Friday, October 31, 2014

What eBay Hath Wrought 127: R.A. Dickey (Blue) Gold Leather

I snagged this R.A. Dickey Gold Leather Blue parallel card from Panini Prizm from eBay a little while ago. It is all Refractory Prizmy and blue and gold. Just like on the Josh Reddick autograph I showed off a couple of days ago, Panini got around the lack of MLB licensing by keeping the player photo relatively small. The top of Dickey's cap is cropped out, so you could pretend like there is a Toronto logo up there somewhere. The card is die-cut along the top in the shape of the baseball glove, and the bottom of the card has a little die-cut whoopty to it, I guess just for fun.

The back of the card discusses Dickey's Gold Glove award in 2013. I didn't read the sell sheet or anything for this stuff, so I can only imagine that the other folks in the Golden Leather set also have won awards for their fielding. This card is serially-numbered # 42 / 75, which means it is just one away from being a jersey number 1 / 1. That must be why I got it so cheap on eBay. If it's not # 1 / 1, # 75 / 75, or # 43 / 75, it must not be that great.

I am kind of disappointed that the Royals weren't able to push a couple of more runs across the plate and win Game 7, but somebody has to lose the World Series. And someone has to win:

Wednesday, October 29, 2014

What eBay Hath Wrought 126: 2014-15 NBA Hoops Olajuwon and O'Neal Matchups

In addition to a blowout victory by the Royals over the Giants to extend the World Series to Game 7, last night also marked the start of the NBA regular season. My favorite team, the Houston Rockets, kicked off the season by beating the LA Lakers 108 - 90. It seems like a perfect time to show off a card featuring my favorite basketball player of all time, Hakeem Olajuwon. This is a Matchups insert from this year's Hoops offering from Panini, highlighting Olajuwon's battles with another famous big man, Shaquille O'Neal. This is the Green parallel and happens to be a Christmas Card, numbered # 12 / 25. 

The back of the card discusses the 1995 NBA Finals, when the Rockets swept the Magic in four games to win their second consecutive championship. O'Neal would go on to win rings of his own with the Lakers and Heat, while the Rockets would not reach the Finals again.

Last year I was able to attend my first NBA game in Utah when the Rockets came up to play the Jazz. My Blogger profile picture is actually a cropped photo from that day. I am not sure if I will be able to make it down there for another game this season. There are two games on the schedule that bring them up to Utah. One is this evening and I definitely won't be able to make that one because I am several hours away and I have class tonight. Maybe in my younger years it would be a great adventure, but I have too many responsibilities and obligations for all that right now. The other game is in March. I have no idea what I will be doing in March. It also might be nice to try to catch a game in Portland, but logistically that is more difficult because we don't really have family there.

Monday, October 27, 2014

What eBay Hath Wrought 125: An eBay 1 / 1 Josh Reddick Autograph

I haven't had a Josh Reddick card on here since the first of the month, 

so I thought I would post one I picked up a little while ago. It's an Impact Ink autograph from 2013 Panini America's Pastime. It's a sticker auto, and you can see that the ink is smudged a bit on the 'R' in Reddick, but the asking price was pretty low. It is serially-numbered # 16 / 25, which makes it a "RARE EBAY 1 / 1 PLAYER'S JERSEY NUMBER!!!" card. It's got some decent beard action on it, and since the player picture is tiny and in black-and-white you can hardly notice that there are no MLB logos on it. I guess I am somewhat moving away from my no-Panini bias, as there are a lot of cards out there and they offer something a little different from what Topps churns out. I still wish the major sports leagues would open things up and issue licenses to multiple companies. I think it would open up innovation to have card companies compete on an even level in each sport.

Reddick played in about 2/3 of the A's games this year, and I was surprised to see that he managed 3.5 WAR (Wins Above Replacement) this season. I guess it felt to me like he had kind of a down year, but the numbers seem to say otherwise. He did have a few highlights this year, including some wall-climbing catches and the memorable use of Careless Whisper as his walk-up music for a few games early in the season. The five home runs mentioned on the back of this card would make up nearly half of his homers for the season, as he finished 2013 with twelve.

