30 April 2014

What eBay Hath Wrought 71: Josh Reddick Silhouette Relic

Here is a card from 2013 Panini America's Pastime I picked up off of eBay a while back. I'm not usually a fan of the unlicensed stuff, but Panini did a pretty good job of masking the lack of logos on this card. I like the design of this set, with a head-shot and an action photo of the player as well as a nice big piece of fabric. It is serially-numbered # 12 / 99.

The back of the card doesn't offer much of interest, but it is at least more than the usual CONGRATULATIONS ON RECEIVING THIS AUTHENTIC PIECE OF AUTHENTIC GEAR WHICH WE GUARANTEE IS AUTHENTIC label. In addition to the little authenticity guarantee in small print, we get a fun fact about three-homer games by Oakland players. One thing Panini does that I really like is put the name and year of the set down among the legal jargon. I wish all those crazy cards from the 90's had that feature. It would make it a lot easier to determine what the heck a given mystery card is when sorting through my collection. Stuff like that kind of makes you wish Panini could get that MLB license, huh?

29 April 2014

At the Trade Deadline 22: A Postage Due Zistle Trade Delivery

Baseball Card Breakdown recently ran a post lamenting the receipt of a dreaded Postage Due card from the Post Office. It seems like there is nothing worse than getting one of those cards, aside from maybe having to go pick up a package from the UPS package depot. The hours are inconvenient for anyone who is on a 'normal' work schedule, and then there are the lines to wait in and the possibility of dealing with disgruntled or incompetent employees behind the counter. It is so inconvenient that sometimes I just let whatever it is sit there until it is returned to the sender, making it their problem to get the postage right. But usually I juggle the schedule around and make the trip down to the post office. I do try to make sure that I put enough postage on outgoing mail, even if it means I occasionally pay more than I absolutely have to. I wouldn't want to put anyone else through that pain.

The other day I came home from work and noticed that the flag on the mailbox was up. I figured my wife must have had a letter or something to send out, but when I went inside I found a padded mailer with a big red Postage Due stamp on it and the amount, $0.41, written in next to the stamp. Our local postal worker had delivered the mail and left us the little envelope to put our payment in. So the mailbox flag was up because my wife had put the $0.41 in the envelope for the mail carrier. As a small side note, I've gained the impression that mailers usually arrive postage due when people use regular stamps as postage as opposed to machine-printed labels or the printed-off postage from eBay or Stamps.com. Maybe it is because those other methods come with a better chance that the mailpiece has actually been on a scale once before being shipped.

I thought it was pretty cool of the postal worker to do that for us. We get pretty good service from the folks who service our local route, although sometimes an envelope that is a little too big for the mailbox gets shoved in there anyway, endangering the contents. But overall I think we've been pretty lucky with our mail service. We've never had a mail carrier drive up onto the lawn and toss our packages onto the front step:

Or toss the mail up the driveway from the safety of their vehicle. All in all, I'd say we're pretty lucky, although I guess it's pretty bad when just getting your mail in pretty good condition is considered an excellent end-state rather than the normal expectation.

Oh, and the cards I received in the mailer? They were a big stack of mostly 2012 Topps base that I needed for a set and traded for on Zistle. It was kind of annoying to have the cards arrive Postage Due, but I guess stuff like that happens from time to time. I'm not going to waste a bunch of my karma feeling angry about it, especially since my letter carrier saved me a trip to the post office.

28 April 2014

Just the Commons, Ma'am 5: Another 51 Topps Opening Day Blue Parallels

Don't worry, I won't be showing all 51 of the Blue Opening Day parallels I got from JustCommons, but I have scanned a number of my favorites from the lot. After adding these to my collection I am down to just needing 4 cards to complete the set, which incidentally is the same number of cards I still need from the 2013 Opening Day Blue Parallel set. I really ought to track those down one of these days.

Over the last week I have not been paying a lot of attention to my baseball cards. Or to much of anything, for that matter, outside of the baseball video game sim OOTP 15. DO NOT TRY THIS GAME! IT WILL TAKE OVER YOUR LIFE! I find myself playing just until the All-Star break, then maybe just until roster expansion, but then my team wins a few games and I decide I'll just close out the season, and then it's a few hours later and I've played two more years' worth of games. My fictional Houston Astros team had a couple of championship runs during the first three years of play, boosted mostly by strong pitching, but injuries in my lineup late in the season have contributed to me getting bounced from the playoffs early on over the past three years. I also draft way too many catchers and middle relievers.

