Monday, January 31, 2011

Poor Condition???

A decision has been made. I am officially in pursuit of 1959 Topps. The set hits the sweet spot, both in terms of design and affordability. It's something a mere mortal can obtain, so long as he remains gainfully employed. Yes, it may take quite a few years, but that time spent will make me familiar with each card. New acquisitions will be savored, not devoured.

A big step forward was taken when I obtained this card.

1959 Topps #461 Mickey Mantle Baseball Thrills

This represents my first true vintage Mickey Mantle card, and it's one I've had my eye on for a long time. I think I caught an extremely lucky break, as the seller included the word "poor" in the item description. Look above. Does any part of that look to be poor to you? Aside from the off centering, this is a card you can be proud of. It's not going to be crowned queen of the prom, but it will hide a flask of peach schnapps in its garter and then make out with you behind the bleachers.

One aspect of this card that made it a risky endeavor was that there was no picture of the back of it in the listing. When I received it, I carefully turned it over, fully expecting a scorched earth scenario on the reverse, perhaps a few yellowed patches where tape had once been.

That's just about as good as you can expect for the rear of a '59 Topps card. It's gloriously legible and contains the words "doggedly," "climaxed," and "portside." The militant grammarian in me takes issue with the misuse of an apostrophe in the final sentence, but I'll let it slide, just this once. And coming in right around $30, it feels good to knock one of the marquee cards off the list. I think this is the beginning of a beautiful friendship.

Sunday, January 30, 2011

2003 Topps Gallery Hall of Fame Variations

Just before New Year's, I picked up a box of 2003 Topps Gallery Hall of Fame. It turned out to be my favorite box opening experience of the entire year, and contained my top pulls of 2010. Another box might be on the horizon, but perhaps not for a couple more months. In the meantime, I've decided that this is a complete set I'd like to go after, especially if I have some help. If you were not familiar, each of the 74 cards in the set has a refractor parallel called an Artist's Proof, as well as a picture variation to the base card. I tried as I might, but I could not find a complete listing of the what the variations in this set were. Without buying and opening a number of boxes and gathering empirical evidence from those, it's almost impossible to figure out which poses were the regular base cards and which were the variations.

So, I went ahead and did the next best thing: I figured it out for myself.
By scouring several different online sources, I was able to figure out what the base card variations are, and I've catalogued them for posterity. Below is a series of screen captures that encompasses the entire list.

If you ever wanted to collect this beautiful set, I hope you find this to be a useful resource. I'd also like to take a barometer reading to see if there are any readers out there who might be able to help me out by trading me cards for this set. I don't currently have a want list available. If you foresee being able to trade me some cards from this set, let me know.

Saturday, January 29, 2011

Black and Blue?

Not too long ago, I took a gamble on some rare Robin Yount cards on eBay. There were some sweet-looking printing plates available at dirt cheap prices. At the time, I didn't have a single printing plate for my Yount collection, so I jumped on the first one and got it for less than $20.

The only caveat: Fuck me, an Asian seller...

Man, how many times have we seen this? If something you want is being sold by a seller with an Asian location, Hong Kong, China, Japan, Philippines... you're taking a chance right off the bat. First of all, will it even get to you? Second of all, is it going to be even close to the item in the description? Thirdly, is it going to get to your house before the dawning of the next ice age?

Well, I went for it, and within an acceptable amount of time, an odd-looking envelope arrived at my door. Or, should I say, arrived at the post office because it was first delivered when I was not home and I had to sign for it. And believe me, I LOATHE going to the post office where my mail is held. It's in a horrible part of the city where I feel like I'm risking life and limb just to park my car. Honestly, I pull in, and every time I ask myself, is this the post office's parking lot, or is it the chicken restaurant's paring lot? Orrrrr, might it actually be the check cashing place's parking lot? How much of my car will be remaining after I get back form this five-minute errand?

But I digress. I took the chance, hoping everything would turn out fine. I tore the customs slip away from the envelope, sliced it open, and crossed my fingers that this wouldn't be a "Nice try, Lao Che" type of situation.

As it turned out, I got a nice blue printing plate of Robin Yount's 2003 Fleer Showcase card.

Oddly enough the same seller had another one up for bid, ending between the time I won the first plate and when I actually received it. Again, risky behavior that could turn out badly. And again, other bidders were scared off, resulting in an insanely cheap final price.

