Monday, February 29, 2016

February Card Show Recap pt 2 of 2

The best part of arriving as early as I do, along with a few others is the opportunity to see the newest stuff right away, whether that be from the $0.20 cards. $0.50 cards, relics, or the Ask For Price items.  This show, he did not have any new vintage stock, but I dug into his $3 box and the ask for price box.  Within a few moments I made 2 stacks, the ones I wanted for certain, and then the possible.  Needless to say the value when he packages the cards is beyond reproach.   This is  the nice little stack of quality I walked away with...

     Before he was Giancarlo, he was "Mike" - This is the first of two name change players.  I am not a big Chrome fan, but I could not pass up adding a Stanton certified auto to my PC.  Sadly, my scanner does not give this card justice. 

    Bill "Mad Dog" Madlock is honestly one of the most under-rated players from the 70s-early 80s.  A 3 times All-Star Third Baseman, Madlock won 4 National League batting titles (1975, 1976, 1981, 1983)  Very happy to the fiery Mad Dog to my collection.

     I've always been an Alan Trammell fan. He was always a thorn in the side of my beloved Red Sox, but man was he a player (He and his double play partner and heterosexual life mate of 19 years, Lou Whitaker) The xix time all-star won 4 Gold Glove awards while manning the shortstop position for the Tigers.  It is a travesty that he is not in the Baseball Hall of Fame.  Put his stats up against most of the enshrined shortstops and he is right up there or even better than a good many of them.  Who else happens to be an Alan Trammell fan? This guy...

Trammell also happens to be the favorite player of Steven Yeun (Glenn Rhee on "The Walking Dead") My wife and I had the chance to meet Steven in 2014 and while many people wanted to talk all thing \s Walking Dead, I was more than happy to talk some baseball with Steven.  That mid 80s Tigers team was something special from the criminally ignored Jack Morris, to Lance Parrish, Sweet Lou, Steve Kemp, Glen Wilson, Kirk Gibson, Dan Petry, and of course, Trammell.

     Last auto was from the $3 box is this SP Chirography of Todd Helton.  Say what you want about the air in COlorado, but Helton was a damn good player.  He might not be the prototypical slugging first baseman type player if you take him away from Coors Field but Helton was a "ballplayer" and found ways to win games for the Rocks.

  I could go on and on about how good and dominant Juan Marichal was in his hey day.  Overshadowed by two guys named Koufax and Gibson, Marichal was an amazing pitcher that dominated his league for most of his career.  This 1967 set me back $2.50.

Please ignore the shadow of the screw on this 1977 Topps cloth card of Captain Carl.  I don't run into this test issue often, so I was quite pleased to add a Hall of Famer and Red Sock.  I would love to put this set together, but I have so much going on that it will have to wait for another day.  Maybe once I run into a nice lot of the cloth cards, then I will make the plunge, but for now, happy with Yaz.

The second guy that went through a name change, David "Big Papi" Arias.  While Papi was Arias, you could grab this card for pennies.  Ortiz only netted 58 homers during his 6 seasons with the Twins.  Once things clicked with the Red Sox, the most recent member of the 500 Home Run Club has seen this card jump in value.  Luckily, I netted Papi in a package deal for what his card alone sells for.

     Finally, a stack of relics.  I have stated before, Carlton Fisk was one of my childhood idols growing up, and I am looking to collect any and all cards of him only as a member of the  BOSTON RED SOX.  The Sox should never had let him get away in 1981.  

 Finally a few more relics.  Another guy I cannot talk highly enough is the amazing Davy Lopes.  Lopes was a late bloomer, but was pretty productive into his 40s.  (He was also born and raised about 30 minutes South of where I live.) The other guys are pretty good in their own right.  and the oddball serial numbered non-relic of Brooks Robinson.   So I thought I did pretty well with this show, and it is only a week away before the next one.  I hope I fare just as well.  Thanks for reading.

