Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Harvey Hysteria Arrives

Okay, I'll admit it.  I was swept up by Harvey Hysteria.

Last Thursday evening as I was following Matt Harvey's ML debut via Yahoo's Game Channel and Twitter, I was browsing the ever-famous online auction site that we all love.  As his strikeout total continued to climb and my excitement level began to intesify, I began to search in earnest for a Harvey rookie card worthy of my investment.

Call me a sucker, but it's not very often a Mets rookie takes the late edition of Baseball Tonight by storm.

After a thorough search, I finally settled on a reasonably priced "Buy It Now" lot that included a pair of 2010 Bowman Draft cards -- one chrome and one blue-bordered parallel numbered 116/399.

I fully understand that Matt Harvey is just as likely to give up six runs in 2 1/3 innings in his next start as he is to duplicate the mastery of his debut (11 Ks in 5 1/3 IP).  But, at the very least, having a pair of true rookie cards of a record-breaking Mets rookie is pretty cool.  And it's not like I broke the bank to make it so.

Anyhow, the cards arrived today -- just in time for career start No. 2 later tonight -- and I'm quite happy with my purchase.

Here's to many more dominant outings by Matt Harvey!


Monday, July 30, 2012

Clubhouse Favorites, Vol. 2: George Bell, 1991 Score (#195)

I know what you're thinking.

Another Score card?  Really?

Furthermore, how's a guy who is obsessed with Topps products going to choose two cards from a manufacturer like Score to use as the focal points of a new feature?

Fair questions, both.  But, stay with me.

If you can get past the, uh, "unique" color of the border (what color is that anyway?), can you honestly tell me that this isn't an amazing photo of George Bell?  Can you think of any other George Bell cards that are as interesting as this?  Granted, many of us don't sit around thinking about George Bell, much less George Bell trading cards.  But, c'mon, look at this thing; it's simply awesome!

The roof was open at Skydome on this particular sun-splashed afternoon in Toronto, Ontario during the 1990 season.  That much we know.  But, the real caper revolves around the pointing and yelling.  Who or what is Bell yelling at?  And the pointing, what?

When I was 11 and I first saw this card I breezily surmised that one of two things was true: A.) Bell was letting everyone in the park know where he was going to send the next pitch, a la Babe Ruth, or B.) he was sassing the umpire about a missed call.  I'm thinking some cringe-worthy "yo mama" material was used.

I guess either one of those hypotheses could be true.  More likely, though, the 32-year-old Me thinks maybe he's directing base runners in the aftermath of a wild pitch or passed ball.

Regardless of what George Bell is doing, or how fat he thinks the umpire's mama is, I love this card.  And, if you think about it, 1991 saw a lot of tremendous photography in card sets from the likes of Score, Topps and Upper Deck.  This might not be the ultimate example, but it's one that has remained emblazoned in my mind.

What I Learned from the Back of this Card:  In 142 games for the Jays in 1990, Bell clubbed 21 homers and drove in 86 RBIs, picking up his second All-Star Game appointment in the process.  Per former teammate Lloyd Moseby, "He's the ultimate baseball warrior.  If he's on your side, you love him.  You hate him if he's on the other side."  Awesome.

Maybe I was right about the mama jokes after all...


Sunday, July 29, 2012

Clubhouse Favorites, Vol. 1: Todd Hundley, 1992 Score (#602)

[Ed. Note: This is the first of what will hopefully be a regular feature on my blog. I'll be highlighting some of my favorite cards from my collection. This may include cards from a Topps complete set or of one of my player collections. Well, it may include anything, really.  Why bother setting rules that I don't intend to keep, right?]

Before Mike Piazza brought his rock star persona and Hall of Fame bat to Flushing in May of 1998, Todd Hundley was the main man for New York's National League club.  Son of a former big league catcher, the switch-hitting Hundley struck fear into opposing pitchers and, when he donned the gear, was tough as nails behind the plate.  Sure, he had a propensity for strikeouts and never really batted for a great average, but Hundley was a true slugger in every sense and a team leader for the Mets during their upswing of the mid-to-late '90s.  The crown jewel of his career came in 1997 when he swatted 41 home runs to break Roy Campanella's long-standing record for homers by a catcher, establishing a Mets franchise record as well.

The 1992 Score set probably won't win many beauty contests among collectors, but I have a soft spot for it.  I remember collecting a lot of these cards when I was 12.  Lots of great action photos to be found throughout the set, including the above entry.  I especially love action shots of catchers, and Todd happens to have a lot of cards that fit this bill.  Blocking the dish was always one of Hundley's strong suits, and this '92 Score card captures that perfectly.  

What I Learned from the Back of this Card:  In 1991, Todd batted .133 in 21 games with one homer and seven RBIs for the Mets.  Most of that season was spent at Triple-A Tidewater, where he crunched 14 long balls, drove in 66 RBIs, and placed fourth in the International League with 198 total bases.


Saturday, July 28, 2012

A Trip to Toys R Us

Mrs. K and I went out to Olive Garden for dinner Friday night and on our way home we figured, Hey we're both in our 30's and it's Friday night, let's stop at Toys R Us before we go home and fall asleep watching the opening ceremonies of the London Olympic Games.

I know this sounds a little too wild, even edgy.  But we enjoy living on the edge sometimes.

Anyways, so once inside said toy store, we swing by the trading card kiosk to see what's what.  For whatever reason, Toys R Us absurdly marks up their trading cards.  I'm sorry, but a 12-card pack of Topps Series 2 should never cost four bucks.  The hanger boxes, usually around 10 bucks at Wal-Mart or Target, were going for about 12 and change.  No thank you.

But, what caught my eye were these guys:

Bingo!  Heritage 2011 rack packs!  [Ed. Note: I refuse to call these things "Jumbo" packs.  I used to buy "jumbo" packs in 1989 and those had 100 cards plus a glossy All-Star card, thank you very much.]  It might be hard to see the text on the red sticker, but it says "Great Value! Now $3.99".

Okay, now that actually is pretty good value.  Especially when you consider that the regular Toys R Us price for these packs was in excess of $6. Plus, I mean, the rack packs of 2012 stuff (Heritage, Archives, etc.) is $5 and up at the box stores, so this was too good to pass up.

