Friday, June 30, 2017

Elite EBay Purchase

Was shopping for a couple Cardinals gamers for a trade and came upon the store of Elite Sportscards.  They were offering some nice bargains on jerseys and autos of guys I collect.  So I was able to combine shipping on some needs for myself.

First, some Stephen Davis gamers for the Redskins collection.  If I didn't collect all Redskins to begin with, I would probably collect Davis by himself.  Not sure why, really.  I liked him when he was with us, and he did pretty decent in Carolina, but wasn't a Hall Of Famer or anything.  These were less than two bucks apiece.

Continuing with the Washington veteran theme, some Livans from '06 thru 2015.  I actually have one of the Spectrums already, but the others are new.  These were also basically two bucks each.  And I do collect Livan with other teams.  (I don't collect the Nationals as a team).

A couple non-licensed additions to the Brian Matusz supercollection.  These were $2.50 each.  I wouldn't have paid more than that, especially for the Upper Deck auto.  This is what you get for exclusive licenses.  I don't blame Upper Deck, except for the lame image.  I blame Topps for forcing this kind of desperate attempts by the other companies.  The airbrushed generic ("jail team"?) uniform, and the "we have autos, we have to put them on something" card.  Hell, make an image of his silhouette and use that.  It would have better impact than this Olympic tourist thing.  Oh well, it's off the list anyway.

Wednesday, June 28, 2017

Second (And Last?) Batch of Series 2 Retail

I feel like I complain a lot.

I'm really gonna try to post more positive and fun stuff.

Starting next time.

Got a gift card to Tarjay for some tech support, and had an opportunity to visit my local branch (it's on the other end of town).  So I picked up two hanger boxes of Series 2 and a couple $5 packs of BUNT.

The BUNT I really didn't need, except for the inserts, some of the blues and two of my base cards.  And only half the inserts and blues at that.  OK luck of the draw, right?

So I picked both those packs from the front of the line and did the same to the hanger boxes.  I figure the odds of getting the same runs in consecutive packages are much less than if I try to guess and take the fifth from one row and the seventh from the other, etc.  With my luck, I'd get 63 out of 72 cards the same.  Pulling consecutive packs should be the best collation, you would think.

Well that doesn't work either.

I opened both outer packages at once, and laid the cellphane wrapped blocks next to each other.  The second one had Nick Markakis on top.  I said "Hey Nick, how's it going down there in Atlanta?  Haven't seen you in a while since you left the O's."

As I unwrapped the first block and started in, guess who was about five or six cards in?  Good ol' Nickolai...
Of course, he wasn't alone.  Several of his friends followed him.  I went thought both batches and picked out the common runs.  The horizontals had some common ones too...

Yep.  Now luckily, the inserts were unique in both boxes, save one....

27 cards out of 72.  In consecutive packages on the rack.  Can't wait to open two hobby boxes.

Guess it really doesn't matter, though.  If I get enough for a lot of the inserts, I'll be able to build a second base set, which is useful down the line somewhere.

Monday, June 26, 2017

Joy Of A Completed Page - 1964 Topps

Not sure who started these type of posts, but now and then when I'm flipping through my vintage binders, I come across a page that has some interesting aspects.  When you arrange a set in numerical order, you get certain groups of nine on each page, of course.  I don't always go in numerical order, but the last several sets I've put together have started that way.  I used to wait to sheet them until I almost finished, but not so much any more.  Many of my late 70's sets, which were the first ones to be finished are sorted by teams.  And a few of them are missing the big stars, which I kept in my "star binder" instead.

Anyway, here is a page from the work in progress that is my 1964 set.  It is the newest one to be "officially active" and therefore does not have too many full pages yet.

A fair amount of star power here.  Elston Howard is one of my player collections.  The Yankees cards look nice in '64 even though it's a simple design.  The red complements their dark blue unis well.  The '64s with two different colors between the team names and the player/position bar are the prettier ones.  

