Tuesday, March 31, 2015

A semi-coherent LCS rant

I'm envious of all you people with your top-notch card shops.

If there's one lack in my collecting life, it's the absence of a good LCS. I've frequented a few local brick-and-mortar card stores in my time, but all the good ones have long since closed up shop.

There is one surviving LCS in my neck of the woods. I was there this past weekend with my dad (who made another guest appearance on the blog yesterday, which, as an odd drop in readership shows, you may have missed) since there just so happens to be a record store a couple blocks away.

It was the first time I'd made a trip to my LCS in nearly two years. There's one reason in particular that I almost never go there, and one that makes me wish I could move to a town with a better card shop.

I guess it's a coincidence that my buddy Mark has been posting about a similar problem on his blog lately.

When it comes to pricing, my LCS needs to get a clue.

From what Mark says, some of the vendors at his local mall show are in the same boat. It's hard to believe that people are still pricing Ian Snell autographs at eight bucks a pop, but, according to Mark, they're out there.

And don't I know it. This, in a nutshell, is the problem with my LCS. My intention here is not to put down the actual guy who owns the card shop around here. He's very nice and helpful, so much so, in fact, that I kind of feel obligated to buy something every time I step foot in the door.

But, to me, it's obvious that he's either a) oblivious to the actual demands of collectors, b) stuck in the past, or c) both. It's not a particularly bright outlook no matter how you slice it.

I've been making my infrequent trips to his store for about four or five years now, and I swear I've seen some of the same cards up for sale for these last four or five years. If you want to pay $15 for a Darwin Barney autograph or $40 for an off-condition Eddie Murray rookie card, then, by all means, visit my LCS.

These prices have been set in stone ever since I started going there. Maybe it seems like common sense, but you'd think he'd get the hint that his cards aren't exactly in high demand.

At least not at his prices.

I long ago accepted the fact that my LCS is hopelessly out of touch with the real workings of the hobby.

The guy used to have decent quarter boxes on display (which was the only reason I used to go there in the first place), but those are long gone now.

Look, I get it. I understand brick-and-mortar card shops need to charge a little more than the standard going rates to turn a profit. Have to pay the rent, you know.

But you'd think that when a card has been sitting in the same dusty spot in the same glass case for years on end...well, then that someone would eventually get the hint. Especially if those glass case cards are almost literally the only things for sale in the entire shop.

When I went back this past weekend, I actually saw a little glimmer of hope. They guy had some new stock on display. But I started to get disappointed when I saw that he was trying to charge two bucks a pop for garden variety base cards of stars like Griffey or Kershaw. Sigh.

He also had a new shelf of cardboard that was priced at five dollars per or 3/$12. The three cards you've seen in this post came from that shelf. While it's not a killer deal in any sense, I certainly don't think I got robbed. But is it enough to make me a regular customer? Don't think so.

Juxtapose this with the fact that the guy was trying to hock 1989 Topps Craig Biggio rookies for five dollars a piece, and my trio of vintage purchases suddenly seems a lot better. My LCS is stuck in a place were overproduction era singles are priced higher than vintage Hall of Famers. That pretty much sums it up right there.

I'm a quiet guy and not usually one for ranting, so I'm not sure if any of this made much sense. I hope it did. Some of it, at least.

I guess I'm just envious of all you people with the five-star local card shops.

Jealousy can be an ugly thing.

Monday, March 30, 2015

Another guest post from Dad

Some of you may remember a guest post that my dad prepared for this blog last year.

Well, at my urging, he's back again with another tale about baseball cards from his youth.

So, without further ado, it's time for me to get out of the way and proudly reintroduce, once again, Dad.


Cards My Mom (And Dad) Threw Out

Nick, our host, had the benefit of growing up in one place...his room was his his room...his stuff (ALL of it!) remains in the places he first put it...I'm sure that's quite a comfort to him...

I was not in the same boat as a youth...by the time I moved on my own at 17, I was basically down to my record and book collection, some clothes, and a wobbly black desk...you'll notice "baseball cards" aren't on that list...It is a big regret I didn't get to pass on my cards to Nick...here's why I didn't:

By 1974 (age 8) I was well into baseball cards...when I see a 1974, I can still smell the gum, still remember the box I kept them in, all rubber-banded into teams...with all my loose-leafed notebook pages filled with known-only-to-me stats and computations...life was good...

