Thursday, June 27, 2019

Two Cardinals and Some Gwynns

A @flywheels Affordable Group Break from the mid-'90s. 

It's been awhile, but back in the wintertime, Colbey from Cardboard Collections hosted another Affordable Group Break. This time it featured some boxes from the mid-'90s, specifically 1995 Zenith, Summit and Sportflix.

I ended up with just two Cardinals cards that were needs, but they ended up completely finishing off my team set. Not bad!

I had the Padres as my second team, which meant there was plenty of Gwynn Goodness. I'll show off all the Gwynn cards here. If anyone has any other mid-'90s Padres team set needs, let me know.

Tony is looking down at the silver Padres logo and making sure it shows the right team! (If you're familiar with this set at all, they messed up a lot of team logos.)

I think a "Bat Speed" subset would have worked a lot better on a Sportflix design, don't you?

Speaking of which, here are some 'Flix. Did anyone call it that? Probably not.

Hey, look at that! It's an insert card. '90s inserts can be surprisingly difficult to find, so this was a nice pull. The Cards were still pretty lousy in this era, so there aren't a ton of great St. Louis inserts from the first half of the '90s. The arrival of the La Russa era (not to mention Big Mac) would eventually change that.

I have a few of these Gwynns earmarked for Community Gum, but there's still a small stack of Padres that I'll be adding to my tradables.

Wednesday, June 26, 2019

A New Player Collection

I'm collecting a non-Cardinal. 

It's been awhile since I've made any updates to my "Player Collections" list, but I've been squirreling away a few of this guy's cards for awhile. I suppose it's time to let the cat out of the bag. I'm officially collecting George Springer cards, although he's at the very bottom of my list at present. I'm not sure why I like the guy so much, but I've always seemed to gravitate towards center fielders (e.g. Edmonds) and shortstops (e.g. The Wizard) and the Astros have sort of become my backup team to root for.

Yeah, I know, as an NL Central guy, it's kind of shameful. The Astros pretty much rebooted when they switched leagues, so while the memories of the 2004 and 2005 playoff rivalries, not to mention the horrible encounters with 'Stros fans while I attended a series at Minute Maid Park through the stretch run of the 2006, are still pretty fresh. These Astros seem different, and they even have a title to prove it. It helps a lot that they are not even in the same league as the Cardinals anymore, and were only both in the same division for a relatively short time (less than two decades). It also helps a lot that Erin's family is in the Astros local television market (though not Houston, fortunately), which has given them a fun team to root for. I'm also going to see both teams play each other again in about a month, which should be fun.

Back to Springer, though... he's a good player! I believe I pulled this /250 purple parallel randomly from a pack of 2017 Bowman, which may have been around the time I finally admitted to myself that I was stashing his cards. I did come across a couple of scans of Springer cards this evening that I must have regrettably traded away in the past, but that's okay. Again, this isn't ever going to be the main focus of my collection.

I haven't followed the guy his whole pro career or anything. I actually first heard of the name George Springer when I bought a few packs of 2013 Topps Heritage Minors at some hobby shop back in, I assume, 2013. I tried to find a little bit about him at the time, because I didn't understand why this particular card had a supposed list price of $20. It's a short print, but other short prints weren't getting this kind of treatment.

I suppose I'm kinda/sorta doing a Baseball Card Breakdown thing with this PC, but I've already got these in their pages... so here we go. Click to embiggen, as usual.

The design on the 2014 Donruss The Rookies set is pretty blah, but Springer's inclusion makes me glad I found the box set cheaply at a past card show.

I really like the refractor/chrome '87 tribute card. I also am starting to appreciate Panini Diamond Kings more and more, but Topps Gallery not so much. Is that weird?

To be clear, I enjoyed the 2017 World Series very much, but I'm not about to go out and buy an Astros jersey or anything.

Springer has lots of Big League cards.

So there we have it. My George Springer collection will continue to be updated here. If you have any of my needs, well... feel free to check out my other needs first, but I'll gladly add them to my collection either way.

Monday, June 24, 2019

Breakin' Series 2: Electric Boogaloo

This #CrackinWaxMailday is rated G for Gold. 

