Monday, August 12, 2019

Trade with Dion's Autograph Collection: Swapping Ink and Dodgers


I recently (well, it's been a couple of months) swapped some cards with Dion over at Dion's Autograph Collection, my second trade with him in the last few months. I sent over a handful of autographs and he offered up several Dodgers team set needs and a ton of new Shawn Green cards. 

The Big League Challenge card above was new to me, and the concept of the Big League Challenge--and not the Home Run Derby--was something unfamiliar. From what I can find online, the Big League Challenge took place in the early-2000s and was essentially a Home Run Derby played over the course of a mock 9-inning game. The card above shows a date of February 9th, 2002, but the logo is of the 2003 BLC. I can't find any info on the 2003 event, but Green participated in 2002 and did not make it very far. Troy Glaus ultimately won the entire event. 



I was born in the 90s but didn't start collecting until the early-2000s, around 2002 I believe. For whatever reason, I've always considered this the cutoff between "old" cards and "new" cards. I was never really aware of this distinction, but as I've looked back at my collecting habits and my taste in cards, it becomes pretty obvious to me. I won't get into my own distinction between old, vintage, new, or modern cards here (that's a whole post on its own), but I will say I never had much affection for cards from the 90s. Maybe it has to do with the whole junk wax era and the saturation of products during the decade. I don't know. Whatever it is, I'm never been particularly attracted to cards from the 90s. 

That said, I've started to grow a fondness for some select sets over the past couple of years, especially 1995 Topps Flagship. Take a look at the card above. The photo is great; how often do you see "player signing autograph" cards nowadays without it being an SP or in Stadium Club? I also dig the sort of watercolor-y border and drop shadow of the photo. It definitely gives the set its own identity and sets it apart from the rest of the sets from the 90s. 


Green spent most of his career with the Dodgers, but, as I am now noticing, the cards I chose to scan don't show him in Dodger blue. (Is Blue Jay blue a thing?!?) I think this may be the first I've seen of 1992 Classic Best set, and it ain't too shabby. It shows Green as a member of the Dunedin Blue Jays, Toronto's single-A affiliate. Green made his major-league debut in 1993, the same year I was born, and went hitless in 6 at-bats. He appeared in 14 games with the big-league club in 1994, but he didn't manage to hang around until the 1995 season. 


But enough of Green. Dion sent over several other Dodgers, including a new Corey Seager for me to add to the binder. If Corey Seager can hit like Tulo in his prime, I'd be very happy. Let's just hope he can avoid the injury bug. Injuries derailed Tulo's career and forced him into retirement this season. 


Finally, here's a hodgepodge of Flagship needs Dion sent my way. A handful of cards from 2016-18 sets are helpful as I'm still tracking down the cards from those sets. I initially thought the Maddux was just a normal base card from 2009, but quickly realized that it's actually the Wal-Mart black border version. Alas, I still lack any base Dodgers from 2009 Flagship. In fact, it's one of only a handful of sets of which I have no Dodgers, along with 1953, 1954, 1955, and 1968. Lump in 2009, and we quickly see one of those things is not like the others. 

It was another successful swap with Dion who is quickly becoming my go-to blogger for low-end autos I have no interest in and won't fetch much on eBay. Thanks for the trade!

Saturday, August 10, 2019

National Baseball Card Day

Apparently today, August 10th, is National Baseball Card Day. Topps kicked off the "holiday" yesterday in Brooklyn with free cards, trivia, and other giveaways, and I found myself right in the middle of it.



I was actually on the train heading home when I came across Topps' post on Twitter saying they were in Old Fulton Plaza--not far from where I was. So I decided to take a detour and check out the Topps truck in person.

There were a handful of Topps employees hanging around handing out baseball cards and encouraging folks to enter their raffle: correctly guess how many cards are plastered on the truck and win a prize. I guessed 2020, which is probably too high, but they still haven't officially announced the winner. Any guesses as to how many cards on on this truck?



I dropped by with the hopes of grabbing some free cards and maybe winning one of their giveaways. They weren't doing any giveaways or trivia when I got there, but I did snag two of the packs they were handing out. Each pack had four cards from Series 1, and they were some of the most uneventful packs I've ever opened. Jedd Gyorko was the biggest name I pulled, and he doesn't even play with the team he's pictured with anymore. It seems like the cards showing on the tops of these packs were pretty representiative of what was inside.


