27 July 2018

Astros and an Abbott from ATBATT

I recently (well, within the last month or so) got a package of cards from Stealing Home of the All Trade Bait All the Time blog. I haven't exactly been active on my blog lately, so I Tweeted out a thank you shortly after the package arrived, but I am only now getting around to writing a blog post. I am still collecting cards, but I just have not had the urge to write about them much for the last few months.

First up in the package were a couple of shiny Bowman's Best Astros, Yulieski Gurriel and Jose Altuve. Bowman's Best isn't a product I see a lot of, so it was nice to get a look at a couple of cards from the set.

The next few cards feature some recent Astros cardboard, with a few Gypsy Queen examples and a Yulieski Gurriel insert from the flagship Topps set.

Some older cards also appeared in the shipment, with Hall of Famers Nolan Ryan and Jeff Bagwell making appearances. I don't have a lot of Bagwell cards in my collection, so it was nice to get a couple more of his cards into my collection. Dave Meads and Danny Darwin aren't Hall of Famers, but they are at least sporting some sweet rainbow uniforms. Jim Abbott's fame probably exceeds his stat line by a bit, but he's got quite a story, too.

This was a pretty fun group of cards to flip through, and I always love to get mail. I don't like to trade, but I do like sending cards back and forth with other bloggers. Thank you for the fun package!

07 July 2018

June 2018 Loot Locker

I got my baseball Loot Locker for June a couple of days ago, so here's my monthly breakdown. As usual, I ordered the Triple Play locker instead of the All-Star. The Triple Play costs a little more, but also includes a couple more packs. There is also a high-end Grand Slam option, as well as similar options for the other major sports.

Loot Lockers ship in a 400-count card box with a locker-themed sticker on top to advertise for the company and their partner, collecting supply company Ultra-Pro.

Here is the line-up for June. I got the usual pack of Ultra-Pro top loaders and sleeves, a little bag of candy, 2 packs of 2018 Bowman, 3 packs of 2018 Topps Series 2, and 3 packs of 2018 Topps Pro Debut. Let's break down the estimated cost of the included packs, to see if $30 + $5 shipping is a good deal for this month's Loot Locker. My method is to take the hobby box price from major online retailers, divide by the number of packs in a box, and then multiply by the number of packs in the locker.

2018 Bowman: $152.95 / 24 packs = $6.37 x 2 packs = $12.75
2018 Topps Series 2: $64.95 / 36 = $1.80 x 3 packs = $5.41
2018 Topps Pro Debut: $69.95 / 24 = $2.91 x 3 packs = $8.74

$12.75 + $5.41 + $8.74 = $26.90

That number is on the low end of the values I've see over the 6 months I've been keeping track. It can probably be attributed largely to the drop in prices on boxes of Bowman recently. They went from $7.50 a pack in May to $6.37 per pack in June. If you go with the $7.50 value for Bowman, this box is right about where my calculated average Triple Play Loot Locker 'value' has been over the last few months.

The two Bowman packs yielded two 2018 RoY Favorites inserts and not much else. Rafael Devers is struggling a bit so far in 2018, and Francisco Mejia seems to be fighting with the Indians over playing anywhere but catcher, which seems to be delaying his move back to the MLB roster from AAA.

The Pro Debut packs gave me a couple of Pomo Night Uniforms inserts, a MiLB Leaps and Bounds insert of A.J. Puk, and a base card of Ronald Acuna. Nothing else from the packs really jumped out at me.

The 2018 Topps Series 2 gave me a short-printed Greg Maddux variation. This photo variation card is the type that falls approximately one per box. I also got an All-Star insert of Frank Thomas, a Gold parallel of Jonathan Lucroy, and a Topps Salute insert of Austin Hays.

That wasn't the greatest break ever, but busting packs is a lottery. I am tempted to skip July, but the pack lineup for July includes Allen & Ginter, Stadium Club, and Optic. That's a hard group to pass up. I guess we'll see.

06 July 2018

Danica Patrick Rookie Tape Autograph

I have to work the weekend and it's already getting late, so this is going to be a quick post. Probably. Sometimes I get long-winded on quick posts.

I have pretty much given up on being a completist collector when it comes to my player collections. There are so many products and parallels and hits out there that it's pretty much impossible to get everything made for an individual. That goes double when you're trying to collect cardboard featuring a star whose cards drive whole product lines. Although I do try to get as many cards for my collections as possible, I don't chase everything with equal zeal. But every so often I find something unique or different that I have to have.