Topps has been doing this phased rollout of its flagship set for quite a few years now, but the second series always seems to fall short of the initial excitement of the first. We already know the design, and we already know what most of the inserts are going to look like. Still, we need the rest of the set, don't we? Or, in my case, we need the rest of the team set, which is why I've been signing up for pick-your-team group breaks of late. Here are some of the highlights of my stash of Series 2 Cardinals, which came from another Crackin' Wax case break.

Dexter Fowler's photo is heavily zoomed in and laser focused on the player, which has been one of my chief complaints of recent years. I tend to like a variety of photos, okay? Fowler's arm seems to be in a weird position here.

Did I mention I snagged a small handful of gold parallels? John Gant has been one of the Cards most valuable pitchers since he was called up last season, and his success has translated well to the bullpen for this year (just don't look at last night's box score, please.)

Marcell Ozuna is putting up MVP type offensive numbers right now after an injury-weakened debut season in St. Louis. Maybe it's actually because he ditched this horrible neon compression sleeve.

Yairo Munoz has been a replacement level utility guy since he joined the big league club last year. I think that's about where you need a utility guy to be, to be fair. You get the feeling that he might string together a solid stretch of games if he just got consistent playing time, but nah, it's not gonna happen.

Speaking of not happening... RIP Jordan Hicks's maximum pitch speed. He was diagnosed with a torn UCL today, which means he's headed towards the dreaded Tommy John surgery that is so popular with the kids these days. While most pitchers seem to regain their original velocity after this surgery, it seems super doubtful that anyone will tell Hicks that it makes sense to try to throw 105 with some random replacement tendon in his elbow. Also, RIP my fantasy team. The Cardinals bullpen will probably be okay, though, with Gant in there along with Carlos Martinez and John Brebbia. (And sort of Andrew Miller.) It's the rotation that I'm worried about.

Anyway, this is a cool black parallel of an insert that is numbered to 299. Of course, I still need the base insert and probably a whole host of other color versions.

Like the Hicks card above, I missed noticing that this Big Mac 150 G-g-g-greaaaatest Moments is a black parallel numbered to 299 until I had taken at least a couple of passes through the stack of cards. Once again, I need the normal version of this and many other inserts from Series 1 and 2.

Crackin' Wax is super cool about including the extra hobby bonus packs in their breaks, which meant that I was able to add a couple more "silver pack" Chrome 1984 style cards to my collection. Daniel Ponce de Leon may actually be one of the answers to the rotation problem, but it seems like the team doesn't want to ruffle the feathers of the broken Wacha (or the ghost of Wainwright, or whatever's gotten into Mikolas...) and actually do something about it.

Wednesday, June 19, 2019

The Rest of the Stash

Not just a hockey blog! 

Last week, we took a look at a few cards of the newly crowned champs after capturing their very first Stanley Cup. This time around, let's check out a selection of some of the great non-Blues cards I received from buckstorecards. All in all, this was quite a great lot, and I need to figure out how to get this things squared and still somehow avoid the high cost of international shipping.

I love that new Clyde Drexler cards are still being produced. This is an especially good looking inserts from this past season's Prizm set. The Glide is looking especially cool here doing some sort of midair move while some silly Lakers look on the in the background, dumbfounded.

Festus?! Yes, the dude that never played a minute, practice or otherwise for the Blazers, still gets cards in a Portland uni. I guess it's cool that he showed up for team photo day or something. Injuries suck.

Here's an Immaculate Dame. Rarely do cards from such a treasured line come into this household, so this was a nice surprise.

This past year's Court Kings set had several different tiers of rookie cards. Here's Anfernee Simons in Pissed Off Tier 1 and Super Happy Tier 2.

Along with Blazers cards, there was a flock of Ducks and Ducks alums. DAT's card from 2014 Bowman Platinum feature two pieces of player worn memorabilia. It would be funny if the players wore every single jersey they need to put on during the Rookie Photoshoot at the same time, and just peeled them off in layers. That's probably not how it works, is it?