Originally, I was only going to buy just two packs.  But there were only six packs left and I don't know where else you're going to find 2011 Heritage packs for this price.  Translation: I have zero will power.

So I scooped 'em all up and hustled to the register.

I opened half last night and left the other three for this morning.  The first round of packs netted me a great assortment of cards, including some SPs, a Sabbathia insert and a chrome Josh Johnson (has he been traded yet??).  Keep in mind, I need a lot of cards for this set, so pretty much anything was going to make me a happy camper.

Fast forward to this morning, and the second pack I ripped into greeted me with this:

Holy cow!  A "Framed Topps Stamp" of Nelson Cruz and Brett Myers numbered 46/62!  Stated odds for finding one of these in a 2011 rack pack is 1:116.  What a cool looking card!  I'm not really head over heels for either of these players, but I'm pretty psyched to get such a great hit.

Two weeks ago I got a bat relic in the blaster that Mrs. K bought me, and now this stamp card after opening six rack packs.  I think it’s safe to say 2011 Heritage has been berry, berry good to me.

I guess sometimes it pays to have suspect will power...


Friday, July 27, 2012

Mail Call: David Wright SP

I guess you can chalk this up to coincidence.  Yesterday I made a big stink about Topps recycling the same photo of David Wright for three different 2012 cards.  And, yesterday, after posting about said cards, I checked my mailbox to find...David Wright.  Well, at least David Wright in cardboard form.

I won an online auction for this guy late last week:

You can't get a more classic picture of David than this.  He is so photogenic, isn't he?  And Topps didn't even have to use a picture that had been plastered on 15 other cards already.  (Not that I know of, at least.)

Anyhow, this fine looking 2011 Topps Heritage card is an SP, and therefore usually hard to fetch via auction unless you're willing to pay something unreasonable.  However, I got lucky and won it for mere pocket change (plus shipping).  All in all, a good deal!

So now I have David's Heritage SPs from this year and last.  Woo!

All is Wright with the world!  [Ed. Note: Sorry, couldn't help it...]


Thursday, July 26, 2012

Deja Vu, Starring David Wright

I was nosing around everyone's favorite online auction site earlier today, checking out some cards from 2012 Bowman Platinum, when I came across this card:

Which looks a lot like this card:

...and this card, too:

This is really shameful.

And that's all I've got to say about that.


Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Trade with ARPSmith's Sportscard Obsession

For the second day in a row, I opened my mailbox to find a trade package from a fellow blogger.  This time, it was aaaalllll the way from California.  More specifically, Adam of ARPSmith's Sportscard Obsession.

A big SF Giants fan, Adam was interested in a couple of '12 Archives inserts: a Brian Wilson jersey relic and a McCovey reprint.  Fine by me!  I was hoping to find a good, appropriate home for both, especially the Wilson card.

After a few emails, we came to terms on a nice, clean 2-for-2 trade.

So, here's what I got in return:

Even though he took his talents to South Beach last offseason, Jose Reyes will always have a place in my baseball-loving heart.  Sure injuries took their toll on Reyes during the latter few years of his time in Queens, but when he was healthy there was no player like Jose.  He always brought energy and a smile to the ballpark and, along with David Wright, led the Mets to an NL East title in 2006.  I thought for sure he and David would be the face of the Mets for a long, long time.  But, the Mets are such a mess (financially and otherwise), Jose became a luxury the front office couldn't (or wouldn't) afford.

As for the card itself, this is from Topps Series 2 and features a nice black jersey swatch.  Unlike many (and I do mean many) relic cards, this one isn't ugly, bland or boring.  It has sharp black and silver border, a nice action shot of Jose, and features a cool stat about Reyes surpassing Tommie Agee and Len Dystra on the Mets career list for lead-off homers.

The second card I received from Adam is another NY Met for my player collection:

I don't think I was aware that something called Topps Fusion existed.  But, in 2001 in surely did.  Apparently, it "fused" together the design elements of Topps' upper-crust brands, such as Stadium Club, Finest, Gold Label, Gallery and Bowman's Best.  It was a 250-card set, and there were five different base card designs -- one representing each brand.  And I think some players had multiple cards among the different designs...or something.  I dunno, this is/was a pretty wild concept.  I'm not saying I don't like it, but it smacks of Topps being a little full of themselves.

Anyhow, a byproduct of this madness is the beautiful card you see above of Edgardo Alfonzo.  I'm very happy to have this card for my collection, as Fonzie is an all-time favorite of mine.  And, as a matter of fact, my father and I went to the Mets/Dodgers game this past Saturday, which happened to be Alfonzo bobblehead day.  The Mets lost (naturally), but the Fonzie bobblehead and quality time with my old man made it a great day.

Another great trade in the books.  Thanks for the cards, Adam!  And good luck to your Giants.


Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Trade with Coot Veal and the Vealtones

As promised, here is my recap of my trade with Dustin, the founder and CEO of the fantastic Coot Veal and Vealtones blog.  Dustin emailed me a little while back about the 2012 Topps manu-patches of Sparky Anderson and Al Kaline I had posted on my trade page.  Thank goodness, a Tigers fan to take those things off my hands!

From his trade bait page, I was able to find a pair of relic/game-used cards that I liked, and here they are:

Yes, that is Jeromy Burnitz.  How could I take a pass on a Burnitz jersey card?  I mean, not only did he fail once as a Met, but he came back for second helpings of failure after he actually carved out a nice little career for himself in Milwaukee.  But, that’s a bit harsh.  I like Burnitz and I proudly collect his cards.

The Sosa is a bit more conventional of a card choice, perhaps?  This is an awesome-looking relic card from the 2003 Fleer Authentix collection.  It’s unique not only in appearance, but it’s slightly shorter than a normal card, I guess to emulate a ticket stub?  Got me, but it’s a great piece for my Sammy collection.

But, the trade package doesn’t stop here.  Nay, it’s just beginning!  During our email exchanges, Dustin mentioned he was pulling some cards for my player collections, but I didn’t figure he’d go as bonkers as he did.

