Wednesday, July 27, 2016

Breaking Down the Breakdown

As much as I love trading via Zistle, sometimes nothing beats the fun and mystery of a blogger-to-blogger trade.

And, not so long ago, I had the privilege of swapping cards with Gavin of Baseball Card Breakdown.  Gavin had recently ripped into a box of '16 Stadium Club and had lots of nice trade bait.  So, naturally, I had to get in on that!

In the lead-off spot is David Wright's base card from the Stadium Club set.  Interestingly enough (maybe only to me), every one of DW's TSC base cards dating back to 2008 are of the horizontal variety.  [Ed. Note:  Perhaps a post for a future date?]  Regardless, Wright's newest card is pretty tame relatively speaking, but it's a beautiful card nonetheless.

I know the allure of Stadium Club isn't necessarily the insert of parallel content (at least it's not with me), but that doesn't mean we team collectors can't also drool over cards like this deGrom gold foil parallel.

Ditto for Mr. Familia, who has been raising his arms in exultation a lot this season.

I've never been lucky enough to pull a Triumvirate card from a TSC pack, so I was giddy to get not just one, but two of these bad boys from Gavin.  The deGrom (right) is from this year's product, while Wheeler is from last year.

Gavin didn't stop at Stadium Club content in this trade package, however.  Rather, he went totally overboard by including tons of great Mets from all different products and years.

So let's check out some of the other highlights, shall we?

Jersey and relic cards of star players are fun, but I get a certain kind of satisfaction from the lesser-known fringe guys.  I don't think there are too many Matt den Dekker relic cards floating around, so this one is a fun addition.

Another nice one from last year's Paninin Elite.  I know they can't use team logos and such, but if they included just a smackerel of orange on that digitally altered jersey, this would be a perfect card.

This 2013 Gypsy Queen green mini is numbered to just /99.

Though he was optioned back down to Triple-A Las Vegas last week, Brandom Nimmo provided the Mets with a nice spark during his first taste of the Majors.  I'm looking forward to seeing more of him in the future.

From 2014, a really attractive high-end card of Zack Wheeler.  Topps Tribute to be exact.  Coming off TJS, Wheeler is still expected to pitch in New York this season, but maybe not until late August.

Not one...

...but TWO chrome refractors of former Mets Gold Glover Carlos Beltran.

I heard this guy was enshrined in Cooperstown over the weekend.  What a tremendous speech he delivered, too.

Masato Yoshii's autograph.  So good!

Gavin really hit a home run with this collector by including a hearty helping of Topps Debut cards...

A former first-rounder, Smith is the Mets' first-baseman of the future.

Fulmer is a star in the making...for Detroit.  He was a central part of the trade package that netted the Mets Yoenis Cespedes last summer.

Rosario is batting .354 in 26 games since earning a promotion to Double-A Binghamton.  He's a big piece of New York's future.

Gant was flipped to Atlanta last summer in the deal that brought Juan Uribe and Kelly Johnson to Queens.

A UConn product and the son of former big leaguer Lee Mazzilli, L.J. is presently playing at Double-A Binghamtom.

Did you know the state of Wyoming -- Nimmo's home state -- is one of three without sanctioned high school baseball?  Makes it even more impressive that he was the 13th overall pick in the 2011 draft.

Morris was swapped to the Braves for Kelly Johnson back in June.

After spending eight seasons in the Mets organization, Puello is now playing Triple-A ball in the Yankees system.

Lutz actually appeared in 22 games combined for the Mets during the 2012 and '13 seasons.  He was released by the organization following the 2015 season and latched on with the Marlins franchise.  He was let go by Miami a few weeks ago.

Wow, lots great stuff!  That must be the end, right?

Nope!  Even more 'new' Mets for my collection...

I told you Gavin sent a lot of cards!

While all of these additions are fantastic and much appreciated, I saved the best piece of the package til the very end...


Done in the style of a '70s Hostess oddball, this a treasured addition to my collection.  Simply Amazin'!

