Monday, May 27, 2019

A Wild Local Card Shop Has Appeared!

I bought a hobby box for the first time in forever. 

This has been casually mentioned on the blog a few times, but the Portland area has been pretty lacking in quick baseball card fixes. This, and my general thriftiness, has led me to spend most of the cash earmarked for cards at Target and other retail outlets. My favorite card shop option in the past required a trip across the river and to the suburbs (Beaverton), but that place shut down awhile back. Yesterday, on the way to a favorite brewery in Northeast Portland, I decided to finally check out a card shop that had been hiding in plain sight in a strip mall in outer Southeast... well, let's call it Gresham, because pretty much everything east of 122nd is considered Gresham to most Portland residents, whether that's fair or not.

I only allotted myself about 15-20 minutes to check out the place, as we were on a (self-imposed) schedule. Those beers aren't going to drink themselves, after all. I pawed through a quarter box for a few minutes, but I had already decided I may as well make a big splash and actually buy a box of cards for once, which I paid entirely too much money for. I understand, though, that you're not going to get online prices at a place that has to pay rent for a niche hobby. The place was crawling with Magic (?) card players (I think?) at tables, so I am hoping those guys are helping keep the lights on. They speak an entirely different language that I don't quite comprehend, although I'm sure they think the Cardinals are a bunch of dorks, too.

The box I bought was the new Topps Big League, a set I'm having a lot of fun with. I took down a bunch of my Cardinals base team set needs, although I still have a few to go.

This was actually my third /100 foil parallel pull from the new Big League set. I don't think I have a Rays trading partner at at the moment, so I should probably seek one out.

There are one-per-pack gold parallels and blaster-only blue parallels. I'm going to need a lot of each. It was nice to take this one off the list, at least.

There are fun photos in this set.

Here's Matt Carpenter's Players Weekend Nicknames insert card. Last year's Players Weekend cards were numbered like parallels, but were decidedly not parallels in design, so I'm glad they did these differently this time around. I have never gotten in the habit of calling Matt "Carp", because the only true Carp to me was Chris Carpenter.

This was a bit of a surprise. I am not sure that I've ever personally pulled a Topps redemption card. This just goes to show you how rare it is that I buy hobby stuff to open, I guess. I think I've submitted a couple of Panini redemptions, and I definitely sent in for that Shaq rookie card from Upper Deck back in the day. This could be fun (or frustrating. I'm reminded that Erin waited for like a year and a half for a Jeff Clement autograph redemption to be fulfilled, way back in 2008. Jeff Clement!)

Weird Trout flex.

As I mentioned, there were quarter boxes. I am definitely going to have to go back sometime this summer. I only made it through one row of one box, but I was able to knock out my team set from 2017 Panini Diamond Kings.

There are two versions of both the Alex Reyes card and the Stan Musial card from this set. I needed one of each, and now I don't.

I bought this because (spoiler alert) I've been semi-secretly squirreling away George Springer cards for a few years now. Hmm.

Michael Wacha just got removed from the rotation, but I still was interested in snagging this Team USA card from his first year appearing on cards.

Wednesday, May 22, 2019

Back to Baseball

More goodies from @batcavelv as my attention shifts back to the Cardinals. 

With the Trail Blazers concluding their playoff run that ended in the Western Conference Finals earlier this week, my attention is no longer so divided. Unfortunately, the Cardinals are kind of a mess right now, with dreadful starting pitching and a feast-or-famine offense. This is my second straight post to feature goodies from Tracy's Box Breaks, with me picking up a Cardinals slot in a group break back around the Christmas holidays. (Hey, I'm actually posting about something I received in 2019 for once. It's cool.)

A couple of cards from the 2018 Topps Opening Day set helped me finish off my team set, sans a short printed Matt Carpenter card.

Marcell Ozuna had a nice game tonight in the second session of a day-night doubleheader. I'm trying to keep things positive!

Jordan Hicks has two cards in the Topps Chrome Update set from last year, both of which I needed. I still need the Miles Mikolas card from this set, as well as four more from the plain old non-Update Chrome set.

Here's the other Hicks card.

The big thing about this package, however, was the super cool "official" Cardinals magazine (program?) from 1971 that you see at the top of the post. It only has a few pages to it, but there are individual player photos (they are baseball card adjacent, with bios on the back) for the entire roster, as far as I can tell. I may post some scans in a future post. It was a cool find by Tracy, and I am very pleased to own it now. I don't know if they were sold at stadiums during games or somewhere else. It doesn't seem to reference any specific game or date. I am finally visiting St. Louis this summer and hope to find more stuff like this, if time (and money) allows.

Wednesday, May 15, 2019

Randomly Random

A big box of cards from @batcavelv keeps it fun and random. 

Let's throw it back to last fall once again, when Tracy's Box Breaks sent me a big ol' box of fun. I believe at least part of it went back to a group break I participated in, which as usual contained a nice variety of things for an affordable price. (There may still be some slots left in his latest break -- hit him up on Twitter to find out!)

