Wednesday, July 31, 2013

Rock bottom

I think it's been a decent year for cardboard so far.

Flagship is the best it's been in quite a few years, and all of Topps's other releases have at least been passable. (Aside from perhaps Gypsy Queen.)

I shouldn't have much to complain about.

However, in terms of personal experience, it's been a fairly horrid year for the pack buster in me. As evidenced by my previous Series 2 hanger box break, my dad is actually the one who's had the hot hand.

I've pretty much had crap luck so far. Since I don't open too many packs these days, it hasn't been that much of a concern. All I can do is shrug my shoulders and say, "There's always the next one." (I guess it comes from my experience of being a Cubs fan.)

That brings us to a couple weeks ago, when I once again found myself with that familiar urge to bust something. Against my better judgment, I plopped down a few bucks for a Series 2 rack pack.

What I found staggered me. I'm not quite sure I've ever been more frustrated and disappointed with a pack in my life.

But we'll get to that in a bit. For now, let's focus on the positives. (Albeit the few.)

This shot of a diving Ryan Hanigan is one of the better cards I've seen thus far in 2013, another example of the brilliant photography Topps has utilized this year.

It'll make for a fine frankenset nominee.

I also pulled a couple team binder needs with Lackey and Hughes.

A couple of hits to my "set needs" list, as we have with the above pair, are always appreciated.


Those two were the only ones I pulled.

I'm not sure what it is about the packs at my local Target, but the collation has absolutely sucked for Series 2 wax.

I think this was the third rack pack of the product I'd purchased. Coupling those with the aforementioned hanger box from my dad, I'd say I've had the opportunity to pull about 125 to 130-ish base cards in total.

The Series 2 checklist, as you probably know, contains 330 cards. From my breaks, doubles should've been few and far between, if any.

Yet that's already the third Carlos Marmol base card I've pulled. Along with the fourth Brett Myers.

I counted at least 10 or 11 other doubles in this rack pack alone.

The collation gods were not on my side.

It seemed like the insert gods were, though.

At least for a while.

I've never devoted much time or effort into tracking down Fred Lynn cards, but this one is an absolute beauty.

In fact, it's inspired me to start looking for more cards of his at upcoming shows.

I needed all of the "Chasing History" inserts I pulled.

Crawford isn't a marquee player collection of mine, but I have been trying to track down a few of his Dodger issues lately.

And, despite the high prices his cards can sometimes command, I absolutely love collecting Mike Trout.

As you might be able to tell, my copy of Trout's insert had a bit of chipping at the top. Not a huge concern for me, as I'm not the biggest stickler for condition. Those pesky production gods get one every now and again, I guess.

An isolated incident, no doubt.

Or so I thought.

Sadly, Mr. Trout wasn't the only one.

Almost every single insert I pulled was warped in some way. As you can see, both of these parallels had nice chunks taken out of them.

Again, I'm not a big condition guy. Still, when you're buying something off retail shelves, you'd expect the product to be brand new.

It's especially sad because the Norris is one of my absolute favorite cards of the year so far.

But it didn't end there.

While not as extreme as some of the others, Bryce Harper succumbed to condition flaws as well.

The fact that absolutely none of the base cards I pulled from the top half of the rack pack leads me to believe that this wasn't some sort of production error.

I think it was an inside job.

More specifically, I can't help but think this pack was searched at some point. Or, at least, was attempted to be searched.

I could go on and on about how much I despise pack searchers, but I'm sure most of you have heard that speech before, so I'll save you the time.

This, right here, is the downside of pack searching.

It hurts innocent collectors.

If there was a light at the end of the tunnel, it came in the form of Chris Sale here.

My absolute favorite card of the rack pack managed to escape unharmed. I'm sure a lot of that had to do with the thicker and sturdier card stock on which these "Cut to the Chase" issues are printed, though.

So, yes, perhaps I got lucky with this one. And, true, I did pull a couple of other neat cards with the Hanigan and Lynn.

Still, I can't help but think this may have been my pack busting rock bottom for 2013. Between collation issues, condition flaws, and possible pack searching, I'm not sure it gets much worse.

I sure hope it gets better from here on out.

From the unlikeliest of sources

Sometimes, blogging friendships can be formed in the unlikeliest of ways.

My personal favorite story in that regard has to do with Padre fanatic and good buddy Joe. Also known as "TTG" around the blogs, we first met around the blogosphere when his blog was called "Friars on Cardboard".

