17 January 2017

How Does This Happen?

I've posted a few times about my inability to track down a Danica Patrick tire relic from Panini's 2016 Prizm NASCAR product. I didn't want to pay too much, so I put in low bids on a lot of them, always getting outmatched by others who wanted to spend more than my idea of a fair price. Well, I finally won one...

...and then I won two more. Oops. I guess I got so used to throwing out lowball bids on these things that I kept bidding even when I was already the high bidder on one auction, and the prices suddenly dropped into my range. So now I've got three Danica Patrick tire relics from 2016 Panini Prizm NASCAR. These are all the base version and are unnumbered. I do like the design of these, with the car and the driver featured on the front. The main weakness (in my eyes) is the bland silver background. I have never like the basic Prizm look, with large expanses of dull silver foil. It would look my better with some color to it, like Panini has added in their Donruss Optic line.

We had some good news and some bad new yesterday. Unfortunately, the good news is pretty minor compared to the bad. The good news is that my wife's van repairs came in well under the budget I'd set aside for them. The bad news is that we had to have her new dog put down. A few months ago, one of her friends found a yellow lab as a stray, but they couldn't deal with her. My wife volunteered to take her in while we looked for the owner. No one ever came to the shelter looking for her, and we couldn't track down an owner, so we kept her. My wife named her Buttercup, but I called her Corn Dog. We got her spayed, vaccinated, and micro-chipped. Over the last couple of weeks her health has declined rapidly, so we took her to the vet. They told us that she was much older than we thought (10+ years, which is getting up there for a lab), and that she had a big tumor on her spleen. At her advanced age she probably would not survive an operation, so the vet recommended putting her to sleep. It stinks, especially for my wife, who has now lost two dogs in the last 8 months. I guess they are all family dogs, but we tend to identify our dogs as belonging to one spouse or the other. My wife favors Labradors and I lean toward Basset Hounds. I hope that Buttercup enjoyed the few months she spent with our family. We liked having her around.

16 January 2017

This Relic is Not Related to the Event Commemorated by This Card

My brother-in-law and his family came up for the weekend for a family event we were having. My mother-in-law has been here since before Christmas. They are good people and I don't mind them, but I am an extreme introvert and having extra people around really drains my energy. They headed for home on Sunday, and I am hoping to stretch my legs a bit and maybe get a few things done in the man cave downstairs during this week. We'll see how it goes. It seems like there are always things that come up when you have plans. For example, the unplanned events of this weekend for me are my wife's car breaking down and needing a tow to the shop, a trip to the vet for our (relatively) new dog who has come down with something, and maybe helping my sister dig her car out of a snowbank.

Here is a card I've been trying to hunt down for a while now. It pops up with some frequency, but sellers usually want more for it than I am willing to pay. This copy popped up in my price range, and I got it. It's a 2016 Topps Series 1 Postseason Performance relic card of pitcher R.A. Dickey. His 2015 postseason with the Toronto Blue Jays was a bit of a mixed bag, as he had a good start against the Rangers in the ALDS and a very bad outing against the Royals in the ALCS. One really interesting thing about this relic is the disclaimer along the bottom there, which reads: "ITEM IS NOT FROM THE 2015 POSTSEASON". So this relic card celebrating the 2015 postseason contains a relic, but not one from a uniform worn during the 2015 postseason.

Even better is the disclaimer on this side of the card, which reads: "THE RELIC CONTAINED ON THIS CARD IS NOT FROM ANY SPECIFIC GAME, EVENT, OR SEASON, NOR IS IT FROM THE 2015 POSTSEASON." The descriptor text under the relic window says it is game-used, but who knows? I just thought it was funny that Topps made sure to indicate that the relic piece was not from the 2015 Postseason on both the front and back of the card. They really don't want anyone thinking that it was. The card is numbered # 066 / 100.

R.A. Dickey signed with the Atlanta Braves back in November. My wife is from Atlanta, but I have never been a fan of the various Atlanta pro teams. I will root for Dickey wherever he goes, though, so whenever he gets some cards in his Braves uniform, I will be there trying to collect them. Hopefully the move to the NL will help his numbers.

15 January 2017

Click Here to View Cart 20: COMC Black Friday 2016 Haul

Some people around the blogging community go crazy during the annual Black Friday sale at COMC, buying up stacks of cards and taking advantage of free shipping offers for cards they've accumulated during the year. I personally probably haven't made the best use of COMC, as for whatever reason it is never among the first options on my mind when looking for cards to purchase. This past year I did find myself browsing the listings during the big sale, though, and I picked up a total of 6 cards.

