Monday, June 30, 2014

Sho' Nuff.

       As you may have been able to tell from yesterday's teaser, I am on the road away from Starting Nine World HQ and currently at my brother's house in PA dog sitting.  It is a nice situation where I get a little QT with the dog and a staycation away from the world.  Another perk is I found out there was a card show Sunday at a fire house in Newark DE, not far from where I am staying.   It's always nice to get away and even better to see some new faces and sellers.  So I ventured out to (the safe) Newark yesterday with a fist full of dirty money and my usual penchant for dime box diving. In fact, just about all the cards you are about to see are dime box finds unless otherwise noted. 

I will start off with some current stars:
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I picked up a good beginning of a Yoenis Cespedes page, and seeing as I had zero of his cards set aside for such a thing, six is a very good start indeed.  Keeping with the Cuban flavor, that is my first keeper Yasiel Puig as all the others I have pulled have gone out to greener, bluer pastures.  Jose Fernandez is also from Cuba, Giancarlo Stanton, alas, is not.

How about some faux-vintage Hall of Famers?
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I go a little crazy when I find these kinds of players in dime boxes.  Plus, these are some great looking cards.  That Bench GQ Collisions card is just magnificent.  That Frank Robinson is not only a picture I have never seen before, but the kind of photo you don't often see on cards at all.  And somehow that Tony Gwynn wandered in on this group but seeing how he just passed, I will let it pass.

These are 2010 Topps Vintage Legends cards:
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This is yet another one of those insert sets that shows how infuriating Topps can be.  They used some great old timey players on Topps designs they weren't originally shown on - a very good idea.  They also picked some photos they hadn't reused over and over again - also good.  But the usual 5% failure on their part shows in font choices and incorrect colors -  the kind of thing that would take but a minute to fix.  I am sure I am not the only one to rail about these inserts but since they are new to me, I am railing anyway.  Still, this will make for a great page.

Here are some more faux-vintage:
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That Vlad Guerrero Post card did not scan well but trust me, the chrome parallel makes it look all shiny and so different but not from the originals.  Alas, those are just reprints of the Robbie traded and McCovey Washington error, but since I don't own either of these cards anymore, I will enjoy them all the same.  I like the simplicity of those UD Origins cards so I am gonna track down 6 more and make a page.  I have wanted that Vida Blue card since I saw it on another blog last year and now I have it, for a nice thin dime. 

Did I pick up any real vintage?  Why yes I did...
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I nabbed that '67 Jim Wynn and '66 Hoyt Wilhelm for a buck a piece.  Seeing how the Wynn is a semi high and the Wilhelm is a high number, that is quite a deal.  The Fred Whitfield and Charlie Smith are welcome additions to my slowly dwindling All Star Rookie needs - also just a dollar each.  The other three cards are from reprint sets, but I am a rookie cup completist, so they had to come home with me.

I really like these 1993 Upper Deck Iooss Collection cards.  They are the height of minimalist design and the photos are incredible.  Not only am I gonna make a page, I might build the whole set. 
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The other five surrounding those cards are some nifty retired star pick ups.  I always forget Carlos Delgado came up as a catcher until I see one of his rookie cards. 

Out of the almost 500 cards I picked up (don't worry, I am not going to show all of them) I bought exactly one (1) Gary Carter card.  Bizarre.
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I am pretty sure I don't have any of those Mike Piazza cards  - I also picked up one of his cousin, who has decided to go by the same name - this strategy didn't work for Edgard Clemente either.  The Frank Thomas No Name On Front card you see there is from the Cards Your Mother Threw Out insert set from a couple years back.  I wonder if anyone's mom actually threw one of those out considering at the time they were a big deal and worth about $2,000 even back then? 

Some more favorite players:
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A six pack of Reggie Jacksons - Reggie seems to have gotten a lot of my love on this blog lately, huh?  I picked up two odd Jeff Bagwell cards, one with rainbow action and the other where he seems to be hitting the Space Shuttle.  I have never seen this card before but it may quickly become an oddball favorite.  I mean, look at it!  How wonderfully ridiculous.

Wait, did I not buy any Mets cards?  Of course I did...
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That David Wright refractor on the top was bought for a dime.  I will grab almost any refractor for a dime, much less my current fave.  The Bowman Platinum Wright on the second row did cost me a dollar, but it was worth it - the scan does not do the shininess justice. 

More Mets:
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I have developed some mad respect for Bartolo Colon.  He is older than me, he is fatter than me, and he is pitching in the major leagues.  You kids can live vicariously through Mike Trout or Jose Abreu, as for me?  I am kindred spirits with old Bartolo there. 

