30 January 2014

What eBay Hath Wrought 40: So Very Close - Robin Yount and Manny Machado 2013 Topps Archives Gold

I picked up two of the last four cards I needed for the 2013 Topps Archives Gold parallel set. I thought that I had also purchased one of the final cards, Ken Griffey Jr., but the seller on Sportlots refunded my money a few days after I placed the order because he didn't have the card anymore. There was one on eBay last week, but I didn't want to pay the price the seller wanted for it. Now there are none on the market in the usual card collector haunts. I will keep searching.

First up is this Robin Yount numbered # 023 / 199. I guess that since 23 is Michael Jordan's jersey number, I could probably sell this at a premium as a L@@K eBay 1 / 1!!!!! Sick Gold REFRACTOR!!!

"What does Michael Jordan have to do with anything?" you might ask. He is the G.O.A.T. (Greatest of all Time) and being associated with him in any way automatically adds value to something. Isn't that how eBay 1 / 1 cards work?

And next I have Manny Machado, looking like he wants to get out of there. Maybe the other baseball players are all eating Push-Up Pops and drinking Capri Suns while he was stuck at the end of the picture line because he was a rookie. His card is numbered # 69


/ 199. 

So, as of this writing I sit at 198 / 200 cards in the Gold parallel set, with Griffey and Sandberg still to track down. I don't know if I will want to do that kind of project again for a while. Who am I kidding? I already have a similar project going. I am a few cards short of finishing the 2013 Topps Opening Day Blue parallel set. I did have a lot of cards left to go and I originally typed out a long rant about how expensive they were on COMC, especially when compared to the Gold Archives parallels. Some of the cards in the Opening Day Blue set, which are numbered out of # / 2013, run parallel in price to the equivalent Archives Gold cards, which are presumably ten times more rare. The prices were pretty good on most of them on Sportlots, especially with some manipulation of shipping costs. Assuming all of those cards come through, I will have 4 cards left in that set.

I need to avoid starting any more parallel sets in the immediate future. I guess we'll see how much I like the Gold cards in 2014 Archives. I'm not nearly crazy enough to chase the new Silver parallels from that set, which are numbered out of # / 99.

29 January 2014

What eBay Hath Wrought 39: Final Pieces of Total Memorabilia Base Set

I got in the last four pieces of cardboard I needed for my 2013 Press Pass Total Memorabilia set. Or so I thought. When I went to put them in my NASCAR binder, I saw that I had somehow ordered the wrong Jimmie Johnson card. The one I actually needed was the card next to it on the page. Oops. I ordered the correct Jimmie Johnson card to finish out the set, but I didn't ever scan it to include it on the blog.

Poor Brad Keselowski may have a nice big trophy there, but he didn't get the memo that all the cool kids decided to wear sunglasses on Press Pass Picture Day. I'm sure any number of sunglasses vendors would have been more than happy to let him wear their eyewear, if only he had just asked them nicely.

I guess this counts as a completed set for 2014. Woohoo!

28 January 2014

Pack of the Day 61: 2014 Topps Series 1 Retail Pack

Okay, just one more pack. These first four cards are pretty good, but I am showing them first to get them out of the way because what is coming up is a lot better (by my reckoning, your mileage may vary depending on team allegiances and how much of a baseball hipster you are).

Speaking of baseball hipsters, here is Kent Telkulve to tell us about his baseball card collection.

"2014 Topps is so mainstream. You can have your mass-produced nonsense and your fun photography. My collection is made up entirely of 1985 Ft. Myers Royals office staff cards. The front office is where the baseball really happens, man."

That Brett Gardner card is pretty good, but the real star of this 4-pack is Coco Crisp. The scanner couldn't even contain him, nor could the border of the card. This is another one of those cards that feels like the SP/SSP photo variations of past sets, but appears too numerous to actually be one. I love it. I wonder why the A's seem to have so many off-the-wall photos this year?

The pack contained a couple of horizontal cards. Another shot that seems to be getting a lot of play in this set is the group celebration, with the player named on the card usually being the hero of whatever has just happened.

