Tuesday, May 31, 2016

Memorabilia Box

Damn the Fairfield Company, the purveyor of these repack boxes.  Last time I was at Target I noticed they now had boxes that came with 1 memorabilia or autograph card and three unopened packs.  At $10 a pop I wasn't ready to take the gamble.  Thought after a successful night at the casino on the slot machines I was feeling lucky again.  I had to return a shirt from the Sports Authority (which doesn't have any liquidation sales yet at my store) and the Target is right next door, well technically right above it.  I also picked up of box of 2016 Score football and one pack of 2015-16 Donruss Basketball.

#76 - 2001 Pacific Private Stock - Game Gear
How do they get the bat piece in there? How do they make a round bat, flat?
I'll start with the memorabilia piece: a game-used bat from Alex Gonzalez.  This isn't a spectacular card by any means.  The card design is trying too hard to be futuristic.  Notice all the 1s and 0s in the background? I think that's Pacific's attempt at designing a 21st century card.  The black and white lines surrounding the game gear are also out of place with the rest of the card design.  Gonzalez is also not a noteworthy player.  He was an all-star in 1999 and a World Series Champion with the Marlins in 2013.  That's the extent of his accomplishments.  Not that those are nothing to be proud of but he was not a particularly good shortstop.  The year this card came out he committed 26 errors, which led the major league.  He routinely put up double digit error numbers.  He was a lifetime .246 batter with a slightly better .290 on-base percentage.  Gonzalez's Wins Above Replacement during the 8 years he spent with the Marlins was only 1.6.  Not a great player, not a great card, not a great pull.

The unopened packs, however, were an improvement.  I had a Topps 2015 Series 2 and Opening Day.  There was also a 2015 Allen & Ginter.

2015 Topps Opening Day
I got some nice cards in the Adam Jones and Adrian Gonzalez.  Jones is a player that's hard to watch for me.  He used to play for the Mariners until our inept management traded him away for abject garbage.  Jones of course turned out to be a high caliber player for the Orioles while the Mariners' outfield languished.  It is quite possible that the Mariners organization would have crushed his ability to play baseball so perhaps it was best he left.  Former Mariners typically play better once they leave the Mariners. This year is a little different as Leonys Martin is absolutely crushing it as a Mariner versus when he was with the Texas Rangers.

Fuck Mike Trout
Tout is a good baseball player.  Trout plays for Los Angeles Angels.  The Angels play in the AL West.  Ergo: Fuck Mike Trout.  I don't really hate Trout, it's more of an ongoing inside joke with the Mariners subreddit.  Trout has a hit well against the Mariners and always finds a way to make them lose.  Thus, "Fuck Mike Trout."

2015 Topps Series 2
The Topps pack was not that exciting.  The majority were NL players who I'm not familiar with.  I do like the 'Til It's Over insert as it talks about a specific come from behind victory.  Yet in Mays' case it's about him more generally helping the Giants win the 1951 NL Pennant.  I'm always a fan of inserts about baseball history.

2015 Topps Allen & Ginter
My first ever Allen & Ginter cards.  At first I thought I didn't like these cards so I never bothered with packs but now I think I like them.  A very classy look.  The non-sports inserts are also a nice change of pace.

Mini Joe
Broadcasters don't get enough love from baseball cards.  Whatever your opinion might be about Joe Buck, I think he's biased against the Seahawks, it's nice to see a broadcaster on a card.  I wish the Mariners' broadcaster would get their own cards.

2015-16 Donruss
Although not part of the memorabilia box, I also picked up a pack of Donruss seeing as how these packs will likely be gone from stores soon.  I pulled a few good cards in the Giffin and Lowry cards.  I kept my streak alive of not getting any Oklahoma City Thunder cards.  Owning any OKC cards would taint my whole collection (I'm still upset that the Sonics were swept out of town).

Sunday, May 29, 2016

No Rest on Sunday

It's been rainy this weekend in Seattle, which is nothing unusual. Mariners lost three games in a three-game series, at home, to the lowly Minnesota Twins, which is nothing unusual.  Even though I expect these things to happen it still doesn't make for an enjoyable time.  However, these blah types of days make for a great time to work on the card collection.

