Sunday, July 5, 2015

The dime box frankenset, Page 71: Numbers 631-639

Well, that was a laugher.

Win -- 1973 Topps #627 Luis Alvarado (23 votes)

Place (tie) -- 2013 Topps #624 Justin Ruggiano, 1993 Topps #625 Rick Aguilera (5 votes each)

Show (tie) -- 1975 Topps #626 Larry Haney UER, 1993 Topps #628 Kelly Gruber (1 vote each)

As I expected, Luis Alvarado absolutely obliterated the competition, collecting 23 of the 35 total votes on his way to an effortless victory last week. One of those twenty-three tallies was my own, as the used car lot shot makes for what is easily one of my Top Five favorite cards in this frankenset.

I felt bad for the other competitors in last week's page, as a handful of them (Ruggiano and Aguilera, notably) might've won had they been paired with other groups. (Even the pair of one-vote suspects could've at least held their own on other pages.)

Still, with Mr. Alvarado in the mix, they didn't stand a chance.

I'm not sure if there's a clear winner this week.

It's the first incomplete page we've seen in a while, as I have yet to find a worthy suspect for the #636 slot in my frankenset.

As a result, we only have eight nominees this week, so let's meet them.

1990 Upper Deck #631 Drew Hall

Nice braces. 

1988 Donruss #632 Bob Ojeda

Solid bunting form for a pitcher. 

1992 Upper Deck #633 Jaime Navarro

I can't imagine bases make for comfortable pillows.

2013 Topps #634 Drew Smyly

Throwing it back to the Negro League's Detroit Stars. 

1992 Upper Deck #635 Pete Harnisch

Pitchers don't make for very imposing catchers. 

1990 Upper Deck #637 Trevor Wilson

There's a lot to love about this card (the victory-themed t-shirt/hat, the champagne soaked walls, the rare clubhouse shot), but the taped-up rotary phone in the background gets me every time. 

2013 Topps #638 Andrew Cashner

The jersey may not be the infamous brown-and-gold, but it's a throwback nonetheless. 

1986 Topps #639 Bo Diaz

We close with a classic nighttime play at the plate from '86 Topps.

The polls are now on the sidebar.

Happy voting!

Saturday, July 4, 2015

America, the beautiful

Oh beautiful

For spacious skies

For amber waves of grain

For purple mountain majesties

Above the fruited plain

But now wait a minute, I'm taking about


Sweet America

You know, God done shed his grace on thee

He crowned thy good, yes he did

In a brotherhood

From sea to shining sea

A baseball card ode to the best version of one of America's oldest songs, and a tribute to what might be my single favorite scene in cinema history.

Happy 239th birthday, America!

And a safe and happy Independence Day to all of you out there!

Wednesday, July 1, 2015

Top Five: Stadium Club vs. Series 2

Since I hadn't gotten my full card fix after Sunday's flea market run, I was left looking for other ways to satisfy my cardboard needs.

Luckily, there just so happens to be a Target next to where the local flea market is located, so I took a short stroll over there. My hopes were to land packs of the two newest brands on the market, Stadium Club and Series 2.

I'd been salivating over all the Stadium Club/Series 2 posts (but mostly Stadium Club) I read last week, but fought the urge to go the retail route because I'd been saving what little money I had for the flea market. With my flea market trip coming in at well under budget, I decided the time for retail was now.

The Target was fully stocked with both Stadium Club and Series 2, and I picked up a rack pack of each.

And, since I don't have any better ideas for how to show off my pulls, I thought I'd feature my five favorite cards from each pack.

#5 -- 2015 Stadium Club #228 Chris Sabo

I'm probably the 843th person you've heard say this, but 2015 Stadium Club is freaking awesome. 

From what I've seen, it might be better than last year's edition, a feat that I didn't think was humanly possible.

The price point is pretty steep, as this skimpy 12-card rack pack set me back a whole six dollars. I'd scoff at such a price with most other sets, but 50 cents a card is almost worth it with Stadium Club. That said, I doubt I'll be buying anymore retail packs and cross my fingers that someone has an SC dime box out at the National.

