Wednesday, May 27, 2015

Thumbs Up or Thumbs Down? 2015 Heritage High

Some very interesting, albeit disheartening news from the Topps camp, as reported by the folks at Beckett News: Heritage High Numbers is ditching the expensive box set and returning to the expensive pack/hobby box format.

Click this link to read the full account over at Beckett: STORY

For everyone who bitched and moaned about the $99 100-card box set from the past three seasons, I hope you're happy.

On the one hand, it's great to have a meatier checklist, as the 2015 High Numbers offering will consist of 225 cards as opposed to the 100 cards of the past few years.  And, because it'll be released in pack and hobby box format, it looks like there will be parallels and chrome and inserts, etc.

More players, more shiny cards, more relics/autos.  Okay, that's all fine and good.

Now the bad news.  The two most evil words in card collecting: Short prints.  As in, the last 25 cards of the checklist will be short printed.

At least with the over-priced 100-card box, I could just throw a hundred bucks at the situation and be guaranteed all the cards in one shot (plus an autograph).  That meant I didn't have to devote valuable time to pouring over eBay listings trying to track down the 2012 Harper rookie or the '13 Puig.  Never mind the part about kowtowing to the price gouging sellers or insane auctions.

Now, with a 24-card hobby box, which I'm going to guess will be in the neighborhood of $80, I'll come close to a non-SP complete set.  I may even knock it out from one box, who knows?  But, if I'm lucky, I'll maybe get 8-10 of the 25 short prints. Not good.

In other words, you better pray your hobby box contains the Kris Bryant rookie, or God help you.

This whole thing truly sucks, in my opinion.  It's enough of a pain in the arse (and mighty expensive) trying to put together the regular 500-card Heritage set with SPs from packs and online vendors, etc.  And Lord knows I'm still a ways away from completing 2011, 2013 and 2014.  Oh, and of course this year's.  But, this High Numbers mini-beast is just exhausting to think about.

Sure, it's all well and good for you non-set collectors who might just want to pick off a pack or two of the stuff or maybe just chase your team's players.  That's cool, and I get it.  But, when it comes to Heritage, I'm a set collector, darnit, and I know many of you out there are in the same boat.  And, once again, Topps does us no favors whatsoever.

Am I overreacting to this?  Thoughts?


Sunday, May 24, 2015

What Have I Gotten Myself Into? (aka Zistle the Sixth)

As I've written about at length, Zistle has brought a new energy and excitement to the hobby for me.  Keeping track of my collection is now an enjoyable task and scanning cards has become an art more so than a chore. The trades are a blast, too.  I recently wrapped up my sixth deal -- one with member rookieb -- and I think it was my biggest one yet.

Biggest in terms of quantity of cards acquired, not so much in the 'wow factor' department.  Don't get me wrong, I'm not hoity-toity enough as a person or collector to poo-poo any cards or trades.  And since I grew up during the golden days of the junk wax era, I never turn my nose up at the stuff.

But, here we are, half a dozen trades into my Zistle trading portfolio, and this was by far the junk wax-iest trade of them all.  It was mostly '90s Donruss, '91 Bowman and a couple latter-day cards.  Not exactly the stuff of legend.

Then again, I didn't exactly trade away a '52 Mantle to get any of these cards and, well, they are cards that were on my 'want' list, thus they were missing from my Mets collection.  The life of the team collector, I suppose.  If anything, shame on me for not having these damn things already.

It's just funny, because before blogging and before getting the team collector bug, I wouldn't have dreamed I'd be in this position, trying to hunt down cards like a 1990 Donruss Kevin Elster.

1990 Donruss?  Kevin Elster?  Really?

Anyhow, joining Mr. Elster were two more cards from that stunning set.

Sadly, I'm still two cards shy of owning all the Mets from this set.  Ugh!

And here's your 1991 Bowman portion of the post.  Buckle up...

These cards are  not for the feint of heart.

Still with me?

If you're still reading this, you're either a Mets fan or my wife.

