Sunday, April 26, 2015

The dime box frankenset, Page 61: Numbers 541-549

Last week's frankenset voting wasn't much of a contest.

Win -- 1999 Fleer Tradition #533 Terry Steinbach (19 votes)

Place -- 1992 Score #532 Ron Karkovice (4 votes)

Show (tie) -- 1993 Upper Deck #536 Kevin Young, 1993 Upper Deck #538 Alex Cole, 2010 Upper Deck #540 Jason Bergmann (2 votes each)

Voting took a bit of a dip last week for some reason, but that didn't stop Mr. Steinbach from running away with the crown. The brilliant Graduate-like shot garnered 19 of the 32 total tallies, obliterating the competition. I did indeed agree with the victor last week.

How could I not?

This is just my suspicion, but I think we might have another laugher on our hands this week.

Still, let's see if we can get those vote totals back up as we dig into our next batch of frankenset nominees.

1995 Score #541 Alex Arias

Double dipping with the underrated '95 Score design. 

1973 Topps #542 Pat Corrales

Possibly the most painful card ever printed. 

1994 Topps #543 Larry Casian

You'll get 'em next time, kid. 

1995 Topps #544 Jeff Cirillo

Throwing it back to the early days of the Brewers. 

1990 CMC #545 Jeff Carter

Two bats for the price of one. 

1998 Fleer Tradition #546 Carlos Perez

Is that your hat or are you just happy to see me?

1991 Line Drive #547 Mike Wilkins

A rare minor league pitcher at the plate. 

 1994 Topps #548 Dave Nilsson

A look at the pinstriped Brewers faux-backs.

2003 Upper Deck #549 Todd Linden

Some fun with the funny cars in San Francisco closes this week's frankenset page.

The polls are now on the sidebar.

Happy voting!

Friday, April 24, 2015

And the crowd goes wild

I didn't take a very close look at this card when I plucked it from a dime box a couple years ago.

It looked like a halfway interesting shot at first glance, so I threw it into my purchase pile. No oohing and aahing or anything along those lines. I filed it into my binder and that was that.

In the months since then, I've come across this card over and over again. And I've become more and more obsessed with it each time. It's one of those rare stop-what-you're-doing-and-look pieces of cardboard.

It's not so much the sparkling barehanded play by former Oriole Melvin Mora that captivates me, although it is one fine Web Gem. It's the fans behind him that continue to grab my attention.

Where do I begin?

Some fans are standing even though they're in the first row.

Some fans need to button up their polo.

Some need to crane their necks to see around the standing bro duo.

Some fans are left in disbelief by Mora's barehanded play.

Some fans get headaches.

Some fans scream out in agony.

Some fans couldn't be happier.

(Oriole fans, possibly?)

Some fans are bright-eyed youngsters witnessing the beauty of big league baseball, possibly for the first time.

Some fans need to get the popcorn ready.

And some fans missed having their face on a baseball card by a split second.

Instead, all we get is their blue-shirted gut.

Put all that together and you get one heck of a baseball card.

There's been a lot of talk about Topps cropping their photos tighter and tighter in recent years.

This post should tell you where I stand on that issue.

Yes, I'm buying cards for the players, but we need some diversity there. Not every shot has to be an extreme close-up. I don't want to see the same 26 wrinkles on a guy's face over and over again.

What we need are more cards like this one.

Thursday, April 23, 2015


I've said this time and time again, but it really can't be emphasized enough.

I have a ton of respect for people who make customs.

Maybe it's just me, but there seems to have been a bit of a custom revival around the blogosphere lately. I don't remember many such blogs being around a couple years ago.

Some people have even gone the extra mile and printed their customs onto actual card stock. And some have graciously gone the extra extra mile by sending their hand-made creations to me.

One such generous soul is reader Ryan, who emailed me a while back. Between a post on this blog and comments I left on a few others, he'd noticed how much I enjoyed the custom 2008 A&G minis that had been floating around the blogosphere. Chances are you've seen a few by now.

As it turns out, Ryan is actually the guy who makes them.

Ryan offered to send me a fresh new batch of his customs, free of charge.

What I do to deserve such generosity, I'll never know.

One thing I like about these customs is that they provide a nice mix of baseball and non-baseball subjects. I mean...Santa? J. K. Rowling? Sailor Jack? That's an awesomely eclectic grouping.

And, although I don't usually like to admit this, I'll 'fess up to the fact that I was one of those kids who waited in line (at midnight, way past my bedtime) for the new Harry Potter books.


Of course, Ryan's custom set really hits its stride with the ballplayers.

Like the non-baseball subjects, the mix in here was fantastic. You've got veteran stars like Kemp and Hunter next to bright-eyed youngsters like Springer and Machado. And, between the throwback and the bat barrel shot, you'll even find a few customary mini-collection hits in this batch.

It really covered all the bases.

If I didn't know any better, I'd get these confused with standard A&G minis.

They're that well-designed. Better yet, Ryan even used the template from 2008, my absolute favorite year of A&G.

