Thursday, January 31, 2013

Three for Thursday (Mail Call)

Pretty interesting poll results thus far (referring to the Best of the Decade question).  Looks as though 2013 Topps has quickly crept into the hearts of fellow collectors.  And, not surprisingly, I'm out on a limb in regards to 2012 Topps.  I can't say why for sure, but I just like the design the best.  Isn't anyone with me on this?

Regardless, I still find myself needing a 2012 fix even though 2013's new toys have arrived.  [Ed. Note: Don't worry, I gave into my craving and bought a pair of Wal-Mart blasters on my way home today.  More on those in a future post.]  So it was, I took to eBay last weekend in search of a David Wright card that I had been jonesing for since 2012 Update arrived.  I finally found it for a very acceptable "Buy It Now" price and pulled the trigger.

And today it arrived!

What's not to like about this card?  It's a short-printed variation.  It's David Wright, it's R.A. Dickey, it's a pair of All-Stars.  Along with his 2011 Heritage short print, this is up there in terms of my favorite Wright cards of all time.  Love it!

The same seller also had another item that caught my eye.  Now, I've said it before: I'm not a fan of the manupatches from 2012 Topps.  Or really any manupatches.  But, I saw this one and it was only a couple bucks.  And, well, it's one of my favorite players from my boyhood.

I can't really be blamed for wanting to add this to my collection, can I?  For the right player, I'm all-in when it comes to almost any ploy that Topps concocts.  And Gary Carter certainly falls into the category of "the right player."  I think I'll probably buy a nice snap case for this thing and store it in a safe place.

This was just one of the three packages that came in today's mail delivery.  Not too shabby for a mail day, that's for sure.

Next up, Weston from Fantastic Catch provided me with cards from three of my favorite collecting categories:

2011 Topps Cognac parallels...

...Topps Heritage (2011, in this case)...

I believe in you, Gio...

...and New York Mets cards.

Great stuff, Weston.  Thanks much for the trade!

And the final mailer that arrived this afternoon came from Topps HQ.  I finally got off my lazy duff and requested the remaining two Golden Moments Die Cuts in my account from 2012's code promotion.

I was really happy to get the Strasburg.  If you recall (and I know you don't), over the summer I had this very card in my account but wound up trading it for a Mike Trout.  I was sorry to see it go, but thrilled to get the Trout.  So I was only too happy to lure this card back a few months later.  The cost?  A Derek Jeter die cut.  As for Jose, I think I originally had unlocked Roy Halladay's card.  I was happy to make that trade.

I know many weren't huge fans of Topps 2012's online gimmick, but I made out with some pretty good cards throughout the collecting season.  Including the die cuts above, I wound up unlocking six cards.  Strasburg, Reyes and Trout plus David Wright, Johan Santana and Jose Bautista.  Not a bad haul!

All right, I've got two blasters sitting on my kitchen table still encased in their shrink wrap.  I'll catch up with you guys later to let you know how I fared.


Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Best of the Decade So Far?

I don't, maybe I'm strange, but I wasn't completely bowled over initially by the 2013 Topps base card design. Perhaps I haven't had sufficient time to warm up to it.  After all, yesterday represented the first time I set eyes on an actual card (as opposed to a scan).

But, after shuffling more than a few times through my newest additions, I think I'm at peace with the look.  In fact, I'm thinking it might be the best yet from Topps during the decade (and, yes, I do consider 2010 part of this decade -- I'm not one of those people).

The cartoonish home plate and base lines are a bit campy, but maybe that will be an endearing trademark when viewed 10-15 years down the road.  The nice big team logo in the bottom right corner is a plus, and it doesn't infringe too badly on the photo as I initially figured it would.  Overall, it's a sharp look.  Both appropriate for its time yet not too dated.

Anyhow, I understand that not every baseball card set needs to be love at first sight.  I mean, last year's design was the only one from the current decade that I really like right out of the blocks.  I didn't much like 2010 at first glance, but it's become one of my all-time favorites in the years since its release.  The 2011 set has a decent design that neither underwhelms me nor sends me to the moon.  I can live with that.