The first card is this shiny Danica Patrick card from the 2016 Panini The National set. COMC is calling this parallel Hyperfoil. My card is numbered # 17 / 49. I've been tracking various versions of Danica's The National and The National - VIP cards on eBay, but haven't picked up nearly as many as I'd like. It seems like the prices plus shipping are always a little more than I want to spend. This one was on sale and I was able to combine shipping with the other cards in the order, so into the cart it went.

The other five cards in this order were all from the 2014 Topps Stadium Club Members Only parallel. I have a goal to add as many of these to my collection as I can, so I picked up the five cheapest ones that I didn't yet have copies of in my collection. The horizontal card from the lot is pitcher Chris Archer.

The other four are Josh Hamilton, Michael Wacha, Nelson Cruz, and Julio Teheran. No huge superstar names here, but I was happy to add five more of these to my collection without completely breaking the bank. I had several more in my cart for a while, but they were in higher price tiers and I ultimately decided to just pare my order down to these ones. I've already progressed much further with this collection than I ever thought I would. I know I am not ever going to complete the set, so I feel less pressure to gather them all. That frees me up to seek out the best deals I can and pass unreasonably-priced cards.

Although these aren't serially-numbered, the rumor is that only 5-10 copies of each Members Only card were printed. As time goes by I would expect the supply to really dry up, but here in early 2017 there are still a few to be found. I think that in some ways the passage of time helps, as people have probably moved on from 2014 Topps Stadium Club in the search for the next hot thing, and this is a parallel set that kind of flies under the radar.

I also got one scratch-off ticket in the package, which netted me a $5 credit on the site. I used the money to purchase a card that I had already purchased once. The seller sent me a different card (which I also needed for my collection), and I let it slide. The card I actually purchased popped up on COMC around the time I scratched my ticket, and I negotiated a discounted price on it with the seller. Pretty dramatic stuff. Right now it is sitting in my COMC account. I will have it shipped to me some day in conjunction with another order.

14 January 2017

Pack of the Day 154: A Couple Blaster Boxes of 2016 Topps WWE Divas Revolution

Fairly recently, Topps put out a Walmart-exclusive (although it's showed up at Toys"R"Us stores) WWE product called 2016 WWE Divas Revolution. As the name suggests, it's a product that focuses on the women's division of the WWE. The main draw behind the product is that it offers a relic or autograph in each blaster.

Here's a scan of the box front and box top. I included the top flap because it has Bayley and Asuka on it. I actually bought three blasters of this stuff, but in the first one I opened, 75% of the cards (38 out of 51) cards were severely miscut. You could see large diagonal sections of the adjoining cards from the sheet on each of them.

I reached out on Twitter to complain a little bit about the first blaster of an anticipated product turning out so poorly. Walmart's Twitter rep came back and told me to return the cards for a refund, and Topps' Twitter rep told me to fill out the damage claim form from the website and send it in with all of the required documentation (Proof of purchase, receipt, claim form). I opted for the refund from Walmart over spending more money to ship proof to Topps with the promise of an equivalent replacement based on their evaluation of the damage claim, so I packed up all 51 cards (including the hit, a Naomi mat relic, which will probably just get tossed in the trash with the rest) and tried to explain to the person at the customer service counter what a miscut card is. Eventually I just said that they were printed diagonally instead of straight, and she processed the return.

Here are the odds from the side of the box. There are parallels of the base set, and I think there are also parallels of the inserts. Then come all of the various odds for hits. There are decent odds for pulling an autograph, kiss card, or shirt relic, but most of the hits are going to be mat relics.

Out of two blasters I was able to complete the base set, with a few doubles and a triple or two. Each card features the appropriate logo for that wrestler's era. Names hang from a little banner in the middle of the card. It's a little clunky, I guess, because it splits all the photos right in half. The write-ups on the back of the cards are pretty extensive, which I found refreshing. So often it seems like card backs are just mailed in.

I got one parallel in my boxes, a Silver card of Lana that is numbered # 36 / 50. I guess the background is kind of gray, but this was a subtle parallel that I might not have caught without the serial number printed on the back. They fall 1:6 boxes. There are five insert sets in the product, all with relatively small checklists. I completed all of them from the boxes I opened. The Stephanie McMahon / Triple H card comes from the Power Couples set, which highlights famous couples from the WWE's history. Nikki Bella and Bayley are from the Historic Women's Champions insert, which features wrestlers who have held the various women's belts over the years.

