Monthly Archives: April 2010

Ubaldo Jimenez remains one of baseball's bargain-bin players

There are countless baseball players who, no matter what they do, really don’t grab the attention of many a collector and remain off the radar when it comes to gaining ground on the hobby’s stars.

But after throwing the first no-hitter in Colorado Rockies history last night, Ubaldo Jimenez will get a little more attention.

For how long? We’ll have to wait and see.

The 26-year-old right-hander from the Dominican Republic won 15 games for the Rockies last season (while losing 12) and holds a 34-28 record after playing in parts of five seasons. He has a career ERA of 3.70 — which should impress even more considering he plays half of his games in the high-altitude launching pad known as Coors Field.

This year, he’s 3-0 with a 1.29 ERA with 20 strikeouts in 21 innings.

So, what should collectors consider when looking into his cards? Well, he’s got just 510 total — and 112 of those are the “elusive” autograph. He’s got 43 memorabilia cards and 21 Rookie Cards — so there are a lot of choices to be made.

We’ll examine two worth considering…

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Players Union Email Sheds Light on Upper Deck's Financial Hardships

A story posted Friday on The New York Times website details an email sent from the MLBPA’s Evan Kaplan to all player agents regarding Upper Deck’s current financial difficulties and its inability to pay many players.

According to the Times’ story, in the email, sent Friday, Kaplan said the union is working with Upper Deck to ensure all players get paid; until they do, however, the union strongly encourages players not to return any outstanding autographs  or enter into any new agreements.

The story would appear to be another in a series of heavy blows delivered to Upper Deck in recent months that has included a stinging settlement in the MLB Properties suit and its failure to come to terms with the NFL Properties on an agreement for 2010.

Stay tuned to beckett.com for updates to this story.

First Look: 2010 Topps 206 baseball cards

Topps announced Friday afternoon that the famed T206 design will return for another year as Topps 206 will arrive on Aug. 30 packing one autograph and one Relic card per 20-pack hobby box.

The showcase for multi-branded mini cards will include 1/1 Red Chrome Carolina Brights cards, while there will be stamp cards, Gold Chrome Piedmont cards (limited to 50) and 1/1 T206 Cut Signature mini-book Relics to be found as well.

The base set will consist of 300 cards with veterans, legends and rookies in the mix — 50 of those cards being short-prints. The Mini parallels will include the Carolina Brights, Cycle, American Caramel, Piedmont, Old Mill and Polar Bear as well as 50 cards that will be found as silks.

Among its insert offerings are a 20-card Historical Events set that includes such firsts and notables as subway cars with side doors, the Army’s first military plane, the first Lincoln penny minted, the first U.S. junior high school, the first radio contest, and the “world’s first female cop.” For those more interested in baseball cards in their baseball sets, there’s an 80-card stamp set (well, they’re close to baseball cards) as well as Bronze parallels and the MLB Logoman Continuity program that will continue here. (Get it… continuity?)

The autograph lineups will include American Caramel (a new addition), which will be 35 cards, as well as T206 Cut Signatures (1/1s) along with the previously mentioned cards. (Get a preliminary autograph checklist after the jump.)

More to come.

See a full gallery of images after the jump.

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Guest commentary: Saluting a legend in Mike Modano

By Russ Cohen

Dallas Stars forward Mike Modano looks like he is about to hang up his skates.

I know that he has a lot of fans in Dallas, Minnesota and around the NHL. He’s won a Stanley Cup, he’s been a six-time All-Star, and a solid NHL citizen for 20 years.

A lot of collectors like him because he’s one of the greatest American players of all-time as well. He’s played in 1,459 games, he has 557 goals and he has 92 game-winning goals which is more than Wayne Gretzky.

This soon-to-be 40 year old will leave an indelible mark in the hobby as being one of the most popular players of his era and for appearing on a boatload of cards as well.

He was the first overall pick in the 1988 draft, and he has been everything fans thought he would be.

Here are some key collectibles of his to look for:

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Press Pass releases red-ink and inscriptions list for its 2010 football set

Press Pass has released its annual list of red ink autographs and inscriptions for its 2010 Press Pass Football set exclusively to Beckett Media this morning.