Oh well. Free cards are free cards. And I can't complain about views like this either. Too bad I didn't have cash, or I would have picked up an ice cream cone, too. 

Those two packs weren't enough to get me through the day, so I followed this trip up with a trip into Target and picked up a pair of Stadium club packs. 

They were the first Stadium Club packs on 2019 for me, and I managed a pair of Dodgers among the 10 cards. Not half bad. 


That Duke will fit nicely into my growing Dodgers Legends binder. I love finding that Brooklyn 'B" on cardboard. 

All in all, I think it was a pretty successful day, especially considering I had no idea National Baseball Card Day was an actual thing heading into the day. Maybe I'll plan a fun celebration next year. Is anyone celebrating today?

Friday, August 9, 2019

A Pair of A&G Blasters


Several months back, my girlfriend and I were apartment hunting and found ourselves in the Crown Heights neighborhood of Brooklyn. We were a bit early for an apartment viewing, so we decided to take a stroll around the area to get a better sense of what the new neighborhood might be like. We passed by several pizza shops (all claiming "The Best Slice in NY"), a Dunkin', and far too many empty storefronts. 


We were about to turn around and head back for our appointment, when I happened to read the sign in front of an absurdly large collection of buildings: "EBBETS FIELD."


Wait a minute. Ebbets Field?!? Of course, I know the Dodgers spent the first half of their existence in Brooklyn, but I never thought about where in Brooklyn they used to play. 


We didn't end up taking that apartment, instead opting for a much spacier place in Kensington, but it was certainly quite the find on that pleasant Sunday evening. 


As was the above Pee Wee Reese card that slid out of a pack of A&G a couple of weeks back. I didn't look at the A&G checklist (and still haven't) before picking up a pair of blasters at Target, so it was cool to add another Pee Wee to my Dodgers Legends binder. 




Speaking of legends, The Left Arm of God. Koufax is probably in most Topps releases nowadays, and though the photos sometimes get repetitive, I won't ever compain about adding more Koufax to my collection. Plus, is there a better combination of colors on these cards than red, white, and Dodger blue? I don't think so. 





My girlfriend and I ended up doing a "blaster box war," if you will, taking turns opening packs one by one and comparing cards to see who had the better box. She has very little baseball knowledge and resists my attempts to convert her into a Dodgers fan--she's from just outside of Cleveland and roots for the Indians--so there were many discussions to be had about the who pulled better players, celebs, and eggs. Of course, she ended up pulling the doozy of a card above--a Casey Stangel Brooklyn-back mini #'d 16/25--surpassing my blaster by far. Not bad. This went to eBay shortly after pulling it, and it just about paid for the blaster it came from.

The real draw of Allen and Ginter for me this year is the Mares and Stallions set. The checklist contains only 15 cards, but I'm making a concerted effort to track them all down as quickly as possible. The "Horse in the Race" 25-card mini set from '17 A&G still haunts me--I only have 2 of the 25 cards. 




I think I've mentioned this before, but my girlfriend is a life-long equestrian (hence the horse card collection I'm working on), so chasing these cards together has been quite fun. Though Topps found a way to mess that up. I'll let her explain...

"I was so excited to have found a few horse cards in the packs I opened, but as soon as I saw the Appaloosa card, my excitement dwindled. The Appaloosa is a breed characterized by its spotted coat. While the card above does show a bicolored coat, it is most certainly a paint (or at least pinto)--it's cowlike markings are nothing like those that characterize an Appaloosa. Appaloosas come in a variety of patterns, but to see a bit of the spectrum of an Appaloosa coat, take a look at the images below:

from https://www.saddleupcolorado.net/blog/appaloosa-horses/

That said, it was still great to see a few horse cards, the incorrect picture notwithstanding."

Yep, so a bit of a disappointment when all is said and done, but it's still nice to move closer to the complete set. 


The fun didn't stop with the Mares and Stallions, however. In an attempt to match the other blaster, I pulled a pretty cool relic of Yadier Molina. I'm not at all a Cardinals fan (I dislike their devil magic), but there are enough Cardinals bloggers out there that this should have no difficulty finding a new home. 