These days, though, he runs a similar (and equally awesome) blog titled "From An Unlikely Source!". This write-up, like the other Joe-centric trade posts I've read lately, is a play on the name of his new home. But, hey, it's one of the better blog names I've come across, so it definitely works.

Early last year, Joe won the very first contest I ever held on this blog. I whipped up a package with some spare Gwynns, Padres, and other randoms, and shipped it out to him. And I thought that'd be the end of it.

Ever since then, though, Joe has been sending me awesome cardboard on an incredibly consistent basis. I've done my best to return the favor during my time here, but I don't think I've even come close to equalling what he's bestowed upon me since that fateful contest win.

In fact, even nearly a year after that original batch of Padres, his regular shipments of cards continue. As luck would have it, he's unleashed steady stream of perfect PWEs onto my doorstep during the past couple weeks.

One of the key pieces of his first envelope was the Vlad you see above. It's yet another new addition to easily my largest player collection, one that totals well over 600 cards.

The Vlad actually came with one of those protective coating layers on it. Of course, I tore it off in a heartbeat. I actually get a great deal of satisfaction out of doing that.

I'm still not quite sure why.

Joe hit a couple player collection needs with this pair.

I'm sure he included the Bautista due to the in-action "bat barrel" shot. It's certainly a beauty in that regard.

But, as you might know if you've been reading this blog as of late, I'm probably the last Danny Bautista player collector on the face of the Earth.

These are the first two 2013 Topps Stickers I've added to my collection.

They're not bad cards, but I've never felt the need to grab any off the shelves of my local Target. That Bernie Brewer card sure is amazing, though. 

It takes the whole "in-action" theme to a whole other level.

From what I've read on his blog, Joe shares a special connection with former reliever Tom Henke.

Henke made his major league debut on the same exact day Joe was born. The hurler's first shot in the bigs came with the Rangers on September 10th, 1982.

Until I looked it up, I had no idea how good Henke really was. Over the course of 14 seasons, he appeared in 642 games out of the 'pen. (While never making a single start.)

He posted a stellar 2.67 career ERA, while fanning 861 batters in 769 2/3 innings during his time in the bigs. Oh, and he was an All-Star during his final year in "The Show" (1995), compiling a sparkling 1.82 ERA in his "sunset" season.

Not bad. Not bad at all.

Fittingly, one of my favorite cards out of Joe's recent PWEs was this awesome "throwback" shot of Mr. Henke. 

It was the first of many mini-collection hits he managed to find for me.

I can't say I'd ever seen those particular Brewer throwbacks on cardboard before that Cirillo came along.

I'm fairly certain those are from their inaugural season in 1970, right after they'd moved east following their lone infamous year as the Seattle Pilots.

No, I've never heard of Bill Krueger. 

But the fact that his '93 UD flip side features him at the plate certainly earns Krueger some points in my book.

Take a gander at these beautiful additions to my "double dip" collection.

You've got to love the Ozzie Smith cameo on the right.

Speaking of "double dips", there's another with the Kent.

I've made it a point to try and avoid cards of his during the course of my collecting career, but I'll make an exception for that one.

I guess PWEs from a Padre fan wouldn't be complete without a few Friars, now, would it?

Much like his outstanding career as a closer, Hoffman is at the top of his class as far as "autograph" shots go.

Topps's 2002 checklist may not have been good for much, but that shot is certainly a beauty.

Speaking of autograph shots, here's another awesome specimen from 1993 Upper Deck.

This shot comes from the nascent days of the Florida Marlins franchise in '93. Young catcher Charles Johnson was one of their top prospects at the time.

Here, we see the soon-to-be Florida backstop in the process of signing a whole bunch of teal-colored Marlins gear. I feel sorry for anyone who actually wore any of that awful stuff.

Players and fans alike.

Oh, and while we're on the topic of '93 UD...

One does not simply tire of 1993 Upper Deck.

Just ask Joe. He's trying to complete the '93 UD set. Go and help him out if you can. I know I'll be taking a look through my extras.

I've said this over and over again, but I've always thought 1993 Upper Deck would be absolutely perfect for a set-based blog.

If Joe's up for it once he completes the set, he'd certainly be a terrific man for the job.

Earlier in the year, I documented my hopes of completing a 2013 Topps Adam Greenberg rainbow.