This pack contained two inserts. One is a 1989 Topps Mini Die-Cut of Bo Jackson and the other is a 50 Years of the Draft card of Gerrit Cole. I have to say that I like the inserts from this set so far a little more than I liked the 2013 inserts and about 6500 times more than the 2012 inserts, which make me die a little inside whenever I see them.

27 January 2014

Pack of the Day 60: 2014 Topps Series 1 Rack Pack

Yes, this is a scan of a regular pack and not a rack pack. I'll probably reuse this picture when I get around to talking about the cards in the regular pack, too.

I went to Target this evening to get some 2014 Topps Series 1. As I got there, the Target worker was still stocking the new cards, so I wandered around for a while and when I came back to the card aisle, I found fresh 2014 cards all over. I took the first two packs off the top of the new box of 12-card packs, I grabbed the first hanger box from the display, and I snatched the first rack pack off of the hook. I'll look through the rack pack first. The first batch of base cards don't turn up anything too crazy, although we see the Rookie Cup make an appearance on Matt Adams' card and Kyle Lohse is sporting a pretty nice cap on his card. Andrelton Simmons gets the 'Future Stars' tag over the top of his swoopy foil accent.

Here in the top row we get a couple of pitchers conversing with catchers, while the rest of this 9-card scan features some rather vanilla fare. None of these cards really stands out, although the Rookie Cup makes another appearance and we get to see the first 'RC' shield of the pack. I didn't plan the synchronized posing of Frieri and Johnson, but it worked out nicely. My son picked the Diamondbacks as his baseball team, so some of my Arizona cards will probably find their way into his card collection. 

Here I got my first Astro of the day, along with a Hyun-Jin Ryu card. Chris Young gets a high-five shot, and it seems like Oakland gets a lot of good oddball photography in this series, as we will soon see.

I would pull most of these horizontal cards again in the hanger box. That was a little disappointing, but it is still early in the year and I will have plenty of opportunity to pull doubles of the vertical cards as well.

Sean Doolittle gets quite a card in this set. I have already seen two copies of this card on eBay, so I can be fairly certain that it is not a SP/SSP photo variation. I hope no one pays the $190 that one joker is asking for this card on eBay at the moment, calling it a possible SSP. I've seen quite a bit of photography in this set that would have been SP/SSPs in the last few series, so I'm sure there is some theme out there that will reveal itself as the case breakers dig into the product. I got a couple of inserts in the pack. One is the standard Gold parallel of Corey Kluber, numbered out of # / 2014. Jay Bruce gets the Lime Green parallel. Bo Jackson showed up in two packs for me this evening, and this Upper Class insert was one of them. This coming after I pretty much said I wouldn't be chasing many of his cards this year. Hyun-Jin Ryu makes his second appearance of the pack, this time in a The Future is Now insert, which someone else described as having a Gypsy Queen-like filter applied to the photograph. Don Mattingly's sweet lip tickler gets highlighted in a 50 Years of the Draft insert, and allows the rest of him to appear on the card, too.

And here's how 2014 stacks up next to the last couple years of Topps flagship. It definitely has more of a 'Bowman' feel to it than the 2012 and 2013 offerings, which probably comes mostly from that cutout along the right side.

For the most part the back of the cards feel similar, although the card numbers are getting progressively smaller and more difficult to read. Each card back features a Rookie Fact, telling us something that happened during the player's first year in the league. One other addition this year is the inclusion of WAR as a statistical category.

It was exciting to get my hands on some of these cards, but I probably am not going to run out and grab a million more of them. I do have that Hobby box on preorder, and that will just about complete my set. It was pretty fun to bust open the new year's cards. I can't wait for 2015 Topps Series 1!

Oh yeah, this guy gets a card in the set, with complete career stats on the back. All the purple on the crowd in the background complements his uniform nicely. He didn't come from the rack pack, but I am not posting all of the cards I got. I want to save some of the gems for others to discover. I may buy cards before the official release date, but I'm not going to be too greedy about revealing everything all at once.