The package I received from Dustin was stuffed with four additional team bags of cards – all cards of guys I collect.  He really did a thorough job of going through my player checklists and finding all sorts of goodies that I don’t have.  I most certainly appreciate that sort of effort!

I picked just some of the highlights, not doing justice to the volume of cards I received.  I think my scanner would start to smoke and spit if I tried scanning everything.

But let’s check out some of the loot:

Great place to start, right here.  Some of my favorite Mets from the past couple decades: Rey Ordonez, Carlos Beltran and the incomparable Pedro Martinez.  Ordonez is a guy that I’d really like to collect as many different cards as possible.  I still haven’t seen anyone play a better shortstop in baseball since Rey manned the post for the Amazins in the late ‘90s .  The Beltran is a sweet gold parallel from Ultra, while Pedro tries to get on the same page as his catcher in this Stadium Club gem.

Moving along…

The Bowman Jeff Kent is an awesome card with the diamond graphic etched into the background.   I love getting Keith Hernandez cards in general, but one from his final year in baseball is truly a treat.  It’s still weird to think about him in an Indians uniform, but there he is.  Even on a 1991 Fleer card, Keith is a smooth dude.  And speaking of ’91 Fleer, this is a Pro-Visions card of Darryl Strawberry.  I have the Gooden from this same insert set, so I’m happy to have the Straw now.  Call me crazy, but I like these.  They make Diamond Kings look like pre-school drawings.

Last slide:

Yes, the cards of Robin Ventura and Carlos Baerga are great, but I’d be lying if I said the Kevin Maas “Hot Rookie” card isn’t my favorite card here.  Shoot man, kids were probably getting jumped and/or beaten up for this card back in 1991.  Great addition to my Maas collection.  Love it!

What can I say, this was a tremendous trade package.  Trust me when I tell you that were plenty more cards.  I had a blast flipping through them all and I’m anxious to update all my player lists.  If you are a player collector who is all over the map in terms of who he/she likes to collect, Dustin is a great person to trade with.

Thanks a million, Dustin!  Your return trade package is on its way…


Trade with Tim Wallach blog

I had all sorts of cool mail waiting for me when I arrived  home on Monday.  The mailbox at the K house was happily stuffed with envelopes/packages from fellow bloggers.  Among them were my winnings from the Crackin'Wax A&G  break, which I've detailed previously here.  Cards of Ike Davis, Johan Santana, Jason Bay (blech!) and Tom Seaver all arrived safely -- whew!  So, thanks once again to Topher for that.

Then there were two packages containing the front ends of trades that I worked out with two quality bloggers.  One was from Corey over at the Tim Wallach blog, while the other was from Dustin at Coot Veal and the Vealtones.  Both packages had outstanding stuff in 'em!  Their respective ends of the exchanges will be dropped off at the post office today.

I split the trades up into a pair of posts, and I'll use this one to share some of the goodies I got from Corey over at the Wallach blog.  I'll cover the Vealtones treasures in post later today.

When I first found out about Corey's blog, I had to contact him to say, "I'm in!"  If you're not familiar, the mission of his blog is to collect every single Tim Wallach card that is out there.  Not just one of each, but every card bearing Wallach's likeness that was ever printed.  How can you not respect that mission?  More than that, how can you not want to contribute!?  Anyhow, I emailed him, he emailed me.  We laughed, we cried, we made a deal.

I wasn't sure what he would send me, but I saw trade posts involving Corey on other bloggers' sites and those guys got lots of neat stuff.  So I was pretty excited...

...and I was not let down!  Here are just a few of the great cards I received:

Some amazin' older cards of Cleon Jones, Tom Seaver (and friends), and a brilliant 1983 Topps Traded of Keith Hernandez!  I'm not sure which of these cards I was most excited about, honestly.  They are all outstanding in their own way.  Getting a card of Cleon was great since I didn't own any of his cards previously.  It's also in way better shape than many of the other 1968's that I have.  Most of those seem to be badly miscut, etc.

Anything vintage of Seaver's is gold to me, obviously.  Tom Terrific topped the NL in strikeouts (again) in 1971 with 289, a total which wound up being his career high.  Seaver led the league in K's five times in a seven-year span between 1970 and 1976.  He was traded to the Reds in '77. [Ed. Note: I'm glad I wasn't born yet when that occurred.

As for Mex, I love having his "first" Mets card.  Hernandez begrudgingly came over to the Mets via trade from St. Louis during the '83 season.  In 95 games as a Met that season, he batted .306 with 20 XBH and 37 RBIs.  I am a huge Keith fan, and I'm happy to finally have this card in my Keith collection!

I also got some Mets from the mid-90's, which happens to be one of my favorite eras of the team:

I think every Mets fan was drunk with ecstasy with visions of Bill Pulsipher, Jason Isringhausen and Paul Wilson fronting the Mets rotation and leading them back to prominence.  Yeah...that never happened.  It didn't even come close.  As a matter of fact, the wheels to that bus fell off before it even left the depot.  Still, it was a very hopeful time to be a Mets fan.  And, I love this card of Billy.  Pinnacle '96 is a nice looking set if I may say so.

Ahh, Jeff Kent.  I maintain that he is a mortal lock for the HOF.  What he did from a run production standpoint as a second baseman was pretty unprecedented.  Naturally, all of it occurred after his time as a Met.  Oh well, Kent was an awesome player and I remained a fan of his even after his days in Flushing expired.  By the way, these Bazooka cards are pretty neat.  I don't think I have any of these in my collection.

This was a really fun trade package; thanks again Corey!  And continued luck with your Tim Wallach quest.


Monday, July 23, 2012

Me and '97 Stadium Club

Right or wrong, I get the feeling some collectors contract great amounts of joy from dumping on a lot of Topps' efforts from the late '90s and early '00s.

Namely, I've seen the Stadium Club brand getting flogged in more than a few places throughout the blog world. Perhaps not recently, but in my many search engine jaunts throughout recent time, I've stumbled upon gobs of pretty vicious prose aimed at TSC.

And my question is:  Why?

Other than severely overpricing the packs like every other manufacturer of the time, what exactly did Stadium Club do to merit such exaggerated hatred?