A lot's happened since then. We're almost into August now. I've come a long ways with this blog. Heck, I've come a long ways in real life as well. I'll be a "rookie" at a new college in a few weeks.

But, sadly, my quest for a Greenberg rainbow is still where it was back in February.

Base card, check.

Blue, red, gold, black, pink, emerald, everything else...absolutely nada.

Since then, though, a new rainbow possibility has presented itself.

Thanks to the help of my fellow bloggers, I've tracked down the base, blue, red, and emerald variations of my main man Casey Kotchman's 2013 Topps issue so far this year.

Lo and behold, the serial-numbered gold parallel fell out of Joe's initial stream of PWEs. As a result, I've decided to make this my new rainbow quest for now.

If you happen to be sitting on any other parallels of Mr. Kotchman here, let me know.

In the meantime, I hope this post promoted my continued support of PWEs. All these fantastic gems came from a few little envelopes.

Then again, I guess it helps when you have great people like Joe sending them out.

I know I'm in for a treat whenever I see a PWE from him on my doorstep.

Tuesday, July 30, 2013

The Top 100 Vintage Countdown: Setting the table

I've had a lot of fun with this blog during the course of its lifetime.

In those 18 months (give or take a couple), I've started quite a few little projects. New themes, new mini-collections, even a "Gems of Junk Wax" tournament.

And, yes, I've tried to give my readers a regular dosage of simply random topics along the way as well.

However, I think the most fun I've ever had with this blog came during the course of my "Top 100" posts.

For a few months in late 2012 and early 2013, I recounted my 100 favorite cards from the modern era of cardboard. Anything from 1981 to the present day was eligible for the list.

Because I've received a ton of awesome items since the close of that countdown, I'm planning on making a few updates to the list, much like what Mr. Night Owl did in a recent post for his Dodger countdown. (Which, incidentally, is where this whole "Top 100" inspiration started.)

During my modern "Top 100", however, I kept mentioning that I had plans for a similar vintage list at some point down the road. I was hoping to unveil it around April or May, but the "Gems of Junk Wax" tournament kind of took priority over that.

Well, tonight, I'm happy to announce that I'm in the preliminary stages of composing a vintage "Top 100" countdown. At the moment, my list stands at 253 cards. I've started to whittle it down bit by bit over the last few days, though.

I'm going to do my best to unveil it sometime before my school semester starts in about three weeks. For now, though, I thought I'd brush up on some of the rules for those who weren't around for the modern list or for people who might've forgotten them.

The first rule is pretty self-explanitory.

Anything from 1980 and before is eligible for this countdown.

I mean anything.

Obviously, the vast majority of my list will be comprised of your basic Topps vintage issues.

In terms of eligibility, though, any pre-'81 cardboard is fair game. Hostess, Kellogg's, Bazooka, you name it. Yes, my extreme few tobacco cards and Goudeys are in the mix as well. (I'm betting you'll see those high on the list once I get around to making it.)

Even the often-ignored SSPC brand might slide into a few "Top 100" spots. Under normal circumstances, this "Killer" card would be a shoe-in. After all, it's the only card I know of that features him as a Kansas City Royal.

But, at least for now anyways, I think it'll be on the outside looking in.


In keeping with the rules of my modern "Top 100" countdown, I've decided to limit each player to two spots on my list.

For now.

This is one I'm still grappling with, since my modern cards vastly outnumber my vintage issues. Still, I just don't know how fair it'd be if five different Roberto Clementes or four Killebrews wind up on my list. (My much-adored '76 SSPC is actually my third-favorite card of "Killer".)

It pains me to say it, but the two Dick Allen spots have already been filed. And this '75, one of my absolute favorite cards from the iconic checklist, didn't make it.

Again, this rule isn't set in stone...yet. If you have some input on this, I'd love to hear it.

For now, though, the two-card rule applies.

Still, should it go into effect, there is a bit of a loophole.

I won't be counting "League Leader" or other multi-player issues towards the two-card limit.

This beautiful "Leader" piece of probably the two best hurlers in Dodger history is indeed on my preliminary list. (How could it not be?)

Still, should it make the countdown, both Koufax and Drysdale could ideally still have two other cards appear on the list.

I might as well give a little spoiler alert now.

You will see two other Sandy Koufax cards on my list.

Probably pretty high up, too, if I had to guess.