Carlos Gomez found himself in a spot of trouble recently when he showboated a bit after hitting a triple off of Gerrit Cole. Cole had some choice words for him as he slid into third, Gomez went after Cole, the benches cleared, and Travis Snider got a black eye from Martin Maldonado. Gomez is on a couple of my rosters in fantasy baseball, and he's been pretty good so far this year.

Seattle has not been very good this year, and it appears that they might have a mold problem, as Hernandez and Iwakuma seem to have some mossy growth on their chins. Must be all the humidity up there. Or maybe that's pine tar.

I love that uniform that Lohse is sporting. Super classy. I'd wear that cap.

I'll close out this post with a few guys who are on my borderline player collections list. I don't necessarily seek out cards of these guys, but when they come to me I feel pretty good and kind of set them off to the side. Unless I need them for a set. Then they go in the set. It's too bad Topps couldn't have managed to get a Future Stars logo on that Ryu card, too, just to really overload that thing with clip art.

And here are a couple of pitchers who I am a fan of, but I don't think I got them in any of my fantasy leagues this year, and so I have no idea how they are doing so far. Maybe I should look it up. Samardzija is 0-2 after five starts, but it's not really his fault. Through 35.1 innings, he's got 27 strikeouts, a 1.53 ERA and a 1.10 WHIP. Those are some pretty good numbers.

Scherzer has been similarly dominant, but he actually has a couple of wins to his name. He also has five starts with a record of 2-1, and through 33.0 innings pitched he has 44 strikeouts, a 2.45 ERA and a 1.03 WHIP.

24 April 2014

Just the Commons, Ma'am 4: I Walk the Line

I used my recent order from the JustCommons website to get a jump start on a new players collection. This is one of the most famous players in baseball so you'd think his cards would be pretty expensive, but they are priced like any old scrub commons you might find in a checklist.

The player in question is Mario Mendoza, of the infamous 'Mendoza Line.' The term is used to describe someone who is batting at or around .200, which is where Mendoza spent much of his career. The phrase was coined by some combination of Bruce Bochte, Tom Paciorek, George Brett, and announcer Chris Berman.

I thought it might be nice to collect a guy with such a famous bit of baseball lore surrounding his career, even if it's not exactly the type of fame someone dreams about when they are a kid.

I grabbed three cards from Mendoza's time as a Pirate, including a 1975 Topps, a nice shot of him sporting the double-brim look in his 1978 issue, and a photo of him dressed as a banana on his 1979 card. The 1979 card also features an error, listing his career batting average at .278, when he had never hit higher than .221 in any prior year. Rumor has it that Topps divided his hits by games played rather than at-bats when calculating the career number.

I got four cards from his time with the Mariners. His 1980 Topps card is horribly off-center. Usually it's my poor cropping that makes the cards look like this, but in this case it was just that the card is off-center so much. I may look for an upgrade for it. I also got three Mariners cards from 1981, the year I was born, picking up his Fleer, Topps, and Donruss issues.

And finally, a quadfecta of cards from his time as a Ranger. The 1981 card is from Topps Traded, while I also have 1982 cards from Fleer, Topps, and Donruss. Again, his Topps card is way off-center. Boo!

I have a few more Mendoza cards coming in from a couple of other sources. He doesn't have a lot of stuff out there unless you want to chase down obscure team-issued stuff and the like, and even then there really isn't that much to get. This will be a fun little nearly-vintage collection to fill out without spending the big bucks.

23 April 2014

Just the Commons, Ma'am 3: Mistaken Identities, Nostalgia, and a Big Head

I ordered some stuff from JustCommons recently, mostly in an effort to fill out my 2014 Topps Opening Day blue parallel set. But I picked up a few other things as well. One of the neat things that JustCommons has is a $2.00 relic and autograph section. I picked up a couple of things from that list in this order. Why did I get a Russ Ohlendorf autograph, you might ask? Maybe because when I read the name Ohlendorf, I heard the name Oberholtzer in my head. So I kind of thought I had ordered an autograph of a current Astros pitcher. Oh well. I guess I should pay attention to what I'm doing from time to time.

I always liked Todd Van Poppel's name. Maybe it's because it reminds me of this part of my childhood:

Yes, the toy that was kind of like a Care Bear, but with a folding pouch on its butt that could be flipped around the front of the stuffed animal, turning it into a kind of ball. There was a cartoon that went along with them, of course.

I also grabbed a handful of short-printed cards from 2014 Topps Heritage.

I was trying to make it to the $50 threshold so that I could use the 10% off coupon that JustCommons offers on orders of that size, so I added SPs from my want list until I had enough to make the discount.

