31 August 2013

What eBay Hath Wrought 10: More Blue Sparkle

I won an auction for some blue sparkle parallels from 2013 Opening Day. It was one of those auctions that offers up a list of card numbers and lets you pick 20 of them for whatever price the bidding ends at.

I knew that there were 36 cards on the list and had planned to ask what the seller was asking for additional cards above the 20 listed in the auction. Before I could send off my message, though, the seller sent me a note saying that any additional cards could be added at $0.33 apiece, which was even lower than the final bid on the first 20 cards. I think that ended at around $0.50/card. So I got all 36 cards I needed from the list. That is a nice big chunk out of the set, but there is still plenty to go.
After I added these cards to my binder I even had one page that was all the way filled, so I've just got 23.5 more pages with gaps in them. I've been thinking about trolling COMC for some of the missing cards, but I don't really want to pay the asking prices on the big-name players yet. But I think I could fill a lot of other spots for a decent price. At this point I have to look through most eBay lots and calculate how many cards I need in the lot vs. how many I don't need and determine my max bid based on only the cards I need. That tends to leave me a bit short when competing with people who want the whole lot. I try not to get bidding fever anymore, instead setting a price I am willing to pay up front and bidding just that amount.

I still really like the blue color on these cards. I kind of wish Series' 1 and 2 had the same colored parallel in place of that Emerald set, which just doesn't do it for me. I guess on the good side, that's one less set for me to try to finish.

Gint-A-Cuffs V: Pack 17

Yuck. This was a terrible pack.

Scoring Cards:
Phoenicians Civilizations of Ages Past: +3
Mark Teixeira (Yankees): -1
A-Roid (Yankees): -1
Lou Gehrig (Yankees): -1

Pack 17: 0 points
Running Total: 126 points
Per Pack Average: 7.41 points
Pace: 185.25 points

30 August 2013

Pack of the Day 16: 2013 Bowman Baseball Retail Box Pack 6

Well, here is another 9-card pack. The good news from this one is that I needed most of the cards to fill holes in my binder, so it at least brought me closer to completing the set. I kind of like that posed Didi Gregorius shot.

I could have sworn that I had that Carlos Correa card, but I didn't have the base card. I had the Chrome and at least one colored parallel, so maybe I was just used to seeing the picture.

The Gold parallel for this pack is Jason Motte, who is sporting a very nice beard.

Gint-A-Cuffs V: Pack 16

Scoring Cards:
Egyptians Civilizations of Ages Past: +3
St. Augustine Inquiring Minds: +3
Melky Cabrera SP (My Favorite Team): +3

Pack 16: 9 points
Running Total: 126 points
Per Pack Average: 7.88 points
Pace: 196.88 points

29 August 2013

Pack of the Day 15: 2013 Bowman Baseball Retail Box Pack 5

Continuing the 2013 Bowman Retail box break, we've got another bunch of cards. First up is the usual four veteran cards from the base set. Not much of note going on here, but pitching apparently makes Barry Zito want to cry. Sad Zito is sad. Maybe he is feeling left out because the bullpen is having an ice cream social and he is stuck out there working on the mound. 

For our prospects we get the All-Derp Team, with Mondesi and Medrano both showing a lot of teeth while doing baseball things. We get a couple of Chrome cards in every pack, too, unless there is an insert. If there is an insert we might get one Chrome card and an extra regular card. If there isn't an insert then we just get nine cards. I know I am beating a dead horse, but why are there only nine cards in the packs without an insert when the small print on the pack tells us there are ten cards per pack, but there might be fewer if you get certain inserts? Bowman is lost in backwards land, I think. Also, the Chrome cards are technically considered a parallel, but I am treating them as part of the base set and collecting them as such. So there. It's my collection and I can do what I want with it.

Since there is an insert in this pack, I got the promised ten cards. The Hometown parallel is pretty neat, with the flag of the player's home state/country serving as a background. If I didn't have enough set collections going already I would consider chasing it, but I am not going to. The team logos on crotches theme that this set has going on is really distracting to me. David Ortiz' dangling Red Sox are the worst so far, but they're not the only culprits. A Brandon Beachy Gold parallel rounds out Pack 5.

