Tuesday, September 18, 2018

We couldn't get much Higher

Heritage High Numbers sneaks up on me more than any other set around today.

It's always a surprise when it hits the shelves, and with it comes all sorts of unpleasant realizations: it's September?! Baseball's almost over?!  But subconscious stuff aside, I think part of me hasn't gotten used to High Numbers being available in retail since I'd somewhat grown accustomed to its dark years of online exclusivity.

But yet, during a recent trip to Target, there it was, and I bought a bit more than I probably should have just because I was so shocked it was there at all.

Usually, there isn't much of note as far as inserts go in High Numbers: nice enough, but mostly stuff we've seen before.

But that Cleon Jones was a pleasant surprise, because when's the last time Topps made a Cleon Jones card?

Heritage High Numbers is kind of a pre-Update Update, and it's always exciting because it's often among the first looks I get of guys I collect in their new uniforms (or, in the case of Pablo Sandoval, his new old uniform).

I usually have buzzard's luck when it comes to pulling SPs I need out of Heritage, so getting these two was a thrill (which is more than I can say about Darvish's season).

My first cards of a couple dudes I've grown quite fond of this season.

Big rookies: acquired.

I pulled a dupe of the Acuna which recouped the price of one of the hanger boxes I bought and thus made me feel a little less guilt about my overspending on these packs.

But the card I was most excited to pull wasn't Ohtani or Acuna, but one David Bote, a 25-year-old bench player who'd barely played above AAA before last year.

Every so often, a guy breaks into the majors whose play and backstory seems to be created in a laboratory specifically to win my fandom. This time that guy is David Bote, and he just so happens to be on my favorite team. He was never regarded as much more than a fringe prospect prior to this year (this is his first base Topps card) and nearly quit baseball before earning a call-up and hitting what might be the most dramatic homer I've ever seen.

So yes, it's September, and yes, baseball's getting near the finish line, but David Bote's got a card under his belt now, a feat that will forever rest on the shoulders of Heritage High Numbers.

Friday, September 14, 2018

The (Second) Dime Box Frankenset, Page 9: Numbers 73-81

Frankenset Page #10 WINNER: 1992 Studio #86 Jose Lind (16 votes)

Not much of a surprise here: Jose Lind and his trusty sword cruised to the win last week, taking 16 of the 38 total votes in a blowout victory.

I'm guessing (hoping?) that Lind was some sort of machete enthusiast, but other than my own hypotheses I have absolutely no explanation as to how or why a sword ended up on a baseball card.

In a fun statistical turn of events, this week's page actually precedes last week's in my frankenset binder: after spitting out #10 a week ago, the random number generator came up with Page 9 (#s 73-81) this time around.

So let's meet some more low-numbered nominees.

1994 Topps #73 Billy Spiers

The elusive faux-back/double dip combo. 

2011 Topps Update #UH74 Henry Blanco

A masterful baseball card if I ever saw one. 

1992 Donruss Triple Play #75 Felix Jose

The no-holds-barred action of...eyeblack applicant. 

2004 Upper Deck #76 Jay Gibbons

Defunct-team throwbacks rule! 

1993 Topps #77 Junior Felix

One of a fascinating PATP trio from '93 Topps. 

2014 Gypsy Queen #78 Marcus Semien

I've never checked, but I'd bet the White Sox lead the world in throwback cards. 

2018 Stadium Club #79 Mike Clevinger

A throwback-dominated page continues with flashbacks to the Bloody Mary look of the '70s. 

2005 Upper Deck #80 Jeff Conine

The media hailstorm. 

1962 Post #81 Ryne Duren

Ryne Duren's Coke-bottle shades make this the one and only Post card in either of my frankensets.

That does it for this week's page. The polls are now on the sidebar.

Happy voting!

Thursday, September 13, 2018

How I use COMC

My strategy for using COMC is basically to not have a strategy in the first place.

Both quality- and quantity-wise, there's just so much to sift through, and any hope of holding to a specific plan a is pretty much lost within a few seconds. It's like a card show if that card show was attended by every dealer in the country. Sometimes I get so overwhelmed that I don't end up buying anything at all.

