two).

This jumbo box produced the entire base set (331-660) and 96 base doubles. Although the insert ratios are better for the jumbos, ending up with nearly 100 doubles and the increased MSRP for jumbos in 2009 ($95) will force me to reconsider if this is the path I’ll take for 2010.


5 cards per pack/18 packs per box

Base set completion: 75 of 84 (89%)






Can’t complain when a hobby box is 1. available at deep discount, and 2. produces nearly the entire base set.

I look so fondly on 2004-2006. It just seems that small, fun sets such as this one were bountiful. And now, just a few years later, it seems that so many sets are the antithesis of sets such as 06 Ovation.

I am beyond stoked to see an 84-card base set, and that a single hobby box landed most of it. I’m also stoked to see a fairly clean, crisp design. Such things seem like such a distant memory in UD’s past.

I love the embossed feel of the Ovation sets, and I would be interested in finding more.

Even the inserts aren’t obnoxious, and don’t take over the entire box. This is clearly a set with set-builders in mind — of course, that also entails disregarding the ridiculously short-printed RC subset (85-120). So in that sense, the box isn’t without it’s flaws. Assuming perfect collation, someone would have to buy an additional 40 boxes given the advertised 1:18 insertion ratio. Given those odds, I’m not even bothering.

Another 2009 UD release, another lackluster design.



If the only difference between this year’s cards and last year’s is Derek Jeter’s and Ken Griffey Jr.’s disconnected visage, was it really necessary to bring this back again?


Someone thought it a good decision to drop Masterpieces, but do 09 Goudey instead, replete with the usual amount of stupid short prints?

I really want to enjoy Upper Deck releases. Considering how strong their product was as recently as 2006, it’s a shame to see how far it’s gone down the drain since then. Forethought just seems to be absent from so many of their recent releases.

As an aside, doesn’t it almost feel pathological to keep buying cards even when you know what awaits inside those wrappers is lame? Here I am, waiting for Series II to come out, and yet I’m still buying A Piece of History and Goudey as though I weren’t already aware of how terrible these sets are.

24 packs per box/five cards per box

Base set completion: 60 of 73 (81%)
Base duplicates: 9

Insert/parallel sets:
1941 Reprints: 10 of 15 (67%)
Mini: 14 of 74 (19%)
Red Backs: 22 of 74 (30%)
Ted Williams Tribute: 1 of 15 (6%)
Summer of 1941: 1 of 15 (6%)
The Yankee Clipper 1941 Streak: 3 of 56 (5%)






This was a nice surprise to find among the closeouts at Charm City Cards. And seeing how nice this set looks compared to its 2004 iteration makes it all the better I found a box.

As I’ve opined on here before, sets really ought to be more like this one in size, rather than the gargantuan checklists that exist today. While a single hobby box didn’t produce an entire base set, it did produce enough that completing the set isn’t some insurmountable task.

This modern rendition of the 1941 Play Ball set reiterates the biggest reason why I love retro sets — simplicity. The design is clean, and uncluttered, and the only modern addition is the “Play Ball” logo in the upper right. Like Topps Heritage, it takes the old design and leaves it be. The 1941 reprints are an added bonus too.

Speaking of bonuses, if only Topps would do its Heritage buybacks the same way this set did. No stamp or any other distraction from the original card’s design ruins this card. And what a treat to see how the 68-year-old cardboard shows it age, but still looks in good shape considering how long it’s existed.

My only quips with this set are the insane insertion rates for SPs and the ubiquitous parallels. Really, UD thought 1:24 for two different SP subsets was a good idea for a set builders’ set? And while I’m no fan of parallels, the set is at least small enough that compiling a set of red backs and/or minis isn’t an Allen & Ginter-esque task.

Is there anything that Upper Deck produced this year that doesn’t elicit complaining? The flagship set was nice as usual — though not without its issues. As for everything else? Well, Spectrum, as its always been, was a dud. Now SPx comes crashing through the door, and it’s essentially Upper Deck X, part III. Really, guys, this was $13 worth of cardboard?



I get just eight cards, with two of them featuring Dr. J and some college basketball team that wouldn’t exist if not for the efforts of those brave, thoughtful, altruistic, and most of all, ubiased ACC-loving folks at ESPN.

That’s a total of SIX baseball cards. Not that I mind non-sport cards in baseball products. After all, I love 2008’s political inserts, and I’m a huge Allen & Ginter fan.

I get it, UD. You guys are cutting costs, and just like any company that’s cutting costs, quality control is bound to take a hit. You’d think however, if a company is on the verge of really terrible things, that they’d try and ramp it up a notch.

Instead, we see UD recycling the X yet again. It’s my fault, of course, for continuing to buy this garbage. Puts me in the same boat as dedicated Chevy drivers, I suppose. I’m not really the one to do “boycotts” as other bloggers have, but this is just ridiculous.