Collecting in 2014: My Big Stupid Post About What I Might Do This Year

I've been wanting to get some goals and ideas for 2014 written down in a post for some time now, but never quite got around to it before today. I also didn't have a lot of cards that I felt would fit in with such a post. I still don't, but decided to just add some of the TTM autos I got as a kid to the post to add some visual interest to what will ultimately be a list of collecting goals.

In looking back through this post, I really only touched on things I would like to add to my collection this year. Other topics that may get covered in other posts are organizing my collection, running my blog, and maybe trading and selling some cards.

2014 Topps Series 1 is on some store shelves right now, and the official release date is a few days away. I figured that I would collect the base set anyway no matter what, but with the checklist being released recently I may not pay a whole lot of attention to it beyond that. My two most active player collections lately have been R.A. Dickey and Josh Reddick, and neither of those players have a single card in the base set or the inserts that have been announced. I have a Hobby Box of the product on pre-order, and that will probably knock out most of the set. The rest will probably come in trades or a Just Commons purchase. I think the Topps flagship base set is pretty much a requirement for baseball collectors.

This personalized Steve Bono autograph was probably one of my first TTM autographs. Somehow I wound up with a big box of this stuff. One unfortunate side effect of getting this autograph is that Bono's card is the one card I am missing from my set. I guess I should have checked for doubles before I sent it off.

The one product I am really looking forward to this year is 2014 Topps Archives. I have heard the Archives brand getting some criticism in the blogging world, but I love each iteration of it. My main complaint about the product in general is a complaint that applies to Topps as a whole; the widespread use of the same photographs within a product and across Topps' many brands. It can't be that hard to find two or three photos of a player so that his inserts can have different pictures on them than his base cards. My complaint for 2014 Archives specifically is the repeat usage of the 1980 design, which was also used in the 2012 Archives base set. There are a lot of set designs that could be used before Topps has to repeat one.

Other than those complaints, I like the variety and breadth of the Archives concept. It's a good way to get cards of players from all eras, there are inserts that replicate or hail back to insert sets or designs from Topps' baseball cards of the past or even from other sports' retro designs. This last year I had a lot of catching up to do and haven't quite finished off my 2012 and 2013 Archives sets, but hopefully I can get that done and then spend much of the year working on my 2014 Topps Archives collection. I don't know if I will be able to swing for an entire case of the stuff, but that would sure be cool.

I always liked Horace Grant, even if he did play many years on the Chicago Bulls, who I very much did not like. I think it was the goggles. He sent back a very nice blue ink TTM autograph on a '95-'96 NBA Hoops card from his time with the Orlando Magic.

I would like to participate in Gint-a-Cuffs again this year, in which bloggers open boxes of Allen & Ginter's and compare them against a scoring system to determine who has opened the best box. Topps has typically provided prizes for the contest, and different e-tailers also sponsor the contest, maybe offering a discount for participants to buy their box of cards for the contest. Allen & Ginter's is a fun set with a lot of interesting inserts and quirky subject matter, but I haven't made it a priority to track most of it down from 2013. There are a couple of autographs and relics from 2012 and 2013 that I still want to track down, but again in 2014 I don't see myself buying a lot of this stuff outside of Gint-a-Cuffs.

This Paul Molitor 1990 Topps card is another one of my TTM successes. The card has obviously seen better days, but this was probably one of my first TTM cards and may have spent a lot of time in a box with other loose cards before I found out about card sleeves and pages.

I don't see myself collecting a lot of baseball sets outside of Topps flagship, Topps Archives, and maybe Allen & Ginter's in 2014. In addition to getting those sets in 2013 I also got full sets of Bowman, Topps Chrome, Opening Day, and maybe a couple of other sets here and there. It was way too much. I need to pare things back a bit going forward. As far as other sports go, I don't see myself doing a whole lot with the NBA or NFL. Topps Magic is a football product that catches my eye, but I don't know if I want to open up that can of worms. If I were to collect an NBA product, it would probably be NBA Hoops. That seems to be the de facto flagship basketball set.