When I first started getting back into collecting my initial project was to add all my cards to the Trading Card Database.  After going through all my boxes and binders, I'm 99.9% sure everything is added.  Counting the old cards and new ones I've picked up this year I'm at almost 3,900 cards, which is quite a lot! Luckily it doesn't seem to take up too much space.  Now that I know what's in my collection, I figured it was time for me to actually organize it.

When I organize things like books and CDs I go for the straightforward route - alphabetically.  I can't exactly do that for cards so I settled upon organizing chronologically by sport.  I will primarily be storing cards in card boxes.  I might uses my excess binders for some smaller complete sets.  I randomly decided to start organizing my basketball cards and started with my biggest set, the 1996-97 Collector's Choice.  This was my favorite card set growing up, as I previously discussed.  I barely managed to fit all the cards and inserts into a 500 count box.  I really hope to collect the full set someday.

So that's how I spent my Sunday.  No new cards or pictures to post today.  It feels good to start getting a hold of my collection and it will also help me when it comes to trading because I will be able to find things easily.

I have some good blog posts coming up including so I'm impressed I've been able to keep up with the content.  I'm also planning some future posts about some cards sent to me TCDB member CrazyJoe and I also bought a box of 24 packs of Topps Series 2 baseball that was on sale this weekend so I'm excited for that.  Sorry for tonight's boring post but more card content is coming soon!

Saturday, May 28, 2016

eBay (Final)

Third Haul

My last foray into eBay buying is courtesy of C2Cigars over at The Trading Card Database.  C2 posted that he was selling the Shaun Alexander card posted above.  I've never focused on collecting football cards and I thought I could start adding some Seahawks to my collection.  Alexander was a great running back for the Seahawks (he also ran behind an even better offensive line) and a class act.  The fact that this was a serial numbered card also piqued my interest.  So I put an offer on the card and C2 had the audacity to counter my offer with an even lower one! :)  I couldn't say "no" and the deal was struck.  He even was nice enough to send along another Seahawks.  He must have seen on my TCDB profile my not-so-subtle love for Seattle sports.  Thanks C2!  Although I will say the Carlson card is the first time I have ever seen comic sans used on a professional sports card. 

While checking out the checklist for the Shaun Alexander card I noted that the insert also had a Matt Hasselbeck card.  A helpful and clever feature of TCDB is that card pages have eBay links if that card is currently up for auction.  It turned out that one seller had the Hasselbeck card available.  The card was reasonably priced but shipping was $3.  However the seller had a special that if you spend $9 on cards they give you free shipping!  Seeing as how I was already going to spend that $3, I decided to check their list if there were any Seattle cards worth purchasing.  I found a few more to get me over the $9 threshold and made out with 7 different cards.  Their marketing trick worked but I came out with a good score.

I love the 2008 Topps design (bottom right) and I was at the Wild Card game depicted on the card.  Even though Super Bowl XL is still one the worst moments in Seattle sports history (the refs robbed us!), I feel like the city finally moved once the Seahawks won the Super Bowl in 2013. Therefore, I thought it was nice to get a card capturing Super Bowl XL for the Seahawks.  

The 2011 Topps card (upper left) is great because it features Hasselbeck and another Seahawk running back great, Marshawn Lynch.  Typically I think of Russell Wilson and Lynch as the offensive tandem but this card is a good reminder of the Hasselbeck/Lynch connection.  Plus the back of the card makes mention of the Seahawks' improbable 2010 Wild Card win over the Saints.  If you have not seen Lynch's 67 yard TD run against the Saints (dubbed Beast Quake) you have to see it:

I could get into all the reasons behind why this run was so momentous for Seattle sports but the highlight is that the crowd was so excited during that run that they literally made rumblings that registered on a seismograph near the field.  Thus that's why the run was called Beast Quake.

The other modern day Seahawks card (top right) makes mention of their Super Bowl victory so I thought it would be another good one to add to their collections.  This also reminds me that I still need to get the card set from their Super Bowl victory.  The "wantlist" never ends!

The other two cards rounding out this haul are noteworthy because A) one mentions the remarkable 2001 Seattle Mariners team that tied the Major League record for wins, going 116-46 that season and B)the other card is a great shot of Safeco Field, which is one of the nicest ballparks in the league.

