Monday, June 30, 2014

Trading with Waiting 'til Next Year

Cards were exchanged. Good times were had by all.

I'm "celebrating" the first night where it's officially too warm to cool down my dwelling properly, and I thought I'd pull out some more cards to scan and file away. P-Town Tom sent over another batch of 2012 Triple Play cards for Erin's set and tossed in some Cardinals as well, because that's a thing that I do. By the way, make sure you check out the group break at Waiting 'til Next Year if there's still time (is there?). It'll cost you less than a large sandwich at a mediocre fast food chain.

Erin was too eager to put her Triple Play cards in their proper place (binder), so I'm left with just some Cardinals to show off. At this point, there are literally thousands of miniature Cardinals cards out there that I don't own, but that doesn't mean I don't want them all. I do! All of them!

Oh Jhonny Pheralta. Yhou hhave shuch phower, yhet yhou shwing at ehvery dhamn phitch! Yheesh.

Sunday, June 29, 2014

Clearly Amazing

Quality you can see through!

This was another Listia pickup, something that I spent far too few credits on for it to be worth it to the seller. Things like this make me feel a little bit bad. Even though he shares space with a couple of other guys, this clear acetate 2014 Topps parallel (#4 out of 10) immediately becomes one of the crown jewels of my burgeoning Adam Wainwright collection.

I'll give some credit where credit is due, especially with the Dodgers taking 3 of 4 from the Cardinals in St. Louis. With apologies to Jordan Zimmermann, who is a fine pitcher of his own right, this is a crazy time to be dumping low numbered Clayton Kershaw cards right now. And, of course, I wasn't even thinking of him when I bid all of my available credits on this card.

Friday, June 27, 2014

Airbrushed Fridays: 1976 Topps Traded #85T

Oh Mickey, you're so fine. You're so fine, you blow my mind. Hey Mickey.

Who is he? Mickey Rivers, or "Mick the Quick" as he was often known, was a speedy center fielder who played throughout the '70s and the first half of the '80s. He also probably had to suffer through a few Toni Basil moments throughout the latter stages of his career.

How did he get here? After beginning his big league career with the Angels, Rivers was traded to the Yankees straight up for Bobby Bonds. It was in New York where his career would really blossom, as he made his only All-Star appearance with the Yankees. He also won two World Series rings on those Reggie Jackson era teams.

Repeat offender? No

Other versions of this card: 1976 Topps #85

Airbrushed Score: 5

Comments: Oscar Gamble thinks they did a fine job with this one.

Wednesday, June 25, 2014

Why I Don't Talk About Football in the Offseason

Small town media is small.

I love the Oregon Ducks, as anyone who reads this blog in the fall is already well aware of. I enjoy watching football and I enjoy playing Tecmo Super Bowl. I've even been known to watch a little bit of NFL on the side, though the pro game increasingly seems like the world's most elaborate and expensive reality TV show instead of just a fun sport. I have a hard time talking about or even thinking about football in the offseason, however. I usually have a hard time putting my finger on it, other than the fact that it's weird to speak so often about something that doesn't happen roughly 350 days out of the year.

I read something today that suddenly seemed like the perfect example of why I have a hard time with it in the offseason. De'Anthony Thomas, the (now former) Duck speed demon retweeted something that some random person said on the internet. And this was news, apparently? I could go in depth into what internet etiquette says about what someone does or doesn't retweet and try to find the hidden messages behind it all, but why bother? I wasn't thrilled when DAT jumped to the NFL and am not entirely optimistic about his prospects, but he had some big moments as a Duck. Unfortunately, injuries likely prevented him from being an All-American All-Star Whatever in college. And he's in Kansas City now. I'll root like hell for him (from the box score at least) whenever he gets a chance to do something in the pros like I would for any Duck. Do I honestly care if he had concerns about the current Oregon head coach? No! I'm not even sure how much I'd care if DAT was still on the team and there was a game tomorrow. I'm glad that we're not reading stories about guys getting into trouble with the law, but this age of terrible local journalism means that writers... er... content generators have to dredge up things from social media outlets to drum up interest and get the all-important clicks.

I'll see you all in the fall, Mighty Oregon.

Many thanks to Too Many Grandmas/Verlanders/Manninghams for the De'Anthony card, as well as some other Ducks that will be featured some time down the road. I wish Upper Deck football cards weren't so pricey, because they still put out a nice looking college set.

Tuesday, June 24, 2014

Too Many Cards To Scan!

This is how a good chunk of my 2014 Topps Heritage set came to be.

