Monday, March 31, 2014

Too Much To Ask.

       The Mets suck.  They have sucked for five plus years.  I know they are going to suck again this year.  But it's opening day and while maybe the Mets suck the other 161 games of the year, at least we all know they own opening day.  So what do I come home early from work to find?  The Mets bullpen acting like human gas cans, walking the park, and giving up more bombs than the Manhattan Project.  I am depressed.
Scroll down and read my post from Saturday, it is much happier than this.   I will try and regroup tomorrow during the off day since the Mets have my misery in mid-season form.

Saturday, March 29, 2014

Story Time.

       Today is my brother's birthday and I got him the exact same thing this year as I did last year (don't say I am not consistent).  I did get him a book as well to break up the monotony because nothing says excitement like a big thick encyclopedia full of statistics - this is not sarcasm, we are nerds after all.  But I also got him one of those odd piece-of-mind type gifts that might be a physical item for me but it is a grand affirmation for him and that is where our story begins. 

       Let's jump into the WABAC machine to 1987.  The Mets were reigning World Series champs and a man we call The Franchise had just retired.  I was 12 years old and deep into my obsession with collecting baseball cards and my brother had just gotten his drivers license.  It was a good time to alive in the suburbs of New Jersey.  If you know anything about Jersey, North Jersey especially, you know that kids hang out in the mall because there are like 7000 of them.  One of the late great stores of that era was called The Wiz  (and that little article told me that it still exists online, oh the power of the internets). Now, The Wiz was one of those all in one electronics stores, it sold video games, small appliances, stereo equipment, records, the works.  It was quirky as hell (though not even the quirkiest of local stores) and those not from around here might know it from Seinfeld (and Mets cards) and hell, fucking Joe Namath was their spokesman for a while.

And the jingle, oh my god the jingle.  Frozen in time in 1987 but still so damn catchy that I will hum it at the weirdest times and basically at the mere mention of the word Wiz.  I am going to embed the video to share the earworm.

So now you have the background of how my brother, The Wiz, Tom Seaver, and my Mets all come together.  I don't remember where I heard it, but sometime in the summer of 1987, Tom Seaver was going to sign free autographs at the Garden State Plaza in Paramus.  This was a big deal.  The word was all over the place and I wanted to go.  Oh dear god did I want to go.  My memory is a little fuzzy as to why, but my mother would not take me.  I am going to go out on a limb and guess I was grounded for something (I was a tad rebellious at the age of 12).  I was crestfallen, crushed.  But there was hope - hope in the shape of my brother and his drivers license.  He could get me my Tom Seaver autograph.  Remember, this was before the internet and 1000 insert cards and before every kind of player went to card shows to sign; Seaver being recently retired meant he was not part of the old timers brigade like Mickey Mantle that dominated the shows of the time.  In my mind, this was my only chance to ever get a Tom Seaver autograph ever.  So I turned to my, he was 17 and could go anywhere and do anything he wanted with his new found freedom, so doing a favor for his pain in the ass little brother that did not involve girls and/or beer was not high on his list of priorities.  I begged, pleaded, cajoled, and several other synonyms of nagged my poor brother until I wore him down.   He did not collect sports memorabilia with the fervor that I did but he was a huge Mets fan and I think in the end the notion of getting to meet Tom Seaver, if ever so briefly, changed his mind.  So he went to The Wiz in Paramus on a Sunday afternoon and it was an absolute mob scene.  Apparently every little Mets fan around had somehow convinced his mother to go.  My brother parked liked a million miles away and waited on line for over two hours and his interaction with Tom Seaver was a nanosecond of recognition and hardly a glance.  But he got me my autograph.  He got it on a 1987 Topps Tom Seaver card that I had just gotten.  An odd choice, yes, but I was a kid and really, all I wanted was Seaver's autograph on something, anything.  I remember every square inch of that card.  The day game shadows on Tom's Boston away uniform.  The blue sharpie that kind of tilted ever so slightly on the signature.  It was a great autograph.  And my brother got it for me.  And believe me, he didn't let me forget it.  I had that card very prominently displayed among my things and for weeks and months afterward, my brother would guilt me about going through the throngs of barbarian hoards to get me my Tom Seaver autograph.  And I was grateful. Really, I was.  So damned grateful that a year later I traded it to my friend Jared.

