Friday, February 28, 2014

Airbrushed Fridays: 2013 Topps Update Series #US96

Hey hey hey HEY!

Who is he? Mark DeRosa, jack of all trades, was a utility guy that was a key bench player on a number of Braves teams early in his career. He finally got a shot at a full-time gig in a three year arc that included stops in Texas and Chicago. He's one of those guys whose reputation precedes his actual accomplishments on the field -- basically, your typical "great clubhouse guy" who isn't going to embarrass himself on the field. He concluded his impressive 16 year career by announcing his retirement recently.

How did he get here? After a rash of wrist injuries limited him in stops in St. Louis, San Francisco and Washington, the Blue Jays signed DeRosa as a free agent to enter the 2013 season which would prove to be his final hurrah.

Repeat offender? No

Other versions of this card: None. As we all know, Topps heavily relies on Getty Images these days for their cards, so for the more recent stuff I am going to try to track down the source image for these. I couldn't find a good match for this one.

Airbrushed Score: 5

Comments: I don't know, sometimes a card just looks weird. With Photoshop, there's a way that the logos and other markings just look like they're floating on the image rather than being part of it. The background is really blurry and I could probably convinced that I'm in the wrong here, which is why I gave this a fairly low "score".

Thursday, February 27, 2014

Trading with Chavez Ravining


A slick trade with one of life's many Dodgers fans.

I've been trying to follow the blogs and do as much reading in my spare time as I can, but a busy daytime work schedule gets in the way. (Is there a good mobile option for reading these things yet?) I did manage to find the time to arrange a few small trades recently, including some with folks I've never dealt with before. One of those folks is Alex from Chavez Ravining, which has a better ring to it than Dodger Stadiuming. The linchpin of the trade was a 2013 Topps Heritage Miguel Cabrera Target parallel, which fills one of the many holes in my set.

Alex threw in some Cardinals cards and a couple of player collection needs as well, which is always nice. Here's a silly card. Incidentally, the guy that provided the voice of McGruff was sentenced to 16 years in prison for owning a massive pot farm and weapons stash. Oh, America!

Colby looks like someone poured mustard on his head here.

So... this is funny and topical!

Here's one for Erin's collection. She's been accumulating quite the Tulo stash lately. I bet she'd be happier if they were Yadis, however.

I am really excited to see Wacha get a chance to take the mound every fifth game this year. That should be exciting, providing that he doesn't encounter any hitches along the way.

Oh, there's Yadi. He says hi.

Wednesday, February 26, 2014

The Lost Years

We used to have so many brands. 

The second jumbo sized package from Howard in the past few months was comprised almost entirely of Cardinals cards from brands that don't exist today (i.e. not Topps) and from the years I couldn't call myself a card collector. These are The Lost Years. My interest in baseball cards began to wane as I got closer to high school graduation, and the year after I graduated there was no World Series. It was hard to even watch baseball again for awhile.

I have no memory of Mike Gallego as a Cardinal, but seeing him like this doesn't surprise me. Tony La Russa employed a number of players he coached in Oakland in his early days with the Cards. Dennis Eckersley and Mark McGwire come to mind most prominently, but there were quite a few others.

There are several variations on this Ron Gant You Crash the Game insert, so I'm not exactly sure which this is. It has a golden sheen to it, so I'm thinking it might be a gold parallel of an insert. Maybe. Who knows?

This looks like a dream I had once.

I've opened a few of these preview packs and I don't remember getting any Cardinals cards, so this is probably going into the binders.

There aren't many cards of Willie McGee in a throwback jersey, so I am really digging this card. He came back to the team at the tail end of his career and did pretty well in a reduced role.

This is a nice shot of Big Mac. Lost in all of the steroids nonsense sometimes is that McGwire was, or at least seemed to be, one of the nicer guys in the game. I can't really defend what he did, though. I don't care how many people were doing it.

Here's one for the ever-growing Ozzie binder.

I'm slowly discovering that there's quite an army of second-year Albert Pujols cards on the market.

