Thursday, January 31, 2013

Meet the full-time blogger

I ended a major chapter of my life today.

After more than five years of membership, I have officially "resigned" from my trading forum.

And I have absolutely no regrets about that.

True, I've been spending a lot less time over there due to this blog's relative success. I'd been averaging about one or two trades a month over the past half-year or so.

In fact, most of my recent forum trades only came with the release of a new set.

Once 2013 Topps hit the shelves, I immediately composed a want list and threw it up on the forums. Just like I'd always done in the past.

After thinking about it, though, I asked myself one, simple question.

"Is there even a point to this anymore?"

I honestly couldn't think of a single reason to stay on the forums.

I'd spent countless amounts of time and money trading for cards in the past. With the release of a new set, I'd often go absolutely crazy with swaps.

But that's just not me these days.

I have no problem waiting to acquire the Topps base and inserts I need these days. I'm not some rabid collector who needs all the new stuff right away anymore. I used to be, though.

Besides, I'm sure my fellow members of the blogosphere will be there to help out with some of my "newer" needs throughout the course of this latest card season. My needs are already in the link on my sidebar, if anyone happens to be interested in swappin' some 2013s.

Which brings me to the real reason I recently decided to quit the forums all together.

The people.

One of the major "sub-themes" of this blog has been my constant differentiation between the forums and the blogosphere.

I know I bring up the topics of "book value" and "hot prospects" a lot when I talk about the forums.

However, the major reason I've become a full-time blogosphere "convert" is indeed because of the people.

I'm not saying the people on trading forums are bad, by any means. For the most part, it's actually the opposite.

It's just that the people in the blogosphere are that awesome.

Take Adam, for instance.

He's the ever-generous blogger behind the terrific blog "ARPSmith's Sportscard Obsession".

Although I've long since stopped counting the frequency of trades I've made around here, Adam may well be the blogger I've traded with the most times.

In fact, we've developed one of those informal "I send him some cards, he sends me some cards" rapports in recent months.

I love that type of thing. That's something I never saw on the forums.

Adam recently mailed one of those always-welcome "surprise" packages to me early last week.

Although he managed to polish off a few of my dusty old "set needs" from 2008 and '09, the stack of Panini Cooperstown cards he included captured my fancy the most.

I tell you, that Lou Gehrig "Hall History" insert is certainly a welcome piece for my collection. Any "autograph" shot is an instant favorite of mine, much less one that features arguably the greatest first baseman in baseball history.

It certainly shows one thing.

The "Iron Horse" was definitely a stand-up guy.

These are just my second cards of both Tommy McCarthy and Billy Hamilton.

As members of the ignored "turn-of-the-century" class of Hall of Famers, I'm not at all surprised by that.

In fact, both of my others came from the same set, one that was arguably the greatest "impulse buy" I've ever made.

Cards like these are why I enjoy Panini's recent emergence in the baseball card market.

This pair certainly filled a gaping hole in my Hall of Fame collection.

Don't be fooled, though.

While I love collecting the few existing cards of guys like McCarthy and Hamilton, I'll always have an equally significant appreciation for "newer" Cooperstown inductees as well.

Despite the licensing restrictions, Panini still managed to produce fairly neat cards of both Don Sutton and Frank Robinson.

Few players have worn the #20 better.

I find this particular card utterly fascinating.

For one thing, "Wee Willie" Keeler is probably my favorite of all the "turn-of-the-century" ballplayers. At just 5'4" and 140 pounds, he took the "little guy" label to the extreme.

But, more than that, look at how far he choked up on the bat! His hands are about halfway up the barrel.

Judging from his .341 career average, though, I guess it worked for Mr. Keeler.

Looking back, I don't think I considered many people on the forum as "friends".

I had some great experiences during those five years, but I never really got to know many of the members and their interests during my tenure over there.

Needless to say, it has been quite the opposite here in the blogosphere.

After reading the writings from many of my fellow bloggers over the past year, I do indeed consider you to be my "friends".

I can't say that I've met any of you in person (yet), but it's been fun to develop a more personal bond with fellow hobbyists than simply trading cards back and forth.

Although the basis for many of our thoughts and posts revolve around the world of sports cards, I think the "community" feeling of the blogosphere goes much further than that.

When you get down to it, that's really what has kept me coming back here on a daily basis.

I'm proud to say that I've managed to make a fairly wide variety of "blogging buddies" during my time here.

Adam is definitely one of them.

And so is Mark, author of the fantastic blog "This Way to the Clubhouse...".

The "blogging buddy" himself managed to once again sweep me off my feet with a tremendous array of seemingly random cardboard.

Somehow, he keeps managing to find little odds and ends that fit perfectly within the means of my collection.

Personally, I think "play at third base" shots are vastly underused in this hobby. If this "Spirit of the Game" insert is any indication, we really need to see more of those in the future.

I don't know about you, but I think Mr. Boggs got the tag down in time.

