During my blog hiatus(es), I was lucky enough to still receive a steady stream of packages and PWEs in my mailbox from fellow bloggers.
This was comforting because I was somewhat worried that, with me not posting and all, people would forget about me or think that I didn't want to trade and/or collect anymore. That couldn't be farther from the truth, as all these latest trade packages made clear to me.
I guess one of the downsides to not blogging is the fact that I now have an overflowing folder of trades that need to be posted, though by do means to I want that to sound like an obligation. I enjoy writing trade posts, and I think it's only fair that if someone takes the time (and money) to pick and package cards to send to me, that I return the favor and thank them on my blog.
So thus begins what I'm calling the Ultra Spectacular Trade Post Catch Up series.
Tonight I'll be recapping a handful of PWEs and smaller packages I received quite a while ago now, the first being a star-studded envelope from Gavin of the ever-popular "Baseball Card Breakdown" blog.
You all probably know of Gavin's top-notch artistic talents by now, so I'll just comment on a few of the cards he sent. In addition to the sparkly J-Hey at the top of this post, Gavin also included this quartet of goodies.
The Donaldson was one of the last base cards I needed from 2015 Update, and I'd specifically claimed the other three at one point or another on Gavin's blog. The Jones refractor hits a throwback need, and the Reddick is a photo SP that I couldn't help but pounce on.
But my favorite of the bunch has to be the Ultra insert of Mike Piazza as a Marlin -- which I'd had on my want list for years -- because you can never have too many cards of Mike Piazza as a Marlin.
This customized Ho-Ho-(LaMarr) Hoyt! ornament actually hung on my Christmas tree over the winter.
That should (sadly) give you an indication of just how behind I am with my trades.
Even with ornaments and photo SPs and Marlin Mike Piazzas, two of Gavin's unbelievable specially-made customs predictably stole the spotlight in this epic PWE.
First, we have Ken Griffey Jr. in one of those so-bad-they're-good Turn Ahead the Clock jerseys, a hellacious promo that sadly didn't see its way onto much cardboard at the time (though it is a mini-collection of mine).
And then there was the custom Kris Bryant that Gavin whipped up, done in honor of the '89 UD rookie of -- who else? -- Ken Griffey Jr. himself.
I don't know if that was a coincidence or not, but it's no coincidence that this was one Hall-of-Fame-level PWE.
Next up is a few cards I received from Tom, a fellow Illinois-ite (Illinoisian?) and the man behind the "Waiting 'til Next Year" blog.
This Jeets double dip from 2005 Topps Opening Day put a smile on my face, but now I'm a little uneasy about the fact that I don't own the standard base version of it.
There's a quandary any collector can understand.
Tom threw in a second new double dip as well as that Chris Young gold parallel, which I believe I specifically requested on his blog.
At 6'10" -- and as this photo indicates -- Young sure is one tall dude.
For the second straight year, I won some cards as part of the annual World Series contest on Mark's "Collector's Crack" blog despite being wrong with my Fall Classic guesses.
I don't remember what my prediction was -- probably something involving the Cubs -- but I do know that I received some nice cardboard out of the deal.
Between this deGrom...
...this page of "Highlight of the Year" inserts...
...and this potpourri of various other Topps inserts, Mark knocked out a big chunk of recent set needs.
Not bad for an incorrect guess, huh?
Next up is a small PWE from Jeff of "Wish They Still Came with Bubble Gum" fame, who I've developed a nice back-and-forth trading rapport with as of late.
Vladimir Guerrero, as you might already know, is the man behind my most expansive player collection. One of my unofficial goals for 2016 is to pass the 1,000-card mark with Vlad by the end of the year, and this "Crash the Game" insert brought be one step closer to that.
I've found that my early love for 1955 Bowman makes me partial to any set with a TV-inspired design.
The pre-Cub Kessinger was a nice surprise, and the Uggla was yet another card I specifically claimed from a fellow blogger buddy. (Don't you just love comments sections?)
With Jeff being a Braves fan at all, I figured the sight of Dan Uggla kind of left a sour taste in his mouth anyways.
I help out when I can.
Finally, we have a monster PWE from my buddy Shane of the "Shoebox Legends" blog.
Shane pulled the foil and gold parallels of Sonny Gray's 2015 Topps Update card, which I went ahead and claimed (again) because I collect both Gray and "tip of the cap" shots.
I also claimed the Haren parallel because I don't know if any of us will remember that he closed his career as a Cub in about five years or so.
The Axford is another one of the retail-exclusive 2015 Topps Update Chrome parallels, a 50-card set that Shane recently -- and impressively -- completed.
I've very nearly pulled the trigger on one of those $14.99 megaboxes on my various trips to Target over the past few months, but why spend the money when people like Shane (and Gavin) send them to you for free?
Shane very nearly batted 1.000 with this PWE, as I think I needed about eight or nine of the ten-ish cards he sent.
That included these two 2015 Topps inserts of Billy the Kid and Ichiro.
This card singlehandedly inspired me to start collecting Lorenzo Cain.
I saw it and instantly felt like it needed to be in my binders. And the only way for a card to get in my binders is if I start collecting the player featured on it.
It seemed like the only logical solution.
Everything I just showed is really just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to all the thoughtful trade packages I received during my time off from the blog, so expect the Ultra Spectacular Trade Post Catch-Up series to continue in the coming weeks.
All I can say is it means a lot to know that many you were still thinking of me while I was away.