Sunday, October 26, 2014

Pack of the Day 79: A Box of 2014 Topps Mini Baseball

I opened up some 2014 Topps Mini Baseball recently. There is a discount code out there, MINISALE, that will allow you to get 35% off boxes of 2014 Topps Mini Baseball. So if you wanted to get some of this, don't pay full price. I am short on time, so I didn't scan any of the base cards. There were 225 base cards in the box, with 5 of them being doubles. Since the set reprints all of Series' 1 and 2, that's about 1/3 of the set from a box. You can expect to get doubles and triples if you open more than one box, though. Last year I opened 6 boxes of 2013 Topps Mini Baseball and still had not completed one whole base set. After Box 6 I had 95% of one base set and enough doubles for 80% of a second base set. The base cards look like their full-sized counterparts from the flagship set.

Topps continued their tradition of rehashing one insert set from the original release in mini form. This year that insert is The Future is Now. You get six of these per box, and the set has 50 cards in the checklist. I never got around to finishing last year's Chasing History set, and I don't know if I will try to finish this one either. It's not very compelling. Billy Hamilton is so fast, he started to take off from the group before the scan was done.

There are a few levels of parallel, with a pretty fair guarantee that you're going to see 3-4 Gold and 1-2 Pink per box. The Gold are # / 63 and the Pink are numbered # / 25. Odds on the Black # / 5 are about 1 in 3 boxes, Platinum 1 / 1 are 1 in 16 boxes, and Printing Plates fall about every 4 boxes. In this box I got 4 Gold and 1 Pink, including Greg Holland here. All of the parallels I have seen so far suffer from really bad edges. They look like they were cut out by kindergartners wielding safety scissors.

They are chipped and ragged all around, and I would be hesitant to try to trade them or sell them to other people because they just don't look good. I sent complaints in via their web form and social media, but I imagine I will be met with the same wall of silence I always get. 

The Holland card is # 36 / 63. Last night's game really got away from the Royals, so now the World Series is even again. I wonder if they've got it in them to get back out there and win tonight? If so, they'll probably be relying on the regular bullpen guys and not the dudes they trotted out yesterday.

Roger Kieschnick played with the Diamondbacks in 2014 and was picked up off waivers by the Angels. Alex Rios had a passable year for the Texas Train Wreck, and Ian Kinsler was an All-Star with the Detroit Tigers. Taijuan Walker was injured for much of the year, but had a few good starts near the end of the season.

Serial numbers! Kieschnick is # 25 / 63, Rios is # 06 / 63, Kinsler gets # 34 / 63, and Walker is # 19 / 25. Everyone except Rios gets room on their card for a little snippet about their career. I don't think any of the text changed from the main set to the mini set, but I could be wrong.

And finally, we get to the promised hit! Each box promises either an autograph or a relic card. The relics are 1 in every 1.21 boxes and the autographs are 1 in every 5.92 boxes. Those numbers seem pretty consistent with last year, when I got 1 autograph in 6 boxes. The relic selection seems a lot better this year. Last year I got Brandon Beachy, some Astros relief pitcher (Jordan Lyles), a decent Fred McGriff relic with a pinstripe, and 2 Hank Congers. This box featured Masahiro Tanaka, which seems like a pretty big jump from last year's checklist. I may be able to recoup half the cost of the box from this card, which is pretty good for this product.

Overall I feel kind of neutral on 2014 Topps Mini Baseball. I like the set-building aspect of it, as not many products today seem built for a person to track down a rather large checklist without a ton of fluff. The large number of doubles this tends to generate aren't a huge deal, as people on Zistle seem eager to trade for cards from the Mini brand, as not a lot of people open this stuff and traders will offer stuff I need in exchange for team sets or cards of favorite players. The small-format cards are fun to flip through and sort. The relics are well-designed and the checklist has improved over past iterations.

On the bad side, it will probably take quite a few boxes to complete a set. The terrible quality control on the parallels is extremely disappointing. Topps switched from a smooth paper stock last year to something with some texture to it this year, and it just doesn't cut well. The chipping and bad corners make the cards un-presentable, un-tradeable, and un-salable. The reuse of the Future is Now design is kind of boring and uninspired. It's just an insert that I don't care much about. With so much of this product being a reprint, it would be nice if Topps came up with a new insert set for it.

I wouldn't pay full price for this product, and even with the 35% off coupon code the problems with the colored parallels have me on the fence. It's cheap enough that you could have fun building the set as long as you don't expect a whole lot else out of your packs.

Saturday, October 25, 2014

What eBay Hath Wrought 124: 2014 Topps Tribute R.A. Dickey Relic Card

Here's a pretty nice R.A. Dickey relic card from 2014 Topps Tribute. It's a plain white piece of fabric, but the card has a nice design to it and Topps chose a decent photo for the card. It is serially-numbered as # 56 / 99. I would imagine that means it is some parallel of the Tribute Titans insert set, probably bronze or gold or something.