And while we're on the topic of Red Sox third baseman, here's a neat new "combo" for my Boston binder.

Mark sent me the card on the right, a "Cards Your Mom Threw Out" reprint of Kevin Youkilis's 2003 Topps rookie.

Although I'm not exactly sure where I received it, I've had an actual copy of that one in my collection for a long, long time.

And now they'll proudly sit next to each other in a nine-pocket page.

I'm telling you, folks.

Binders are the way to go.

Hey, remember these things?

Gold sparkles? 

You know, from last year?

With all the recent 2013 craziness, I hope you haven't completely erased 2012 Topps from your memory just yet. 

As a current 41 year-old free agent, the end seems to be near for Jose Contreras.

For a while, I thought this would wind up being his "sunset" issue. However, I'm glad to report that Topps included a card of Mr. Contreras in their seemingly far superior 2013 release. I pulled it from one of my blasters.

I'll have to go through my collection one of these days and see which players received their true "sunset" cards in 2012. 

Which, now that I think of it, might not be a bad idea for a future post on this blog.

I'm never one to turn down awesome stadium shots.

Judging from this one, I think Mark has picked up on that over the last couple months.

Here in the blogosphere, the most innocent remark can land you some cardboard.

I've briefly quipped in the past about cards of both the "bubble" and "ninja" variety in the past. That's what I've been calling them, anyways.

Well, Mark must've seen those posts, too. I can't think of any other reason for why he'd include these in the package.

The appearance of cards like these is quite uplifting. It shows that people do indeed pay attention to what I write around here and are willing to go the extra mile in composing a good ol' trade package.

That being said, though, I hope I don't make any offhand comments about 1990 Donruss or anything.

Please don't send me any of those.

Although I bet some of you will.

I see terrific cards on other people's blogs around here all the time.

However, I try not to actually say "I want that card!", even if said blogger has let it be known that the card is available.

Although I try and hint that I'd like the card in most cases, I don't often like to physically ask for it. I'm still not sure why that is.

Still, two cards from Mark's recent "400-Count Box" posts managed to bring out the kid in me. Although I didn't say "pretty please?" or anything, I did specifically request a pair of cards from him for this swap.

Although it is indeed a spectacular piece of cardboard, the "throwback" Norm Charlton wasn't one of them.

The "Fernando", on the other hand, was.

It pretty much has it all.

For one thing, it's a card from the widely-underappreciated and tough-to-find Collector's Choice brand.

Plus, I tend to place Valenzuela as a San Diego Padre into the "unfamiliar uniform" category.

And, of course, it's a new subject for my often-mentioned "pitchers at the plate" collection.

I really need to come up with a catchier name for those things, though. "Pitchers at the plate" is a bit of a mouthful.

So, what was that other card I requested?

Good question, my friend.

I'm sure there are a ton of terrific cards floating around that I haven't yet discovered.

That's part of the fun of this hobby, after all.

Then again, a select few pieces of cardboard have been on my radar for years. Yet, for whatever reason, I've never managed to track down copies for myself.

And then there's this one.

Up until a few days ago, it belonged to both categories.

Yes, from my standpoint, it is indeed an awesome card.

Oddly enough, though, I had actually held it in my hands in the past. 

I actually have a great story attached to this one. I posted about it a while back. If you can get past some of my less-than-stellar writing from the early days of this blog, it's actually an interesting little tale.

If I were to find this card in a dime box nowadays, I'd plop down a dime for it without a second thought.

At the time, though, I didn't collect star pitcher and former L.A. Kings draft pick Tom Glavine.

Which meant that despite its awesome absurdity, I didn't have a practical usage for it.

Thanks to the people of the blogosphere, however, I've changed my philosophies in recent months. 

Sometimes, you have to appreciate more than just the name on the front of a baseball card.

But despite everything I've shown thus far, we haven't even gotten to the best part of Mark's recent trade package.

So, without further ado, here it is.


I definitely made the right decision in becoming a full-time blogger.

With friends like these, how could I not love this place?

Wednesday, January 30, 2013


As far as collecting goes, I'm a bit of an oddball.

I accepted that fact long ago.

I don't build sets, I don't collect any specific teams, and I just can't limit myself to a dozen or so player collections.

Instead, I collect cards of guys blowing bubbles. I collect cards of ballplayers signing autographs. Not the autographs themselves, mind you, just pictures that show them in the process of doing so.

And I have hundreds and hundreds of different player collections.

Yep. I'm an odd one, all right.

Even so, though, the blogosphere has helped show me that perhaps I'm not all that different from a lot of the collectors out there.

I found myself constantly worried that I was the last of "my kind" when I was on the forums. Over there, I pretty much was. At least it felt like it, anyways.

But, around here, I've found that I share a lot of the same interests as most of my fellow bloggers.

Although most of you may not collect hundreds of different players, I've found a mutual appreciation for a lot of my other collecting focuses in the blogosphere.

