Saturday, February 25, 2017

Winning the Retail Lottery

I recently brought home the last of my old boxes from my dad's house. One of the boxes contained my 6th grade yearbook.  Looking at my likes and dislikes section next to my name you could tell I was a basketball fan.  My likes included "Rodman, Bulls" whereas my dislikes were "LA Lakers, doing homework."

Nowadays, my interest in basketball (at least at the professional level) is all but gone.  Other than checking in on some players from my alma maters and seeing if the OKC Thunder are still title-less, I don't follow the sport.

That doesn't stop me from opening card packs, however.  My grocery store happened to have two untouched boxes of 2016-17 Panini Prizm. 

The boxes said they contained 1 autograph or memorabilia card on average so feeling the itch for some new wax, I grabbed three packs from the top box.  Amidst some base and prizm parallel cards was a gold parallel autograph of Patrick Patterson numbered out of 10! This was without a doubt my best retail pull ever.  

Patterson was the 14th overall pick in the 2010 NBA Draft.  He's not an all-star but he appears to be a decent player.  

The next night I was at the store again.  The two Prizm boxes remained virtually untouched.  Since I pulled what was likely the only auto out of the first box, I went for the second box hoping for some more luck.  This time I only grabbed two packs.  

One of the packs contain a teal wave parallel of Ben Simmons, numbered out of 25!  I knew that Ben Simmons was a big deal, being the #1 pick in the overall draft and signing an exclusive autograph deal with Upper Deck.  I didn't realize that his cards were so highly sought after.  On top of the parallel, I pulled his base rookie in the next pack.

Word came down Friday that Simmons is officially out for the rest of the season due to his foot injury.  He never played a regular season game this year.  With all the hype it will be interesting to see how well Simmons plays next year.  

A few days go by and I'm at the store again.  I had to check my boxes of Prizm and they were still rather full.  It's not too surprising as the Seattle area is mainly a football town with a lesser interest in the Mariners.  

I grabbed four more packs, two from each box.  This time I pulled another teal wave parallel! Another SN25 parallel! Kent Bazemore is not a big name but still a big pull!

I never thought I would have gotten so excited about basketball cards.  I couldn't believe my luck with all the great cards.  For now, these are my best retail pulls and will be hard to beat!

Friday, February 17, 2017

The Longest Journey

This is the tale about four common cards that took a fun, little trip around the state in 30 days.

1988 Topps Traded

Last month I made a small 4-card order on COMC.  I purchased a few cards in preparation for Mariners Fanfest, hoping that I could get them signed.  In order to ensure their arrival before the event, I upgraded the shipping so that they would arrive in a few days.

On January 17, I requested shipment of the cards and the next day they were shipped.  Fortunately, or so I thought, COMC is located in my neck of the woods (Seattle area).  This means orders typically arrive quickly after they are shipped.  I checked the tracking number the day after the order was shipped, January 19, and I saw that the package was labeled as out for delivery.  Wonderful, everything was working out.

At the end of the day, I check my mailbox but did not see the package package.  The tracking number was not updated either.  I waited until the next day thinking it would be delivered then.  Again, no package.  This time the tracking number was "updated" to merely indicate that the tracking number was never updated after it was marked "out for delivery."  That was no help.

2015 Topps Update

I waited a few days giving the post office the benefit of the doubt.  After the weekend ended, I called my local post office for helping tracking down my package.  I left my information with someone who said they would call me back at the end of the day.  I never heard anything.

A week later, I went into my post office and did the same song and dance routine.  Another week goes by and I still don't hear anything.  This time I went onto the USPS website to leave my information, hoping that they can't ignore it this time

Several days after submit my info through the website, I get a call my from my post office.  The person I spoke to essentially said they cannot find the package and there is nothing I can do since the package was not insured.

1992 Topps - Gold Winner

I was disappointed but not too upset since all the cards I purchased were cheap commons.  I think shipping cost more than the cards.

The other day I was getting ready to e-mail COMC saying my package was lost.  I hoped that at the least I could get a refund on shipping.  I click on the tracking number and to my surprise it had updated!  On February 8, the package had somehow made its way to Spokane, which is 4 1/2 hours away on the other side of the state.  This was the first tracking update of any kind since January 19.