Here's a couple of cool cards of the recently retired J-Stew.

Big super intense football close-up shot!

Here's another patch from a photo shoot. LaMichael is looking like he doesn't quite know what to do with the ball here. Are the balls differently shaped in the pros?

Doug was cool enough to send some Eagles cards my way as well, including this sticker auto of the team's on again, off again wide receiver Jordan Matthews.

Finally, let's end it on a good note, with a Cardinals cards. That's right, this is a baseball blog! This is a 1st Year card of the Cardinals uber-prospect Nolan Gorman. It looks like people are going to more or less hoard his cards for awhile, so any chance to get one of these is good for me.

Monday, June 17, 2019

Fake Cards

Hey look, it's a picture of a phone with a picture of a card that doesn't really exist on it! 

A long time ago, I dabbled with an app produced by Topps that allowed the user to collect virtual baseball cards on it. There were some elements of the app that I really liked (daily fantasy), but in the end, as a free-to-play player, I felt extremely disadvantaged and cheated, especially by a certain feature (again, daily fantasy). Of course, such is the life of the gamer that doesn't want to pay for the things that supposedly bring him or her joy. I rage quit the thing, and then came crawling back this year to see what had changed.

This is an actual card you can collect in Topps BUNT now. Just let that soak in.

In all fairness, though, a lot has changed. The fantasy baseball element has improved significantly, although it requires so much of the player's attention that it will never find enough space in my increasingly scattered brain these days. More importantly, however, there are actual things to do and "cards" to collect, even for the freeloading player.

(This is what one of the old cards looked like, at least when I originally played.)

I still can't see myself spending real dollars on this for some images of what are supposed to represent trading cards, but I am checking in daily and collecting (some of) the things. I don't know why I do this. I think I just got tired of other things that I can kill some time with while I'm waiting around to pick up my lunch, among other things.

I just looked back and read my original post for the first time since writing it, and can address some of the things that have changed, if you're one of those people who gave up on it.

  • Daily fantasy still heavily favors people who get the better (boosted) cards, which is what you'd expect. They pay money. However, there are interesting consolations for people that participate and are less, er, boosted.
  • Trading makes sense now, even though I still think the rating system is suspect. There's a smooth flow to the trading "feed", and with a little patience it became easy to understand how people work with trades. I actually managed to complete every tier of the Series 1 base set this year, with much help from these trades.
  • People still love the inserts! But certain people also have other weird goals, like collecting as many "Tier 1" (like the most common of all base cards) of their favorite player, for some reason. There is/was actually some sort of "Card Fusion" system where you could grind up a bunch of lower tier cards to make a better tiered version, but that feature was disabled right around when I showed back up. Suspicious!
  • Rules and gameplay features, otherwise, seem pretty stable. As do the bugs. Hey, it's been five years since I last touched the thing, so it makes sense.
If you are involved (or are thinking about getting involved), I go by 'madding' on the thing. If I know you from the blog (or you mention it), I'm sure I will be up for helping you out with some favorable trades. That's not to say I have anything good, of course. I'm a free player, after all.

Wednesday, June 12, 2019

The Blues Hoist The Cup

For the first time in franchise history, the #STLBlues are champions! 

Doug from Sportscards From The Dollar Store has been sending me Blues hockey cards for a couple of years now, but I finally found the best use for them. Tonight the franchise, which has been around since 1967, finally won its first Stanley Cup -- in rather extraordinary fashion. Left for dead earlier in the season, with an interim coach and a rookie replacement goalie few had ever heard of, they essentially rebooted and went on to go all of the way. They took the favored Bruins to 7 games, winning 3 on the road, finally giving Boston fans something to sulk about.

I thought I'd scan a few cards from the latest package from buckstorecards, just a few guys from the current team. There were a ton of other great (non-Blues) cards in the package, but I'll save that for a later post. Tyler Bozak spent his entire NHL career with the Maple Leafs before joining the Blues this season.

David Perron began his third stint with the Blues this season.

Team captain Alex Pietrangelo is shown here on Upper Deck's current MVP design, but the real MVP honors (i.e. the Conn Smythe Trophy) went to Ryan O'Reilly, who was extremely impressive.