That's pretty much it.

I'm trying to keep this countdown as open as possible.

One more thing I should mention, though.

Anything I get at the National this Saturday will be eligible for my "Top 100" list. That's the cutoff. Any post-National vintage goodies I happen to come across will not be in the countdown.

In a perfect world, I kind of wish I got this list together a bit sooner. That was my plan, after all.

Still, in a way, I guess I'm glad things got pushed back a bit. I mean, had I gone ahead and started the thing back April or early June as I'd planned, chances are you wouldn't have seen "The Mick" make an appearance.

And that would've been a darn shame. My "Top 100" list just wouldn't have been complete without him.

So, that's the plan. Like I said, I'm still grappling with the two-card limit rule, but everything is pretty much ready to go aside from that.

I hope you're ready.

Can't get there from here

My musical tastes don't match up with others in my age group.

At all.

While most other 21 year-olds spend their time blasting Macklemore or Justin Timberlake or whatever the heck else is popular these days, I've chosen to relax with the soothing sounds of the Ramones or the  Clash throughout the course of my lifetime.

I've only struck common ground with a couple of my musical preferences. I know a few people who like the Beatles. I've certainly met my fair share of fellow Nirvana fans as well.

Thankfully, I have a few friends who happen to like one of my all-time favorite bands, R.E.M. If you like them, you're okay in my book.

That's why I was particularly excited when good buddy Mark from "This Way to the Clubhouse..." recently deemed Mr. Lombardozzi here as the "Orange Crush" card from 2013 Topps, in what I'm guessing was an homage to the R.E.M. song of the same name.

The only problem was that I hadn't yet tracked down a copy of this awesome celebration/interview combo.

Little did I know that another blogger was keeping an eye out for me. After leaving a comment on Mark's post saying how badly I wanted a copy of that Lombardozzi, one arrived in the mail.

Apparently, Jack of the terrific blog "Baseball Dad's All Tribe Baseball" saw that comment and happened to have an extra copy on hand.

He gratefully made it part of a recent PWE that landed on my doorstep last week.

Among its other contents were double play cards of "The Wizard" himself and an "Award Show" candidate with Miguel Tejada.

Another blogger recently sent me the base UD version of that Tejada as a part of "PWE Appreciation Week".

As usual, they'll look fantastic next to each other in my O's binder.

"Did you never call? I waited for your call..."

A rare example of a decipherable lyric from R.E.M.'s early days, this coming from the beautiful "So. Central Rain".

Jack's envelope held another gem with Mr. Harper here.

Ah, the nostalgic beauty of old cell phones.

As luck would have it, Jack's PWE arrived just before I was planning to write about another package he'd sent me a couple weeks prior.

Since I'm woefully behind in my trade post efforts, I'm just getting around to talking about it now.

As with the envelope, Jack managed to add a bunch of cool cardboard to my collection with this batch.

We'll start with this awesome "play at the plate" shot of former White Sox star Maggio Ordonez.

Stadium Club never fails to deliver on awesome photography, does it?

I don't think Studio's innovative credit card theme in '95 ever got its fair share of recognition.

It's actually a pretty revolutionary idea, if you stop and think about it. Especially given the time frame.

I mean, the hobby went from the awfulness of 1990 Donruss to quirky stuff like this in just five years.

I'm always up for cards of "Air Jordan" during his short-lived baseball career.

While I've certainly read a lot about it, I can't say I remember his minor league days with the White Sox. I was, after all, only two at the time.

From what I hear, though, it was certainly a carnival of sorts.

Hey, another one of my favorite R.E.M. songs!

I would like to personally thank whoever had the idea of featuring magazine covers on baseball cards.

It's an absolutely awesome idea. One of the best hobby history, I'd say. Just look at that "California Series" SI cover. Yeager, Fingers, Garvey...all on one card.

Another shocking development from my collection comes courtesy of Mr. Carter there. Apparently, I still need a few pieces from the massively-overproduced 1988 Donruss checklist.

I'm as shocked as you.

Taking a page from the the "Super Veteran" subset from '83 Topps, Pinnacle rolled this awesome "Now and Then" off the presses for their 1993 release.

These two shots were taken a whopping 26 years apart. I'm so used to seeing Nolan Ryan as the grizzled Rangers veteran from the '90s that I sometimes forget he was once a starry-eyed rookie like everyone else.