Saturday, February 27, 2016

February Card Show Recap pt 1 of 2

My somewhat local card show made its month appearance at the Holiday Inn, and as usual, I took the opportunity to beat the majority of the crowd and meet my favorite dealer there hours before the show's actual opening.  Is it insane, yes, but truth be told, I would be up and about an hour later anyways at the behest of my cats whom would want to be fed their breakfast, so I just got an earlier jump on this President's day.

Yes, that is the correct time in the car, and I was not the first one there.  That is the price you pay for the executive peak at what new stock he has brought to the show.  I arrived around 4:30 AM and immediately looked over some of his Newer $3 boxes as well as his "Ask for Price" box.  The deal I got from him on that stuff was worth the early arrival.  I will show those a bit later.  However, for a change, I want to show some stuff from his cheaper boxes.  As I mentioned before, this gentleman has loads of boxes marked at certain price points. $3, $2, $1, $0.75, $0.50, 3/$1, $0.20, $0.10, $0.07, and $0.05.  I often end up walking out with damn near a monster box of cards each time.   I have posted a few cards from these boxes, but the wealth of cardboard goodness is amazing, and it is easy to lose track of how much you accumulate.  The shear amount of inserts and other fun cards makes it worth it.  I like to grab stuff as potential trade bait and gift packages.  Especially the inserts,; I figure someone is working on the set, so why not grab them in case it can go to fill someone's need.  So here is some of the random goodness that ranged from $0.5 and up to $0.10-$0.20 cents.

A small stack of Fleer's New Horizons and Rookie Sensation inserts.  I recall most of the interest in these guys, and now looking at how many busts there were among the ones that had solid careers just reinforces my dislike for rookie prospecting.  The Fleer 3000 Club cards are new to me, and I love them!! I will definitely be seeking out the remaining ones for this set.  The Ultra World Premiere must be one of the most condition sensitive card with those sharp die cut edges.  These are the second batch I picked up, got a bunch from the previous show.       

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                1999 SP Home Run Chronicle inserts -Not bad little cards for $0.05-$0.07 each.  The Topps Upper Class set looks like something Upper Deck would pump out.  Sportflics Cyclone Squad subset.  Then a bunch of various Fleer inserts from the 90s.  Topps Total inserts                                                                                                                                                          

                                                                                                                                                                          I love promo cards.  They range from common throw in to incredibly scarce.  They are also highly welcome items for player and team collectors.  Here is a range of cards I found at the show.

     Another condition sensitive insert set, the Bart Simpson inspired Lords of the Diamond. Once upon a time, the Team Pinnacles were hot cards and commanded big money.  Overproduction of the product flooded the market and they are far cries from what they used to be.  Select Team Nucleus were cards that were not too easy to pull.  Select packs sold for around $3 a pop which was a premium back in the 90s. Grabbed the psychedelic Rookie Surge cards along with the other dufex style Pinnacle cards.  I am not a huge fan of shiny cards and chrome cards, but I do like the dufex look.  Another odd insert set, must have been a time when companies were going crazy with die cut cards.  RBI Kings was always hit or miss with Ultra, this particular year was one of the better ones.

       Classic auto /numbered cards as well as a signed Charles Johnson card.  I always like Johnson, always thought he would end up with a bigger career than he had.  A few more promo cards (Pre-Production I-Rod, Promo for Stone Cold Steve Austin and 3 SPectrum promos.  Some die cuts found in the cheap boxes, and Topps Gold Futures inserts.

                                                                                                                                                                      I always pull random cards of premier players when mining these boxes.  Since I did not bother getting them when they came out, and after a long hiatus, this presented an opportunity to catch up as well.  THis is a small capsule of what I grabbed of Greg Maddux, The Big Hurt, and Piazza.   Others that I have pulled lots of range from Griffey, Chipper, Juan-Gone, Larkin, Bagwell, Biggio, Ozzie, Bonds, Pedro, etc.    If anyone is ever interested in any of them, just check my Zistle account for an inventory of what I have acquired.   That is just a very small taste of the couple thousand I walked away with from the "cheap seats" I couldn't do better on eBay in acquiring the loads of cards at the prices I paid.  Next show is only a week away, and my guy has new stock from a store he bought out, so I am chomping at the bit to see what he has added.  Stay tuned for part 2 featuring the cards that were not in the bargain boxes!!                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  

Sunday, February 7, 2016

Dipping my Toe in the 2016 Topps release.