That was the case with this 2011 Press Pass Eclipse Signature Series Rookie Tape autograph card of Danica Patrick. For people who aren't sure what Rookie Tape is, it's a yellow tape stripe that is put on the back of a car to let other drivers know that a racer hasn't raced that track before. There are different conventions and rules about it, but it is basically a bright marker on a car to let people know you're new. So this card contains a strip of tape, probably from Danica Patrick's Nationwide Series car, as she hadn't raced at the top level of NASCAR yet when this card was produced. The card is numbered # 09 / 11, so this isn't an easy one to find.

I happened to stumble across this listing very soon after it was posted to eBay. The price was too good and the relic was too unique for me to pass it up. I hit the Buy It Now pretty quickly and soon it was in my hands.

This isn't a very good picture of it, but the relic window is pretty deep, so the authentication sticker had to make a pretty big dip to get from the card surface down to the signature on the tape. Usually autographs are on the surface of the card (or on a sticker on the card), so you don't get a stepped authentication sticker like this.

04 July 2018

2010 SEGA Card Gen Lot

My 4th of July didn't go exactly as planned. We were going to take the kids to the water park, but I woke up with a headache, dizzy spells, and an upset stomach. So my wife and kids went to the water park and I mostly stayed in bed. I did manage to go out and get a handful of fireworks in the late afternoon, and after my family came home I went outside to set them off. It kind of stunk to be sick on the holiday, but I am feeling a little better this evening and should be able to make it in to work in the morning.

I have a full set of 2013 SEGA Card Gen cards and a pretty large number of cards from the 2012 set, but I don't have many from the earlier versions of the product out of Japan. A bunch of 2010 SEGA Card Gen cards came up on eBay recently, and I grabbed a fair number of them. For the most part I didn't bite on any of the higher-priced big names, but I got a lot of other guys from the set. Kendrys Morales' Wikipedia page says that MLB mistakenly called him 'Kendry' until May 2011, and you can see that on his card here.

I did wind up grabbing one big name in this lot, opting to pay a little more to get that Lance Berkman card into my collection. Other than that, this scan has a lot of relief pitchers and a couple of starters. And Nate McLouth.

Here are some card backs for you. I love all of the trading card game / video game imagery on these cards, with the star ratings and the power bars for different attributes. It seems odd to me that Lance Berkman has a relatively low total score of 75 and an 8-star rating, but I am guessing that certain attributes are worth more stars than others.

Here are the last eight cards from this lot. Carlos Gomez made the GIF and video circuit today for beating up a cooler with his bat. I hope he feels better now. I like that picture of Rod Barajas in his catching gear.

The seller also included a quartet of shiny bonus cards in the package. The highlight is probably that Jose Bautista in the upper left, but I also like that Refractory Dylan Bundy in the lower left.

02 July 2018

Deadlift Lolita - It's SO Time - CD Single with Autographs

I've posted about Deadlift Lolita before. They are a kawaiicore (a blend of J-pop and heavy metal) band made up of professional wrestlers and bodybuilders Ladybeard and Reika Saiki. Their first cd single was called Muscle Cocktail, and I recently saw on Twitter that they'd released a second single entitled It's 躁タイム! I think that roughly translates to It's SO Time! I went ahead and placed an order on Ladybeard's website. I don't think the site mentioned this when I made my order, but now the item description says that the first 40 orders will include an autograph and an instant photo.

My copy of the single was autographed by Ladybeard and Reika Saiki. That makes this a pretty cool bit of swag.

The back of the cd sleeve has the track listing and pictures of the group, which I believe come from Japan Weekend Madrid, where the music video for It's SO Time! was filmed.

An instant photo with additional autographs was included in the package as well. Considering the price that Reika Saiki autographs from the BBM True Heart wrestling card sets go for, two autographs for the price of a cd (even with shipping that tripled the cost of the purchase) is a nice deal.

For anyone who is curious, here is the official music video for the song. It's not my favorite song by them, but it's decent. My favorites from them are Six-Pack Twins, Pump Up JAPAN, and Muscle Cocktail.