We'll get to the photography soon enough, but one thing I like about this year's Stadium Club is the inclusion of second and third-tier stars like Chris Sabo. (Goggles!)

Pulling your 123rd card of Cal Ripken gets boring after a while.

#4 -- 2015 Stadium Club #132 Jered Weaver

If this were Flagship, all we'd get here would be an extreme close-up on Jered Weaver's gaping mouth.

For Stadium Club, we're treated to the full photo, background and all.

Point to Stadium Club.

#3 -- 2015 Stadium Club #214 Brandon Crawford

New double dips are always a treat.

Especially when they're of the horizontal variety.

#2 -- 2015 Stadium Club #158 Eric Hosmer

Here's a fine celebration shot that I'm guessing was snapped sometime during last year's playoffs.

It also helps prove my theory that cards with fans in the photo are the best kind of cards.

#1 -- 2015 Stadium Club #260 Ken Griffey Jr.

Even the best sets seem to only have about two -- maybe three -- cards I'd classify as drool-worthy.

Reading all your posts over the past week has shown me that Stadium Club has dozens of them. The other four I just featured are indeed nice, but this was the only drool-worthy pull from my rack pack. The Griffeys have made appearances together on a lot of other cards, but this is easily the best one.

It's not even close, really.

Despite what Stadium Club wrappers might tell you, 12 cards for six dollars isn't "value."

If you want true value, give Series 2 a shot. You'll get 36 cards for a mere five bucks. It might not have the flash and pizzazz of Stadium Club, but it'll give you a fix when you need one.

I've always felt a little sorry for Series 2. It doesn't have the season-opening grandeur of Series 1, nor does it have the playoff-crazed flair of Update. It's just kind of there. 

And, to make matters worse, the 2015 edition came out days before Stadium Club hit the shelves, which meant that Series 2 was buried even further down into the rubble this year. Not to worry, Series 2.

I remembered you.

#5 -- 2015 Topps "Heart of the Order" #HOR-18 Freddie Freeman

Not the best insert design ever created (though Topps has done far worse), but I won't turn down an insert for my new Freddie Freeman collection.

(And I'll admit that I chuckled at the HOR prefix since I tend to say it as a whole word rather than individual letters.)

#4 -- 2015 Topps #591 Josh Collmenter

Josh Collmenter is one of my favorite under-the-radar ballplayers in today's game.

His unorthodox over-the-top delivery is featured perfectly on this card, and, as a natural sidearmer, it hurts my arm every time I so much as look at it.

#3 -- 2015 Topps "First Pitch" #FP-17 Chris Pratt

I was happy to see that Topps extended its popular "First Pitch" insert set into Series 2.

No one close to The Dude pops up in this second installment, but I did get a halfway decent celebrity with Mr. Pratt here. My trips to the cinema are few and far between these days, but, like seemingly everyone else in the entire world, I did indeed see Guardians of the Galaxy.

Honestly, I liked Pratt a lot better as Scott Hatteberg in Moneyball.

#2 -- 2015 Topps "First Home Run" #FHR-34 Alex Gordon

Oddly, what seems to be Topps's best insert series this year (perhaps aside from "First Pitch") is retail-only.

The "First Home Run" set is one of the few insert brands to made the crossover into Series 2, and I'm glad it did. The design is fairly generic, but I like the idea of honoring a guy's first dinger in the bigs. Better yet, Topps seems to have found shots from the games that said first homers actually occurred.

You hobby shop patrons are going to have to hit a big box store to get your hands on one of these.

#1 -- 2015 Topps #496 Houston Astros TC

Remember what I was saying about drool-worthy cards?

Here's another one, and it added a much-needed spark to what was honestly a pretty dull rack pack. The Technicolor Astros jerseys might be the best throwbacks of all-time, and this is four of them on one card.

If your childhood was anything like mine, your mom might've warned you to not stare at the sun for too long.

The same applies to this card, kids.

Overall, I think Stadium Club probably won this Top Five battle, despite Series 2 having three times as many cards in its rack pack. At least now I can complain about not having opened any Stadium Club after everyone else seemed to get theirs. At least for a couple days, anyways.

