Thursday, April 19, 2018

Making Foolish Mistakes

I'll be the first to admit I don't always think logically (or economically) when it comes to cards.  Case in point: 2018 Leaf Heroes of the Game Cut Signature.

This box goes against everything I'm into as a card collector: verifiable checklists, plentiful base cards, low-risk boxes, and value.

For the whopping price of $34.99, you get one blaster box filled with one "cut" autograph card.  I say the word "cut" very loosely as this hardly meets the standard definition of the cut autograph.  They are cut cards in the sense that they were printed onto a giant sheet and cut up into smaller cards to be signed later.

The box advertises Cal Rikpen Jr. and Joe Montana as autographs. It makes no mention who else might be inside.

Time to open.  Drum roll please..........

Johnny Manziel? Oh fuck right the fuck off. I hate myself for buying this. It's not even numbered.

I knew it wouldn't be Montana or Ripken. But this joke? Uggggghhhhhhhh.

Unless someone wants to shoot me any sort of offer on this card, I'm throwing it up on eBay on a 99 cent auction.  I should be able to recoup $10.

What a dangerous game to play.

Saturday, April 14, 2018

Spring Training Autograph Returns

With the book on Spring Training long closed, and the window for receiving back cards effectively shut, it's time to look at how I fared for my first spring TTMing.  

I've never submitted cards during Spring Training.  After winning the Mariners for a 2018 Topps Series 1 case break, I wanted to put those doubles (and triples) to good use.  I sent a card to every Mariner featured in Series 1, outside of Robinson Cano and Nelson Cruz, for a total of 7 TTM requests.

When Tweeting about my plans I remarked that I would be happy with even just one return.  

So how did I do?

I received exactly one return.

Taylor Motter signed his card with Cano.  He was even kind enough to sign it on his side of the card.  Would I love to get Cano to sign his side? Absolutely.  Will that ever happen? Probably not.

I also took the time to send out some requests to Mr. Automatic Pat Neshek.  Neshek regularly tweets out his current address for TTM requests and I had been meaning to get some cards out to him.

My favorite set of the new millennium is 2008 Topps.  This card was a must send to Neshek.  

2015 Topps is another one of my recent favorites and this presented an opportunity for my first horizontal TTM return.  

Not the most plentiful Spring Training for me but some solid additions nonetheless.  If I do this next year I'll do some better advance planning and increase my TTM request range.  

Tuesday, March 27, 2018

Ever Evolving Organization

As collectors in a hobby that spawns thousands upon thousands of items to somehow store, we all no doubt struggle to find ways to keep our collections in check.  Whenever I pull cards whether it is for a trade or to simply look at them, I spend far too long pulling monster boxes to find the card.  Completed sets and player collection cards are located in binders so those are easier to find.  It's all the miscellaneous singles, sorted by set, that elude me.

The bulk of my collection is stored in 12 two-row monster boxes.  Initially, things were simple.  Baseball, basketball, and football all fit neatly into boxes in a logical manner.  This made it easy to write on the outside of the boxes what was contained inside.

As boxes began to fill up, this required me to start shifting cards around.  All of a sudden, the box that said "2016 Topps..." wasn't so accurate anymore.  Football is mixed with baseball.  Old sets are mixed with new sets.  It's a headache.

I've recently begun using a master Excel spreadsheet to track various card related items.  I decided to utilize Excel as a tool to track where sets are located.  This way whenever I am looking for a card I can simply search the spreadsheet to find which box contains the set.

Simple yet effective

All it takes is four simple columns.  One for the box number and three for the three different sports I collect.  Hockey, miscellaneous sports, and non-sport are such a minor part of my collection that they do not warrant this treatment--at least not yet.  Those cards are stashed away in 600 count boxes. 

So long as I remember to keep the spreadsheet updated as I add new sets and move old sets around, this method should require minimal.  It feels a little ridiculous that my collection now requires this but c'est la vie.

All this work has also produced another tangible result: a clean desk! For the first time in months, my desk doesn't have any unsorted cards lying around.  It's nice to have the space back.  Plus, I can clear cards off quicker. 