And so is this:


Gavin does such an incredible job with these customs, does he not?  I'm honored to have a couple of fine samples to call my own.

It was a pleasure doing business with you, Gavin!  Thanks for the great loot.  Let's do it again soon!


Wednesday, July 20, 2016

Nick Knacks (Cards from Dime Boxes HQ)

If there ever was a card perfectly representative of a particular blogger, today's header card is a most appropriate one for Dime Boxes chief Nick P.

Nick recently floated me a mailer full of great cards, including selections for my Mets collection; a bunch of Vladimir Guerreros; and even some Oleruds and A-Rods.  It was a perfectly grand assortment of cards from a guy who truly embodies all the great things our hobby should be about.

So, yeah, a fun and quirky card like the 2003 Upper Deck First Pitch Al Leiter above is the only appropriate way to kick off a Nick trade post.

Here are some of the other fantastic Mets cards from the mailer that are new to my collection...

This is a total "Nick card" as well.  Pitchers at the plate is one thing, but how about pitchers in the cage practicing their bunting?

Already having the deed to the purple refractor parallel of this card, I'm now the proud owner of its x-fractor cousin.  I guess one of these days I oughta track down the plain old base version.

Initially I chalked this one up as a duplicate since I already have Cuddyer's 2015 Topps Chrome issue.  But, upon further inspection, this is a refractor.  It wasn't listed as such on the back, and in the past usually the tag "Refractor" is listed near the card number.  Maybe Topps stopped doing that years ago and I just haven't noticed?  Who knows.

Here's a fancy serial numbered (/949) card from 2004 Prime Cuts.  This is an example of a design that begs for a signature or a jersey swatch.  That said, it's still a nice looking card of the soon-to-be Cooperstown resident.

From the caps to the font used on the jersey tops, the Las Vegas 51s have one of the campiest and most fun uniforms in all of baseball.  This is my first representative from last year's Topps Debut set.  A very sharp card, by the way.

Twice this year, Jeurys Familia (pictured in GQ mini form) has escaped a bases loaded, nobody out jam to nail down a save.  Each time he created his own trouble before wriggling out of it.  Most miraculous, though, is that both instances were against the Cubs.

I'm gonna vow to be more serious about Topps Gold parallels from the first three years of the gimmick.  I've got so many base needs to fulfill from so many years, I tend not to focus on the variations as much.  But, I just think it would be really cool to have the gold team sets from 1992-94.

Thanks to this Matt Reynolds card, I've now managed to accumulate the team set from this year's Opening Day.

The background of these Skybox Thunder cards makes me think of the backdrops that photography companies utilize on school picture day.  It also appears that Olerud -- never fleet of foot -- is floating in a Peter Pan-ish fashion.

Most excellent!  Michael Conforto's rookie from 2016 Archives is a real looker.  It's a solid photo choice of the young outfielder that's only amplified by the '91 Topps motif.

While we're on the subject of Mr. Conforto, how about this terrific Donruss Studio card?!  It's probably my favorite card of the package.  Man, Panini really managed to make an impact on me this year with the Donruss label.  From the Studio cards to the Rated Rookies to the '82 subset, I'm finding myself more enthused about their offerings than those of Topps.

Here's a roundup of some of the other great Mets cardboard that Nick sent along.  Some new, some dupes, but all very much appreciated!

Beyond the Mets, Nick -- as always -- offered up some fine additions to my collection of Vlad Guerrero cardboard.

If I had to pick a favorite, I'd call this 2002 Donruss Originals "Aqueous" variation 1A...

...and this Chevron "Clean Outta Here" oddball "1B" since it was so hard to choose between the two.

Oh, the whole "Aqueous" thing with the Donruss card?  It just means the coating on the front received a slight gloss, so it's a bit fancier than the regular base cards.

Some other Vlads worthy of highlight...

When all the dust settled and I entered the new cards into my Zistle account, my Vlad counter went up to 410 unique cards.  Next to Piazza, it's my biggest single player collection.  I certainly have Nick to thank for a good portion of that!