Here’s the rundown as grouped by color.

See it all after the jump.

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Card Gallery: In The Game Superlative Hockey II

In The Game‘s Superlative Volume II arrives in just 15 days and the ultra high-end product will be rarer than ever but packed with plenty in each of the 2,500 books.

Each will contain one game-used jersey card, one autograph or Auto Plus card, one Superlative Prospect autograph or Auto Plus card, one Superlative Patch, one Auto jersey or Auto Plus card, one Famous Fabrics card and one added insert.

The product will include cards of hockey’s greatest legends as well as today’s stars and prospects.

To view the preliminary checklist, click here.

See the gallery of preview images after the jump.

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Jackie Robinson's story is found on countless baseball cards

Every card has a story.

I’ve written it countless times and it’s still true. Today is an historic anniversary in the history of Major League Baseball and the 2010 Topps Heritage card above (No. 403).

Rather than recap Jackie Robinson‘s place in baseball history, I’ll let this rather affordable ($1 or less) piece of cardboard tell the tale.

Read the card back after the jump.

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UFC fan finds dream card and wins free trip to Las Vegas

UFC fan Alfonso Rodriguez of Melrose Park, Ill., was the first collector to find a triple-autograph card featuring Dana White, Chuck Liddell and Tito Ortiz in UFC Main Event, Topps announced on Wednesday.

Rodriguez and a guest will receive an all-expenses-paid trip to Las Vegas to be White’s guest at the UFC Training Center where they will tour the gym, meet coaches and contestants from “The Ultimate Fighter Season 12″ and then sit cageside during one of the TUF preliminary matches.

Topps created 10 of these cards, which were randomly inserted into packs.  Nine other lucky fans who find the card will receive a pair of UFC gloves signed by the trio.  Fans finding the card should e-mail
 UFCprize@topps.com to claim their prize.

To learn more about this card, click here.

http://blogbeckett.wordpress.com/2010/04/14/ufc-fan-finds-dream-card-and-will-head-to-vegas/

Box Busters: 2010 Upper Deck Greats of the Game Basketball

Beckett Basketball‘s ever-grating tandem of Keith Hower and Tracy Hackler explore the fruits of two boxes of 2009-10 Upper Deck Greats of the Game Basketball.

What did they pull? Watch and find out.

Card Gallery: SP Authentic NCAA Football?

Passionate football card collector Sergio Dubois (beckett user ID Sensei322) brought to our attention last night his fascinating discovery of several gorgeous card images conceivably hailing from an as-yet-unreleased college-football-focused SP Authentic product.

The images provide a generation-spanning visual feast of 2010 rookies and legendary NFL Hall of Famers all decked out in their Saturday best. The result is a stunning display of eye candy steeped in SP Authentic’s aesthetically pleasing design principles.

No word from Upper Deck officials on when — or even if — this product will be released.

Find additional information on these images after the gallery and stay tuned to Beckett.com for additional details.

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First look: The New York Yankees World Series rings

The New York Yankees received their World Series rings during a pre-game ceremony just a bit ago and here’s the first look at the rings via Major League Baseball.

Yankees' World Series championship commemorated on new print

On the day that the New York Yankees receive their World Series rings, artist Opie Otterstad has unveiled his latest piece, which will be displayed publicly at Pop International Galleries, in the SoHo district of New York City on Saturday.

The 24×36 prints showcase a montage of Yankees images celebrating the team’s record 27th championship. They are limited to 209 hand-signed and numbered copies, which cost is $1,650.

For the past seven years, baseball fans have looked to Otterstad for his panoramic paintings capturing World Series victories — this being the first for the Bronx Bombers in that time.

Showing alongside Otterstad at Pop International will be renowned artist Stephen Holland, who will debut three Yankees portraits — Derek Jeter, Mariano Rivera and Alex Rodriguez.

“The Yankees and their iconic players as painted by Opie and Holland are just as much a part of ‘popular culture art’ as Warhol’s Monroe,” said Pop International co-owner Rick Rounick.