Panini always seems to toss in some random designs for their Donruss set when it comes to their memorabilia cards, and this one is no exception. Aledmys Diaz now has the unenviable task of trying to fill in for superstar Jose Altuve in Houston during his stint on the IL.

Someday! Someday Alex Reyes will finally be the Golden God, but for now I'll have to setting for this gold (/50) manupatch from the 2016 Topps Pro Debut set.

Here he is, Jordan Hicks, the fastest pitcher in all of baseball. And I have his autograph! The internet can be a wonderful thing sometimes.

I wasn't at all familiar with the framed mini design from 2014 Allen & Ginter (it's red?!), so this is really cool. It's even cooler that it's Yadi.

Nick Plummer is still very young, but he's struggled to hit at every level so far. Let's hope that he figures it out soon.

This might be my first serial numbered card of the Cardinals '80s base thieving star. The Rookie Cup set from 2005 had kind of a strange base design, but I like what they were trying to do at least. It is one of the earlier examples of "the rainbow" which, unfortunately, is spiraling out of control (thanks, Panini!)

I'm not even sure what to make of this card, but it's a nice little oddity for my Waino collection. There's lightning involved, which I think makes it a parallel or at least some sort of insert.

There's a lot of detailed numbers on the back. I think this is part of a game, possibly a very complex one?

Here's a total curveball. Fleer teamed up with an artist in the '60s to illustrate each World Series matchup throughout the years. There's a solid article from about a decade ago about these cards if you're curious. And, you know, Google is your friend. (Well, sometimes.)

I've been paying a lot more attention to minor league cards lately in an attempt to document my needs. I'm always interested in minor league uniforms, which tend to vary from being parent club lookalikes to being as far away from their bosses as possible. This is more in the latter category.

Remember when I was talking about an endless stream of Panini parallels? The rainbow?

This color is called "shock". I don't know if they make a shock colored Crayola crayon. Perhaps Panini should design the next batch of crayons. I still do try to collect these things, so I guess that makes me the sucker.

Will there ever be a player-manager again in MLB, after the unpleasantness with Pete Rose? Rogers Hornsby had to do it all in 1926, and he had the series winning tag on Babe Ruth way back when.

Monday, May 13, 2019

My 89 Cent eBay Purchase

I can like relic cards if I want to. 

For about fifty cents less than last time, I took advantage of another eBay code thanks to @WatchTheBreaks and picked up an early-'00s curio featuring my old pal Jim Edmonds. The deal, same as last time, was a code that gets you three dollars off basically anything that is priced at more than three dollars. With many sports card listings on eBay having free shipping, this is one of those rare times where you can actually get something you want for mere pennies.

I know that I'm not supposed to be excited about memorabilia cards anymore, and anyone that has been around these cards as long as I have probably uses Jimmy Baseball cards to blow their nose on. Still, I need to work on my player collections a bit, and this was a nice get (for me.) That's all that matters, folks.

Sunday, May 12, 2019

Whatever Works

The Trail Blazers advance to the Western Conference Finals for the first time since 2000. 

For anyone who knows me personally, as a lifelong Blazers fan, I never really fully bought into the Dame-and-CJ vision for the team. They're two small guards who need the ball in their hands and like to take shots. Too much duplication of skills, not enough size and defense or whatever. Two scoring point guards trying to fit in a starting lineup. I've always liked CJ McCollum's game, but have always wondered what he could do in another setting while thinking of what Portland might be able to bring in return for him.

Well, this little experiment has been going on for quite some time, and has finally earned the team a berth in the Conference Finals against another starting backcourt known for long range theatrics. Sometimes, whatever works is whatever works, and it's brought the Blazers this far. With teams bearing down on Damian Lillard, CJ has offered up some incredible games. It's been an exciting season that has led into an even more thrilling playoff scenario. Game after game, round after round... this has been fun! Both teams are beat up, but it's mid-May and there are still more basketball games to be played.

Eight down, and eight more to go!

Wednesday, May 8, 2019

Super Baseball Card Land

Baseball cards and video games from @CommunityGum rule the night. 

There was a time when this whole blogging thing would threaten to eat up my precious video game time, and vice versa. Over the past half-dozen years or so, however, I've found very little time to make these button mashing escapes. Thanks to my first modern console purchase in the last 15+ years years (PS4 Black Friday deal), I've slowly started to carve out some dedicated video gaming time.

I've always been more of a "retro" guy when it comes to the pixelated games, however. 8 and 16 bits are the sweet spot for me. Back before I even made the PS4 purchase (which tells you how long I've been sitting on this post), I was lucky enough to make a claim to copies of Game Boy classics Super Mario Land and Super Mario Land 2, thanks to generous trader and longtime friend of the blog Community Gum.

