Wednesday, June 29, 2016

Love the Drake!

This past weekend our local firehouse hosted the normal monthly sports card show.  It wasn't the most robust event, as there were plenty of empty vendor tables that are normally occupied.  I guess it's too close to the Fourth of July weekend?  I dunno.

Anyhow, it's probably for the best since I'd be tempted to spend, spend, spend otherwise.  You know, like usual.

The first seller I visited was a new face, at least to me.  He had a whole bunch of binders of vintage cards from the '60s and '70s--mostly commons--so I figured I'd give 'em a thorough look-through to find a Met or two or three to fill in some gaps in my collection.

Everything in the guys binder was in generally very good shape, and it was priced as such.  For vintage, I'm more or less of the mindset that condition isn't super-important.  I mean, I'd like for the card to be in somewhat decent shape.  If it looks like it's been run over by a bulldozer or dropped in the toilet (or both), I'm gonna pass. Otherwise, I'm open minded.  But, y'know, sometimes it's nice to acquire some older cads that are still pretty crisp.  More on that in a bit.

Oh, the Drake's panel up top.  Yes, one random binder featured several oddball panels from the '80s.  I'm a sucker for these.  The prices weren't marked and, when I inquired, I was informed by the vendor that he'd go easy on me.

Oh jeez.

I don't know about you, but as much as I love these things, I won't overpay.  Given the way the guy inspected the two panels I picked out, I can only imagine he thought they might fetch multiple dollars each. I mean, he basically took out a looking glass to appraise them.

That aside, the panels are in wonderful shape.  No surface wear or wrinkles.  And, most importantly, they were meticulously cut out so as to preserve the borders.  I'll have a good ol' time in the near future using my wife's scrapbooking guillotine thingie to extricate both cards.

By the way, I'll probably just toss the remaining two Red Sox cards.  I can't think of anyone who could possibly want them.

Along with these dandy Drake's cards, I fetched a trio of vintage Mets, all of which are in tip-top shape.

My "Must Have" alarm sounded when I saw this one.  It's one of three Topps cards that Choo Choo had in a Mets uniform.  I'm now the proud owner of two.  The third is a high number from '66, I believe, and I'm not ready to take that one on yet.

This is Ribants second Topps cards and his second (and last) as a Met.  His career was certainly nothing to celebrate, but it was a nice, crisp card that I felt I should bring home.

Last, and certainly not least, a sparkly '72 Ed Kranepool.  The centering and cut is nearly perfect and there's nary a chip or ding to report.  This is one of Ed's best cards in terms of photo choice.  Perhaps only his '67 is better.

As for what I paid for the whole kit and kaboodle, the guy asked for 10 bucks and I crinkled my face.  I countered with six and he had to sit down and catch his breath.  We eventually agreed on seven, which I guess is okay when the condition of the cards is taken into account.  I probably could have done better, but ultimately I'm happy with the cards.

 As I walked away with my purchase and offered a pleasantry, the vendor dejectedly accepted it and sat on his hands with a harumph.  I guess it had already been a long day.

Beyond these, it was a pretty slow day at the ol' card show.  I didn't get a chance to track down any Series 2 or Archives, but there's always next month.


Monday, June 27, 2016

P-Town's Kinda, Sorta All-Stars

A couple weeks ago, P-Town Tom posted about a recent retail purchase he made, and I was fortunate enough to jump into the fray and claim the unwanted Mets!

As Tom rightly pointed out in his post, the special Topps All-Star factory sets for either league are no longer touted as "All-Stars" but, instead, "League Standouts."  Which, is certainly more accurate, I suppose, since a number of the players chosen for these sets weren't even All-Stars.  I never noticed nor cared, really.  But, good on Topps.

Case in point, is the lead-off card in this post, which is one of the three Mets included in the 2016 NL League Standouts set.  Jeurys Familia was one of the best closers in the league last year--and he paces the loop with 26 saves this season--but he wasn't chosen an All-Star in 2015.

See?  Standout, not All-Star.

Matt Harvey started the 2013 All-Star Game at Citi Field, but he wasn't selected to last year's Midsummer's Classic.  Still, Harvey logged a fine '15 season with 13 wins and a 2.71 ERA for the NL Champs.