Wait, WHAT?!?!??
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Let's tilt the lever of the WABAC ahead a smidgen to a year later.  I was hanging out with my friend Jared at his apartment and I had brought my baseball binder full of all my favorite cards.  Now, Jared was a bigger Mets fan than I was.  Hell, Jared might be the biggest Mets fan of all time.  When he turned 13, he didn't have a bar mitzvah, he had a bar Metsvah, that should tell you all you need to know.  When Jared heard that I had Tom Seaver autograph, he wanted it.  I told him I would never trade it.  I spent the entire day in his house that day and we just talked about baseball cards and how much he wanted that card.  Eventually, he wore me down. 

He laid out all his cards and let me pick out whichever ones I wanted.  He talked up all his cards.  He talked down the Seaver autograph - heck it wasn't even on a Mets card, why would I want it?  He was a master manipulator; he knew what he wanted.  And eventually he got it.  And sadly, I don't remember most of the cards I traded for it.  I do remember a 1975 Harmon Killebrew being involved because that is an awesome card.  I remember maybe some Pete Rose cards involved and some Mets doubles he had.  The point was, I just traded a dollar for 10 nickles.  I was weak or perhaps Jared was just strong.  He was a smart kid and I somehow imagine him a high profile lawyer or something now.  We lost touch not long after this trade and I wouldn't blame the trade, per se, but I had moved away from the town he lived in and that's just how friendship works when you are 13.  Out of sight, out of mind.
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What was not out of mind was the fact that I had just traded away what was the cornerstone of my collection.  I regretted the decision immediately.  Oh, and my brother.  My brother has NEVER let me forget it.   You did what??!?!??!?  He was mad then and he is still pretty miffed now if the subject comes up.  What was probably the nicest thing my brother had done for me up to that point and I had just given that away.  And what's worse, I gave it away for stuff I cannot even remember.
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I think my brother has reason to be kinda pissed.  Though that Killer is pretty sweet.

Let's fast forward to a couple weeks ago.  I was searching Listia aimlessly and I stumbled upon this listing.  To end the suspense, it was this:
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It couldn't possibly be.  I emailed the seller as to how he obtained this card.  I asked him about 100 other questions about it.  He didn't have a lot of answers.  He did have many other signed raw cards online.  I compared this card to a few other Seaver autographs.  It's not perfect, but then again, when Seaver was scribbling a bazillion autographs at The Wiz in 1987, his autograph wasn't perfect then either.  The odds that this is the same card are practically nil as I still imagine Jared somewhere clutching and loving that card more than his family.  I didn't care.  I decided it was fate, I must have it.  And I won it.  And earlier in the week, I opened an envelope and there it was, after 26 years in the desert.  Now, like I said, I am quite certain that this is not the same card my brother got me but to me, it is a symbol.  A representation of a small but very specific kind of redemption and affirmation.  I have had it sitting on top of a pile of cards that I see every day when I wake up and seeing it never doesn't make me smile.  I hope my brother can forgive me my impetuous nature at the age of 13.  I hope my brother knows how much I appreciate not only the fact that he got this card for me, but about a million other things he has done in time as my big brother that have gone above and beyond the call of duty.  I hope somewhere Jared is happy with his card, but for me, this card is much better...I re-earned a piece of my soul by obtaining this card.  Happy Birthday, bro

Tuesday, March 25, 2014

Who Wants It? Pete Rose Edition.

       I recently busted a blaster of 2012 Leaf The Living Legend Pete Rose that I bought at Target for $13 strictly for the autograph...but there were 10 packs of 6 cards in there too.  If the collation had been perfect, I would have gotten the entire 50 card set with 10 cards leftover to make a nine pocket page and one to put in the spokes of my bike.  Alas, that didn't happen, there were doubles and triples galore because there is no such thing as perfect collation.   Anyway, I made my page for his player collection and I don't own a bike and I put the many triples on listia.  But that leaves me with 42 of the 50 cards and I have decided I don't really want or need to make this set...
But maybe you do? I figured this is as good a time as any for another one of my anti-contest giveaways.  If you would like these 42 of the 50 cards from this set, just be the first one to comment on this post and then email me your address.  No muss, no fuss.  So, who wants it?

Sunday, March 23, 2014

Heritage '14 (or is it '65?).

