Monday, February 18, 2019

Requiem for a nightmare

Well, my nightmare came true yesterday: my car broke down on the way to the card show.

It was every bit as frustrating as you'd probably imagine. Middle of a snowstorm, freezing cold, the works. And not to mention my birthday is tomorrow -- which I'll probably be spending picking up my car at a shop far from my house, since after about an hour of driving, it chose to broke down literally a half-mile from the show (which I could've walked, but didn't since my card show buzz was understandably killed at that point).

But as the saying goes: you win some, you lose some. There's another show in a few weeks that Dad and I will be planning on attending (car willing), and it's not like I don't have enough cards to keep me occupied in the meantime. Sometimes I get so swept up in acquiring new cards that I forget I already have ones to love and appreciate.

And hey, I can even catch up on a few long neglected parts of my collecting life -- like cataloging and trade posts, both of which came together in one magical mailer I recently received from the immortal Julie of "A Cracked Bat" fame.

I like to think of myself as a fairly organized collector, but it's hard to believe I've gone about two decades without ever giving much thought to cataloging my collection.

I finished listing out my Hoyt Wilhelm collection not long ago (I'm at 143 different Hoyts!), and I discovered I owned three different parallels of that card at the top of this post...without ever having pinned down the standard base version. In a weird twist of fate, Julie's package arrived literally a few days later, and wouldn't you know it -- there was that very same base Hoyt!

And while I haven't yet cataloged any of my collections of the players above (they're high on the list though!), I immediately knew I needed these four from Julie.

Some shiny stuff of other dudes I collect -- the Trumbo confirms that blue is the best refractor color ever.

A couple oddballs of Chicago legends, and the thought of baseball cards and pizza (frozen or otherwise) has my adrenaline going already.

Julie's sent me many amazing packages in the past, and almost all of them have included stuff from high-end sets that aren't exactly common fodder.

I've never opened any Triple Threads (obviously), but I'll certainly take the cards when I can get 'em.

Shimmery National exclusives rule.

Minis of various makes and models.

I'm never quite sure what to do with disc-shaped baseball cards -- I can't store them in a binder and they're too small for prominent nightstand display.

But that aside, I'll be darned if these things aren't cool nevertheless: that Radbourn in particular is stunning since it's an extremely rare pre-1900 Short Term Stop, as his Reds career lasted all of one season in 1891(!).

Cool cards of old dudes.

All hail the '90s, the decade that gave us Bartolo Colon rookies and laser-etched baseball cards.

And capping off this Card Show in a Box was this 2011 Topps Mike or Giancarlo or whatever Stanton, a former Dime Box Dozen need!

Like the aforementioned Hoyt, it's a card I owned a parallel of without the base card, and holy heck does that bug me. Thanks to Julie, it's one less headache in what has already been a dastardly weekend of headaches. It gives me a smile at a time in which I definitely need one.

In the meantime, I'll be spending some quality hours with my collection, and praying that yesterday's nightmare never comes true for any of you fellow bloggers out there.

Tuesday, February 12, 2019

The (Second) Dime Box Frankenset, Page 65: Numbers 577-585

Frankenset Page #51 WINNER -- 1973 Topps #456 Dick Green (18 votes)

After a good run of close frankenset battles, we had ourselves a good old-fashioned blowout last week.

Dick Green's misplay ran away from the pack, his 18 votes accounting for exactly half of the total tallies. No other card received more than five votes -- a drubbing in every sense of the word.

I've always loved the '73 Green for the simple and obvious fact that you just don't see many errors depicted on baseball cards -- though maybe someone at Topps felt bad for the guy, because Green's shown turning a nifty double play in the following year's Topps set.

As commanded by the Random Number Generator, we'll be taking a look at another high-numbered (but complete!) page this week -- Page 65 (#s 577-585).

Let's meet the nominees.

2004 Topps #577 Casey Blake

Signing for admirers (and I spy a Larry Doby memorial patch!). 

2018 Topps Heritage High Numbers #578 Victor Caratini

Night card! 

1991 Topps #579 Roger Craig

Roger Craig, perhaps the only manager to ever receive mini-collection hits on consecutive Topps cards.

1992 Ultra #580 Gary Pettis

Perennial Gold Glover Gary Pettis at work. 

1992 Topps #581 Stan Javier

'92 Topps deserves more love.

1993 Upper Deck #582 Brian Hunter

The rare check-swing broken bat.

2013 Topps #583 Alejandro De Aza

On the run. 

1988 Fleer #584 Mark Grant

Mark Grant was/is one wacky dude. 