It's still odd seeing a 1966 version of the "Ryan Express", though.

While he sent over a bunch of awesome cardboard, this was undoubtedly the crown jewel of Jack's recent assortment.

I'd previously claimed this Dave Kingman Kellogg's oddball from Jack's blog as part of a giveaway. I can't tell you how appreciative I am that he actually gave away awesome cards like these for absolutely nothing.

Oddball, plus Cub, plus one of my favorite players of the '70s equals easily one of the greatest gifts I've received in a while.

Now, if you'll excuse me, I'm off to admire the beauty of this one little more.

And maybe listen to a little R.E.M., perhaps.

For some reason, I have a strange inkling to listen to a few their tunes right now.

Monday, July 29, 2013

Stapled to the card show door

The National is fast approaching.

In five days, I'll be wandering its vast halls. Barring any unforeseen circumstances, my dad and I will be there on Saturday. Lock, stock, and barrel.

Around now, near the peak of anticipation, I also sometimes like to brush up on one of my favorite topics to discuss around here.

Card show etiquette.

It's something I've talked about a few times before on this blog. However, what got me thinking about it again was a follow-up post by Robert over at "$30 A Week Habit", one that referenced another recent write-up over at "The Shlabotnik Report" that I'd somehow missed the first time around.

So, in so many words, you could say this post is a follow-up to a follow-up.

In the original write-up that spurred this recent chain of posts, Mr. Shlabotnik (I apologize, I don't think I've ever gotten your first name) recounted a little run-in he had with a fairly rude young cardboard enthusiast.

Go ahead and read the terrific write-up if you haven't already. But, in a nutshell, the kid kept butting into our blogger's dime box experience, pushing him out of the way and basically hogging the cards for himself. And, even worse, the kid's dad didn't say a single word.

I know my dime boxes well. I spend quite a bit of time browsing through each and every one. But, along with that, I also know the proper etiquette when it comes to my digs.

If a table is full of potential customers, that's one thing. I don't want to try and squeeze in to a mosh pit of fellow dime box scavengers. If anything else, I'll just come back to that table later.

It's a major reason I've never seriously tried to get an autograph at a baseball game. I bet quite a few elbows were thrown to get a Rey Sanchez signature there.

Even if I happen to be the only one digging through a given discount bin, though, I like to stand off to the side. And, if I see another collector eying the box, I shuffle over a little more. I don't want to hog the cardboard, by any means.

It's only proper.

The actual dig itself is the foundation for a few prime card show rules.

No, don't hog the boxes. And, maybe, even check with the other people at the table to see if they're looking for anything specific. That way, if you find something they might like, you're probably saving them quite a bit of time.

Should it ever occur, this next one is a double fail for both the customer and the vendor.

If a dealer puts the time and effort to separate his cards by sport, player, set, or whatever else, then it's the customer's job to put those cards back in the proper order.

It may seem like common sense, but I've seen such a thing on many occasions. Football, basketball, and hockey cards scattered amongst a slew of other baseball boxes. Boxes that were not originally of the multi-sport variety.

Not only does it hurt the dig for future customers, but I'm sure it eats up a great deal of the vendor's time by having to put everything back in the proper order.

I usually don't peruse the binders separated by set that a lot of dealers put on display, but I'm sure this is a big problem for those types of tables as well.

Bottom line...just put the cards back in the right order, please.

If I hadn't have seen this one for myself, you'd have a hard time making me believe it actually happens at shows.

But, alas, it does. And I've been there to witness it a couple different times.

Judging from this blog's name and all, I'm not one to browse through the high-end "glass case" cards with much enthusiasm.

This '66 Topps Jim Bunning is one of the extreme few pieces I've actually bought from a display case during my years frequenting card shows. (And it only cost me a buck, anyways.)

From what I know, though, glass cases are there for a reason. Sometimes, vendors leave the cases open for public viewing.

Most of the time, however, they're usually shut. I'm no high-end expert, but I'm guessing that means the dealer wants you to ask about a certain card before pulling it out of the case for a closer look.

Still, judging from what I've seen, that hasn't stopped a few collectors. I've seen people simply open up the lid, reach in, and pull something out without even so much as alerting the vendor.

Those kinds of people should be kicked out of card shows.

Again, you'd think it'd be common sense.

I guess it isn't for some people.

As customers, most of us abide by quite a few rules from the unofficial card show handbook.