Monday, June 10, 2019

A Box That Rocks

An assist from @INeedNewHobbies turns Goodwill finds into cardboard gold. 

I was able to turn a couple of separate Goodwill purchases last year into productive trades, the largest of which was worked out with I Need New Hobbies. A box showed up at Cards on Cards central that was chock full of baseball (and football) goodness, with a sprinkling of hoops thrown in. It can be a bit intimidating to select cards to scan and post about when getting such a large assortment of cards at once, but I managed to pick a few choice cards for the cut.

With a product that features choice samples of player worn memorabilia (it's even in the brand name!), it's easy to overlook the base cards and parallels of said base cards. For all of the different things I've seen written about Topps Triple Threads over the years (a lot of it is pretty negative), the base design gets lost in the shuffle. I usually like it. These two cards from 2010 are no exception.

A non-Cardinal Jim Edmonds card was added to my collection. Before Jimmy became an MVP threat in St. Louis, he was starting to put up pretty good numbers in Anaheim. Now he's one of the stable of rotating commentators on Cardinals TV broadcasts.

Scott found a ton of weird 1997 Donruss Limited parallels to send me, including this Brian Jordan card (not pictured: Jose Guillen). Normally, the "Limited Exposure" parallels would have a shiny refractor-like finish, but they apparently forgot (?) to do this on a certain grouping of these.

Another (former?) Cardinals commentator here in a 1975 Mad Hungarian card. Al might be retired from the game broadcasts, although I hear he pops up in the studio from time to time. I don't live in the Cardinals broadcast area, so I have to rely on MLB.TV and no actual local programming.

I was just mentioning my love for framed cards the other day to Erin, so it was fun to rediscover this card from the 2003 Donruss Diamond Kings set when I was choosing what to scan. If Topps is going to do any more "art" cards, they really need to consider contacting the guys who used to work for Donruss way back when.

Here's a much younger Albert Pujols in a bit of an unfamiliar position on a card -- baserunning.

As I talk about things I love again for the millionth time, have I mentioned lately how much I love the Fleer/Flair "Greats of the Game" cards? If I could go back in card collecting time (or suddenly become wealthy), it would be really fun to explore these sets that used to heavily feature retired players.

You can't really read the name so well, but this was another great get -- a Kolten Wong rookie refractor. Well, technically it's a "1st Bowman Card", although technically it isn't even that. He was featured as a Team USA member on a previous year's card.

Basketball time! Petteri Koponen was acquired by then-GM Kevin Pritchard during the 2007 NBA Draft (the Oden Draft), but never came over. He's only 31 now and was last seen playing for Bayern Munich (the hoops team?!) according to the always interesting Wikipedia.

Shiny Sheed!

A ton of Eagles cards were also included, several of which were 2008 Topps featuring weird uniforms that all looked like this. I'm guessing this was some sort of throwback they wore in a game back then, but I suppose it also could be a parallel? There isn't a whole lot happening on the field behind Westbrook there, which makes me wonder if this was even from a real game.

DeSean Jackson is back with Philly, which I have mixed feelings about. I wasn't a fan of his at Cal, and I'll never forget his splashy debut with the Eagles where he dropped the ball in celebration prior to entering the end zone on a would-be touchdown, a classic bonehead move. Hopefully he's less of a bonehead now?

Speaking of boneheads... well, this is an interesting insert design from the 2001 Topps Heritage set. I actually really liked McNabb as a player, but he has not impressed me in his post-playing days.

Ahhhhh yes. Action Packed... classic Eagles uniform... Randall! It's tough to get any better than this.

Did anyone ever get these cards signed? I feel like that white space is such a waste of an opportunity.

More #12. This is a wild, shiny Topps insert that makes it look like Cunningham is busting out of some kind of rainstorm.

The pièce de résistance, however, was this Big Mac gold thing. I am not entirely sure what to do with it, so it might end up on the wall near or between some of my unopened Starting Lineup figures for now.

Thanks again to Scott for this huge exchange of cards and such!