The package then made its way *back* to Seattle. It was finally delivered on Feb 12.

To illustrate the absurdness of the delivery route, I have annotated a map of Washington below.  My package was shipped from and to the Seattle area, which is by the black arrow on the left.  My package, at some point, traveled to Spokane, which is at the red arrow on the right.

Glorious Washington State
How a package goes from literally being out for delivery to traveling to Spokane, I will never understand.

I never worried about their location as the cards never would have been missed.  That said, I'm happy they made their to their rightful destination.

2009 Topps Updates & Highlights

Saturday, February 11, 2017

Autograph from a Veteran

Today I received my first through the mail autograph from an unexpected signer.  I saw a post a few weeks ago that Burke Waldron signed quickly for autograph requests. However, Mr. Waldron is not an athlete.  No, he is 92-year-old World War II veteran who threw out a first pitch at a Seattle Mariners game last year.  He was lucky enough to be featured on a First Pitch insert for the 2016 Topps Update series.

I sent Mr. Waldron a copy of his card, along with a small note saying he looked like he had a lot of fun. He went above and beyond signing the card with an nice inscription.

His first pitch is truely worth watching.  Despite being 92, he had the hustle and zing of someone half his age.

He was also kind enough to send along a note:
Dear Tyler,

Yes, the most exciting day of my life--40,000 fans cheering & yelling. Even better than my skydive at age 90.

There [is] another video out there of my dancing on Waikiki Beaching during 78th anniversary of Pearl Harbor--to the Lt. Dan Band. Gary Sinise put on that concert, and it was fun dancing with all the girls.

Gary served us dinner on our flight over and back. What a BLAST!

That does sound like a blast! I would love to find that video he mentions.  And let it be said that for his age, his penmanship is excellent.  Far better than mine currently!

This was a very fun TTM request that will be hard to top.

Tuesday, January 31, 2017

Mariners Fanfest Wrap-Up

As close to the field I will ever get...until next year.

For the first time ever, I attended the Mariners Fanfest this past weekend.  Typically I've made excuses on why not to go (I'm tired, it's cold, it's rainy, etc..) but this year I committed to attending.  There were a few attractions that interested me such as touring the clubhouse and walking on the field.  However, my main focus this year was collecting autographs.

Since this was my first time I was not quite sure what to expect.  All I knew was that autograph session vouchers were limited so I needed to get there before the gates opened.  I woke up at 7AM and arrived at the stadium by 8AM; a full three hours before the gates opened.  The weather was a little on the chilly side but tolerable.  The worst part about waiting though was a loud, 45 second announcement that played over and over and over.  Luckily, I had the foresight to bring earbuds.  

O'Neill and Lewis

When the gates opened I nabbed a voucher for signings of Kyle Lewis and Tyler O'Neill, who are two of the Mariners' top prospects.  Lewis was the Mariners' #1 draft pick last year and played well until he tore his ACL.  O'Neill played for the AA Jackson Generals and earned himself the Southern League player of the year award.  He will be invited to spring training and is expected to the start the year in AAA.  

I foolishly relied on some advice from Reddit that in dual player sessions, you could only get 1 of the players' autographs, not both.  As a result, I didn't bring my O'Neill cards to get signed.  As a result, I had to settle with getting a photo signed.  I should have just brought my O'Neill cards anyway just in case but it didn't cross my mind.  It's not all bad though because I already have a signed card of his.  It just would have been nice to get an in-person auto.

2016 Bowman Draft Picks & Prospects

My first on-card auto of the day did not turn out too well. I think the card was too glossy so the autograph smudged rather badly.  I'm still happy though.

After the first autograph session, I headed back outside the gates so I could get another autograph voucher.  Surprisingly, not only was there no line to get in but there were still autograph vouchers available even though by then it was almost noon.  I went through security again and picked up a voucher for another prospect, Andrew Moore.  After that, I walked back outside again to get one last voucher: Danny Valencia.  

I had time to spare so I watched an interview with the man with the plan, General Manager Jerry DiPoto.  Interviewing him is Mariners radio broadcaster Rick Rizzs. Rizzs is a fantastic broadcaster so listening to him on the radio is a pleasure.  