     This week has been a mass of various thoughts and reviews of the first baseball card release for 2016, the Topps traditional flagship series 1 release.  I made a decision not to bother with this release, but I decided to play 1 $25 scratch ticket, that being in the form of 1 retail blaster box and 1 jumbo rack pack.
     So the two current golden boys of baseball have been given proper marketing with reigning National League MVP the product cover boy, and Mike Trout taking the honorary card #1.  The blaster box includes 1 pack that contains a "gold medallion" card, as well as 10 standard packs.
     This years set includes 5 different parallel versions of the set. Rainbow Foil (1:10), Gold (1:14), Vintage Stock (1:270), Pink (1:535), and Platinum (1:26,699) Not to mention the base set includes 2 variations the now traditional "short print" (1:125), and the "SUPER short print" (1:1,247)  Of course there is a litany of insert sets MLB Debut (1;2), Berger's Best (1:4), Perspectives (1:4),  The Greatest Streaks (1:4), 100 Years of Wrigley Field (1:8), Walk Off Wins (1:8), Back-to-Back (1;8), Pressed into Service (1:8), First Pitch (1:8),  2016 Presidential Candidates (1:12), Bunt Code Card (1:19), and Bunt Player Card (1:3,741)  Topps certainly wanted to make their release something collectors will chew up for the next couple months before their premium releases.  So here is how I fared with my blaster box.  My first card of the year was....
     Giancarlo Stanton!  Not a bad first card  The one thing that stands out with this years design is how processed the cards look.  It is like they sent these photos to a graphic design school and told them to create and polish and use as many filters as possible.  The photos border in illustrativeand the descision to go borderless on the set is not one I care for.  This is the base product, the product that was release 65 years ago, and has been collected year, after year, after year.  This line has been around long before the Stadium Clubs, Finests, revamped Bowman, and the other various lines Topps produces, and I feel this should be one of the truly traditional ones including their design, so I would like to see borders and clean photos. The name plate looks like a drop from a television broadcast, and I am not necessarily 100% against this design, even with the sponged look of the color within the bar, but I really do not like the "logo stripe."  I do not care for the way they render the logo somewhat "unreadable."  I know that they feel the buyer is familiar with the team logos enough that they will even recognize even a portion of the logo, but I feel that the logo is heritage of each team, and it should be clearly viewed and respected.  It also seems that the designer did not know what to do with the lower corner space, so they just added lines,  To ensure the team name is legible, the designers decided to blur and erase the photo creating a faded look with the image in opposite corners. - I don't get it?  If you are going borderless, then would the photo not bleed?  Why go through all this trouble when you can just add a border?  Did the designers think that it would look cool that all the players played in a low lying fog?  Sorry Topps, I think you overworked this product.
  So what else did pack #1 unveil?
     I guess this would be what they call their "rainbow foil" - It is certainly foil, but rainbow?  I was not sure and only identified it because it is the only parallel that is not serial numbered.
     Needless to say, the drop rate of 1;2 for the MLB Debut insert played true as I pulled this Pujols card.  The design is nothing extrodinary, and looks like so many other subsets/inserts we have seen for many years.  The 1996 Upper Deck Predictor set comes to mind when looking at this design.

     Here are the rest of the cards from pack #1 Nothing too exciting, though I still find the acknowledgement of the WHIP statistic with a WHIP leader card a bit funny, seems to be very fantasy baseball oriented.  I just like tradition, and would have been happy with Win, ERA, K, and Fireman leader cards like they have been doing for over a half century.