Gint-A-Cuffs V: Pack 15

Scoring Cards:
Olivia Culpo Base Card: +1
Jose Altuve Across the Years: +2
R.A. Dickey Base Card (My Favorite Player, My Favorite Team): +5

Pack 15: 8 points
Running Total: 117 points
Per Pack Average: 7.8 points
Pace: 195 points

28 August 2013

Raz' Ravings 2: I Didn't Support My Local Shop

A little over a week ago my family and I ventured out into the local metropolis to look for the Hobby version of the My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic Series 2 card binder. We spent much of the day driving around and checking places that might have it in stock, but to no avail. The Retail version was pretty easy to find, showing up on the shelves at Wal-Mart. After we got home I found the binder in question on eBay for less than the MSRP, so we basically spent much of the day wasting gas and time, even though it was good to spend the day with my wife and kids. Between work and school I don't get to do much of that.
Near the end of the excursion my wife mentioned that she wanted to go to the fabric store and asked me if I felt like going to the card shop. Of course I did! The card shop is out of the way, so I don't get there too often. I went in and had a look around, eyeballing a couple of products I've enjoyed lately, 2013 Allen & Ginter's and 2013 Press Pass FanFare Racing.
The price on Allen & Ginter's was $120 + tax per box and the guy wanted $150 + tax per box for FanFare. I weighed the A&G in my mind briefly, but I know I can get a box online for around $82 anytime I want, and under $80 when Dave & Adam's has it as a Daily Deal on their site. And I know I can get the FanFare box for $99.95 whenever I want, and even less than that if I am patient (I am never patient). That's a 53% markup on the A&G and 59% on the FanFare. I would love to support the little guy, but not when the difference on a box of cards will buy me another whole box of lower-end product or most of another box of mid-end product.
My wife suggested that I buy my cards online and purchase hobby supplies from the local shop. The last time I was in there I asked for a box of card pages and the guy was fresh out. He says he doesn't get them in very often.
I considered buying some packs from the shop, but there weren't really any boxes open on the shelves. I don't want to have the guy bust open a new box of cards just so I can sample a pack or two of product. I think he gets most of his business from people who come in and buy boxes of stuff, maybe people who haven't discovered or don't trust the internet?
Of course, I ran into the same sort of pricing at the card shop in Portland, but I was able to find some singles at a decent price, which is something the local shop is sorely lacking. I have a hard time understanding what the audience for this stuff is. It is also much harder to browse the singles in the local shop than it was in the shop in Portland. The storefront is much smaller, so many of the cards are in stacks under the glass with Post-its on top of the stack saying what kind of cards comprise the pile. In the Portland shop all of the cards were laid out next to each other or slightly overlapping, so you could browse the whole selection without asking over and over for the case to be opened.
Ultimately I walked out of the shop without making a purchase. I just can't justify paying 50-60% more just to pay this dude's overhead. Sure, card money is supposed to be expendable income, but I like to get the most I can for my hobby dollar, and the local shop just doesn't cut it as far as selection, price, or customer service.

Gint-A-Cuffs V: Pack 14


Scoring Cards:
Suleiman the Magnificent Heavy Hangs the Head: +3
Potala Palace Palaces & Strongholds: +3
Ozzie Smith SP: +2

Pack 14: 8 points
Running Total: 109 points
Per Pack Average: 7.79 points
Pace: 194.64 points

27 August 2013

Breaking it Down 1: 2013 Allen & Ginter's Two-Box Break by Judson at My Cardboard Habit

Judson of My Cardboard Habit hosted a two-box break of 2013 Allen & Ginter's recently. I bought in for the Blue Jays, and through a trade acquired the Royals as my random other team. I also bought the Martial Mastery spot.

I got 15 base cards in total between the two teams. No R.A. Dickey, but I pulled him from my Gint-A-Cuffs box so it's not a huge loss.

I forget which players are SP cards, but I'm pretty sure I got a couple of the short prints as there are a couple of guys on each team who are SPs. I think Melky Cabrera is one of them.

I did pretty well in this break with the Martial Mastery inserts, with 6 of the 10 coming out of the boxes. I've picked up a couple of the others from my two boxes and another box break, but I am still two short on the set. It was a pretty good dollar spent on that spot.

I also got a couple of minis, one from each team. I don't think there is anything special about the minis (i.e. A&G, black-bordered, etc.) This was an Anthony Gose hot break for me, with the base card, the mini... 

...and one of the six hits coming in the form of a Framed Mini Autograph card. I think it's funny that Gose is in practically the same pose on his base card and the autograph, but he happens to be smiling in the autograph picture and looking pretty serious on the base card.

All in all, it was a pretty good break. I've since added another Gose auto to my collection, so I have a full-fledged PC going on now. Thanks to Judson for the break. I had a good time watching as he posted the packs on his blog.

