22 April 2010

When a Volcano explodes.....

Now, I understand hundreds of thousands of people were/are stranded and over a billion dollars was lost in the air line and produce industry, but this fucking volcano is costing me my damn mail days.

I'm not just talking cards, either. DVD's, books, my Nike+ running tracker...a whole boat load of stuff.

But the reason you are all here: baseball cards.

I have around TWENTY auctions I won before the volcanic auction that are lost somewhere between New Jersey, New York and the German side of the Atlantic.

What does this create? One pissed off blogger. Now, none of these cards are super rare or crazy expensive (I hardly collect anything expensive anyways), but they are cards I wanted to add to my collection. It's tough going an entire week with NOTHING in my mailbox.

Hell, i'd give my left thumb for a bill, spam mail, fuck, someone ELSE's mail.

Is that really asking too much? I mean, Air France for god's sake got a plane up in the air, through the smoke and onto the other side -- with no damage. So why can't British Airways, American Airlines or someone get a damn bird in the sky and give me my damn mail?

Alright, ok, i've got that out of my system.

Maybe I should end this on a good note, no? I won this last night, my third 1/1 in the past two months of Hidalgo:

17 April 2010

Where's my Esquisite Auto Redemption?!?!?!?!?

Apparently, it's still at the Upper Deck headquarters, waiting to be fulfilled.

Wait just a minute, you say, why is it still waiting to be fulfilled?

Well, because no one signs for free silly.

According to an article in the New York Times, Upper Deck, surprise, surprise, is behind on payments to a large amount of Major League Baseball players. The Times received an email, that was sent by the Player's Unions director of trading cards and collectibles, Evan Kaplan and broke the story.

Kaplan has advised players not to send back signed cards (i'm guessing they are just stickers, let's not give Upper Deck too much credit right now) until they receive the proper compensation due to them.

It seems that Upper Deck continues to get itself further and further up the creek without a paddle, when you add this to the lawsuit over trademark infringement (thanks to Topps exclusivity in MLB), being sued by Konami over gaming cards and the announced layoffs of over 100 people in June.

Honestly, though I haven't liked many of Upper Deck's products the past few years, all of this does upset me a little bit. Back in 1989, when Upper Deck was new to the collecting world it brought new people in and made Ken Griffey, Jr. the FACE of the hobby.

Now, Upper Deck is the face of the hobby...except it is leaving the hobby with a black eye on that face.

Salutations Upper Deck, I hope we don't see you on the corner, asking for change.

16 April 2010

Off Topic: Video Blogging -- Yay or Nay?

So, i've been kicking the tires on starting a a video blogging "series" if you will.

I know many out there in the sports card blogging community have used video blogs for box breaks, mail days, random.org randomizations, uh, "rap" videos and general shout outs, but has anyone thought about just doing once or twice a week video blogs to discuss the random goings on in the hobby (and sports) world?

I know I will be working on a mail day video later tonight, primarily to see if I have what it takes to make a video blog and to see what needs to go into a good video blog.

My question is though -- would you be willing to sit and watch a video blog instead of reading a post, even just once a week or would you prefer to read about what someone has to say instead?

14 April 2010

Sports Cards Uncensored's Blog Bat Around: $50,000 in 15 minutes.....on eBay

Well, the first BBA of the new baseball season is upon us and it's a doozy.

The topic: what if you had $50,000....but only 15 minutes to spend it (but only on eBay). What would you buy (and if you want to, why?)?

This may have taken me a little over 15 minutes (let's say, 17 minutes total), but I cam up with this list, from least expensive to most expensive:

 I figure those pictures do themselves more justice than my words could, so just enjoy that eye candy. Plus, i'd have about $950 left over, just to, you know, play with ;)

What would YOU spend $50,000 in 15 minutes on eBay on?

13 April 2010

Will you be the end of the chase?

I have finished roughly 75% of my first set attempt, 2008 Topps. I need your help, my blogger faithful. I am coming up empty in trades on the few message boards I frequent and I REFUSE to buy what I need from eBay (I prefer to trade for the cards/receive gifts over paying, it makes it feel like more of an accomplishment).

This is what I need for Series 1 and Series 2:

Series 1:

Series 2:

Here's the deal, I am trading inserts (I can get you a list) 1 for 5 and I will trade game used 1 for 15 and, if you got a particularly enticing amount of cards I need for the set, I am willing to trade an auto for base cards.