I've found a place that accepts and adores one of my longtime interests in "hitting pitcher" cards. The same goes for "play at the plate" pieces.

Perhaps most of all, I've found that the majority of collectors in the blogosphere can appreciate an astoundingly colorful baseball card.

As far as that goes, I guess it's no coincidence that "groovy" cardboard seems to be widely favored around here. It seems like every blogger has a psychedelic piece or two somewhere in their household.

Seeing as how they make for some of the most colorful cards in existence, that makes a whole lot of sense.

Thank goodness.

This, more than anything, bothered me on the forums. I thought everyone was to preoccupied with the latest autograph or jersey "hit" to notice some of the more colorful masterpieces out there.

I think the nearly universal adoration of this year's 1972 minis can attest to the blogosphere's love for "groovy" cardboard. Aside from a sparse few dissenting voices, I've heard nothing but praise for these things over the last couple days.

In fact, my fascination with the series inspired me to take a look at some of the more "groovy" baseball cards in the hobby's history.

So, if you'll indulge me, I'd like to take you on a bit of a magic cardboard ride, if you will.

Steppenwolf would be proud.

As great as the '72 minis might be, they'll never come close to the "grooviness" of the real thing.

Strangely, I wasn't a huge fan of the set as a kid. I'm still not sure why. I guess I just didn't get the fuss over that "weird" lettering.

The important thing, however, is that I like 'em now.

Heck, I love them now.

I spent a whole fifty cents on this Terry Forster rookie at a card show last year. That's, like, five times more than the cards I usually buy.

That '72 design is just too awesome to pass up.

Whether intentionally or not, Topps managed to capture the so-called "drug culture" that was sweeping the nation on a fairly simple design.

I may like the '75 set a tad more than this one, but I still waver on which one actually does the best job of representing the decade as a whole. 

For me, it could go either way.

I have a message for any future Chicago-area dime box vendors.

Please include more of these for me!

In all my years of scavenging dime bins, this Lofton is the only piece I've ever plucked from Upper Deck Retro's "groovy" insert set.

I mean, it actually has the word "groovy" in its title.

"Groovy Kind of Glove".

How could I not like them?

I keep feeling like go-go dancers are going to pop out of it.

Now that would be cool.

Yes, people, it's time for another '95 Fleer blurb.

Avert your eyes if you want.

From what I understand, most of you have countless other words for what Fleer produced in 1995, many of which are not suitable for this family-friendly blog.

The word "groovy" doesn't even enter most people's minds with these things.

But it does for me.

I guess they're just too "out there" for a lot of collectors. Perhaps it's just too much color for one piece of cardboard.

But, if you've been reading this post at all, you should know how much I love those qualities.

That's about the best I can put it.

I honestly can't explain why I've come to love 1995 Fleer so much over the years. I just do.

I don't care what anyone says.

These things are psychedelic, dude.

For a long time, I thought '95 Fleer was about as "trippy" as it got in this hobby.

Then I traded for this one.

It's a total mind-blower, to say the least.

I don't think "trippy" is nearly enough to describe the psychedelic craziness that lies within this crazy masterpiece.

I heard that if you look at this card long enough, you're supposed to see a sailboat or something.

Seriously, though. Look at all those colors!

Yellow, red, blue, pink, and more. I think I counted all seven colors of the spectrum, in fact.

That's beyond "trippy", if I do say so myself.

Like I said long ago, this is indeed a refractor on acid.


Other than the original "groovy" 1972 design, one set stands above all in the world of psychedelic cardboard.

It's not even much of a contest.

2001 Upper Deck Decade was the set that got me into the likes of "groovy" cards. As far as the hobby goes, it was probably my first real introduction to 1970's baseball, too.

My local card shop used to have a dollar bin that comprised of long-lost packs. There would always seem to be a few "Decade" packs lying in there every time I went.

Needless to say, I came home with about a half-dozen packs of these after every card shop excursion.

Every pack was a new experience.

Although the base cards are astounding in their own right, the inserts are what really give off the whole 1970's "feel".

If you want "groovy", look no further these "Disco Era Dandies" beauties.

I ask you, does it get any better than a disco-themed card of "Pops" himself?

I don't think so.

It certainly doesn't get much "groovier", anyways.

As far as color on cardboard goes, I doubt I'm much of an oddball. I've always had a deep appreciation for the "grooviest" pieces of the hobby.

I probably wouldn't recommend operating heavy machinery right about now, though.

Tuesday, January 29, 2013

2013 Topps: The perfect storm

It's here.

The 2013 card season is finally upon us!

After yesterday's unsuccessful search, I went on yet another "undercover mission" to my local Target this afternoon in hopes of finding some shiny new 2013 Topps cards.

I didn't care that it happened to be raining at the time. No way was a storm going to stop me from grabbing some new cardboard. (Hence the title of this post.)

Now that's dedication.

Or maybe just craziness.

I can't decide.