Still, the vendors have some means of etiquette they should use as well.

I can't say I've ever set up at a card show, flea market, or anywhere else. But, should I ever do so, I've picked up quite a few of the "do's and don'ts" of being a vendor.

One of my biggest pet peeves are the dealers that don't put prices on anything.

I guess I can see why some higher-end material would be without a price tag. That frees up a bit of room for negotiation.

But, with lower-end stuff, just slap a number on it. I always hesitate when I see a box of dime box-like cards without a price. Chances are, they won't be much. But I still like to know what I'm getting into in the first place.

I once dug through a bin of unpriced cards. To test the waters, I pulled the above Don Larsen and a couple other commons. The guy wanted five bucks for 'em.

Needless to say, I sighed and put them back in the box. I eventually secured the Action Packed Larsen for a much, much more reasonable price.

So, yeah, I guess the story had a happy ending.

But it would've saved me a great deal of time had the guy just priced them out.

I'm worried I'm going to come off as sounding petty or unappreciative with this next one.

But here goes.

If I walk up to your table, chances are I'm going to buy something. I'm not one of those collectors who stops at every single possible moment to check out the surroundings.

I completely understand why other people do that, but it's not how I do things. I know what I want, and I've gotten pretty good at scoping out tables that have discount treasures over the years.

I guess what I'm saying here is...

Don't keep trying to sell me something for twenty minutes straight if I'm at your table.

For a while, I wore my treasured Roberto Clemente jersey to card shows. I don't have a vast collection of uniforms by any means, but the #21 Bucs one is easily my favorite.

After a while, though, I stopped. A couple times every show, I'd have someone try and sell me some kind of Roberto Clemente item. (I even had someone offer to buy the Clemente jersey itself once.)

Since I'm not exactly the type of person who'd say "Sir, I'm not interested in any of this", I just listened to their spiel and nodded. I understand why some vendors might do such a thing, but I'm not there to listen to sales pitches.

It's a major reason why I'll be wearing my Mike Fontenot jersey to the National this weekend. To date, no one has tried to sell me any Mike Fontenot stuff.

I hope I didn't come off as overly grumpy there.

I'm actually far from it, because...

It aggravates me to no end when vendors don't even acknowledge my presence at their table.

I'd rather have someone give me a 20-minute sales pitch than not say anything at all.

Just a quick "How's it going?" or "Can I help you with anything?" is terrific. And, as long as they're not trying to sell me anything, having conversations with affable vendors who simply want to talk baseball cards is even better.

It's one of my favorite parts about going to card shows.

Every so often, though, you'll find the vendor who just doesn't care. I've spent over an hour at some tables without the guy saying anything to me.

I've even seen dealers just up and walk away from their tables for a minute without warning. That, as you might guess, is disrespectful and also downright stupid.

One of the regular dealers at these shows (who I assume will be at the National) always has a big bin of scattered discount vintage cardboard. The dig itself is a massive amount of fun. I found my '61 "Stan the Man" there last year.

However, each and every time I've been at his table, it's taken me a painstaking amount of time to get the guy's attention when I was through. He's always been buried in some type of huge book (I'm guessing a Beckett), without much regard for the customers.

It just isn't proper etiquette. But, yes, my love for discounted vintage edges out my distaste for rude vendors.

Not by much, though.

I contend that every card show should staple a set list of guidelines outside of every card show door.

Perhaps someone should whip up an actual cardboard etiquette handbook and give those out on each occasion.

Like anywhere else, manners have their place in the card show industry.

Sunday, July 28, 2013

The dime box frankenset, Page 6: Numbers 46-54

I suffer from a fair amount of cardboard OCD.

I'll admit, I'm quite meticulous about how I store my cards. If any one thing is out of whack, it drives me absolutely nuts.

That's part of why I've kept the same organizational system with my team binders all these years. It does work and I'm quite satisfied with it, but, on the same level, I'd never be able to bring myself to change my tactics after years of doing it that way.

In a way, I guess this frankenset thing has helped me overcome my affliction a bit. Since I still have a large number of slots that need to be filled, quite a few gaps are found in my frankenset pages. That's something that would never fly with any of my other binders.

Still, I'd be lying if I said the gaps didn't bother me at all. Pages that have just a single slot remaining probably bug me the most. So close, yet so far from completion.