All in all, we had a great time breaking open some boxes and ripping packs. I've always enjoyed doing this solo, but it's great to have someone to crack some packs with, and even more fun to chase a set together. 

Sunday, August 4, 2019

Making Space with Trade Bait

It didn't take too long for me to determine that I needed to make more space for cards in my new apartment, so I've decided to highlight some of my trade bait on this balmy Sunday evening. Below you can find an embedded spreadsheet of my what I have to offer. (View the list on a sortable Google Doc here.) You can see images of all cards in the images below that sheet. Scroll to the far right of the embedded spreadsheet to see which scan the card image appears. 

I am also happy to sell these cards outright as well. Price is (always) negotiable, so leave a comment if you're interested. Shipping is $3.50 for purchases under $10; Free Shipping for purchases over $10. (Of course, shipping is free for all trades.)

 
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Scan 1




Scan 2



Scan 3



Scan 4


Scan 5




Scan 6


Monday, July 29, 2019

Dime Boxes: A Trade


When I started thus blog way back in 2012, I figured it would be a cool place to show off some of my Matt Kemp cards. I was fully committed to #BeastMode back then, focusing almost exclusively on building up my Matt Kemp collection. Eventually I expanded my interests a bit, chasing as many Dodgers' autos and relics as I could get my hands on. 2012 wasn't the most fiscally responsible year of my life. 

Of course my interests eventually expanded, and I moved away from expensive autos to more affordable cards, and not just Dodgers. I had several mini-collections and player collections, yet I primarily dabbled in modern cards--packs I could rip from Target and my local LCS. 

Of course, nearly a decade after I first started collecting, my collection and my collecting habits has narrowed. I have a greater appreciation for vintage stuff, and, if money wasn't a barrier, I'd probably be chasing and showcasing that here more often. But I'm a broke twenty-something, so most of my vintage comes from trades these days. 

Enter Nick of Dime Boxes fame, another twenty-something, with a rich collection of a fantastic cards. I sent him a package way back in early spring, and he sent a return package not too long after featuring a whole bevy of awesome cardboard, including that sweet Lou Johnson from 1966 above. 


It's not too often I run into cards from the 1950s, so seeing this sweet Jim Gilliam card drop out of the bubble mailer Nick sent my way was a definite surprise. I've spent very little time talking about my love for various vintage sets on this blog (something I should do more), and the 1959 set has got to be one of my top 10 favorite sets of all time. 


Ed Roebuck is a new name name for me. While I know the names of most Dodgers legends, I'm still filling in the gaps. Apparently Ed Roebuck was a relief pitcher for the Dodgers (Brooklyn and Los Angeles) in the late 50s and 60s. Fun Fact: he once tied the major league record for striking out twice in the same inning. 


2019 Heritage picked up the 1970 design for its release earlier this year (a set I enjoyed), but Nick included some of the real stuff in this package. While these look like standard cards from the 1970 set, I was in for a surprise.


Yep, that's an OPC. Nick managed to add hundreds of these to his collection a few months ago, and he was nice enough to share the wealth across the blogosphere. I took a couple of years of French in college (Je me souviens de rien), but never did I think I'd have to put it to use.


Of course, Nick included more than just vintage in this swap. In fact, he sent over what is officially the first card in my Jeopardy mini-collection: a glossy parallel of Austin Rogers from 2018 A&G. I talked at large about the lack of Jeopardy cards in the cardboard world a few months back. After doing a bit of research, I managed to only track down just three non-auto cards in existence that highlight the question and answer game show: 2006 A&G Ken Jennings, 2013 Topp Heritage News Flashback, and 2018 Topps A&G Austin Rogers. Thanks to some comments from a few of you, I was also able to locate a few autographs: Alex Trebek has a cut auto in 2014 Topps Archives; Trebek and Jennings have a dual cut auto in 2011 Topps American Pie (both are 1/1s); Rogers has an auto in the 2018 A&G set; and, more recently, James Holzhauser has an auto in 2019 A&G. Unfortunately, my Jeopardy mini-collection doesn't appear as if it will be growing anytime soon. 