I have a feeling that pack-busting itch is going to come back again soon.

Monday, June 29, 2015

Disappointment at the flea market

I've come to expect greatness out of my local flea market.

Much of this greatness, as you might remember from my past posts, revolves around one particular vendor named Ron that sets up shop there. So, on a rare week where I actually had a little extra cash (and despite my inner brain's pleas to save said cash for the National), I decided to spend a sunny Sunday afternoon rolling in cardboard at the flea market yesterday.

My regular vendors are located in about the fourth or fifth aisle, but I actually found a guy with cards at one of the very first tables upon entering yesterday's gathering. One of the boxes was all relics, and the other was a dollar box. Trouble was, most of the dollar cards were more dime box material, if that.

But, after a little digging, I did manage to salvage one card that I deemed worthy of a wrinkled Washington. Baseball cards and magazine covers are always a good combo, and this Joltin' Joe oddball further proves that point. It's a magazine cover that pictures Joe DiMaggio signing autographs on baseball cards...on a baseball card.

Very meta.

With my first purchase out of the way, I skipped down a few aisles to where my regular guys usually are, already visualizing the big stacks of cards I'd soon be bringing home.

When I got there, I found a woman selling a bunch of children's toys in the place where Ron's table is always located. For a second, I thought my brain was to blame. Wrong aisle? It's bound to happen in a gigantic flea market.

I weaved between people, in and out of aisles and found that my brain was right the first time. And that's when I realized that Ron wasn't in attendance yesterday. I know he occasionally sets up at the card show that siphons my birthday money (which was occurring yesterday), so I'm hoping this was a mere one-week hiatus.

So, yes, that was disappointing. But at least my other regular vendor was in attendance. He doesn't usually get many new cards in his dime boxes on a week-to-week basis, but I knew I hadn't seen this Triple Threads Jered Weaver before.

It's not every day you find such high-end material in a dime box.

These are most definitely dime-worthy.

The '90s seemed to see a lot of insert designs with random colors and dots, and that Gonzalez was no exception. I've seen that Topps Total Franco during many past flea market trips, but, before yesterday, I hadn't noticed the captain's "C" on his uniform.

Save for Jason Varitek, I'd never seen that on a baseball card before.

There were a healthy helping of 2013 Opening Day singles in this guy's dime box on Sunday.

While I'm set with most of the base cards, I couldn't resist dropping a few dimes on these mascot inserts.

Maybe this'll finally give me the push I need to really start advancing my mascot collection.

Here's a random sample of another nine singles I bought from this table.

The cards here aren't as important as the page itself. I say this because the big score of the day was getting my hands on over 80 Ultra-Pro pages from this guy for a mere eight bucks (or about half of the day's total purchases). I don't much care if pages are new or used, but these were basically top quality material.

At the start of last week, I was fresh out of pages. But, after this find and a generous gift of over 50 nine-pockets from Steve of "The Card Chop" earlier in the week, I'm set for a while now.

Pages, like so much else in this hobby, seem to come in droves.

I did manage to stumble upon one new card vendor on Sunday.

The guy's box was simply labeled REPRINTS $1.00 EACH. Inside were a few dozen pages of old-time reproductions, about half of which threw it back to the days of Goudey.

Now, a buck per card is a little steep, and, had I had less self-control, things could've easily gotten out of hand. But, in an oddly good example of checking my emotions when it comes to reprints, I gave myself a five-dollar limit that I almost, almost stuck to. I ended up with six total, but, in the end, the guy only charged my five bucks anyways.

Yes, there were a fair amount of fairly big names up for grabs (Ruth, Gehrig, etc.), but I took a little different route with my selections. The way I see it, you can find Ruths and Gehrigs anywhere.

But how often do you find a card of Moe Berg, the famous WWII spy?

Or Burliegh Grimes?

Or Jack Quinn?

In a seemingly backwards way, I'd much rather drop a dollar on guys like these over the Ruths and Gehrigs of the world.

The other half of the reprints on display were all tributes to '52 Topps.

Again, I passed on the bigger names and chose to go with the more obscure guys. I think that's just my third Pete Reiser card, and only my second Eddie Waitkus.