Moving on, you have Walt Alston, the Dodgers manager for like 85 years.  

Nice checklist at slot 3.  The older checklists were so much cooler than in the 80's and beyond.  They're not just blocks of lists with a spartan title.  Multi-color with the little player graphics make them pop.  

Curt Flood in one of his nicer looking cards.  Classic portrait set off nicely with the green.

Don't know much about Mahaffey or Held, but gotta love the old unis, especially the shoulder numbers on the Indians. 

Nuxhall in the old white-cap duds set against the stadium - another classic looking shot.  More of a fan favorite type of guy than a big star, which I like better, in a lot of cases.  

Here's you're rookies when rookies didn't matter so much.  If it was Frank Howard and Bruce Kreutzer, this might be a high dollar card.  

And ya gotta love the defunct Athletics appearance.  Most of the cards in the team set have the KC A's wearing green and yellow (as they did for the first time in the 1963 season), but a few have this red and white combo going.  A couple guys have dark hats with this scheme.  Ken Harrelson's RC (#419) has him in a black looking hat and jersey.  Hard to tell against the purple lettering if it's dark blue.  The original color scheme was red and (dark?) blue.

Sunday, June 25, 2017

Sorry guys...

Former Birthday Beauty, Dancing With The Stars host, and current FOX (literally) sportscaster Erin Andrews is officially off the market.  She wed longtime beau and ex-NHL star Jarret Stoll on Saturday.

Check out her interview with Megyn Kelly.  Part 1 & Part 2

Friday, June 23, 2017

First Batch of Series 2

Was in Rehoboth Beach this past weekend.  I'm not the biggest beach guy, but it was nice enough.  There is a Wal-Mart near my friend's house, so since I'm not planning on buying boxes until mid July at the earliest, I was jonesing for a taste of 2017 Series 2.  Here's the return on my blaster.

Won't delve into the base set too much, even though I hate when it's ignored completely.  Got the usual mix of stars, regular lineup guys, and guys I've never heard of.  No one of particular note, though I'm developing a knack for pulling Julio Urias cards lately.  Too bad that didn't start with Allen & Ginter last year.

Anyway, here are the inserts.

Yay! I pulled a Trout insert!  Which means now I'll get three of them after I open my boxes later.  And he's got two cards in this set, which means the other one is the pseudo-shortprint that will be the last one I need.  Also, Carl Crawford.  Thanks for coming.  There are 25 of these, which should be the largest insert set, but is actually one of the smallest.

New for Series 2, Memorable Moments and All-Time All-Stars (retail only).  I'm sure the MM's have been done before in some form, but OK, not bad choices, especially the Called Shot.  Jackie is a default, and the Sawx breaking their curse hasn't been overdone (yet).  There are 50 of these though, so they're going to cover every single highlight clip known to western civilization.

25 would have been enough, so I'm going to track the number of extra inserts put into this series.  Bloat is anything over 25 cards per insert set.  ATAS were 50, so we start with
Bloat insert count = 25 
I like the look of the ATAS.  Got my first Carlton Fisk for the PC, so I'll need another one of those.  He was a little too far down on the scanner.  There are so many of these that it's not about the most often All-Star guys, it's potentially EVERY All-Star guy.

There is also (another) numbering glitch with these.  According to TCDB, there is no #22, and Andre Dawson is #61 out of 50.  Uh....right.  The First Pitch inserts in Series 1 had more than one missing number.  Not sure if it's a gimmick or they just didn't bother to consolidate numbers after editing the checklist.  More on them in a minute.

