Sunday, August 12, 2018

Celebrating National Baseball Card Day

My wife gave me the go ahead to participate in National Baseball Card Day on Saturday so long as I took the baby with me.  Seeing the deal as a no brainer, off we went to the first of two stops.

The first shop was the shop I typically go to when I'm buying new boxes.  It's never been my favorite place mainly because I feel my interactions are always just transactional.  I've never really stopped to talk with the owners or opened any packs with them.  Partly it's because I'm usually dealing with the wife owner who I get the sense is not that into cards.  She's nice and everything but like I said, our interactions are just transactional.  The other part is that my personality is not the type to hang around and just strike up conversations.

Although I will say today that when I brought my son in to the shop she took interest in him so we talked about him for a minute or two.  That was pleasant. 

When I entered the shop I asked the husband owner if they were giving away free packs.  He asked me if I had a redemption ticket and I replied that I didn't think we had to have a redemption ticket.  He said it was no problem and gave me a pack anyway.  

I looked at the pack and they appeared to be standard 2018 Topps cards; not special NBCD cards.  I didn't say anything because I thought maybe I was confused as to which packs were being given out today.  He's usually on top of promotions so I don't know what happened.  He also mentioned that if I spent $10 on Topps products, I'd get a free Aaron Judge card.  So clearly he knew at least somewhat about the NBCD promotion.

The free pack of cards was as I suspected just base 2018 Topps.


Hey at least I got a Hoskins rookie out of it.

I did not want to leave without buying something new so against my better judgment I bought one box of 2018 Topps Clearly Authentic.

For $50, I would get exactly one autographed card.  This could have turned out really poorly or really well.



Turns out, it fell about somewhere in the middle.

On first impression: not the best autograph I would hope to get but a far cry from the worst.  On the plus side, I do not have a Jose Canseco autograph so this card will fit nicely into the collection.

I looked up comps on eBay and Canseco signatures from this product are actually going for more the price of the box.  That helps vindicate my purchase knowing that in theory I got full value out of the box.  

Looking at the checklist on Cardboard Connections it appears that these reprint autographs are a case hit! Double score!

Despite the mix-up with the free pack of cards, the trip worked out nicely.

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The second stop was a place I've never been to before--Diamond in the Mall  It's actually even closer to my house than the other shop.  Upon entering I quickly got a sense of the shop.  It's main focus is selling singles.  The wall of wax was rather spare and contained mostly Topps flagship products.  That's perfectly fine.  It must be pricey to keep up with all the differing releases.

I asked the shop owner if he had the free packs and then he pulled out the box of correct packs and let me pick out which one I wanted.  He then saw my son in the stroller and said since there was two of us I'd get another pack.  I'm liking this shop already! 


The collation on my two packs was hot garbage.  Out of 5 cards, four were duplicates.  I've already turned the Posey duplicate into an Ozzie Albies card so at least the duplicates are coming in handy.


Here are the two cards that were not duplicates.

After looking at the display cases, I settled on four hobby packs of 2018 Topps Chrome.  During this time I was chatting with the owner and got the sense that he truly enjoyed cards.  After paying for my packs I told him I might as well open up the packs in the shop.  He indicated he was interested and even offered to sleeve any good cards! That's the kind of experience I've always wanted from an LCS. 

I opened my three packs and as you'll see below, I didn't really hit anything noteworthy for a hobby box.  While I was opening the packs we continued to talk and even ventured into topics outside of cards such as raising kids and the changes going on in the area.  He was a great guy to talk to. My son was getting pretty fussy so I had to bail.  Otherwise I probably would have stayed a little while longer. 



No numbered parallels; only one notable rookie; no autographs. 

After I left he flagged me down to call me back into the shop. He told me he forgot to give me the bonus cards since I bought Topps products.  He then pulled out a stack of the Judge cards and a stack of the Hoskins cards.  The owner said since I spent $20 I could take one of each.  Hoskins isn't supposed to come out until a couple weeks later but I'll take it!