1986 Fleer #585 Jamie Easterly

Hey, did you know Jamie Easterly was once considered for a lead role in Revenge of the Nerds?

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

Happy voting!

Friday, February 8, 2019

What is a fair trade?

It's a question that has plagued collectors for generations and generations: what is a fair trade?

In grammar school, I once traded an entire tin of cards I bought from the Scholastic Book Fair for a single Mark Prior rookie my friend got from his -- and was subsequently grounded by my parents since those tins didn't come cheap. That probably wasn't a fair trade, no matter how you look at it (especially if you ask my parents). Nor were the hundreds of book-value-for-book-value swaps I made during my forum days, because screw book value.

Through it all, blogging is the one place where I rarely (if ever) have to consider if a trade I'm making is fair. Heck, I don't even really trade much in the true sense of the word anymore: I mostly just send stuff to people, and if they wanna send something back, cool -- but I don't do it with that expectation.

So it's interesting now when I do have the opportunity to finagle a steadfast trade with someone, as I did with Bo of the brilliant "Baseball Cards Come to Life!" blog recently.

Bo inquired about the possibility of sending him some of the spares I got from Dad's grand antique store find a few months back -- we had a trade agreed upon within the span of a few emails.

And believe me, it wasn't anything approaching the harrowing back-and-forths from my forum years: Bo offered to put together a box full of stuff I collect in exchange for a stack of extra vintage, which sounded good to me since past trades with Bo have shown him to be an All-Star at finding stuff I like. Done.

In addition to the GQ Thames at the top of this post (a Dime Box Dozen need!) came these fantastic mini-collection hits, including a rare minor league throwback from one Giuseppe Chiaramonte, who earns even more bonus points from me for having just about the most Italian name I've ever heard (he sadly never made it to the bigs).

A whole page of new player collection hits -- including many from offbeat brands like E-X and Circa that went to cardboard heaven long ago.

Heck, Bo even inspired me to start not one, but two new player collections (as if I needed any more of those) with the box o' cards he sent.

I have a weird affinity for Pro Debut/Heritage Minors singles of dudes who went on to have big-league success, and these seemed like two sweet cards I could build new Gennett and Davis collections around (sorry, Brewers fans).

I don't know about you, but I had no idea Topps made a whole set in honor of the 2009 World Baseball Classic, which means there's a whole bunch more Team Italia cards I'll have to chase now.

Also, a Todd Frazier rookie from 2011 Topps Update I sorely needed, which reminds me: have you seen how much unopened 2011 Update stuff goes for these days?!

Coming to ABC this spring, the new game show that's sweeping the nation: Spot the Baseball!

Bo was even nice enough to include a little vintage in exchange for the ones I sent him.

Though I have about 98 percent of the '70s cards I need for my player collections by now, I'm constantly finding prime frankenset fodder I missed in my sad pre-frankenset days, like all four of these.

Oddballs! -- including a neat hologram from Denny's, an establishment where I eat once every five years or so (at most).

Confession time: I've never tried Yoo-Hoo...but I sure like the cards they made in the early '90s!

All this is only a portion of the box Bo sent in return for the leftovers from Dad's antique-store vintage. I have no clue how the "values" of what he and I received balance out (and don't care in the slightest). All I know is this: I'm happy, and from what I can tell, so is Bo. And really, that's all that should matter.

So, fair trade? I'd say so.

Tuesday, February 5, 2019

The (Second) Dime Box Frankenset, Page 51: Numbers 451-459

Frankenset Page #67 WINNER --1969 Topps #603 Joe Keough (11 votes + tie-breaking vote)

And in the battle of last week's frankenset page, we have...another tie!

Jose Lind and Joe Keough ended up neck-and-neck, each ending up with 11 of the 34 total votes at the polls. So with a tie, of course, comes a tie-breaker. As is standard tie-breaking protocol, I ask the first five people who'd like to comment on this post to leave their chose between Lind and Keough. The first of the two cards to receive three of these tie-breaking votes will be the king.

I'll update this post once we have a winner.

EDIT: Keough wins!

In the meantime, we have a new batch of hopefuls on display -- as chosen by the Random Number Generator, we'll be looking at Page 51 (#s 451-459) of the frankenset this week.

Let's meet the nominees.

1998 Ultra Gold Medallion #451G John Burkett

AL pitcher John Burkett assumes the classic pose (Gold Medallion parallel here because I don't yet own the base card, for some reason). 

1998 Fleer Tradition #452 Roberto Hernandez

Fun with the fans. 

1989 Upper Deck #453 Ed Whitson

A spiffy pitcher at the plate from UD's inaugural year. 