At last; an All-Star!  Jacob deGrom was New York's lone NL All-Star rep in Cincy and he made a memorable impression in the contest.  The lanky right-hander worked a single inning, using just 10 pitches to strike out the side.

Listen, I don't care what you call these cards.  All-Stars, Standouts or Players Who Rock...these are Mets cards and they are great additions to my collection!

Along with this star-studded trio, Tom also included a smattering of other Mets to make my day...

For someone who spent just a few months as a Met, Hideo Nomo sure does have his share of cards in blue and orange (and, yes, black).  No complaints here, as I've always been a Nomo fan.

The base version of this one is probably my favorite card of the colorful Bell.  Just one season as a Met, but he played with flair and was a fun guy to watch.  I was giddy to find this Gold Medallion parallel mixed into the package from Tom.

Finishing up with a card of the HOF-bound Mike Piazza is always a good idea.  If only Topps could make fun and inspired inserts like this for us today.

Thanks a lot for hooking me up with these fantastic cards, Tom!  I've got a return package of goodies to send your way this week.


Friday, June 24, 2016

Zistle the 33rd

My scan folder has become somewhat backlogged with images from recent Zistle trades, so it's time to remedy that issue.

Today, my 33rd trade via the Zistle website; this one with fellow member jtcrawfordcr.  It was a pretty sizable deal with about 50 cards going in either direction.  He's a Cubs fan, so I was able to unload a bunch of Cubbie dupes I had lying around.

In the leadoff spot, a card I've been wanting for quite some time -- Edgardo Alfonzo's Topps rookie card from the 1995 Traded edition.  Since Fonzie's one of my all-time favorite Mets, it was a must to own this one!

Here's another nice rookie I was happy to knock off the ol' want list.  This Wheeler is from the 2013 Update Chrome set, which was available via the "Mega Boxes" which contained both regular Update and Update Chrome packs.

I'm always eager to get Topps Gallery cards for my collection.  In my mind, "gallery" means the cards should be an actual painting or portrait.  That's not to say I don't like the Gallery sets that feature actual photography, but you get my drift.

Black and white Benny Agbayani from 2001 Bowman Heritage.  Nice card of the former Mets playoff hero out of Hawaii.

One of Notre Dame's most notable baseball alumni--and a former first-round pick by the Mets--Aaron Heilman graces this 2003 Heritage base card.

John Olerud has a nice, neat signature.  But, would you expect anything different from him?  I'd be appalled if his autograph looked like chicken scratch.

Look out, Johnny!  Franco braces for a comebacker on this '95 Stadium Club base card.

Do ballplayers still wear shades like this?  These perfectly suit Bonilla, who was always a little too cool for school, wasn't he?

Those were a handful that really stood out for me.

And, now here's the rest of my Mets haul from this trade....

The cherry on top of this deal was actually of the non-Mets variety.  Which sort of sounds like sacrilege, but I'm such a huge Topps Heritage fan that I make no apologies.

The 2012 set was the first Heritage edition I formally collected and it's the only for which I've wrangled all the base cards, SPs and High Numbers.  For that reason, I've got a special kind of connection to it and feeling for it. That being stated, I want to try to grab all the colored parallels, as well.  So, if you've got any unwanted reds, blues or blacks lying around, give me a holler, please!

The 2014 set was pretty amazing since it payed homage to the '65 design.  Netting Arenado's All-Star Rookie short print from that set makes me a happy camper.

Ditto for Gray, who's had a rough season but is still a bright young star out in Oakland.

All told, a pretty terrific trade with lots of variety!


Wednesday, June 22, 2016

Horizontal Heroes, Page 7 (Cards 55-63)

I've been looking for some inspiration for a Frankenset post for my quasi-neglected Horizontal Heroes project. And, thankfully, I found some earlier today.

So, please allow me to unveil a third completed page from the HH compendium.