In the end I spent more than I planned but I made sure not to add just filler cards for the sake of getting free shipping.  Each card has meaning, which is one of the reasons I like this hobby.  I'm (hopefully) done with my eBay shopping spree for the time being but you never know what might grab me!

Wednesday, May 25, 2016

Grab Bag / Repack Boxes

For those of us who have bought or buy cards at department stores (Target, Walmart, etc.) I'm sure we have all seen the grab bag boxes of repacked cards.  Offered at a low price, which in my experience has been $5, you can buy a box of 100 cards of whatever sport you like.  The catch is that the cards are all preselected and have a wide range of sets, players, and teams.  These boxes also usually include one sealed pack of cards.  You're guaranteed at least one good card, which will be the only card you can see inside the packaging.  These boxes are already a crapshoot so if you don't like the card facing outward then you're really trying your luck.  

I like these boxes of cards for a few reasons.  First, they are cheap. On average you're paying 5 cents per card; not too shabby.  For a low price, you can get a large infusion of cards to my collection.    However, since you're paying so little for so much, you have to expect the manufacturers to give you a bunch of junk cards.  No insert cards, no autographs, no memorabilia, just the base set.  The last box I bought said 1 in 4 boxes contained a "hit," whatever that means.  

The second reason is that the boxes are a nice way to be exposed to a variety of prior sets.  Having not been a big collector my whole life, I am not familiar with many of the card sets.  There are so many different sets out there and I would never see these sets otherwise.  Plus I have come across a few sets that I really liked.  For instance, I've found the 2008 Topps as well as the 2006-07 Fleer Hockey

The downside to these boxes is pretty much the same reasons as 1 and 2, above.  The cards are so inexpensive that you end up with a lot of junk wax.  As I go through the junk cards adding them to The Trading Card Database I think to myself, "is it really worth adding this no-name player on an ugly card to my collection?"  Once it's posted to my collection, it will set in a box and never will I have a desire to look at it again.  The boxes also have a lot of older cards (i.e. from the 80s) and this is likely my recency bias, but I don't care much for the older cards.  I prefer more modern cards.  In addition to the bevy of junk cards, there's probably no less than 30-40 different sets.  This makes adding one or two cards at a time a massive chore.  It will take a while to add each card.

Given the above reasons, I will rarely buy a grab bag box.  But recently I bought such a box and I'll highlight some of the cards I pulled.  The card showing on this particular box was Jacob DeGrom.  Instead of a typical picture of him pitching it was of him in a batting stance.  With a quality player and a unique picture, that was the box I purchased.

I didn't realize this about the DeGrom card until after I had looked at it 5 or 6 times but there is no mention of a team on there.  I was completely unaware that Topps has the exclusive MLB license for cards.  The MLBPA still licenses out player likenesses so that's why Donruss, et all, are still releasing baseball cards. Even though there are not any MLB logos I still think it's a decent looking card. 
Triple Play cartoon cards, only have the player's license but still ugly

I liked the back of the Kevin Stocker card; something about bright colors is pleasing to me.  Larry Walker rookie was a nice pull. The Delmon Young card is cool because part of the World Series trophy is in it.  It looks like it's the Twins? Wil Cordero's card didn't scan well but I liked the card because of the square foil logo.  The Scott Ruffcorn back card looks like a bad acid trip.  Scherzer and Bautista were nice cards to get.  

I must be a little kid because most of these cards had some sort of shiny element to them.  It was also neat to get a couple cards of minor leaguers. Mainly due to the fact that minor league teams have some awesome names and logos. 

The one unopened pack in the box was a real dud.  It was a 6-card pack of 2012 Panini Triple Play.  It's bad enough that this is a MLBPA only set but then all the cards have laughable cartoons of players.  I applaud Panini for trying something unique given their lack of an official MLB license but I do not like these cards at all.  I dislike them so much I won't even bother scanning these cards into TCBD until a cold, rainy day, even though the checklist is in a dire need of some scans. 

Do I feel like I got my money's worth in this set? Absolutely! Despite my disappointment with the unopened pack and the major of junk cards, I had low expectations going into this box.  That's what makes these boxes so fun.  Expect the worst but hope for the best. It usually works out that way.