My vintage collection, on the other hand, looks better than ever. With gracious trading partners like Nick, maybe I can manage completing some sets before modern cards are considered vintage. Maybe. 

Thursday, July 25, 2019

Topps Reveals 2020 Flagship Design...

... and it's not great. 


I'll have a more in-depth post about this sometime in the future when more details emerge, but I wanted to throw some of my initial thoughts out there.

  1. Nameplates: The nameplate gets a vertical treatment on all cards and the names rotated 90 degrees. This looks to me like only the second time Topps has treated names in this fashion, maybe as a nod to the 1999 set? Not the set I'd steal design elements from, to be honest. 
  2. Bowman?: At first glance, it looks a lot like recent Bowman releases. Don't ask me which ones; I think most Bowman from the last five years or so looks incredibly similar. This doesn't seem to have much personality.
  3. Color: The design seems to lack color. The nameplates coordinate with the players' team, but we only get small bursts within the largely semi-transparent frame. Of course, this is a full-bleed design, so most of the color comes from the photo itself, but I would have liked to see a more colorful set. I suppose I'm a border purist when it comes to Flagship. Of course, the backs could contain a ton of color, but we'll have to wait and see.
  4. Photos: More of the same with the four photos above. I didn't expect anything less in the sneak peek, and I'm sure there will be gems in the set, but I still would've loved to see more variety. 
From the very limited images we have, I can't say I'm a big fan. The set doesn't feel decidedly "flagship" to me, resembling Bowman or some of Topps' more recent digital releases. The design can still change, however, though based on the production process, it'll likely only be small tweaks here or there. 

What are your thoughts on the 2020 design? 


Sunday, July 21, 2019

Opening Up Some 2019 Allen & Ginter

Allen and Ginter is one of my favorite releases of the year. It often takes a lot of slack for the inclusion of non-sports-related cards, but I find that quite fun. There aren't any other sets that combine baseball, canines, trains, flowers, horses, and lost languages. And that's just the 2019 release alone. I doubt those reading a baseball card blog (or running their own) are one-hobby types of folks--I'm certain our interests stretch far and wide beyond baseball--so seeing subsets of things like The History of Flight, subjects that likely don't get any representation anywhere else on cardboard, has the potential to be quite fun. 


Of course, baseball is still the primary draw for me. The design and photography in this year's set is the sharpest it's been in years. I feel Topps got out of its own way this year and opted for a minimul design, similar to the 2010 set. The "framed" sets of the last few years tended to feel closed off and the cards blended too closely together, creating a sort of indistinguisable set of cards. Each of these cards from 2019, however, seems to have its own personality, with the design tying the cards together. 


That said, I'm intrigued by the the background imagery used in the Piazza, Pollock, and Buehler cards above. It seems to be of an old-timey, fictional stadium (a pretty cool touch), though considering the backdrop in all three cards is nearly identical, I wonder if it was used too much throughout the set. Regardless, I'm happy to add a new Buehler to the PC

Along with those Dodgers base cards above, I also managed to land a pretty cool Kershaw insert. This cancer isn't into astrology, zodiacs, or star signs, but it's still a pretty cool lense from which to approach a card set. I mean, where else would you find a comparsion likening Kershaw to an "enchanting fish"?


I ended up purchasing three hanging value packs, another cheaper value pack, and a single pack, and I managed to pull the relic below, but it was the two cards from the 15-card Mares and Stallions subset that I was most excited about. As I described in this post several months ago, I decided to start a mini-collection of horse cards. That post featured two minis from the Horse in the Race miniset from 2017 A&G, and until I pulled the two cards above, they were the only cards in that mini-collection. Not a bad day when a couple of packs doubles your PC

I'm hunting the cards from this Mares and Stallions set, so please let me know if you have any dupes. You can find my want list here. I'd love to take them off your hands. 


Finally, here is that relic I alluded to above. I don't watch a ton of television, and I certainly never watch American Pickers, so this card didn't do much for me. Still, it's never a bad thing to pull a relic. It's another card to add to the trade bait, for those interested. 

Overall, A&G has definitely been one of my favorite products of the year (as it always is). I got a nice start on that Mares and Stallions set, though I'll still have to chase that elusive Jeopardy James autograph....