It sounds like the promotion isn't being well explained to shop owners.  Oh well, I still had fun.

Even though the new shop I visited doesn't keep up too much with new products, I'll still try to visit semi-frequently if just to buy a couple singles here and there.  The shop owner is a cool guy and even if his store isn't the flashiest, it feels like an old school shop.

Saturday, June 2, 2018

Speed Dating at the Card Show

With a baby at home, my free time during the day is limited.  Fortunately, I was allowed to attend the biannual card show that happens right in my back yard.  Unfortunately, I was given a hard deadline of two hours.

That might seem like a lot of time but with this show there are quite a number of tables.  To maximize my time, I had to treat the show like it was a round of speed dating. 

Don't spend too much time at one table and make superficial judgments about what's for sale.  Looks like mainly sports memorabilia? Don't even bother.  Heavy vintage? Sorry, not into the older stuff.  Cards in glass cases?  Too rich for my blood.  Boxes of wax? Forget about it!  Unorganized boxes of cards? Actually, that's probably what I'm looking for.


First purchase was these game-used jerseys and autograph.  2 for $5 which I guess is a decent deal but still not a screaming deal.  Still, I was happy with getting some game-used material from two of my favorite players.  Marcus Moore goes into my WSU collection, thus it was a necessary pick up.




My next purchase came from a dealer who is an older guy, loves to talk, and is friendly as all can be.  I initially wanted to purchase the two 2008 Topps uncirculated cards when he then handed me a stack of cards that were to go into his 50% off box.  I plucked out the Tulo autograph and he offered me $5 for the lot.

He asked me if I thought that was fair and I said that was more than fair.  I looked on COMC and the Tulo autograph goes for $8.  I'd say I got a good deal.


The next dealer is a guy I've bought from before so I knew he would have some decent cards. On the top row we have some shiny chrome cards.  On the bottom row is a nice selection of serial numbered cards.  Ever since I pulled an autographed relic of Kluber I've taken a bit of shine towards him.  



1992 Topps is one of my favorite designs so I'm trying to complete the portion of 2017 Topps Archives that uses the 1992 design.  

I'm also always on the lookout for 2008 Topps cards I need.  I rarely see 08-09 basketball chrome cards and at a quarter a piece, these were a no brainer.



To close out the day I was torn between a completed set of 1993 Upper Deck All-Time Heroes and this box of 2018 Score.  As you can see, I ended up with the Score.  I don't like to buy retail boxes but this one has exclusive green parallels.  I noted in my last post that I'm going for the Luke Falk Score rainbow and green is a parallel I have never seen for sale.  I'm hoping I can pull one from this box.  Plus, I still need plenty of cards to complete the base set.


I bought the Score box was from the older, friendly dealer I mentioned above.  He owed me $1 as change from the Score box and instead said I could grab 2 or 3 nice cards from his baseball box that he had just restocked.  I figured for $1 I could find a couple good cards.  I'm pleased with my trio of all-stars. 

In two hours I was able to find a nice selection of cards.  It was a speed dating success!

Friday, June 1, 2018

When the End of the Rainbow Is Hard to Find

Washington State Cougars football is one of my card collecting passions.  Sometimes, just sometimes, a WSU football player is good enough to be included in card releases.  Last year, wide receiver Gabe Marks was fortunate enough to be included in a couple Panini releases.  This year, quarterback Luke Falk has the honor.

So far he has been included in 5 Panini releases featuring him in his college uniform.  Typically I'll only collect the player in their college uniform but this year I might make an exception for Falk.  He was a great quarterback to watch, even if he had his struggles, and he embodied the Cougar spirit.  I honestly don't know how far he will make it in the pros but I wish him the best.

Anyway, I've picked up a lot of Falk cards--44 and counting.  Including duplicates.  The one set I've really focus on is 2018 Score.  Score is basic but the cards look sharp.  I therefore decided I would pick up as many of his Score cards as I could.

