Thursday, July 31, 2014

Allen vs. Ginter: The War To Settle The Score.

       I have not given up completely on Allen and Ginter, but let's just say the bloom is off the rose.  I, like most, fell head-over-heals in love with the stuff in 2006.  I bought 2 0r 3 boxes the first two years and built the set and sold the inserts and just couldn't get enough.  I think I only bought one box in 2008 and 2009 and didn't even get around to completing the set.  Then in 2010, I didn't buy any.  No hobby boxes, no spare packs, no blasters.  Somehow, the world kept turning.  I think I have given you a similar rant about Topps Heritage if I recall correctly.  The last few years, I have been content to pick up some here and there, usually an impulsive blaster or rack pack or two.  Now, don't get me wrong, I still love the stuff - I just get my fix in different ways. 

This year I made a slightly modified plan; I was gonna pick up my usual four pages worth via Just Commons (a website I recommend wholeheartedly).  I am a Topps completest after all, so I figured I would pick up 40 or so cards to make a page of current, vintage, sports, and non-sports.  This was an excellent plan that I had every intent to follow through on, then I found myself in the card aisle of Target.  I wasn't even looking for packs, I was looking for cheapo pages and yet somehow, a value pack of 2014 Topps Allen and Ginter found its way into my little red basket.
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On the same day I bought this pack, my huge package of 134 cards arrived from Just Commons which contained my haul of 44 individually selected Allen and Ginter cards.  So let's do a slightly modified version of the ever popular Gint-a-cuffs, one where I fight with only myself and my own sad dichotomy of level-headed pragmatism and hopeless impulsive consumerism. 

The Value pack you see above contained three regular 6-card packs and a bonus pack of three exclusive mini cards, as you can see here:
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I believe the exclusive minis have a different border, Topps' version of a new hat

Here is the page of current players I chose from Just Commons:
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All of these were chosen for their color and properly aesthetic photos.  They all cost .15 cents each.

Here is the first pack from the Target Value Pack:
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Okay, I guess getting inserts, SPs, and minis is certainly a plus for the packs.  Not to mention this pack has my new hero Bartolo Colon - as I have mentioned before, he has reached this status due to the fact that he is older than me, he is fatter than me, and he is pitching in the major leagues (this line never gets old).  The Donaldson here is a high number SP.  The Ford is not a vintage star I chose for their page, but the Riess is a double.  I might decide to start collecting Car-Go cards early, just in case all those Mets-Rockies trade rumors turn out to be true eventually.  The value pack cost ~$10 (with tax) so I am assigning a cost of $3 each to the packs and $1 to the bonus.  At .50 cents per card here, no matter how interesting they may be, I have to give the win to the JC selected page. 

This is the Just Commons selected page of vintage/retired players. 
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I was excited when I found out the Dusty Baker card was a retired player card and not a manager card.  I snapped that one up immediately since he is not one of the usual suspects Topps uses.  Same with the Maris and the Newhouser.  The rest are definitely of the been-there-done-that variety, but it is always nice to get a Jim Palmer on the page since I usually send off my O's cards.  And I really like that picture on that Bob Feller card.  Six of these cards cost .15 cents and three of them cost .20 cents.  This page is not perfect, but I think it turned out all right.

This is pack two of the Value Pack:
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There is the aforementioned Cargo again.  I was originally going to include him on my current players page but opted for Michael Cuddyer instead - a wise move it turns out.  Some people have been complaining about the write-ups on the Pastime's Pastimes cards but personally, I think they look so nice, who cares?  I will eventually be making a page of those.   That bottom three is a clean sweep of wonderfulness.  Mark Twain is an all-time favorite of mine.  Mike Piazza is my second favorite baseball player of all-time.  And Felicia Day is just too damn adorable for words, though it is odd to see her in an evening gown.  I always think of her as slightly more come-as-you-are and down to earth.  Mark, Mike, and Felicia win this one, even though as you will soon see, Ms Day is a double. 