Anyways, as soon as I stepped foot into my local Target, I immediately took a glance towards the hallowed card aisles.

That's when I saw it.

A jumbo-sized shot of Prince Fielder himself. As the "cover boy" for 2013 Topps, it only meant one thing.

They had arrived.

The dawn of a new season was here.

I'd been saving the thirty-dollar Target gift card I received on Christmas for this exact moment. Plus, I'd scraped up a bit of my own money as well. I wanted to go a little wild with Flagship this year.

And that I did.

I had it planned. I was going to buy three blasters.

Ironically, when I got to the card aisle, I found that there were only three blasters left on the shelf. A happy coincidence, I guess.

Without a second thought, I grabbed that last trio of blasters. My mom even chipped in some cash for a rack pack as well.

I guess being an only child does have its benefits sometimes, huh?

Needless to say, I had an absolute blast going through my very first cards of 2013.

So...let's get to the actual cards, shall we?

In differing from many of my past "set review" posts, I'll be saving the base cards for last.

We'll start with the inserts this time around.

You know, I really have to hand it to Topps here.

Just when I thought the inclusions of "manu-patches" in blasters couldn't get any dumber, they go and do something like this.

And totally redeem themselves!

Extra points if you get the movie reference.

Yes, one of the blasters yielded another boring old manu-patch of a current ballplayer. The other two, however, caught me a bit off-guard.

I was not expecting anything this cool to fall out of those "special" packs inside each blaster. I am absolutely loving these.

This Palmer fits perfectly into both my "oddball" and Hall of Fame collections.

I actually wound up with a pair of these rookie manu-patches. But the other will be going to one of my fellow bloggers.

I won't say which right now.

You'll find out soon enough, whoever you are.

The familiar gold parallels look to be a tough pull this year.

Three blasters and a rack pack yielded a grand total of two different ones, neither of which I needed.

Thankfully, I don't care about parallels nearly as much as I did a couple years ago. I still like 'em, but I won't be chasing them down with much ferocity as in years past.

With odds like that, it's just not worth it.

Now these I like.

Evidently, Topps is still riding the "shiny" bandwagon in 2013 with these emerald parallels.

Although they're not nearly as neat as 2011's famous "Diamond Anniversary" cards, I do indeed like them more than last year's "Gold Sparkles".

Green is a vastly underrepresented color in the world of cardboard.

It's good to see it get some recognition around here.

Time for inserts.

Much like the parallels, I haven't focused all that much on the Flagship inserts in recent years. For me, the base cards are what make or break the set.

That doesn't mean I don't enjoy pulling an insert for one of my player collections, though.

Because I still get quite a rush from that.

Overall, I'm not all that intrigued by the prospect-centered "Chasing the Dream" subset. Probably a "meh", at best.

Still, I'm not one to turn down a new Mike Trout card.

This will definitely be a "keeper" for me.

I can't get too excited about these "Chasing History" inserts, either.

From the small sample I received from my breaks, it looks like it's this year's obligatory HOFers/current stars combo insert set. One that includes the same group of legends we keep seeing time and again in this hobby.

Still, despite my "shoulder shrug" attitude, I have to make an exception for this beauty.

Topps surprised me by using a shot of Feller that I'd never seen before. I'm a fan of any card with a crowded backdrop.

As a whole, though, these didn't have a whole lot to offer.

Interestingly, the three "Chasing History" inserts I received from my rack pack had a refractor-like finish to them.

I'm not sure if that was by sheer coincidence or if the "shinies" were specially made for rack packs.

Now that I look at them, the shininess does help bring out the design a little more.

The shinier, the better.

That's always been my motto.

These are a bit of an enigma for me.

I still can't decide whether I like them or not.

I'll admit, the "Old West" look of the "Calling Card" insert series seems to suit Mr. Dickey extremely well for some reason.

Overall, though, I'm not quite sure how I feel about them.

Only time will tell, I guess.

For me, this year's Flagship inserts only produced two surefire "winners".

The aptly-named "Cut to the Chase" series was the first. 

Like the gold parallels, these seem fairly hard to come by. I only received two in this afternoon's breaks.

But, man. These things sure are cool.

The scan didn't do it justice.

These awesome die-cuts are a little thicker than an ordinary card. They also have an always-welcome refractor-like quality to them.

Given his recent passing, I cannot tell you how honored I am to have this majestic piece of Stan "The Man" in my collection.

It's a thing of beauty.

As far as inserts go, though, it really wasn't much of a contest.

These '72 minis were easily the best of the best for me.

Next to 1965 and '75, 1972 is my all-time favorite Topps design. To see them replicated in mini form is almost beyond comprehension.

Much like last year's '87 minis, the thicker card stock gives these a very "old-school" feel.

I cannot wait to add more of these to my collection.

As a whole, I have to give the edge to this year's inserts over 2012. The '72 minis are largely responsible for that.

Minis and die-cuts aside, though, I still feel that the inserts are a bit lacking in 2013. I've had that train of thought for the last few years, in fact.