       I think I have bought at least a little Topps Heritage just about every year since it first came out in 2001.  Back then, it was a sensation due to the ascension of faux-vintage and some would go so far to say it was the absolute pinnacle of that trend.  After all, Topps has the deepest history of design and tradition, so it seemed right that if anyone was going to mine this properly, it would be them.  I built that first 2001 set with a lot of boxes and patience and some help from that new-fangled internet thing eBay.  I have since sold off that first set but you never really forget your first.  I think pound for pound, the most fun I have ripping boxes and packs for set building purposes has been Heritage, at least since it came out.

       But like all things, eventually the excitement died.  For me, it was around the time they stopped putting gum in the Heritage packs, which was half of the joy.  I mean, gum? With baseball cards?  What an innovation! (sarcasm alert)  In 2010 and 2011, now that I think of it, I don't think I bought any Heritage at all, since I recall those 1961 and 1962 sets being on my want list for page completion for a while.  I dabbled a little with retail purchases the last couple of years and then this year, as I covered the other day, I dove head first back into a hobby box.  I did this out of excitement and boredom.  I did this because I love the 1965 Topps set.  I did this because I am an impulsive pain in the ass.
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So let's take a look at what came out of the first hobby box of Heritage I have bought since 2008 (the also beloved by me 1959 set). 

First and foremost, I have decided to not build the base set.  I don't find it as annoying and daunting as some with all of Topps' short prints and such, I just decided not to.  So the official nine pocket page will be the shining reminder of this box break:
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The 1965 is such a great simple design with vivid colors.  Topps got a lot right with this set.  They integrated the new teams like the Marlins and Diamondbacks (or Blue Jays and Rockies as shown above) using the same border colors they used back in the day.  They didn't get cute.  Another nice thing is that since the team name gets smaller at the end within the pennant element, the infuriating copyright/trademark symbols Topps insists on including are deemphasized.  Both of these things go a long way to keeping the set looking very clean and pure to its roots.  I found that one or both of those things were miserable failures of the 1961, 1963, and 1964 Heritage designs.  These look as good as the 2003/1962 set did. 

The '65 backs are also wonderful and Topps also did right by those too:
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The font is right, the cartoons are right, and the complete stats are always appreciated.  I also found out there is a great trick to finding out if you have one of the many short print or variations without having to go insane looking them all up.  Amongst all that disclaimer fine print is a little code at the end.  Base cards have a number of 7119, anything else has a different code.  Those specific codes can be found here and thank you for the Cardboard Connection site for teaching me that.  I have no idea if that is a new thing or not, but it is new to me. 

Speaking of short prints, these are the high numbers I got. 
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At a ratio of 1:3, I got the proper amount in my 24 packs.  The Chris Davis there is both a high number and an action short print.  The portrait photography in the set is consistent with the original and it is funny how an action shot sticks out.  You certainly don't need a code to figure that short print variation out.

I don't do pack-by-pack breakdowns, so instead we will look at a few of the other base cards.
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The league leader cards lead off the set and they look great.  They are also very consistent with how the original set looked, i.e. since the 1965 NL ERA leaders card only had two players on it (and two pretty damn good pitchers at that) the 2014 Heritage set only has two pitchers on it.  This is a shame because it denies me another Matt Harvey card in the set since he came in third in the league last year.  Consistency giveth and taketh away.  The Coco Crisp card is a stark contrast to his card in the flagship set with his afro brushed down instead of out.  It also sadly emphasizes his receding hairline (I feel your pain, Coco).  Carlos Beltran knows how to take care of such things, just shave it all off. The rookie cards are handled properly in this set, which is a relief since they bungled it so badly the last couple years.  They happily don't repeat anyone and they have the design correct.  It is kind of funny to see the word Diamondbacks fade away into such tiny nothingness.  On the other end of the hair spectrum, Bryce Harper's pseudo duck tail look is given full attention, which is odd because I don't know why they would take a hatless photo of him since the odds of  Bryce being traded are about even with the odds of me breaking into the Mets starting rotation.  The last two are nice photos I cannot seem to recall why I highlighted.  Let's just stick with that, they're nice.  Moving on...

One cool thing, as always, is the old school Rookie All Star Trophy...
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...and I pulled six of them.  That will definitely help with my want lists.  I also am keeping the only World Series card I got and the great image of poor Ryne Sandberg managing the Phillies.  He put all those year in with the Cubs only to have them screw him over for the likes of Jim Riggleman and Dale Sveum.  That's loyalty.  Lastly is Miguel Gonzalez, the latest major leaguer to share my birthday.  Lucky Gemini.