Just shoot me and email with what you got and we can work out a trade (if you have 15 or more, feel free to take a gander at my trade post from yesterday and let me know what game used you like).

EDIT #1: I have updated the list based off of an email I have received detailing a trade for some of the set.

Twitter, Blog Bat Around & the Topps Blog

You know, sitting down in front of your laptop and watching a baseball game (Twins vs Red Sox at the new Target Field and now White Sox at Blue Jays), makes it really easy to tweet a lot of nonsense and get involved in a few things around the hobby.

Like scanning a lot of cards and posting new trade bait.

Or, getting the chance to participate in a "state of the hobby" round table with 12 other bloggers that will be featured on the Topps Blog. Thanks to following the @toppscards account on Twitter, I have that opportunity. The Topps guy who runs the Twitter account (Mike Mader) has emailed all 13 of the bloggers who will be participating and wants to see what WE want to discuss, before letting us know the topic at hand.

I have already emailed him a few topics I have in mind, but what about the rest of us? Anyone have anything they would like discussed by various members of our hobby community? If so, just email me (anicolausk@yahoo.com) or post a comment and when I wake up in the morning I will send another email out to Mike.

As for the Blog Bat Around, Gellman over at SportsCardsUncensored is hosting the first of what will hopefully be many BBA's of the young season here. Check it out and participate. Not only is it great to see what everyone else has to say, it can also help out with some readership as well ;)

Anyways, I look forward to the emails or comments (if I get any) and hope to see as many of my followers (all 35 of you) participate in the BBA.

A Great Big'ol Trade Bait Post, in Pictures

For right now, here is a trade list, in pictures, of all my autos and game used cards available for trade. Primarily looking for autos, inserts and base of Richard Hidalgo and Javier Vazquez and anything and everything of Hunter Pence and Bob Gibson. Other than that, I will entertain offers, just depends on if I am interested in the cards or not.












12 April 2010


Or....Monday Morning Music Video.

Here at the Balk Four headquarters, we are currently lovated overseas in beautiful Germany. That being said, I have a chance to listen to a lot of music that is not in, well, English.

Every so often, one of those songs stands out and I just can't get them out of my head.

To get your Monday morning (and the new week started) crank up the sound and enjoy Die Antzen:

Die Atzen - Disco Pogo


11 April 2010

Balk Four: Card Bloggers Unite Fantasy League: Team Update #1

 We are not even one complete week into the season and changes are abound on my fantasy baseball team.

That behemoth you see above (see: Votto, Joey) has recently joined the Balk Four headquarters in the second trade of the early season.

I trade Roy Halladay, Gavin Floyd and Ryan Ludwick for Votto, Alexei Ramirez and Scott Baker. I have a plethora of #1 type SP and needed an offensive boost, which this definitely gives me (Votto is a top 25 player in our setup).

Not to mention I have a few offers being bounced around, trying to improve my team just a little bit more.

Also, I head into this week's final day tied with Gonna Get Bipped, 6 categories a piece. So wish me luck in knocking in 5 or so RBI and scoring about the same amount of runs.

I will be updating my sidebar once again and will include this team plus a few other things in that sidebar (it will include a new wantlist, new trade list and a few of my favorite sites to check out). I got another post in me, but that will be reserved for later (probably during the waning hours of the Masters).

08 April 2010

A bleak and expected start to a woeful season....

Well, the San Fransisco Giants just finished putting a whoopin' on the Astros in their 3 game season opening series, 18-6.

The Astros top two HEALTHY star hitters went a combined TWO FOR TWENTY FOUR. Are you freaking kidding me? I know Lance Berkman is hurt and all, but what the HELL man?

As a team, they are in the top 5 of only THREE offensive categories (double T5th, triples T2nd, caught stealing T1). Other than that?  Bottom six in all the rest of the categories. And guess what? Fans are still paying to see this crap.

Now, don't get me wrong, most of us Astros fans knew what to expect this season: AA ball. There's no way we could have been convinced that a two deep pitching staff and 3 solid bats (Bourn is too streaky to be considered solid) would lead to anything more than 60 wins. after Oswalt and WayRod, no one can be trusted, in my opinion, with even a sliver of hope to win a game.