At the very least, Topps could try and trim down the sheer number of insert sets in the future. There's just too many.

But, in the end, I can't get that upset about it.

As I said before, the base cards are all I really care about when it comes to Flagship.

And, in that department, the people at Topps hit an absolute home run.

In fact, I'll just get it out of the way now.

I like the 2013 design way better than last year's.

That's not a knock on 2012, though. I did enjoy the "surfboards" quite a bit.

This year's design is just that good.

Between the "ballpark" theme, the color-coordinated baselines, and the much-appreciated white borders, I honestly can't find many flaws.

I'm not sure if there are any.

I hope you're not sick of seeing these yet, because we're about to take a deeper look into the wide world of base cards.

Let's dig in.

For some reason, one of my goals with each passing set is to pull a card of the "cover boy".

Thankfully, I didn't have to wait very long to accomplish that feat. Mr. Fielder popped out of one of the first packs I opened from the initial blaster.

Welcome to the "cover club", Prince.

Topps took a page from their 2012 release by including quite a few "celebration shots" within their base checklist.

Although Aceves isn't yet a member of my treasured binders, I'll definitely be keeping this one for myself.

After all, how often do you see the rare "double flex" on a baseball card?

I'm not sure what the "theme" of this year's Flagship set will be.

After going through my pulls for the second time, I found a good number of "great grab" shots featured.

Perhaps a "Web Gem" theme is appropriate.

You've got to love this one of Mr. Middlebrooks.

How the heck did they manage to get a shot of him staring directly into the camera?

Here are a couple more "great grabs" for your viewing pleasure.

I can't thank Topps enough for granting Josh Reddick such a terrific shot.

It's refreshing to see that a fellow February 19th "birthday boy" is moving up the ranks in this hobby. 

Before Reddick came along, Miguel Batista was my last hope.

Yes, folks, double play cards are still alive and well in Flagship.

I counted at least five from my breaks.

These were probably my two favorites, even though I'm still on the fence about the Hill. Is it considered a "double play card" if the ball is still in the guy's hand?

Double dip or not, it'll make for a tremendous addition to my Diamondbacks binder.

Evidently, Topps is continuing the retail-exlcusive parallel setup in 2013.

However, they've adjusted the system a bit this time around.

Instead of filling two packs per Target blaster with entirely red-bordered cards, Topps now includes two cards of the sort in each pack.

I'm still on the fence about that.

On the one hand, base/parallel combos always look nice in nine-pocket pages.

On the other hand, I think I'd rather just have two extra base cards than have these exclusive bordered cards invade my regular ol' blaster packs.

Still, these are my first cards of Youkilis and Lowe in their late-2012 duds. Trouble is, I didn't pull the base versions of either one.

Although they are fairly pleasing, I'd be in favor of Topps doing away with these in the future.

The other parallels are more than enough for me.

Much like 2012, this year's base checklist includes its fair share of simply stellar photography.

I'll just let you bask in the beauty of Dodger Stadium for a minute.

It speaks for itself.

As with "celebrations" and "great grabs", I happened to notice another overarching theme in 2013 Topps.


Much to my pleasure, Topps included a slew of throwback uniforms in this year's checklist.

Although reigning Cy Young winners are usually granted much more aesthetically pleasing shots, I still can't help but enjoy this card of Mr. Dickey himself.

I guess throwbacks just have that effect on me.

Even ugly throwbacks are awesome.

I'm not sure why, but they are.

In today's game, though, these are the "king" of throwbacks for me.

The Sox wore these beauties during every Sunday home game they played in 2012.

Needless to say, I can't tell you how awesome it is to see those famous red pinstripes on a baseball card. I was praying that Topps would feature them sometime during 2013.

So, thanks for that, Topps.

You certainly made this Chicago baseball fan happy.

Fan participation is always welcome on cardboard.

They sure make for some tremendous backdrops. I don't think there's any denying that.

I'm sure Raburn will be popping up on "Card of the Year" posts come December.

Going into this afternoon, there were two cards I really wanted to pull.

It's not that I would've labeled my breaks as a "disappointment" had I not gotten either of them. It's just...

Well, that's all moot anyways.

Because I did indeed pull the pair of cards I'd so desperately wanted.

The Inge was the first. And, boy, were the cardboard gods with me on that one.

Before I began my "break", I kept thinking to myself...

"I hope I get the Inge. I hope I get the Inge. I hope I get the Inge."

After seeing it on another blog, I just couldn't get it out of my head.

With that in mind, I kicked off my break with the rack pack. And just six cards into my 2013 "season", there it was.

The Inge!

Whew. That was a relief.

I even ended up pulling a second one for good measure.

Even if you don't care about the A's or Brandon Inge, you have to recognize the awesomeness of this one.

Shiny gold uniforms? Dugout shot? Fake fighting?

Now that has the makings of a terrific baseball card.