Okay, we all made it through unscathed, I think.  Still there?  If I haven't driven you away, let's look at a few more cards from this trade, which totaled 23 cards.

Let's wash away the grittiness of those Bowman cards with a pair of Dwight Goodens...

I had to do a double-take on this Bowman card since Doc isn't wearing his usual jersey number 16.  A 64 in spring training?  Sup with that?

A pair of neat Fleer oddballs were part of this latest acquisition, as well.

Those little department store or pharmacy boxed sets are among my favorite things about the '80s card collecting scene.  Can't get enough of 'em!

1993 Score Select Eric Hillman rookie?  Sure, why the hell not.

This was perhaps the best single piece of the trade since I cannot think of any other Mel Stottlemyre Mets cards.  This one is from '89 Bowman and it features a collage of the former Mets pitching coach and his two big league sons, Todd and Mel, Jr.

We leave the junk era and enter the era of gross excess (aka the late '90s) for these next three, all from '98 Collector's Choice.  I very little of this set in my collection.

It's getting harder and harder to unearth late '90s commons at card shows nowadays -- well, for me anyways -- so it's pretty satisfying to track these down.

And we zoom into present day for the finale of the trade.

I needed just two more cards to finish off the non-SP Mets team set from this year's Heritage

I must take umbrage with Topps since, technically, the Mets and Braves finished in a second-place tie in the NL East.  I guess since Atlanta begins with an 'A' they got the tiebreaker, eh?

Anyhow, that finishes off my '15 Heritage Mets team set.  It also polishes off my sixth Zistle trade.

A little junky, yes, but still strangely satisfying.

Man, being a team collector is a weird scene!


Saturday, May 23, 2015

Fabric, Ink and Beer

My main man Shane of Shoebox Legends fame treated me to a double play of sorts recently.  Not only did I receive a customary PWE, but he also dropped a pretty sensational yellow mailer on me which contained some very flashy cardboard.

For starters, the contents of the yellow mailer.  Check out the swatch on that TdA card: Is that sick or what?! And the card is as thick as brick.  Oh, and it also happens to be numbered to 99.  Hands down, this leaps to the top of my d'Arnaud collection.  What a card!

Here's some more fabric; this time Subway Series style!  A pretty awesome jersey card of Timo Perez from 2001 Upper Deck.  I remember Timo equally for his torrid production in the 2000 NLCS and his bonehead base-running in Game 1 of the Fall Classic at Yankee Stadium, which cost the Mets what wound up being a huge run. Nevertheless, this card rocks!

Here's some minor league ink.  My first card of Bill Santamaria, as well.  A former 27th round draft pick out of Lakewood, NJ, Santamaria never rose above A-ball in four years of pro ball.  On this card, he's depicted a Kingsport Met, which is New York's Appalachian League affiliate to this day.

And the final card from this epic mailer...

A Topps Pristine numbered rookie of Japanese import Kaz Matsui.  This was a confusing set, as it seems the rookies got three cards each in the checklist -- a common, an uncommon and a rare version, each numbered. This would be the uncommon, of which there are 999 copies.

A very cool quartet of cards!  Oh, and I should also mention that the mailer included a couple of early-90s hockey packs (I got an Eric Lindros rookie!) and a Panini Triple Play baseball pack, the latter of which has been added to my son's unopened pack collection.

This package would have been tremendous on its own, but Shane didn't stop there and continued our ongoing PWE swap with a pretty nifty nine-spot of cards.

I love these framed Gypsy Queen cards!  And, even though he couldn't hit a grapefruit these days, Juan Lagares is still my boy, and I'm confident he'll get his groove back soon.  Shane also included a copy of Juan's '15 GQ base card, which I had already collected while the PWE was in transit.  Hey, it happens sometimes!  I still appreciate it!

The premise is somewhat weak, but I really dig the look of these '14 A&G inserts.  Very chalkboard-y.  This would be a really sharp look for an entire set, Topps.  Get on that!