Gint-A-Cuffs V: Pack 13

I believe I am now out of the running for 1st or 2nd place in Gint-A-Cuffs V, with my box's score falling in at 204 points total, which would be the 3rd-highest score out of the current reported scores. For a while it looked like I might be able to grab 2nd place, but Play at the Plate pulled a ridiculous 40-odd point pack that put him well ahead of the competition. I've still got half a box to go as far as posting scores, and I will probably stick to this 1 pack/day format, but I am going to preschedule all of the posts and won't mind if no one follows them too closely. But by my count, my box finished out at 204 points.
Scoring Cards:
Pope Francis I Base Card: +1
Nick Saban Base Card: -1
Adam Richman Base Card: -1
Cal Ripken Jr. Across the Years: +2
Mother Teresa Peacemakers: +3

Pack 13: 4 points
Running Total: 101 points
Per Pack Average: 7.77 points
Pace: 194.23 points

26 August 2013

Workin' at the Card Shop 1: A Trip to Portland, Oregon

Last week was a pretty busy week for me. It was finals week for my summer semester classes, and my grandmother somewhat unexpectedly died, so we had to travel to Portland, Oregon to attend the funeral and visit some friends. So if you have commented on my blog and/or sent me an e-mail recently with no response, I will be getting to all of that soon. This week should be less busy for me on the life side of things, which will hopefully open up some hobby time for me before the Fall semester starts up next week.

While in Oregon I stopped by one card store, The Sportsroom at Mitchell's, located in Beaverton. The selection was pretty good, far outmatching the size of my wallet. I had to be somewhat selective with what I bought. I was wearing my blue Kansas City Bo Jackson Nikes, so I had to pick up at least one of his cards.

It's a bit beat up and barely worth the cardboard it's printed on, but I love the 1990 Topps baseball design, so I bought it. The shop had a shelf covered with wax boxes from that era. If there had been a box or two of this set I'd have picked it up in a heartbeat, but it was not to be.

They had a bunch of relics and autographs sitting in a clearance box, so I grabbed this Allen & Ginter bat relic of Adam Jones. It was the only thing that really caught my eye, although I didn't sort through all of the stuff that was there.

I pulled a few Randy Johnson cards out of a box of Mariners cards. When first looking at this card, it appears that Johnson is jumping to make a catch, but then you realize that he's standing on the ground. At least that is the illusion I have. He's a tall dude.

I grabbed the Upper Deck card mostly for the picture on the back and the Score card because I like the picture on the front for whatever reason. I can't explain it like some of the other folks in the blogosphere can. Maybe it's just because he looks kind of funny all folded up sitting next to the bat rack. At first glance I though he might be wearing a fanny pack in the picture, but it is just a fold in his jacket.

The back of the Upper Deck card shows Johnson behind the camera, a subset of cards championed over at the Dime Boxes blog. It also showcases his jersey number 34, which happens to be my absolute favorite. Surprising that so many of my favorite players from multiple sports wear that number.

My big pickup on the day, though, was this 1975 Topps Nolan Ryan. It's not in great shape and the centering leaves a lot to be desired, but I don't tend to notice those things all that much. I have no idea if I overpaid or underpaid for the card. Apparently it's a pretty popular issue from that set. I like the bright colors and the fact that the card is 6 years older than I am.

The price tags on the cards came out to something like $15.50, with the bulk of that tied up in the Ryan card. I also picked up a Jumbo pack of 2013 Topps Football and a copy of Beckett Sports Monthly because it is the annual Supercollector issue and I like to read about other folks' collections. The guy at the shop rang up the singles above at $9.00, so I got it all for the asking price on the Ryan card.

I am pretty happy with my buys. I don't know much about vintage cards and I am pretty wrapped up in trying to fill out my 2012 and 2013 sets, so older cards aren't something I would tend to search out online. It was fun to browse through the shop and look at all the stuff in the cases. They had a game wheel that you could spin to try to win different prizes, mostly autograph and memorabilia cards, with some super card as the grand prize, but I decided not to try my luck with that.

Gint-A-Cuffs V: Pack 12

Scoring Cards:
Rickey Henderson SP: +2
Jimmy Carter Peacemakers: +3
Buckingham Palace Palaces & Strongholds: +3

Pack 12: 8 points
Running Total: 97 points
Per Pack Average: 8.08 points
Pace: 202.08 points

25 August 2013

What eBay Hath Wrought 9: Swatch Out!

I picked up a few different memorabilia cards from various sources. First up is this R.A. Dickey from Topps Tribute, commemorating his back-to-back one-hitters last year. I guess this is a parallel of the regular Commemorative Cuts insert, with the blue color and slightly lower numbering setting it apart. I would really like to pick up an R.A. Dickey memorabilia card with some color on the fabric, but anything more than gray or white tends to command a premium.

I also tossed in a bid on this 2012 Allen & Ginter Mike Morse Framed Mini Relic. I kind of like the black border, and for $0.99 the price was right.

Then we've got a McKayla Maroney Framed Mini Relic from this year's Allen & Ginter set. It would be a better card if Topps had played up the internet meme angle and featured her 'not impressed' face. Either way, this has proven to be one of the more popular cards in A & G.