For a closer look at the piece, click on the image above.

Chris Olds is the editor of Beckett Baseball. Have a comment, question or idea? Send an e-mail to him at colds@beckett.com. Follow him on Twitter by clicking here.

Panini Vows Sweeping Changes to Distribution Procedures

Panini America officials headlined Monday’s first full day of the Sports Collectibles Industry Summit in Las Vegas by announcing sweeping, comprehensive changes to the company’s distribution network.

“These are things we’ve wanted to do for 10 years,” Panini VP Mike Anderson told a room that included more than 100 hobby shop owners. “We are no longer turning a blind eye to the problem that has been killing margins for hobby stores.”

Anderson and Panini hobby sales director Rodney Alsup outlined their plans – slated to launch in the fall – that strives to address one of retailers’ most pressing concerns: Online sellers’ negative impact on brick-and-mortar profit margins and key buyer relationships.

Among Panini’s pledges to an enthusiastic retailer audience at the Summit:

* Re-authorizing all brick-and-mortar hobby shops. Only authorized stores – and potentially, a handful of authorized show retailers – will be able to purchase and sell Panini product directly.

* A dramatically reduced wholesale distribution network.  Anderson noted that, currently, as many as 50 entities operate as quasi-wholesalers, through online services such as DealernetB2B, eBay, individual websites or through a sub-distribution sales force. Going forward, Panini will appoint and promote a select number of authorized distributors – perhaps as few as four nationally, Alsup said.

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Hobby Roundtable: Examining Upper Deck's NFL news & card licensing changes throughout the industry

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Beckett Media’s Tracy Hackler, Dan Hitt, Chris Olds and Brian Fleischer discuss the changes in the hobby in the wake of Upper Deck’s NFL news late last week in this three-part Hobby Roundtable.

Part 1 is above, while the remaining parts can be found after the jump.

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BGS & James Spence Authentication join Wizard Comic Con Tour

Beckett Grading Services, the industry leader in providing collectors with the finest, most thorough, consistent and accurate grading efforts available, and James Spence Authentication, the foremost autograph authentication company in the world, will be joining the remaining eight-city 2010 Wizard Comic Con Tour with Anaheim, Calif., as the first stop.

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Industry Trade Summit Kicks Off in Las Vegas

The sports collectibles industry’s first Industry Summit kicked off Sunday night in Las Vegas with more than 200 attendees from the manufacturer, dealer, distributor and league sectors taking part in an opening reception at the Orleans Hotel.

“I thought it was a wonderful start,” said TRISTAR’s Janyce Mabra. “Everyone seemed really positive, enthusiastic and happy to be together, talking about ways to improve the business.”

Summit host Kevin Isaacson noted that more than 40 hobby store owners were attending their first-ever industry trade event.

“It was great to see the new faces, as well as many old friends,’’ Isaacson said. “And the opening retailer meeting generated dozens of positive ideas that we can employ across the business.”

Some of the highlights from Sunday’s dealer-focused retailer meetings included:

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Atlanta's Jason Heyward is first 2010 Topps Finest Rookie Redemption

Topps announced on Monday afternoon that Atlanta Braves outfielder Jason Heyward is the first 2010 Finest Rookie Redemption card — and 10 percent of the cards will be autographed.

Cardholders will know whether they will receive a signed card at the time they redeem it.

If previously redeemed, the account should note whether an autograph will be awarded soon.

Through six games, Heyward is batting .292 with three home runs and eight RBI.

Each Finest Master Box includes one Rookie Redemption, which also can be found as Blue (#’d to 199) and Gold Refractors (#’d to 50).

And for fans eager to pick up more new Heyward cards Topps teased its forthcoming 2010 eTopps card of the red-hot Braves rookie as well.

See it after the jump.