But therein lies the great thing about COMC: sometimes you hit the jackpot.

I can't really recall all the different rabbit holes and trap doors I fell through in cobbling together my recent COMC order, but I'm certainly happy with the spoils.

Finding mini-collection hits is more of a happy accident than anything -- there's no way to specifically search for double plays or throwbacks, after all -- and the Punto is doubly spectacular since I'd long assumed he never had a card as a Cardinal.

Starting Lineup cards are a common COMC search of mine since I rarely see them out in the wild, and better yet, I again lucked into a couple themed hits with these two.

If I use COMC for any one specific thing, it's oddballs.

The trouble there is that oddballs are a world unto themselves: you could spend an entire collecting lifetime chasing them down and still not discover them all. In the meantime, I'm grateful for whatever I can scrounge up, whether that be TCMA or Shakey's Pizza or something called Zeller's.

Also: how cool is that SLU card of Babe Ruth as a Brave?!

My main oddball go-tos are probably Kellogg's and Permagraphics (I think I've just about exhausted COMC of the Hostess cards I need at this point).

Shiny legends are a must, and I always try to add at least one liquorfractor to every COMC order.

I'm also partial to using COMC to snag various online-only Topps releases since I don't have the budget or brain space to actually keep track of these in real time.

The Kershaw is from Topps's "Throwback Thursday" series (which are actually pretty cool, though I'm not sure what set that one's supposed to honor) and the Perez was a fun Topps On Demand single I got for pennies on the dollar.

Somehow I never thought to search COMC for Japanese cards before now.

Other stuff I bought that didn't really fit in anywhere else: including the Spaceman as an Expo and a Gwynn that's been a dire need for years now.

I'd also like to note that Carlos Baerga, which is a strange card from last year's Archives Snapshots set (another online-only release!). Young Carlos never did crack the big-league roster with the Padres, actually making his debut with the Indians before ever suiting up in San Diego. So it's odd then that Topps would choose to feature him as a Padre.

Sadly, it's not quite a zero-year card since Baerga played a half-season in San Diego a decade later (1999), a stint so forgotten that I can't even find a picture of it on the internet.

By now, you may have heard of yet another online-only Topps release, one claimed to have been designed and curated by none other than Bryce Harper himself.

Me, I'll take the Christie Brinkley cards.

Photo variations are another addicting COMC search, but thankfully a cheap one: I don't think any of these cost me more than a dollar.

One thing I don't use COMC for very often is vintage, oddly enough: you can scope out some good deals, but I've found it takes a ton of time I'd rather spend searching for liquorfractors and oddballs.

But sometimes the two worlds collide in the form of...vintage oddballs!

Finally, here's a card I was just plain sick and tired of not having in my collection, well worth its title as the most expensive card of this order (a whopping $1.75).

But for now I must go: because now, as always, another COMC rabbit hole awaits.

Tuesday, September 11, 2018

Zero percent

Trading is great because I know I'd have about a zero percent chance of finding a lot of the stuff people send me on my own.

I can't tell you the number of times I've unearthed those special somethings in a trade package and thought: well, there's something I could've easily gone the rest of my life without seeing. The card scene in my area is great, but it can only go so far. Sometimes it's up to other people to make the discoveries for me.

Take this random Elvis card I received from none other than P-Town Tom himself: what are the odds I would've found something that in a dime box?

Here's another zero-percent item from Tom: an unopened cellophane pack of one-time Iowa Cubs (which were part of some sort of stadium giveaway, I'm guessing).

These likely would've been gaping holes in my Cubs collection for eternity had Tom not come along.

Even cards I feel like I should've tracked down a long time ago (like these two) can feel like zero-percenters after a while.

The Hrbek has already appeared in a featured frankenset page, and in his note to me, Tom astutely observed that the Cerutti has to be one of the extreme few cards in existence which features a tractor.

But that's not to say I don't appreciate all the otherwise easily attainable cards people send me: they're often among my favorites to get for the sheer fact that it saves me the time and money otherwise needed to track them down at future shows.

That's exactly what Tom did with his attack on my 2018 Big League wants -- and that Daniel Mengden is especially appreciated since the dude a) shares a birthday with me, b) has a handlebar mustache, and c) plays for the A's (of course I collect him!).