Contested Shots 33: Big Fun Game Cards from John Miller

I've been away from my blog for a while. My June output of 3 posts was the fewest in a month ever on this blog. I went to a Weird Al Yankovic concert in Spokane with my wife at the end of May. It was a pretty good show once Al and his band came out. The opening act was a set by comedian Emo Phillips, and it just didn't resonate with me. He had some funny jokes, but a lot of his set was (in my opinion) unfunny or kind of mean-spirited. As he went on, I started to regret spending the money it took to get tickets, hotel, and transportation to the venue. Luckily, Weird Al put on a great show and I felt much better about things when it was all over. Here is a link to the setlist from the concert, for anyone who wants to see what songs he did.

During the first couple of weeks in June, my friend/coworker who was fighting Stage IV Melanoma started visiting the hospital for headaches and other complications. He had a scan done, and the doctor told him that the cancer had spread into his brain, and they were pretty much out of treatment options. On the 15th, he went into the hospital again, and on the 16th he was alive but largely unresponsive. He would wake up from time to time over the weekend, but most of his friends and family visited to say goodbye to him. On the night of the 17th he woke up and felt a lot better, so they got him set up with hospice care and he went home on the 18th. On the 19th he went back into being unresponsive, and the nurses said it looked like his organs were starting to shut down. On the morning of the 22nd he died.

I spent a lot of time at the hospital and his house during that period, trying to help out and be supportive of him and his family. My wife was out of town, so I had taken leave from work for the week to take care of my kids, and so I had a lot of open time to devote to being there. I had been in the in the same military unit as my friend for quite a while, starting in 2003, and from 2008 on, we worked in the same building at our day jobs. A couple of his brothers were also coworkers of mine at different times, and a couple of years ago he helped me get into my current job. Our work group grew pretty close over those two years, and it is a pretty big blow to have him gone. He'd been fighting cancer for a while, but we hoped he would be around a little longer. He just went downhill really fast there at the end.

I had a ticket to the WWE Live show in Boise the evening of the 22nd, and I decided to go ahead and go to the show. It was good to get away from things for a few hours, and the wrestling was pretty entertaining. There weren't quite as many of my favorites on the card as there have been at previous shows I've attended, but it was still good.

Last week was pretty much taken up by my friend's wake, his funeral, and the military memorial ceremony they held for him at the base I work on. This weekend my kids took turns being sick, and I am trying to fit in some comp time at work to make up for all the time I missed over the last half of June.

I've still been collecting cards, but I haven't had much motivation to blog about them lately. I'm at the point where I am so far behind that it feels like too much work to get caught up. Hopefully I can get back into a rhythm in my life that includes posting with more frequency.

I got a package in the mail from John Miller of the Johnny's Trading Spot blog the other day. He recently put on a Big Fun Game, which is a contest where participants pick a random number to reveal a prize package. There are options to steal prizes or exchange them, My original selection was a lot of rookie cards, but it was stolen, so my next selection wound up being a bunch of vintage cardboard, mostly from the 70's. That's a fun year in cardboard history, so I was pretty happy to win it.

I mentioned that most of the cards were from the 70's, but this Carl Yastrzemski / Chuck Schilling Sox Sockers card comes from 1964 Topps, which makes it 2 years younger than my parents!

I like these team photo cards, although in many of them you can't really tell who is who. The manager cards are kind of neat as well. Imagine how small the checklists of today might be if rookies still had to share one card between three or four of them, instead of getting a couple cards each in a set!

Here is a fun quartet of cards from the 1976 checklist, with some nice classic baseball card poses on display.

Next we move into 1977, with some really eye-catching (or eye-searing, depending on the taste of the viewer) uniforms on display. I love those colorful Astros uniforms, and that red Cleveland look is pretty cool.

I am not as enamored of these 1978 cards, but there are some gems here still. I like that pose and the uniform on the Adrian Devine card in the upper left, and the evidence of a large plug of tobacco in the cheek of Jeff Byrd.

I close out the vintage cards with some more 1978 cards and a lone 1979. I like how close the Jim Clancy and Mark Littell poses are to each other. Ben Oglivie, John Scott, and Sal Bando all look like they mean business with those bats in their hands. Good stuff here.

The final card in the package was a 2006 Topps Mickey Mantle Home Run History insert card. I wasn't in the hobby in 2006, so I wasn't familiar with this insert set. Apparently Topps made a big cross-brand set with cards for each one of Mantle's career home runs. Card #HR1 was available in 2006 Topps Series 1, and later cards in the set were inserted in other products during 2006 and 2007. It must have been a nightmare to complete the set.

Thanks for the contest and the prize, John Miller! It was fun to participate, and this was a fun batch of cards to sort through!