To my eyes, even to this day, I've never seen better photography in a baseball card set than I've seen in Stadium Club sets.  Obviously, this is my opinion and you're free to contradict it.  But, if they're not at the top of the list in terms of brilliant and creative photography, they're close enough to spit on it.

Additionally, I don't recall any Stadium Club sets being complete eyesores, do you?  There are no Tron-like graphics (on the card fronts, anyhow) or borders, no clutter or visual mayhem bombarding your senses.  Nothing as embarrassing as sets that other card makers put out during the same period.  Not even close.

Okay, maybe Topps went a little overboard in terms of their fascination with embossed images or graphics.  And, sure, the cards are so over-glossed that they begin to curl into the letter 'U' as soon as you take them out of the pack or box.  Are you going to send them to guillotine for that?

Well, if the world hates Topps Stadium Club, then stop the globe and let me off!  I unabashedly love the stuff and am still collecting it to this day.

As a matter of fact, I recently won an online auction that consisted of a starter set of 1997 Stadium Club, which is absolutely my all-time favorite Stadium Club design.  And, boy was I happy!

Granted, the winning lot consisted of mostly common players (see above) and semi-stars, as most of the star players had been stripped away from what originally had been a complete Members Only set.  But, that's no biggie, since I didn't break the bank.  Plus, I view every card in the set as a visual masterpiece.  The fancy ribbons at the bottom of the cards with the players name are...ahem...embossed, and very striking visually.  Blue for the NL players, red for the AL guys.  They are a perfect compliment to the ace photography.  I will happily visit COMC or a similar site and purchase the additional 100 or so cards I need to complete this set.  And then it will go straight into a binder for future enjoyment.

Maybe some day Topps will resurrect the Stadium Club brand.  Probably not any time soon, since they already have a billion different sets to sell us.  In the meantime, I'll just enjoy those past issues of TSC that I never got around to collecting, like the '97 set.

Oh, and if anyone has any tips on how to keep those super-glossy cards from curling, I'm all ears...


Friday, July 20, 2012

The Polls are Closed: Favorite Late-80s Topps Design


As in 23 votes.  That's, like, 22 more votes than I thought I would get on the little poll you see to your right.  So, firstly, I want to thank you folks for actually humoring me and voting.

Secondly, we have a winner!  According to The People, the 1987 Topps set has the most appealing design among it's late-80's cousins, eking out the second-place finisher -- 1986 -- by two votes.

1987 - The Winners!

I can't say I'm too surprised, since the '87 set is so unique in appearance.  Not just for it's time period, but for Topps sets in general.  Heck, even today, collectors and Topps enthusiasts alike are pleading for the folks in Duryea, PA to make another wood-bordered design for their flagship product.  [Ed. Note: Sorry, but 1/1 parallel inserts in the 2012 base set just isn't enough!]  At least we have the '87 Minis insert in this year's Topps set.

The '87 design is completely unlike any of the other sets during the span of the 1980s, all of which had white borders.  Even prior to the '80s, you can probably count on one hand the number of Topps sets that didn't have a white border.  The 1962 set was the first to have the wood-like border, and '87 was done as something of a 25th anniversary homage to it.  Oh, and strangely enough, the '87 set is the only one of the decade to feature a team logo.  [Ed. Note: Hopefully I haven't butchered history too badly.]  [Ed. Note, Pt. 2: I did butcher history, as the '85 set featured team logos.  Nod to Classon Ave. for the correction!]

As for '86, I love how the black frame on the upper portion of the card creates a contrast to the bold coloring of the block letters which spell out the team name.  I always thought this was a cool design.

1986 - Runner-up

Sadly, my favorite Topps design from the late-80's (the 1989 set), finished dead-last.  I'm constantly surprised that the majority of people favor the look of the drab '88 set over the colorful and exciting '89 design.

1988 - Third Place

Don't get me wrong, I love all four of these sets and their designs.  In a collecting sense, I cut my teeth in those years and on those sets, so I'll always have an unmatched fondness for them.  But, looking back, the '88 set seems so bland and kind of uninspired.  It's as if the design people at Topps were so exhausted from creating a masterpiece in '87, they kind of mailed it in for the '88 edition.

Meanwhile, the 1989 set was the first one that I collected in bulk, thus giving me my best memories.  Okay, well as "bulk" as can be expected from a husky nine-year-old boy who didn't make an allowance and  had to depend on the beneficence of his mom and dad -- and occasional whining and begging -- to score wax packs, rack packs and an occasional jumbo pack.

1989 - The Basement

And that was back when supermarkets and pharmacies sold packs of cards.  Not like today where you can only buy them from places that end in -Mart or have a bullseye in their logo.  So, trips with mom to Foodtown or Thrift Drug were exciting because there was always a chance you would come home with a pack or two.

You want me to be honest with you?  I think it's the colored ribbon that does it for me.  Yup, it definitely is.  The wavy ribbon at the bottom that has the player's name.  [Ed. Note: The 1997 Stadium Club set has the same effect on me, but more on that in a later post.]  That, plus the team name written in semi-script over top of the ribbon.  It just works for me, as does the vibrant coloring of the said elements.

I could go on, but the point of this blog entry was not to extol the brilliance of 1989 Topps.  I can do that some other time, I suppose.

Thanks again to everyone who voted.  I'll be posting another poll in the near future...or whenever inspiration strikes me.


Thursday, July 19, 2012

Gaddafi, Seaver and Munster: My BoBuBingo Experience

So I didn't end up getting a bingo last night during Christopher's BoBuBingo (or Box Buster Bingo) box break at Crackin' Wax.  Thus, I didn't have the opportunity to snag any of the hits from the 2012 A&G box.  Just as well, I guess, as there wasn't much to howl about in that department.  Our box produced a pair of jersey relics (Mark Reynolds, Jed Lowrie) and an auto redemption for Anaheim's Jered Weaver, which I guess is kind of cool.

There was also a mini card from the "Guys in Hats" insert set (it was a fez, in case of curiosity) that apparently was pretty rare.  It created quite a stir, actually.

Therein lies my issue with Allen & Ginter.  I fully understand that there are bushels of products produced by Topps that deal exclusively with baseball; some just with today's players, some with a mix of current and retired, etc.  So, for me to want Ginter to be of the same stock is silly of me.