Bloat insert count = 50 

The other inserts I pulled include Gammons MLBN, Swanson '87, Miggy Milestones, and Higgins First Pitch.  Not scanned was a JaCoby Jones '87 that stayed in the base pile until just a minute ago.  Doesn't he play football?  Oh, different guy....☺

The Network broadcasters are at least something different.  Wonder if Panini would put NFL Network peeps on their sets.  I was looking forward to the Kelly Nash card especially, but the picture isn't her best.  Expect a custom redo on that one.  At least they only did 20 of them.  Well, maybe.  The numbering on the second batch of these is really screwed up.  It goes 11, 14, 15, 16, 17, 20, 25, 27, 29, 31. 
Whiskey Tango Foxtrot Topps????

The '87s should just be a whole separate product.  There are another 100 of them!  Might as well have numbered them with the base set and made them Series 4!

Bloat insert count = 125

Milestones are fine at 20 and seem to be current players hitting major signposts.  Good concept, but a rather vanilla design.  Would have liked to have seen more color or artsy stuff with these.  But at least the bloat count stays put.

First Pitch comes back but still has no #18 thru #20 and now there are two sets of #21 thru #23.  Again, gimmick with later significance, or just total editorial apathetic epic fail?  Highlights are the two Angels honeys, especially Ms. Luddington.

Those are all going towards my set.  The rest are available for trade if I don't move them in my primary trading group.

Pulled both Harpers from these Salutes, which I lump together because they are just different flavors of the same insert.  But the rest are up for grabs, even Manny.  I think I'm letting go of trying for all the O's and Nats parallels and inserts this year.  Should have done it last year when they're photos were better.  There's that Urias guy again!
I do need Bo Jackson and Jim Palmer from the Salute set (200!) , and luckily nobody from the Independence Day (30) or Jackie Robinson Day (30) redundant should-be-subsets.  260 card checklist - could have also been an independent product.  How many specialty sets were there years ago with only 100 card base sets?

Bloat insert count : 125 + 175 + 60 = 360 

Think about that for a second.  Instead of eight insert sets of 25 or less, there are more inserts issued with Series 2 than actual base cards.  And that's not even counting the relics and autographs or parallel inserts, or the Target exclusive inserts that I couldn't pull from my purchase.  Topps is officially out of control, as I have documented.

I leave you with this manu-relic blaster hit.  I know there are a few guys that are looking for this one.  Trade ya for the Adam Jones, Bryce Harper, or Machado version. 

Monday, June 19, 2017

Monday Mailday

Just a quick post to show two packages that were waiting for me when I got back from a weekend trip.

The first is my latest purchase from my man Marv, who continually supplies great 1960 vintage.

Some great stars and high numbers.  That set is almost done, and Marv can take credit for a big part of it.

Next up is yet another delivery from Blogger #1, Greg at Night Owl Cards.

The shiny sparkly version of the Livan insert, two athletic sweethearts from Panini Americana, and the Bryce Harper Opening Day short print with Dusty Baker in the dugout.  That's the coolest card Topps has produced in a few years. 

Here's a closer look.  Probably a clown question to ask what he said....

Friday, June 16, 2017

Blog Bat Around - Origins of Player Collections

I could actually make this an ongoing series if I wanted to cover ALL my player collections in depth like I should.  But here's the condensed digest version.

1. Brian Matusz - P - Orioles, etc.

Brian is probably the player I've had the most "connection" with, so to speak.  I think I've mentioned it before how I saw him pitch in my hometown for the Frederick Keys.  While he was with the Keys, he lived on the condo property that my friend Bill managed at the time.  Bill actually had conversations with Brian directly.  (I've never actually met him in person.)  Then while I was all the way up in Michigan visiting my trading buddy, we saw Matusz's MLB debut in Detroit, where he beat the Tigers really bad.  It happened to also be the anniversary of the debut of another PC of mine, Mike Mussina.  I've got the better part of the Matusz catalog, including autographs, several minor league cards, and a few rarities.  Unfortunately, it appears Brian will toil in the minors for the rest of his career, since his collapse with the Cubs, and dismissal from his last two teams.