So, I'm wondering: Which is your favorite Topps base design from this decade?  Is there a clear cut favorite?  Do they all look miserable to your eye?  What do you think??

Share your thoughts!  Cast a vote in the poll at the upper right of the blog.  And for additional fun, show your work in the comments section.  I'm curious to know what everyone's opinion is!

As for me, if I had to choose at this very moment, I'm gonna go with 2012.  It would be 2010 in a runaway if Topps wasn't so inconsistent with its usage of the team name graphic on front of the cards -- some teams got just the nickname treatment and some got city plus nickname.  My OCD goes into overdrive about that kind of stuff.

Regardless, I think they're all pretty solid designs.  No real losers in the lot.  My ranking would be 2012, 2010, 2013 and then 2011.

Thanks for checking in, and I look forward to finding out my fellow collectors think...


Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Let the Games Begin! (aka 2013 Topps is Here!)

My first card of 2013!

Like a kid on Christmas Eve, it was very difficult for me to focus at work today.  Today, after months of impatience, Topps 2013 baseball cards and I finally connected!

As the afternoon wore on, my attention increasingly centered on busting out of my office and hitting up Wal-Mart and Target on the way home.  I had been seeing various bloggers post pics of 2013 Topps cards they had found at the aforementioned retailers, which only amped me up further.

Thus, when the 4 p.m. hour struck, I was away like lightning.  First stop would be Wal-Mart, followed by the Bullseye.  Thankfully, Wal-Mart was fully stocked because, as I later discovered, Target was not.  Nada, nothing, zilch at Target in the way of 2013 Topps.  Major bummer!

Anyhow, I settled on a pair of hanger boxes at Wal-Mart.  The entire section appeared untouched, so I just swiped the first two boxes on display and made my way towards checkout.  Originally, I had planned to snag a blaster, but I wasn't much interested in the commemorative patch card.  Plus, the hanger boxes promised five blue-bordered cards.  That was enough to sell me.

I had planned to get boxes or packs from each store, but since Target was a bust, my first Topps 2013 experience would have to be the two 72-card boxes from the W.  Which, let's be honest, is more than enough. But, when new baseball cards debut, I tend to get a bit greedy.  Can you blame me?!

The Montero card up top is the first 2013 card that met my eyes.  I always think it's cool when other collectors and/or bloggers share their "first" card of the year, so I figured I'd follow suit.  I think I drew a pretty good representative; good player and a cool photo of a catcher in action.

I've already been way wordier than I had intended with this post, so I'll try to just show cards and keep the verbiage to a minimum.  But, you know how that goes.

Anyhow, away we go...

Some trends from 2012 Topps seem to have stuck for the '13 edition.  Including very busy pictures of baseball exultation.

Tremendous play-at-the-plate action.

And, sigh, Photoshop magic.  That's back-to-back years of Jose Reyes's base card featuring the fruits of digital editing.  Not a bad job on this one, actually, but I'm so over this whole fad.

One fad that I do rather enjoy are retro jerseys.  And it seems that Topps has consciously tried to feature them in this set.  No complaints from me.

The two hanger boxes I chose produced lots of important base cards, including three Rookie Cups.

I'm very, um, relieved (I guess) to have gotten Harper and Trout out of the way.  Trying to get these from card shows down the line will obviously be a hassle thanks to dealer price gouging.

The card backs are nothing out of the ordinary, with one exception.

The "Career Chase" line underneath the player's acquisition summary and birth date is kind of different.  The "chase" thing, it's part of the Topps story arc for this season, I get it.  [Ed. Note: When did Topps decide that they needed a story arc for their card sets, by the way?  Just curious...]  For some guys, like Joe Mauer, the line isn't totally horse puckey.  But, you know, some players' Chase line reads like, "With 5 base hits, Louie is only one billion hits away from the all-time record."  Hyperbole, but you get the point, I think.

I found six cards of my beloved Mets, so that's always a good thing.  Well, at least in my house.