But, I guess this was a pretty good illustration of why I never found A&G to be as appealing as most other collectors do.  Call me old fashioned, but when I open a pack of cards I only want to find baseball players in there.  I can't see myself getting overly excited about opening a pack to find cards of Miguel Cabrera, Gaddafi, cow brains, and the Alamo.  That's just me.

Gaddafi in a Hat: An obvious 2012 A&G snub
And I certainly don't begrudge any collector that does happen to enjoy the zany themes of A&G.  As I've said time over, the thing that makes our hobby great is the number of ways it can be enjoyed.  If collecting an entire set of "Lizards of the World" inserts makes you happy, then God bless you!  It's just not my thing.

So, while there were no David Wright jersey cards pulled and I didn't win a bingo, my night wasn't a complete wash.  It was a fun event and a great time.  Major kudos to Christopher for organizing it and pulling it off flawlessly.  Not too shabby for your first time, sir!

Oh, and I also got a few cards.  I selected the Mets as my group break team, which could have gone better, but certainly could have been worse.  Hey, as a lifelong Mets fan, you pretty much just assume things are either going to fall apart or blow up at inception when it comes to our beloved team.

Out of 24 hobby packs, I will be receiving four Mets cards.  Three of them are base cards and one is an insert. The base cards (in order that they were pulled) are: Ike Davis, Jason Bay and Johan Santana.  Ike and Johan are great additions, obviously.  I could do without the Jason Bay card, but he is still a Met and he did hit a home run last night (finally).

The fourth card is an insert from the "Baseball Highlight Sketches" set, and it is Tom Seaver!  This insert set is found in approximately 1:10 hobby packs and includes 25 total cards of players ranging from retired to current. Here's a glimpse at what the card looks like:

Three-time NL Cy Young winner
I'm banking on this looking better in person.  I like the gold bordering, and the sketch is pretty decent.  Though, it kind of has a 1980's Donruss Diamond Kings vibe, doesn't it?  And what's with Seaver's face?  He doesn't really look like Tom Terrific.  Rather, he looks more akin to Fred Gwynne's lovable Herman Munster character from The Munsters TV show:

Zero Cy Young awards
Oh well, beggars can't be choosers, and I'm happy to add a Herman...err...Tom Seaver card to my collection. And, if I were to ever collect any of the A&G insert sets, this one would definitely be campy enough to draw me in.  However, this box break will likely be my one and only Ginter investment this year.

Once more, a big thank you to Christopher at Crackin' Wax for letting us in on all the fun.  I can't wait to do it again!


Wednesday, July 18, 2012


Tonight, I will be participating in my first-ever group break, and I'm pretty excited for it.  Over at Christopher's blog, Crackin Wax at 8 p.m. eastern time, it'll be Box Buster Bingo, or BoBuBingo for short.  It turns out this is the first group break that Christopher has hosted, though it's not his first go-round with the bingo event.  The box that is being busted is 2012 A&G, a card set I have no experience with this year or previously (other than living vicariously through other bloggers).  My team selection is, of course, the Mets.

If you're not familiar, BoBuBingo melds together a baseball card group break and the fun of a traditional bingo game.  Every participant is given a bingo card with a random assortment of numbers correlating to the the numbers on the back of the A&G base cards.  As Christopher opens the packs and announces the number of each card, we players hope in earnest to a get a straight or diagonal line on our bingo cards.  If you get a 'bingo', you get to choose a 'hit' that has been pulled (or you get dibs on the first hit that is pulled).  Thus even if, say, a David Wright relic card is pulled, I'm not guaranteed to ever hold it because someone who gets a bingo has the opportunity to swipe it from me during the game.  Likewise, if I get bingo I can swipe an auto or relic card from another participant.  Get it?

I can only hope...

Furthermore, if you fill up your entire bingo card, you will automatically get every 'hit' that is pulled!  There's lots of additional minutia within the rules and regulations, but I won't dissect that here.  Hit up Christopher's site for the full picture.  Regardless of the swiping (and sniping?), you are guaranteed to get every base card from the team you signed up for, so that's cool.  You're just not guaranteed the 'hits', aka autos, relics, box toppers, numbered cards, etc.

This has the makings of a lot of mayhem, but mostly a lot of fun.  

I'm absolutely looking forward to it!  

Monday, July 16, 2012

Daily Double! A Pair of Trades with "$30 A Week" and "Backstop"

To my pleasant surprise when I came home from work Monday, my mailbox contained a pair of manila mailers that could only contain one thing: baseball cards from the wonderful blogosphere!  I was expecting each, but wasn't sure when.  Getting them both on the same day was certainly a treat.

The first one was via Robert at $30 A Week Habit, a blog that I am a big fan of.  I initially reached out to Robert because I had some '86 Topps for his base set.  After an exchange of emails, he offered to send me some cards I needed for 2012 Topps Series 2 -- a set that I've kinda neglected of late.  I tend to get pulled in every direction and lose focus a little bit when it comes to collecting.  Anyhow, the cards he sent were great.  Some of my favorites from the lot:

Nothing bad that I can say about the design and photography of the 2012 base set.  In fact, this is one of my favorite Topps base sets in a long time.  And now I'm much closer to completing Series 2.  Thanks for a great trade, Robert!  I look forward to future exchanges...

Then there's Marcus at All the Way to the Backstop.  I really love Marcus' blog and following his Padre-collecting exploits.  Because he's a tremendously nice guy, he emailed me about a week or so ago and said he found some cards that I thought I might enjoy.  Well, they arrived today, and he was certainly right.  A very cool group of cards, including some nice additions for my player collections.  Here are just a few:

The Kid, Will the Thrill, and A-Rod.  Nice!   He sent me a bunch of other Clarks, plus some great Robin Ventura cards and a few random Mets players.  Back to that A-Rod card for a second, though.  It had me scrambling to various trading card websites to figure out what the heck it was, since the back did not have a number.  Sure enough, I discovered it is a short print from the 2010 Topps 206 set.  Awesome!!  And, while we're on the topic of stumpers, how about this sweet David Wright card that had me scratching my head:

Other than gleaning it's a 2010 Topps card, I wasn't sure what this was.  It's a mini-card and it's No. 15 in a series of 45, apparently.  Hmm.  I'll be honest, a lot of the Topps inserts prior to 2011 kinda escaped me.  So, I hopped over to the Trading Card Database and did a little further Googling and found out this is a "1951 Red Back" insert from 2010 Topps Target retail packs.  I love it!  Yes because it's David, but also because it's a brilliant insert.  I'm gonna have to hunt down some more of these bad boys, for sure.