Well, after another trip to the post office's Thunderdome branch, here's what I got.

Upon opening the package containing the second card, I was initially a little crestfallen. To my eyes, the plates looked exactly the same. They still look way too similar to me, to be honest. However, I did receive fair warning. Apparently this Asian seller bought out a lot of Fleer's stockpiled product around the time they collapsed. Among these were many many printing plates, none of which were identified with a sticker on the back, as we are now used to. These cards were never in packs, and instead were housed in a Fleer warehouse.

What do you think? Upon seeing the scans, these now look a lot more like one black plate and one blue (cyan) plate. I never saw the magenta or yellow plate up for bid, but they might not have been represented as such. The second auction I won, after all, merely stated that I would be getting a plate different from the one that was offered earlier. All in all, I think I did okay on this deal, spending less than $30 to get two Yount 1 of 1's.

And by the way, here's the finished product, 2003 Fleer Showcase Robin Yount #98

Friday, January 28, 2011

Completion: 1982 Topps

This week I received the last two cards I needed to complete the 1982 Topps baseball set.
Surprisingly, it was not a Cal Ripken or a Rickey Henderson I needed to finish the set, but two commons. Here they go.

1982 Topps #618 Tim Foli
I like his cap, but I like his "T" and "F" even more. Excellent script that Tim made his own.

1982 Topps #75 Tommy John
Just look at the back of that card! Such tiny print, and Tommy was just getting warmed up.

It feels good. Time to start another conquest. Whatever shall it be?

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Gonzaga Card Show Report - Part 4: 1959 Lookers

Here's the last bunch of vintage goodness from the four-bits bin.

1959 Topps #302 Don Mossi
Compared to some of his other Topps issues, Don looks like an outright dreamboat in '59.

1959 Topps #489 John C. Powers
Speaking of handsome men, here's a 'do you can set your watch to. Powers doesn't want Fop, goddammit... He's a Dapper Dan man!

1959 Topps #328 Lou Skizas
Lou is sporting the biggest smile of the three gentlemen today.
Wherever you are, "Stephen," I just want you to know I'm enjoying your card.


Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Gonzaga Card Show Report - Part 3: '58 Madness

Another installment of... "It Came From the 50-Cent Box!"

1958 Topps #229 Frank Zupo
It was the only card of Frank Topps ever issued, but you can say one thing... at least he fucking went for it.

1958 Topps #458 Julio Becquer

Team change identification is a common cause of card doctoring, but I've never seen such an acute case. A previous owner got really hung up on the fact that, despite Becquer's move to the Los Angeles Angels in the expansion draft, the 1958 Topps card failed to physically morph to accommodate his team status. I count ten "LA"'s, one "Los Angeles," and a sly bit of doctoring with an underscoring of the lower-case "l" in Julio's first name and the out-and-out changing of Becquer to "Becquar." That's some commitment right there, my friends.

Monday, January 24, 2011

Gonzaga Card Show Report - Part 2: Tripping Balls

We're going back to the 50-cent box tonight. On a limited budget, I could pick only the choicest cuts. Let's start with 1957.

1957 Topps #206 Willard Schmidt

A printing mishap by the boys over at Topps turned a substantially "blah" posed shot into a bad cardboard trip. I wonder it would have been like to have gotten this card as a crew-cutted whippersnapper. Instant corruption, says me. It might have been like having your family get its first TV set, and the first show you saw after turning it on was this:
Yikes, maybe you shouldn't watch that clip so soon after looking at the card. I've just turned on, tuned in, and am just about ready to drop out.

1957 Topps #390 Reno Bertoia

Whoa, that dude is zonked. He just went straight form the batter's box to hot boxing the dugout. The mom from Almost Famous should have been pointing to this guy's eyes instead of Simon and Garfunkel's.

And the card doctoring... I think Bertoia did that himself. It helped him remember what team he played for whenever things got fuzzy.

Sunday, January 23, 2011

Gonzaga Card Show Report - Part 1: Local Heroes

I went to the Gonzaga Hall sports card show this morning with a few goals in mind. Chief among these was to settle the nerves and kill some time before this afternoon's game. I made a point on the drive there to set a few collecting goals, and I settled on four:
1. Find some vintage Milwaukee Braves.
2. Find some vintage (pre-1980) Packers.
3. Get at least one thing from my want list.
4. Buy a nice Robin Yount card to add to my collection.
Trying to achieve all of these goals on a budget of about $25 was a tall task. Did I meet these collecting goals?