And what package from Nick would be complete without a few extra Olerud and A-Rod cards?

These are just a few of the handful that were included.  The photo chosen for Alex's flagship card this year isn't my favorite.  Maybe if it were zoomed out a bit?  The Archives card is pretty classic and more than makes up for it, though.

As usual, Nick, I'm thankful for the awesome bundle of cards you sent.  Very generous and most helpful towards my collecting pursuits.  Thank you!


Monday, July 18, 2016

Douglas Delivers...Again!

Back before Topps Now granted collectors instant gratification, we collectors needed to wait for update/highlights sets or -- God forbid -- the following year's release for "Season Highlight" cards.  I don't recall suffering too badly in those dark days of hobby past, but I still think Topps Now is a pretty neat concept and I'm glad it's around.

Anyhow, the Mike Gartner card in today's lead-off spot comes courtesy of the repack champion of the North, aka Douglas of  Dollar Store Cards.  He featured this dandy Season Highlight issue on his blog not too long ago, and I was the lucky recipient of that copy plus copious amounts of additional cardboard earlier this month.

This Gartner 'highlights' card speaks to me since I vividly remember the goal, plus Gartner was my favorite player as a young lad.  By the way, Wikipedia informs me that Gartner became the first player in NHL history to record his 500th goal, 500th assist and 1,000th point in the same season, so that's pretty noteworthy.

As usual, Douglas' delivery included a nice assortment of cards towards my embryonic hockey collection which focuses exclusively on the Broadway Blueshirts.

Those two Hayes and Richter cards on the bottom third of the latter page are pretty cool because they're perforated from a sheet which -- I believe -- was part of a hobby store promotion.

A new Messier card is always worthy of highlight.

And, we'll wrap up the hockey segment of the post with my first card of backup netminder Antti Raanta -- and maybe the most awesome photo in my hockey collection.  So much to enjoy!

Okay, let's talk some football...

I got my first look at Prestige 2015 thanks to Douglas' blog a couple months back and, lo and behold, I am the grateful recipient of his extra Bills from a group break in which he participated.

I think Panini did a tremendous job with this product, from the design elements to the photo choices.  Zero clutter, classy design and bold photos make this one of the best football sets I've seen over the past few years. If I still was a hardcore football collector, this would be a set I'd make an effort to complete.

It's so refreshing to see rookie or draft pick cards of guys in their college colors instead of badly photoshopped NFL unis.  Or in workout gear while they're running the 40-yard dash at the Combine.

Loads of draft pick cards in the checklist, including former Tiger Shaq Lawson who unfortunately will miss most -- if not all -- of the upcoming season.

I've also got my first card of Cardale Jones.  The Bills haven't drafted a whole lotta QBs over the span of the last 30 years, so when they do you take notice.  Jones is an intriguing prospect; loaded with talent, strength and raw athleticism.  How his gifts will translate to the NFL is a mystery to me and everyone else.

This handsome Bowman Sterling jersey card caps off the pigskin portion of the post.  I don't know what the future holds for former first-rounder E.J. Manuel.  I kind of feel bad for the guy since he was never intended to start from Day One, but start he did.  And with Tyrod Taylor now the unquestioned No. 1 in Buffalo, E.J. will play out his remaining days in Western NY as a backup.

We'll wrap up the proceedings with cards depicting America's pastime...

I never scoff at getting dupes of '80s cards because most of the time I'm in need of condition upgrades.  A few of those '87s fit that exact bill.

It feels good to finally take that damn Lucas Duda Archives off my 'want' list.  It seems like it's one of those cards I should have six copies of, yet it managed to elude me for four years.

One of my favorite rookie cards in Mets annals right here.  Mookie is an all-time Mets legend; Hubie was a solid Met and a fan favorite for a time; and Berenguer carved out a decent 15-year career for himself -- mostly with other clubs than the Mets.

Many thanks for another fun assortment of cards, Douglas!