That's exactly what we have here with the sixth page of my frankenset quest.

Completion status: 8/9

Number(s) needed: #48

The card: 1993 Donruss #46 Jose Oquendo

Why it made the cut...

I can't be completely sure that this is an authentic "double dip" shot, but I'm counting it as such for now.

That's the only bad thing about this particular mini-collection of mine. Not all of them are as cut and dry as, say, my "pitcher at the plate" theme. Some "double dips", like Mr. Oquendo, still leave quite a bit of mystery.

I guess this could be a failed attempt to cover second on a stolen base attempt, one that was marred by a wild throw from the catcher.

Either way, though, it's an absolutely fantastic action shot.

There's not much denying that.

The card: 1998 SI World Series Fever #48 Jeff Cirillo

Why it made the cut...

I've never declared "blowing bubbles" cards as an official mini-collection of mine.

Still, that hasn't stopped me from picking them up in dime boxes every now and then. Or from people sending me "bubbles" via trade packages.

And it certainly hasn't prevented them from being terrific frankenset nominees.

Just ask Jeff Cirillo.

The card: 1997 Upper Deck #49 Charles Nagy

Why it made the cut...

This is one of my personal "cult favorites" in this frankenset.

It's a card that I doubt many collectors particularly like. I'd guess the ones that do probably love it, though.

I know I do.

I can't say I've ever seen another Stairmaster appearance on cardboard. I've nabbed a decent amount of cards featuring players in the process of stretching, but not a whole lot of guys in full workout mode, as we have with Charles Nagy.

Plus, thanks to the dating innovation of '97 Upper Deck, we know for a fact that Nagy used that particular Stairmaster machine on March 13th, 1997.

I guess you can create a cardboard masterpiece pretty much anywhere.

Even in a weight room.

The card: 1995 Upper Deck Minors #50 Damon Hollins

Why it made the cut...

Bat barrel!

I don't recall ever seeing another "below deck" barrel shot like this one.

The card: 1995 Stadium Club #51 Rex Hudler

Why it made the cut...

I actually landed this one from a trade package that I haven't gotten around to posting yet.

You'll be seeing Mr. Hudler again soon enough on the blog. Such a goofy card is more than deserving of multiple appearances on a goofy blog like this one, anyways.

I once read that Hudler was busted for possession of marijuana.

After seeing this card, that doesn't much surprise me.

The card: 1994 Score #52 Jose Rijo

Why it made the cut...

Jose Rijo is already a frankenset legend.

This is his second appearance in these posts, and it certainly won't be his last. The guy simply had a lot of fun cards.

I know that squirt gun made multiple cameos on Rijo's cardboard during the course of his career.

It takes me back to the days when having one of those "Super Soakers" made you the coolest kid on the block.

The card: 1998 Collector's Choice #53 Kevin Orie

Why it made the cut...

Because of the awesome, awesome Cubs throwback, of course!

Judging by the old-time White Sox jersey in the backdrop, I guess you could consider this one a "double throwback", of sorts.

I'm guessing this shot of Kevin Orie was taken during the first ever Cubs-White Sox interleague contest on June 16th, 1997. Both teams sported throwbacks in that game.

Which means that it was probably snapped sometime during the same afternoon as one of my all-time favorite pieces of cardboard.

We're not ready to get off the throwback train just yet, though.

The card: 1998 Collector's Choice #54 Kevin Foster

Why it made the cut...

The very next card in the '98 Collector's Choice checklist features yet another awesome North Side throwback.

This time, however, it's of former Cub hurler Kevin Foster. And, yes, he did indeed start that interleague contest on June 16th, 1997.

To top it off, the back even features a photo of him hitting.

A legendary Cubs throwback and a "pitcher at the plate" shot?

That's tough to beat.

It's certainly an awesome way to close out a frankenset page.

Saturday, July 27, 2013

The last days of Listia

For a while, I couldn't get enough of Listia.

Thanks to its credits-based means of currency and the fact that most sellers didn't charge for shipping, almost everything I'd buy on there was basically free.

And, I ask you, is there anything better than free cards?

I've filled several posts with my Listia finds in the past on this blog. As have many other fellow bloggers who used it during the site's heyday.

But, as quickly as it came, the magic of Lisita seems to be gone. The gems are few and far between, and it's often not worth digging through all the hopelessly overpriced 1988 Topps and 1990 Donruss rubble.