I have already built the base set for 2014 Press Pass NASCAR. I went in and purchased a box of the cards at my relatively local card shop when it was released a while back and got 99 / 100 of the base cards from that. The final card for the set was found on the secondary market. I don't know if I will build many more new NASCAR sets this year, but I might try to work on fleshing out inserts from past sets that I have built. My favorite drivers happen to be pretty popular with other collectors, so if I want a chance at relics and autos of drivers who I collect I may have to bust open some of those higher-end packs. You can sometimes get boxes of middle-tier stuff for pretty cheap once it is a couple of years old.

When it comes to the big names I always wonder if they really did sign the TTM autograph requests. I am pretty sure that Larry Bird did not actually sign this card, as the handwriting doesn't match anything of his that I see online. If that is the case, then I don't even know why I keep this thing around. I guess it's a nice relic from my childhood.

As far as player collections go, I will probably try to (kind of) keep up on my R.A. Dickey and Josh Reddick collections. I have checklists printed off for them, but I haven't actually gone and compared what I have to what is on the checklists. I don't know if I will focus very hard on my Nolan Ryan and Bo Jackson collections, but if I see something good for them I will pick it up. Other guys on my PC list probably fall into that same boat at the moment. I may try to track down some more Derek Holland cards, although he's injured and out for quite a while at the moment.

I'd also like to expand my basketball collections, with some Hakeem Olajuwon, Gheorghe Muresan, and Manute Bol cards at the top of that list. One thing I really want to pick up this year is a certified Manute Bol autograph card. Other than that I would like to flesh out some of the base cards that I need and catch up a little on the years that I've been out of the game as far as collections. If my wife reads this she will laugh at me, but I may start a Chandler Parsons player collection, so I can collect the cards of a player who didn't retire over 10 years ago. We'll see if it gets off the ground.

I don't have much of a direction in mind for football cards. I watch more football than other sports, but the cards leave me a bit cold. I don't know why. If I do get going on the sport I will probably try to build collections for Peyton Manning, Marshawn Lynch, and maybe Shannon Sharpe or Tim Tebow or something.

NASCAR has been taking up a lot of my non-baseball interest lately. With the cars and firesuits and whatnot, there is a lot of stuff that Press Pass can take neat relics from. My favorite drivers can be pretty expensive on cardboard, but it seems like if I watch and wait enough, auctions that end at weird times or otherwise fall under the radar can be had with some regularity. Dale Earnhardt Jr. and Danica Patrick are my main collections here, but I would like to chase down some more Tony Stewart stuff and maybe some Travis Pastrana cards too. I'd like to add some more die-cast cars from these drivers to my collection from some of these drivers throughout the year, too. Travis Pastrana especially has some colorful cars out there.

I may not really focus much on team collections, although I will still probably gather cards as they come to me. In addition to the main players I collect, there are always teams and players that go somewhere between my hardcore player collections and the general population. I haven't done any analysis on this, but these players generally are players that have contributed in some way to my fantasy sports teams.

This Brett Favre card is another TTM autograph from my youth. The signature matches up pretty well with pictures of his autograph I've seen online, but who knows if it is real? I don't know. The shine has come off of Favre a little bit with all of his retirement waffling, team-switching, and sending of weiner pics to team employees, but back in the day it was pretty cool to get this card back in the mail.

Well, that was pretty long. I don't even know if I cleared anything up for myself. Maybe a bulleted list summing things up will help. I tried it and it didn't help to build a list of bullet points. I really need to figure out how to organize my collection so that I know what I have and can access and enjoy it readily. The current system of stacking everything up all over my room isn't working.

The organization of the collection really has two components. The first and most visible component is storing and displaying the actual cards themselves. I imagine this would involve a system of boxes and binders, maybe separated by set and/or player. The hard part here is sorting all of the cards into their respective places in a timely manner. The nice part would be the time saved in not having to sort through three or four 5000-count boxes every time I want to find something.

The second is the administrative side of it, which should allow me to search my collection digitally and access what I have in my collection and ideally also track what I don't have, but want to add. I have started a Zistle account, but haven't been all that comfortable with the interface. Maybe with some more work I can make that work for me. I would imagine that once I get my full collection uploaded it will be easier to keep it updated, but any sort of upkeep that you have to do leaves the open the possibility of neglecting it for months on end and building a huge backlog that must be cleared. But I need to do something about it for my sanity.

