Thursday, July 24, 2014

N20 Allen & Ginter Prize & Game Chickens 7: White-Faced Black Spanish Hen

I've gone a few days without a livestock-themed post, so here is an old Allen & Ginter card from the N20 Prize & Game Chickens set. I don't know a lot about these chickens. The White-faced Black Spanish breed originated in Spain (surprise!) and the white face of the chicken apparently comes from selectively breeding chickens for larger earlobes, until the earlobes took over the whole face. I guess we do some odd things in the name of beauty.

There are 7 copies of this card in the PSA registry, ranging from 1.5 to 6.0. There are 4 cards graded higher than my copy and 2 cards graded lower, so my card falls on the lower end of the graded population. I am not too worried, though, as the 4.0 cards I have are all quite presentable and retain the artwork and color.

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

What eBay Hath Wrought 94: R.A. Dickey Prizm Blue Jackie Robinson Parallel

I wasn't necessarily seeking this card out, but it sort of fell to me as a cheap low-numbered auction bid. I still have a hard time with the fact that Panini doesn't have a license to use the MLB logos and team names on their cards, so players wind up looking like they're playing in prison uniforms or something. I guess that restriction doesn't apply to the logos that appear on player gear, as you can see logos on R.A. Dickey's glove, especially in the zoomed-in photo on the back of the card.

The lack of logos cause me to like this card a lot less than similar cards for leagues which Panini carries licenses for, like the Hakeem Olajuwon Crusade cards from a couple of posts ago. Even then, it is kind of weird for me to have Panini as the only source of NBA-licensed cards.

When I was buying cards in the late 90's, the big players were companies like Upper Deck, Topps, Fleer, and their sub-brands. To come back in 2013 and find the landscape changed so much was a pretty big shock to the system. I wanted to buy basketball cards, but all I could find were cards made by some sticker company. I am a little more used to it, but I do wish there was a little more competition in the market. Panini has like 47 brands of basketball card out there each year and even though they are different, I think it would feel different if half of those brands were being produced by someone else.

The same thing goes for Topps and baseball. If one or more other companies got a license to make cards with logos, even if the market still had 47 brands it would feel like there was more choice out there, and perception probably has more to do with selling a product to customers than reality.

This blue parallel is intended to honor Jackie Robinson by utilizing his jersey number and limiting the print run of the cards to just 42 copies. I guess it works okay as a tribute, but I would think an insert set of four or five cards detailing the barriers that he broke and the hardships he endured would do more to honor him and act as less of a gimmick. But I went out and bought this card, didn't I? So I guess the gimmick was somewhat effective in separating me from my dollars, which is what Panini probably really cares about.

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

At the Trade Deadline 24: Trade Package from The Lost Collector

A while ago The Lost Collector left a comment on my blog to inquire about trading for a Bowman die-cut I had pulled. I sent it to him along with a couple of other things I hoped he would like. Then he e-mailed me and asked me for my address. You would think it wouldn't take much to send a quick reply to someone with an address, but it sat on my to-do list for a long time. In fact, it took me so long that he must have sourced my address from somewhere else, because a package arrived in my mailbox without me ever getting back to him. Sorry about that. I am horrible about my e-mail, especially when I am in the throes of trying not to fail one of my classes. I don't even know what I will do with my life if I am fortunate enough to complete all of my courses and get my degree. Where will the perpetual sense of impending doom that drives my life come from? I'll probably have to take up a risky hobby or borrow some money from a gangster or something.

Anyway, there was a lot of good stuff in this trade package. I'll kick it right off with a hobby heavy hitter in the form of Ken Griffey Jr. There are a couple of good inserts from this year's Topps set, a Spring Fever card which I believe is from 2013, and a Topps Gallery card from several years ago. The Spring Fever card is probably my favorite out of the four, but that 50 Years of the Draft card is pretty good, too.

Also included were nine loose Houston Rockets basketball cards from various sets in the 90's. These are all guys who I was very familiar with during Phase I of my card collecting life, as for me it was nearly all Rockets all the time. I need to go through my Rockets team box at some point and see what all I still have.

Up next are a couple of star pitchers in the form of Felix Hernandez and Nolan Ryan. The Nolan Ryan card appears to be an oddball issue involving Coca-Cola, which is pretty cool. My Nolan Ryan collection is not that expansive, so these cards are definitely new additions to my card boxes.

The Lost Collector also added to my Manute Bol collection, my Jose Bautista PC, and sent a Sport-Flix card featuring an old-school Denver Broncos uniform on it. I still like the Broncos, but those old uniforms were light years better than the current ones. Also, SPORT-FLIX!

Finally, there was this bagged group of Rockets cards from '93-'94 Upper Deck. I don't know much about how Upper Deck packaged their cards back then, so I am not sure if this is a standard team set or if it was a special distribution or oddball issue of some kind.