I didn't know that Upper Deck got into the oddball game much after the early-'90s, but this appears to be a Post cereal card. I wonder if this came from a cereal box. I would probably buy more cereal (or cookies, or bread, or whatever) if you could get special baseball cards inside. Yeah, I probably shouldn't have admitted that.

There were a couple of nice Ginter parallels tossed into this group. Duncan had to retire way too early in his career, but he's one of the lucky ones to have a World Series ring to call his own.

Tuesday, February 25, 2014

When Did Repacks Get Good?

Value in a blind grab blister pack?

I've read a number of things about repacks lately and was finally bored enough in a Walgreen's to buy something I usually know better not to. I tend to stay far away from the type of repacks that offer nothing to random chance, as in the ones that don't contain actual factory sealed packs. Something about the luck others have had lately and the strange card on the front that caught my eye made me plunk down $3.99 for a sharp plastic blister pack of 100 cards, and I wasn't disappointed at all.

The card that caught my eye, of course, is the Mickey Mantle All-Star Topps Heritage card, done in the style of 1961 Topps. At first, I thought this might be a short print that I was probably missing from the 2010 Topps Heritage set, but those cards actually say "Topps News" at the top instead of Sporting News. A little research while waiting in line led to the discovery that these cards are from some sort of promotional set that has to do with the 2011 National Convention. In any case, this isn't your typical dime box card and, even though I haven't figured out if I'm keeping it or not, it made the entire purchase worthwhile.

The rest is just gravy. Here's a sampling:

It's The Hawk, on a blue '87 Donruss card.

I'm pretty familiar with all of the rack pack All-Star Glossy inserts from '80s Topps cards, but I'd never seen this one before.

I'm not sure what this was doing in the middle of the pack. Usually the flashiest cards are facing the outside of the package in order to entice prospective buyers who can't decide what kind of toothpaste they want. Like me! There is a less than perfect corner to this card, but otherwise I'm really surprised to see an insert from Harper's rookie year set.

Whoa! An actual card for my collection. And it's serial numbered.

Hmm... weird mid-'90s card from a set I'm not familiar with.

I wonder how much a pack of 2005 Fleer Showcase would run you these days.

The newly elected Hall of Famer wants you to look at his eyes, man. Or he's flipping us off. I'm not entirely sure.

I have no idea who Dave Goltz is, but it's a sharp cornered card from 36 years ago. That has to count for something.

Poorly cut Captain Hank thinks this pack is weird.

Here's a trio of excellent pitchers, with only the guy on the left still at it today. (This card is only two years old.)

There was actually a second, equally as rare National card hidden in this pack. This is officially crazy.

How about a dazzling Wizard card that I actually needed for my collection?

Um... I like O-Pee-Chee.


Friday, February 21, 2014

Airbrushed Fridays: 1987 Topps Coins #39

Applications of airbrushing to metallic objects.

Who is he? Tony Pena was a 5-time All-Star and 4-time Gold Glove winning catcher who currently serves as the Yankees bench coach. He also managed the Royals for several years about a decade ago.

How did he get here? Pena was an established star when the Cardinals traded Andy Van Slyke and two other players to Pittsburgh at the very beginning of the 1987 season. He struggled mightily at the plate in St. Louis but still managed to gain another All-Star selection in his third season as a Cardinal.

Repeat offender? No

Other versions of this card: None

Airbrushed Score: 8

Comments: Yes, they even airbrushed things that aren't technically cards. Man, that cap looks bad.

Tuesday, February 18, 2014

Cards on Cards Greatest Hits

A little classier than "Show Us Your Hits", perhaps.

I pulled this Giancarlo Stanton jersey card, numbered to just 99, out of a Topps hanger box over the week. (Most offers accepted.) It's a really nice looking card. I believe the odds on these are 1:380 boxes, which means that you'd basically have to spend $3800 to get one (on average.) While the card itself isn't going to bring me ultimate riches (it's selling for around $20 and has a "book price" of just $10), it did get me thinking about some of the greatest "hits" I've pulled in my time around these blogs.

This puppy came out of a box that was a gift from a friend. While the rest of the box didn't give me a ton of things I needed for the set that I am still working on to this day, I never thought I'd own a genuine piece of Mantle memorabilia. I can't complain about Jorge Posada per se, but it's interesting that they didn't pair Mantle with another player of higher stature on this card. Considering my luck with pulls, though, this will be hard to top for the rest of my collecting life.