The sad thing about all of this? The usual cellar dwellers (the Pirates) put up TWELVE RUNS in their FIRST game. No, not those Somalian pirates that have been attempting to hijack ships in the open seas, but those woeful Pittsburgh Pirates, the ones who haven't been good since some mediocre player Barry Bonds was in their outfield.

What's all of this mean? It means the season is only three games old and no one should freak out because their team is sucking. Or because your fantasy is absolutely blowing so far (and I do mean blowing...not one of my 4 teams is currently leading this week).

To use an overused cliche, the season is a marathon, not a sprint, and you gotta prepare yourself for the long haul.

07 April 2010

The Year of the Phanatic

Going against no conventional wisdom (but a handful of history), here around the Balk Four headquarters, it has been declared the Year of the Phanatic.

What is the Year of the Phanatic, exactly? It's the year the Phillies sweep the three major awards (World Champs, MVP and Cy Young). That's right, the Phightin' Phanatic, Chase Utley and Roy Halladay will be the toast of the town (and all of baseball) come October.

Now, let's Tarantino this, and find out how we get here:

AL East:

1. New York Yankees
2. Tampa Bay Rays
3. Boston Red Sox
4. Baltimore Orioles
5. Toronto Blue Jays

No surprise here (unless you call the Rays ahead of the Sox a surprise, but really, they are more of a toss up than anything), as I followed the lemmings and chose the Cashman's....er....Yankees as the NL East champs. I was tempted to place the Orioles over the Red Sox, but I just don't believe their young pitching is ready....this season.

AL Central:

1. MinnesotaTwins
2. Chicago White Sox
3. Cleveland Indians
4. Detroit Tigers
5. Kansas city Royals

I'm overly tempted to crown the White Sox the division champs, I just think the Twins pitching is better, even without Joe Nathan anchoring down the bullpen. Without popularity, I have chosen the Tiggers to place 4th, mainly because Scott Sizemore and Austin Jackson just won't replace the offense that left with Curtis Granderson and Placido Polanco. And, in other news, the Royals finish in last place.

AL West:

1. Texas Rangers
2. California Angels
3. Seattle Mariners
4. Oakland Athletics

I think the Texas offense is good enough to overcome some spotty pitching. With a (partially) healthy Rich Harden and some fireballing young arms, I believe they will jump over the regressing Angels this season. The Athletics will once again fall into the cellar...but in 2011, watch out. As for the Mariners, well, with very little offensive firepower, it's going to be tough winning three out of every five games.

NL East:

1. Philadelphia Phillies
2. Atlanta Braves
3. Florida Marlins
4. New York Mets
5. Washington Nationals

Philadelphia, NL East, NL Pennant and MLB Champs. Followed by the Atlanta Heywards and their solid, young pitching staff. And yes, I see the Mets just edging out the Nationals for 4th in the East (great offense, but terrible pitching aside from Johan).

NL Central:

1. STL Cardinals
4. Milwaukee Brewers
5. Chicago Cubs
6. Cincy Reds
7. Houston Astros
8. Pittsburgh Pirates

The rest of the NL Central is just so bad, that the Cardinals may well lay claim to 1st through 3rd and let the other 5 teams settle in after that. With the reigning MVP, the 2nd and 3rd place Cy Young ballotees and stellar defense, no one in the Central will knock them off the top. The only thing keeping the Houston Astros out of the cellar is, well, my own homerish bias.

NL West:

1. Colorado Rockies
2. Los Angeles Dodgers
3. Arizona Diamondbacks
4. San Diego Padres

The popular "sleeper" pick, the Rockies are my NL West champs. LA's lack of pitching depth will hold them back from taking the division. Arizona's and San Diego's general lack of talent (aside from Mark Reynolds, Justin Upton and Dan Haren for the former and Adrian Gonzalez, Kyle Blanks and Everth Cabrera for the latter) keep them from even hanging in with the two big boys.

AL East: Yankees
AL Central: Twins
AL West: Rangers
AL Wild Card: Rays
Yanks over Rangers, Twins over Rays
Yanks over Twins

NL East: Phillies
NL Central: Cardinals
NL West: Rockies
NL Wild Card: Braves
Phillies over Rockies, Braves over Cardinals
Phillies over Braves

World Series: Phillies over Yankees in 6

AL MVP: Alex Rodriguez
AL Cy Young: Felix Hernandez
AL RoY: Michael Brantley

NL MVP: Chase Utley
NL Cy Young: Roy Halladay
NL RoY: Jason Heyward

Who you got?

