Posts Tagged ‘Upper Deck’

Upper Deck – 2008 SP Authentic Baseball
Cost: Approx. $95/box

Another baseball season brings us another edition of Upper Deck’s SP Authentic Baseball. This year Upper Deck decided to ship their product during the playoffs instead of after the playoffs to build off a successful baseball season and take advantage of all the post season hype. UD touts 3 autographs per box (1 By the Letter, 1 Rookie auto, and 1 other).

Personally, I’m not a big set builder so you’re not going to see my talk about base cards in my reviews. Let’s talk about the good stuff.

By the LetterThe By the Letter cards return yet again this year in SP. If you’re not familiar with the BTL cards, they are manufactured patch cards that are signed by the players. When these letters were originally intorduced in 2006 they just spelled the player’s last name. Starting last year, UD decided to add in new letter combinations to spell things like “Rookie” or the team name and city. It appears that they continued with that this year as you can see from the Chad Billingsley card to the right. It appears that this year you can chance down your favorite player’s first name as well. The checklist for the BTL cards features many new subjects but sadly also features players who have been done before.

Rookie Autographs – This year UD included rookie autograph cards. When I first heard this, I thought it was a good idea. Who wouldn’t like serial numbered rookie autograph cards? Then, I got a look at them. Yikes! Talk about stupid card design….look at that travesty to the left!! There isn’t a hotter rookie out there than Evan Longoria, but would you actually want that card? The stupid window cuts off parts of the signature. And Longoria isn’t the only player who has his signature cut. If you scan all the cards out there now, this is very common.

In addition to the regular rookie autograph card, there are Rookie autograph jersey and patch cards. Unfortunately, these cards feature the same window for the autographs and you run the same risk of the signature being cut off. Most of the jersey cards are your plain single color swatches with the occasional pinstripe. The patches I’ve seen so far have been pretty good (the Bruce card to the right notwithstanding) and feature multiple colors. My only gripe is that the windows are small and don’t give them a chance to show off some of the patch pieces.

Best Hits? – If you’re breaking this product, there are a lot of “hit” cards that you will pull that won’t bring much on the secondary market. For the rookies, your biggest hits are going to be Evan Longoria, Jay Bruce, Kosuke Fukudome, and Joey Votto. On the BTL side, players like Billy Wagner, Jim Thome, Daisuke Matsuzaka, Alfonso Soriano, and Ching-Ming Wang are ridiculously short printed.

Overall Opinion – To me, I would avoid breaking this product by the box or case. I just don’t see the value there from the cards that are pulled. The BTL cards have lost their luster and people don’t chase them like they used to. Even some of the BTL cards from the 2006 and 2007 series can be had for very cheap. It’s time to retire this idea. The rookie autograph checklist is lame. Other than the ones I mentioned above, many of the others have next to no hobby value at all. Where’s Clayton Kershaw? I don’t see him on Upper Deck’s checklist at all. The addition of the USA Under-18 team autographs are nice but I don’t know how valuable they will end up being.

I give this a DON’T BREAK / JUST BUY SINGLES grade.

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One thing that came out while I was away for the weekend was that Mario over at Wax Heaven announced that he recently had secured a sponsorship from Upper Deck. Basically, Upper Deck agreed to send Mario select products for him to bust and provide product reviews as well as videos of the breaks. I believe these videos will be hosted on You Tube and UD’s web site. The only thing UD asks of Mario is that he provides contests to give away the contents of said boxes.

Since Mario’s announcement on his blog (link located to right), there has been some backlash to his deal. Some of the readers of his blog have essentially accused Mario of selling out to Upper Deck and that it will compromise his blog entirely since he’ll be nothing but a UD stooge. Personally, I couldn’t disagree more. I don’t think this will have any effect on Mario’s objectivity and I’ll still continue to read his blog daily and look forward to the insight that he provides.

During college I used to write video game reviews for a major gaming website. I would be shipped imcomplete versions of games from some of the various game companies and then I had to write honestly about my opinions. Some times there weren’t a lot of positive things to say and it was my job to make sure I pointed out the bad things. Sure, the game companies probably didn’t like seeing the negative press, but it does actually help them to make a better product. Assuming Mario does the same (which I’m sure he will), this partnership could actually help Upper Deck and to an extent, all us collectors, in the long run.

Oh, and I also think that many of the people who are bashing him over this deal are just jealous that they didn’t receive a similar offer from Upper Deck.

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One of the most annoying thing to me in this hobby is the rise in the pricing of what many call the “high end” products. I’m talking your UD Premier, Black, Exquisite and Topps Triple Threads, Sterling. Granted, you will pull some nice cards from these boxes, but you also pull a ton of garbage.