Sunday, May 22, 2016

eBay (Part 2)

Second Haul

Base Bruins set from 2013-2014 Upper Deck Artifacts
While on eBay I came across a listing for something I had not seen.  The auction was for all Boston Bruins cards from an unopened hobby box of 2013-14 Upper Deck Artifacts.  This appealed to me because I would mostly want the Bruins cards from a box anyway and this also came with the chance that the Bruins card(s) would be inserts, autographs, jerseys, anything! I watched the auction closely and as it wound to an end the price still sat at $0.99 so I threw in my bid at the last second and won.
The next day after the auction, the seller live streamed the opening of the box and went thought all the packs.  The Bruins cards ended up only being the base set but this still seemed to be a good deal for 7 cards.  

If the price is right I would consider doing this again but at the moment I don't feel the need to do it again.  A fun experiment overall!

Thursday, May 19, 2016

Mat-Su Miners and the Alaska Baseball League

Outside Hermon Brothers Field

I recently completed a project on TCDB which entailed scanning and uploading all the images for the 2012 Mat-Su Miners team set.  Going through all this gave me the idea to do a write up of the Miners, the Alaska Baseball League, and highlight some players from the team set.  

I spent a year living in Palmer, Alaska (home of the Miners) for a year between 2011 and 2012. I previously worked in Alaska several years prior during one college summer for about 6 weeks.  I worked at a fish processing plant in a very remote location.  When I say remote, I'm talking about having to fly there in a small plane and land on the beach because there are no roads or airports.  While that was a unique experience, I wanted to get a more "authentic" Alaska experience.   After graduating from law school and taking the Bar, I drove up from Seattle to start my new adventure.

The Alaska Baseball League

The teams of the Alaska Baseball League

Previously unbeknownst to me, Alaska has a two-month summer league, called the Alaska Baseball League (ABL) with six teams spread across the state.  The rosters are made up of college baseball players and each season new players come up to play.  The ABL is a well-regarding league among the short-season leagues.  Past ABL players and current MLB all-stars include Paul Goldschmidt, Josh Donaldson, Jacoby Ellsbury, and Jered Weaver. Other former ABL players include Barry Bonds, Aaron Boone, and Mark McGwire. Needless to say, some top talent makes a trip up to Alaska so the players are always worth watching. For a more in-depth look at the ABL, I highly recommend Grantland's (R.I.P.) piece on the ABL and the Midnight Sun Game.

Mat-Su Miners

Pioneer Peak sitting behind the field

Fortunately for me, the town I was living in had a baseball team of it's own: the Mat-Su Miners.  Representing the sprawling Matanuska-Susitna Valley, the Miners play at the picturesque Hermon Brothers Field.  Some of my fondest memories were sitting out in the sun, watching good baseball, and wondering how I ended up at such a wonderful place.  Like most baseball teams, the Miners had various promotional and giveaway nights.  As what appears to be an annual tradition, the team gives away a complete trading card set toward the end of the season.  I wasn't actively collecting at this time but I could never turn down free cards!  When I jointed TCDB, I was surprised to see the checklist on the site although there were no scans of the cards.  Fear not, I had the whole set and I got to work scanning the cards.  It's a surprisingly well put together set with full-color photos, including some action shots, a nice team colored design, logos, biographical information, and statistical highlights.  It's a full package set.  

The Players

The Miners did not play well in 2012, finishing in 6th place out of six teams. However, that does not mean that there were not good players on the team.


Clint Freeman went on a tear that year batting .379, which was highest in the league.  He racked up 55 hits, also a league high, and drove in 24 runs.  Freeman also pitched for the Miners but he was less impressive with a 6.08 ERA.  Bobby Boyd and Bill Cullen also hit well, each batting over .300.  Cullen also provided some fireworks hitting 8 home runs that year, which was second in the ABL.  Boyd stole 24 bases but he was outdone by his teammate Ian Miller who stole a league-best 36 bases.  Boyd and Miller are still playing professional baseball, with Miller even being drafted by the Seattle Mariners and currently playing AA ball.  I don't know what his prospects are to make the major leagues, but it would be really cool if he made it to the Majors so I could say I saw him play way back when!