Let's get to the parallels and inserts.
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I got two chrome parallels and a single refractor, which is under-performing the claimed ratio, but since I don't really care about these cards, it's just as well.  Just about all of these cards are destined for eBay unless you see something you must have, in which case you should email me ASAP before I post them.  The New Age Performers and Then and Now are well worn veterans of the Heritage sets and these particular designs are fitting and near perfect.

More inserts:
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This is how I feel about the News Flashbacks but the Baseball ones are pretty cool, especially when they are Sandy Koufax and Roberto Clemente.  I supposed Topps made them vertical this year to mix things up.  One new insert set this time around is the 1st Draft which is appropriate since 1965 was the first year of the draft.  The draft concept is one I hope they make a regular feature as it is always great to pull old stars and getting a babyfaced Nolan Ryan in a Mets uni is greatest of all.  The last card there was my big "hit" (I suppose), a CC Sabathia Mint card with an actual 1965 nickle embedded in it.  Considering I have a 1948 nickle in my pocket as we speak, I will try to contain my elation.  That it is numbered to /15 gives it all its "value" - I can't get this thing on eBay fast enough. 

Alas, in all this pack ripping, I only got four Mets (aside from the aforementioned Nolan Ryan).  Really, it is three and a half Mets since there is a Phillie prospect sullying the card with Wilfredo Tovar on it.
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All in all it was not a tremendous box but luckily, also not a terrible one.  It was well collated with not a double to be found.  The set itself is very well designed and executed and it's nice to see that Topps can actually do that when they try.  I guess they figure that since this is the one real big set set-building lovers love, they better not muck it up as much as they have in the past.  I still miss the gum, though.

Thursday, March 20, 2014

Tease and Re-Tease.

     Thursdays always bring me the same errands and appointments, I am kind of a creature of habit that way.  I like to have one day a week where I bang out the nonsense chores and I have found it is infinitely easier to do it on a weekday rather than a weekend.  I usually try to interject some fun into the slog of doctors and pharmacies and supermarkets, so I always stop in the card aisle of Target when my day finds me there.  I had seen on some other blogs that Heritage packs had been spotted in retail settings so today I made sure I got to the right spot.  Alas, it was not to be.  Two Targets, zero packs of Heritage found.  But there was a fine consolation prize...
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A discounted Pete Rose The Living Legend blaster.  I have seen this product in a few different places and think I bought a single pack of it at one point during a former trip to Target.  I had even seen it in this cheap form amongst the blogs, but I had never come across this kind of autograph-promising blaster.  I decided to take my chances, because really, what are the odds Leaf would ever properly fill a redemption card from this product?  I tore it open and boom!
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I got an autograph right in the box, just like it said.  It was even already nestled in a top loader.  So that's a pretty good trip, I got me a Pete Rose autograph for $13.  It is a halfway decent picture on the card - though it is a sticker - and in my estimation there is even a 50% chance he signed it himself and not some assistant or his crazy Asian girlfriend.  The other 60 cards in the box are mostly filler, though I am sure I will make a page out of them.  The real interesting ones are pictures of Pete in an Expos uniform or highlighting his horrible haircut and/or fashion choices.  The man was one of the highest paid players in the league during the 70's, you'd think he could get someone to do better by him, look wise. 

That blaster was the only card related thing I bought at either Target today, a rare display of restraint by yours truly.  But then I was driving home and I felt empty and unfulfilled.  What I really wanted was Heritage and a Pete Rose autograph, no matter how cool, was not going to cut it.  So while I was trapped in traffic at the 4 and 17 interchange, I darted up route 4 instead of heading up 17 and made a beeline to the one store I knew would have Heritage, a hobby shop.
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So this evening I will chill out with some terrible TV and tear this bad boy open, my first hobby box of Heritage in 6 years. Some Thursdays, I will not be denied. 

Wednesday, March 19, 2014


Very rare that you get the play of the year before the season starts, but...
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...that's gonna be tough to beat.  Your move, Mr. Met.

Monday, March 17, 2014

Dispatch From My Bed While I Recover.

