29 October 2013

Just the Commons, Ma'am 1: First Order from Justcommons

I recently made my first trip to Just Commons, an e-tailer of baseball trading cards. The emphasis seems to be on providing the collector with a wide selection of base cards for filling out sets, but there are plenty of inserts available, too. The prices are very good for the most part, without the hassle of sorting through eBay listings and managing bids or the inflated commission surcharges and shipping costs of ordering through COMC or from multiple sellers through Sportlots. I got these seven cards for about half of the going rate on eBay for just the Cal Ripken Jr. card. Some prices on the site approach the higher prices of other sites, but there are a lot of steals to be had, with free shipping on orders over $10 and a 10% discount on orders over $50.

I actually ordered a few more cards than what I got. When I sent my order I had double-clicked a couple of the cards and ordered two copies of them, so I sent a message on the site to have them removed from my shipment. I got an e-mail back stating that they had been notified that I had ordered more stock than they had on-hand of those cards and that another card or two from my order were missing from their physical inventory. They issued a refund for the missing cards. There were also a couple of cards from my second order that wound up not being in their physical inventory, so that is something to look out for. Don't mark a card off of your checklists until they process and ship the cards.

When the cards arrived they were in a stack of penny sleeves wrapped in bubble wrap inside of a padded envelope. There weren't any toploaders or cardboard spacers in place to keep the cards safe. Eddie Mathew, Eddie Murray, and Ted Williams were on the front of the stack and all had touches of foil chipped off of their bottom right corners. Ripken, Skaggs, and Darvish were next in the stack and all arrived unscathed, but tail-end Charlie, Marco Scutaro had rather large patches of foil rubbed off on three out of his four corners. I will probably have to seek out a replacement for him in my binder, as the card is pretty ugly. So that was a little disappointing. I can understand not putting every card in a toploader, especially when many of the prices on base cards and common inserts are between $0.10 and $0.50, but I would expect some kind of cardboard or filler cards to stiffen the packaging and protect the order. When my next order comes in I will have something to compare this package against and see if I get more damaged cards.

In spite of having varying amounts of damage to 4/7 cards in my order and the online inventory not being extremely accurate, I did fill in some key hole in my Topps Archives Gold parallel set at very good prices. I can overlook the chipped foil on three of the cards, but that Scutaro card is ugly. In person it looks much worse than it does in the scan.

28 October 2013

I Got it at Sportlots 2: Ozzie Smith

I got this Ozzie Smith 2013 Topps Archives Gold parallel in the mail the other day, which was a card ordered from Sportlots. It is numbered #96/199. The card brings me up to 164/200 cards in-hand and 182/200 counting cards that are on their way to me. I am up over 90% done with the set, but all of the easy cards are out of the way and I've got some pretty expensive and hard-to-find cards left to get. The main offenders are Manny Machado, Ryne Sandberg, Shelby Miller, Ken Griffey Jr., Giancarlo Stanton, and Tony Gwynn. I was able to get Mike Trout for a relatively good price and Cal Ripken Jr. for about 15% of the going rate, but those are other posts for another time.

I like Sportlots fairly well, but it suffers from having to pay a lot of different sellers for shipping costs whenever you want to order a number of cards. And there isn't a really easy or intuitive way to track who you are paying shipping to and what your fianl cost will be without adding stuff to your cart and looking at what each seller is charging. Many of the prices seem to beat out COMC, though, which seems to have the highest prices in general when compared to Justcommons, Sportlots, and eBay. It does help to shop around, as prices can vary widely between the sites, even from day to day.

27 October 2013

What eBay Hath Wrought 25: A Shiny Purple Dickey

I got a card from eBay in the mail yesterday, which by the time this is posted will be two days ago. The card is this R.A. Dickey Purple Refractor from 2013 Bowman Chrome. It is numbered #69/199, to which this International Man of Mystery says, "Yeah, baby!"

I'm not sure if I own his base card in this set, but that doesn't matter all that much. I'm sure I will pick it up eventually. I actually have quite a few more Dickey cards on the way, which I will be posting here. The Superfractor of this particular card is sitting out there on eBay right now, but the seller wants $299.99 + $2.79 shipping for it. The seller is taking offers on the card, but I don't know how hard they'd listen to an offer for 1/3 the asking price or less. I would imagine that if I am going to seek out one of those Rainbow collections of a player, it will have to avoid the Superfractor and maybe even anything numbered to 5 or less. I guess if the Superfractor became available at something less than a car payment I would have to think about it.