A post isn't a post without cards I'll show off some of my semi-recent 2018 Topps Flagship and Heritage pickups.

These are short printed photo variations.  They are uninteresting photos but at least they weren't too expensive.

I amassed a small handful of the Home Run Challenge cards as I find it to be a neat idea.  Pick a day and if the player hits a home run, you win a parallel card.  I've yet to see the design of the parallel cards so I'm not sure how hard I want to try to win. 


The black bordered Gamel autograph is out of 99.  It actually cost me the same as a base autograph.  On the right is the Topps Salute autograph version featuring Gamel in his Father's Day uniform.  The powder blue uniforms always appeal to me. 

With Heritage I beefed up my Padres collection a bit.  I believe the black bordered cards have a print run of 50.  Despite the low print run, this card cost me a whopping 99 cents.  I guess that's the benefit of being a Padres collector.  

 Although not in his new Padres uniform, I felt like picking up this refractor as it is numbered 999 out of 999.  That just seemed like a cool number.

Finally, to balance out the Padres, I purchased a game-used Felix jersey swatch.  For being one of my favorite players, I'm light on Felix relics. 

That wraps it up for my baseball purchases.  I've actually shifted a bit towards a football product (a rarity for me) that I plan to cover in a different post.

Thanks for reading!

Tuesday, February 20, 2018

Cardboard Kindness

I have a couple mail days from bloggers that I need to post.  One that's old and sorely needs a post.  The other is a fresh package.

Let's start with a package from Nachos Grande as part of his "Season of Giving."  He sent over a flat rate box full of Mariners cards.  There were so many cards, many of which I have never seen.  I'll highlight a few of my favorites.

1999 UD Choice

It's always nice to add more Griffey cards to the collection.  I haven't heard of Choice before but I'm guessing it's an offspring of Collector's Choice.  

1997 Collector's Choice

Normally I'd be loathe to highlight a card with Alex Rodriguez.   Although given my recent Padres fandom I'm happy to see Tony Gwynn.  I like this League Leaders card as it features the AL and NL player side-by-side.  Back before interleague play it always seemed like such a big deal to see AL and NL players together.

2003 Fleer Box Score

Another new set for me.  This set features a notable box score on the back for each player.  Edgar's box score was from the 1990 season when he had a two home run game.  From a historical perspective this could be a fun set to put together.

I don't understand this card.  The Mariners are listed as the team.  Yet, Johnson is pictured in an Astros uniform.  He was traded to the Astros *after* playing for the Mariners so why wouldn't Upper Deck list the Astros as the team if they are going to feature him in an Astros uniform?  

2012 Bowman
For whatever reason, I've enjoyed putting together the base Bowman set more than I have Flagship.  Maybe it's because prospects are sprinkled into the insert sets.  Plus, the colored parallels have looked a lot better than the Flagship design the past couple years.

1994 Bowman's Best

I'm highlighting this card just for the fact of seeing Johnny Damon as a skinny, clean faced kid in a Royals uniform.  That's not the image I have of him in my mind.  He just looks so funny.

Thank you again Nachos Grande!


Next up is a recent trade package from P-town Tom of Waiting 'til Next Year...

Here are the cards I was expecting too get, 2013 Panini USA Champions. This puts me under 10 left on the base set. I opened up a box last year chasing a Kris Bryant auto on the cheap (no such luck) and ended about a dozen cards short of the set.  I can't leave a set unfinished when I am so close. 

Tom, being the stand up guy that he is, also sent along quite a few more cards. Thanks Tom! He said that he didnt know how the junk wax cards slipped into the package but as you'll see there was certainly some non junker cards!

2017 Panini Chronicles

A purple rookie parallel of Guillermo Heredia from the weirdly overpriced Chronicles. A blaster box contained a whopping 20 cards. I feel like Panini is always providing terrible value in their retail products. I don't care about hits but give me more cards damnit! These are not $1 cards.

2017 Topps Gallery

I looked down upon Gallery as I thought a lot of the drawings were bad. This Seager card looks alright though. I only wish the cards were printed on canvas stock. That would have piqued my interest a little more.