2. Priest Holmes - RB - Baltimore Ravens / KC Chiefs.

I'm including football players here as well as baseball.  Priest won me my two fantasy football championships in successive years when he was the premier touchdown scoring running back in the NFL.  Turns out he is also a great character guy.  Holmes is the closest I've come to being a supercollector of any one player.  I've got a whole binder of his cards, with many parallels and s/n pieces, plus dozens of game used and autographs, though high end does not account for a major percentage of my collection.  I've shown the other miscellaneous Priest action figures, bobbleheads, and other non-card items on here before.

3. Richie Anderson - RB NY Jets / Dallas Cowboys.

Now this guy I have met, although briefly, a couple times.  I used to work with his brother back in the 90s and was introduced twice to Richie himself.  Anderson isn't really one of my major collections, mostly because of the era he played in and the teams he was on, not to mention the fact that he wasn't a major star, so finding his stuff isn't as easy as some other players.

4. Charlie Keller - OF - New York Yankees.

Charlie Keller's nephew worked as a high level executive for the school system that I am still currently employed by.  He has since retired, but while he was there, I visited his office on tech support calls and after seeing some representations of cards there, inquired as to whether he had any of his Uncle Charlie.  He told me he did not.  I proposed that I could find some at the National and would gladly bring them back, which I did. He was very appreciative.

Of course, I got some for myself too.  It's nice because he played in a different era than most all others that I collect, so even the regular cards are interesting and the oddballs (when affordable) are really cool.  Keller's 1951 Bowman card is depicted via student art project in one of the local middle schools in the district.  I'll show that sometime later.

5. Jared Zabransky - QB - Boise State Univ. / Houston Texans / Edmonton Eskimos (CFL) / etc.

I don't watch a lot of college football, mostly because I would never get away from the TV during fall weekends.  But in 2007, I sat down to watch Boise State and Oklahoma in the Fiesta Bowl.  What an amazingly crazy game that turned out to be!  With gadget plays and that pure college spirit, the underdog Broncos defeated Oklahoma and star Adrian Peterson.  I knew I needed to collect someone from that game.  I picked the quarterback.  I started following the Broncos and watching them on their trademark blue field ever since.  They've kind of lost their domination in the last couple seasons, but have moved up to join more competitive conferences.  I still catch a game now and then.
Zabransky never really caught on in the NFL, and has been up north in the Canadian league for a few years.  I imagine I could declare myself a Zabransky supercollector, since aside from a couple oddball college cards, and the elusive CFL issues recently, his whole catalog is basically from his rookie year in 2007, totaling less than 200 cards and consisting of mostly (lamely signed as above) autographs and endless parallels.

6. The other 50-couple guys I collect in baseball.



Back when I was first starting out, I hadn't really established myself as a set builder, but had started one or two sets, and had some extra cards from various years in the late 70's and early 80's.  If I found that I had three or more of a certain player that I kind of liked, I put him on my list of PCs. This list grew to over 75 at one point, but after a while, I put a few sets together and eliminated several guys that were just base cards and weren't of much personal interest.  What I'm still building is dozens of players that generally might have made an All-Star team a few times, and are known names, but not necessarily superstars.  Most of them have at least a few interesting oddball cards, or post career issues.  There are, actually, still a couple I could weed out to make room for the completion of more compelling players, but haven't done it yet.

Here is the complete list.

Bob Bailor  Dusty Baker  Don Baylor  Paul Blair  Vida Blue  Bobby Bonds  Larry Bowa
Nelson Briles  Ollie Brown  Bert Campaneris  Cesar Cedeno  Joe Coleman, Jr.  Cecil Cooper  Doug DeCinces  Ivan DeJesus  Dwight Evans  Ron Fairly  Joe Ferguson  Carlton Fisk
George Foster  Jim Fregosi   Bobby Grich   Ron Guidry   Elston Howard  Grant Jackson  
Steve Kemp   Don Kessinger   Dave Kingman   Ron LeFlore   Mickey Lolich  Sparky Lyle  
Bake McBride  Willie Montanez   Claude Osteen  Jim Palmer Bud Harrelson  Keith Hernandez   Freddie Patek   Lou Piniella   Willie Randolph   J R Richard   Pete Richert  
Jerry Royster   Manny Sanguillen   Chris Speier   Bruce Sutter   Gene Tenace   Luis Tiant 
Joe Torre   Mike Torrez   Steve Yeager 