In contrast to the pitchers in the first row with their 'act serious and look off to the left' poses, Sandoval and Segura actually look like they are enjoying themselves. This picture makes Sandoval's head look massive. I'd imagine that part of it has to do with the fact that he has a large head, but some of it might just be the picture.

22 April 2014

What eBay Hath Wrought 70: Danica Patrick Total Memorabilia Triple Swatch

I already had one of these cards, or at least one very similar to it, but I'm sure there was a reason for me to bid on this card. I think I got this one in February, so it's been getting bumped back in the post queue by higher-priority stuff for a while now.

I guess there are a couple of differences between the two copies of this card that I own. They have different photos, and this one is a Shoe / Sheet Metal / Firesuit combo, while the other one is a Shirt / Sheet Metal / Firesuit combo. The background design of these cards still reminds me of the interior of a purse. With baseball season starting I have paid less attention to my racing cards, but I am still following the races and standings.

21 April 2014

Breaking it Down 10: 2014 Gypsy Queen

I still watch quite a few online card breaks, but I haven't participated in very many lately. The value isn't really there, unless you have the scratch to participate every time. Even then I would imagine that most people don't make back what they put into it. I see people dropping a couple to a few hundred dollars on break slots every week, and it seems like they would generally be better off buying singles online. But there is always that little chance of a big-dollar hit that could fund your hobbying for a couple of months.

On the day that Gypsy Queen was released I was looking at the checklist and searching around to see what kind of stuff people were pulling. Gem Mint Breakers had a 5-box and a 10-box break available, and the Blue Jays slots in each of them were open and also heavily discounted because they were one of the only couple of teams that hadn't sold at full price. I didn't want to pay $26 for the 10-box slot, but $10 for the 5-box break seemed about right for my budget.

I got multiple copies of all of the base cards except for Jose Bautista, who is included in the Short Prints at the end of the set. So I am missing that card. I also didn't get any minis, which seems a little odd, given that 5 boxes ought to have a fairly large number of minis throughout, with 1 per pack and a 10-card box-topper full of minis. Maybe they forgot to ship the minis out? I don't know. I may have to go back and check the envelope my cards came in to make sure they weren't off by themselves in the bottom of the bag.

The cards look about how you would expect Gypsy Queen to look. There aren't any surprises in the card design. I do like that the pictures Topps is using for R.A. Dickey this year make heavy use of the alternate red Canada Day jersey. It's a nice splash of color.

I also got two hits in the break, which definitely beat the odds, although I didn't get any of the big bad cards that were pulled. I think the best card pulled in the break was a massive Chris Sale patch that featured a swatch from the All-Star game. It was pretty, that's for sure. But enough about that guy. I got a Steve Delabar autograph and an Edwin Encarnacion relic. Delabar is a decent enough pitcher, but he's not necessarily a household name. Encarnacion is a pretty good player, although he doesn't have a home run yet this year. Overall I didn't do too bad for my ten bucks, although it would have been nice to get that Bautista SP.

20 April 2014

Rainbow in the Dark 13: Silky Smooth Reddick

That printing plate I showed off the other day was a big find for my Josh Reddick Super Rainbow, but this Silk Collection parallel felt like just as big a hit to me when I finally landed it. I lost one by a few cents months ago and hadn't even seen one since. I had begun to think that I just wasn't going to get a silk for the collection. Then this one appeared and I was able to come away with it. It didn't even really set me back that much.

I think now the only card from this rainbow I'm missing with a print run higher than # / 10 is the Black parallel, which is numbered out of # / 62. I saw one a while back, but I didn't get it. Now it seems like they have all disappeared from the face of the earth. You can get the Black Refractors from Topps Chrome all day long, but not the base flagship parallel.

I guess this is the 34th card in my Josh Reddick 2013 Topps Super Rainbow. It's pretty fun to shuffle through the whole stack of cards in this mini-collection, all with the same picture presented in different frames.

19 April 2014

What eBay Hath Wrought 69: The Great Bo Jackson Box Loader Autograph Exchange Part 3 (of 3)

Here is the final item I got from selling the Bo Jackson Box Loader autograph I pulled from 2014 Topps Heritage. Previously I showed off the other two parts, a 162-card lot of 2014 Topps Opening Day Blue parallels and a redemption for a 2014 Topps Museum Collection triple relic autograph of Bo Jackson. Finally, I was able to grab this Purple Ice parallel for my 2013 Bowman Josh Reddick rainbow. You don't see a lot of these out there, but I was able to snap this one up.

My copy is numbered # 04 / 10. I haven't done an updated roll-up of this particular rainbow in quite some time, but you can see most of the progress on this post here. I have since added an Orange Refractor, the Red Ice parallel, an X-Fractor, and now this Purple Ice parallel. I think that make 19 cards total in this rainbow so far. Pretty cool stuff!