2002 Donruss Classics Classic Legends Robin Yount (Game-Worn Gray) #CS-13 (008/100)
This card was found at the table of one of my favorite sellers. He has a nice bunch of local teams' stuff, but his prices on Yount jersey cards come in a bit high. However, I bought a bunch of other cards (some to be featured here, some in a future post), and came in at $17.00. The Yount accounted for about ten of those dollars. I like the interesting color scheme. It's hard to go wrong sticking to primary.

1959 Topps #499 Johnny O'Brien, #204 Casey Wise, and #436 Granny Hamner
Come to think of it, all of this post's cards came from that same seller. He always seems to have a few well-worn cards from the late '50s in a 50-cent box, and I always make sure to grab a couple. O'Brien only played the 1959 season with Milwaukee, and Wise saw limited action in two seasons. And Granny Hamner, his claim to fame was the part he played in a very difficult card rebus.

1974 Topps #400 John Brockington

1978 Topps #271 Chester Marcol
Star of one of the goofiest and greatest plays in Packer history. (I ain't saying whom it was against, so as not to jinx it.)

1997 Upper Deck #15 Ray Nitschke
One of the greatest linebackers of all-time, with the added bonus of never having appeared on "My Two Dads."

1982 Topps #466 Randy Lerch
You rang?
Okay, I picked this one up as the third-to-last card needed to complete my 1982 Topps set. I already traded for it in the Million Card Giveaway, but this one was practically free.
Randy looks like an older brother that would buy you beer if you were in high school for an extra five bucks and a pack of smokes.

I believe that completes all four collecting goals.

More on this show to follow.

Saturday, January 22, 2011

January Group Break: 2010 Famous Fabrics (1 of 1 Hit!)

Here's the moment you've all been waiting for. I teased it after showing the last box, and now you all get to find out who gets the mysterious 1/1 card from the Famous Fabrics box. The phenomenal luck in these Thorzul breaks has continued to grow.

2010 Famous Fabrics James Worthy 1988 Finals MVP (1/1)

I'm really happy for BS to get this card. His baseball teams were the Giants and Astros, and up until this point he was coming away with like three base cards. I don't think anyone got more skunked than him. He's getting this James Worthy 1/1, which the back of the card says is from a game-used pair of shorts. Congratulations!

By the way, what do you think of adding a box like this to the monthly breaks? I enjoyed the divvying up of the teams, as well as the element of surprise. I wouldn't want to do boxes of that product as a standalone break, since so many people would come away with nothing, but as something that adds just a few bucks to each slot, why not?

January Group Break: 2005 Topps Pristine

Wow. Really fun box to break. There's a little someting for just about everybody in here.

Geoff Jenkins Deckle Edge Box Topper (02/66)

The Uncirculated Cards, Each Numbered to 375, Jim Thome to 100

Javy Lopez (016/500) and Albert Pujols (216/500)

Mariano Rivera (265/425) and Jim Edmonds (264/425)

Frank Thomas (057/425)

Lance Cormier AUTO (146/497)

Billy Butler AUTO (401/497)

Jason Bay AUTO (114/247)

Kevin Melillo AUTO (093/100)

Coming Up Next: The Famous Fabrics Box

You're gonna want to watch for this one. Someone got a 1 of 1.

January Group Break: 2007 Topps Chrome

Here's our first box for the January break. I think we did pretty well overall, nothing spectacular.

Probably the best card of the box, a Pujols white refractor (528/660)

Three more white refractors

Our two requisite autos

Mike Napoli Red Refractor (55/99)

A Jered Weaver White Refractor (029/200) and a Ryan Zimmerman Refractor (006/500)

The basic refractors

The two Rodriguez box toppers. I messed up in the video, not realizing there were two of these.

Pristine box coming up soon!

Friday, January 21, 2011

Last Call For Group Break Trades

The Pristine and the '07 Chrome boxes arrived today, so the breaks will happen soon, probably tomorrow morning, so you have until midnight to make any trades. Trading has been somewhat active and very civil so far.

Stakes is high.

Thursday, January 20, 2011

January Group Break: Full Team Assignments

The non-baseball teams have been randomized. Screen caps below.