I probably didn't do a fantastic job showing just how many cards Howard sent to me, but just know that the two stacks of 2014 Topps Heritage cards represented here are just about a card's length tall. Base cards, inserts, Cardinals cards, and even the goofy box store blue Cano parallel that sits on top.

If you've got extra cards, go on over and check out Howard's "Wanted: Baseball Cards" want lists and help him out!

Now if you'll excuse me, I've got some sorting to do, in between my panic sessions over the demise of the Cardinals starting rotation.

Friday, June 20, 2014

Airbrushed Fridays: 2014 Topps #553

Let's all hop in the Hot Topps Time Machine.

Who is he? Michael Pineda is an interesting story. Plucked from the Dominican Republican at age 16 by the Mariners, he was an All-Star in his rookie season, virtually unheard of for a starting pitcher. He scuffled a bit towards the end of the season and then spent nearly two seasons recovering from a labrum tear. Now he might be best known for using excessive amounts of pine tar and practically begging someone to tell him he couldn't.

How did he get here? Pineda was dealt to the Yankees in one of those rare top prospect-for-top prospect trades. Seattle got Jesus Montero in return, but both sides didn't really know exactly what they were getting. In Montero, Seattle got a guy who can't play any kind of defense and who has kept himself off of the field for other reasons (drugs, food?, hitting) as well. Meanwhile, the Yankees got a quality starting pitcher who has yet to catch a break from the injury gods.

Repeat offender? No

Other versions of this card: None, but this Photoshop has been used before. In 2012. Here's the original source photo from 2011!

Airbrushed Score: 8

Comments: Well, this is what happens when a guy doesn't pitch for a long time. I've got an idea, though. Topps has 3 series of base cards. If they can't get a current photo out of a guy by their Series 2 deadline, why don't they hold him back for the Update Series? Is it that hard?

Thursday, June 19, 2014

Number 500

Another milestone has been reached.

The nice thing about finally keeping track of my player collections, rather than letting them get totally out of control, is that I know something about numbers now. Today I officially received my 500th unique Ozzie Smith card. This is his 2001 Topps Traded card, a reprint of his first Topps Cardinals card. The original was actually one of my proudest collecting achievements, as it seemed to be such a scarce item that I am quite certain I had never seen one until I started this blog thing here.

This one, well, it's nice, too. It's glossy and thin and looks and feels like every set Topps puts out these days. That's just what they do now. Another day, another Listia acquisition - but this one has a nice round number next to it.

Wednesday, June 18, 2014

The $10 Retail Challenge: The Man on the Box

The spokesmodel for Topps Series 2 happened to throw one of the game's most dominant no-hitters tonight, just in time for the conclusion to this series.

Hanger boxes are kind of a cheat. There are no shiny wrappers to peel open and the anticipation is only as great as you make it. You open the box, slide out the contents that are thinly wrapped in clear cellophane, and everything you will ever get is just laid out before you. A lesser person could easily toss chunks of base cards at the wall. (This is probably something that those crazy bulk case breakers actually do for fun.) I was really enamored with the little cereal boxes when Topps first introduced this concept, back in 2009, but it was more about looking at the little boxes with the legends on the cover than what was inside. It was a novelty idea. Topps soon made them look all gangly and uninteresting so they could do something functional like hang on a metal rack, and here we are.

In truth, however, if you're willing to sacrifice the thrill of opening several little packages for one big one, these are a good value.

I didn't manage to get a single Target exclusive red parallel in any of the loose packs I opened, so it was nice to see these make a return here even though they were all but promised to me on the outside of the box. I don't think the jumbo packs were Target exclusives (I think maybe they don't come that way) and I forgot to check the odds on the wrappers anyway, so maybe I wasn't super unlucky.

I was unlucky in that, for the third time, I pulled the a double of an insert. Not cool, Topps. Not cool.

Gone are the shocking yellow parallels that most people seemed to love and in their place are these hideous orangey brown things. eBay users are calling them "brown", but they don't really look like a real color that exists. Who am I to argue with eBay people? The yellow cards actually seem to cost a fortune, but I bet these won't quite hold the same value because they couldn't possibly be attractive to anyone. Plus, the two that I pulled have very slightly fuzzy corners anyway.

Hector Sanchez gets the award for being the Guy That's Been in the League For Four Years Who I Still Have Never Heard Of.

Here's another new insert featuring an extremely unflattering photo of a player that seems to be a bit of a shock that he ranks among the league leaders in anything. I guess that's probably the point here, though.

Here's the man of the hour. Tower of power.