       Last Wednesday, I left on a five day excursion for a little well earned R&R.  Most people (wisely) go south for such Spring Break-esque getaways, but me?  I went north to Boston - this breathtaking picture was taken the day after I got there.  But there was a method to my madness, it being the week before St. Patrick's Day and me being 12.5% Irish, I saw some great old friends, took in some local culture and followed the perfect vacation pattern of eat, drink, sleep, eat, drink, sleep, eat drink, sleep.  Not being 23 anymore, this has left me exhausted.

I did get to snap this photo Saturday afternoon after I dropped off a friend at the airport:
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I have driven by this sign a million times but only on a traffic free March afternoon did I get to finally capture it on my camera phone.  This has always been a dream of mine.  I think I need to dream bigger. 

I did not stay for the actual amateur night of St. Patrick's Day because, much like Mardi Gras or New Year's Eve, it only brings out the idiots, the tourists, and the people who cannot hold their liquor and then get behind the wheel of their car.  No thanks.  I got home Sunday night to a pile of mail stuffed in the box, the most exciting of which was a cardboard flat from Topps:
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I assume this is from their new fulfillment center since I have never gotten one like this.

Inside was a nice treat:
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I had gone on a little eBay Triple Thread shopping spree back in January and one of the things I picked up was a redemption for this card.  Nice that it only took them two months and not over a year like last time.  With the season fast approaching, it looks like Zack Wheeler here is going to be a key piece that needs to fall into place if the Mets can even hope to contend.  When I am feeling up to it, I will expand on my whole array of feelings regarding the Mets up coming season.  I will also show you all the goodies I picked up in Boston.  For now, I just need to lay here very still and rest.  My goodness, I am old.

Wednesday, March 12, 2014

Night Owl Trade Post #8000.

     I have lost track of all the jiffy packs and PWEs I have sent to upstate New York for Night Owl.  Our constant trading alone should be keeping the USPS in business.  While I am sure the number isn't quite 8000, I am sure it's gotta be about 50.  He also posts my stuff a lot more constantly that I post his, but that is why he has the best card blog on the block and why mine is merely a curiosity to about a dozen of you. 

So anyway, after busting my 2014 Topps packs and putting aside all the nifty Dodgers cards, I packed up those and a few other cards we had negotiated for and in return, I got what is promised to be "part 1."
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Pretty sweet "part" if you ask me.  I got the last 2014 Zack Wheeler TFIN insert I needed, a great Matt Harvey insert (who am I kidding, all Matt Harvey inserts are great), and a couple Walmart parallels that I will never get on my own.  Not forgetting the Kaz Matsui rookie I didn't own and a super sweet David Cone jersey piece with a pinstripe and a low serial number, though anyone who reads Night Owl (which is everyone) knows how he now feels about jersey cards.  While I am a skeptic, I also am compelled to touch fuzzy things, so you can send them all to me if you want. 

Oh, and he bipped me.
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Mutherfucker.  Last laugh is mine, though, I am putting these nine "devilish" Mickey Hatcher cards into my nine of a kind pages.  Nice try, Night Owl, nice try.  I eagerly look forward to part 2.

Tuesday, March 11, 2014

Trade O' the Day.

       Kevin of O's Card of the Day (and about half a dozen other blogs) is my oldest online trade partner.  Way before this blog existed, my first online trade was sending him some 1965 Topps cards for his set.  After seeing that his love of the Orioles is as strong (if not stronger) for my adoration of the Mets, I started putting O's cards aside for him almost immediately.  It has now become an unbreakable habit.  If I am opening a pack or a repack or even if I am at a show, I just instinctively put aside Baltimore cards and when the pile becomes large or interesting, I send them off to Maryland.  When I am lucky, a return package arrives and a couple of weeks ago, such a package was waiting for me and boy is it a doozy.

There was some 1970's Mets goodness:
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Granted I have most of these cards, but the Torre is destined for my page of 1978 Topps manager cards that is now almost complete and the Hodges will find a home on his player page, which is now finished.  That Mike Jorgensen was somehow missing in my collection.

There were some new Mets in there too...
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I didn't have any of those 2012 Triple Play cards nor that Lucas Duda.  The 1993 Leaf Fernandez was also a new edition (the backs of those cards are magnificent). And speaking of the backs, that mini Strawberry's back is full of such teasing at how good he could/should have been - "After Darryl's final Mets campaign in 1990, his 252 home runs were 2 more than Willie Mays and 14 more than Babe Ruth through their age 28 seasons" *heavy sigh*.  And then there is Bobby Bonilla, the scourge of both Mets and Orioles fans.  I'll get back to that card...