Thanks for the kind gesture, Marcus!  And for the rare cards of the two NY third basemen!  A collection of Padres cards will be coming your way in the not-too-distant future.

These are my second and third trades, respectively.  It's pretty amazing (and fun) to be able to trade with fellow collectors from coast to coast.  Just another tremendous facet of this blogging community.

Take care, and happy collecting...

A Trip to the Hobby Shop...at the Shore.

So, I mentioned previously that my sister-in-law and her husband gave me a nice belated birthday gift when we all got together this past weekend down the shore in Stone Harbor.  It was a hand-written $20 gift coupon from a little baseball card shop called Pitchout Sports Cards in Avalon, NJ, which is the town just north of S.H.

Now, I had no clue there was even a card shop in Avalon, so I was excited to get over there and spend my twenty bucks.  Beach be damned!  Okay, maybe a bit harsh, but the forecast was calling for showers, so it wasn't the best beach day anyways.

After a late Saturday breakfast, Mrs. K and I hustled over to Avalon and strolled around a bit til the shop opened at around 10:30 a.m.  It was a complete hole-in-the-wall type of joint...but, aren't all of them mostly?  I think I've been in restrooms that were larger than the interior of this shop, but it was crammed full of glass display cases and boxes full of cards from all the major sports, so that's all I needed.

There was a time, in my younger days, that I would not go into a shop like this because I knew the shop owner would watch me like a hawk.  Now, that I'm a crusty, post-30 old fart, they can stare at me all they'd like -- enjoy the show!  Besides, I had some money to spend...

After sifting through most of their baseball boxes and finding nothing beyond over-priced singles (dime and quarter boxes have ruined me), I picked up a couple of over-priced 2011 Heritage hobby packs.  This was unavoidable, since I'm in '11 Heritage mode.  Got some pretty decent pulls, including an SP of Robinson Cano and a Baseball Flashbacks insert of Mickey Mantle.

I <3 Topps Heritage.  (Yup, that just happened.)

Meanwhile, Mrs. K was going through the football boxes, ooh-ing and aah-ing at all the great Redskins cards she found.  I try to humor her, since I'm a fan of the Buffalo Bills (save your jokes).  But, she actually did manage to draw my attention to the football section, where I was able to find some great early-80s football cards.  I know this is a baseball blog, but I'm also a football collector who happens to have a weak spot for Topps cards from this period.  These are my three favorites:

Three HOFers....one with helmet hair.
The cards are in great shape and weren't too unreasonably priced.  The Payton card was the most expensive of the three above, and I didn't mind what I paid for it.  I love the '84 set and I didn't own any cards of his previously. Fouts' cards always have appealed to me for some reason (certainly having zilch to do with his broadcasting abilities).  And, well, the Art Monk was especially for Mrs. K, since she couldn't stop marveling at this helmet hair.  [Ed. Note: Can't say I blame her!]

Anyway, those are just the main highlights.  Overall, it was a fun way to spend a portion of an otherwise cloudy, rainy afternoon down the shore.  And it was a great gift idea; thanks Ashley and Jim!

Sunday, July 15, 2012

Weekend Wrap-up. Featuring 2011 Heritage

Hope everyone had as great a weekend as I did.  Time with my wife's family down in Stone Harbor was absolutely enjoyable (BBQ festival in North Wildwood on Sunday was a highlight), and my hobby pursuits were well-founded, too.  In addition to the contents of my 2011 Heritage blaster, my sister-in-law and brother-in-law gave me a nice belated birthday gift -- a gift certificate for a local card shop!  Pretty cool!  Additionally, when we got home, my recent eBay auction purchase was waiting by the front door.

I'll just focus on the '11 Blaster for this post and fill you in on the rest in future entries.  The blaster was a great one; one of the best I've opened in a long time (ever?).  I got a great assortment of cards, inserts and SPs. Oh yeah, and I also got a hit!  I really, really like this set, so getting such a quality group of packs was icing on the cake.

Without further delay, I present eight packs of 2011 Topps Heritage:

Pack 1
Mike Aviles - 305
Corey Hart - 202
Ryan Franklin - 149
Brian Roberts - 6
Jeff Niemann - 264
Orlando Cabrera - 381
Pittsburgh Pirates - 409
Joey Votto AS - 398
AL ERA Leaders - 55

My first pack wasn't an HOF effort, but I still enjoyed getting the Votto card.  Anyway, I'm a very easy collector to please.  If it's a set design I really like and I get a group of cards that I don't already have, I'm a happy man. Moving on...

Pack 2
Lucas Duda - 333
Russell Martin - 32
Chris Sale - 214
Mark Reynolds - Clubhouse Collection bat relic
Midway Masters (Kinsler/Andrus) - 211
Bobby Jenks - 161
Chris Young - 413
Grady Sizemore - 97

I was happy enough getting the Duda and Sale rookies, but I wasn't expecting to get a relic.  I rarely, if ever, get "hits", but I guess I got lucky this time around.  Not exactly a player that gets my blood pumping, but it's a great looking card.  Obviously, this was the best pack of the eight.

Pack 3
Lucas May - 417
Ty Wigginton - 290
WS Game 2 (Cain) - 233
Lucas Harrell SP - 479
Vladimir Guerrero - 125
Jake Peavy - 89
Gregory Infante - 326
John Jaso - 16
Ronny Cedeno - 270

The Harrell SP is the pack highlight.  I'm always excited to get an short print, regardless of who it is, especially in the Heritage sets.  Nice cards of Vlad and Cain here, also.  Both of which I actually have, but I will happily add both to my player collections.