While the Miners had offense, it was their pitching that struggled.  However, that is not to say that they didn't have a couple quality pitchers.  Jay Calhoun pitched very well going 3-0, including two complete games, all while maintaining a 1.37 ERA.  Pitching largely in a relief role, Jake Long had a very respectable 1.88 ERA.  He also managed to earn a couple saves.  Harvard man Peter Kaplan pitched in what seemed like every game.  None of these three pitchers appear to be playing baseball anymore.  

The last player I want to briefly mention is Ian Sagdal.  He was fun to watch as he always seemed to be having a good time on the field. Plus, there was the bonus that he also played for the Washington State Cougars.  Sagdal was drafted by the Nationals and is currently playing Single A baseball.

All-Star Game

The last Alaska baseball item I want to touch upon is the All-Star Game.  Since the players come up to Alaska to get exposure to MLB scouts, the ABL puts on an All-Star Game featuring the best players of the season.  Many MLB teams do indeed send scouts up to the game as I indicated above that the ABL has produced a lot of talent.  I kept the ticket stubs not only as a memento but because they were actually designed well and were not cheap looking ticket stubs.

That wraps up this trip down memory lane.  I haven't been following the Miners since I left Alaska but maybe I'll do a better job with that this summer. Either way, I'll always root for the Miners!

Monday, May 16, 2016

eBay (Part 1)

eBay is a very, very dangerous website. With the "Buy Now" option it's easy to go from listing to listing clicking "Buy" with reckless abandon.  On the flip side, it's a great way to get the cards you want without spending a load of money on packs or a box trying to get them.  I'm not one to seek the ultra rare 1/1 printing plates or anything to the extreme, but since getting back into a hobby over a month ago I've spent about $20-$25 on eBay getting a few cards that I think look nice.  Without further ado, let's get into the cards!

First Haul

As someone who attended Gonzaga, I'm a big fan of Kelly Olynyk.  He had quite the transformation at Gonzaga.  His first two years you could tell he had the potential to become a good big man.  He was good in the post and mid-range but he was small for a center and his skills were too raw.  He redshirted his third year and he came back for his senior year a completely different player.  He had put on a lot of muscle, honed his skills, and was ready to carry the Bulldogs as their center.  Based on his breakout year I knew he was going to the NBA and I was excited when he was drafted by my favorite team, the Boston Celtics. His rookie cards were $0.75 each and I didn't have any of his cards in my collection so I bought two of his base rookie cards.

Sticking with college players I like, I also bought a Klay Thompson Wazzu card.  I saw Klay play when I went I did my undergrad at WSU and he was a lot of fun to watch; such a good 3-point shooter. I didn't anticipate that he would do as well in the NBA but I'm happy for all the success he has had so far.  With the NBA playoffs going and the Golden State Warriors winning, I'm not ashamed to say I've jumped on the Warriors bandwagon.  I don't have any Klay Thompson cards and I thought that having him in a Cougar uniform would be great.  His Golden State cards seemed to be little more expensive so I had no problem sticking with a college card.  Not coincidentally, I've themed my blog in the WSU colors. 

Last but not least, my first memorabilia card.  Being new again to the hobby I didn't realize that memorabilia cards were a thing now.  However, I was reading the great Cardboard History by Billy Kingsley and he made a post about pulling a patch card.  I thought that the patch cards looked neat and were a unique thing to have.  Rather than spending money on a box hoping for a patch from a player I care about, I went to where else but eBay. I figured that Mariners memorabilia cards would be the most prevalent and stumbled upon this Felix Hernandez card.  Felix is a workhorse and truly the King of this Mariners team for many years now. A nice card to have in my collection.

That's it for part 1!  I have a couple more eBay purchases to document but those will come at a later date. I don't expect to be a big eBay user but at the beginning stages it's a helpful way to supplement the collection with cards I actually want.

Saturday, May 14, 2016

Walk Around the Park

Baseball season in Seattle means two things: new baseball cards and a disappointing Mariners team.  This year is a little different, though.  After a disappointing 0-5 opening home stand, the Mariners have not lost a series and sit atop the AL West with a record of 21-14.  With some players who I'm actually excited about, I decided to pick up this year's team set.