UD put out some nice products last year (Masterpieces, Baseball Heroes). I know it’s only April, but good grief, I’m finding it harder and harder to have any faith that they’ll somehow pull this off.  If Topps ends up with an exclusive license to produce MLB cards, UD’s 2009 efforts aren’t going to make anyone disagree.

After breaking three hobby boxes of 09 Heritage, this is what I ended up with:

Base set: 337 of 425 (79%)
Short print set: 24 of 75 (32%)

Insert sets:
New Age Performers: 4 of 15 (27%)
News Flashbacks: 4 of 10 (40%)
Baseball Flashbacks: 6 of 10 (60%)
Then and Now: 5 of 10 (50%)

Base duplicates: 200
Non-base duplicates: 1

Duplicates (box 1): 0
Duplicates (box 2): 49
Duplicates (box 3): 152

The increasing number of duplicates by box three is no surprise, although you still wish that three boxes would produce a base set at least. Alas, this is Heritage, and collectors will get no such thing. Thankfully, I again purchased these boxes at MSRP ($65) rather than the bloated prices they’re going for at DACW, Blowout, and Charm City.

It’ll take some effort and postage, but 200 doubles should be enough (I hope!) to round out the base set, and hopefully make headway towards the SP set.

As we all know, Heritage isn’t about the “hits,” but I will say these two are far better than the Kevin Millwood GU that came out of the first box.



And I can never complain about extra cards for the Dodger binder. Especially when they’re SHINY cards!



Eight cards per pack/24 packs per box

Base set completion: 125 of 125 (100%)
Short print set completion: 6 of 25 (24%)






As a self-professed history geek, I had a feeling this set would be all manner of awesome even before I managed to rip a pack. Now that I’ve managed to bust an entire box, my statement still stands.

Topps Heritage fans can definitely appreciate the revisit of several of Topps’ more noteworthy designs from the past. What makes this set nice is an extension of the many Presidential-themed inserts in last year’s sets. While the 08 Presidential cards were either humorous (UD’s Presidential Predictors) merely informative (Topps’ Campaign series) or historical (First Ladies, Campaign Match-Ups), American Heritage takes this idea and stretches out further into American history, and highlights several dozen key figures.

My only quip is the relative lack of inclusion of American figures of Asian heritage such as I.M Pei, or even someone such as Masanori Murakami. There’s also a relative lack of mention of the nation’s Indian heritage from a non-frontier explorer viewpoint. But as you do with textbooks covering the same subject, rarely do you get a complete picture of American heritage.

Even with its faults, I do believe American Heritage can be a valuable teaching tool, though how effective it may be depends on how relevant youth of today consider trading cards.

As far as the box itself — SO nice to pull an entire base set out of just one hobby box. I also ended up with 36 doubles, so the insert card collation rate obviously could’ve been better.

Not too pleased with the inserts I pulled — Keith Olbermann? BLECH. I had enough of him in the 04 Cracker Jack set! I do like using one of my favorite designs — 1952 Topps — as the format for the 43 President cards, however.

And the “hits!” Duke Ellington, authentic Griffith Stadium seat piece? Because one of the (arguably) greatest Jazz performers in history ocne sold peanuts at Griffith, therefore this relic is connected to him somehow? And the May-Walsh redemption … a little creepy don’t you think? Given the brevity of their “uniforms,” there’s not a whole lot of real estate from which to harvest these relics, is there? But whatever — this product, once again, isn’t about the hits.

What is nice is knowing only 25 short prints make up the subset . It would’ve been nicer had there been more inserted into the box, but I guess you can’t ask for everything.

As for the Chromes — I’m generally not a big fan of these cards, but I will say the Chrome cards that came in this set are generally rather nice looking.

All in all a pretty good idea, and great execution from Topps. I do hope that this isn’t a yearly thing from them. I like the idea of using the myriad Presidential Campaign inserts during the election year, and using American Heritage to tie a ribbon on them, so to speak.

A little late, but just a quick shout-out to a couple of very generous bloggers out there.

First off, from Night Owl Cards


Greg the Night Owl sent me a trio of 06 Updates that’ll get me that much closer to finishing my set. I need just a handful more, which is more than I had realized prior to checking on it. He also sent me a few random Dodgers, after I’d sent him a few random Raul Mondesi cards. Beltre, Nomo, and Kemp go in the Dodger binder, and the rest go into the giant box of Dodger fun. Thanks Greg!


These cards I won as the consolation prize from the group break over at Old School Breaks. My pre-selected teams bore no fruit, so I was the lucky winner of this box, which was the boxloader from one of the boxes he broke.


It kinda makes me chuckle to think of surly old Kevin Brown in front of glittery star. Silly as it may be, that card’s going into the Dodger binder. And speaking of Dodgers, here’s nine more from the woulda, shoulda, coulda been Dodgers file.