That was quite a group of cards, probably more than I deserved for ignoring e-mails and sending just a couple of cards the other way. Thanks for the trade!

Monday, July 21, 2014

What eBay Hath Wrought 93: Olajuwon Crusade

Over the last couple of months I picked up some of Hakeem Olajuwon's more common Crusade parallels from the 2013-14 Panini Crusade Basketball set. I am not sure what they are all officially called, but this Blue/Yellow one is numbered # 007 / 249.

It feels like the Rockets kind of got hosed in free agency this year, making a bunch of moves in order to free up money for Chris Bosh only to have Bosh go back to Miami. Jeremy Lin is gone now, having been traded to the Lakers. Chandler Parsons, my favorite current Rocket, signed with the Dallas Mavericks for a buttload of money and the Rockets (wisely) chose not to match the offer. But the Rockets didn't really bring anyone in who could make them much better this year than they were last year. There is still time for them to make a move, but most of the big names that were available have already gone to a team. I guess that is the problem with gathering assets and making plans that rely on the decisions of other people. Sometimes those people don't want to sign with your team. Then what do you do?

At least I can live in the glory days of the past, basking in the '94 and '95 NBA Championships that came about largely because of Olajuwon's elite play. It's hard to believe that 1994 was 20 years ago.

This Red/Yellow parallel is more common than the previous card, but I like it more. The color scheme matches the Rockets uniform so well, almost like this background was designed with Houston in mind. This card is numbered # 120 / 349.

Sunday, July 20, 2014

Breaking it Down 11: 2014 Allen & Ginter Toronto Blue Jays

A little while ago I bought into a 1/2-case break of 2014 Allen & Ginter, picking up the Blue Jays team slot. There were some pretty good cards in the break, including a red ink # / 10 autograph of Snoop Lion aka Snoop Dogg. That, of course, went to the non-baseball team slot. I got all of these base cards. I do like that cap that Roy Halladay is sporting on his card.

Here are some more base cards. I think the Jays' only SP this year is Brett Lawrie, which seems a bit odd. I don't know how popular he is, but when I think of the Blue Jays' top-billed players he isn't at the top of the list. I don't know how Topps decides who to put in the SP section of the checklist.

I got four minis in the break. I think the Encarnacion and the Lawrie are A&G-back parallels, while I got a regular mini and a black parallel of Jose Bautista. My problem with the black-bordered minis in this year's set is that they don't get cut evenly, so one edge always has more black lines than the opposite edge. It looks out of balance and I don't like it.

I was lucky enough to get one of the hits in the break, a bat relic card of Edwin Encarnacion. It's a pretty nice card. I like the design and all of the border work on it. I also had the Blue Jays team slot in the Crackin' Wax charity full-case break. You can see a recap of the cards I got from that break in the base cards section above, so I probably won't be doing a separate post when they arrive. Edit: I may not have given Topher from Crackin' Wax enough credit there. I got his cards in the mail yesterday and there probably will be enough for a post. I also forgot about his skunk protection plan, in which he credits you some cash if you don't get a hit in his break. Since it was a charity break and I felt bad for complaining here, I donated my skunk protection money back to his Big Brothers Big Sisters link on the Crackin' Wax website.

And with that, I am probably about done with Allen & Ginter for this year, outside of participating in Gint-a-Cuffs and collecting a few of the mini insert sets. I didn't want to try to build the full set by buying packs, so I just ordered the base set + SPs and all of the regular-sized inserts (The Pastime's Pastimes, Air Supremacy, Natural Wonder, The World's Capitals, Festivals & Fairs, Fields of Yore) from eBay as a lot from a case breaker. I am not sure how I will source the minis I want, though.

Saturday, July 19, 2014

What eBay Hath Wrought 92: Dunn at Last

I think I mentioned this a few times before, but I have been working on the Power Players Code partial parallel set for 2014 Topps. It's a 220-card set, with 110 cards from each series. The cards have codes on the backs which can be registered at the Power Players website and activated for a chance to win various prizes.

Out of the 110 cards in each series, there are 55 cards found only in Hobby packs and 55 cards found only in retail packs. The Hobby cards were relatively easy to get as the case breakers would offer them on eBay as a set within a few days of the product release. No one breaks Retail in bulk, though, so that portion of each series had to be put together piecemeal. Adam Dunn and Alex Wood were the last couple of holdouts for me in completing the set. I finally got the Alex Wood card when a handful of them were put up on eBay at around the same time. The Dunn card proved scarce, but I got it as part of a lot, as that was the only copy to show up on eBay for about a week. It wasn't available on Sportlots or JustCommons, either. Believe me, I was checking.