Another red hot red card of a player for a red team.

Motte plain.

Motte gold. Much better! It's always nice to get a Cardinals "hit". And yes, this is what I consider a hit. Stop laughing.

Remember when everyone was scrambling to get one of the only cards that was printed of this Puig guy? I'm pretty sure that Topps Update is going to be nothing but 330 Puig cards, and only the inserts will have other players -- posing with and/or getting a bat flipped at them by Puig.

Okay, you know what? I'm not above this after all. These are turd parallels. In 2011, Topps had shiny chunky vomit colored parallels and now they're just churning out turds. Sorry, guys, I really tried.

I'll end it on a good note with this Michael Wacha Future Stars card.

So which configuration reigned supreme? I'm going to go with the hanger box, despite the "orange" parallels that I'm really not fond of. This whole experience seemed to have a heavy Dodgers feel to it, however. I don't feel great about that.

UPDATE: Well, this is awkward. It seems like I pulled one of those ridiculously silly sparkle variations as well. I should probably head off to eBay with this.

Tuesday, June 17, 2014

The $10 Retail Challenge: Jumbo Pack!

Previously on The $10 Retail Challenge...

The rack pack, as we knew it, is essentially dead. In the glorious days of junk wax, you could sometimes find the three-pronged packs of Topps at a specially marked value price, complete with an exclusive insert card. They were easy to search and the insert card was usually on the front somewhere. People actually would put these things away as collectors items when their favorite player or someone they perceived to be of value was showing on the front of one of these things. I know little of what happened with Topps during the dark years of 1994 through 2005 or so, but I was happy to see that the rack pack was still alive and well when I returned to collecting. The 2006 set contained "vintage" cards to commemorate some sort of anniversary, while the 2007 set had the expected exclusive insert cards as they used to in the '80s.

And then, suddenly Topps went a different direction. Jumbo packs have more or less replaced the old rack pack, and they've essentially become larger, slightly cheaper-per-card packs. There are inserts by the dozen and a little more mystery than we're accustomed to. No more exclusive inserts, however. In my day, you got your glossy All-Star card and you liked it. You barely even knew what an "insert" was.

Here's part two of the series, where I will judge the contents of two jumbo retail packs largely on their insert contents. I'm a hypocrite.

Series 2 is one big Photoshop frenzy. If I had more time on my hands, I would try to track down the source image for this card. It's pretty closely cropped, however, so it might be tough.

Minty green rack pack parallels have returned as unannounced as ever before. This set has an alarming amount of parallels, as if Topps somehow became savvy with social media and read that player collectors like to collect a rainbow of their favorite players. Ah, crap, I guess that's what is happening.

You may remember this card from such posts as last night's post. There are three different cards for each player in this insert series, but I had to go and pull the exact same one of Freeman again.

I got a green parallel in each pack. I think that's what is supposed to happen. Hochevar went from failed top prospect to superior reliever last year. The next logical step was, apparently, Tommy John surgery.

I suppose this is the key rookie card of the set. He's not going to be cheap, but the nice thing for Abreu supercollectors is that he doesn't have several thousand different Bowman cards to chase before he ever set foot on a major league field.

Here's an insert that is new to Series 2. It's a little busy.

And... I got two of them. Great.

Last year, the Cardinals were heavily represented in Series 1 and then nearly frozen out of Series 2. I'm glad to see the distribution across the two series a little bit more even this time around.

Soto hasn't played yet this season due to injury and hasn't really been what you could consider a good player in something like 4 years.

I'm happy to report that this is Shane Robinson's first real card since 2009. Huzzah! It's almost like Topps forgets about your fifth or sixth outfielder!

I'm crossing my fingers and hoping that Wainwright's mild elbow tendinitis is nothing more than what those words literally mean.

All in all, these were good packs for a Cardinal fan, at least.

Monday, June 16, 2014

The $10 Retail Challenge: 2014 Topps Series 2

A fun little experiment that I like to do.

I've done this a few times in some form or another with the Topps base set, and I'm going to try it again. For my first dip into the 2014 Topps Series 2 waters, I decided to buy $10 worth of cards in the three different configurations available on the retail aisle. Love it or hate it, retail packs and boxes provide a somewhat affordable option for the budget collector. Let's face it -- I would not be a card collector today and you would not be reading this blog if you couldn't buy an occasional pack at a retail store for a couple of bucks. Hobby shops are an awkward and completely off-the-beaten-path experience in my city, and on the rare occasion that I do seek one out, I am reminded that they have steep rent to pay and have to set their prices accordingly.