To save you the task of figuring your teams out, here's the master list below:
1. Angels - Cardsplitter (Coyotes, Spurs, Chiefs)
2. Athletics - Thorzul (Red Wings, Clippers, Patriots)
3. Rangers - Colin (Bruins, Rockets, Texans)
4. Mariners - Derek (Sabers, Raptors, Lions)
5. White Sox - Colin (L.A. Kings, Celtics*****, Bills***)
6. Indians - Thorzul (Penguins, Cavaliers, Saints)
7. Royals - Chris Mays (Canadiens, Timberwolves, Broncos)
8. Twins - jacobmrley (Blue Jackets, Trail Blazers, Chargers)
9. Tigers - Phungo (Capitals, Knicks, Seahawks)
10. Red Sox - Cardsplitter (Flames, Pistons, Rams)
11. Yankees - longlivethewho (Ducks*, Heat, Eagles****)
12. Blue Jays - Ikescards (Predators, Warriors, Panthers)
13. Orioles - beardy (Devils, Nets, Colts)
14. Rays - longlivethewho (Maple Leafs, Thunder, Cardinals)
15. Cubs - Thorzul (Lightning, Hawks, Redskins)
16. Cardinals - Ikescards (Oilers, Bulls, Jaguars)
17. Brewers - Thorzul (Hurricanes, Grizzlies, Dolphins)
18. Pirates - Alex (Stars, Sac. Kings, Titans)
19. Astros - BS (Rangers, Pacers, Falcons)
20. Reds - Alex (Wild, Hornets, Steelers)
21. Padres - Phungo (Thrashers, Suns, Browns)
22. Diamondbacks - Thorzul (Flyers**, Bucks, Bengals)
23. Dodgers - Thorzul (Panthers, Sixers, Giants)
24. Giants - BS (Blackhawks, Lakers, Bears)
25. Rockies - Derek (Islanders, Magic, Ravens)
26. Braves - Chris Mays (Sharks, Nuggets, Packers)
27. Nationals/Expos - beardy (Avalanche, Bobcats, 49ers)
28. Mets - jacobmrley (Senators, Jazz, Raiders)
29. Phillies - Phungo (Blues, Mavericks******, Buccaneers)
30. Marlins - Phungo (Canucks, Wizards, Vikings)

Feel free now to trade anything for anything. Remember, the Famous Fabrics box is just one card, so it could go to anybody. If you have a team probably not represented in that box, too bad, you're SOL.
That being said, a few interesting groupings popped up. Colin (#3) picked the Rangers, then ended up with the Rockets and Texans. I'm pretty happy with the Pens, Cavs, Saints trio (#6), plus I got my Bucks. I doubt they even have a card in that set, though. The Blackhawks, Lakers, Bears group owned by BS is very strong on paper. I feel that Ikescards #12 is possibly the worst group, but his #16 more than makes up for it. Oilers (possible Gretzky?) and Bulls (possible Jordan?) are nice.

Oh, and the final two NFL teams were the Jets and Cowboys. Soooooo, if we get some kind of crazy Namath/Aikman dual DNA card, everyone will be eligible in a final randomization.

Trade away, pyewps! Have a little fun with this one. Inconsequential, most likely, but fun nonetheless.

* Traded to Thorzul
** Traded to longlivethewho
*** Traded to longlivethewho
**** Traded to Colin
***** Traded to Phungo
****** Traded to Colin

Group Break Baseball Teams Randomized

Alright, I have all fifteen slots filled now. I picked up the last two, selecting the A's and Dodgers. From their original positions, I randomized the list of participants. Here's what we got.

These participants were then assigned the unclaimed teams in the order of their appearance on the list. The master baseball list of teams looks like this:
1. Angels - Cardsplitter
2. Athletics - Thorzul
3. Rangers - Colin
4. Mariners - Derek
5. White Sox - Colin
6. Indians - Thorzul
7. Royals - Chris Mays
8. Twins - jacobmrley
9. Tigers - Phungo
10. Red Sox - Cardsplitter
11. Yankees - longlivethewho
12. Blue Jays - Ikescards
13. Orioles - beardy
14. Rays - longlivethewho
15. Cubs - Thorzul
16. Cardinals - Ikescards
17. Brewers - Thorzul
18. Pirates - Alex
19. Astros - BS
20. Reds - Alex
21. Padres - Phungo
22. Diamondbacks - Thorzul
23. Dodgers - Thorzul
24. Giants - BS
25. Rockies - Derek
26. Braves - Chris Mays
27. Nationals/Expos - beardy
28. Mets - jacobmrley
29. Phillies - Phungo
30. Marlins - Phungo

Now that the baseball teams have been set, I will soon randomize the NHL, NBA, and NFL teams. These will be featured on another post that will publish tonight. Until that post is published, no trading. Stay tuned.