And, while I've said this before, I should note that, yes, these customs do go into my binders next to all my other "mainstream" cards.

They deserve a nine-pocket home just as much as anything else around these days.

I think my personal favorites of the lot were the legends.

Clemente, Aaron, Berra, won't find much more star power in a single scan.

Ryan actually included two Clementes in this package. At first, I thought it was some sort of mistake. A custom dupe? That didn't seem possible.

Only much later did it dawn on me to check the backs.


Like the standard A&G minis, Ryan's custom set apparently includes Bazooka parallels, numbered to just 25 copies a piece. I don't know if Ryan knew it or not, but Clemente is my all-time favorite player, so specifically scoring his parallel was a joy.

Custom guys like Ryan keep this hobby fresh. If I had any artistic ability whatsoever, I'd probably be trying my hand at it. Creations like these are pure works of art.

As long as people keep cranking out customs, I'll keep salivating over them.

Wednesday, April 22, 2015

I actually found a decent LCS

It wasn't long ago that I went on a rant about my local card shop.

Now, in all honesty, I wrote that post knowing that there was another LCS in town. But, as all neighborhoods seem to have, it's the kind of store that seems to be closed every time I pass by it. I went in there once years ago, and I don't recall finding anything that special.

That closed the book on that shop, or so I thought. A fellow reader named Brian who I traded with recently encouraged me to give that LCS another shot. He frequents the place quite a bit and offered to meet there in-person. Since the store isn't far from where I go to school, I decided to stop in and check in with him last week.

Brian (and his son) were already there when I arrived. The two of us exchanged some cards, his being a gem-filled batch which I'll show in a future post.

Being an LCS skeptic and all, I wasn't expecting to come away with much from what the shop had on display that afternoon.

One of the first things that caught my eye was a couple bulky quarter binders of Cubs and White Sox.

I figured I'd give them a look, even though I expected it to be nothing but overproduction-era cardboard. Again, that's the skeptic in me talking.

Were there a decent chunk of late '80s/early '90s cards in there? Yup. But there were quite a few pleasant surprises to be found as well, the first being that '82 Fleer Lee Smith rookie at the top of this post.

I'd been searching for a Smith rookie for years, and, with the card show from a couple weeks ago, I found two in the span of four days, paying a grand total of 35 cents for the pair. These two Cubs, on the other hand, are fairly easy-to-find base cards that I somehow didn't already own.

Discount binders can be good for that sort of thing, too.

All things considered, the Sox binder was the bigger and better of the two.

A decent amount of the Cubs stock were cards that you couldn't pay me a quarter to take. Yes, the Sox binder had its fair share of 1991 Donruss and 1992 Fleer, but there was a lot more diversity.

I'll hand over a shiny Washington for A&G minis all day long.

The Ziploc Nellie Fox was a nice little oddball surprise.

The Thome comes from the Ultimate Collection checklist, a relatively forgotten high-end brand from a years back.

So high-end, in fact, that even the base cards were numbered.

The quarter binders were even good for a couple mini-collection hits.

Dig Paulie in the throwback duds.

Now we're coming to the biggest finds from this binder.

Though there were a few inserts and such mixed in, most of the quarter cards the guy had were commons. I didn't expect to go through a bout of parallel-mania.

But imagine my surprise when I found not one, not two...

...but three Chris Sale parallels within a few pages of one another.

This isn't some random schlub we're talking about here. This is the current and future ace of the White Sox rotation. A perennial Cy Young contender. Chris Sale.

So why is this stuff winding up in the same binder as piles of 1992 Score?

Your guess is as good as mine. Maybe the LCS owner has some kind of personal vendetta against Mr. Sale. Maybe he didn't recognize they were parallels.

I can't explain it, but I'll certainly take them for a quarter a pop.

The guy also had a few dollar binders on display.

With the exception of vintage bins, I don't much dabble into dollar cards. There frankly aren't a lot of modern cards I'd pay a dollar for. But, as I was standing there, I figured what the heck and picked out a few. It's the least I could do to support what might become my new regular LCS.

This was well worth a wrinkled Washington. My Vlad collection doesn't have a ton of oddballs, so it's one of a select class. What you see there is actually a little CD that slides out of the laminated sleeve. I'm not sure what's actually on the disc, though.

And that's the first time I've thought about CDs in a long, long while.

These aren't necessarily worth a dollar each, but I knew I couldn't let them go once I made eye contact.

For whatever reason, I virtually ignored the "Unique Unis" insert set from 2009 Topps Unique when they originally hit the shelves. Sure, the brand itself wasn't spectacular (see: it sucked), but these are fantastic.

They're a bit difficult to find, however, which is why I didn't mind forking over a dollar for each of these two.

Because I always love me some throwbacks.

Shiny Tribute Ty Cobb for a dollar.

I'll take that deal every time.

This beautiful insert of the Splendid Splinter closed out my dollar dig.

There were a few other dollar cards I was considering buying, but I didn't have a ton of cash to spend. I left them behind for the next time I hit this place.