24 October 2013

Pack of the Day 39: A Clearance Blaster Box of 2013 Topps Archives

Target has 2013 Topps Archives on clearance right now, although in some stores it isn't advertised. You can take the packs or boxes to the scanners in the store, though, and confirm that the sale is going on. Less than $2 a pack for a product that I am still trying to complete? Okay!

First off are some base cards. I have finished the base set aside from a few of the pesky Short Print Fan Favorites. I tried to pick my two favorite cards from each of the four designs, but I wasn't able to stick to it in all cases.

First up are two smiling guys with bats on their shoulders. Put an ax head on that bat and Adam Dunn is doing a pretty good lumberjack imitation. Marte needs a little more growth on his face before he can be a lumberjack, but he looks plenty happy, and I like baseball cards with happy guys on them. Life's too short to frown on your baseball card. In useless trivia for today, Dunn played in one game for my fantasy baseball team this past season, going 0/3 with no counting stats. When he goes on a tear it is something to behold, but I didn't hold on to him long enough to let him get going.

Since I couldn't find two cards I really liked in this blaster from the 1990 Topps design, I chose three from the 1982 block. First up are two smiling Reds, Joe Morgan and Joey Votto. And our Honorable Mention goes to Jered Weaver, who just needs a nifty laser background for this to be a true glamour shot.

If I had skills, I would be able to put Jered Weaver into this photo, but instead you will just have to imagine him in the place of this young Blue Jays fan. For more super-lazered portraits, check out We Have Lasers!!!!!!!!!! If you didn't belong to the generation for which laser portraits were a thing, you missed out. You probably need counseling for it now that you know what you missed.

Billy Butler seems like a happy guy, and I just love blue uniforms, whether they are on Blue Jays, Royals, or Denver Broncos (who lost to the Colts Sunday night but I forgive them a little bit). Jake Peavy is in another nice posed shot that could benefit from the laser background treatment.

There weren't many decent shots to choose from in the 1990 design from this blaster box, but the Hyun-Jin Ryu card makes up for the shortfalls of the other cards. He looks like a happy guy, and I am digging that blue glove he's got. The background kind of looks like they took it from a 1970's baseball card, though, with those lightpoles in the background from what I'm assuming is a parking lot. 

And now, on to the inserts.

First up is all the stuff I already had copies of, including both Short Prints from the box. They're pretty snazzy cards, but I can't use them. I hope Eric Davis just hit a home run. The dude in the background and all the folks in the crowd seem to be pretty focused on the ball, so there is hope there. Howard Johnson has got a nice beard getting started there, and those pants really accentuate that he bought his cup in size Large. My mom worked in a sporting goods store when she was younger, and she said a lot of guys would come in to buy cups for their various sports, and when asked what size they were looking for, they inevitably smiled and said, "Large." But for some reason they sold a lot more Mediums than they ever did Larges. 

Well, I sure am glad to have two of this 4-in-1 sticker. Yuck. At least Rivera's in the right frame of mind for this post, as he's posing nicely with a baseball in-hand. But that's not enough to save this from being a Yankee card. Ten points to Slytherin.

I guess if I had to pull Tall Boy doubles, these are the guys to pull doubles of. Trout seems pretty happy, which almost makes up for Bundy's sad face. I guess he is feeling a little...BLUE! (Because the background of his card is blue in color.) I should not write posts after 10 pm.

Now that all the doubles are out of the way, here are the cards I didn't have. Two All-Stars fill up a couple spots in my binder. That's always a bonus. I'm down to just four more needed from this particular insert set.

I have had some pretty good luck with these Gallery of Heroes cards lately, even if many of them play for New York teams. Getting Babe Ruth is a pretty good pull, even if it irritates me a little that this is the same photo they used for his base card, just cropped differently. I didn't have it before, and now I do.

And finally, I pulled a Fan Favorites autograph of Fred Lynn on the 1975 Topps card design, so it is plenty colorful. He also has a really good signature. Every letter is there, although I probably wouldn't have guessed the first name if I didn't know it already. I'm no Red Sox fan and I really don't know this dude from Adam, but it's a good-looking card and sure beats another 4-in-1 sticker of a bunch of Yankees or Giants.

23 October 2013

Pack of the Day 38: 2013 Bowman Retail Box Break Pack 13: Double Vision

Pack 13 of the box gave us four base cards, but only three are shown here for now. Ian Desmond was pretty good in relief of Everth Cabrera on my fantasy baseball team this year, giving me 100 solid games. My team log tells me he went 106/382 for a .277 batting average with 53 runs, 11 home runs, 52 RBIs, and 15 stolen bases while on my team. A nice balanced contribution from a spot that's hard to get stats in, especially if you want a little bit of power to go with your stolen bases.