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REVIEW: 2010 TRISTAR Pursuit baseball cards

We’ve gotten our hands on a set of 2010 TRISTAR Pursuit baseball cards and cracked the box to see what’s inside. Here’s a look …

2010 TRISTAR PURSUIT SERIES 1

What We Pulled
Cards per set:
75 (plus checklist)
Cards per box: 90 (plus checklist)
Base set completion: 75 of 75 (100 percent)
Duplicates: 0

Short-prints: 2
Short-print
(1) — Chris Carter & Grant Desme
Variation short-print (1) — Jason Heyward

Inserts: 2
Obak Preview (2) — John Montgomery Ward, Walt Whitman (limited to 425)

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Topps unveils lineup for its 2010 Baseball factory sets

Although the Major League Baseball season has barely started and Series 2 isn’t here just yet, Topps on Friday unveiled its plans for its 2010 Topps Baseball factory sets.

There will be four versions of the set released — a hobby set, a New York Yankees set, a Boston Red Sox set and a Philadelphia Phillies set.

There will be a five-card pack of serial-numbered red parallel cards in the hobby sets, while there will be a five-card bonus pack in each of the team-themed sets. The players on those cards will include:

YANKEES
Derek Jeter
Alex Rodriguez
Mariano Rivera
Mark Teixeira
Curtis Granderson

RED SOX
Dustin Pedroia
Jacoby Ellsbury
Victor Martinez
John Lackey
Daisuke Matsuzaka

PHILLIES
Roy Halladay
Ryan Howard
Chase Utley
Jimmy Rollins
Jayson Werth

The sets will arrive in mid-July.

See the box designs for all four sets after the jump.

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Exclusive gallery — TNA: The New Era Obak insert cards

While TRISTAR‘s upcoming TNA Wrestling set doesn’t arrive in hobby shops until the end of the month, we’ve got a sneak peek at all 10 of the retro-styled Obak insert cards that will be found in TNA: The New Era.

The 10 Obak cards will be limited to just 600 copies per card when the product arrives on April 28.

They’re designed after the 1800s tobacco baseball cards of the same name.

The checklist includes Hulk Hogan, The Beautiful People, Ric Flair, Mick Foley, AJ Styles, Sting and more.

See all of the cards after the jump …

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Panini America signs partnership deal with Los Angeles Lakers

Panini America has unveiled a multi-year partnership with the Los Angeles Lakers.

As part of the deal, the Lakers will host a Panini Adrenalyn Night on April 11.  Adrenalyn is Panini’s new NBA-themed interactive trading card game.  As part of the festivities, the Lakers will distribute more than 20,000 packs of Adrenalyn cards and game boards to fans in attendance at the Staples Center.

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Upper Deck Commemorates Tiger's Return with New Memorabilia

As one of the only companies that stood by Tiger Woods during the scandal-laden treachery of his last four months, Upper Deck was understandably thrilled by his ballyhooed return to competitive golf at this week’s Masters.

Woods’ fired a like-he-never-left 4-under 68 in Thursday’s opening round that left him just two strokes off the lead — and likely added a good share of names to the waiting list for a handful of new Upper Deck Authenticated Woods items.

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Upper Deck loses NFL card license (updated)

Thursday afternoon Update: The NFL declined to comment on its decision.

Upper Deck announced Wednesday evening that it will no longer be licensed to produce NFL trading cards, ending weeks of speculation about what the beleaguered manufacturer’s status for the future might be.

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It's all about the shoes — Tim Duncan's NBA All-Star Game shoes

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Ever wonder how your shoes compare to those of an NBA player? One collector here at Beckett Media decided to show off his newest pair of kicks — and we thought you’d get a kick out of seeing them.

The shoes belonged to San Antonio Spurs star Tim Duncan, who was issued the kicks during the NBA All-Star Game earlier this year in Dallas.

Preview video: 2010 Topps Allen & Ginter baseball cards

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There’s not too much new here, but just enough to make Topps’ latest video — a preview of the always-popular Allen & Ginter baseball set — worthwhile.

Check it out to see what 2010 will include …

Boston Bruins legend Bobby Orr's rookie jersey set to hit auction block

Update: The jersey sold for $191,200.

A game-used jersey from hockey Hall of Famer Bobby Orr‘s rookie season is set to hit the auction block later this month and is expected to fetch more than $100,000.