Oh, and for those who are not familiar, Horizontal Heroes is a proposed 660-card Frankenset dedicated to all the terrific landscape oriented cards from throughout the years.  All manufacturers and sets are welcome.  The choices for each slot should be base cards (though I'll allow for a parallel here or there) and should come from a set which is not across-the-board horizontal (i.e. 1960 Topps).  Beyond those ground rules, anything goes!

Okay, here's Page No. 7, containing cards 55 through 63...

Let's break down the page a little further, shall we?

Cards 55 through 57...

55 -- Vinny Castilla, 1998 Fleer Ultra
56 -- Carl Pavano, 1998 Fleer Tradition Update
57 -- Derrick Gibson, 1999 Fleer Tradition

Then cards 58 through 60...

58 -- Tim Hudson, 2012 Topps
59 -- Adam Loewen, 2007 Upper Deck
60 -- Pat Borders, 1994 UD Collector's Choice

And, finally, cards 61 through 63...

61 -- Royce Clayton, 1996 Topps
62 -- R.A. Dickey, 2013 Topps Chrome
63 -- Dan Wilson, 1997 Topps

In regards to Win, Place and Show for this particular page, I'm going to give the top spot to hurler Tim Hudson in the throes of home run admiration.  Vinny Castilla's second-base collision at old Busch Stadium gets the runner-up position while the bronze nod goes to Carl Pavano and his Bazooka Joe sculpture.

I hope you enjoyed these selections, and please feel free to chime in with your best of the page.


Monday, June 20, 2016

Jerseys and Bats and Autos...Oh My!

In the long history of exchanges between myself and Shane from Shoebox Legends, I can't recall a more stunning array of cards.  That may sound a bit like hyperbole, but stick around and you'll see what I mean.

Or, you can just take a gander at the lead-off card and you'll get a good indication of what I was treated to by my good buddy from Rhode Island.

Usually, Shane and I swap PWEs, but this latest delivery required a padded yellow envelope (or, PYE, as Shane suggested in his note).  Heck, Shane could've just stopped at the Koosman Super Teams jersey card and I'd be plenty satisfied and over the moon and all that good stuff.

But, this was just the tip of the iceberg.

I know the Mets play in New York and they essentially 'borrowed' the ballcap logo of the old New York Giants at their inception, but does anyone else think that Topps kinda fudged up here?  Woulda made more sense to put a current-day SF Giants player on this card, no?

Eh, whatever, I'm not complaining.  It's an interesting addition to my collection regardless of the crossed wires.

A lot of activity going on here.  You've got a home plate-shaped swatch of black uniform top, a little head shot of the player, a sticker auto, Ancient Egyptian patterns and a big chromy banner containing Guerra's name.  Clearly, there wasn't any room for the kitchen sink!  No matter, I dig this card in a big way!

Deolis Guerra, by the way, was part of the package the Mets sent to Minnesota in order to acquire Johan Santana in February 2008.  The Venezuelan right-hander is presently in a reliever for Anaheim.

We now enter the 'framed' portion of the post, as this snazzy framed mini of Carlos Beltran kicks off three straight framed mini cards that were included in the envelope.  That's a piece of game-used bat embedded in the card.  Very cool!  The blue frame is very sharp, as well.

He's out of baseball, but he's not out of our consciousness, thanks to this fancy framed A&G relic from 2015. Framed minis are kind of a foreign thing to me, as I only had one in my collection prior to receiving this package from Shane.  I have to admit, they're neat collectibles.

My favorite of the framed trio is by far this beautiful, golden specimen here.  That's an autograph of Cliff Floyd on that card, folks.  I can't tell you how extraordinary that is.  The portrait on the mini itself is tremendous on its own, but having Cliffy's signature on there is just icing on the cake!

The fun didn't stop with just Mets cards, though.

Here's a first for my collection -- a piece of a base embedded in the card!  Now, THAT is pretty freakin' cool!  Not to mention that it's one of the better insert themes ever concocted by Fleer.

Hockey season might be over, but it's never the off-season for cards of the "Coolest Game on Earth."

Not only is this my first card of Eric Lindros as a New York Ranger, but I believe it's my first Lindros card, period. Like I've stated before, I was never much of a hockey collector in my younger days.