I have been wondering to myself what the next big thing after relics and autos will be, simply because at some point the card companies are going to run out of relics and cut autographs for the long-retired and deceased big names in sports. I have't come up with a good answer for that question, but I would imagine that is one thing that the card makers have on their minds behind the scenes as they look at the dwindling inventory in their boxes of Babe Ruth bat chips and cancelled checks.

Friday, October 24, 2014

What eBay Hath Wrought 123: Hulk Hogan Peck & Snyder Throwback

I don't know much about Peck & Snyder, but the internet tells me they were an early sporting goods company that is credited with creating the first recognized set of baseball cards in the wayback times. So naturally someone decided to bring them back. I guess a full-on Peck & Snyder product will be released soon, but Leaf Trading Cards sent out a promotional set to dealers as a preview. There are 45 cards in the set, featuring stars from various areas of sport. They all appear to be unlicensed, so you're not going to see a lot of logos or actual team/organization names. So in this case Hulk Hogan's affiliation is merely the Wrestling Club of Georgia rather than the WWF/WWE or WCW or something. The rumor is that about 250 sets were produced.

I waffled back and forth on whether to order a set or just to cherry-pick the Hulk Hogan card. In the end I just decided to grab the Hulkster for my collection. The cards are a little bit longer lengthwise and a little bit thinner widthwise than a standard trading card. This supposedly mirrors the dimensions of the originals. The photos have a sepia filter applied to them, which I think is okay, but they have also been chipped and weathered to artificially age the photos. It's an okay idea, but in the execution of it I just find it a little annoying. I would rather have the clear photos with the sepia filter applied.
The back of the card is pretty plain, featuring some more made-up stuff about the Peck & Snyder Company, a mention of Leaf, and a logo dude in a tall hat. I imagine that when the actual set comes around there might be a little bio on the back or maybe variations of color or design as is the norm with the various tobacco throwbacks out there. As a promotional item this is a pretty cool set, but I don't know if I would go out and buy packs of the stuff unless there was something beyond the base set compelling enough to reel me in.

Thursday, October 23, 2014

What eBay Hath Wrought 122: Hakeem Olajuwon Precious Metal Gems

I was stuck in class all evening yesterday, but I was able to keep up with the game on my phone, and I'm glad that the Royals have got some fight in them. I'm going that they pull this thing off and bring a Championship home. It was good to see my (probably) favorite Royal, Billy 'Country Breakfast' Butler, get some good press for his performance in the game. He didn't have the greatest regular season, and there's talk that he won't be with Kansas City next year. It would be weird for me to see him in a different uniform. But I guess I won't worry about that for now. Hopefully they can grab at least one in San Francisco.

Yesterday I talked about how searching for Hakeem Olajuwon inserts from the 90's can be an exercise in frustration for someone who doesn't have a million-dollar card budget.

One case in point is the Precious Metal Gems insert from the Metal Universe sets of the late 90's. These cards go for ridiculous sums. An eBay search for sold listings turns up a '97-'98 Tim Duncan going for $1735, an Allen Iverson from the same year selling for $1400, Shaquille O'Neal for $1358, Dennis Rodman for $1200, and on and on. There is even a Hakeem Olajuwon that was graded an 8.5 that sold a couple of weeks ago for $720. You'll find that for most of the harder-to-find inserts from that era. They just don't pop up that often.

I don't have that kind of money, but Upper Deck has been inserting Precious Metal Gems into recent Fleer Retro products, and while they can still be expensive depending on who you collect and which rarity level you choose, deals can be had for those who are patient and/or collect the less-popular guys.

And that's how this Hakeem Olajuwon Precious Metal Gems card from '13-'14 Fleer Retro Basketball found it's way into my collection. It is shiny, bright red, and the only real knock against it in my mind is that it features Olajuwon in his college uniform rather than his pro duds. I can overlook it since the city name is the same and the colors are pretty close. Also, it's just a cool card.

This card back design looks very familiar, so Upper Deck either copied the design from a previous Metal set or did a pretty good job of capturing the essence of the brand. This card is numbered # 100 / 150. I believe there are other rarity levels distinguished by color, like most other parallel sets out there. I don't know that I'll be selling it in 16 years for $720, but it's a nice-looking card and I'm happy to have one in my collection.