Anyone who completes the full set will be entered in a drawing to win one of five sets of autographed Power Player cards. I don't know how many cards are in the set or who the signers are, which I suppose is a little concerning. But hopefully it is an awesome prize. The leaderboard on the Power Players website leads me to believe that 20-30 people have completed the set or are within a few cards of completing it. I figure a 5 in 30 chance at a set of autographed cards is a pretty good shot. I have won 3 Gold parallel cards through entering my codes on the website, but I haven't ordered them in yet. There are a few up on eBay now. It looks like they have a Refractor-style gold finish, sort of like the Gold parallels in the 2014 Topps Archives set. They are also numbered out of 75, which is actually better than I was expecting out of that prize.

Now that I have the set completed, I just have to sit and wait until October 1st to see if I won any big prizes. I hate waiting.

Friday, July 18, 2014

2013 SEGA Card-Gen Extravaganza 8: Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim

Well, here is the next team in the queue for the 2013 SEGA Card-Gen set, the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim. That team name is ridiculous and makes me tired. I guess that's why most trading card sets just list them as the Angels without a city name. This is one night out of the week when I have a chance to get to bed early, so I am probably going to blow through this post pretty fast.

The same seller I bought my set from has another one up on eBay right now. It didn't sell at the price I paid for it the last time he listed it, so he actually has it listed a bit lower, at around $0.51/card.

The Angels get 14 cards in their team set, one over the average of 13 cards per team overall. They start off, as usual, with the catcher position. Chris Iannetta gets the nod here. For 2014 it looks like he is in a pretty even timeshare for playing time with Hank Conger.

At first base, we have Albert Pujols and his 8-star rating. I haven't heard much about him this year, and was actually surprised to see him ranked in the Yahoo! fantasy baseball rankings as the 6th-ranked first baseman and 15th-ranked batter in the league. I thought he would be ranked lower than that, but even being ranked in the second tier of first basemen and just outside the first round of the fantasy draft is a pretty big drop from his peak years as a perennial first or second pick overall.

It would appear that I am completely out of touch with the Angels this year. As with Pujols, I thought Kendrick would be ranked much lower than he is. I avoided him in drafts this season because he has burned me many times before, but this season so far he is the 8th-ranked second baseman in the game. I guess this just isn't my year for fantasy baseball.

Alberto Callaspo is with the Athletics this year, but he is out on the DL with a hamstring injury right now. He hasn't been all that great anyhow, but he's had some serviceable years in his career.

Aybar is one Angel that has made it onto one of my fantasy rosters this year. He is the 5th-ranked shortstop in the game this season (effectively tied for 4th with 'Sexy' Alexei Ramirez, as there is a big gap between number 3 Hanley Ramirez and number 6 Jimmy Rollins with Erick Aybar and Alexei Ramirez right in the middle with very similar statlines).

Here is the guy who is being hailed as the current face of baseball, Mike Trout. He is also the current #1 player in fantasy baseball. Trout seems like a pretty personable guy. As with all of the Angels, though, I don't keep very good track of him.

Josh Hamilton had a nice strong run with Texas from 2008-2012, with 5 straight All-Star Game appearances and an MVP award in 2010. He didn't leave the Rangers on the best of terms, and he had a pretty lousy year in 2013 compared to the numbers he'd been putting up previously. This year he is playing better, but still probably not $17 million better, especially with a long DL stint due to an injured thumb ligament.

Mark Trumbo had three pretty good years with the Angels as a power-hitting kind of guy and then got traded to the Diamondbacks, where he broke his foot. He hit a buttload of home runs during his rehab stint, so he might have a strong close to 2014.

And now we get to the pitching part of the team set. Jered Weaver is certainly letting someone know something in this picture, or maybe he's merely getting a good look at a booger he'd just picked. He's been a very good pitcher for quite a while, although maybe this year he hasn't been quite as good as in the past.

I am going to paint Wilson with the same brush as I did Weaver. Like the back of his card says, he is a 'Quality Starter.' He is also on the DL with a sprained ankle.

I don't know why I like Tommy Hanson, but I do. He played for the Braves for a few years, regressing each season, continued that trend with the Angels in 2013, and signed with the Rangers in 2014. That didn't work out, so now he is with the Chicago White Sox minor league system. 

Scott Downs was a pretty good reliever for quite a while, acting as the replacement closer for a couple of teams during his career. Halfway through 2013 he was traded to the Braves. This season he has spent time with the White Sox and the Royals, not pitching very effectively for either team. He's 38 years old, so I would imagine he's about done with his career at this point.

Burnett was a pretty good reliever for the Nationals, and signed with the Angels in 2013. He played a little bit in 2013 and injured his arm, taking him out for the season. He pitched 2/3 of an inning in 2014 and aggravated the injury again, ending another season.

Ernesto Frieri was acquired in a trade with the Padres and became the closer, a role he held down pretty well through 2012 and 2013. His high strikeout rate made him a good closer to own in fantasy baseball, even if his ratios were a little high at times. In 2014 he has been a mess, and the Angels traded him to the Pirates, where he has continued to be a mess.

And that does it for the Angels.

2013 SEGA Card-Gen Directory