Over the last month or two, I simply stopped frequenting the site altogether. Then, however, I remembered that I'd still had a little over 2,000 credits stored away. So, as a last hurrah, I figured I'd see what I could find.

For just 51 credits, I was able to land the Brad Ausmus card you see above. A yawn for some, but a major victory for me.

I tracked down the serial-numbered gold version of that same issue a few years ago. Yet, somehow, I never managed to find the base card. Until that Listia auction came along, anyways.

Now, they'll both reside happily ever after next to each other in my Astros binder.

My quest to complete Flagship's "World Baseball Classic" insert series got one step shorter with this pickup.

Surprisingly, Mr. Mauer here only set me back 154 credits.

These beauties came from a pair of different auctions.

The magnificent "At the Wall" piece on the left came as part of a four-card Andruw Jones lot. It cost 303 credits, but the only one I wanted was the one you see above.

Thanks to a past "blogger box", the base version of that card was already one of the centerpieces of my Braves binder. Still, I couldn't pass up an opportunity to own its Gold Medallion parallel.

Much like the aforementioned Ausmus, the pair will look fantastic next to each other in a nine-pocket page.

I usually like old-style throwback sets, but I tend to think the Play Ball brand was a massive failure on the part of Upper Deck.

Then again, for just 100 credits, I had to have that Rizzuto.

You just don't see too many cards of "Scooter" nowadays.

The next few cards you'll see were part of one of my better Listia buys ever, I think.

For around 200 credits a piece, I was able to snag two separate ten-card batches from 1998 Stadium Club.

Much like all other sets in Stadium Club's history, it features a great deal of outstanding photography. Yet, like a lot of late '90s releases, they can often prove to be tough finds.

That's what made this particular pickup such a great find.

I can't remember the last time I found a new Brewer card of current Cards manager Mike Matheny to my collection. (He started his career with Milwaukee in the mid '90s.)

The fact that this one happens to feature a spectacular "play at the plate" shot is icing on the cake.

Here, we have a couple other new player collection additions, courtesy of Stadium Club.

Yes, I do actually collect Mark Bellhorn. I'm probably the last person in the world, I know.

Since he spent just eight games with them as a rookie in 1998, any card of Preston Wilson as a Met is welcome in my collection. 

He's one of the better "Short Term Stops" nominees out there.

Todd Greene isn't one of my binder guys.

Nevertheless, this was probably my favorite card from the first of the two Stadium Club lots I acquired.

Between the baseballs scattered amongst the cage, the curious onlookers stationed behind the chain link fence, and the wire mesh in the foreground, you can easily get lost in this awesome shot.

Such beauty has rarely been seen in the world of cardboard.

This was most likely the best card from the second lot I landed.

I now have about four or five different "autograph" shots of former Met closer John Franco in my binders. The guy seemed to be a prolific autograph signer.

Autographs and all, this is far and away my new favorite John Franco card.

If I had to choose, I'd say this was the best buy of my recent Listia grabs.

For 404 credits, I scored an unopened pack of 1993 Stadium Club Series 3 cards. And, as it happens, it came from the same seller from whom I bought the couple '98 Stadium Club lots.

My dad recently found a pack of Series 1 cardboard from '93 Stadium Club. Since that was so much of a blast, I figured this pickup was a no-brainer.

I couldn't wait to see what was inside.

While I didn't necessarily find any jaw-dropping photography efforts, this pack certainly had its fair share of star power.

Dante Bichette and Ellis Burks were coming into their own by the time the '93 season rolled around.

While pictured during his lone season with the White Sox there, Burks would later have his best years with the Rockies in the mid '90s.

Both he and Bichette seemed to enjoy rocketing balls into that thin Coors Field air.

However, my best pull was this early specimen of the surefire future Hall of Famer Chipper Jones.

In 1993, though, he was merely another highly-touted prospect. In fact, he received his first taste of the big leagues that year. In a late-season call-up, Chipper would play his first eight games in "The Show" in '93.

I absolutely love finding early cards of the game's greats, which is exactly what we have here.

As it stands, I'm down to about my last hundred credits on Listia these days. I don't really see a future on the site past that.

There are still some gems, yes. I just don't always have the time to dig for them all.

Still, I'll always be thankful for the terrific cards I've added to my collection thanks to that site. That's for sure.

These cards are a terrific final chapter in the chronicles of Listia.