I picked up 5 loose packs, 2 jumbo/rack packs and 1 hanger box of the new stuff. Tonight, I'm going to take a look at what I pulled from the loosies. These guys are already at a disadvantage as there will be fewer cards (60 vs. 72) than the other two options. Still, strange and wonderful things have occasionally been known to happen to a random loose pack, at least ones that haven't been tampered with. Oh man, now I'm already starting to get sad.

I'm only scanning and talking about the non-base cards, unless they are Cardinals cards. I like Cardinals cards, you see. All the non-Cardinals from these posts are up for grabs, although I do typically earmark certain cards for people I trade with often. Also, if you're building a set or just want to trade, feel free to leave a link to your want list in the comments.

This boring insert set is an unwelcome holdover from Series 1, which means there's an extremely good chance it will be around for Series 3... er... the Update Series. (Seriously, if they started calling it Series 3 and numbered the cards accordingly I would be a very happy person.) There are several of these per player once again, and two more Cardinals are featured.

Gold cards fall at 1 in 7 packs now, which seems to be a significant increase over past years. I don't remember if it was the same for Series 1, but it probably was. I really wish they still had the "X Years of Collecting" tag on these cards somewhere, because that made them a little more special than just another border variation. There are too many border variations, by the way. Far too many!

Yawn. I'm so bored of these.

I didn't pull very many Red Hot Foil parallels the first time around. I did end up with tons of the Emerald parallels from last year, though. I guess they are roughly equivalent.

This is a great card, though it's a little disappointing that Holliday isn't participating in High Socks Sunday. This is one of my favorite rituals, and another thing to love about Jon Jay. I'm always conflicted about Jay. He is a fun player to watch, but an example of someone that you can be frustrated by when his numbers or his defense aren't up to par. This team has a lot of options.

More Red Hot Foil. The Astros are starting to really build up an impressive stable of young talent, aren't they? It's almost like the guy that helped completely turn around the Cardinals farm system is in charge of their rebuild. Oh wait... he is?

And that's... it. It seems like there's usually a deluge of inserts and parallels in every Topps pack, but these ones were pretty lean. Maybe Topps wants people to be able to put together a set on their own after all.

Friday, June 13, 2014

Not Airbrushed Friday

It's Friday the 13th! I can do what I want.

I wasn't feeling super inspired to write about a random airbrushed card today, but I was pretty excited about a card I got in the mail from a Listia auction. I decided to post something about it instead. Hey, if you don't like it, get your own blog! They're handing them out on the corner for free.

Wilmer Mizell pitched for the Cardinals for 7 seasons, a tenure interrupted by two years that he served in the Army. He won 90 games, more than he lost, and had respectable all around numbers. He went on to serve in the House of Representatives for 6 years.

1958 Topps has some great cartoons and has a great comic book feel to it when you flip the cards over. This one is a bit of a confusing read unless you realize that Vinegar Bend was Mizell's nickname (apparently nicknames came with first and last names back then). The cartoon features a guy who seems way too obese to have existed in the '50s, pre-KFC Double Down, giving the ol' hotfoot to his sleep deprived teammate. It's even less believable that this mass of a man could have been a professional athlete at the highest level of competition in his chosen sport, but hey, I wasn't born until the '70s.

Wednesday, June 11, 2014

A Contest, Some Odds, Some Sods

There's a mega contest. Some cards from a trade post. And, hey, look -- my Chris Carpenter list is finally live.

First things first this evening: Red Cardboard, an ardent supporter of a team I cannot support, is holding a pretty massive spring cleaning style contest. I'm planning on doing a bit of spring cleaning of my own, but it probably won't result in anything that would be worth holding a contest over. Anyway, the gist is that you can get a bunch of free cards while doing relatively nothing, so get on over there! There's vintagey stuff and shiny stuff. Both kinds.

Meanwhile, buckstorecards sent me a few gems from across the border, hitting up several different teams of interest to me. I'm a big Oregon Ducks fan, though you typically only hear about it hear during football season. I have so much unscanned Ducks that I should probably cave in and show off a few of these things every once in awhile. Clemens is still in the league, having signed with the Chargers after spending the last three seasons in St. Louis.

I also got a number of 1988 Leaf/Donruss cards that appear to be in pack fresh form. Many of my cards from 1986 through 1988 suffer from a bit of wear, so I bet several of them will end up in my binders. Lance Johnson had some productive years with the White Sox after getting just a taste of the sweet, sweet Cardinal red. He actually randomly made an All-Star team once, but it was after he was out of Chicago.