The Santana is a checklist, but that's okay.  I've seen the Ike Davis card via Twitter previously, but only picked up on the mid-flight ball by seeing it in person.

Okay, enough base cards.  You've seen enough of them around the 'net to choke a horse.  So let's move onto some parallels and inserts.

Ten blue-bordered parallel cards, but nothing sexy.  I'm toying with the idea of shooting for a complete blue set.  I'm partial to blue, what can I say.  Not sure if this is the year I want to do it, but I definitely like how this design looks with blue borders.

As for the emeralds...

Ya know, I can't say that I'm gaga for these.  I mean, they're okay and I'll probably like to get all my favorite players in emerald.  But, just like the gold sparkles from last year, this is kind of a tired trend.

Oh, one note about parallels before moving on, I did not get a gold-bordered parallel in either box.  The odds were 1:2, so some guy is going to get two gold-bordered cards if he buys a pair of these hangers.  Poo to him.

Okay, some 1972 minis.  I loved the '87s from last year mostly because they struck a personal chord.  I'm not saying I don't like these (because I really do), but it's not the same as the '87s.  I absolutely dig the backs of these, though.  Makes me wish Topps cards were still cardboard and not posterboard or whatever they are now.

Other inserts:

Meh.  I like it because it's Mike Trout.  But, other than that, this looks more like a promotional card than an insert.  Topps really mailed it in on this one.

Okay, this is a little bit better.  The backs of these cards have a real cardboard feel, albeit thin stock.  These "Calling Card" inserts have a kinda Gypsy Queen or A&G vibe to them.  More so the former, I think.  I'll have to scope out the checklist and see what other players are featured.  In addition to Papi, I also got Prince Fielder. So, I don't know if this is an insert set devoted to overweight sluggers or what.

Okay, now here's where I get a bit confused.  The above is a regular "Chasing History" card.  The Reggie card, however, is shinier and features a golden ribbon, rather than the standard silver as in the Ryan.  I got four of these gold/shiny inserts in each hanger box.  And they were all packaged on the bottom of the card brick, not in the middle like the other inserts.  So I'm not sure if these are Wal-Mart specials or maybe just  an exclusive for hanger boxes.  No idea.  Anyone know the scoop?

Regardless, I really like these gold/shiny ones!

Very snazzy design, good photos of the game's greats, and not a lot of dead space as you might expect from an insert set that otherwise only exists as a vehicle for a jersey patch.

All told, I'm glad I went with the hanger boxes.  I'm also happy to report that I didn't get a single duplicate, which is a rare feat for Topps anymore.  I'm still deliberating a possible hobby box purchase.  No rush on that front, but I don't know if I'm going to go crazy with the retail stuff if that's the case.

Anyhow, I hope all my fellow bloggers and collectors out there are enjoying their taste of 2013 baseball cards.

Baseball is back!


Monday, January 28, 2013

Monday Mail Day

A fine weekend is in the books and now I'm looking forward to the arrival of 2013 Topps baseball cards this week. I even swung by one of my local Wal-Marts on the way home -- just in case they leaked the product earlier than the announced shelf date of Wednesday.  Alas, no luck.  But I'll still check into the area's other Wal-Mart plus Target on Tuesday with hopes that the new cards will be there.

In the meantime, Monday's mail brought me a pair of fantastic trade packages.  One is from an old friend, while the other is from a new trading partner.

First up, Robert at $30 A Week Habit hooked me up with an extraordinary array of 2011 Heritage cards and some inserts to help with my 2012 Topps insert pursuits.

In terms of the '11 Heritage cards, Robert truly spoiled me.  Any cards from the regular 425-card base set -- such as the above smiley Hanley All-Star -- would have been a nice treat.  But he went above and beyond that by flipping me five short prints!  


Honestly, this was a great surprise and very much appreciated.  I especially like that Adrian Gonzalez.

As for the inserts, I received some Gold Standards...

...and some Gold Futures...

Very cool!  I'm looking forward to finishing off the "Futures" set the most.  It's probably my second favorite 2012 Topps flagship insert (next to the amazing '87 minis, of course).