At some point, I decided I would go for the rainbow of his cards.  Excluding printing plates, there are 14 total cards in the rainbow Easy, right? Wrong.

Base

Like I said, a rather basic design.  However, the photo selection is something a little different.  Quarterbacks aren't usually featured scrambling outside the pocket.

The crimson bar under the photo adds some flourish to what otherwise could have been an even simpler design.  There is a touch a gray in the border around the photo, next to the position and team designation, and behind the name.  These gray elements are present in all the cards but given that WSU colors are crimson and gray, it really fits well on Falk's card.

Based on everything above, I was drawn to the card.  I even want to put together the rest of the set.

Gold

The gold parallel is a blaster box exclusive.

Scorecard

These scorecard parallels are the most common.  I've pulled a handful myself in my Falk search.  This one was picked off eBay.

Gold Zone /50

Out of all the numbered parallels I've seen on eBay, this one has shown up the most.  I have no idea why given it's low numbered.

Red Zone /20

I've also seen this parallel a couple times on eBay. The red border was a must have since it matches the school colors.

Gem Masters /1

If I was a betting man, I would have guessed that I would have picked up other retail exclusive parallels before I found the one of one.  With the 1/1 secured, I thought that the rest of the rainbow would come easily.

Instead, this is the last card I've found and it has been a couple weeks.  I check every day, multiple times, for needed parallels.  Nothing.  It's rather discouraging.  Score is a common set! Cards should be popping up on eBay left and right.

If you counted, I have 6 out of 14 cards needed.  It's going to be a long journey.  I won't give up though.



Wednesday, April 25, 2018

Chasing the Next Big Thing

Today marks the release of 2018 Bowman and for many collectors, the chase of Shohei Ohtani in a mainline Topps product.

That means there is only one thing to do!



And that is not open any 2018 Bowman.  With hobby boxes going for over $150 and jumbo hobby boxes going for over $350 I have no interest in spending that kind of money on this product.  Sure I'll buy some retail because I do enjoy opening Bowman and trying to finish off the base set.  But hobby prices are just insane.

I don't want the next MLB prospects, I want the next, next level of prospects.  That's why for today, I opened a blaster box of 2018 Panini Stars and Stripes USA Baseball.



This is the kind of product you open up then stash away for a few years to see if any if your notable cards turned into major prospects.  I don't think these cards have significant long-term value even if a player does make it to the majors but it's fun nonetheless.



Ok so it turns out there are some current MLB prospects in this set.  He's not Shohei Ohtani but he wants to be like him some day. 

The base cards are average.  The front has a lot of shine and the back has a small write up on the player's USA Baseball career. 

The only notable thing about this product is the hits so I'm going to get right to it.


My first hit is an autograph of high schooler Ethan Hearn.  It's weird to get an autograph of someone still in high school.  At least it's not one of the 15-under players.  

Hearn is committed to playing baseball at Mississippi State in 2019.  Mississippi State appears to have a good baseball program, which should be a good sign for the value of his autograph.  


The last promised hit is a nice jumbo swatch of UConn pitcher Tim Cate.  Cate looks to be a Top 50 pick in the upcoming June MLB Draft.  

I'd say that this is another decent hit.


Well what do you know, a bonus hit! I think the USA Baseball products have a tendency to have bonus hits so I'm not too surprised.  

Jon Olsen, a pitch with UCLA, is one tough SOB.  Earlier this year he fractured his face after taking a line drive to the cheek.  Less than a month later, he returned to action.  Bravo.  

As to his skill?  He's currently rocking a 2.20 ERA with batters hitting only .200 against.  He also has a nice 28:8 K:BB ratio.  Last year he did just as well with a 2.86 ERA with batters hitting .201 against him.  He also had 80 strikeouts to 31 walks.  He should be one to watch.

Overall, outside of the hits, the product is rather "meh."  I look forward to keeping track of where Cate and Olsen end up as they appear to be decent pitchers.  

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..........
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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!

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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.