...and continued to be...we had a SMALL house...one bedroom for my parents, and my brother,sister & I shared the attic...and as long as I kept my cards in boxes stored under my bed, and didn't spill over into my sibling's area...Mom and Dad basically left us to our own devices!

...then my parents divorced...move number 1 was to naval base housing, as my mom remarried a navy man..."well,you don't need to bring ALL that stuff, do you?' I was asked...and at 12 that's basically a rhetorical question...I meticulously whittled down my collection to must haves (it still equalled 2 big bags!) and all the doubles, triples, etc. went to garage sales or friends...

...turned out a life in a navy family didn't suit my brother and I (saw that com in', didn't ya!?)...so off to my dad and his new wife's place we went..."wow, that's a lot of stuff" my dad said....so, you guessed it, more had to go...my brother & I shared a tiny bedroom so there was not much room for us or our stuff (never mind there was closet space throughout the condo...)...another bag went to, ironically, my step-brothers back at the navy house! I guess there was room for someone's stuff there...

...and so we come to the final move..ironically, to a bigger house!...but unfortunately, by then there wasn't much peace in the ol' valley...so I stashed half my records at a friend's place, and hoped for the best...the day we moved, I didn't find any baseball cards (or my other baseball stuff...pennants, programs, bobbleheads,etc) among the stuff going on the truck...then I heard my dad's immortal words : "aw, you didn't need that stuff.."

...and that, as they say, was that.

My one consolation is that Nick now has pretty much every card I had then...but it still would have been cool to hand over my 10 George Brett rookies,the multiple Aaron, Ryan, Yaz, Jackson, etc. cards...

So, parents out there, just let the kids keep their stuff...and they won't get back at you with blog posts like this!...haha!!

Sunday, March 29, 2015

The dime box frankenset, Page 57: Numbers 505-513

As expected, last week's frankenset voting wasn't much of a contest.

Win -- 1985 Topps #497 Gary Pettis (22 votes)

Place -- 1995 Score #502 Geronimo Berroa (6 votes)

Show -- 1993 Upper Deck #500 Brent Gates CL (5 votes)

Gary Pettis and his Topps switcheroo took the crown by a landslide. His 22 votes were over half of the 41 total tallies we saw last week. He's only the second frankenset nominee to crack the 20-vote barrier.

The Pettis is one of my favorite cards in the entire frankenset, so I knew where my tally was going from day one. Although I will note that the Geronimo Berroa and his Oakland Oaks throwback would've gotten the nod from me on almost any other page.

Call it bad luck, I guess.

I don't know if there is a runaway favorite in this week's page, which should make the voting all the more exciting.

Let's meet the nine newest frankenset hopefuls.

1975 Topps #505 Chris Speier

The action shots in 1975 Topps don't often get the credit they deserve. 

1992 Score #506 Darren Daulton

This play at the plate feels very cramped to me. 

1992 Stadium Club #507 Jay Bell

One of the most expertly-cropped double dips you'll ever find. 

1993 Stadium Club #508 John Valentin

Double dipping with Stadium Club once again, this time from the 1993 edition. 

1988 Fleer #509 Tim Belcher

You need to wait until you get on base to wear that warmup jacket, Mr. Belcher.

1989 Fleer #510 Jerry Reuss

You can't hide it under your jersey either, Jerry.

1994 Topps #511 Devon White

That's the same look I get whenever I find a bunch of PWEs in the mail. 

1995 Collector's Choice #512 Pat Kelly

Turning two with Collector's Choice. 

1992 Upper Deck #513 Mike Morgan

This week's page closes with a pitcher who somehow found his way to second base.

The polls are now on the sidebar.

Happy voting!

Thursday, March 26, 2015

Franchise Flashbacks, all in one

Even though I wasn't all that excited by this year's Opening Day checklist, the Franchise Flashback inserts were a huge hit with me.