That Charlotte card in the upper left is from the Revolution set, which follows a series of events from 2015 in which the women's title eventually changed hands. The Bayley / Sasha Banks card is from the Rivalries insert. The cards on the bottom row come from The Best Matches, which highlights some of the more famous matches in the women's divisions, focusing mostly on the last couple of years, but including a couple from previous decades. Some of the inserts have parallels, but I don't think I pulled any of them.

My first hit was this Nikki Bella mat relic card, featuring a bit of mat from SummerSlam 2015. This is the base version, numbered # 086 / 199. These relics are pretty decent as far as design goes, and apparently there are different versions for different events. In addition to this one, Nikki Bella has relics from WrestleMania 28 and Money in the Bank 2015.

My second hit was a 1:15 box Kiss card, featuring the lipstick print of Nia Jax. This is the base version, numbered # 67 / 99. These also have parallels, as well as versions that are autographed over the lip print.

Overall this was a pretty fun break. The guaranteed hits are nice, and you have a chance at some pretty good pulls. The mini-master set (base + inserts) isn't too hard to complete, and the write-ups on the cards are robust. I would probably break some more of this in the future.

12 January 2017

Pack of the Day 153: 1999 Skybox WNBA Hoops Box Break

If you just want to read about the cards, skip down to the next copy of the box top photo. Otherwise, continue from here and read about Snowpocalypse and my various personal news.

It snowed here a couple of nights ago, and that was a pain in the butt. On the 10th, I got stuck in the morning on the way out, and I got stuck twice on the way back home. On the way out I got stuck trying to get turned around so I could leave by way of the less treacherous side of our circle. Unfortunately I got too close to the edge and wound up with my back end stuck in a drift. My neighbor appeared with some snow melt and helped me get free. On the way back in after work I probably would have been okay, but I got a little off the center of the road because there was a truck stuck across my path. I got out and helped to push/dig them free, as did some people from the surrounding houses. Then the people helped me get free, but I didn't make it far before I got stuck again. The pushed me back and I got a better run at it, and made it home with my best Ken Block impression. I lost a couple bits from the underside of my car throughout the day, so I have that going for me. That evening my neighbor was stuck trying to get out and I went out to repay his favor from this morning, but they had already done most of the work. I managed to do a little bit, though. Two of my coworkers have flooded garages, one with a bonus leaky roof. They just had that house built, too, so that must be especially painful for them. Hopefully they still have a warranty on the work. The reason I was so motivated to get out on that particular morning was that my wife had a doctor's appointment.

It looks like we are going have a chicken nugget in August. We supposedly weren't able to have kids on our own (our first three were created with the assistance of fertility doctors and medications), but apparently life found a way to give us a surprise baby.

My kids are pretty excited to have a new sibling. They are terrible at coming up with potential names for the baby, though. I am excited, too, even though I did the math and realized that I will be 53 years old when this kid turns eighteen. Hopefully the pregnancy continues to progress like it should, and I also hope that my wife's morning sickness goes away soon, because she is miserable at the moment.

On the 11th, I made it about 200 feet from my house before the ice took the rest of the plastic out from underneath my car and pinned me in place. The guy whose truck I helped to push out on the 10th came out of his house and helped me dig out enough that I could back up and get back to my parking spot, almost losing my bumper in the process. So I missed another day of work. I used the time to complete the process of shopping for a car. In the evening I pushed/dug my wife's vehicle out of the driveway and purchased the vehicle I'd shopped for online. It was relatively painless as far as buying a vehicle goes, and I am happy to have a vehicle with things the old one was missing, like a radio, a functioning heater, headlights that point in the direction of travel, and an intact undercarriage. The new car has a little less power than the old one and it's an automatic instead of a manual, but I just couldn't justify spending the extra money to get the sportiest version of the car.

Throughout much of the night, someone with a truck and a plow came through our neighborhood and cleared out most of the high ridges of built-up snow and ice that people were getting stuck on. I had almost no trouble getting out of the driveway and out of the neighborhood this morning. I had kept much of the road in front of my house clear throughout the snowstorms, so the plow didn't leave a ridge of snow in front of my driveway, but some of my neighbors had decent bumps that will have to be dug out before they can go anywhere. I am just happy to be free to leave my house without having to dig and push in order to get going. In spite of that, there are still lots of neighborhoods that are still snowed in, and my kids had school cancelled again today. I think their extended holiday break is nearing the month mark now, when you combine the scheduled break with the snow days.