2016 Topps High Tek

If Mitch Haniger had not had his face busted open last season requiring plastic surgery, he could have been the Mariners' best player behind Cruz. Given the Mariners injury luck he will probably go down to an injury at some point this season.

I believe this is my first look at High Tek in hand.  These cards are kinda neat with the crazy background and translucent card stock.  I'll have to keep my eye out for more.  

2015 Bowman's Best

This card is thick.  Unnecessarily thick.  It's 138 pt.  There is probably some backstory here I don't understand.

1970 Topps
Vintage! Wow! It's of the short lived Seattle Pilots.  I did not previously have any cards from 1970 Topps so this is an excellent addition.

Thank you again Tom! I am blown away by your generosity.  And believe it not I even appreciate the junk wax you sent along. 

That wraps this post for today.  A lot of cards to sort through that will keep me busy!  Thanks for tuning in.

Wednesday, February 7, 2018

Feeling A Wave of Excitement with A 2018 Topps Jumbo Box

After all but ignoring 2017 Topps, I was completely on board with 2018 Topps.  Admittedly, the design won't .  However, it is serviceable and after my dislike towards last year perhaps I was just eager to like a Topps design again.  I knew I wanted to hand collate this set so that meant buying a hobby box.

I bought a jumbo box for several reasons.  First, I know if I bought I hobby box I would end up with a standard relic.  At least with a jumbo box I get an autograph and manufactured relic in addition.  Second, buying a jumbo box usually guarantees pulling one full set.  I didn't want to buy a hobby box to then have to chase down the rest of the base set.  Finally, getting two silver packs instead of one was an extra incentive to spring for the jumbo.

I'm starting with the silver packs as they were the first things I opened.  Here are the highlights from the two packs I opened.  They are all base, with a nice Devers rookie.  It's hard to feel disappointed with getting only base as these are essentially free cards.

I'm not familiar with the 1983 Topps design but these have a nice modern look.  I hope it's something continues to do for Flagship each year.

Here is a small sampling of the vertical and horizontal base cards.  The design won't win any awards but it is miles ahead of last year's design that felt sloppy.  Though, I could do without the disintegrating name and team plates.

The photos have some nice variety as well.  The picture quality is crisp and bright.  Last year everything looked dull.  I do miss borders but the full-bleed photos are nice.  The design doesn't get in the way of the photos like 2016 and 2017 Topps designs.

I think I can tolerate staring at this design for a whole year.

I have a couple problems with the backs.  Why is there a black box around the social media handles? Why are the social media handles the biggest thing on the back of the cards?  They are weirdly emphasized over everything else.  Get rid of them or make them smaller.  Preferably delete them.

The write-ups should be centered or justified.  Otherwise there is this weird blank space on the right.

Lastly, I still cannot support the elimination of full stats.  I will never be okay with this.  Thankfully they are not going the Panini route and eliminating all but one year of stats.  Topps has shown some restraint.

Parallels are underwhelming without borders.  They are also easy to miss.  Here's a side by side of a gold with the base.  They don't pop like they should.

Rainbow Foil / Black

The rainbow foil parallels are always easy to spot.  The black parallel took me a few seconds of studying to realize it was a parallel.  I hate to say it but the Yankee uniform looks rather nice against the black background.  I always enjoy it when a color parallel compliments the photo on the card.

I don't know if this was the case last year but for inserts Topps has forsaken breadth for depth.  I pulled a grand total of four different inserts.  If you like putting together insert sets, the checklist depth for them will make it very difficult to put together without spending a lot of time trading or shelling out money. 

The non-chrome 1983 cards still look fantastic.  If the insert set wasn't ONE HUNDRED FREAKING CARDS, I could see myself consider putting it together.  Since it is so big, I'll collect whatever Mariners/Padres are in the set and call it good.

Topps Salute
Topps Salute is back again as a mishmash insert.  Here is an idea to improve Topps Salute.  Remove all rookies.  Remove all legends.  Keep only the special jerseys.