I found a vein of 1995 Flair cards, so I grabbed all the Mets, alas there are 8 and not 9:
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I added the Iooss Hojo card to round out the scan, which kind of fits and also kind of doesn't.  The 1995 Flair set is a really nice one.  It sort of echoes 1955-56 Topps while at the same time looking both very modern and timeless.  I am sorry I missed this one 20 years ago.

More more Mets:
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The top row is a nice trio of Mets failures.  The middle row has some actual vintage, once again, cards had for a dollar.  Any time you can get Choo Choo for a buck, you do it.  The bottom row are all cards I am 98% certain I already have but I couldn't pass them up for a dime a piece - one can get on a roll that way.

Saints?  Saints.
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I like that Drew Brees cards with him shown on Purdue look almost indistinguishable from the ones with him on the Saints.

A few more football cards:
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No matter how terrible the Mets are this year, it is still way too early to be thinking about fall and the start of football season.  I mean, summer just started.  Yes, I am trying to convince myself this is true.

I even nabbed a few hockey and basketball cards, but very few:
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Wait, that is a baseball card - no it isn't.  That is Trevor Gretzky, Wayne's son.  I doubt he will amount to much as a player, but hey, he got a baseball card (his dad never did).  You see a few Knicks cards from the heyday of the early 90's.  All Knicks fans did back then was complain that they didn't win championships; if only they could see the future when making the playoffs would be a pipe dream. 

I didn't buy much Allen and Ginter last year, so when I found a bunch of the non baseball players, I pounced.  I mean, there is a Fish card...Fish! 
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Aside from Abe Vigoda, there are some lovely ladies and Ben Franklin, who would greatly appreciate being included on such a scan. 

I am semi-obsessed with that Topps 75 set.  It highlights all the non-sports cards Topps has put out over the years and I might just have to invest in the base set.  Where else can one find Donkey Kong, Neil Armstrong, Martin Van Buren, and Mulder & Scully? 
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Also here are some Heritage Flashback cards, including two of the Beatles and one of the Stones.  That seems like a proper ratio to me. 

I also built some ready made nine pocket pages:
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2013 Topps WBC inserts.

2014 Panini Prizm.
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I have been burned by this product the last couple years, so I just bought nine of them for a page to be done with it.  Same crappy look, same pseudo-chrome design, same no-logos. Get your shit together, Panini.

The aforementioned 1995 Flair:
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Remember when early Alex Rodriguez cards were a big deal and not in dime boxes?

2010 Turkey Red retro stars:
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These not only look great, I just noticed everyone has their socks looking properly done.  This is a great page for that alone.  High striped socks forever!

2004 UD Legends basketball:
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I saw the World B. Free card of this in one of the dime boxes I scoured and I decided to get him some friends to make a page.  I am glad I did this if only to highlight Artis Gilmore's amazing facial hair and expression. 

2013-14 Score Hockey Gold:
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I found some of these and decided I liked the look of the design and I picked up nine of them.  Turns out, this is the gold parallel and not just the base.  Works for me.

Speaking of Gold Parallels:
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One dealer had a huge block of Topps Gold parallels from all sorts of years, so I grabbed a bunch.  I am talking about close to 100.  I will spare you the details, you know what these look like. 

I was kind of underwhelmed by the high end cards most of the dealers had.  Luckily, I was not interested in buying fancy shiny cards.  I did find this Drew Brees double jersey card...
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...that Drew Storen kind of came with the Drew Brees.  The cards were $6 each or 2 for $10.  I can't resist a bargain and a 2 for 1 Drew special just seemed right.  And of course, I picked up some cards for other bloggers as well.  At a dime a piece, it is hard to go wrong with a little altruism.

I had a great time at the show talking to some new collectors and mocking a few Phillies fans.  An even better time was had this evening while I figured out the peculiarities of my brother's scanner...
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...lucky for me, I had an adorable helper.

Sunday, June 29, 2014

Dog Day Afternoon.

Hey! Where have you been all afternoon?

I was at a baseball card show, Stella.

What's in those bags?  Is it food?  I love food!
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No, I told you, they're baseball cards...
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Are they delicious?  Can I have some?

No, these are not food - they are people toys.

Toys?!? Can I chew on them?

Um, no.

Fine then, I'll be over here.
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Wake me when there is some food.  I love food, it's my favorite.
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Okay, I promise I will wake you up after I sort these into their proper piles.  Then we can have dinner and I'll save my post about these cards for tomorrow.
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*sniff* *sniff* Are you sure I can't eat these?

Sunday, June 22, 2014

My Last Trip to the Card Aisle For a While.