The sports themed page from Just Commons:
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Bowler, golfer, weightlifter, swimmer, CrossFit champion, wrestler, race car driver, batting stance imitator, blogger.  Okay, the last row sort of stretches to be "sporting" but I will call them "sports related" for the purposes of this page.  I am pretty enamored with that Samantha Briggs card in the middle.  Not to reveal too much about myself, but I find the idea of a woman who could throw me over her shoulder and carry me and/or throw me to be quite the turn-on.  And on the David Portnoy card, they left off the word "douche-bag" from their oddly beaming description of his career as a blogger.  Of course, I look forward to someone calling me names when I am included in the 2020 edition of Allen and Ginter.  All of these cards set me back .15 cents each.

Third and final traditional pack from the Value Pack:
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Yawn.  Yawn.  Yawn.  I am certain I reject all three of those top cards for my current player page, although I can never be too bored by a dude named Jurickson Profar.  The bottom three are a little better, The World Capitals insert has a lovely picture and there is a bit of irony in a Babe Ruth mini card.  I might use that Hellickson to exchange with my created page to break up the red.  As nice as the Ruth and Rome cards are, though, I have to give the win to the created page. 

Here is the created page of non-sports personalities and such:
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This one I had a ball making.  The top three Personalities are Chuck Klosterman, who wrote a great book and a bunch of good ones, Ryan Riess, who's card was chosen because of the photo, and Kevin Clancy, another blogger from Barstool who was also chosen because of the appearance of what seems to be a Ding Dong on his card (does this make it an unofficial Hostess card?).  The middle three Entertainers are The Iron Sheik, who needs no introduction to anyone who grew up in the 1980's, Kevin Smith, Jersey based film auteur who peaked early with Clerks, and Snoop Dogg - I just can't bring myself to call him Snoop Lion - heck, I just stopped calling him Snoop Doggy Dogg.  The bottom three has a combo breaker - hey it's my page - The Newsworthy are Helen Keller (whose card should be in braillle) and Buffalo Bill Cody, who has been part of Ginter before but when you are as cool as Buffalo Bill, who cares?  The combo breaker is Anthony Bourdain, because I didn't like the other Newsworthy old-timey cards I had to choose from and I like his show.  All of these cards except for one was .15 cents.  Snoop Lion set me back two dimes. 

This is the bonus pack of mini cards:
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Madison Bumgarner did not have me very excited when I saw him on top, but I now see he was covering up a double dose of tremendous disappointment.  With that Wilin Rosario card along with the two Carlos Gonzalezes, somewhere in Colorado is someone who should have gotten this pack.  At .33 1/3 cents each, even with a fancy "exclusive" border, it wouldn't take much to beat this trio - the Iron Sheik could have done it all by himself.  Any of the cards from the Value Pack are available for trade if you need them.

Let's look real quick to see if I beat the odds:
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The full size inserts are 1:2 so I came out ahead there at a cool three for three.  The Pastime's Pastimes and SPs are also 1:2 so I guess I'll call that even there.  Alas, no other interesting pull was in the packs, but the black bordered Piazza was a 1:10 pull however so that was a minor upset.  A mini framed oddity relic would have been both miraculous and fun to say over and over again. 

Ah, but the final nail in the coffin for the Value Pack is the "leftover" cards I picked up from Just Commons for various collections:
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Part of the fun of A&G is you might happen upon a lovely lady.  Here you see three.  The middle row were all picked up for player collections, including the Mike Piazza base card and a Blue Dickey.  The bottom two are Orlando Cepeda, who is getting a hall of fame page, and a leftover from the current player page.  Since Didi Gregorius was in the same pose, the choice between him and Nick Franklin was pretty clear.  All of these except for the Piazza were only .15 a pop. 

With the 44 cards from Just Commons costing me just $6.95 and the 21 cards from the Target Value Pack costing $10.15, it is obvious my level-headed pragmatic plan was a much better idea than my impulsive consumerist pick up.  I sort of equate it with sex with your wife vs. a one night stand sex with a drunk stranger.  Lesson learned (and I won't even need a divorce lawyer*).

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