Balk Four: The Pre Season 2010 Card Bloggers Unite Fantasy Baseball Champions

Well, at least around the Balk Four headquarters, that's what the press is saying.

The draft was supposed to be live, but instead ended up being a slow, offline draft that I was highly unavailable for (primarily because of the time difference being in Germany and all), but I am, well, slightly happy with the results.

Outside of an irregular pick (the early "rules" for missing a pick were abandoned later in the draft, pretty much screwing over a few people....but nothing we can't move on from), my pitching is stacked and my offense is power heavy.

C- Geovany Soto
1B- Mark Reynolds
2B- Rickie Weeks
3B- David Wright
SS- Hanley Ramirez
OF-Jayson Werth
OF- Torii Hunter
OF- Johnny Damon
UTIL- Jay Bruce
B- Ryan Ludwick
DL- Lance Berkman

SP- Roy Halladay
SP- Dan Haren
SP- Ubaldo Jimenez
RP- Heath Bell
RP- Bobby Jenks
P- Josh Johnson
P- Cole Hamels
P- Matt Thornton
P- Jose Mijares
B- Randy Wells
B- Gavin Floyd
B- Jorge De La Rosa
B- Mike Adams

It's a 6x6 head to head league (counting stats are R, HR, RBI, SB, H, OBP x W, SV, K, HLD, ERA, OBPA), so it is a little different than your primary, 5x5, run of the mill leagues....but fun nonetheless.

The only thing I really plan on doing with the team is trading some of my excess pitching for another multi-category outfield producer (probably combine a SP with an OF for an upgrade at the position).

Feel free to give any advice you'd like, if you think you can help, I am always willing to accept a little outside help.

Look for my season predictions in my next post (uh, yeah, I know, a day or two late....but 2 days do not a season make).

06 April 2010

A return from the vast beyond.....

Ok, maybe it wasn't "the vast beyond", but it definitely has been quite the break between posts. I'm not gonna lie, there have been various reasons for my absence (I was without internet for three weeks during a training exercise in the field, lack of passion for writing, not much to talk about during Spring Training and, well, I just wasn't really feeling the hobby for awhile there), but I plan on coming back to my usual, irregular postings about all things baseball.

I have had quite a few mail days in between the last time I was here and now, so just enjoy the scans:

Javier Vazquez PC
2009 Bowman Chrome Gold Refractor 4/50

2009 Bowman Chrome Orange Refractor 20/25

2003 Donruss Elite Aspirations 11/24

2003 Donruss Elite Aspirations 69/77

2003 Topps Black /52

2006 UD Special F/X RED 13/50

Richard Hidalgo

1997 Visions Signings Autograph

2004 Honors Credits Gold 11/25

1997 Venezuelan Line-Up Autograph

2000 Pacific Premiere Date 4/27
1997 Donruss Crusades Red Non-Serial Numbered

Bob Gibson

1994 Nabisco Auto

1967 Topps #210

On top of these great cards for my PC, I also picked up two random autos (99 SI Joe Niekro, 99 UD INKredible Fred Lynn) and received and busted my box of 2010 Topps from FCB. I also received a few packages from bloggers (one loaded with 2008 Topps...i'm talkin' like over 200 I needed for set, mostly series 2, but I need series 2 the most) and one from GSNHOF (containing a ton of Astros cards). Thanks to both of you (sadly, I have forgotten who sent the Topps cards...but I will figure it out).
On the Astros: I was going to stay up late last night and watch the season opener but, well, I just couldn't make it. As predicted, they lost to the Tim Lincecum led Giants, one of many.......many.....MANY losses they will most likely pile up this season. Outside of their core group of players (Pence, Bourn, Oswalt, WayRod, Berkman and Lee), there just isn't much to get excited about with the team (at least until Jason Castro FINALLY gets the call). I will never lose my passion for the team, but I truly hope they take FULL advantage of their early picks and focus on top players, instead of guys they know will sign (I mean, Jio Mier looks great, but he wasn't the best player on the board at that point). Here's to hoping they at least finish higher than the Pirates.

I plan on posting about my fantasy baseball teams in my next post, with the primary focus on my team in the Blogger's League.