Lindros was a bonafide Ranger-killer as a Flyer in his early days and, naturally, he didn't do much on Broadway later on when he joined the good guys.  Nonetheless, he's one of those big-name guys you like to collect.  At least in a Rangers sweater.

We'll wrap it up with the greatest American-born defenseman in NHL history, Brian Leetch.  Numbered to /108, this is a terrific card to own of an all-time Blueshirts great.

So, let's just recap:

-- Jersey swatches
-- Manupatch
-- Game-used bat relic
-- Autographs
-- Authenitic MLB base relic
-- Framed cards
-- Serial Numbered card /108

Good grief!  I mean, if that ain't the goody-bag to beat 'em all.  I don't know how you work the magic, Shane, but I sure am thankful to be the recipient of it!


Friday, June 17, 2016

Say Hooray!

I'll spoil the suspense: I am now the proud and ecstatic owner of a genuine, real-deal 1973 Topps Willie Mays card.

I came to be in possession of this card via an eBay auction I stumbled upon which had under a minute remaining.  The winning bid was $2.25 plus 3.99 for shipping (I'll address the latter figure in a few moments).

Upon seeing the words YOU ARE THE WINNING BIDDER in green font on the auction screen in front of me, I was instantly swelled with excitement as well as dread.  In my haste to punch in my bid, did I misread something or misinterpret the description?  Because in my experience, I haven't come across a '73 Mays on eBay or any other site for such a measly price tag.  Certainly not one that doesn't carry the aura of having been pasted to a treehouse wall or stuck into a bicycle spoke some 40 years ago.

I read and re-read the description posted by the seller and saw nothing to give flame to my trepidation.  This wasn't a reprint or a knock-off or an Archives or a Berger's Best or whatever.

Regardless, I kept up my guard until last night, when I arrived home to find a PWE from a strange address among my mail.

My Willie had arrived!  And, despite my doubts, it's the real thing!

I zoomed out a bit on the scan so you can get a better feel for the condition of the card.  Of course, there is some minor fraying of the edges and the corners and centering aren't perfect.  But, the condition of those elements is truly terrific for the price I paid and then some.  Also worthy of note, there aren't any bends or wrinkles or markings on the card.  Nor is it miscut.

Basically, this is card is in better shape than the '73 Mays I always imagined I would someday own.  I figured I'd pick up a beat-up copy sometime down the road and be happy to at least have Willie's last Topps card--and only card as a Met--in some shape or form.

I didn't think I'd own a copy of this iconic card anytime soon, nor was I actively looking for one, honestly.  I routinely search for Mets short prints or variations on eBay and for some reason this one came up when I searched "Mets SP."  Almost like it was meant for me.

What makes this card and its condition even more miraculous is the means by which it made its journey from Nevada (the seller's home base) to Delaware.

Recall, if you will, that the stated shipping cost was $3.99.  Well, for the cost of nearly four bucks, the seller slipped this card (and two others--more on that in a sec) into a penny sleeve, shoved it into a #6 3/4 envelope, stamped it and sent it packing.  Hey, I'm all for PWE shipping, and I use it often.  But, let's be real, people. Four dollars?  Shameful.  But, no biggie, the guy got a one-star rating on the "How reasonable was the shipping cost?" question on the feedback form.

Anyhow, if you ever doubted our postal service and the care they take, this card is testament to the process.  It was unharmed during it's 2,000+ mile trip plus various sorting and processing measures, protected only by a flimsy envelope and a one-cent piece of plastic.  Truly remarkable!

The other cards in the 'lot' I received are here....

This Piazza was actually listed as part of the winning auction, and it's a card I needed, so that's cool!

And then there's this.

I don't know where this Bentiez card fits into the grand scheme of things, but here it is.  Maybe it was included in the envelope as a means of protection for the Mays and Piazza cards?  Who knows.  Armando saved a lot of games as a Met, so perhaps this was his final bullpen call.

Shaky shipping practices and miscellaneous Benitez card aside, it was a truly momentous occasion to finally secure one of the most stupendous "sunset" cards of all-time.  Arguably the greatest player the game has ever seen preserved on cardboard at the nighttime of his career in the city where it all began.  Wearing the uniform of my beloved Mets.  It's kind of a perfect card, really.