That Patrick Leonard card looks oddly familiar, but I don't know why. It's not one that I've pulled from this box previously, and there isn't anything about it that really stands out to me.

Giant batting helmets are still in style here, as Alcantara is sporting one. His doesn't look as huge as some we've seen in this set, but it still looks a bit oversized.

Next up is our mandatory Gold parallel card, which features the Marlins' star player, Giancarlo Stanton. If I recall correctly, there were plenty of trade rumors surrounding him, but the Marlins will probably keep him on board and try to build something around him.

And there is our fourth base card, right next to his twin brother, a blue parallel card of Trevor Bauer numbered # 094 / 500. I like getting colored parallels, even though most of them don't really have a spot in my collection. I guess I could just start filling a binder with them, but that would get chaotic pretty quickly and drive me nuts. Anyway, this guy is highly touted, although the numbers say he struggled a bit in his stint with the Indians this year. I don't know how true that is, as I don't really follow the Indians.

22 October 2013

What eBay Hath Wrought 24: eBay 1/1 and a Sad Story About a Real 1/1

There was a seller on eBay with a card from Topps Chrome that I really wanted, so I put in a bid for it. Since they offered combined shipping, I put in $0.99 bids on a few other cards ending at the same time. I'll show those first. Be sure to stick around for my tale of woe at the end.

First up is this Sepia Refractor of Victor Martinez, numbered # 23 / 75. I don't have any real attachment to the card, but for less than a dollar it might make for good trade bait at some point in the future. I am usually good to go when it comes to trading base cards from certain sets, but I struggle when it comes to exchanging hits.

Next up is this Mike Moustakas Gold Refractor, numbered # 19 / 50. It's a pretty good action shot and the Royals are one of the teams whose cards I look out for, so again it was a pretty good card to get for right around the starting bid. This is the one card out of the three that went for more than $0.99, as someone bid it up to $1.04.

And here is the card I was really going after, an R.A. Dickey Gold Refractor numbered # 50 / 50. And yes, it was advertised as LAST ONE 1/1. So this is one of the infamous eBay 1 of 1's that are considered unique because they are the first or last of a print run, or because the serial number matches the player's jersey number, or any number of other numerical connections that can be made into a selling point. But I have to admit that getting one of those special numbers is kind of fun. I don't know that I would pay a premium for one, but other things being equal I will look at the serial numbers and choose the one that is most aesthetically pleasing to me. And now it is time for my story...

I've tried out a few eBay case breaks recently, as they can be pretty entertaining and it's a chance to try out a product I wouldn't even look at in a card store, as a single pack of this stuff can cost as much as one or two hobby boxes of something else. So I put in a bid on the Toronto Blue Jays slot in a 2013 Topps Tier One case break. I watched it until the very end and put in an insurance bid with about 5 seconds left to make sure I got it. I saw the clock count all the way down to zero and I was still the winner. Then when the screen refreshed due to the auction closing, I had lost. Someone had apparently outbid me by $0.50 within the last second of the auction.

I did wind up getting the Astros slot and watching the break. In the middle of the break I got I think it was a Craig Biggio relic card, but the Blue Jays were getting skunked. I had started to feel pretty good about myself for not winning the Blue Jays slot. When we got down to the last pack, there were a couple of okay cards, and then the back card's serial number was revealed. It was a 1 / 1. Then we saw that the uniform was blue. Not only was it blue, it was a Blue Jay. Then we saw that it was a Blue Jay named R.A. Dickey, and it was an autograph. I WATCHED A CASE BEING BROKEN IN WHICH I MISSED OUT ON A 1/1 AUTOGRAPH OF MY FAVORITE PLAYER BY HALF A DOLLAR, EVEN THOUGH I WAS WINNING THE AUCTION WITH ONE SECOND TO GO! It was crushing. I don't even know what to say beyond that. But if that is not a sad baseball card story, I don't know what is. When the card pops up on eBay next week I will probably put in a token bid on it, although I can be sure it will go well above my price range in the end.

21 October 2013

Breaking it Down 4: A Long Overdue Post about View from the Skybox's 4-box 2013 Panini Prizm Baseball Break

There was a group break at View From the Skybox a while ago, but I have failed to get a post done about the cards I got from it. It was a four-box break of this year's Panini Prizm release, and the teams I had were the Royals and the Pirates.