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

What Makes It Funny Is.. many franchises can claim this as "team news."

He played on just about every MLB team, after all. I expect a league-wide black armband and/or patch. It's a shame to see this happen to a legend.

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Waiting For Payment...

I'm waiting for a couple of participants in the January group break to pay for their slots. It looks like I'm going to end up taking on a couple of teams, and I'd rather not have to front even more money for those slots. I'd love to order the boxes tonight, so pay up, peeps.

Or will I have to drop an ATM on your head? (Sorry, I'm playing catch-up with the best drama series of the past five years, and perhaps I'm a little too into it. Heisenberg is the shit. Sorry if you don't know what I'm talking about.)

Oh, and you're welcome to claim any open teams if you still want in.

A Hobby at a Crossroads: The Telltale Signs

I took this picture the other day. This is the box where I store cards I'm keeping, but which aren't part of any set I'm actively building. These are generally cards I buy a small number of packs of, or those which I have accumulated as random lots of from trades. Take a good look.

Let's investigate each of these four years. For each year I will disclose full sets I've completed or am actively building, but which are housed elsewhere.

2007 - 2 full rows
*Topps Flagship + Update
*Topps Heritage
*Topps Opening Day
*Topps Allen & Ginter
*Topps '52 Rookies
*Upper Deck Masterpieces

2008 - One full row and one-third
*Topps Flagship + Update
*Topps Heritage
*Topps Chrome
*Topps Allen & Ginter
*Upper Deck Masterpieces
*Upper Deck X

2009 -One full row plus a few inches
*Topps Flagship + Update
*Topps Unique
*Upper Deck A Piece of History
*Upper Deck X

2010 - One-third of a row
*Topps Flagship + Update
*Topps Allen & Ginter

Notice a trend?
Let's get a few contributing factors before I lower the hammer. First, I was just returning to the hobby in 2007, which could account for some overzealousness that year. However, I kept that pace up, more or less, in 2008. In 2009, I cut a couple of Topps sets from the agenda. And in 2010 I collected a Topps set without buying a single pack, while I collected Allen & Ginter hard. (Speaking of collecting hard, have you ever seen this guy? I believe he did the same thing in '08. It's almost enough to make a man cry.)

Another factor we cannot ignore is that of time. A few of the sets mentioned above were actually started a year or so after their release, when box prices became vastly lower. Despite this, I do recognize that I have obviously had more time to accumulate cards from 2007 than from 2010.

The Hammer:
Contributing factor numero uno to the plummeting numbers over time has to be the reduction of sanctioned MLB card licenses to one. Numbers don't lie. The number of Upper Deck products I've actively pursued has fallen to zero, to be sure, but at the same time I am not buying Topps products as fervently as I had been previously. Yes, the trend began in 2009, the year before Upper Deck's license was revoked. Think, however, of all I have been passing on: National Chicle, Chrome, Topps 206, anything starting with the letter "B."

As an aside, have you check out the Topps website recently? It's as if they were the ones who went into Operation Shutdown early in 2010, not Upper Deck. Their product information stops with 2010 Series 1.

The evidence may not be overwhelming, but it seems as if the lack of competition has led to the death of creativity. Topps can count on me to purchase a few products out of tradition, but they can no longer count on me to invest larger sums of money in more tangential brands. I'm the type of consumer who may take a little longer to really start to enjoy a particular card set. It may start as a small stack in one of the rows of my 5,000-count box, and from there it might grow. Look at that 2010 row again. Do you see the potential for me to spend much more money on Topps products in the near future? I wonder how many more stories like this are out there?

Monday, January 17, 2011

Mii Guessed!

Well done, Kevin! You correctly guessed that the Mii I featured this morning was soccer superstar Landon Donovan. It's not perfect, but the resemblance is striking. Donovan is often pictured with a celebratory open mouth, well-matched by one of the Mii mouth choices. And the premature balding, well, that speaks for itself.

Congratulations again, Kevin, some Orioles will soon be at your doorstep.