An all-throwback concept couple with a groovy design was enough for me to label it as the Insert Set of the Year. I stand by that statement, mainly because these Franchise Flashbacks got me to do something I've never done before. I went and bought the entire 20-card set on Ebay for a tick under seven bucks, shipped, which I thought was a heck of a steal. (That's 35 cents per.)

Because of how much I love them, I wanted to give each and every insert a share of the spotlight on this blog. I just wasn't sure how to do it. In the end, I decided that these are the types of cards that speak for themselves, ones that don't need a whole lot of commentary.

So, here tonight, for your viewing pleasure, I am ecstatic to present 2015 Opening Day's "Franchise Flashbacks" insert set in its entirety, starting with Mr. Freeman above.

Player: Freedie Freeman

Throwback Uniform: 1914 Boston Braves

Player: Anthony Rizzo

Throwback Uniform: 1914 Chicago Chi-Feds (Federal League)

Player: Adrian Beltre

Throwback Uniform: Early 1900s Fort Wayne Black Panthers (Negro Leagues)

Player: Alex Gordon

Throwback Uniform: Kansas City Monarchs (Negro Leagues -- no year given)

Player: Nick Castellanos

Throwback Uniform: Detroit Stars (Negro Leagues -- no year given)

Player: Julio Teheran

Throwback Uniform: Atlanta Black Crackers (Negro Leagues -- no year given)

Players: Gregor Blanco and Tim Lincecum

Throwback Uniform: 1946 San Francisco Sea Lions (Negro Leagues)

Player: Jose Altuve

Throwback Uniform: 1949-50 Houston Eagles (Negro Leagues)

Player: Manny Machado

Throwback Uniform: 1954 Baltimore Orioles

Player: Starlin Castro

Throwback Uniform: 1964 Chicago Cubs

Player: Chase Utley

Throwback Uniform: 1964 Philadelphia Phillies

Player: Craig Kimbrel

Throwback Uniform: 1974 Atlanta Braves

Player: George Springer

Throwback Uniform: 1979 Houston Astros

Player: Robinson Cano

Throwback Uniform: 1979 Seattle Mariners

Player: Danny Santana

Throwback Uniform: 1970s-80s Minnesota Twins

Players: Ryan Braun and Jonathan Lucroy

Throwback Uniform: 1978-93 Milwaukee Brewers

Players: Jered Weaver and Mike Trout

Throwback Uniform: 1970s-80s California Angels


Favorite Card: Tim Lincecum, for the pillow over the stomach and the very Woody Allen-esque disguise.

Favorite Throwback Uniform: Chi-Feds all the way! (Close runners-up include the '64 Cubs and the Fort Worth Black Panthers duds. And I'd be remiss without mentioning the Technicolor Astros uniforms.)

Favorite Aspect of the Set (besides the uniforms themselves): Most cards have precise info on the back regarding the specific details of the throwbacks in question, which helped with obscure squads like the Houston Eagles and San Francisco Sea Lions.

What I Could Do Without: I don't know that repetition of a few teams' throwbacks (Giants/Sea Lions, Brewers, Angels) was necessary, but this is a pretty air-tight insert set otherwise.

Best Non-Lincecum Photo Choice: Gregor Blanco, because dugout shots are all but extinct in today's hobby.

Best Old-Time Team Name: Atlanta Black Crackers, no doubt.

Is It Still the Insert Set of the Year? You bet!

Wednesday, March 25, 2015

Working the arbitrary magic

We have a bright new face here in the blogosphere, and he's becoming quite the prolific trader.

A lot of you are probably already acquainted with Brian of the terrific blog "Highly Subjective and Completely Arbitrary." Between his terrific blogging content and his recent group trade event, he's one of the up-and-coming stars of the blogosphere.

I'm actually kicking myself for not getting in on his group trade. It looked like a ton of fun from what I've been reading, although I did manage to get a piece of the action. (But more on that later.)

It appears as though Brian and I have already set up a kind of back-and-forth deal where we arbitrarily send each other cards from time to time. He recently put this beautiful '54 Bowman Larry Doby on the trade block, and I can't believe nobody claimed it before I did.

I caught a break there, because losing out on a card this great would've been disheartening.

The Doby was actually the second swap between Brian and I.