And now on to the trading cards. I went out and found a box of 1999 Skybox WNBA Hoops cards as a bit of a nostalgic box break. When the WNBA was first announced, I was pretty excited to get some cards and follow the league, especially the Houston Comets. Unfortunately I never had much access to actually watch any WNBA games, but I did follow the standings and some of the news until I dropped out of hardcore sports fandom for a spell in 2000. I kept up on some of the bigger news items, like the shuttering of the Comets franchise in 2008 and some of the other goings-on, but that's about it.

I did somehow collect quite a few cards from 1999 WNBA Hoops when the set was released. I don't recall exactly how, though, as this isn't the sort of stuff that would have been readily available in my neck of the woods. Maybe I ordered it in from somewhere or just purchased a set from someone? I don't know. But in cleaning out my garage the other week I found some of my WNBA Hoops cards from back then. I don't have any cards from any other WNBA sets , but I have some from this one. Maybe this one came out just prior to me leaving the hobby. I spent much of 2000 in basic training, so I wouldn't have been keeping up with much of anything when all of the 2000 sets released. Anyway, here is the box lid.

And the pack design, which mirrors the box lid. There is a 110-card base set with a handful of insert sets and a chance at some autographed cards.

Here is the base card design. I don't recall the specifics, but for whatever reason I chose Ticha Penicheiro as one of my PC players back then. That collection never really went anywhere, but it seems like I could put together a nice collection now without spending a million dollars. She is currently the all-time WNBA leader in assists and second all-time in steals. Sue Bird could pass her in assists if she keeps playing, though.

The text on the back of these cards is pretty groan-worthy at times. The blurbs are written in a conversational style, as if the person writing them were talking to the player. But they try to use a cool 'street' style (I guess to draw in the hip-hop crowd?) and it just winds up sounding corny. Penicheiro's card isn't close to being the worst of them.

Here are some of the subsets from the set. There are postseason cards for awards and the playoffs, as well as League Leader cards and checklists. Pretty standard stuff. I don't remember where I wrote down the breakdown of cards in the box, but if I am remembering correctly I completed one base set, came within 7 cards of a second base set, and then had a couple dozen triples and a handful or two of quadruples.

Here are a few more base cards for some of the big names of that era. The Dawn Staley card is another subset, Future Phenomenons.

Building Blocks is the most common insert in the box. I pulled 9 of them, so a complete set plus a double of Tammi Reiss' card.

The Talk of the Town inserts seem to feature players who are role models, or who do things outside of the WNBA for their community. I could be wrong, but that seems to be what the card backs are all about. I pulled 3 cards from the 12-card set from this box.

Finally, I pulled two cards from the ten-card Award Winners set. I didn't pull any Autographics cards from this box, but the odds are against that anyway. I have picked up a handful of additional WNBA boxes and cards recently, so expect to see more of this stuff on the blog over the next couple of months.

09 January 2017

Contested Shots 21: Announcing the Winners of My Contest

I've been trying to get to this for most of the day, but it seemed like things kept coming up. I recently announced a contest on this blog for a couple of 2012 SEGA Card-Gen doubles that I'd picked up, an Ichiro and a Yu Darvish:

The Darvish comes with a card case. These card cases (with cards inside) were prizes for the Card-Gen arcade game, redeemable by presenting a card from the machine to the arcade attendant.

According the contest rules, an entry was gained by commenting on the contest post and stating which card you would prefer to win. After the entry period, I would randomize the entries 4 times on Random.org. The person at the top of the list would get the prize of their choice, and the person at the bottom of the list would get the remaining prize.

Here are the 11 entries I received before closing things down, as well as the selection each entrant made:

The Lost Collector - Ichiro
cynicalbuddha - Ichiro
Al Kawamoto - Ichiro
defgav - Ichiro
arpsmith - Ichiro
Sports Card Collectors - Ichiro
Mark Hoyle - Darvish
Angus - Ichiro
John Hazen - Darvish
R Laughton - Ichiro
Tim B. - Ichiro

And now it's time to announce the winners! Here are the results after four randomizations:

Mark Hoyle was the lucky person at the top of the list. He bucked the trend and picked the Yu Darvish card and case as his prize, which means last-place winner cynicalbuddha also won his selected prize, the Ichiro card. I will be in touch soon to get shipping information. Congratulations to the winners and thanks to all for taking the time to enter the contest!