Kevin also seems to mine this endless vein of oddball and vintage (and oddball vintage) football cards and sends me the Giants and Saints he finds. 
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Yup, that is a 1960 Topps Frank Gifford.  Drink it in.  Next to that is a pair of 1969 Topps stamp books for the aforementioned Giants and Saints.  Simply amazing stuff.  And perhaps I can start a rumor that Gary Jeter is Derek's half brother and cause a sudden spike in the value of his cards. 

More 1990's football goodness:
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I have precious few 1993 Score baseball cards and even fewer football cards.  I guess you can say I spent my senior year of high school and first year of college doing things other than collecting cards, so those are good additions to my collection.  That Stadium Club card of the Saints punter spinning the ball is great and then on the bottom far right is a Bo Jackson SI for Kids card.  That card is so perfectly early 90's, it scares me.  It will find a place of honor in my Bo collection. 

Last but not least, Kevin sent a little note on the best stationary possible:
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He not only mocks the Yankees in it, he apologizes for putting Bobby Bo on top of the package.  Way to scare the shit out of me, Kevin.  The back of that card lists Bobby's hobby as golf and lord knows with the Mets and the Orioles, he did a lot of that after September.  I assume that card was a giveaway with a pack of Ultra Pro pages, man did anyone who bought that package get ripped off.  I will begrudgingly put it with my Mets oddballs and hopefully it won't show anyone the Bronx. 

Monday, March 10, 2014

Going Dutch.

     This is not my first international trade, as Canada insists upon being a different country.  This is not even my first overseas trade, as I have sent Red Sox to England.  But this is my very first trade with continental Europe so I guess that is something.  I am, of course, talking about everyone's favorite Dutch card guy, um, The Dutch Card Guy.  In keeping with yesterday's 2014 Topps trades, I noticed when he posted about his newest flagship break that he got a 1970 Topps Ron Swoboda with the Topps 75 logo.  I did not get any of these classic pulls in my packs, so I inquired about it, offering a couple of Glavine numbered cards as bait.  The Dutch Card Guy immediately took me up on the offer.  He also said he would take a look at my want lists and augment the deal...

Proving European folk are much more polite than us American folks, he really really augmented:
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He sent a bunch of players from my player want lists.  And I mean a bunch.  Here you see almost enough Stephen Strasburg cards to make a page all by themselves.  That's one page off the list.  That Justin Upton card helps, but he is still on the list.

You see here a block from the AL East:
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Those Boggs cards will complete his second page.  The Bautista and Buchholz cards come close to finishing their player pages and that Team USA WBC card completes Pedroia's page.  That's three. 

Now we go to Cincinnati:
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The Aroldis Chapman cards find places on his incomplete page and all those Jay Bruce cards more than finish off his page.  That's four.

He sent enough David Price cards for a whole page alone with one to spare:
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So that's five.

Lastly, he sent a Ty Cobb which knock off his page in my Hall of Fame books - so that makes six player pages completed in one trade.  That might be a record, though I have not kept total track of such occurrences.  He also generously included a couple of Bryce Harper cards, which I keep on that want list page just to remind myself I need them, not expecting anyone to actually send them.  And yet, there they are.
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DCG also included a few great oddball non-sports cards and some (I assume) Dutch soccer stickers.  Excuse me, football (pfft, I am such an American).  And very lastly, you see the card that kicked off this wonderful package, the 1970 Ron Swoboda with the Topps 75 logo.  All I can say about all this is wow!  My last bit of shame here is I have not even sent out the package I have for DCG, but it gives me the opportunity to add some goodies for his collection.   Dank u, Jeroen. (yes, I had to look that up on Google).

Sunday, March 9, 2014

Double Trade Post*

*in which I am grateful for my trade partners' generosity and then a dick about their idiosyncrasies.

I am way behind in my trade posts so I am gonna try to tackle them all this week and I am going to start by taking care of two of them, both dealing with two first time traders and new Topps cards. 