The promised manufactured relic of the box.  The Spring Training logos have looked cool the past couple years and this year is no exception.  I'm curious to hear what happens with MLB's investigation into Sano's alleged sexual assault.  This is already shaping up to be a poor choice of a card.  

The second promised relic of the box.  I have a feeling that the jersey piece isn't from an Astros jersey but a Tigers jersey.  I bet Topps had some left Tiger jerseys of Verlander after he was traded.  Either way, he's a World Series winner so it's a nice hit.

I like the base relic design, unlike last year's that looked like it was designed at the last second.  It's a basic design but I think it looks nice.  I'm happy with the hit.  

Lastly, we have the 1 promised autograph.  Verdugo ranked as the 33th best prospect.  He's only 21 and already made an appearance in the MLB.  In 21 at bats he had only four hits but that's a small sample size.  In AAA he hit .314 with a .389 OBP.  He probably won't make the 25-man team coming out of Spring Training but is waiting in the wings should the Dodgers need some help.

The autograph is on-card so that's a plus.  The 1983 design makes for a great autograph.  It's a base auto but much like the relic, the card looks great so I'm not complaining.  

The last "hit" of the box was this Kershaw short print.  Short prints aren't as plentiful like they were in 2017 Update.  That makes this is a nice pull, especially of such a quality player.

Overall, I had a great time with this break.  The silver packs added a lot of value and look to be back for Series 2.  That means I'll be back for Series 2 as well. 

Thursday, January 18, 2018

I'll Take TTM Success for $200, Alex

A few months ago I slowly dipped my toes into the world of TTMing.  I sent out two cards both to non-athletes.  This was my way of seeing if I wanted to do more of it.  Today I received my first success and now I look forward to sending out more requests.

2007 Topps Allen & Ginter

It's Ken Jennings! Notable Jeopardy champion and local celebrity.  According to the back of the card, he won over $2.5 million during his unprecedented run.  He was also later beaten by a robot but that was not really his fault.

The blue looks great on the Allen and Ginter card.  The autograph is slightly smudged as it was likely put into a penny sleeve right after being signed.  I think I included the sleeve so that one is on me.  Can't expect them to wait for the pen to dry.  Next time I won't included any sleeves.

This was not my first time obtaining Mr. Jennings' autograph.  I attended a book reading of his about 5 years where I had him sign a copy of Maphead.  I am indeed a maphead.  I could seriously spend hours reading maps.

It takes some work to send out TTM requests but the payoff is worth it.  I'll try to get some requests out for Spring Training and hope for the best!

Monday, January 15, 2018

Set Highlight: 1992 Topps 1991 Major League Debut

One of my goals for 2018 has been to finish off more sets on my backlog.  This set was not specifically targeted in my initial resolutions goal but I saw a complete set at a good price. 

If I were to rank my favorite Topps sets since the mid-80s (when I was born), the 1992 design is my favorite right behind 2008.  The design is clean and crisp that pops off the card.  The color matching looks sharp, too.

I'm working on collecting the sets for all four major sports plus any applicable gold and micro parallels.  So far I only have Topps Traded and now 91 Major League Debut.

Ricky Bones, what a name!

Set on the 1992 design, this set features 192 player who made their debut in 1991.  This is the third and final series of major league debut sets. 


In place of the team name is the date of the player's debut.  It's a design element that works well.  The photos are mostly from what I'm assuming are the Spring Training photo shoots.  I like it because these photos feel more personal than a standard batting or fielding shot. 

Two Hall of Famers made their debut in 1991.  Funny enough, Bagwell and Rodriguez made their debuts in the same year and were elected into the Hall of Fame in the same year.

The card backs show a lot of effort on Topps' part, something we don't see to much of these days.  The write-up details their transaction to the majors, the result of their debut, and some minor league information.  It even includes who scouted the player, which I've never seen.  Very informative.

Topps gets creative with the checklist for this set listing the players in chronological order.  Excellent choice by Topps.

If this set did not feature the 1992 Topps design, I likely would not have bothered with it.  That said, this is not just a throwaway set.  For any 1992 Topps collectors this set is a must have.  I still have a lot of 92 sets left to go but it's nice to get this likely lesser known set out of the way.