26 January 2014

The Die is Cast 3: Danica Patrick 2013 Pink GoDaddy and 2011 Nationwide Tissot

I got a couple more Danica Patrick cars for my collection. This first one is the 2011 Nationwide Series Tissot #7 Elite car, numbered # 256 / 300. It was the cheapest Patrick Elite car on eBay at the time and featured a sponsor and color scheme I didn't already have.

edit: On 27 June 2015 my kids got into my collection and broke this car, so I don't have it anymore. Kids and collections don't mix!

edit 2: On 02 February 2017, I got the replacement for this car in the mail. It is # 249 / 300 in the production run. I'll try to keep this one away from the kids!

The other is the 2013 GoDaddy Pink #10 Elite car, which is numbered # 192 / 200. Lionel had some of the 2013 cars on sale with the pending 2014 releases on deck and I had a $20 credit on the site, so I got this one for a relative bargain. I like pink parallels in both cars and trading cards, so I was pretty happy to get this one.

There is still a Dale Earnhardt Jr. Pink car I want to get, as well as an Orange Amp Energy car, but I don't see myself adding piles of new cars to the collection in the near future. They sure are a fun collectible, though.

Pack of the Day 59: 2013 Bowman Retail Box Break Pack 24

Here's the last pack of this box of cards. It doesn't really go out with a bang. It is kind of nice to get some A's and Astros in a pack, although I don't know if team collecting is really going to be my thing. I think Topps probably could have found a more flattering photo of Coco Crisp, one that doesn't make him look like E.T.

I don't even know what to say about the rest of these cards. They don't really do anything for me. This box wasn't very exciting and in the end I probably could have saved a lot of money by just buying the set from a case breaker on eBay, which is what I did after collating all the cards I'd purchased and figuring it would take another box or two of cards just to finish the set. Someone has to bust the packs, but in most cases it seems cheaper to buy sets and Player Collection cards as singles after someone else has already gambled on big hits in the packs.

25 January 2014

Pack of the Day 58: 2013 Topps Chrome Value Pack

I really wanted to open a pack of baseball cards the other day. I have had a fairly steady inflow of single cards, card lots, and trades recently, but I hadn't opened any packs for a while. My wife went to the store and brought home a Value Pack of 2013 Topps Chrome.

The first thing to come out of the Value Pack was the pack of three Orange Refractors and the security tag. A Value Pack costs the same as three packs of cards, so these Orange Refractors are what provide the 'value' in this arrangement. I got Carlos Beltran, Melky Cabrera, and Aroldis Chapman. At least I got a Blue Jay, even if it is my least favorite Blue Jay.

Pack 1 starts off pretty well with a couple of RCs. I guess people don't care about Rookie Cards anymore, unless they are shiny and serially-numbered. These ones are shiny, at least.

Also included was a Ben Revere base card and a Stephen Strasburg Dynamic Die-Cuts insert, which is a 1:24 packs insert set that sells for about $0.80 on COMC. So much for retiring on the spoils from this Value Pack.

Pack 2 contained an R.A. Dickey base card, which is pretty good. I already had at least two of them, though. Now I have three. I also got an Astro in Brandon Barnes, although he went to the Rockies in the Dexter Fowler trade.

Alex Gordon is another favorite-team hit, although like all the others I already have at least one copy of his card. This pack netted a 1:12 packs insert, a 1972 Topps Chrome card of Justin Upton. Again, I wouldn't even be able to buy a pack of cards from the proceeds of selling this card, let alone retire on them. The font used for the team name makes it look like Upton plays for the BRAWES.

Overall this was an okay group of packs. I certainly beat the odds with my insert pulls, but nothing really blew me away. It doesn't help that I already have a complete set of the base cards. I should 1) not buy Retail packs anymore and 2) avoid busting packs of sets that I have already completed.