It’s the first Orr rookie jersey to be auctioned. It’s from the 1966-67 season and was a gift to its owner from Garry Young, a former scout for the Bruins. Years ago, the owner received an offer of $1,000 for the piece, which is one of only two known to exist, but he turned it down.

“You can imagine that was a lot of money to me back then,” said John Rows, the owner. “There were a couple different people interested in, actually, but I decided to hold on to it.”

The jersey will be sold as part of Heritage Auctions‘ Signature Sports Memorabilia Auction that launches on April 23.

“My uncle brought it home with him,” Rows said. “He had the Orr jersey and a Gerry Cheevers jersey and gave them to my cousins. One of them later asked me which one I liked, and I told him I really liked Orr, so he gave me that one and said he’d keep the Cheevers jersey.”

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Guest commentary: Five future NHL stars to collect right now

By Russ Cohen

This list was compiled to show some players who have been playing under the radar. Most of them aren’t Calder eligible but right now would be a good time to collect them. Players like Jimmy Howard, Matt Duchene and Tyler Myers are the front-runners and as a result their card values are already jacked up.

Colin Wilson
He won a college hockey championship with Boston University last season. He’s been a goal scorer at every level and he’s starting to do that now for the Nashville Predators. His dad, Carey, had a nice NHL career with his career-high for goals sitting at 29. He will beat that someday soon. At 6-foot-1 and 213 pounds, he will get some goals with his speed but he will get more in the front of the net. His UD 2009-10 Trilogy card is sharp and the serial-numbering is pretty low.

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Examining the Basketball Hall of Fame's latest class on cards

The Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame has unveiled its 2010 class of inductees, a crop that includes representatives from from all levels of basketball — and even “The Dream Team” from the 1992 Olympics.

Here’s a rundown of who’s in and where they appear on cardboard …

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Jonny (Flynn) on the Spot

Minnesota Timberwolves exciting young rookie Jonny Flynn took time away from dazzling on the court early last week to dazzle off the court.

The first-year guard out of Syracuse pleasantly surprised the kids at the Jerry Gamble Boys & Girls Club in Minneapolis with an unannounced visit to teach basketball skills and to battle them in head-to-head in Panini’s Adrenalyn XL trading card game.

“It’s definitely been a good day,” Flynn said. “The kids are really getting a kick out of this and I’m definitely getting a kick out of this. It’s definitely been a good day.”

Through Monday, Flynn, one of the most promising rookies of the 2009-10 class, was averaging 13.5 points and 4.4 assists per game. When it comes to playing Adrenalyn, however, Flynn took his lumps. Thankfully for us, he also took a little time to tell us about the experience.

Beckett Media: How did you do playing Adrenalyn against the kids?
Jonny Flynn: Actually, they’ve been loading up on me; you know, stacking up Kobe and LeBron and Dwight Howard and playing all these 100 ratings and I’m just using little old me. I think I’ve got to get in the gym a little bit more so I can definitely get my Adrenalyn rating up in my second year so I can try to compete with these kids the next time I come down here.

Beckett: Did you ever collect any sports cards growing up?
Flynn:
I collected every type of sports card; from the biggest names to the guys you would never see in a game. I collected everything, from basketball to baseball, football, hockey, everything. I definitely collected a lot of cards when I was younger.

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First look: 2010 Upper Deck football cards

Upper Deck released the basic preview images and set information for its 2010 Upper Deck football cards on Tuesday, a 400-card release that offers up its first glimpse at the company’s AFL/NFL Legacy insert set.

It’s set for release on Aug. 10, with a stout lineup of inserts, autographs and memorabilia cards that includes UD Signature Stars, Same Day Signatures, AFL/NFL Legacy Autographs, Rookie Review Jerseys, UD Game Patches and AFL/NFL Legacy Memorabilia.

Among the standard insert sets are Mort Report, Todd McShay Scouting Report, Now Appearing, Decade in Review, Regular Cards parallels and Star Rookies parallels as well as the AFL/NFL Legacy set, which celebrates the 40th anniversary of the AFL-NFL merger.

The standard set will consist of 300 veterans and 100 Star Rookie, while the box configuration will be 24 packs of 14 cards. Blaster boxes will include nine packs and a five-card AFL/NFL Legacy bonus pack, while Fat Packs will include 28 cards.