As great as the Inge is, though, I have to give Mr. Greenberg "Best Of" honors.

This was a card I absolutely needed to have. Although I'm sure I would've been able to acquire it eventually, pulling it out of a pack would've been a tremendous honor.

Thankfully, the cardboard gods were with me there, too.

It fell out of the third pack of my first blaster.

To see former Cub Adam Greenberg get another shot at the bigs last year was something else. Even though he struck out in his lone at-bat, it'll be one of those moments that'll stick with me for a long, long time.

And, if we're getting into specifics here, I now have an "ultimate short term stops" card on my hands. After all, stops don't get any shorter than one at-bat.

I still don't understand why the Cubs couldn't have given Greenberg his fateful "return" at-bat instead of the Marlins.

But I digress.

Either way, it was a special moment.

No matter what happens to him in the years to come, card #253 in the 2013 Topps checklist will always have the name "Adam Greenberg" next to it.

Nothing can ever change that.

Thanks, Topps.

You did good here.

I'm definitely looking forward to seeing what else you have in store for 2013.


Yes, folks, I realize this is a late edit for this post.

But, in going through my pulls again, I noticed a neat little quirk about this year's Flagship checklist.

See if you can connect the dots here.

Derek Jeter is card #2 in 2013 Topps.

Yadier Molina is card #4.

Clayton Kershaw is card #22.

Cliff Lee is card #33.

Travis Ishikawa is card #45.

Craig Kimbrel is card #46.

Notice anything strange?

For many of the first 50 or so cards in the 2013 checklist, each player's card number directly corresponds to their jersey number.

It goes on and on.

Howie Kendrick is card #47. Chris Sale is card #49. Tim Lincecum is card #55...

It carries on to some of the higher numbers as well.

Will Middlebrooks is card #64. Barry Zito is card #75. Alfredo Aceves is card #91.

Sneaky move there, Topps. You almost slipped that little nugget past me. Frankly, I can't believe I noticed it.

It blew my mind a bit, I'll admit.

Anyways, just thought I'd put that information out there.

Do with it what you will.

Monday, January 28, 2013

Covering the Bases, Pt. 2: Five things I missed the first time in 2012

Yes, I'll admit it.

I went on an undercover mission to my local Target today. I'd heard rumblings about 2013 Topps being on the shelves.

So, with my very college student-ish 1:40 start on Mondays, I had plenty of time to take a look for myself. 

Sadly, the five-minute walk went for naught. No 2013 packs for me today.

But yes, fellow readers, I will be going back tomorrow. And, hopefully, I'll be coming home with a whole lot of 2013 goodness in the process.

Yes, it really does help that the local Target is right across the street, too.

But, on top of that, this is my favorite time of the proverbial "card season", after all.

Despite whatever peeves or complaints I have against Topps these days, I still can't help but get a little giddy around this time of year.

Hopefully, this latest post will quell the 2013 madness I've been having lately.

At least for tonight, anyways.

As I was taking a quick peek through all the extras I'd accumulated throughout the course of 2012, a couple things caught my eye. A couple things I'd missed the first time around.

Yes, despite my blogosphere-inspired "pledge" to take a deeper look at every piece of cardboard, a few terrific pieces managed to slip past me.

To some collectors, it might not seem like anything special. It's not like I discovered an uber-high end autograph in one of my extra boxes or anything. And, no, I didn't suddenly decipher the hallowed "A&G code".

Nope, these little details aren't all that important in the grand scheme of things.

Still, I think they're exactly the type of quirkiness that many of you in the blogosphere would enjoy. 

So, if you'll excuse the abnormally long title for this post, here they are.

Here are five things I missed the first time in 2012.

#1 -- A&G Losing the Oddball Magic

I have snap cases full of the neat little "oddballs" that used to be a part of A&G's base sets.

Heck, from Pluto to Picasso, my '08s fill two of those things alone.

Anyone want to take a guess at how many A&G "oddballs" captured my fancy this year?


Just one.

This Curly Neal is one terrific piece of cardboard. I think most of us can agree on that.

Other than that, however, I found nothing of interest from this year's "oddball" selection. I don't care about college football, and I really don't care about some "professional" video gamer.

I'll give A&G some credit, though. Being the history and music lover I am, I did enjoy their "Historical Turning Points" and "Musical Masters" series.

I guess my interest in those prevented me from recognizing the weaknesses in the base set.

Hopefully next year's A&G will yield more than one new oddball for my collection.

I beg you, Topps.

Give us revolving doors again!

Enough with this video game stuff.

#2 -- Chain-Link Fences and the Red Sox

Now I know why I kept mixing up all these Heritage cards earlier in the year.

It's those darned chain-link fences!

I know Heritage isn't all that revered for their photo selection, but come on. They couldn't do any better than this?

Looks like whoever snapped these was on a strict time schedule. 



Both Lowrie and Weiland were indeed Red Sox when these photos were taken. Topps later airbrushed them into Astros uniforms due to the dreaded Mark Melancon deal.