Brian of "Highly Subjective and Completely Arbitrary" fame also pillaged my Big League want lists recently, which, again, saved me precious minutes and dimes in the future.

I'm already starting to form my Sets of the Year list in my head, and chances are you'll see Big League pretty high up there come the close of card season.

This trade originated because I claimed a few A&G minis off Brian's blog a while back, including this Carlos Quentin (a guy I kinda collect) and the Codes mini (a set I'm kinda building).

I've never counted, but I'm probably in the process of building close to a dozen total A&G insert sets, many of which hold nearly zero percent chance of completion (though you never know with the generosity of the blogging crowd!).

This pinkish Bryant from 2018 Optic isn't really a zero-percent item, but it's got about a 99 percent chance of being overpriced at a local show, which is why I'm glad Brian passed it on to me.

A couple quick Cubs via a surprise PWE from Oscar of "All Trade Bait, All the Time," including Rizzo in a green St. Paddy's Day hat, which is a scarce but fun mini-collection of mine.

I find card show giveaways in dime boxes every now and then, but never have I scored an entire set in a single swoop like the one prolific blog reader Mark Hoyle sent me a while back.

This six-card series was apparently handed out to VIP attendees of the 2006 National and features a solid mix of stuff I like: player collections (especially Scotty Pods), HOFers, and even a mini-collection hit with the Jeter double dip.

Odds I would've acquired a card of Tony the Peanut Man without people like Shane of the "Reds Card Collector" blog?


This trade was born out of a few peculiar items I saw on Shane's blog recently.

On the surface, these appear to be your standard '91 Stadium Clubs, fresh with mini-collections (Dunston double dip!) and even Dime Box Dozens (suit-and-tied Nolan Ryan!) -- but when you turn them over...


These apparently are pre-production issues from '91 Stadium Club, which I didn't know was a thing. It's quite jarring to flip over an early SC card and see this. Not the hot/cold charts and in-depth stats and rookie card flashbacks. Instead here's a flock of Jose Cansecos and a sentence-length promise of the greatness Stadium Club was to unleash on the industry later that year.

Little did they know.

Shane even threw in this Rizzo relic as a bonus, almost certainly a zero-percenter since there's only fifty copies floating around in the world (if serial-numbering is to be believed, anyways).

Such excellent zero-percent items are one-hundred percent likely to make me a happy collector.

Friday, September 7, 2018

The (Second) Dime Box Frankenset, Page 10: Numbers 82-90

Frankenset Page #45 WINNER: 1993 Pinnacle #404 Bob Zupcic (16 votes)

One of the many things I enjoy about my frankenset is that it never ceases to surprise me.

Going into last week's page, I really didn't give much mind to Bob Zupcic. A fun card, yes, but great enough to defeat the likes of '73 Topps and plays at the plate? Shows what I know: Zupcic obliterated the competition last week, taking 16 of the 31 total tallies and setting an early record for the most votes for a single card in this second frankenset.

Into the Frankenset Gallery of Champions he goes.

Do more surprises await this week?

Time will tell, but first let's meet the random number generator's latest pick of the litter, Page 10 (#s 82-90) from the frankenset (yay, another low-numbered page!).

2016 Stadium Club #82 Blake Swihart

A fine view at Fenway.

1999 Stadium Club #83 Darryl Hamilton

Ivy, everywhere ivy. 

2018 Stadium Club #84 Nicky Delmonico

Completing the Stadium Club trifecta with this nifty Sox throwback.

2015 Gypsy Queen #85 Jon Singleton

Technicolor throwback!

1992 Studio #86 Jose Lind

My one and only baseball card featuring a sword.

1993 UD Fun Pack #87 Brett Butler

Enlarged lumber. 

1991 ProCards Tomorrow's Heroes #88 Otis Green

One of my personal favorite minor league cards. 

1992 Leaf #89 Mike Greenwell

Batboy cameo! 

2012 Topps #90 Adron Chambers

It's fun to stay at the Y...M-C-A

There you have it: the polls are now on the sidebar.

Happy voting!