Plus a few modern players - Livan Hernandez, Julio Franco, Mike Mussina (Orioles only), Bo Jackson, and Royce Clayton.

And added more recently, Tom Cheney, Puddin' Head Jones, and Chad Kuhl.

Also add Jim Marshall, Marcus Dupree, and Dan LeFevour to football, and Sergei Fedorov to hockey.  There are probably a couple I left out, believe it or not.

I must say, that finding stuff for player collections is the most fun I have obtaining cards.  If I had to downsize and specialize, I'd most likely go to just player collections.  The diversity of the types of cards you can experience, as well as the different players there are out there make it the most interesting facet of collecting if you ask me.

If you'd like to see what I have of any of the players above, let me know in the comments.

Wednesday, June 14, 2017

A Very Kuhl eBay Purchase (and trade bait)

Last year on the 26th of June, I saw that the Dodgers were playing the Pirates on ESPN Sunday Night Baseball.  Clayton Kershaw was on the mound.  The Pirates were sending a rookie to his first start - a kid named Chad Kuhl.  I kinda like both teams, so I watched.

Kershaw actually struggled, giving up four runs in the second inning, while Kuhl gave up only four hits and three runs in five innings of solid work.  He even made Kershaw work to strike him out, battling through eight pitches.  The Pirate runs scored right after that.  Pittsburgh's bullpen put up all zeroes through the ninth FTW.

My favorite memory of that game is Pirate manager Clint Hurdle clutching the face of Kuhl and beaming with pride on the young man's performance.  It was a great underdog story, and an entertaining game.  There was a Topps NOW card made of it, #185.

So, of course, I put him on my list of potential player collections.

Well, this week, he officially became the latest one.

I was perusing eBay for a few different things last week, and put his name in.  There are lots of "complete your set" or "pick singles" auctions on there that allow you to pick individual cards from a pull-down menu.  His name is on a whole bunch of them.  But I was looking for multi-card lots of just Kuhl alone.  I saw one that had his Bowman Chrome Refractors in it.  Black & Gold, Blue and Orange Shimmer, and regular, blue, purple and green refractors.  But there were 45 of them!  The asking price was right around three blasters.  My initial reaction is one I have for most auctions of redundant copies of the same card - "Put them up as one-of-each groups, not a huge pile!"  But I gave the seller (brianthebrain) the benefit of the doubt and actually sent him a message.  I said (rather sarcastically) that I wasn't a dealer, so I only need one of each.  Would he sell me the seven for the same individual rate that the lot was listed at (roughly $9)?

He countered with an offer to sell me the whole shebang shipped for just under the price of ONE blaster.  I replied "Well when you put it like that ... SURE!"  And he did!

So a whole boxload of these showed up today, very neatly packaged. (Here's one of each)

Black & Gold, Blue Shimmer, Orange Shimmer, (all unnumbered) Regular refractor (/499), Purple (/250), Blue (/150), and Green (/99).  I pulled a set for myself, and one for a Pirate collector I know.  The rest are basically up for trade, especially for other Kuhl cards I don't have.  Which is most of them.  I only have the base Topps Update, and now these.

Would really love to trade these for Kuhl's Topps Update parallels, Heritage High, BoChro Autos, and minor league cards.

I mocked up a black border Heritage.  Need two of the regular card as well.

He's also got all the usual parallels in Update...

And a few minor league cards...


For any of these above, I've got some of last year's Heritage parallels available to trade. 