See more from the set after the jump …

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Colorado shop turns Easter into eggciting promotion

One might not think of Easter as a hobby holiday, but at Mike’s Stadium Sportscards in Aurora, Colo., it is.

Owner Mike Fruitman has made the holiday one for exciting times in his card shop in recent years — how?

Easter eggs, of course.

“While I am down with some sweets,” Fruitman wrote, “the friends of my store truly prefer it when I give away sports cards.”

Here’s how his promotion works — visitors spend as much as they want and then pull an Easter egg from a basket.  Each of the 40 eggs has a slip of paper inside that tells the person what prize is theirs.  The prizes range from single card sleeve to free packs, free memorabilia cards and the granddaddy of them all — a slip of paper that reads “HAPPY EASTER.”

That egg allows the finder to free cards — equaling the amount he or she spent.

“We try to carry a great selection of affordably priced product all the way up to Exquisite,” Fruitman wrote, “so each Easter can lead to some anti-perspirant failure moments.”

See some of the highlights via video after the jump.

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Jays' Shaun Marcum flirts with history on Opening Day

Bob Feller can rest easy knowing that he’s still the only Opening Day no-hit man in baseball history.

Toronto Blue Jays pitcher Shaun Marcum, who missed all of last season with elbow issues, flirted with a no-hitter against the Texas Rangers Monday at Rangers Ballpark in Arlington, throwing six hitless innings before giving up his first walk, to Josh Hamilton, and a three-run homer to Nelson Cruz in the seventh inning to lose his historic bid as well as a 3-0 lead.

Marcum, who last pitched in an MLB game on Sept. 16, 2008, appears on just 146 baseball cards — only 18 of those certified autographs. He’s appeared on zero memorabilia cards during his cardboard career.

He has just two Rookie Cards, 2003 Bowman Draft and 2003 Bowman Chrome Draft, which can be had for a total of about $2. His 2003 Bowman Chrome Draft Gold Refractor sells for $30.

Feller’s Opening Day gem came against the White Sox in 1940 as his Cleveland Indians topped Chicago, 1-0.

Chris Olds is the editor of Beckett Baseball. Have a comment, question or idea? Send an e-mail to him at colds@beckett.com. Follow him on Twitter by clicking here.

Guest commentary: 20 Questions for the hobby

By Steven Judd

1. So who exactly is considered to be part of the thought leadership in this industry? Seriously, I’d like to know.  No, really, I am not joking … seriously.

2. Speaking of leadership, or lack thereof, who replaced Judy Heeter as the Director of Licensing for the MLBPA? I must have missed that press release. Hopefully someone not stuck in 1996.

3. Is it possible for a card company to successfully distribute a product without any autograph or game-used cards in its content in the current marketplace?

4. At the beginning of 2012, how many card manufacturers will exist? Notice that I did not say “still exist.”

5. How many different ways can the leagues figure out how to say, “Well, they offer us a boatload of money, and we weren’t about to say no to that?”

6. Did anyone else find it interesting that Panini America chose not to show any Rookie Cards or RC autograph variations in its 2010 Donruss Elite preview images?

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Box Busters: 2010 Topps Finest baseball cards

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Join Beckett Media’s Tracy Hackler, Chris Olds and Brian Fleischer as they rip into a pair of boxes of recently released 2010 Topps Finest baseball cards in this latest episode of Box Busters.

What will they find inside? Watch and find out …

Guest commentary: Heroes of Opening Days Past

By Stan Carlberg

For more than a decade now, card collectors have associated the term “Opening Day” with the annual updated Topps release than the actual first day of the new baseball season. While the set typically mirrors Topps’ regular-issue set, along with some special inserts and autographs, it has nothing to do with the first pitch of the season. At some point, Topps should consider educating new collectors with some of the heroes of Opening Day’s past.

Opening Day has seen its share of heroics throughout the years. Being the first day of the 2010 season, I thought I’d recognize some players who have made their mark on what many consider baseball’s most exciting day.

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