Pack 4
CC Sabbathia - 48
Tommy Hunter - 324
Matt LaPorta - 78
Yovani Gallardo - 329
Alex Presley - 86
Baseball Flashbacks (Maris) - BF3
Brian Matusz - 355
Clayton Kershaw - 5
Kelly Johnson - 259

Some all-star names in this pack, with primo southpaws Sabbathia and Kershaw leading the way.  The Maris insert is awesome, of course, and I like the Presley card because I remember him from his minor league days in Lynchburg.  The latter is recovering from concussion-like symptoms, but it looks like he is close to returning for the Bucs.

Pack 5
Jonathan Sanchez - 71
Fernando Salas - 344
Mike Stanton - 288
Chicago White Sox - 113
Brian McCann AS - 397
Jordan Brown - 49
Mike Leake - 331
San Francisco Giants - 226
Arthur Rhodes - 151
Checklist 1 of 6

I bought the Stanton card at a hobby show a while ago, but I was pleased to get another copy for my player collection.  Of further note, this is the lone All-Star Rookie card I received in this box.  No Posey, no Strasburg, no Castro.  Still, this is a pretty good one to get!  Also, I got my second All-Star card of the box with McCann.  I love the look of the AS cards in this set.

Pack 6
Joe Nathan - 11
Brennan Boesch - 154
Heath Bell - 189
Alcides Escobar - 332
Huston Street SP - 435
Freddy Sanchez - 188
Jeremy Jeffress - 271
Luke Scott - 112
Wade Davis - 407

Three quality closers in one pack, how about that?  Of the three, Street gets the blue ribbon since his card is an SP.  Nothing else really earth-shattering in this pack, though I am becoming a fan of Escobar.  He's really playing well for the Royals, especially of late.

Pack 7
Andrew McCutchen - 10
Bobby Cramer - 291
Joakim Soria - 147
Trevor Cahill - 122
Kyle Drabek (Chrome) - C24
Scott Kazmir - 257
Chris Coghlan - 408
Geovany Soto - 66
Ricky Nolasco - 352

The pack started out with a bang with leading hitter in all of baseball, Andrew McCutchen.  And just a few cards later I found a chrome parallel of Kyle Drabek, who was perhaps the key piece of the trade that brought Roy Halladay to the Phillies from Toronto.  Okay, one more pack to go...

Pack 8
Jacoby Ellsbury - 101
Juan Pierre - 410
R.A. Dickey - 94
Carlos Quentin - 129
Josh Hamilton "New Age Performers" - NAP-3
Bath Ruth Special - 138
Oakland Athletics - 384
Adam Kennedy - 27
Adam Wainwright - 285

A few pretty cool things about this final pack.  Firstly: R.A. Dickey, enough said.  Additionally, the Ruth subset is pretty nice, and the Josh Hamilton insert is tremendous.  Hamilton is one of those guys that I have very few cards of, so getting anything of his works for me!


Like I said earlier, this was a great blaster.  I got two SPs (1:3), one chrome parallel (1:13), a New Age Performer insert (1:15), and a Baseball Flashbacks insert (1:12).  Oh, and the Clubhouse Collection relic card, of course (1:58)!  I don't know that you can ask for much more out of a retail blaster, can you?

The only downside?  Now I've got the major itch to pursue this set full-blast.  That would be fine normally, but trying to complete a trio of 2012 products (Series 2, Archives and Heritage) simultaneously has me kind of tapped out already.  Oh well, it's not like I'm on a deadline or anything, right?

Thanks again to my Oriole-loving wife, Mrs. K, for a truly great gift/surprise!  [Ed. Note: Don't think I didn't notice that my relic card happens to be a player currently residing in Birdland.  Coincidence?]

Thursday, July 12, 2012

2011 Heritage Love

So guess what?  The lovely and wonderful Mrs. K surprised me this evening with a beautiful blaster box of 2011 Topps Heritage!  A parcel came in the mail for her today, and I figured it was some trinket or other that she ordered from Amazon or perhaps a new My Little Ponies t-shirt.  But, no!  Instead, when she came from from work and opened the box, this guy was inside....for ME!

I've gotta hand it to Mrs. K.  She's very sneaky, and is really getting sharp when it comes to buying me cards. On top of that, she gets a gold star for exceptional listening skills, as I was recently bemoaning the fact that I didn't really buy any of the 2011 Hertiage product -- a set that honors the super-cool 1962 Topps design.  So, not only did she not tune me out when I was talking about baseball cards, but she actually remembered what I said. That's gotta be the definition of love, no?

Not sure why I deserved this awesome surprise, but far be it from me to question her thoughtful gesture. I secretly think she is just trying to get extra mentions on the ol' blog.  Or perhaps it's an attempt to soften me up before we spend the weekend with her family.  Ha!  I'm kidding, of course.  Though, I think I might save this for the weekend.  I mean, it can't hurt to have a contingency plan in case family weekend turns sour, you know?

Okay, okay.  Seriously, I'm only kidding.  Her family is fine [Ed. Note: Sometimes.].  But, I will probably save this for the weekend, when I have some time to open, enjoy and digest the goodness that is Heritage.

And, naturally, I will share my findings in a forthcoming post.

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Choosing Wisely. Starring Fernando Martinez

Have you ever started collecting a set and then suddenly regained your sensibility?  As in a "There ain't no way I'm ever gonna finish this #$%*ing set!" moment?  Lucidity may come in the form of facts, such as lack of monetary resources or inability to hunt down the necessary cards after exhaustive efforts.  Or both.  

The reason I ask is related to the card you see above.  Not the particular card or player, but the particular set.  

2011 Topps Diamond Anniversary parallel.  


At my local card shop, The Collector's Box in Newark, Del., I routinely go through their 5,000-count boxes in which each card is 50 cents a pop.  Sometimes you find a really good deal in these boxes -- last month I found a 2011 Finest green refractor of David Wright numbered to 199, which I deemed very, very worthy of purchase.  

More often than not, it's usually an assortment of high-end base cards, parallels or inserts of star players from cases of recent product that the owners busted.  I've plucked plenty of nice cards from these boxes over the past few years, mostly to aid my player collections.  Hey, I'd rather fork over 2 bucks for four great cards which I have hand-picked rather than, say, a pack of 2012 Topps that will mostly net me doubles or triples.