I also had time to walk around the bases.  Walking on the field is a cool experience and I cannot imagine being down there with a full stadium.  

2016 Topps Pro Debut

Drafted in 2015 under the old regime, Moore earned himself a promotion last year with a bump up to AA.  He looked promising in AA, going 9-3, with a 3.16 ERA.  The Mariners think highly of him as he is a non-roster invitee to spring training this year.  I'm not sure if he will start in AAA but I imagine that is the case.  

In my opinion, the black sharpie on this Topps design does not look as sharp as the blue.  

2016 Topps
Ahh, here we go! A very nice looking blue autograph.  

With the "loss" of Adam Lind to free agency and Dae-Ho Lee deciding to head back to Korea, the Mariners had no solid first base option other than Dan Vogelbach.  Vogelbach is unproved in the majors so a veteran presence was needed.  If Valence can hit .275 with 20 home runs and 60 RBIs, similar numbers to last year, he will be a solid addition.

I considered Fanfest a success with four autographs.  I was exhausted after getting up early and doing a lot of walking/standing but it was worth it.  Here's to making the playoffs this year!

Hanging in the visitor's dugout

Wednesday, January 11, 2017


Like a lot of people, I was ready to start fresh with 2017.  However, the new year has not been so kind.

My father passed away on January 2nd.  He fought an unwinnable battle with brain cancer for 13 months.  While I knew his death was imminent during the last month or so of his life, I still could not prepare myself for the moment.  I'm only 31 so I was not ready to lose him with so much more of my life (and his) ahead.

In the past week and a half I have barely even touched cards and had even less of a desire to blog.  I spent my week off from work playing The Division as a way to distract myself.  I'm now finally ready to share a small tribute to my dad.

My dad never had his own trading card but he did share a name with someone who did.  As you will see, he did not have a common name so it's quite remarkable he shared a name with a professional sports player.  Out of the four cards produced for the player--Ken Solheim-- I currently own one.  I will try to pickup the other three at some point as a small tribute.

Photo courtesy of The Trading Card Database
What is interesting is that my dad and the hockey player lived in the same town for a while.  That created a funny story that my dad liked to tell (and I will try my best to retell it).

Scene: Minneapolis, Minnesota. Early 1980s.
It was late at night when my dad received a phone call waking him up from his sleep.  He said that the first thing that popped into his mind was that "shit, someone has died."  When my dad answered the phone on the other end was a young sounding woman with a southern drawl.

Woman: "Hi is this Ken?"
Dad: "Yeah"
Woman: "The one from Minneapolis?"
Dad: "Yeah.."
Woman: "And do you play hockey?"
Dad: "A little bit." (My dad maintains he wasn't lying at the time because he did play some hockey)
Woman: "Well this is Suzy"
Dad: "Who?"
Suzy: "You know, Suzy!"
Dad: "No, I don't..."
Suzy: "Suzy, from the motel!"
Dad: "I don't know any Suzy"
Suzy: "Sure you do! From last year down in Nashville"
Dad: "Sorry, I think you have me confused with someone else.  Goodnight" *click*

The whole time my dad was confused as to what was going on given the middle of the night phone call.  Best my dad guessed was that the hockey player Ken Solheim met some girl named Suzy in Nashville and told her that he played hockey for the Minnesota North Stars.  So when Suzy tried to find hockey player Ken, she looked in the phone book and my dad's number would have been in there.  The timing of it all was too funny.

I'll likely have sparse posting for this week and hopefully try more regular posting next week.

Friday, December 30, 2016

Secret Santa Surprise

Secret Santa gift exchanges can be tricky.  In my experience, they are forced upon you.  So what do you get for the co-worker/family member/random person that you don't know?  If it's a co-worker, there's the added pressure that even though you see this person on a daily basis, you have no idea what they like or dislike.  Plus, if they don't like your gift, you still have to work with them.

The Secret Santa exchange set up by Matt over at Bob Walk the Plank had none of the perils that can plague a gift exchange.  We all opted into this voluntarily and we're all trading card bloggers so we can easily see what the other person collects.  Plus, receiving random cards in the mail is always a fun surprise.