Thursday, July 18, 2019

Cardboard from Stumptown

The last few months have been crazy, but I have some good news:
  1. Moving is finally in the rearview. We're in the new apartment (I don't advise driving through Brooklyn in a Uhaul) and completely unpacked. Let's hope this is more permanent--it's my fifth move since August of 2017. 
  2. With moving done, I can finally turn my attention back to cards. They were boxed up for the last several months, so it's good to get them out in the open again.
  3. I finally have a scanner again. I've been so looking forward to scanning cards since I rejoined the hobby (taking pictures on my phone just isn't the same); this should help me stay on top of posting. 
With that news out of the way,  let's catch up on a trade I from way back in April. I'm severely behind on trade posts, so this will be the first of many of the next several weeks. First up, some cards from Gavin at Baseball Card Breakdown.


Gavin runs one of my favorite card blogs out there, so when it was time to move on from some Archer cards earlier this year, I knew he might be interested.


In exchange for the Archer set, Gavin sent quite a bit of fun--and vintage--cardboard my way. The Furillo and Alston above (from 1960 and 1969, respectively), as well as the LA Dodgers team card (below) from 1962, inch me closer to building complete Dodgers team sets. I'm nowhere near close completing any vintage sets, so this will take some time. Fun fact: this is the first 1962 card in my collection. 


Would it really be a trade with Gavin without customs though? 


He sent along a pair of fantastic custom Dodgers, including a card from Big League Baseball that never was. I feel there is potential for an Orel Hershiser/Bulldog connection here. The Kersh is nice as well; it's refreshing to see cards featuring the Dodgers blue tops they wear in Spring Training. 


Gavin's package contained a number of other great cards (including an autograph of failed Dodger prospect, Tom Windle), but it's not so often I add new Shawn Green cards to the PC. I was devastated to learn Green was traded to the D-Backs in the winter of 2005 (for Dioner Navarro and a handful of other prospects who never panned out, if you were wondering). It's still tough to see him in that purple pinstriped jersey. 

Thanks for the wonderful deal, Gavin! 

Thursday, June 27, 2019

An Interview with my Dad

I've been absolutely swamped the last two months, largely due to long work hours and apartment hunting, and I've had very little time to thinking about cards or the blog. It's unfortunate, but not permanent. My girlfriend and I are moving into a new apartment this weekend (hooray!), so after we're settled in, blogging and collecting should return to normal levels. 

In the meantime, I thought it would be fun to share a brief interview with my dad. He's the main reason I got into collecting (back in the early 2000s), though he hasn't done much collecting himself since the 90s. Now that we're on opposite ends of the U.S., we FaceTime each other to open up packs and blaster boxes. 

Thanks for answering my questions, Dad!

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When did you start collecting cards? 
Around 1990, I received the complete set of 1990 Topps baseball in uncut sheets. To that point, I’d never thought about buying cards or even collecting, but this opened my eyes to the hobby.

What really got you into collecting? 
I remember being in a store called MacFrugals (now a Big-Lots) and seeing a box of 1992 Pro Line NFL football cards at the check stand. Packs were .25 cents and, on a whim, picked up two packs. I ended pulling an Autographed Joe Montana Portraits card. I remember checking a Beckett’s price guide and seeing it go for about $300-400. I decided to sit on it – it’s sitting in a safe somewhere now.

What cards did you collect? 
I was primarily into baseball, but I did buy NFL, NBA, NHL, and some World Cup Soccer.

Were you a set collector? 
I was never a set collector – I was more interested in getting the valuable cards – if there was such a thing in the junk card era – or at least, collect cards from my favorite teams – LA Dodgers, LA Lakers, Dallas Cowboys, and New York Rangers.

Where did you buy cards? 
There was a local card shop in the little community in Madera Ranchos, California. Odd little story – the owner once told me that he ran over the owner of the Oakland A’s back in the 70s. The shop is long gone, but I probably purchased 95% of my cards from the shop.

Favorite card(s)? 
The 92 Pro Line Joe Montana Auto. No other card specifically sticks out – though I know I have several decent rookie cards.