I feel like I got a pretty good return for my Bo Jackson autograph redemption card. I still managed to get a Bo Jackson autograph out of the deal, as well as almost 3/4 of the Opening Day Blue parallel set and a nice hit for my Josh Reddick rainbow.

18 April 2014

Taking a 'Saki Break

I can't believe I hadn't read this blog post from Sports Illustrated's Extra Mustard before. I must not be a true fan. They also posted some new Kawasaki material today. Go look at it. It'll make for a good Friday. 

Speaking of the Blue Jays, I thought R.A. Dickey was going to get through his start yesterday without too much damage. Then the 5th inning happened. Dang it all to heck. The Astros are no good. The Blue Jays can't get it done. At least Oakland is doing all right. If you have enough favorite teams, one of them is bound to be doing well at any given time. If this paragraph is getting you down, go back and look at some of that Kawasaki stuff.

What eBay Hath Wrought 68: The Great Bo Jackson Box Loader Autograph Exchange Part 2 (of 3)

Here I am again with the second part of the series on what I got in exchange for the Bo Jackson box loader autograph I pulled from 2014 Topps Heritage. One of the things on my list was to replace the autograph with another Bo Jackson auto, and I was able to find this redemption card for a Bo Jackson Triple Relic Autograph from 2014 Topps Museum Collection. But that's not the whole story.

You see, prior to all of this I had purchased a Toronto Blue Jays slot in a case break of 2014 Topps Museum Collection. I paid my fee and logged in to the video feed at the appointed hour, but all that showed was a blank screen. I waited a few minutes, and many of the participants started to discuss the lack of video or sound in the chat window. About ten minutes after the scheduled start time, the person running the box break noticed the chat traffic and lamented that they had already opened three boxes of product. The other participants got quite hostile and called shenanigans, making the point that with the video malfunction it would be impossible to know if the seller was on the level when shipping out the hits. The seller got flustered, the chatters questioned her heritage and integrity, and the anonymity of the internet let everyone feel free to pile on insults and threats. Within a few minutes, though, the seller had issued refunds and aside from missing out on the case break everyone was at least restored back to their original state.

A couple of days later I checked the same seller's list of items for sale and found this Bo Jackson card among the listings. I also saw that there were no Blue Jays hits among the listings, so I dodged a bullet there through the case breaker's ineptitude. So whoever ponied up for the Royals team slot missed out on this opportunity to have a Bo Jackson redemption sit in their queue for a few months before (hopefully) receiving a card similar to the Mike Olt shown below. It has advantages and drawbacks when compared to the Heritage autograph. On the positive side, I like the design well enough, with an actual player photo instead of an embossed metallic headshot. Also, this one contains a few pieces of memorabilia. The drawbacks are that the print run is much higher on these cards and that the autographs all appear to be stickers instead of on-card. Given all of the other things I was able to add to my cart in addition to this card, though, I am willing to live with those differences. I just hope it doesn't take too long for Topps to fill the redemption. 

17 April 2014

What eBay Hath Wrought 67: The Great Bo Jackson Box Loader Autograph Exchange Part 1 (of 3)

You may recall that I pulled the above card from a box of 2014 Topps Heritage. It is a pretty cool prize, and quite limited (either # /10 or # / 20, depending on where you look) and the signatures are on-card rather than stickers, but the design of the box loader autographs leaves me a bit cold. The embossed portraits just don't quite do it for me.

So I decided after a bit of internal debate to sell it and see what I could get in return for it (plus a blaster's worth of eBay Bucks I had in my account). This is the first part in a three-part series, and is the largest portion of the eBay trade I worked out.

I had looked at buying a full set of this year's Opening Day Blue parallels, but I was able to get this lot of 162 cards from the set for a relative steal. I ordered most of the rest of the set from JustCommons.com, and I think that brings me down to five cards needed for the set at a significantly lower price than full sets are going for. Normally I don't think I would be able to do such a thing, but this lot went really cheap and contained many of the bigger stars, like Puig, Jeter, Harper, Kershaw, and Rivera.

After accounting for the going rate for six or seven individual star cards, the other 155 cards basically came to me for free. At least according to 'collector math.' These cards are beautiful. I might just put them in a binder with last year's Opening Day blue parallels and stare at them all for hours. If R.A. Dickey's base card in Series 2 looks like his Opening Day card, I will probably try to collect the rainbow. Josh Reddick's card isn't amazing in this set like it was last year, so I probably won't be chasing the rainbow for it.

Anyway, here are a whole bunch of scans: