Saturday, July 22, 2017

The Digital Revolution: Revisiting Some Old Cards and Planning for the Future

So I run a baseball card blog. Yet I kind of no longer collect baseball cards. So what am I doing?

Well, that's a good question, and one I hope to answer in this post. 

As I mentioned in my return post a couple of days ago, collecting is not really a viable option at this point in my life. I'm moving to NYC in a month, money is tight (as is space), and I'm not even able to take my current collection with me. But that doesn't mean I still can't have fun with baseball cards.

Before I took my sabbatical from the blogging community, I spent a ton of time working on my own digital baseball card set. Here are a few of my favorites. 

You may or may not remember these (I never did get around to posting all of the cards I created), but I definitely enjoyed making them. Of course, many of the cards I created are outdated (#trades), but that doesn't mean they're not cool.

Considering the ostensible move toward digital everything, digital baseball cards seem to make too much sense for me. Topps seems to be putting a lot of time and effort into the digital card market, with Topps Now digital cards flooding my Facebook timeline and ads for MLB Bunt (the digital card trading app) making a home alongside them. I previously used MLB Bunt a few years ago but spent most of my free time with real cards and ended up deleting the app, but I've re-downloaded while writing this paragraph. 

Digital cards are not as fun as the real, tangible cards you used to see on this blog and many others, but digital cards will help me reengage in this hobby and allow me to stay involved in the baseball card community. 

So what can you expect from this blog moving forward? 

For starters, I'll gradually post the custom cards I created a few years ago. That should be fun (and maybe nostalgic) and will help me provide content as I work on my new project for this blog -- a new digital card set

I plan on putting a ton of work into this (partly as an excuse to practice my Adobe skills), though I'm not sure exactly what this card set will include. It will probably be small in its first iteration (a handful of players from every team, probably voted on by you).  I plan on creating my own card design, but I will also throw it back to designs of old. Beyond that, the possibilities are wide open. I encourage you all to throw ideas my way if you have any, and hopefully I can get cracking on these soon. 

The new digital card set will be my primary focus, though I also plan on diverging into larger researched posts about the card industry, especially from a digital collector's perspective. And, of course, I'll do my best to post about any real cards that make their way into my hands. 

With this blog's renewed focus on digital cards, I'm feeling like the blog could use a redesign. Expect some small changes in the coming weeks and larger changes in the coming months. 

I may no longer collect (real) baseball cards, but that won't stop me from running a baseball card blog. 

Wednesday, July 19, 2017

A Two Year Absence? I'm Back...Sorta

Whew. So much has happened since the last time I posted here. I finished up school in California. I met an amazing girl and now we're dating. And the Dodgers won the World Series. 

Well. I'm still waiting on that last one, but I'm hoping 2017 continues to be good to me, and the Boys is Blue finally go all the way. I mean, at the time I'm writing this, the Dodgers hold the best record in baseball, they are on an incredible run (30-4 in their last 34 games) and their roster is filled with incredible young talent. 

But you all probably know that already, so let's talk about me. And baseball cards. 

So yeah. I've finally finished school here in California, but I'm still waiting on that degree. I won't have to wait too much longer, as I'm planning on graduating next Spring, though I'll be doing so on the other side of the country. I'm transferring to Hofstra University (stomping grounds to famous alumni like James Caan, Christopher Walken, and Bernie Madoff....welp), and I'll be graduating with a BA in English, Publishing Studies and Literature. 

I'm so incredibly excited for this change, and I'm incredibly grateful for being in a position to even pack up and zoom across the country. But I'm also incredibly scared and nervous of what's to come. I'm 24, but pretty soon I'll have to adult in every sense of the word and find a job, figure out how to live in an expensive city, and make new friends. I'm hopeful that it all works out, and I'd certainly love to hear any words of advice you may have. 

But this is a baseball card blog, so let's talk about that. 

Sadly, I've only opened a handful of packs over the past two years. Many of those packs have been Topps Flagship (no way I'm missing that), and I haven't been overly impressed. Still, I've thoroughly enjoyed ripping open the packs with the hopes of pulling a Dodger or an awesome picture (something Dime Boxes worthy). 

But it seems that my time in this hobby isn't bound to continue, at least in the short term. To put it frankly, cards are not just in the budget, and I can't foresee much free time over the next couple of years. I've already sold off many of my favorite cards -- bye-bye Parks and Rec collection :( -- and I'm still looking to move many more of my higher-end cards to help me build up my savings (feel free to message me if there are any cards on my blog you'd like to own). As much as I enjoy the cards, life has simply forced my hand. 

I'm optimistic though. Sure, I love my cards. I really, really do. But I didn't get into the hobby for the autos, or the relics, or the high-end stuff -- I found the joy in that part of the hobby along the way. I started this blog because I love to talk about the low-end stuff, the cardboard that is often glossed over by many, bound to boxes and bags, and attics and basements. The cards that sparked my interest in baseball in the first place. 

I can't promise that I'll post here regularly. And I can't promise that I won't have another two year absence after I start school in September. But I do promise to continue to read so many of the other fantastic blogs, and to continue to stay engaged in this community on Twitter. And I certainly promise to continue loving this hobby, and the people in it that make it so fun. 


I'd also like to take this space to do a bit of self-promotion. I have a new Twitter account you can follow @alexbmarkle. I'll use this as my personal/professional twitter, and you will find pretty anything non-baseball related their (probably a lot of books and publishing stuff tbh). You can also check out another blog I started recently, Markle's Musings: A Quest for a Better Read. I'll be posting reviews of most books that I read, as well as other bookish thoughts. If that sounds like something you'd enjoy, or you simply feel like offering some support, I'd appreciate a follow. 

I'll continue to run @markle05, my baseball and card twitter as well. I'll see you all soon!

Monday, June 29, 2015

2015 Topps Stadium Club: I Have To Chime In

Well, so much for that unplanned vacation from the blog. I'm pretty sure it has been less than a month since I posted my "good-bye" post, yet I'm back here checking in. I promise I won't make a habit of this, but I have some time to kill and I happened to pick up a pack of Stadium Club while I was at Target today. So let's get down to the contents of my first pack in a few months!

Well, I couldn't think of a better first card to pull than the one above. I'm usually bombarded by Giants and Yankees when I open packs, but it looks like the card gods were on my side today. 

As we all know (probably), Stadium Club is Topps' photo focused brand (that assonance!), and I think they did a wonderful job this year. The "name plate" -- or whatever you wanna call the whole name, position, etc... on the bottom -- is unobtrusive and allows the photography to shine. I don't have a problem with the foil "name plates" -- again, call them what you wish -- though they don't necessarily come through so great in pictures. Too bad I don't have my scanner anymore. 

Oh, and darn you Topps for figuring out a way to get that picture onto a baseball card. I spent a few hours trying get that picture onto the custom cards I was making at one time, but I could never figure out a way to crop it correctly. Meh, guess that's why I don't work for Topps. At least we both had the same game in mind...

The rest of the pack was rather unexciting in comparison to the Kersh on top. 

Meh. I like Tyson, but Padres cards are always just a little bleh to me. I think the organization should take Marcus' advice and revert to the brown and yellow unis. 

David Ortiz is a decent pull. I enjoy the image; there is just something about these low angle shots that grab my attention. Just to think, I used to PC Big Papi only a few months ago...

It feels a little weird to say, but I got a little unlucky with this pull. I'm not totally positive, but I think inserts are seeded every few packs or so. I'm not generally a fan of inserts, though I kinda like this design. I think it loses a little of its luster being mixed in with some fantastic photography, but I'll take it nonetheless. I think I may have liked this card better if I pulled it out of Flagship or something. Context. 

Finally, I happened upon the sunset card of one of the better (and probably a little underrated) sluggers of the past generation. It feels weird to see Dunn in an Athletics jersey -- okay, maybe not as weird as Will Ferrell in an Athletics jersey -- but it's a cool card nonetheless. 

Other bloggers are saying packs are a little overpriced, but I just think they under filled. I don't have a problem spending three bucks on a pack of cards as nice as Stadium Club, but I would like the dollar to go a bit further. Maybe seven cards a pack would be better, especially considering the 300-card set list. That said, I'm just glad these cards were available in retail this year. 

Overall, I think Stadium Club is one of the best products of 2015. The pictures are fantastic. The checklist has a good mixture of legends and current players. Oh, and I pulled Clayton Kershaw in my first (and probably last) pack of the product. That alone is good enough to crown it Set of the Year in my book. 

Friday, May 29, 2015

That's All Folks

About a year and a half ago I started this blog with the intention of ranting about the Dodgers. And I did. For all of one post. In fact, it was less of a rant and more of me predicting how the off-season would go. I did pretty damn good if you were wondering. But I digress...

To be honest, I didn't think this whole blogging thing would last. I had started numerous blogs over the years, all with varying lifespans. I always wanted to write about the Dodgers, but could never find a reason to post consistently. And then I started getting back into cards. 

I started to pick up packs here and there and even a card on eBay from time to time. I posted some of my favorites here on the blog in posts I called 'Card of the Day'. Eventually, I moved on from that and started writing more about the cards, rather than just posting a picture of them with a line or two of how much it cost me. Pretty soon I was pumping out posts daily, running contests, and reading other blogs whenever I had a free moment. But, as it happens to most of us, life got in the way, and now I am stepping back from the hobby.

I'm not sure how long my sabbatical will last. I imagine I won't collect again until at least after college, so like another 4-5 years. And even then, who knows if the desire wills till be there. Hopefully by that time, however, I'll be making so much money, I can just flat out buy Topps (yea, not gonna happen). 

I'll still be checking out blogs from time to time, and I may even pick up a card or two over the next few years, but my time blogging is done. 

That said, I'd just like to thank a few people in this community that have been especially kind to me. Greg, Matthew, Nick, Austin, Andrew, and William, you guys are all exceptionally awesome, and I wish you nothing but the best with your collections going forward. 

Thanks again everyone!

Saturday, February 28, 2015

Update On Chavez Ravining Fantasy Baseball

I've been incredibly busy over the past few weeks which is evident from my lack of blog posts. I have a ton of awesome cards to show off still, but other than a pair of blasters I bought when 2015 Flagship came out, I haven't bought much. 

Anyway. I just wanted to give a quick update on the Chavez Ravining Fantasy Baseball league. I have been slow to putting it together, but everyone who is interested should be added to the league by the end of the week. I am still accepting sign-ups as well, so feel free to comment if you'd like to join.

Here are some of the basic rules of the league: 

  • Dynasty League (Will go for more than one year)
  • Mixed league (both NL and AL)
  • 6X6 rotisserie scoring
    • Batters: R, HR, RBI, SB, AVG, OBP
    • Pitchers: K, W, SV, ERA, WHIP, K/9
  • Hosted on ESPN
  • Free to play (No entry fee)
  • About 50% of the roster will be kept year-to-year
As far as the rules go, it is pretty much the same as it was last year. I didn't really notice any problems, but if you have any suggestions just let me know. Also, we will talk more in detail about the league specifics as I add you to the league as well as the blog I have set up for the league. 

Here is a list of who is currently signed up for the league:
  • Dodger Penguin (Matthew)
  • Mets Cardboard (Justin)
  • Frankie M.
  • Tim B. 
  • Yadier Molina Baseball Cards (Brady)
  • Kyle B.
  • Need More Cardboard (Andrew)
  • Brandon L.
  • Chavez Ravining (Me!)
I have also heard from Tony L. and Greg Z., but I'm not quite sure if they are joining or not. We currently have nine members for sure (including me), but that number may jump up to eleven if both Tony and Greg join. EDIT: Brandon had to bow out, but we still have plenty of members. Eight for sure. 

Let me know if I inadvertently left you off the list. I double checked the comments and my email, but I seemingly always forget people in things like this. I have contacted most of you about the league already, so  I will start adding people to the ESPN page today. I'll also be adding all of the members to the Chavez Ravining Fantasy Baseball blog I started last year. This blog will be the place to contact other members of the league, as well as make announcements, talk about trades, etc.. Everyone in the league will have full admin rights to the blog, so feel free to post as often as you'd like. 

That's it for now. Hopefully I will be able to get some actual cards posted soon, but we'll see. Thanks!

Wednesday, February 18, 2015

A Quick Trade With William

I completed my sixth trade with William of Foul Bunt recently. Well, I'm not sure completed is the right term. William sent me some cool cards, but I have yet to send a care package back his way. Don't worry, William. A pile is going for you and it will be sent out the next round of shipping. 

Anyway. Let's get to the cards William sent me this time around. 

This particular package was relatively small, but I picked out a few of my favorites to highlight her on the blog. First we have a fantastic Dusty Baker card, unlicensed of course. 

I'm not the biggest fan of these Golden Age cards, or Panini products in general (they do have some cool hits though), but I like the overall design of the cards. Too bad there is no LA logo. 

William also tossed in a trio of Chris Davis cards for my buddy Dikran. I passed these cards his way a few weeks back and he was excited for the new additions. If anyone has any extra Davis cards laying around, feel free to send them to me or William. I'm sure we'd both appreciate them.

Thanks again for the trade William. Expect some cards in your mailbox soon. 

Saturday, February 14, 2015

Chavez Ravining Fantasy Baseball

I've been waiting to write this posts for months. After the success of last year's league, I've been chomping at the bit to start up again. Although the league as a whole was a success, there were a few improvements that can be made for 2015 (including a few things I could have done better); but we'll talk about tweaking the rules/points a bit further down the line.

Let's talk about some of the format and some of the basic rules for 2015 before we get to the signups.

1. This will be a dynasty league. This means that we will carry this league on for as long as people are willing to stay in it. But don't worry, owners will have the chance to leave at the end of the year if it just isn't working for them.

2. It will be rotisserie scoring. This means that points will be scored by counting stats, and there will be no head-to-head match-ups. We will be using ESPN to play. 

3. Please, please pay attention and keep up with the league if you are apart of it. I understand that life gets in the way and we can all get busy at times, but the league doesn't work unless all of the participants are active. If you can spend at least ten minutes a week keeping up with trade offers etc. it would be greatly appreciated.

That is pretty much the extent of it right now. I have a good idea with where we will head going into the season, but I'd rather have that discussion on the Fantasy Baseball blog itself. 

If you are interested in participating, simply leave me a comment or send me an email.

You are not locked into participating by doing this, so even if you are unsure if you want to participate you should still contact me. 

Also, I am more than willing to here suggestions about the league in the comments section. Don't want to do the dynasty format? Think we should do something else? Just let me know.

Looking forward to another great year!

EDIT: Here is some more info about the league. These are the thoughts I've had, so all the rules, format is up for discussion. 

  • Mixed league (both NL and AL)
  • 6X6 scoring
    • Batters: R, HR, RBI, SB, AVG, OBP
    • Pitchers: K, W, SV, ERA, WHIP, K/9
  • Hosted on ESPN.
  • Last year was free to play, may consider a small buy-in with prizes at the end of year.  Open to both options.
  • About 50% of the roster will be kept year-to-year.
  • Tenative Roster Limits. Depends on how many people participate. 
Catcher (C)1No Limit
First Base (1B)1No Limit
Second Base (2B)1No Limit
Third Base (3B)1No Limit
Shortstop (SS)1No Limit
Middle Infielder (2B/SS)1N/A
Corner Infielder (1B/3B)1N/A
Left Field (LF)0No Limit
Center Field (CF)0No Limit
Right Field (RF)0No Limit
Outfield (OF)5N/A
Designated Hitter (DH)1No Limit
Utility (UTIL)2N/A
Pitcher (P)10N/A
Starting Pitcher (SP)0No Limit
Relief Pitcher (RP)0No Limit
Bench (BE)4N/A
Disabled List (DL)2N/A