Biggest change you've seen in the hobby over the last 25 years?  
Topps – and how they seem to own everything and have the only rights to use baseball team names and logos. Gone, it seems, are Upper Deck, Fleer, Donruss, and O-Pee-Chee companies, though some survive as units of Topps. Having not really followed in the past few years, it seems the sports cards industry has really fallen off. Card shops have seemed to all but disappear. You can still find stores that sell cards, but cards are no longer the focus – it’s more about jerseys, Magic, and other collectibles.

Sunday, May 5, 2019

Weird Stats

One of my favorite aspects of the young baseball season is the cherry-picking of absurd baseballer stats that, in most cases, are highly unlikely to continue.

Oh, the Seattle Mariners started the season 6-1? Of course they'll carry a .857 winning percentage all year. (They won't--and they're 12-16 since that hot start.) Cody Bellinger carries a .415 batting average and 14 homers into the second week of May, but he's not going to knock out 76 dingers or end the year with the third-highest single-season batting average of the live ball era.


These stats need time to stablize, of course, but let's take a closer look at the two players below: Dee Gordon and Zack Greinke.




Known speedster Dee Gordon has never been a bat-first type of player, and he's certainly not known for his power. Indeed, his highest single-season homerun total was just last year when he managed to push four balls over the wall (a feat he also accomplished in 2015). He's otherwise scattered seasons of zero, one, or two homers since his debut in 2011. Yet, 32 games into the 2019 season, Gordon already has two homeruns. Is this the year he can break five?


Zack Greinke, on the otherhand, has not been his sharpest this season. He's rebounded a bit after a terrible Opening Day start against the Dodgers, but his best years are definitely behind him. While Greinke's pitching prowress is well-known, it's his bat that has me watching these days. Just read this short excerpt from Devan Fink at Fangraphs:

In 13 plate appearances, Greinke has slashed .500/.545/1.300 (361 wRC+). He has hit two home runs, two doubles, and a single, all while drawing a walk without registering a single strikeout. That’s better than Barry Bonds‘ slash line after 13 plate appearances (.400/.538/.900) in 2004, when he went on to post a ridiculous 1.422 full-season OPS.
While we all know Greinke won't go on to become the next Bonds, anecdotes like these are a blast to discover. Dodger cards I need from Topps Heritage are also a blast to discover, and the Gordon and Greinke cards above come from a recent trade with Chris over at Nachos Grande

For as long as I've been in the hobby, player collecting has perhaps been the area I've been most invested. I've had a number of player PCs over recent years, Matt Kemp, Chad Billingsley, and Adrian Beltre just to name a few. And while adding to these collections is certainly rewarding, it becomes more difficult to committ to once that player is traded, released, or if they've signed with another club. My collection of Matt Kemp cards was the reason I started blogging (I needed somewhere to show that collection off), but he's since been on four teams (Dodgers, Padres, Braves, Dodgers again, and Reds) and was released by his latest team just yesterday. A few years ago I would have been thrilled to add another Kemp card to the PC, but today I'm just happy to add cards that help me build up my Dodgers flagship sets. This pair from 2015 certainly helps. 



In fact, this paif of Dodgers ups the total 2015 cards I have to 6. With 45 Dodgers in the 2015 set, I'm sitting at a measely 13% of the set. With every other set from the decade at over 60% complete, 2015 is definitely an outlier. 


Even worse, this pair of cards from 1998 were my first two cards from that year. It's a much smaller set (17 cards), but I'm sitting at just 11.8% complete. I should focus on the 90s soon.


This package from Chris also included some wonderful 1953 reprints from a recent Topps Archives set. I've never been a big collector of Archives, but I certainly do like these reprints. If only they were the real deal. 


But what's more fun then reprints? Customs! This Clayton Kershaw custom was created by a friend of Chris's, and I'm happy to add it to my Kershaw PC--a PC I won't ever tire of. 

I've been working hard behind the scenes to better catalog my cards, though I've never really thought about counting up my customs. I probably only have a handful, and most of those have probably come from Gavin over at Baseball Card Breakdown (who also recently sent me a package of cards.) I'll post about that swap soon enough, and maybe I'll have some numbers on custom cards at that point. 

Thanks again for the trade, Chris!