My inserts from the break were mostly from the Pirates, with two Andrew McCutchen cards and a Gerrit Cole joining a George Brett for the Royals. I didn't do too bad, averaging one insert per box. On these four cards Panini did a pretty good job of hiding the lack of a license to use team logos.

Because most of the stuff on the front of player jerseys has to be airbrushed out, you get to see a lot of the players' backs in this set. I got multiple copies of each of these base cards, but decided to just scan one of each. They are pretty thick and feel heavy in the hand, with a lot of embossing and gloss.

I also got a couple of copies of each of these cards. It was nice to get some Bo Jackson action, along with Billy Butler. Again, due to the company trying to keep blank jersey fronts off of the cards, you see a lot of man-butt in this set.

Inside of the box with my cards from the break, there were also a variety of other cards from all sorts of products. Here are some of my favorites. Mark Reynolds is always a good one to have, although he did join the dark side and go to the Yankees this year. He strikes out a bit too much and I wonder how much longer he will have a spot on any team's roster. Rasmus fits into my Blue Jays collection, and McCutchen's cards are always nice to get, especially in Allen & Ginter's sets that predate my reentry into collecting.

Then we have another Royal, an Astro, and a Mariner, all welcome additions to team and player collections. I wonder if Bourgeois was able to make the catch and avoid running into the wall too hard? The perspective of the photo may make it look like he's closer to the wall than he actually is. It's nice to see my favorite jersey number displayed so clearly on Hernandez' card.

This was a pretty good break for me, and it allowed me to get into some cards from a product that I haven't really been grabbing off the shelves on my own. The extra cards were pretty cool, too. I have only shown a handful of them here, but I'll bet there were well over 100 cards in the box that arrived in my mailbox.

Pack of the Day 37: 2013 Bowman Retail Box Break Pack 12

This pack marks the halfway point of the box, which has been dragging on for an awfully long time. I think I prefer showing box breaks all in one post rather than going a pack at a time. I guess it might be more fun if I were somehow able to hold myself to opening one pack per day, rather than opening and scanning the whole thing all in a hurry. But how am I supposed to rest when there is unbusted foil sitting within reach? I don't know if my heart could handle the strain.

Prospects! Rondon has been sidelined for a while with his elbow, but he got some innings in for the big league club. The other guys I haven't heard of.

Our Gold parallel for today is Matt Moore. I don't have any feelings about him one way or the other.

I believe retail boxes are seeded with one autograph per box, and Mike McQuillan of the Washington Nationals is the autograph in this box. I haven't found a lot of information on him at all.

Sometimes the autographs in Bowman aren't all that exciting. I guess the same could be said of the autographs in most products, though, especially baseline products like Bowman and the base Topps set. I almost look forward to colored parallels of established guys more than I do autographs of guys I've never heard of. But I still like to pull autographs. If this had been Buxton or Correa I'd probably be bouncing off the walls happy. 

20 October 2013

Pack of the Day 36: What's in My First Pack of 2013 Topps Update Series?

My local Target got 2013 Topps Update in a couple of days ago, so I had to try some of it out. I thought I'd show every card from my first pack of it in order, but I was too lazy to do 12 scans, so I did them in groups of three. I did at least make sure that they go left to right in the order in which they came out of the pack.

First up was Alexi Amarista, who was featured on the blog All the Way to the Backstop just a few short days ago. We are already in negotiations to have me send it out to the rightful owner.

Martin Perez and Scott (Stop Typing Andy) van Slyke had me saying, "Who?" which will be a pretty common theme with this set, it seems. It's almost worse than Bowman, because these dudes have all played major league games and should in theory be more memorable than prospects.

It's a good thing Adam Jones showed up in an All-Star card, because I was going to have a hard time with these three cards. Don Kelly did get himself a nice photo for his card front, so he's got that going for him.

The Chasing History set that carried through Series' 1 and 2 is alive and well for Update. This pack gives us a card featuring Tom Seaver's quest to have the most Opening Day starts of any pitcher. Did he make it? I don't know I didn't even read the back of the card. It's bad enough to open packs of cards in your car in the Target parking lot; who in their right mind is going to read them too? Not this guy. Segura had himself quite a year this year. I had him rostered early in the year on some of my fantasy baseball teams, but probably wound up dropping him for established guys like JJ Hardy or something. A lot of winning teams kept Segura on their rosters. Ian Kennedy has got a very ginger beard. You can't catch him; he's the Ginger Beard Man!