       This week got all messed up and never recovered.  I had Taco Tuesday on Monday, Spaghetti Wednesday on Tuesday, I saw an old friend on Wednesday making that Throwback Thursday and I ran all my Thursday errands on Friday.  I needed all weekend just to figure it all out.

My Thursday errands on Friday found me in Target and wouldn't you know it, I couldn't stay away from the card aisle.
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I wasn't going to buy any more Archives but I remembered something this time that I had forgotten last time...
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Coupons!  I still had my two coupon books from series one, which as you can see from above, included the hard-to-resist $5- off of series two.  Plus I got some Oreos because Oreos.  Sadly, these are the end of my coupons.

Let's take a look at what came in each of those boxes of series 2.  While I enjoyed the design of this year's Topps flagship, just about everything else underwhelms...
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More of the inserts that I don't care much about.  More parallels, though instead of yellow they went with burnt orange, which will make for a very interesting look for anyone who decided to put together that set.  I got one Met in this box and one rookie cup.  I like that Mike Napoli and I have the same beard and I also got a Nelson Cruz to taunt me since the Mets could have signed him all winter and instead they got Chris Young.  Shoot me now. 

Box number two is more of the same...
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Old faces in new places, one whole Met, same old inserts, and I got Target red parallels instead of burnt orange ones.  Since I am not building the set, I guess my enthusiasm is very muted.  Those Phillips and Reddick cards will have to supply my joy.  I do like the inclusion of the Saber Stars inserts - a little learnin' goes a long way.

If you are building series 2, drop me an email with your want list, I have about 100 base cards that would love to find a proper home.  Plus, any of the inserts you see are available as well.

My feelings about Topps Archives was pretty strong this year, I don't think I need to rehash.  Sadly, the packs didn't agree with me and gave me doubles of doubles I already had - those are, you know, triples.  If only I was an Astros fan.
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I did get a current Mets player this time around and a few new faux-vintage players that I like.  I also was intrigued by the dusky sunset on that Andre Rienzo, you don't see that much on a baseball card.  I also pulled a retro Future Star of Ron Gant and a Major League movie card of Roger Dorn, but that is too little too late

Finally, here is a photo I promised in that Archives post:
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You'll find this picture has everything: the bottom of my aforementioned epic beard, my fancy new Reggie Jackson A's jersey, and my Reggie short print from Archives that matches the jersey perfectly.  If you squint hard enough, you can plainly see that Mr. October and I are practically twins.

Thursday, June 19, 2014

While You Were Sleeping...

       Clayton Kershaw pitched the tidiest no hitter you will ever see.  He threw 107 pitches, struck out 15 and walked no one.  Hell, he only went to three balls on one batter; only Nolan Ryan struck out more batters in a no-no (he did that twice). 
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If not for a seventh inning error by Hanley Ramirez, this would have been a perfect game, maybe the perfectest game of all time.  I think Han-Ram owes Clayton a case of beer or something.  My other favorite little tidbit about this game?  Josh Beckett pitched a no hitter for LA 24 days ago and those 24 games are the shortest amount of time any team has gone between no hitters since...Johnny Vander Meer pitched his famous back-to-back no hitters in 1938. 

Wednesday, June 18, 2014

Let's All Go To The Lobby.

       It's been a sad, troubling time the last few weeks for baseball and death (not to mention my Mets have been a worse fate than death to watch...3-11 *rolls eyes*).  So to cheer everyone up, look at this wonderfully goofy page that I just completed:
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It combines cards featuring two of my favorite baseball movies.  The Natural cards came with a DVD set from a few years ago and those long overdue Major League cards came out of this year's Topps Archives set.  Now if only they made cards of It Happens Every Spring, Bull Durham, and Field of Dreams I could expand on the concept. 

The backs are fun too, treating the subject with reality and respect:
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I hope this post brought a little much needed frivolity into your day.  This hobby is supposed to be fun, dammit.

Monday, June 16, 2014

Tony Gwynn: 1960 - 2014.

There are few things sadder than announcing the passing of a Hall of Famer...
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...except maybe the passing of a wonderful, affable Hall of Famer when it is way too soon and all too preventable.

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He was a brilliant ballplayer, an 8-time batting champion, a 5-time gold glover, he had 3000 hits, he was Mr. Padre.  Don't chew tobacco, kids.

Saturday, June 7, 2014


     I have been in the middle of some major spring cleaning here at Starting Nine World Headquarters.  Not just the collection, which is getting a sprucing, but the whole darn house.  Which means two things, I haven't had time to blog much and I have to go to the store to buy something new every other damn day to replace or improve what's there.  Yesterday found me at Target and wandering around Target means but one thing, walking by that card nook 5 or 6 times.  This, as always, is too much to take and I found a few jumbo packs of Archives in my basket at the end of the trip...
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I opened this Friday night while watching yet another disappointing Mets loss so maybe my enthusiasm was low so I waited until this morning to write about the cards; I can't say my mood improved much. 