I am nerdy enough to actually own a "Super Game Boy", which was an attachment shaped like a regular Super Nintendo cartridge that had a slot where you could insert the Game Boy games. This also supposedly brings out some of the enhancements of the Game Boy Color on these old games, where the colors are a bit nicer than the original dull green-on-grey that was a staple of the original machine. Basically, I'm playing the 1989 handheld classic on a 1080p smart TV, technically without any software emulation. (I'm not a very technical person despite working in a tech job, so you could easily convince me that there's an emulator inside the Super Game Boy cartridge and you'd probably be right. Whatever, guy.)

I always to remap the classic 'B' and 'A' button positions used for Super Mario Bros. to an SNES controller in my brain. I end up falling in a lot of pits trying and failing to run fast.

And there were cards, of course! Lots of great cards! Perpetual top prospect Alex Reyes suffered yet another setback recently, this time of his own doing when he punched a wall after a frustrating outing for Triple-A Memphis. Fortunately, it was his non-throwing hand (it broke). Unfortunately, it will probably be awhile before we see him in a Cardinals uniform again. If he can get it back on track, this rainbow foil limited-to-25-copies card may yet be one of the better cards in my collection.

Lou Brock, playing for the St. Louis Somebodies! This is a pretty slick insert from 2017 Donruss Optic (powered by Panini) once you get around the lack of logos.

There are some of those logos that I trust. This is both a mini and a short print (SP), which makes it an MSP. (Please don't let that be a thing.)

Buyback cards are very silly, but I have a few that have been sprinkled around my collection. They're an interesting curiosity that I don't totally mind. I don't think I would ever seek them out in quantity, though.

Panini went for an interesting grey look for this limited-to-199 parallel of the former Cardinals outfielder. He wears Blue Jays blue these days.

Jon also sent a big stack of those Honus Bonus weirdo cards. That set even came with its own limited parallel set, which is indicated by the foil stamp in the upper left corner. I do love weirdo cards, I hate to admit.

More Topps for the Rediscoverin'.

And finally, a healthy stack of this package was also dedicated to the 2017 Allen & Ginter set, one of the many recent Topps sets that I'm still working on. I think I need help.

Thanks again to Community Gum!

Monday, May 6, 2019

2019 Topps Heritage Want List is Live

As usual, I need a ton of cards. 

This is a bit later in the year than usual for me, but I finally compiled my list of 2019 Topps Heritage cards. You can check it out here. If you bought a bunch of this stuff and have some dupes to dump, I may be a good resource.

This year, I didn't add any of the rare SP/variation stuff to my list at all. I'm not against collecting these, but I'm also considering trading or selling off the few of these kinds of cards that I managed to accumulate from past sets. I've never seriously entertained thoughts of putting together a master set of any year, even though I like the idea. I just have so many incomplete sets as it is.

Thursday, May 2, 2019

Bowman Fever

Last week's #crackinwaxmailday featured new Bowman cards. 

Is Bowman a scam now? I say this with absolutely no shade directed at the good people at Crackin' Wax, who do a tremendous job with their group breaks. (I seriously wonder if they have time to do anything else with their weekends.) It just seems like, beginning with last year's Ohtanimania, Topps went in a different direction with their product, and not in a fun way. I seem to remember opening a few packs -- maybe even a blaster -- every year, and pulling a couple of fun parallels and maybe some trade fodder. It now seems slightly less than impossible to pull anything that isn't a common insert. And the retail prices have been inflated to the point where you only get six packs in a blaster. If you follow the Topps fuzzy blaster math where you get a "free" pack for purchasing a blaster, that equates to roughly $4 a pack of mostly base cards with a shrinking base of veterans. Bowman seems like more of a lottery than ever, which is not super fun for me.

Well, let's look at some of the cards I got in this case break. Genesis Cabrera was one of the prize pieces acquired in last season's Tommy Pham deal. I have complex feelings about that trade.

The base design is... fine. It's actually one of their better designs, at least in my book, because it at least feels distinctive. I have a hard time telling the difference between the 2017 and 2018 cards. This probably won't change anytime soon. I can spot the new stuff easily, though. I can also spot a lousy Photoshop job pretty easily, even when I know to look for it on this card of Paul Goldschmidt in a "Cardinals" uniform.

I think Nolan Gorman was single-handedly the reason why the Cardinals ended up costing a fair amount above the average for this break. This team hasn't really had a super-prospect in awhile. This is another tribute to the 1989 Bowman set, shrunk down to a manageable (storage-friendly) level.

It's also nice that these were my first Gorman cards. Photoshopped!

I have a feeling that Gorman will be higher than #55 next year.

Ryan Helsley is segregated in the "prospects" division of this set, but he made a few appearances with the big club in April.

Andrew Knizner (pronounced Kiz-ner for some reason) is now the new Carson Kelly, because Yadier Molina will outlive us all and never retire from baseball.

Here are some guys that we should be excited about! More Genesis! Knizner, are you number 96 or number 93? Make up your mind!

There ended up being no definitive "hit" in my case break allotment, but I have plenty of dupes if anyone is into plain old Cardinals cards.