My biggest Group Break hit, and almost certainly the most expensive card I'll hold in my hands in my lifetime, is this 1/1 auto/bat barrel from Albert Pujols. The autograph is on a sticker and his picture is really small, but this was a crazy lucky hit that I had no business ending up with. I immediately had thoughts of selling it, and absolutely should have considering that he was probably at the peak of his popularity at the time I received it. Now that he's no longer a Cardinal, it's a little easier to think about letting go of this card, but those feelings are definitely offset by the fact that there's no way the payoff would be as great. Pujols is almost certainly a Hall of Famer, and his heyday was in Cardinal Red (as opposed to that totally different Angel Red) where he was the unquestioned MVP of two Cardinals title teams.

And that's... it. I can't really think of more than two eye-popping hits that I've managed to snag by random chance. I feel fortunate every time I get something rare, be it a Marlin jersey or a Royal autograph. And it's been great to occasionally find good homes for these minor gems.

This is probably the best card that I own, however. It was a gift from Erin and it's not perfect, but it's a lot nicer than my scanner would have you believe. It probably has 95/5 centering from top to bottom, if the 5 means that there is a little snip of white border. The corners are in really good shape, and overall it's a great example of a great card that turns 35 years old this year. Not bad.

Nice sideburns, too.

Monday, February 17, 2014

All the Ginter, All the Heritage

More huge piles of cards means more huge piles of cards for me to sort.

Howard has struck again. Tonight I'm going to show off just a few cards from the first of several huge packages I've received from the man in the past couple of months. I put out a (late) call for Allen & Ginter cards last year and he was the first person to really put a dent in my want list. It was more like a mortar bomb, to be honest. This was finally the year that broke me, where I barely bought any packs or boxes of Ginter and have relied almost exclusively on fellow internet card collectors and some Listia auctions to go about putting together the set. And while I have more base card needs from this year than each of the past five years worth of sets, I'm glad I was at least able to do some good and get a bunch of extras out of someone else's home for a change.

It's a fancy lady in a fancy hat. I'm not much for royalty, so I'm always completely out of my element when people bring up the royals. Beatrix was the Queen of Netherlands, however, so I'm guessing she managed to keep herself out of the tabloids for the most part.

I can see them, man. Can't you? They're controlling our minds. And our weather. You know why it's been so cold? Chemtrails. You know why the US hasn't won more gold medals in the Winter Olympics? Chemtrails. You know why water just doesn't taste as good as it used to? Chemtrails.

This is a great looking black mini to go with The Big Hurt's uniform colors. It wouldn't have looked nearly as nice if he was shown with one of the teams he played for in later years like Oakland or Toronto.

I like that we are collecting cards of castles. You don't find this in other sets.

"So a Greek walks into a bar and..."

I decided not to scan any boring old white Heritage cards, opting for some blue ones instead. It seems like there's a million Dodgers-loving card collectors out there, so I'm probably driving everyone crazy by picking this card to show off.

And then there's this guy. He was born in the '90s, but is already starting to look like he could be someone's uncle. Yikes! At least he'll (someday) have that huge pile of money to swim around in.

Friday, February 14, 2014

Airbrushed Fridays: 2012 Topps Opening Day #49

What will 2014 be like for the outed PED users?

Who is he? Melky Cabrera is a Dominican born outfielder who toiled in mediocrity for much of his career as an outfielder until he randomly became an All-Star in 2012, playing for his 4th team in as many seasons. Only about a month after that All-Star Game, he was suspended 50 games PED use and people stopped paying attention to him again.

How did he get here? The Giants traded Jonathan Sanchez, who had a no hitter under his belt, to the Royals to get Melky after he had his best season at the plate to date.

Repeat offender? No

Other versions of this card: 2012 Topps #15 (pre-Photoshop!)

Airbrushed Score: 10

Comments: Finally, we have our first Photoshopped card that can be compared side-by-side with its original photo. It's too bad, too, because the original photo is pretty great and shouldn't be messed with.