So, one fine day earlier this year I was flipping through the penny-sleeved cards and came across a pretty significant run of these cognac beauties.  I'm talking, a whole row-and-a-half.  I excitedly starting pulling cards of my favorite players and other stars and rookies.  David Wright, check.  Josh Hamilton, check.  Joe Mauer, check.  Frank Thomas SP (Oakland uniform), check.  Jose Bautista, check.  Harmon Killebrew SP, check.  Aw hell...former Mets can't-miss-prospect Fernando Martinez, check!  And on, and on.     

Simply, I was seduced.  Specifically, I was seduced into thinking about how amazing would these cards look in nice, clean binder pages...some day...as a complete set.  [Ed. Note: Idiot!]

C'mon, though, can you blame me?!  How amazing are these cards to look at?  Shiny, bright, with a touch of elegance that their silver-parallel cousins didn't inherit.  And, I'm already a big fan of the 2011 Topps design, so what's not to like?

Well, since that initial discovery on that day, I've plucked between 30-40 of these cards which -- I know -- is just about a drop in the ocean towards completing a set.  Especially when you stop to consider that there is a cognac parallel for every 2011 Topps base card (including Update), plus the legends SPs.

Sigh.  Here comes that moment of clarity.

No, I can safely say I will never, ever complete a set of 2011 Topps cognac parallels.  Firstly, it'll be so damn ridiculously expensive.  Fifty cents a card is decent in the scope of buying a few cards of your favorite players, but not so much when you do the math for 900-some cards.  Additionally, even if I were daft enough to shun the math, obviously my local card shop doesn't have every card I would need.  And the prices on eBay for these cards are even worse than 50-cents per card.  Much worse, actually.  COMC is a decent option, I guess, with many of the non-star cards checking in between 18-50 cents.  But, then you have to factor in shipping, etc.

In a word: Doomed!

From here, I guess I have a couple options.  I can just stick with what I have and be happy with that, never entertaining the illusion of set completion.  Or, I can hunker down for the long haul and just chip away at this behemoth over the long haul.  I mean, there is that corner of psychology that speaks to the journey being more satisfying than the destination, right? [Ed. Note: I think that qualifies as psychology.  It's well above our pay grade here.]

Not quite sure of which direction I'll choose, but I sure do like these cards.

[Belated Ed. Note: Wow, I guess I should consult the illustrious Nachos Grande blog on such matters, eh?  How did I miss this??  Anyhow, that's a pretty outstanding job of collecting/marketing!]

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Trade No. 1: Put it in the Books!

One of the main reasons I started this blog (aside from blabbing about cards and such) was to be able to make trades with fellow collectors.  And lo and behold, not even two weeks after the birth of this blog, I have completed my first trade.  It is only fair that my seminal trade was with Marcus, the man behind the keyboard at All the Way to the Backstop, as his blog was chief among the many that inspired me to finally throw my hat into the ring.

Rather than be too wordy in the set up (a real problem of mine, I admit), I will just fast forward to the good stuff -- of which there was plenty!  Where to begin...?

How about with some sweet base cards from 2012 Heritage!  He flipped me a bundle of great cards from this product (including an SP!), inching me closer to completion of the base set.  Still a ways to go, but this was a huge help.  I went with a Beltway theme for the above scan, plus I'm a fan of both guys.  Mrs. K (a big Birds fan) and I went to the middle game of the Nats/O's series at Camden Yards a couple weeks back.  Naturally, it was the only game of the series the Orioles lost.  Still, it was a great time.  And getting to watch Jones patrol CF is always a treat.  We even got an up-close seat as Strasburg shagged flies during BP.  I guess that's some consolation for not getting to witness him pitch, right?  ....Right?

We move from one 2012 set to another that I'm currently working on.  As he did with Heritage, Marcus spoiled me with oodles of great Archives cards.  And as a cherry on top, the above SP of Kingman plus a Seaver reprint.  I'm lovin' both of these!  I doubt that I'm going to go chasing too many of the Archives reprints, but the Seaver is most definitely a keeper.

If he would've stopped at that point, I would have considered myself very satisfied with this trade.  After all, I was primarily hunting cards for the aforementioned sets.  But, the generosity of the hobby blogosphere showed itself in a big way, as Marcus included a bunch of cool cards to put towards my player collections.  I picked some of the highlights to showcase, including the above Alomar, Alou and Glavine cards.  I can't say that I've seen many (any?) Mets cards featuring the jersey that Glavine is wearing.  Very cool!  And, what's not to admire about Sandy Alomar?  As a kid who played catcher practically ever year of rec ball, I really have a high appreciation for guys who play the position well.  And he was one of the best.  As for Moises, he was a great hitter.  Too bad he could never stay on the field for too long.  Great photo they used in the above card.

And some more!  I don't think I have any Gypsy Queen cards in my collection, so this Doc Gooden card is a real nice addition.  Chris Sabo was one of those guys my buddies and I would endlessly make fun of at baseball practice or in the dugout at games.  I mean, who looks like that?  Still, "Spuds" played his fanny off every game and had some pretty good years for the Reds.  He's a fun player to collect.  Todd Zeile in an Orioles uni -- nice!  He only played 29 games in Birdland, but that kinda steps in line with his career.  He basically wore a uniform of half the teams in baseball.  Okay, not quite, but you know what I mean.  [Ed. Note: Two Orioles cards in this post so far, Mrs. K.  Happy now?]

Still more??  Indeed!  In one of our email exchanges, I mentioned that I liked the Gerrit Cole Bowman Chrome rookie Marcus had on his trade page.  Bingo!  I now have his base card and his Chrome.  Maybe I'll try to chase one of each parallel for the former No. 1 overall pick.  And the sweet parallel card of Mets prospect Josh Edgin was a nice surprise.  I don't really follow the progress of minor leaguers as much as I should, but a quick glance at his numbers this year at Triple-A Buffalo: 3-2, 3.89 ERA, 40 K in 37.1 innings.  Not too shabby.

I couldn't have picked a better trade partner for my first crack at the trading game.  Thanks much, Marcus.  I look forward to our next exchange...