What really bugs me the most is that these card companies aren’t really even putting the value into the box. If someone is paying around $180 for a box of Triple Threads, they shouldn’t have to suffer through a pull of a autographed triple relic (all single color swatches) of Bill White. Yes, the same Bill White (Texas) who pitches a total of 9 innings in 2007 and then posted a 20+ ERA in 4 innings this year and was recently outrighted to the minors. I’m sure Bill is a wonderful person, but where the hell is the value there?!?! Topps isn’t alone in this mess. Upper Deck does the same crap and tries to wow us with single color swatches and call them “high end”.

In addition to lame relics and lame players, the value on these cards just doesn’t really hold up to the MSRP they slap on there. Last night I won an auction for a UD Black Justin Morneau autographed card. This is a product that was priced at nearly $200 per box when it was released (I could be wrong on that so someone correct me if I am). I grabbed the card for a paltry $14.

So here is my plea to Topps and Upper Deck….FIX THIS! You have two options. You can either: A) Fill these products with cards that are worth the price. I’m talking patches only. There is no reason to have single color swatches in products this expensive. And only put players in there that are stars. Don’t give me long time minor league guys that get a call late in the season and super sub bench players. Or B) Lower the price on these products to better reflect the stuff in the boxes. No one is getting their money’s worth with what you’re asking for now.

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In the 2006 edition of SP Authentic, Upper Deck debuted their “By the Letter” sets. Each player has various cards that when collected will spell out their last name. So I chose to try to complete the set for Justin Morneau and with the card I received yesterday, I am this far along:

Obviously, I still am short by three letters. In the 2006 product, all the letters in Justin’s name are numbered to 75. So that means there can only be 75 full name sets created. Even though that number isn’t all that high, I don’t think it’ll be a problem completing a full set. The fun part is when these pop up on ebay you really see some price variations because it will all come down to how many people need a certain letter. I think the “M” only cost me $21, but the “R” ran me $35. Obviously these are NOT actual letters from a game worn jersey. These are just manufactured patch cards. Sadly, I’ve seen plenty of morons on ebay list them as coming from the back of a real jersey.

In the 2007 product, they ran a set with Morneau again but they ran multiple sets. One is his last name and I believe that is numbered around 35 or so. But they also ran another set that spells out “TWINS” and that’s numbered to only 25 each. Those cards can get pretty pricey so I don’t know if I’ll pursue that or not. When I was still collecting Jason Bay items, I tried spelling out the “PITTSBURGH” subset and came within 5 cards of doing it. But prices for the cards were starting to get out of hand (one “S” card ended at nearly $75) so I dropped that project quick.

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It’s been a slow week on the acquisition front (although I’ll have a post tonight after I can get some scans) so I thought I would post about some of the remaining 2008 baseball products (in order of current release date) from a Morneau and general perspective.

2008 UD SP Authentic
Release Date:
After having “By the Letter” sets in each of the last two SPA products, Upper Deck has thankfully left Morneau out of that line this year. Last year’s product was a major headache for some player collectors as the BTL cards had more than one combination and different numbering. The base cards are blah and I imagine they’ll be the same this year. With boxes over $90 per, I’ll be passing on this until the price drops down a ton, which it will if this product is anything like last year.

2008 Topps Stadium Club
Release Date
: 11/5
This is one of those products that I really have no idea on. I haven’t seen a checklist on this anywhere so I have no idea if Justin Morneau will have anything in here other than a base card. The boxes here are pretty pricey (~$220 per), but you do get 12 autographed cards and some other goodies per box. Now, if the auto checklist is better than the crap list from this year’s Triple Threads, then I could see maybe picking up a box. But the fact that we’re now less than a month out for this one and I haven’t seen a checklist makes me think this will end up being overpriced garbage.

2008 Upper Deck Sweet Spot
Release Date:
Normally Sweet Spot is a pretty good product for player collectors. Each player seems to have a few different cards with varying material (ball leather, bat, glove leather) and various inks used for signatures. Plus, these cards don’t hold a ton of value and can be picked up on the cheap on the secondary market. You get 6 packs per box this year and only one will have the “Sweet Spot” autographed card. It strays from the tin idea last year with 1 pack per tin and the auto in that pack. This is more like how Sweet Spot was initially with the boxes with multiple packs. The checklist shows a Morneau “Sweet Spot” card but that’s all it says. Hard to say if this product will be worth the coin (~$100 per box), but my guess is that it will fall well short. This is another “wait until the market bottoms out” product.

2008 Upper Deck Ultimate Collection
Release Date:
Hopefully I’m not alone in thinking this way, but last year’s Ultimate was a train wreck! Ugly cards, bad relic pieces, lame checklist, and seriously overpriced. There are Morneau cards from that product that I have absolutely ZERO interest in chasing. This year it looks like UD has decided to try to really beef up this product. Morneau doesn’t appear in the current checklist all that much….just a base card and a couple cards with his signature with a couple other players. I’m pretty disappointed in this since UD has some really cool cards in this product this year featuring signed oversized jersey swatches and oversized bat barrel pieces. The product to me actually looks so good, I’m considering doing a case of it and I don’t do cases all that much anymore. I just wish there was more Morneau in there.

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