As usual, trading with Robert was a true pleasure.  Sir, I owe you a few hockey packs at the very least. 

And, while I've traded with Robert previously, I hadn't communicated -- much less traded --with the waxcaptain (as in waxcaptian's Dugout) before.  But, he reached out to me recently in regards to a few 2011 Heritage cards and 2011 Cognacs that he thought I would enjoy.  Of course, he was right, since I love anything from either of those sets that I don't already own.

So here's a couple more '11 Heritage cards towards my set:

And also a trio of Cognacs:

I definitely dig making some smaller-type trades like this.  I guess smaller trades are the new thing, anyhow.  I've been reading a lot on the hobby blog circuit about "plain white envelope" trading that's been going on.  I think that's a great thing.  While getting a boat load of cards at once can be a glorious thing, sometimes it's the smaller trades or one-card PWE's that make our days.

Thanks for the cards, waxcaptain!  Your end of the exchange will be hitting the post office in another day or so. Hopefully this trade won't be our last...


Friday, January 25, 2013

Five Down, Five to Go

Fridays are always a happy occasions (unless you work in radio or retail), and are made even better when eBay purchases arrive in the mail.  Such was the case today.

Thanks to some aggressive site browsing this past Sunday, I was able to track down five more SPs from a single seller towards my 2012 Heritage checklist.  No card over and buck-and-a-half, plus ultra-reasonable shipping.  I was a happy camper.

In addition to the above Yunel Escobar, I picked up a pair of Giants hurlers:

As well as a duo of former All-Star pitchers:

And now I'm down to single digits in my short print hunt.  Just five more cards to complete the 500-card set!

A fine start to the weekend for your's truly.

Hope everyone out there has a good one, too!


Thursday, January 24, 2013

Feats of Feet and Flight

Just another quick word in regards to those Sammy Sosa "Home Run History" cards that I recently received from Kerry (Cards on Cards).  There were 33 cards in all, each one chronicling Sosa's various achievements and milestones from the 1998 season.  This particular one (card No. 46) highlights Sammy's 18 stolen bases for the season -- the most for a player who eclipsed the 60 homer mark

But, check out the photo on the back of this card:

What an action shot!!  An unusual angle [Ed. Note: Was this taken from a blimp or something?!] and, well, I can't say I've come across a card that shows an infielder getting that sort of hang time.  Not sure who the player is -- looks like a Pirate to me -- but kudos to him.  That is impressive!


Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Late Summer, 1998

My freshman year of college was a roller coaster of emotions.  Specifically the first month or so.  And that was without the sports landscape being factored in.  But, since this is a website devoted to sports cards, I'll try to stay on the rails.

My favorite sports teams were all over the map, figuratively and literally speaking.  The Buffalo Bills were about to embark on the first year of the post-Marv Levy era and, thanks to some Flutie Magic, would become one of the NFL's surprise teams.  The Boston Celtics were mired in the Rick Pitino era, though they just lucked into a future NBA Finals MVP in that June's draft.  The New York Rangers were not so much a hockey team but a vehicle for Wayne Gretzky's farewell tour.

And then there were the Mets.  In my late teen years, I could probably count on one hand the number of things that mattered more to me than the New York Mets.  Their triumphs as well as their failures were my lifeblood. To say I lived and died with them was an understatement.

Thus, going to college in South Jersey (read: not the New York television market) was something of a Mets fan's internment.  It was difficult for me to follow the team on a daily basis in September of 1998, much less catch a game on TV.  I didn't have a computer at the time and had to depend on campus computer labs or ESPN to get my fix of updates.  I mean, for the first time in my life, I was separated from my Mets, both in print and in living color.  Talk about culture shock.

Compounding the problem was the Mets' slow and painful slide from the top of the division to the top of the wild card to out of the playoffs, all over the course of the season's final weeks.  My roommate was a Yankees fan, and he took great pleasure in making sure I got word of a Mets loss.

It was...painful.