The crown jewel of Seattle baseball: Safeco Field

I work relatively close to Safeco Field and more importantly, the team store.  So during my lunch break one sunny day, I headed down to the Mariners team store to buy the 2016 team set.  I'm not a big fan of this year's Topps design.  The colors on the cards are too muted and the white smoke overlay on the corners of the pictures seems unnecessary.  But for $7 I'm pleased, especially since I would only want to buy packs from the main set for the Mariners cards.  I was also happy to get a Ketel Marte rookie card since he has been playing well this year.

I was a little disappointed that Felix wasn't card #1
The King!

Hopefully the Mariners' long term SS option
While I was at the team store they were selling some other cards on discount and I managed to pick up a pack of 2015 Topps Series 2 for only $1.50.  That is a steal! I got a couple nice pulls such as a Andrew McCutchen, Jose Altuve, and a parallel rainbow foil LA Dodgers card.


Welcome trading card enthusiasts and visitors alike.  Allow me to provide an obligatory introduction.

I don't recall why or when but I first started collecting cards when I was about 10.  I also don't recall which came first but I was a collector of Magic: The Gathering, basketball, and baseball cards.  I specifically collected the Revised/3rd Edition of Magic cards, which came out in 1994.  I would play Magic cards when I had the chance (and also typically off school grounds since they were banned there) but at some point I became fixated on collecting the whole set.  Seeing as how I was only in elementary school, this was a challenge.   Through trading with other kids at my school, cashing in my report card for credit at my local card shop, and through the generosity of my parents with a whole box (!!) for one of my birthdays, I was able to accomplish this feat. With over 300 cards in this set, I felt like I had accomplished something great. I collected the greats like Royal Assassin, Vesuvan Doppelganger, and Island Fish Jasconius.

Royal Assassin

Vesuvan DoppelGanger
Island Fish Jasconius

My interest in Magic would fade but I was still a big sports fan as a kid.  My love for collecting Magic cards would translate into collecting sports cards.  My favorite sport growing up was basketball and as a result I started collecting basketball cards.  The 1996-97 Collector's Choice ended up becoming my set of choice and to this day one of my favorite sets.  I feel like this set put an emphasis on fun and was targeted towards children so that's no surprise (nostalgia also plays a part, I'm sure).  An insert for this set was three mini-cards, which shockingly I didn't try to separate as each mini-card had a separate number.  My older self thanks my younger self because I now realize it would foolish to break apart any cards even if it can technically be done.

My favorite player as a kid - Michael Jordan

Hard to tell but this is a gold mini-card, worth $25 according to TCDB

I continued to collect basketball and baseball cards for perhaps another year or so after this but like with most of my interests, I moved on. Occasionally over the years I would buy packs of cards at the grocery store just as a little treat for myself and to see if I would get any of my favorite players; nothing serious.

However, I recently discovered an old flame; an old cardboard flame if you will.  A few months ago my dad asked to see if I could sell the boxes of Magic: The Gathering cards that were sitting in his garage.  Knowing I had the whole Revised set I was ecstatic because I thought to myself, "alright I might be able to get a few hundred dollars for this!"  After taking all the cards home and going through the boxes, I realized I have no idea where I put my complete set. None of the cards were in the box (I have still yet to find these cards).  Feeling a bit deflated, I decided to go through my sports cards to see if they would be worth any money.

Figuring there would be a database to catalog my cards and find prices, I set out looking for such a site. After trying a couple websites that were simple and underwhelming, I found The Trading Card Database based on some forum recommendations.  In a word, this site is amazing! It is everything I had hoped for.  The database has listings for just about every card out there including images and details for the cards I didn't even realize existed. The website also does a really good job providing stats for your collection like to players, top sets, and so on.  Not to mention, the community on TCDB is active and extremely helpful. So the more I added my cards and became active on the site, I realized that collecting cards and adding them to the database is a fun hobby. I've always enjoyed cataloging my books and music so this is really no different.  This has led me to increasingly buying cards and reading blogs.  I also enjoyed adding a few reviews for the card sets I have.

Since I've been buying some cards and adding reviews, I thought why not start my own blog to document some of my recent additions to my collection.  It gives a good excuse to do some writing and stretch my creative muscles.

This post is already way too long and it's way too late (thank you to Giant Bomb's Mario Party Party 6 for keeping me company) so that's it for this introduction/background post. I have some blog post ideas so my goal is to bank a few posts before I put this blog out there.

Farewell for now!