Shiny Taillon, Black border Upton & Wilson, red back Bradley and disc thingy Josh D.

Some high number black borders too.  A lot of decent stars here.

Not to mention a stack of regular High Number dupes.  I have wants for the High Number set on my site if you don't have any Chads but you need some of these.

Monday, June 12, 2017

Do It Right!

AJ at The Lost Collector posted about the ongoing problem of packages of cards being sealed with scotch type tape that doesn't peel off very well and sticks to cards insided the packaging.  He calls on all traders to use the proper material to seal their shipments - blue painter's tape!

Here are some posters to put up at shops and shows to reinforce this idea...

Friday, June 09, 2017

Topps Runs It Into The Ground Again

I'm a set builder, and I like inserts. Back in the day, when you got all the regular base cards, you were done. Then, around the mid-90's, special insert cards started showing up in packs of flagship sets. So there was the base set, and some little subsets to complete before you could say you had everything. Nowadays, it's almost impossible to collect a complete "master set" because of all the parallels, short prints, gamers and autographs, and retail exclusive inserts. What I'll do is pick out the inserts I like and get those, maybe a gamer of someone I like, and the base set and I'm done.

For several years, there were so many sets to choose from that you got what you could at the time and then could maybe go back later and pick up others if there were still boxes and singles available. Lately, with the Topps exclusive contract, there is really only one major flagship set, so it's been relatively easy to finish it with a reasonable amount of inserts to go along.

But more recently, even this is getting overwhelming. Inserts like Highlight of the Year, MLB Debut, First Home Run, this year's 1987 tributes, have far exceeded the quantities of the typical insert sets.

I researched the numbers, starting in 1996, which seems to be when Topps started putting inserts that are independent (numbered separately) sets, into regular packs of flagship. The numbers include inserts that came with Series 1, 2, and Update. I didn't include jersey, autograph, manu-relics, or any low serial-numbered ones, just regular cards. Also omitted oddballs that were packaged separately, or player reprints (like Aaron, Mantle, Mays etc. around the turn of the century) because their number was dependent on the existing cards of that player. I also did not include factory set exclusives or early retail-only items.

From 1996 to 2007, with minor spikes in 2001 and 2003-04, Topps averaged around 125 to 175 total insert cards available. The low point was 2002, with only 112 inserts to partner with 995 base cards. Since 2008, Topps has expanded the number of inserts in its flagship set to almost TRIPLE what it used to average, while maintaining the same number of base cards (990). The total number of inserts doubled into the 400's and then shot up into the 600's by 2010. In 2016, it peaked at 674!

The distribution of inserts has changed as well. Up to 2010, there were between six and nine insert sets produced. (11 in 2007). Then between 10 and 13 for the next few years. 2015 and 2016 doubled that to 23! Base cards only increased 110 for the three series in those years. So instead of inserts being a fifth of the total number of cards, they have become roughly HALF!

Since they doubled the number of insert sets, the average number of cards in each insert set has come down. It peaked in 2009 with counts of 150, 100, 75, 75, 30 and 25. An average of 76 cards per insert set. The average for the first several years is 15 to 20.

I think an insert set is fine with between ten and 25 cards. Any more than that should be spread among all three series, and limited to 75 or so total. Maybe 100 for an original idea that applies to a lot of players. But 100 cards done three times is its own set! It's too much to put in with the base flagship product. Topps keeps putting out repetitive products to fill out their catalog - make some of these inserts into separate products! Then you may actually come out with something with a little innovation! You're killing us completists with 1100 base cards and 675 inserts on top of that! At best, they run 25¢ each in the secondary market.

But a lot of them are recycled versions of the same thing.  Mostly annual reprints of famous cards.

Rookie Reprint, CMTO, Berger's Best, Future Star that Never Was, Archive Stamped Reprint,  or Rediscover Ad?

2017 Series Two is about to release.  What will we be buried in this time?