Yet they still suffered from "chain-link fence" syndrome.

Maybe I should become a photographer.

I know I could do better than this.

#3 -- Four Games

After witnessing the sheer quirkiness of highly-touted prospect Trevor Bauer, I thought to myself...

"If I ever get a card of that guy, he'll definitely go into my binders."

My box of Topps Update in October yielded two different Bauer cards for my collection. I've since acquired a third, too.

As fate would have it, though, he'd prove to be a key piece of a three-team deal between the Diamondbacks, Indians, and Reds that went down this offseason.

The Reds got Shin-Soo Choo. The Diamondbacks got one of the all-time greatest "baseball names" in Didi Gregorius.

And the Indians got Trevor Bauer.

That made any of my existing cards of his about a million times more awesome.


Because Bauer pitched a grand total of four games in Arizona. Which makes anything of him as a Diamondback an ultimate "short term stops" card in my book.

Somehow, that didn't quite hit me until now. I hadn't grasped the card-related effects of the blockbuster swap at the time.

From now on, Mr. Bauer will be a very special part of my Arizona binder.

All it took was four games.

#4 -- Canines on Cardboard

This is actually the card that inspired tonight's entire post.

I was digging through my stack of Update extras when I noticed a strikingly cool action shot on the front of Brian Bogusevic's card.

These types of "at the wall" action shots have always been favorites of mine.

However, I noticed something a little different about this one. Something that made me do a double-take.

There's a dog on it.

A dressed-up dog, too.

See that cowering young lady on the left?

She is indeed holding a clothed canine.

How I didn't see that the first time is beyond me.

#5 -- The Unquestioned Awesomeness of Luis Ayala

Now, how I missed this one is really a mystery.

It hits on so many of my "loves" from this hobby. So many that it actually scares me a bit.

Here's a comprehensive list of all the things I like about it.

I'm not kidding.

1) Ayala's "throwback" cap and warmup jacket gives it a very "vintage-y" feel to me.

2) Ayala is a pitcher, which makes this a new addition to my often-mentioned "pitchers at the plate" collection.

3) Ayala is a relief pitcher. They don't usually get a whole lot of plate time.

4) Ayala is an American League relief pitcher, which makes this one the first of its kind as far as my "pitchers at the plate" cards go.

5) Ayala hasn't had a big league at-bat since 2009.

6) To top it all off, it's also a new piece to my newfangled "bat barrel" collection. Ayala is the first pitcher I've added to the group.

Again, I have absolutely no idea how this one managed to slip through my fingertips. Such an awesome piece of cardboard should never be relegated to one of my "extras" boxes.

Please, folks. Don't let such awesomeness suffer a fate like that.

Take a good look at your cards before you file them away.

You never know what you might miss.

Sunday, January 27, 2013

Organization matters

I like to think that this blog is a "melting pot" of sorts.

During my time here, I've taken pages from a lot of different bloggers in composing my own writings.

This blog is indeed a mash-up of a lot of different ideas. Some are my own, while others are simply me building off another blogger's thoughts on a given topic.

I guess the first little inspiration I drew for my blog involved the the topic of "concepts".

After I finally mustered up the courage to start writing, I wasn't quite sure where to start. 

I did know one thing, though.

Although I wasn't sure what it'd be, I knew I wanted to have an overarching "concept" to my blog. 

Whether it revolved around a certain team, player, or "theme" in the hobby, most of my favorite blogs at the time were built around a central topic.

That's about when the whole "dime boxes" idea hit me.

True, I did want to show that, yes, there are still some members of the "younger" generation who have fun with this hobby. But, unfortunately, I'm not sure how long I'll be able to keep this "young" label these days.

I'll be twenty-one next month, after all.

More importantly, though, I wanted to show just how much fun a box full of forgotten cardboard could be. And although there might not be a whole lot of rhyme or reason to it, there is indeed a history behind every single dime card in existence.

In a funny way, I guess this blog's "concept" is built around, well...not having a concept at all. Even I'm not sure what I'll be showing on a day-to-day basis.

Over the last few months, though, I've noticed an interesting little "subplot" developing within my writings.

I've quickly found that I absolutely love writing about how I organize my collection. 

My collection has always relied on a sound sorting system. It keeps my passion for "randomness" going. And, more importantly, it keeps me well-organized.

Yes, fellow readers. As crazy as my collection might sound, I can assure you that it is all appropriately sorted and filed. I pride myself on being an organized hobbyist.

Now, in the past, I did compose a write-up on a few of my "binder policies".

But, in all honesty, those barely scratched the surface.

Although it's not all that complicated, my organizational process could yield a seemingly endless number of posts. It's that big of a part of my collecting habits.

And, yes, I love organizing that much.

Understandably, I seem to get more questions about my sorting process than anything else.

For example, another blogger recently asked me if I split up the cards of franchises who relocated to different cities during their respective histories.