And finally I have another one of those cards that I tossed in a bid on and it stuck. I guess serially-numbered cards aren't what they used to be. I may be wrong, but I thought Hamilton was somewhat popular, and a card with less than 10 copies out there might be a more popular item. It might make decent trade bait, I suppose.

Gint-A-Cuffs V: Pack 11

The Zack Cozart mini gives this pack a decent total, so I have that to be happy about. It brings my average per pack up to 8 points for the first time since pack 3.

Scoring Cards:
Tyler Skaggs Across the Years +2
Zack Cozart A&G Ad-Back No Number Mini: +11

Pack 11: 13 points
Running Total: 89 points
Per Pack Average: 8.09 points

24 August 2013

Pack of the Day 14: 2013 Bowman Baseball Retail Box Pack 4

So far this has been a pretty pedestrian box. This pack also has ten cards in it. I guess it is a little odd that I consider a pack that has the promised number of cards to be a bonus, but there it is. First up we get our four veteran players.

Then we have four prospects, a couple in regular form and a couple in Chrome form. No one I've heard of, really, but that isn't really saying much.

The Gold parallel is Adrian Gonzalez, watching a ball fly through the air.

And now we have the return of Josh Beckett passing out mid-pitch, with the questionable facial hair. This is the Orange parallel, which is not a shiny Refractor, but is numbered out of #/250. I wonder if there is a combination of Josh Beckett collectors, Dodgers collectors, and Orange parallel set collectors that adds up to more than 250 people demanding this card? That's the thing I question with a lot of these serial-numbered inserts. Are there enough collectors who want a particular card to justify putting a number on it? I guess a lot of them are lost due to product sitting on shelves, being opened by people who don't care about them, and damage of one kind or another.

I guess I am a little bit smitten by serial numbers on cards. They tell us there were only 50 of each Allen & Ginter's no-number back minis, but I don't get the same rush out of pulling one of those as I would from pulling one with a little foil 43/50 imprinted on the front or the back of the card. Anyway, that's something I've thought about over the last couple of months as I've opened packs and looked at cards online.

The prices online seem to bear me out on my opinion that the numbered cards don't really matter unless there is a very popular player involved. If you're a Harper, Trout, Cespedes, or Puig fan, then you're out of luck unless you can pull one of these from a pack. If you're a Beckett fan, you can probably get one pretty easily.

Gint-A-Cuffs V: Pack 10

Scoring Cards:
Lindsey Vonn Black-Bordered Mini: +3
Venus One Little Corner: +3
Cole Hamels SP: +2

Pack 10: 8 points
Running Total: 76 points
Per Pack Average: 7.6 points

23 August 2013

What eBay Hath Wrought 8: Auto-Matic

I found a few autographed cards on eBay over the last couple of weeks. These were generally acquired as parts of bigger lots of attractive cards that had no bids, but I lumped all the autographs together into one post. First up are a couple of Panini Past & Present Elusive Ink cards of Gheorghe Muresan and Muggsy Bogues, respectively the tallest (7'-7")and the shortest (5'-3") NBA players in history. It is somewhat disappointing that both autographs run off of the stickers a little, and especially on the Muresan auto there is a little smearing where the signature meets the edge of the sticker. I have seen better examples on eBay, but the sellers are asking way too much for them. That makes 3 of the 13 autographed cards that Muresan has issued for me, basically the three that are readily seen for sale. I don't know how many autographed cards Bogues has out there, but I am not really seeking a comprehensive player collection for him like I am for Muresan.


I also picked up Bowman Sterling autos of a few young players. It's nice that the first two are on-card. Daniel Straily is a decent pitcher in the Oakland organization, and Anthony Gose is looking to get a little more playing time now that Jose Bautista is on the DL for a while. I got an Anthony Gose auto from the 2-box Allen & Ginter break over at My Cardboard Habit, so I pretty much have an Anthony Gose autograph collection now. I believe he deserves a spot on The Squiggle Squad.


Tommy Hanson seems to have regressed each year he's been in the league, but I still remember him as the hot young arm coming in to the Braves rotation. The card is pretty busy, but the design helps to minimize the presence of the sticker autograph instead of an on-card signature.

J.R. Towles played a few stints on the Astros between 2007 and 2011, when he was let go by the Astros, and appears to still be toiling away in the minors as part of the Dodgers organization after short runs in the minor leagues with the Twins and the Cardinals.

Outside of sports, I also got this card signed by Peter David, famous mostly for his long runs writing the Incredible Hulk and X-Factor comics for Marvel. He is just finishing up his second run on X-Factor, with that series coming to an end (again). I am not entirely sure why they had him sign a card featuring Ultron. As far as I know, he doesn't have a strong connection with the character. Oh well, at least I have a Peter David autograph. His name is even pretty legible, unlike the athlete signatures above.