     I will admit, this is a cool shot.  Though the typeface looks like something out of a "Baseball Tonight" graphic.  I can literally see the words "perspective" and "Ryan Braun" moving on the screen.  The actual shot itself is excellent.  This is certainly the best insert of the set and will be in high demand.  Fortunately, the seeding of 1:4 makes it a set that will be plentiful.
     This next insert is from the "First Pitch" collection.  Honestly, I had no idea who this awkward bean was and had to look him up.  Come to find out it is a future NBA bust.  This shot makes Porzingis look like he throws like an nonathletic girl.  Perhaps he threw a perfect pitch to the cathcer, I don't know, and I don't care, but from this shot, it looks like he will throw it like a two year old and shout in a broken English accent "Ball go far!!" (Okay, I am being a dick, but generally, I say a lot of nice things about people in my write ups.)

     The other card in this pack was this propaganda piece from Topps.  Here I am asked to "Rediscover" their product.  Well, considering I have been away from the hobby for quite a bit, I guess I am rediscovering it, and just like when my cats turn in their litter box and "discover" what they left behind, I want to quickly cover this in sand.  This card hits all the current social media nomenclatures,  give your Facebook links, Twitter handles, web addresses,   all the current business card offerings.  Speaking of offerings, I am rewarded with a $0.50 discount for any of their products for the upcoming year.  I plan to buy Heritage for sure, so I guess I can expect to pay $79.50 for a box rather than $80.  Sweet 1/2 percent discount!! Thanks Topps!  Who am I kidding, I will constantly forget this card and never even redeem it, only finding it after it expires.
     The rest of pack #2.  The Matt Holliday horizontal card is a nice shot, and it appears Alex Gordon agrees as he looks up to check it out, 

      This card is one of Topp's promotional efforts to revive their "Wacky Package" sticker line.  For anyone that is not familiar with Wacky Packages, these were cartoon style cards of familiar products that are parodied in some rather silly or disgusting manner.  The artwork was great, and they were always fun cards to get as a kid.  I am not sure how I feel about these.  Part of me likes that they are bringing them back, and this card certainly represents the style and spirit of the old Wacky Packages, but the fact that Topps is trying to insert the now standard marketing of "autographs" or "relics" to the cards makes my eyes roll a bit.  I guess I will reserve my thoughts until I see the actual product.
     This is one of the "Greatest Streak" insert cards.  The card certainly follows the feel of the set with the ESPN bumper style typeface, and the bleeding the image borders.  The photo again looks more illustrative than actual photography.  The background looks like the wake of a starship that just hit warp speed.

    The rest of pack #3
 My one "100 Years of Wrigley Field" cards.  Sadly, I got Mark Prior rather than a Maddux or Ernie Banks card.  This is probably the second best set behind "Perspectives" The use of the brick and ivy is a no brainer, and modifying the Wrigley Field sign to showcase the theme of the set is excellent.  If I were a Cubs fan, collecting this set would be high on the 2016 agenda.  I would like to see some of the other cards in the set.  The night shot of this card mutes the ivy on the card.

     Time for the reprint cards.  These are part of the "Berger's Best" insert set. So I guess that means glossy coated versions of 1960s and 70s star cards.  Meh.
     The rest of pack #4.  Two standout cards are the Grandy and the Ben Revere cards. Both cards are great shots.  The Revere shot is really cool and I think would have been a candidate for the "Perspectives" set except that Revere is not a big enough name for that set, so they settled to include it as his base card.  Revere will never have a more brilliant looking card.  The Granderson card is also tremendous, a great leaping catch shot and one of the better vertical cards in this collection.

     My first "Back to Back" insert.  I always liked Edgar, and I think he is a Hall of Famer, but I doubt the media will allow him enshrinement.  Junior was pretty good too.  The pixelated dissolve in the middle seems like they had no idea how to solve blending the two players together.  I would think they would have had numerous shots of the two players together that they could have used rather than force the images together in this crappy method.   This design has a late 80s Fleer feel to it.

     Another MLB Debut card and still looking the bastard child of 96 Upper Deck Predictor and an Gypsy Queen card. 

The rest of pack #5 - The Puig card makes me wonder if he actually catches the ball or if it drops.  The look on his face is not reassuring.  Future Star Kole Calhoun seems a bit of a reach, but I guess you have to pimp somebody.  Calhoun had a strong debut, but he regressed last year, and I see him more like Marty Cordova.
     My next "Perspectives" card is Jung Ho Kang leaping over Kolton Wong.  Part of me wishes they photoshopped old Royals second baseman, Frank White in the shot, then when you pick your favorite  you can say any answer would be "White" or "Wong."