This is one of those cards where I'm like, "I think I already have this."  Then I check Zistle and I'm like, "Oh, snap, I didn't have this after all."  Thank God for Zistle!  By the way, Straw is still 21 homers ahead of David Wright on the franchise home run list.

In the same vain as the previous card, I was shocked to find that I didn't already own this one.  2006 Topps is a set that I'm still on the fence about.  I think it depends on the day or my mood or what I had for dinner.  It's a tad gaudy with all the colors and border elements.  And I don't like the red Topps logo.  But, it's certainly not terrible.

My first Aderlin card.  He's still in the Mets system, playing at Double-A Binghamton of the Eastern League.  He hit 17 and 24 home runs in 2011 and 2012, respectively, but has kinda flamed out since then.  He's presently batting .234 with three homers and 18 RBIs for the B-Mets.

And, finally, the 'beer' part of the post...

Dogfish Head is kind of a big deal in my adopted home state of Delaware.  Then again, in my eight-plus years of living here, I've never had the stuff.  That's pretty embarrassing to admit, but there it is.  I think I'll maybe pick up a sixer of the stuff for the holiday weekend just to make good on that blunder.

As usual, top-shelf stuff from Shane.  Thanks for the awesome loot, bud!


Monday, May 18, 2015

Mucho Roberto

At last month's monthly card show, I came across a vendor who had six monster boxes of nothing but dime-priced cards from the early to mid-00's.  I could have easily spent my entire show's monetary allotment at that one table, but unfortunately I had already made a few stops before stumbling upon him.  Still, I did quite a bit of damage!

All of the non "stars" had been weeded out by the seller, so it was nothing but all-stars and HOFers.  A little disappointing for a team collector, but if you were strictly a player collector of someone like Bonds, Randy Johnson or Vlad, you were in a good place.  Even so, I still got my Mets fix big-time.

Lordy, I know that the late '90s and early '00's were a time of brand abundance, but it really came to life when going through these boxes and plucking out just the Mets.  Some brands familiar, some stranger.

The three Mets who popped up the most through my search of the massive boxes were Roberto Alomar, Tom Glavine and Mike Piazza.  I'll focus on Robbie during this post.  Not one of my favorite Mets ever, but a Met nonetheless.

Here's a portion of the nearly 30 cards of the Hall of Fame second baseman that I unearthed...

2002 Bowman's Best

2002 Donruss Classics

2002 Donruss Elite

2002 Fleer E-X

2002 Fleer Flair

Man, this was a pretty terrible year of Flair!  Yuck-ola.  Not sure what they were going for here.

Anyhow, here's some more Robbie...

2002 Fleer Maximum

2002 Fleer Showcase

2002 Upper Deck Honor Roll

2002 Upper Deck SP Authentic

2002 Upper Deck SPx

2003 Donruss Studio

I love '03 Studio!  The exterior of ol' Shea Stadium as the backdrop doubled with the 'bat over the shoulders' pose makes this a kick-ass card.

2003 Fleer Box Score

2003 Fleer Showcase

2003 Topps 205

2003 Topps Bazooka

2003 Topps Finest

2003 UD Patch Collection

A pretty classy and attractive base design for Patch Collection in '03.  One of my favorite new Alomar cards for sure.

2003 UD Superstars

2003 Upper Deck Game Face

2003 Upper Deck Play Ball

2003 Upper Deck SP Authentic

2003 Upper Deck Vintage

Keep in mind, Roberto Alomar played a year and a half for the Mets and, with this recent batch included, I now have 48 unique cards of his in my Mets collection.  That's pretty frickin' wild!

Yeah, there were lots of half-assed, mailed-in and senseless efforts from this era of collecting, but the sheer variety of products is doggone impressive.  Part of me wishes that I was actively collecting cards during this period, but the sane side of me is glad I was on hiatus for fear of going batty.  Regardless, I harbor no shame in trying to track down as many Mets as possible from these years!

If I don't flake out or forget, at some point in the near future I'll show ya some of the Piazzas and Glavines I snagged from the same vendor.