Pack of the Day 57: 2013 Bowman Retail Box Break Pack 23

After this pack I am down to one final post for this box of cards. Here in the base card section we have Neil Walker nicely book-ended by Anthony Rizzo and David Freese in opposing post-swing stances.

The other base cards are Ben Zobrist and Doug Fister.

Every time I glance at the Cory Vaughn card I think for a second that it is one of those Hometown parallels with the flag backgrounds. It is very upsetting to be flipping through binder pages or a stack of cards and see a card that appears to be out of place. Finding out that it is not, in fact, a parallel doesn't do anything to assuage that initial feeling that things are not in their proper places.

I think I pulled the base Frazier card a couple of packs ago. Now I have the Gold parallel version. Unless I sent it away in a trade package or something. I can't remember that kind of stuff.

Here is another one of those mini-Refractors, this time featuring the Orioles' Top 5 prospects. Kevin Gausman gets the plum spot on the front of the card. I'm not sure if he's pitching or eyeballing the Value Menu at McDonalds. He looks hungry.

24 January 2014

Check Out My Cards 3: Set Fillers and Player Collections

I got a few things from COMC as I put together an order to fill out my set of 2013 Press Pass Total Memorabilia. First up I decided to grab the last Opening Days Stars 3D card I needed from 2013 Topps Opening Day, Derek Jeter. I also grabbed the three cheapest Blue parallels they had in stock from my need list. I am now 79.09% done with the Blue set, with 174 / 220 cards in my binder. The last 46 cards feature a lot of big names, though, so the first 80% of the set is probably going to be easier than the last 20%. Opening Day isn't the kind of product that stays fresh for a long time, either, so there aren't as many big lots of this stuff up on eBay at $0.50/card as there were even a few months ago. There probably aren't a lot of case busters breaking Opening Day so they can sell those big hits out of it.

While I was there I did a quick search for R.A. Dickey to see what I didn't have already that could be purchased for a dollar or less. There's some decent stuff here, like a Museum Collection parallel numbered # 196 / 424, a Bowman Platinum Gold parallel, a Refractor and an Xfractor from Topps Finest, a Factory Set parallel from 2011 Topps, and a Dealing Aces insert that I may have a few copies of already from Gypsy Queen.

I also did the same thing for Josh Reddick. In the lower right corner you can see the other Dickey card I got, a Black Mini parallel from Allen & Ginter's. For Reddick I got a Gypsy Queen base card that I believe is a short print, a base card from Panini Triple Play, and a Day-Glo parallel from Archives.

Finally, I grabbed a few of the cards I needed from 2013 Press Pass Total Memorabilia. I got five base cards and two Memory Lane inserts.

Pack of the Day 56: 2013 Bowman Retail Box Break Pack 22

We are getting down to the end of this box of cards. It has padded my post count quite a bit, but I am running out of things to say about it. I watched a break of multiple products the other day, and the Bowman portion turned out a Black parallel of Josh Johnson. So someone's $46 break spot got them at least $0.50 in Blue Jays cards. I don't remember if anyone got any Niese cards in the break.

Carlos Gonzalez looks like he is getting ready to take a power dump. I hope he doesn't blow out an O-ring. Rickie Weeks seems to me to have the worst-fitting uniform in baseball. After doing some Googling, it would appear that it is mostly just a couple of pictures in which he looks to be wearing a circus tent. His uniform fits okay in the rest. He is one of those players who will go on a hot streak, I will add him to my fantasy roster, he'll go 0 - for - 27, I'll drop him, and he'll get three hits in the next game. His stats the last couple of years have been pretty bad all around, but his stats for my fantasy teams are even worse than that.

More prospects. I wish I could remember who posted it, but I read a blog post the other day about Ugly Pitching Face. William Oliver has got him some Ugly Ugly Pitching Face.

Chris Sale isn't doing so well in the Ugly Pitching Face department, either. He looks like a mix between Skeletor and the Wolfman.

Trevor Rosenthal graces the front of this pack's insert, a mini Refractor that probably lists the Cardinals' top 5 prospects on the back. I don't know for sure. I haven't seen this card for a couple of months.