Yes, even Sandy Alomar Jr. was once a Dodger. Juan Marichal was also in this set, but I can’t stomach the fact that he ever wore a Dodger uniform.

This quad GU was also inclded in the box.


Given the news of the last week, it’s kind of well, I don’t know. ARod and Robbie Alomar on here, and the headlines weren’t friendly to them last week.

Thanks again Night Owl and Old School Breaks!

50 cards per pack/10 packs per box

Base set completion: 330 of 330 (100%)
Total base duplicates: 105

Insert Sets:
Turkey Red: 10 of 50 (20%)
Legends of the Game: 10 of 25 (40%)
Ring of Honor: 10 of 50 (20%)







Not that I bought this box for the “hits,” but let’s see if Topps delivered on what they advertised.

One auto: Sean Rodriguez
Two relics: Ted Williams and Josh Anderson
10 each Turkey Red, Legends of the Game, Ring of  Honor, Gold parallels and Topps Town: Check
One WBC redemption: Present

So it looks like the Sketch Card redemption and the Silk Card were bonuses in my HTA box. Topps delivered in this box what they promised they would.

Disappointments? Well, the fact that the letter patch counts as a relic, since it’s only technically a relic, but whatever. I’m also disappointed that of all the possible players I could’ve ended up with from the Career Best series, I end up with two essentially career minor leaguers. Honestly, whatever — I’m not chasing these stupid hits.

I won’t comment much on the design — that’s already been covered extensively both here and other places — other than I absolutely agree this is what Topps needed to do after last year’s lackluster looking set. And although I’m already predisposed to Topps, I will say objectively that 09 Topps is better than 09 Upper Deck. For starters — Topps is a 660 card base set and Upper Deck’s is 1000. That alone means a jumbo box will produce an entire series set, and a hobby box will come very close. I haven’t yet sorted the results of my 09 UD break, but I’m expecting to be only 2/3 of the way through the set.

As has been noted in many places now, the photography on this year’s cards is exponentially better than it has been in years past. I saw several action shots, and a lot less of the “pull a player out of spring camp and throw him in front of the camera” type pictures. There also appears to be a lot less of the Photoshop wizardry. There is this card, though.


I’m not entirely sure it is (or isn’t) a real, untouched photo. What strikes me as odd is Topps used what looked like a current Dodger photo of Maddux in Stadium Club, so why couldn’t they, months later, use another one for 09 Topps?

Photoshop questions aside, I’ll reiterate it — this is Topps’ best design in a few years, and it’s leaps and bounds better than UD’s 09 offering. I haven’t seen all of the 09 UD inserts yet, but I have no quibbles about Topps’ choice of inserts this year.

It appears my local hobby source won’t be getting their load of 2009 product until at least Tuesday, so it looks like I’ll be stuck with retail packs until then.

As a history buff, and a teacher of sorts, the idea of Topps American Heritage is absolutely one I am on board with. Just thinking of the myriad ways I could use these cards as a learning tool is awesome.

I bought two retail packs, and here’s what caught my eye.


It saddens me how often I have to remind others of how important the right to vote is, and for some groups, how relatively new these freedoms are.


Forget voting — how important is the simple freedom of being in a desegregated classroom?



As a Los Angeles native, there’s an obvious appreciation for J.P. Getty. Strangely enough, however, in all my years in LA, I never once managed to visit the Getty Center. This in spite of commuting past it twice a day at one point.


Never been a big fan of the Kennedy brothers, but this is a great picture. I also loved his portrayal in the movie “13 days,” about the Cuban Missile Crisis.



This reminds me — not only did my scanner refuse to scan this card properly, I really need to frame the “Three Umpires” Rockwell print my wife gave me for Christmas.


Oh yeah, I bought some baseball cards too!


In an unintended ode to Upper Deck Documentary, this card commemorates Manny’s efforts against the Cubs in the NLDS. And the picture on the front? It’s from a day game, odd considering all three NLDS games were in the evening. Judging from the brick background, it looks like this was taken at AT & T Park in San Francisco.


No Legends of the Game inserts this time, but I’ll gladly take another Turkey Red. I never once even remotely thought about this set when it was a full set, but as an insert set, they’re incredibly appealing to me. Weird.

And I even managed to buy football cards for the first time in really, a decade. I haven’t bought football cards (aside from the ones I occasionally buy for my nephew) since I collected them in the early 90s. But the idea of revisiting another classic tobacco card set from Topps drew me in.

I didn’t recognize anyone from the pack — my football knowledge is really limited to superstars and whoever’s currently playing for the St. Louis Rams. I did get this nice Matt Forte mini, however.


And it’ll likely be the only card I end up keeping. This an awesome looking set, and I hope Topps continues on its tradition of reviving old tobacco card sets.