Let's start with something they did very right, the 1973 design:
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This is one of my all time favorites and they nailed it.  They got the fonts right and the position logos are there in all their glory.  My only quibble?  The pictures are all tightly cropped the way they have been this year and maybe they would have gotten things perfect if they had chosen a few off beat, wide angle oddball shots like they did back in the day

They also did they 1980 design:
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And again, the design and font looks wonderful, the only problem?  They just used the 1980 design in Archives two years ago.

Now we get to where things start to come apart:
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Okay, disregarding that the 1989 set is hardly a classic, let's look at the major flaw that makes this a failure.  They got the design elements of the team name and the angle of the ribbon and even the curved corner correct but look closely at the player names.  Once again, right font (which is always appreciated and a surprise from Topps) but the alignment is all wrong.  They all seem to be justified to the left and this is not how the original set looked.  Yes, it's a small thing but to someone who opened a million packs of this stuff, it is huge.  Look at the Sonny Gray or Bob Gibson or even the Adam Eaton or Joe DiMaggio.  The names on the 1989 set were centered and it makes 90% of these cards look all cockeyed and wrong.  It wasn't that good looking a set to begin with, so to flub this detail and make it look worse is just inexcusable. Plus, haven't we seen that picture of Adrian Gonzalez some place before?  Somehow, the page I made for current players has three of these '89 cards on it.

Let's have a brief six card palate cleanser.  Back to the 1973 design, these six vintage players look like they could come straight from the original set, if it weren't for a few team issues and the "Topps" logo...and maybe the fact that Juan Gonzalez was 4 years old in 1973, but I digress.  Even with a Tom Seaver photo they have used 100 times before, these six cards show what is right and good about this set.
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Oh but we are right back at it with those bottom three, they show what is so so wrong.  It's like Topps did 95% of their job on this set and just said "eh, fuck it" and didn't bother with the rest.  It is what I find so frustrating with Topps and their exclusive agreement with MLB; they have no motivation to give that last 5% - which is maybe the hardest five percent - the little things that are the difference between a disappointing set and a "wow! this is freaking awesome!" set.  So what is wrong with those three cards?  Well, the Yankees cards are blatant and obvious to anyone who collected back then.  The Yankees team name was white and not blue.  The Braves blue was much lighter on the originals as well.  These are the little things that are the difference and they would make me pull my hair out if, well, it wasn't mostly gone already.

What is the other great failing of the 1986 design?  It is the smallest defect but really the largest....
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Those damn copyright/trademark logos after every team name!  The originals did not have these and in the long run, they are superfluous as most of us have railed against oh so many times before.  The backs of these cards get marred by three or four lines of copyright information and ownership rights and the like.  If all that information is there, why on earth do they feel it necessary to mess the front with this as well?!?!?!?  If you have it on the back, you don't need it on the front and vice versa.  It's like I'm taking crazy pills here...  I am way too worked up for a Saturday afternoon but it just looks awful here; little bleach spots that are pretty illegible but so terribly noticeable.  Between that and the color issues (the Brewers and White Sox are incorrect as well), it ruins all the things they did get right. 

I didn't pull any short prints in four jumbos but I did nab a couple of inserts.  Those 1980's style glossy all star ones were never much to get excited about 30 years ago and nothing has changed.  That deckle edge Derek Jeter is beautiful, I hate to admit. 
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There are six more vintage player cards that, once again, look tremendous and proper to the era.  I made a veteran page that tries to highlight the best looking of these cards.  Want to know something as a fabulous aside?  My brother got me a yellow A's Reggie Jackson jersey for my birthday.  I should take a picture of me wearing it holding that card. **UPDATE** Turns out that Reggie is a short print because they made the short prints this year in the same designs as the base set.  We can also put that on the "fail" side of the ledger for this set.

Also in the "so close but so far away" column are the backs.  They did so many things right with the backs but then once again dropped the ball with the little details...
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I will let it pass that they can't print complete batting records for the vintage players without the font being so tiny as to be illegible but it is still frustrating.  You can also see the aforementioned copyright information and, come to think of it in tiny illegible font, you can believe every single card has that on it.  Topps got the colors and the fonts all correct on the back and even decided to include cartoons where they were appropriate and even matched the style of each set.  Problem is, they only made about 10-12 cartoons for each 50 card subset so they repeat over and over again.  Are you telling me that in Topps vast archives, they couldn't come up with 40-50 separate cartoons?  Or if they wanted to use new ones, were they too cheap to commission that amount.  Once again, it is the little things that kill.