First comes a wonderful swap with Gavin of Baseball Card Breakdown.  During the flurry of 2014 Topps posts, I noticed he had posted a Red Target Zack Wheeler parallel and dropped him a line saying I would love to have it.  He immediately got back to me and we were off and running.  He sent that wonderful Wheeler and a few other goodies.
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The first was a chrome card of the gone-but-never-forgotten RA Dickey - sure it's metallic, but not shiny.  Now if it is shiny you want, that Pacific John Franco can't be beat.  That is not only a spectacular card, but also a card I did not have, which is always a marvelous surprise when trading blind.  Then came a few recent cards of Mets players and then some junk wax.  Okay, I always appreciate the effort.  But wait!  This is Gav we are talking about and he does a special thing to junk wax:
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This is the best I could do to capture the magic - Ansel Adams I am not.
He makes those mutherfuckers glow in the dark!!!! And he sent three of them for me, all of them numbered and signed buy the artist...
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My only issue with Gavin's package?  He used header cards for protection (always smart) but he wrote his note on this graphic filled Ultra Pro card when he had a nice blank canvas to scribble on this Fleer checklist.  Boy, can I be a nitpicking dick or what?  Anyway, sincere thanks Gavin for the great surprises in the trade, I am certain this won't be our last.  I hope what I sent makes up for my being a bastard.

My other 2014 Topps swap was with Chris of The Raz Card Blog.  After I had listed my 2014 Topps  series 1 goodies, Raz asked me about my four Power Player inserts.  I told him if he had any Mets from this year that I didn't have that I would be glad to send them.  And boy did he send some Mets:
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Two Zack Wheeler inserts and a Matt Harvey for my player collection, not to mention a sparkly red Daniel Murphy - that is a great picture on this year's card with the Home Run Apple in the background.  He also sent me three of the All Rookie Cup Team inserts, of which I had pulled exactly zero.  Along with an incomplete eBay lot, I was able to put together the whole set in easy frugal fashion and take it off my want list

And my lord, look at how neatly these cards were packed:
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I have received hundred dollar cards from eBay sellers that weren't so well protected.  Not to mention the penmanship on the note...way to make the rest of us look bad Chris.

So this is what I have become?  The kind of person who find fault in the kindest of gestures?  What is wrong with me?  I am such an asshole.  Chris, on the other hand, is awesome.  Thanks for initiating this trade and I am sure we will do it again soon. 

Wednesday, March 5, 2014



I am reaching out to the Card Blogosphere for some advice and perspective.  As most of you who read this blog with any regularity know, one of the areas where I am stubbornly completist is Topps All Star Rookies.  As luck would have it, this year's flagship set has a few inserts sets devoted to this corner of the Topps Universe.  One of them is a Relic collection with manufactured rookie cups embedded in them numbered to /99.  I got a look at these cards and decided they are quite handsome and while it is cost prohibitive for me to complete an entire set of these, I made the decision to at least make a nine pocket page of them.  This weekend, I got bored and went on a little eBay spending spree and bought a good six of them at, on average, about $15 a pop.  The first of those cards arrived today and, well, there is a problem.  They are thick.  Really thick.  I am talking Kim Kardashian twerking at an ice cream social thick. Here, take a look:
The left is obviously NOMAH! but the card on the right providing thickness perspective is Rod Carew.  Yeah, like I said, thick.

There is no way they will fit in a standard nine pocket page.  I tried and tried and no dice.  I even tried a few different kinds of nine pocket pages with absolutely no luck.  I did have a little brain storm; since the issue is size, I tried to slide the cards into a standard 8-card page and while it is certainly not ideal, as you can see, they did fit.
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Here is what I would like some input on...what should I do here? 

a) go with the eight pocket page set up.

b) hold out hope that there is a nine pocket page out there that will fit these.  In fact, if any of you own or know of anything like this that will fit these gargantuanly thick beasts, I will gladly compensate you with cards, cash, or love to obtain one.

c) suck it up and just collect the whole set and give in to my completist instincts.

d) give it up and sell off the ones I bought - keeping the Gary Carter, of course.

e) something else I haven't thought of, but one of you brilliant homo sapiens has.

So there it all is.  Any and all opinions are greatly appreciated.  I mean, this isn't binding arbitration or anything, but my brain is broken from the initial disappointment and I would like to hear what you have to say.  Thanks in advance.

Saturday, March 1, 2014

Spring Has Sprung (sorta).