08 January 2017

Contested Shots 19: A Last-Minute Entry for P-Town Tom's Favorite Card of 2016 Contest

I kind of disappeared for the weekend. It wasn't intentional, but I had reasons. Thursday the snow was still pretty bad, so I called in to work again. I knew I would have to go in on Friday, though, as it was my National Guard weekend and we don't really get days off for that. In the morning a neighbor's moving company cancelled on them, so I went and helped them load up their truck (after helping to dig their truck out of the road). Then I spent several hours shoveling our cars out of the snow enough to back them out of the ditch and give us a better chance of at least making it onto the road. Then I did walkways and whatnot, as well as cleaning up the edge of the roof and pulling the gutters off the house. The gutters had needed attention for some time, and they were causing problems.

My wife was able to get out of the neighborhood in the afternoon. Her vehicle has a higher clearance than mine, and she got enough groceries and household stuff to get through a few days. I tried twice to get out of the neighborhood, but both times I was blocked by stuck vehicles, including a garbage truck that was being pulled out by another garbage truck, and had to turn around. I decided that instead of commuting back and forth during the weekend, I would just pack a bag for the full three days and keep trying to get out of the neighborhood until I was successful.

I made it out late Thursday night and slept in my office until work started on Friday. That was pretty uncomfortable, so I booked a room in the barracks for the next two nights. My job on the National Guard side involves talking to a lot of people (I talked to over 400 soldiers this weekend about their pay accounts), and my introverted self was too burnt out by the end of the day to blog or do much of anything but sleep until the next day. More snow fell over the weekend, and it turned to freezing rain and regular rain today. My drive home after work was pretty eventful, as I slid around on the interstate more than I would have liked. I kept the rubber side down, though, and got home without a wreck. Then I shoveled some more snow to keep my car from getting stuck again, as the snow in my parking space was up as high as my bumper. After that I was really exhausted and I sat down to work on a blog post and catch up on reading blogs that I missed over the weekend.

Just about the time I sat down, my wife told me that a friend's house was leaking and they needed some help, so I grumbled for a second and then changed my clothes to go see what I could do. My wife went, too, so that she could help out with watching their kids. I helped shovel their roof around the leaky spot and the driveway around their cars, and once they were taken care of we headed home. It's nice to help out, but I am dragging after the last few days. And that's why I am posting about my favorite card of 2016 just before the January 9th deadline.

This Bartolo Colon card from 2016 Topps NOW is probably my actual favorite card of 2016, but it's shown up on a lot of blog posts in this contest and I don't want to be that guy. It isn't a particularly historical moment, but it did set a minor record (oldest player to hit their first MLB home run) and it was one of the more fun moments in the MLB season. I talked plenty about this card back in June and a little in October, so I won't say much more about it here. It is probably my actual favorite card of 2016.

This is not my favorite card of 2016. I don't even know who this dude is, to be honest. I pulled this autograph card of Andrade "Cien" Almas from a box of 2016 Topps WWE NXT just a little while ago. I was kind of disappointed by this pull, but it turns out it wasn't that bad. I sold it for more than I paid for the box, and I used that money plus a handful of eBay Bucks to land my actual favorite card of 2016 (outside of Bartolo Colon's Topps NOW home run card).

I picked up this on-card NXT Autograph of the WWE's Bayley from 2016 WWE Undisputed. I have been wanting a Bayley autograph for a long time, and I finally was able to get one at the right price. I wanted an on-card autograph because Bayley has a big signature and her sticker signatures look squished. This is the base version, numbered # 152 / 299. I admittedly don't watch a lot of the WWE's offerings, but Bayley's enthusiasm, brightly-colored clothes, her penchant for hugging, and her persona's overall positive vibe have made me a fan.

You can't feel bad after watching that entrance, can you? One of my hobby goals for 2017 was to finally obtain a Bayley autograph, and I got a pretty good one practically before the year even got started. I probably picked up higher-valued cards in 2016 or cards that were more rare, but I think one valid measure of a card is whether you feel happy when you see it in your collection, and in that test this Bayley card is currently near the top of the list. That's why I chose it as my favorite card of 2016.