What left the biggest impression with me was the fact that the LCS owner said Ah, just give me ten bucks for what was supposed to be around twelve or thirteen dollars' worth of cardboard. Most of the other shops I've frequented calculate that final purchase price down to the penny.

All in all, it was a fine afternoon's work. I got to peruse some cardboard and put a name with the face of a fellow reader of this blog. Brian, if you're reading this, it was great to meet you and I hope we can do it again soon.

I'm not sure this shop will become a regular stop for me or anything like that, but it's good to know that it's there just in case I get the itch to dig through some cards one afternoon.

At the very least, it does my heart good to know that there's a decent LCS around here.

Monday, April 20, 2015

Pieces of therapy

There are a lot of reasons to collect baseball cards.

The joy of finding a card you've been trying to find for years. The delight of checking off that last number of a set you're building. The giddy surprise of finding an awesome random card that you never knew existed.

Such reasons are all fine and good, but these little pieces of cardboard have the ability to go much deeper than that. One thing I've definitely learned during my years of collecting is that cards have the power to lighten some of our darkest days.

Seeing a flat-rate box in my mailbox is surefire way to make things seem a whole lot sunnier, and, thanks to John over at the terrific blog "Johnny's Trading Spot," that's exactly what I found waiting for me one afternoon a while back.

I ran up the stairs, itching to break open the seal of what was sure to be a fantastic array of cardboard.

This trade in particular got me thinking about the therapeutic benefits of cardboard, because John's mother sadly passed away a couple weeks ago.

Obviously, losing a family member is way more serious than merely having an off day or two here and there. But I'm happy to see that John is starting to post on his blog again. As tough as it might be, he's doing his best to use these seemingly innocuous pieces of cardboard as a way of therapy.

Cards can be a fun distraction in our spare time when we need them to be, but they can also help us trudge through the bigger obstacles life throws at us.

That, I think, is the true beauty of this hobby.

I can go on and on about this topic, but I think that's about as heavy as I'll get for now.

This is, after all, a trade post, so let's shift gears and bask in the glory of the great batch of cards that John hand-picked for me.

In addition to the budding stack of Oleruds, John also dug up quite a few new mini-collection hits.

I'm enamored with this particularly action-packed play at the plate.

We have a couple additions for my "double dip" and "anthemic" themes here.

I can remember owning the base version of Eric Young's 1993 Topps issue as a very, very young collector. I'm not sure why that specific card stands out, but I've probably had it since I was about nine or ten years old.

And now, all of thirteen years later, I finally own the gold parallel.

John also threw in some new hits to my "pitcher at the plate" mini-collections.

I could never understand why photographers had pitchers pose with bats. You can see the confusion on the faces of a lot of the players.

Rick Sutcliffe doesn't appear to be very happy about it.

This was an interesting one.

At first, I thought it was a double. I've had this "interview" shot of Madison Bumgarner (on his rookie card, no less) for a while now. I came within a few seconds of tossing it into my dupes box. But then I noticed something.

There's no foil on this card.

No foil Topps logo, no foil around the name plate, no nothing. I did some research on the off chance that it was part of some special sans-foil release. No luck. From the looks of it, I think what we have here is a hallowed printing error.

I'm treating the error as a different card, so the foil-less Mr. Bumgarner will go into my binder right alongside his standard foily counterpart.

Still, as great as everything else was, this was by far the biggest surprise John had in store.

What you see here is an 2000 MLB Showdown "booster box" from 2000, the year of the card game's debut. I've mentioned this many times before, but I was an avid MLB Showdown fanatic back in the day. I played it daily with my dad and even got a handful of friends into it for a while.

I don't recall if I was in on the ground floor with MLB Showdown, but I'm almost certain I was buying them regularly by around 2001-02.

I actually bought this very booster box at some point during my peak Showdown years.

Since every booster included the same cards, that means that everything in here is a double.

Between strategy cards...

...and player cards, I've owned everything in this box for a long time now.

I ripped open these very packs a while ago. One American League pack with pitching ace David Cone on the front, and one National League pack with rotation anchor Greg Maddux. These are all dups.

Normally, that would be a little disappointing. But not with these cards. I'm actually really glad that John sent this over, because now I can keep this box intact as a treasured artifact from my Showdown years.

It's still the best card game I've ever played.

And, much like I do with my standard baseball cards, I treated myself with some MLB Showdown therapy quite often as a kid.

If things were getting a bit too much for me, I'd lay out the field on the dining room table and ask Dad if he wanted to have a game. I didn't have to say what game. We both knew.

The company that used to produce MLB Showdown cards (Wizards of the Coast) stopped making them in 2005, although there have been some rumblings of a revival lately. Here's hoping the game of my youth (or some offshoot thereof) can make a comeback.

In the meantime, all my old cards are tucked underneath my bed as we speak, rubberbanded and ready to go. After going through this package, I might just have to sit down and have a game of Showdown.

For old time's sake.