When it comes to franchises that changed their names, that answer is yes.

Although they've never moved from Houston, I have my Colt .45s and Astros cards in two different binders. Same with my Pilots and Brewers cards.

Now, with teams who didn't change their names...

The answer to that question is a no.

I do indeed pack my Brooklyn and Los Angeles Dodgers cards into the same binder. 

However, I've been considering a change in that department recently. 

Though I'm not sure if I'll ever take the time to actually separate my Brooklyn and L.A. Dodger cards, I do indeed draw distinctions between the two.

In fact, one of my favorite aspects of my Dodgers binder is seeing which players made the "move" with the team. I love taking a closer look and seeing how many of my Duke Snider cards feature him as a Los Angeles Dodger.

In the end, though, I think my favorite "on the move" Dodger has to be Pee Wee Reese.

Almost all my cards of his feature him as a Brooklyn Dodger. Considering he spent 15 of his 16 years as a big-leaguer in the city, that makes a great deal of sense.

Still, what about that 16th season?

"Pee Wee" hung 'em up in 1958, the very year the Dodgers moved to Los Angeles.

Photographers only had a small window of time to snap a picture of him in the now-famous "L.A." cap. On top of that, Reese would only play in 59 games with the Dodgers that year.

All things considered, shots of him as an L.A. Dodger are fairly rare.

That should tell you how much I love this little "Ziploc" oddball.

Aside from a few airbrushed reprints of his '58 Topps "sunset" card, this is the only piece I own of Reese in a Los Angeles cap.

Who'd have thought?

Ziploc, of all companies, produced one of my favorite cards of a legendary Hall of Famer.

You can't make this stuff up.

As far as I know, only one player in my binders managed to pull off the "trifecta".

Eddie Mathews went "on the move" with the Braves three different times.

As shown by this starry-eyed rookie shot of the soon-to-be slugger, Mathews broke in with the Boston Braves in 1952.

The franchise would move to Milwaukee the very next year.

Thirteen of Mathews' fifteen seasons as a Brave came during their tenure in the city. Not surprisingly, almost all of my Braves cards of his feature him with an "M" on his cap.

Milwaukee is basically the city that made him a Hall of Famer.


He would indeed make yet another move with the franchise in 1966.

This time, it'd be to their current home in Atlanta.

Mathews was traded to the Astros after just one season in an Atlanta Braves uniform.

Once again, an oddball proved to produce one of the few cards I own of him with an "A" on his cap. A former dime box find of mine, this one comes from the almost unknown "Line Drive" brand.

All the more reason to love oddballs, I guess.

As with any organizational process, I sometimes run into dilemmas.

Although I can't recall exactly how it happened, I wound up with this remarkably cool '55 Bowman "night card" on my hands. (Or possibly a "dusk card".)

Trouble was, I'd never heard of Alex Kellner. Which means that I'd never "inducted" him into my binders.

Still, it was exactly the type of masterpiece that deserves to be showcased in a nine-pocket page.

As a result, I recently created a new little "clause" in my binders for cards like these. 

In my past "policies" post, I mentioned what goes into the closing "team" section of each of my binders. They're composed of managers, team cards, and stadium shots, for the most part.

However, I decided that any simply "fun" cards would also be granted a spot in the team sections as well.

And, I have to tell you, it really does look spectacular in a nine-pocket page. Just the way the cardboard gods intended.

Crisis averted.

I have to say, the blogosphere has changed my perspective on this hobby in a ton of different ways.

This page is a great example of perhaps the most important "lesson" I've learned during my time here.

Instead of focusing on simply the players featured on the fronts of cards, I've recently started to appreciate individual sets much more as well.

Although I'll probably always sort my cards by player, I've started to bring the whole "branding" concept into the organizational process.

Sure, the two "Golden Moments" pieces may look nice next to each other because they have the same photo on the front.

However, those three cards at the bottom look a whole lot better to me these days. After all, they're each from the same set.

Specifically, the trio of Clementes come from the spectacular 2001 Upper Deck Decade release.

Although I may never branch off into the world of set collecting, I've developed a newfound appreciation for the concept.

Thankfully, that's starting to be reflected in my sorting methods as well.

The overall "concept" to my organizational process is pretty simple.

Every card deserves their time in the spotlight.

Whether it's a sweet vintage piece or a seemingly mundane ten-cent common, they're all grouped together in my collection.

I'd say that about ninety-nine percent of my "keeper" cardboard is stored in one of my many trusty binders.

Anyone browsing through my collection would see odd combinations like this all the time.

In fact, these two cards sit next to each other in my Phillies binder.

I can certainly appreciate a nearly-flawless 1961 Topps masterpiece of Hall of Famer Robin Roberts.

But, at the same time, there's something just as special about a nearly forgotten common, one that I literally "saved" from a devastating life of dimly-lit rooms and garages.

That's the train of thought that keeps my love for organizing going.

It'll always be a major part of my identity as a collector.