Our first came a little while before that, and it didn't take me long to discover how great of a trader Brian is. This '94 Topps Doc Gooden was a Dime Box Dozen need at the time, and I think you can see why. It's a pitcher on the basepaths at Wrigley.

Right up my alley.

Our first trade actually originated with this trio.

I've said this before, but I don't often like to ask for cards from people. I don't know why. Maybe it's that introverted part of me that's afraid of disrupting things.

But, doggone it, if you're going to put up '54 Bowman Larry Dobys...

...and '78 OPCs up for trade, then you really leave me no choice.

I have to claim them. This is a reflex.

My introverted personality has no say in the matter.

Brian didn't stop there.

He was nice enough to throw in a few recent insert needs on top of Doc and the trio of OPCs.

Excuse me while I shield my eyes from those ugly All-Star uniforms.

An added bonus was an unopened pack of 1987 Topps.

I heeded the advice of Brian (and probably my dentist) by not eating the cracked pink stick of gum that came with the wax wrapper.

With the gum out of the way, I dug into the seventeen two-by-three pieces of woodgrain heaven.

And it made me wish that packs these days still came with seventeen cards.

I would never buy an unopened box of '87 Topps or anything, but busting a pack of any relatively aged product here and there is always good for a hoot. I think I like getting a glimpse of the old ads more than anything else.

See? I could've won a trip to Spring Training in 1988!

I was only twenty-eight years late.

Brian's latest envelope actually just hit my doorstep last afternoon.

This Ichiro was one of the first to fall out, and, to be honest, I'd completely forgot I'd claimed it from Brian. (Yes, another claim. I'm heartless.)

That probably has to do with the fact that Panini's Donruss revival is so very, very, very, very, very forgettable. Which is because 2015 Donruss is so very, very, very, very, very ugly. So why even claim it in the first place?

Two reasons. One, Ichiro doesn't have a contract with Topps, so it's either Panini or nothing. Two, this is Ichiro's first card with the Miami Baseball Club, otherwise known as the Marlins. So, yes, Ichiro is now in my Marlins binder. Ichiro. Marlins.

Doesn't sound right.

Once again, Brian threw in a few bonus cards to go along with the logo-less Ichiro.

I enjoyed both of these very much, although the Matthews troubled me a bit. It exposed the fact that I somehow don't own his standard '86 Topps base card.

I'll rectify that ASAP.

Brian did it again with the Dime Box Dozens.

I'm fairly certain that this card was my longest tenured DBD need before Brian came along. In an attempt to honor the famous '54 Topps card of the O'Brien twins (which I was lucky enough to pick up last year), this Heritage issue couples the Mauer brothers on one piece of cardboard.

Unlike the O'Briens, the Mauers are Twins in team only. Jake (whose real name is actually David...go figure) is five years older than Joe, but the elder Mauer never made it above Double-A in five years in the Minnesota organization.

And I think all of you know Joe by now.

Though Brian obviously has a knack for putting together spectacular batches of cards, our third trade was by far the best.

No, it wasn't because of Ryno, although holograms are always cool.

No, it wasn't because of these two Cubbies, either.

Although the shape of that Brett Jackson is tripping me out.

Just like always, Hoyt stole the show.

This was one of the cards Brian pulled as part of his group trade event. My jaw dropped. A Hoyt Wilhelm AUTOGRAPH?! This was where I began kicking myself for not getting in on the action. I missed my chance at Hoyt. I figured my jaw would have to stay dropped.

But, by sheer luck, Hoyt went unclaimed in the break. Brian actually wound up contacting me about the Wilhelm autograph, and we worked out yet another swap. I sent him a few of my Twins relic cards, which, since I've slowly been phasing out a large portion of my memorabilia collection, was fine with me.

A couple days later, and...ta-da. Hoyt was mine. It's the third autograph of his in my collection. I'm not much of an autograph seeker anymore, but I'll fully admit my love for this card. I especially enjoy the fact that it features an on-card signature, which is significant because Wilhelm passed away in 2002, the very year this Fleer Greats set hit the shelves.

Let's see. Vintage Larry Dobys, OPCs, packs of 1987 Topps, and Hoyt autographs?

I don't think I'm being subjective in saying that Brian is a new legend in Dime Boxedonia.