       The first of March has brought the first televised Mets spring training game.  I love spring training, don't get me wrong, but it can be kind of a tease.  First of all, I am sitting here in flannel pajamas with a down comforter over me because it is still below freezing outside while the TV is showing me beautiful Florida skies and the announcers are taunting me with 80 degree temperature readings in Port St. Lucie.  The actual games always hint that real baseball is coming but mostly show players you have either never heard of or can't fathom the reason why your team signed them - this is especially true of the Mets year after year (Kyle Farnsworth?!? Really?).  One could kind of compare this to a repack - full of such hope and promise of amusement and profit, yet ultimately not very exciting.  This segues nicely into the fact that I picked up a repack at K-Mart this morning while running the errands I knew I can't run on Monday with yet another monster snowstorm coming.  *sigh*  If I wanted to live in Minnesota I would move to fucking Minnesota.  

So let's take a look at this repack.  First of all, I chose this particular one for two reasons:
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One, it came in one of those nice hard plastic boxes that I like to keep smaller sets that don't make the binders in.  They are very sturdy and you can immediately see what the cards are, unlike a cardboard box which you have to write on and if you have ever seen my handwriting, the less I have to mark things, the better.  Two, all the other repacks of this ilk this particular morning had a 2008 Topps pack as its promised pack and if I never see another 2008 Topps card it will be too soon.  So even though it has the retiring Derek Jeter on it, the one with the 2006 Sweet Spot pack seemed like the best choice.  Plus, who knows, that is a high end product, I might get lucky.

The other three cards on the outside of the plastic cube were certainly not put there to make buyers go wild: Jermaine Dye, Jeff Abbot, and Brandon Looper.  I always had a soft spot in my heart for Looper as a Met because when his name was on the scorecard, it always read B. Looper.  Yup - Blooper!  Poor guy never had a chance to be a premium closer with a moniker like that.
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The first chunk of the repack had some 2012 Topps with the inserts still sprinkled in.  This was a nice surprise made even nicer with the fact that those were inserts of Nolan Ryan, Clayton Kershaw, and Frank Thomas.  I also got a mini Adrian Gonzalez in his brief Red Sox tenure (numbered 130 if anyone who wants it for their frankenset).  Lastly was some 2012 Bowman with that nice picture of Giancarlo Stanton against a blue sky being by far the niftiest.

The next chunk I looked at was quite random; it had a great Doc Gooden card I didn't have (even though he is in the wrong pinstripes).  There was also a few 2011 Topps and a couple 2012 Bowman Chrome rookies (that I have never heard of...).  I am showing that Luis Sojo card to keep up with the blue sky theme. 
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Then came a series of varying sets from all over the map: a dozen 1990 Leaf (with that Rick Reed rookie being the only one of note), 32 1982 Fleer, including half of the Houston Astros team set in all their Tequila Sunrise glory, though I went with Bake McBride's card to represent here because his name is Bake and, well, he looks it.  Then there was ten 1991 Topps, a set I really enjoy looking at under any circumstances, and some 2001 Topps, a set with a very odd green hue but a nice simple design.  There was a Jake Peavy rookie mixed in there to boot. 

Then the repack threw me some usual but always appreciated curves.  First some early to mid 80's stuff, like 1983-85 Topps.  Oscar Gamble looks weird without his afro and I always loved that active career leaders subset from '84.  I have been trying to figure out who exactly ended up in Phil Garner's lap in that '83 card, anyone have any guesses?  (**UPDATE** - two clicks of the google found that I am 98% sure that is Phil Mankowski - #2 on the 1982 Mets - I never knew he ever played for the Amazins).  It is fun to get these random 30 year old cards to look at on a lazy afternoon. 
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After that, the repack degenerated into obvious repack territory, 1988 Donruss, 1988-89 Topps, 1990 Donruss, and some oddball 80's and 90's stuff but nothing special.  The 1988 Donruss did include Jim Rice, Jack Morris, Andre Dawson, and Bert Blyleven so I can't complain too much.  I included that Hector Villanueva card because he has a great melodic name and I love catcher cards no matter who they are. 

Overall, it was a fun repack to rummage through while the Mets get their butts kicked in a meaningless baseball game, but hey, I still have that pack of 2006 Sweet Spot to open...
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Well, would you look at that.  I pulled a Miguel Tejada Super Sweet Swatch numbered /75.  That is, um, super sweet to say the least.  That big ass jersey card easily makes this one of the best repacks I have ever bought.  Maybe things are looking up after all.