Maybe I'll own the real ones someday.

And speaking of wanting to own the real thing, here's a card I've had on my radar for a long time.

I haven't been lucky enough to track down an authentic '52 Topps Gus Zernial (yet), but I'll settle for the reprint for now. In a collection like mine where craziness reigns king, the A-OK Zernial might be the forefather.

I think I read somewhere that the six baseballs taped to his bat are a nod to Zernial's streak of hitting six homers in three games in '51.

But that still doesn't explain the pink undershirt.

The last vendor of the day actually tracked me down as I was perusing the aforementioned reprints, urging me to come over to his table whenever I was finished.

I've bought from the guy a few times before, and I guess I made an impression. I headed over once I walked away with my fill of reprints.

When I got there, I saw a fairly big box sitting on the table. Trouble was, it was about 98 percent empty. There were maybe three dozen cards left in the thing, like it was ransacked or something. The guy informed me that whatever was left for 5/$1, and, yes, I did manage to salvage five good ones.

I can't pass on '90s inserts of the Big Hurt.

Somehow, I still need cards from '87 Donruss.

I was shocked to find out such a thing.

The Collect-A-Books Clemente was indeed a 5/$1 find.

The Ballstreet oddball, however, was located in a glass case (again, it looked like it'd been ransacked) at the other end of the guy's table.

It was originally priced at $3, but he gave it to me for a buck.

Same goes for this one, mine for a mere dollar.

And that just about did it for Sunday's haul. Without Ron there, I didn't exactly drive home with the usual giddy feeling I get after an afternoon in the flea market sun. Nothing too Earth-shattering. Still, after looking at these cards again, maybe I'm just spoiled.

When you add it all up, even a disappointing day at the flea market beats whatever the heck most people do on Sundays.

Sunday, June 28, 2015

The dime box frankenset, Page 70: Numbers 622-630

Let's take a look at how last week's frankenset voting played out.

Win -- 1986 Topps #616 Glenn Brummer (11 votes)

Place (tie) -- 2013 Topps #617 Fernando Rodney, 1989 Score #619 Kirt Manwaring (5 votes each)

Show (tie) -- 1993 Donruss #613 Pete O'Brien, 1991 Topps #614 Luis Salazar, 2002 Upper Deck #620 Rocky Biddle (4 votes each)

Glenn Brummer took the lead from the start and didn't let go, garnering 11 total votes (including my own) and capturing last week's frankenset crown. I wouldn't say that 1986 Topps is much known for its photography, which, in some ways, makes such an unexpectedly fantastic shot even better.

I came close to voting for Frankenset MVP Kirt Manwaring after a couple people noticed that the runner on his card is actually a pitcher in a warmup jacket, something that I'd somehow missed the first, oh, dozen times I looked at it.

But, in the end, I couldn't go against Mr. Brummer.

We're starting to near the end of the frankenset binder, and this might be the best overall page of the #600-and-up class.

Let's meet the newest nominees.

1994 Collector's Choice #622 Mike Jackson

Throwing it back to the days of the San Francisco Seals. 

1991 Upper Deck #623 Melido Perez

Another pitcher trying (and failing) to look menacing with a bat in his hands. 

2013 Topps #624 Justin Ruggiano

The exact moment Justin Ruggiano felt the icy pain. 

1993 Topps #625 Rick Aguilera

Under the Metrodome roof. 

1975 Topps #626 Larry Haney UER

A rare screw-up from the near-perfect '75 Topps, as former A's catcher (and future Cardinals pitching coach) Dave Duncan is actually pictured here, not Larry Haney.

1973 Topps #627 Luis Alvarado

The immortal used car lot baseball card.

1993 Topps #628 Kelly Gruber

Pondering in the on-deck circle. 

1993 Fleer #629 Scott Fletcher

Turning two with '93 Fleer.

1974 Topps Traded #630T Tommie Agee

We close with a coveted zero-year card, as Tommie Agee was actually released by the Dodgers before ever suiting up in a game for them.

The polls are now on the sidebar.

Happy voting!