     My first insert from the "Walk Off Wins" insert set, of former Red and current ChiSox third baseman, Todd Frazier.  This card would bewilder Forrest Gump,. ("Todd Frazier, you are missing your legs!!!")  Pretty bland insert set IMO.

The rest of pack #6 and it is becoming apparent the horizontal shots out class the vertical shots by miles. Kaleb Cowart looks like he is wearing David Bowie's pants from "Labyrinth."
     Two more inserts one of a great pitcher, and one of a pitcher that could have been great.  Despite Gooden's flameout, I still really want copies of his 1984 Topps Traded and 1984 Fleer Update cards.  They were so pricey and unattainable as a kid, that I feel like I really want to get them now that they do not cost that much.  When Doc was on, he was incredible.
     Another parallel, this time a "gold" variant of Russell Martin.  Not a fan of how they laid on the gold in the grate look, but at least you know it is gold as Topps has had points where you could not distinguish what type of parallel a card was.  This one is also numbered on the back to 2016 (Naturally)  I wonder how many people attempt to put full sets of these parallels together?

     The rest of pack #7 - Kaleb Cowart looks like he stole David Bowie's pants from "Labyrinth."

      More inserts,  an interesting choice with Josh Hamilton as his off field problems have tarnished his career as well as his cardboard interests.  A nice card theme with the "Pressed into Service" of position players that had to pitch.  I wish they expanded it to players manning a position you would never think to find them, such as the time Kirby Puckett played second base.

     The rest of pack #8 - The Nick Hundley card looks like he is receiving a soft underhand lob from that beanstalk basketball player from earlier. 

      "Agent Carter" Haley Atwell throws a first pitch during a cold April game at Kansas City.   Based on that form, she looks like she did a 200% better job than the human light pole.  Bernie Williams rounds the bases in his Tyler Durden cosplay costume.  look at those glasses!! The first rule of MLB Debut set, is we don't talk about MLB Debut set!!

     The rest of pack #9 - The checklist card with Papi and Pujols looks like Pujols is looking for a simple handshake, but Papi is about to give him the 5 minute version with 62 different types of shakes and grips.

     Another "Perspective" card, this time of Robinson Cano walking through the dugout wondering why he ever left New York for Seattle.  A nice pull of The Babe and one of his milestone records.
     The rest of pack #10 -
     The ten acks offered nothing extraordinary, the inserts came at the standard seeding.  No great hit, but there would not be great hits if you got one in every box, so onto the bonus pack with the gold medallion card, and the pull was.....

Again, nothing major.  The medallion looks plastic, and the card is really thick.  Myabe I can recoup some of my money on these boxes by tossing them on eBay while the product is fresh and people are scrambling to acquire cards from the series.
    The final open was the jumbo pack which offered a lot of duplication.  Card came in 3-4 card runs that I had seen in the blaster box.  THe inserts were:
    Another card from a set that will not be discussed. (See rule #1) A First Pitch card of a U.S. Women's Soccer player who looks remarkably like Mickey Mantle. A Back to Back insert and my first Kris Bryant card, believe it or not.  That is right, aside from this card, I don't own a single Kris Bryant card!!! A sick Cutch "Perspectives" card.  I really like back shots if they are pulled off effectively, and this one is in that wheelhouse!!!
     Here are the great horizontal cards from the series, just emphasizing how strong they are compared to eh base vertical cards.  Topps really should have done all the cards in this format.

     So I will say that the experience of ripping this blaster and jumbo was rather underwhelming, and that is not a bad thing, as it just affirmed my intent NOT to bother with this set.  Maybe I will grab a single card or two of a player that ends up on my 2016 fantasy baseball team, but other than that, I will just flip what I can and send out the rest to collectors that can use the cards.  I give this set a C- with the Perspectives and 100 Years of Wrigley the only saving graces from a lower mark.