I've heard Jeanmar Gomez' name before, but I'll be darned if I can remember a thing about him. His ball cap is pretty snazzy, though. I don't know a thing about these other two guys. And with Juan Lagares we come to the end of this pack. But before we end this post I want to talk about pack searching.

On the day I bought the previously-discussed pack of Topps Update, I also bought a rack pack of Update and a pack of this Upper Deck Artifacts Hockey stuff. All of the new boxes of cards were freshly opened and orderly. The hanger box with Update in it had a uniform stack of packs going all the way up, the regular box of Update was orderly, and the box of Artifacts had two nice fresh rows of packs in it.

The next day I went into the same store and discovered evidence that my local Target must have a resident pack searcher. The first thing I noticed was that all of the Artifacts packs had been turned sideways in the box and were crumpled. Then I saw that all of the Update packs had been removed from the hanger box and then shoved back in from the bottom, so they were all sideways and upside down and smashed around each other. The same went for the fresh box of Update that was sitting on the shelf. All of the packs had been felt up, and it looked like a good number of the cards must certainly be damaged. I was pretty irritated, but what can you do about it?

Besides, what is the line you draw when it comes to searching packs? The very day before I had been looking at the rack packs hanging from hooks and noticed that I could see through the Update packs. The first card in the front pack of Update was obviously Puig's Rookie Card. I could see the 66 on his uniform from 3 feet away. So I bought that pack. Is that pack searching? I didn't cause damage to the other packs trying to seek that particular card out, but I did circumvent the random nature of buying trading cards by choosing a pack that I knew contained something specific.

And even though I've been playing fantasy hockey for a few years and even win a few leagues from time to time, the only guy in that pack of Artifacts whose name I was familiar with was Kris Letang. Why did I buy a pack of hockey cards? Because it was new and shiny.

19 October 2013

I Got it at Sportlots 1: Freddie Got Fingered

So I finally visited Sportlots and made an order for a few of the 2013 Archives Gold cards they had listed for less than eBay and COMC did. I have a spreadsheet that I use to track prices on the remaining cards I need, so I can get a feel for what the different cards market at. I ordered several cards. A few of them got lumped in with a recent eBay post, a couple are still outstanding, and these three came in the mail the other day.

It's too bad that the Braves and Dodgers couldn't meet in the playoffs this year. I wonder how Freeman and Brian McCann would have reacted to Yasiel Puig's celebration of his big triple the other day? Maybe I am not OG enough, but I happen to like a little bit of celebration in my sports. I am not a fan of mocking or trash talk all that much, but a TD or sack celebration aimed at the crowd, arms raised or a little flip of the bat after a big hit, or a swipe across the neck after a dagger three or a nasty dunk are all things that I like to see in my sports entertainment. It's a game. Thanks to Tenets of Wilson I know that the Dodgers are not extremely likely to get into and win the World Series, but that's who I am pulling for this year since all of my favorite teams are long gone. Thanks to the internet I know that the Dodgers got blown out in Game 6 and will not be advancing. If Boston and St. Louis make the World Series I will die from a bad case of meh.

But enough of that. My first experience with Sportlots was pretty good, so I will probably return there whenever the price is right.

18 October 2013

What eBay Hath Wrought 23: A Display Dilemma

I picked up these three cards from one eBay seller. I should have read the description of the Mike Minor card a little bit better, as the seller stated that a little white was showing on the bottom corners. It was more than a little white. Both corners had chunks of foil missing from the front of the card. I can't really check the card off of my checklist, so I will probably be seeking out another copy of Minor's card. But dinged corners won't be a problem with my next card,

which is a BGS-graded copy Bryce Harper's Gold parallel. I'd been watching this card for some time, as the seller kept re-listing it at lower prices. I even sent in an offer to him at one point for the card, but the auction ended before he could get back to me. He put it back up at the price I had offered and I pulled the trigger on it. According to the BGS registry, this is the only graded Harper from the set. There really aren't many cards from 2013 Archives Gold that have been sent in for grading.

I do wonder at the choices people make when sending cards in. Do we really need a 9.5 Gem Mint Buster Posey 2013 Topps base card in this world? I don't even think this is the rare photo variation. It's the same one that I have sitting in my set binder, as do probably several thousand other people, who probably all have another one sitting in their extras box or in a pile on their desk. Who decided to send this in to BGS?

"Oooh, this is going to be worth some money some day! Look at those sharp corners! I'd better send it in to get slabbed!"

The graded Harper card does cause me a bit of a display issue, as all of the other cards in the set are stored in the same binder in pages. I can't very well fit this brick into a 9-pocket page, but I am reluctant to release it from the case. What's a guy to do?