I received my Secret Santa gift a few days after Christmas, which is fine by me because that just extends the Holiday fun.

My Secret Santa is truly secret because my package had no name! There was no name inside or outside but postage indicated that it came from North Carolina.  So thank you North Carolina!

I did enjoy!
Whoever this person is, they clearly understood that I am a Mariners fan as I received a nice selection of cards.

First there is a cool looking sepia parallel from this year's Topps Chrome.  I am 98% certain that this is my first sepia parallel.

I love this picture of Lee
The second card is the pink parallel version from Chrome of the "Large Human" himself, Dae-Ho Lee. Lee signed a one year contract with the Mariners last year to try and prove himself in the United States. He showed the power that made him such a success in Korea and Japan but unfortunately he struck out a lot. Dae-Ho was not happy in a platoon role with the Mariners so we likely won't see him back with the team.  

The base design of 2016 Donruss Baseball didn't appeal to me very much, yet the Diamond Kings subsets look great.  This particular card is from the Optic set and is the orange parallel and even better yet is that this card is numbered 12 out of 199.  12 isn't his jersey number but is still a special number for Seahawks fans, for the 12th Man.  

2009 Upper Deck Spectrum

Whoever picked this card did an excellent job.  During the dark years of the Mariners, mid to late 2000s, there were not many bright stars.  Adrian Beltre lived up to his contract unlike a lot of other high paid players during this time.  Although he left for greener pastures, Beltre still remains a fan favorite.  I don't think many can blame him from moving to better team.

2001 SPx Winning Materials
A triple jersey! An Expo relic! (more on that in a minute).  Although Kazuhiro Sasaki had a brief four year stint with the Mariners, he was a dominant closer.  He won Rookie of the Year in his first season and was an All-Star the following two years.  I'm excited to have acquired of relic of Sasaki.

I associate Hideo Nomo was a Dodger so it's a little weird to see him in a Red Sox uniform.  He only played one season with the Red Sox, which probably has something to do with it.  

Rounding out the trio of Japanese players is Masato Yoshii.  I had not heard of Yoshii but it appears he came over to the US after a long career in Japan.  He had an unremarkable career in the majors, playing for a few different teams.  

I was excited to acquire my first Expos relic as the front of the card shows him in an Expos uniform and the team name above the jersey swatch reads Expos.  However, flipping to the back of the card it says that this is an authentic piece of jersey worn by Yoshii in a Mets game.  *sad trombone* 

On the one hand I'm disappointed that the front of the card said Expos.  On the other, I appreciate the fact that the card actually bothered to state where the jerseys came from.  Since this is a black piece of jersey, I'm more inclined to believe that it is a Mets jersey and not an Expos piece.  Oh well.

My Secret Santa did an excellent job of picking out meaningful cards.  Thank you, whoever you are!!

Saturday, December 24, 2016

It's a COMC Christmas

Like most bloggers out there I took advantage of COMC's Black Friday sale and free shipping.  This was my first COMC Black Friday so I made sure to take advantage of it.  Combined with cards I had previously purchased, my Black Friday shipment totaled 140 cards.  I picked up a lot of set and PC needs.  

With such a large amount of cards, my order did not arrive until last week.  I've been slowly making my way through my order by adding them to my collection on the Trading Card Database and ensuring that everything in my order is there.

The first batch of cards I'm going to show off is a small 2015 Topps Gypsy Queen mini insert, the Basics of Baseball.

The watercolor artwork looks fantastic.  I wish these cards weren't mini because it would be nicer to see the paintings in bigger quality. Regardless, the mini size feels like it fits the theme of the cards well.

These cards won't teach baseball collectors anything new but they are still fun to look at.  

These inserts were more expensive than I expected (about $1 per card, on average) so maybe they didn't show up that often in packs.  Even on Sportlots, where cards are usually reasonably priced, they go for at least a dollar. 

I only need three more cards to complete the set: #4 (Head-First Slide), #7 (Tag Up), and #9 (Pitchout).  I seem to recall that they were going for over $2 on COMC so I held off on those for now.

This is just a small look at my COMC order, which I'm sure will provide plenty more blogging material.

I hope everyone has a Merry Christmas and Santa brings you lots of cards!