1997 Upper Deck #454 Rex Hudler

Rex Hudler, jokester extraordinaire. 

1984 Fleer #455 Dan Meyer

A classic from my favorite year of Fleer. 

1973 Topps #456 Dick Green


1992 Topps #457 Hubie Brooks

I will forever love these in-motion action shots (and is that a Big Eric Gregg cameo?).  

2002 Upper Deck #458 Adam Melhuse

Play at the plate! 

2006 Upper Deck Special F/X #459 Juan Dominguez

A rare tatooine sighting (better shown on the standard UD single which, again, I don't yet own).

That's it for this page. The polls are now on the sidebar, and don't forget to help break last week's tie!

Happy voting!

Friday, February 1, 2019

I'll always remember 2019 Topps

If people from sunnier climes have been wondering how cold it's been in the Midwest this week, I'll just say this: cold enough to postpone my very favorite day on the cardboard calendar -- the first release of the new year!

I'm usually off to Target at the first peep of Topps being on the shelves -- I can't remember ever doing otherwise. Current cards may not be everyone's bag, but if nothing else, there's little denying it's the most symbolic day of the year. Baseball coming, warm weather, and all that. It's a time to remember things.

And with -60 wind chills outside my window, I sure needed those memories triggered, whether by springtime symbolism or not.

So I deemed yesterday the day where I'd brave the bitter cold and scope me out some 2019 Topps -- temps were only in the single-digit negatives as opposed to the negative teens and twenties earlier in the week.

And yes, there it was, shining like a summer day in the card aisle: a freshly stocked display of 2019 Topps!

I quickly grabbed a blaster, a hanger box, and a mix of rack packs and single packs, and in the wave of excitement I failed to notice a semi-major change this year before I opened a single wrapper.

Turns out the days of $1.99 Topps packs are over: like Gypsy Queen, Heritage, and the other "high-end" retail sets, Flagship packs are now $2.99 a pop -- though they're now stuffed with 16 cards per as opposed to the 12 (I think?) of years past. (As far as I can remember, the price points of blasters, rack packs, etc. are still the same.)

I'm not necessarily fond of the price hike, but aside from that, my opinions on 2019 Topps can pretty much be summarized in three words: I dig 'em.

The fronts are spiffy and continue a recent Flagship upswing after the horrendous 2016-17 designs, but just as importantly, the backs are notably better this year for the sheer reason that career stats are represented for the first time in longer than I care to remember.

Finally, we get a true feel for the lengthy and/or well-traveled careers of guys like Rich Hill once again.

There's not much to note on the parallel front -- the golds are very discotheque-ish (as is the design in general, but it's way more apparent on the golds), and the 150th Anniversary stamped parallels are subtle enough to miss (or at least I did).

The inserts actually feel somewhat more inspired this year -- still not anything I'm jumping for joy over, but enough to catch my attention at least.

More inserts, including a Ty Cobb Turkey Red reprint I'm particularly enthralled with.

I enjoy reprints, and cards like that Cobb of a century prior are the types of cards I think should be reprinted -- not another godforsaken '84 Topps Mattingly for the 472nd time.

And speaking of '84 Topps, that's the theme for Topps's yearly insert homage here in 2019.

I've never been overly fond of the '84 design -- it's just a watered-down version of '83 Topps to me -- but I'll still probably ending up hoarding quite a few of these because current dudes on old designs rarely fails to woo me.

These are a nice change of pace: team cards have been transformed into panoramic ballpark shots in 2019 Topps, and wow are they beautiful.

Objectively, Topps didn't have to include either of these guys in Series 1: David Bote was mostly a backup last year and Michael Kopech probably won't pitch at all in 2019 after Tommy John.

But subjectively, these were a couple of my favorite pulls since I've become a big fan of both of these hometown guys -- so thank you, Topps!

Got to add the first 2019 cards to my mini-collection spreadsheet, which made me glad I started a mini-collection spreadsheet.

Maybe it's a bit of release day rose-colored glasses talking here, but the photography in 2019 Topps seems like the best it's been in years.

I pulled more stop-and-look cards than I can remember getting out of Flagship in a while, including Trout at the wall and an unexpected moment of levity from last year's Wild Card game.

My parents still talk of a Chicago day more than 30 years ago where temps dropped to scary lows, and maybe, 30 years from now, I'll remember what happened just this week, how those just-as-frigid temps kept me home on what should've been my favorite day of the card year.

For that reason, little more than pure happenstance, I suppose this set might be forever embedded in my memory, but that's really selling the excellence of 2019 Topps short: the cards are more than memorable enough on their own.