Still, I can't shake this certain feeling.  That it shouldn't have been this easy, or that the card was somehow ill-gotten.  Perhaps, in a cosmic sense, I was never intended to see the auction listing.  I'm picturing a scenario straight out of a Stephen King story, where I arrive home one day to find the card reverted back to its true form--a 1988 Mike Trujillo--because I'm not the rightful owner.

Okay, that's a bit much.  I guess I'll just enjoy the card and leave the fiction to the professionals.

Until next time... SAY HEY!


Monday, June 13, 2016

Big Time!

I'm not a complicated man when it comes to this hobby.  I'm complicated and irrational in regards to a great many other things, but I think I'm pretty practical when it comes to sports cards.

Thus, I've never really been all-in on A&G minis or '89 Bowman or Topps Big or Topps Super or anything outside of your standard 2 1/2 by 3 1/2-inch card.  I'm a meat 'n potatoes kind of guy and oddly sized cards equal clutter in my book.  A real OCD nightmare, if you catch my drift.

But, since I've taken on the mantle of ravenous team collector, many of those shackles have been cast aside. It certainly helps that there are specialized binder pages suited for these varied card sizes nowadays, thus bringing some semblance of order and balance to one's collection.

With that being spelled out, I present to you the 2016 Topps MLB Collection '87 Tribute team set for the Mets. These are oversized 5x7 cards, serial numbered to /99 and are available via  Apparently only a select few teams were chosen for this motif, with each set consisting of nine card.  [Ed. Note: There is a special, more limited 10-card set that includes a "retired player" but the price is nearly double.]  Price tag for this set: $19.99 plus shipping.

I wasn't looking for this product, mind you, but over Memorial Day weekend the Topps website was having a half-off sale on custom cards.  Since I'm making a custom card for my son each year, I figured it was a good time to act.  While browsing the site, I stumbled upon an image of Noah Syndergaard set against the 1987 Topps wood grain border with the "Future Stars" logo strewn across the bottom.

It was love at first sight.

I rationalized that since my custom order was going to be half off I could afford to splurge a tad on the over-sized nine-card set for the price of a blaster.  Besides, the '87 set is the alpha point of my lifelong collecting journey, and to just look the other way would haunt me in the long run.

Okay, well, without any further blathering, I present to you the cards...

Is that not a beautiful card?  Whether mini, standard or extra-large, I couldn't pass up this set based on this card alone.

Additionally, I must note that the image you see in this post's lead-off spot is the standard card-back for each of these.  The cards are not individually numbered on the back.  And, as you can see, the serial numbering appears in the bottom left corner on the card's front.

Okay, sorry, more cards...

The Syndergaard card was the only one pictured on the Topps website.  Thus I was a little worried that the majority of the remaining cards would possess recycled images, but they're mostly fresh from what I can tell.  I believe this Harvey photo was used for the 2016 flagship, but in a closely-cropped version.

Another Future Star!  This Matz card is just tremendous!

Not only is this a fresh photo of the Mets' Captain, but it's an image from last year's World Series!

Nice to gain another Michael Conforto card for my collection.  The kid has cooled down considerably from his hot start, but he's just a rookie and he'll figure it out.

I'll betcha this one is from last year's Fall Classic, also.  At the very least it's from the postseason.  Just a hunch.

I was quite surprised that Wheeler -- who did not pitch a single inning last year due to Tommy John surgery -- was included in this particular release.  Considering they had other obvious candidates such as Familia, Duda or d'Arnaud, this was a bit puzzling.  BUT, I'm not complaining since Zack is on schedule for a post-ASG return and still figures greatly into the team's future.

Grandy's card concludes the set.  Not from the World Series, but this image is from last year's postseason as the arm patch attests to.

I really, really, really like this mini set of big cards.  I can't wait to find a minute or two to slide into my local card shop and grab a few 5x7 album pages to protect these bad boys.

Anyone else have any experience with these over-sized Topps cards or card sets?  I'll certainly be on the look-out for future Mets-centric releases!