But, looking back at the wide view, the saving grace of that September was the sheer excitement that the McGwire/Sosa home run chase provided us with.  And it was exciting.  Due in large part to all the steroid stuff that bubbled to surface years later, that whole summer of baseball and its climax seems like a dream. Regardless of what sort of picture history or Congress of the BBWAA insist on painting, I'll always hold that September close.  Because it was magical, steroids or no steroids.

Don't get me wrong, I'm certainly pissed at both McGwire and Sammy for being so reckless and dishonest, but they weren't alone by a long shot.  Therefore I don't feel it proper to single them out and pretend like that summer didn't happen.  Because it did happen and it lifted my spirits and made me fall in love with the game on an even deeper level than previously.  And I'm confident I'm not alone in that regard.

Wow, okay, so I seem to have veered far away from the Colby Rasmus card at the top of this post, no?  I mean, what does Colby have to do with any of this?  Well, the simple answer is Nothing, really.  But, it's a Cardinals card that I got from a great Cardinals blogger, Kerry at Cards on Cards.  This Rasmus card is one of two Heritage '11s I received from Kerry, aiding my set quest.

I received a huge mailer from Kerry just the other day, loaded with tons of Boston Celtics cards (more on that in a bit) and a few other assorted baseball cards such as the Rasmus.

But the most intriguing part of the package, and the thing that got me onto my September 1998 tangent, was a sizable run of Sammy Sosa cards from 1998 Pacific.  Each of the 33 cards bore the title of "Home Run History" and featured a different stage of Sosa's extraordinary season, including some of his milestone homers.  I figured these cards were either part of a specialty set that Pacific released late that year, or were inserts from the regular Pacific Baseball product.

As I discovered, the latter scenario was the truth.  But, I found it curious that each card had a card number that was even, beginning with the number 2 and going all the way through 66.  Why is that?, I wondered.  So, because I'm too dense to figure these things out for myself, I whisked over to The Trading Card Database to look up the checklist.  And as most lucid folks might have already deduced, the odd numbered cards were devoted to the Summer of '98s other Home Run Hero, Mr. McGwire.

Duh, Mark.  Duh.

Here the cards, by the way:

Anyhow, I think it's pretty freakin' neat that I am now the owner of all the solo Sammy Sosa cards from that insert set.  I'm absolutely appreciative for these, Kerry.  I hope you're as proud of the Cardinals/McGwire portion of this set as I am with these Sosa cards.  I'm no Cubs fan, but Sammy became one of my favorites that summer, both for his baseball prowess as well as his enormous personality and charm.

Here are a couple other fun cards from Kerry:

I certainly applaud Upper Deck for trying to paint a less vulgar picture of the 2000 World Series, but there we no Mets heroes -- certainly not Robin Ventura -- in that series.  Yes, he had a home run in Game 3, but Robin was 2-for-19 otherwise in five games.  At the most critical time, the Mets offense was as potent as wet cardboard. Robin was pretty emblematic of that.

On a cheerier note, Albert Belle is looking as bad-ass as ever in that sweet Diamond Kings card from 1994. At the time this card was produced, Belle still held seven career offensive records at LSU.

Oh, before we part company, I have to talk about the Celtics cards.  So, Kerry also contributes to the blog A Pack A Day.  And that's where I encountered his post about a pack of Stadium Club Basketball from the mid-90s.  He made mention of a need to liquidate lots of his basketball cards, and I chimed in on my Celtics fandom. The rest, as they say, is history.  In exchange for some Trailblazers cards along with a group of 2012 Heritage towards his set, I was to receive a good number of Celtics cards.

And a whopping number I did receive.

I'll just share this one (and this is a good one!), since there are, like, a bazillion others.  But, for anyone who is interested, I'll be parading them all around on my sister blog, Charting the C's.  It's just a silly little side project for me.  Nothing more than an excuse for me to scan Boston Celtics cards.

What more can I say?  Thanks for an amazing package, Kerry!  You've added a lot of tremendous items to my collection.

But, more than that, you've rekindled some good memories from one of baseball's greatest seasons.