Thursday, April 30, 2015

Dogging it

There was a time when I chomped at the bit to blog almost every night.

If I'm being completely honest, I can't say I still feel that way these days. Although I was a little uneasy about it at first, I've come to terms with being a more sporadic blogger.

Don't get me wrong, my love for cardboard isn't diminishing. Neither is my love for blogging, really. It's just not the day-in, day-out thrill that it once was. I don't mind taking a mini-vacation from the blog when I'm not feeling it. (This is my first post since Sunday.)

But, you know, blogging isn't about me, me, me. If it was, I doubt I'd still be here. It's you guys that have kept me coming back for over three years.

I may not blog every day, but I still eagerly check out what others write on a daily basis.

While I may be "dogging it" in terms of my blogging stride, it's good to know that others are keeping the pace.

Zach, who you might know as "The Underdog Card Collector," is staying consistent in more ways than one. Not only is my buddy a steady blogger, but he's also a proficient trader. I mean, the guy's sent me four envelopes in the span of about a month.

The first was a small box full of goodies that included the three cards you've seen in this post thus far.

Although stadiums and mascots are always fun...

...the stack of Cubs Zach selected stole the show.

Between Ryno, the ivy, and that deep shade of Cubbie blue, this Goodwin Champions card is just about perfect.

Take out that hideous 'stache and it'd be flawless.

Parallels are always welcome here in Dime Box headquarters.

Both of these guys were highly touted youngsters, but only one of them is still a Cub.

Hint: It's the guy without the throwback.

The real jewel of this box was yet to come.

Aside from some additional silver foil, these Factory Set Diamond Anniversary parallels aren't much different than the standard base cards. But, no matter how you slice it, they are different...which means I'm more than happy to add them to my binders.

At first, I thought Zach might've found a small handful of these things for me.


It was the entire...




I went from owning exactly zero of these parallels to a couple dozen in the snap of a finger.

How's that for progress?

Zach added fuel to the fire by dropping a PWE on me a short while after that gem-filled box.

The envelope hit a couple of my 2015 Topps insert needs and set me a little further down my half-hearted quest to complete the First Pitch set. I can't say I'm much of a Rage Against the Machine fan, but I'm happy to have the Morello regardless.

And, hey, the guy's wearing a throwback jersey.

Zach followed that up with another PWE not long down the road.

This one knocked out a few recent Cubs needs of mine, needs which couldn't have been more diverse.

One of these guys is the greatest player to ever suit up on the North Side of Chicago. The other was recently sent down to Triple-A Iowa.

I trust you know which is which.

And, last but not least, Zach found time to drop another batch of cards on me just last week.

This spiffy Cooperstown insert of Mr. Express features one of my very favorite baseball quotes.

It didn't take long for Zach to get back to the business with the Cubs.

Inside this package was a budding stack of '92 Pinnacle Cubbies. It was the brand's first set, and, design-wise, it's by far their best.

Although I will say that I am glad Pinnacle stuck around until the mid '90s, because they still had a lot of greatness to bestow onto us.

We close things out with a guy, well...a guy who I'm not so sure about any more.

I hate to judge a player on what was basically a late-season call-up, but I have to say that in his brief time in the bigs, Javier Baez had the worst plate discipline of anyone I've ever seen.

Granted, he's still quite young, so I'm far from giving up on him. I'll still be collecting his cards either way, and this Heritage insert from Zach was much appreciated.

And it goes without saying that everything Zach was much appreciated. As long as great people like him are around, I'll still be here. I'm simply not a daily blogger any more, and that's okay. Like the hobby as a whole, I'm not fading away. I'm just changing.

That's all.

Sunday, April 26, 2015

The dime box frankenset, Page 61: Numbers 541-549

Last week's frankenset voting wasn't much of a contest.

Win -- 1999 Fleer Tradition #533 Terry Steinbach (19 votes)

Place -- 1992 Score #532 Ron Karkovice (4 votes)

Show (tie) -- 1993 Upper Deck #536 Kevin Young, 1993 Upper Deck #538 Alex Cole, 2010 Upper Deck #540 Jason Bergmann (2 votes each)

Voting took a bit of a dip last week for some reason, but that didn't stop Mr. Steinbach from running away with the crown. The brilliant Graduate-like shot garnered 19 of the 32 total tallies, obliterating the competition. I did indeed agree with the victor last week.

How could I not?

This is just my suspicion, but I think we might have another laugher on our hands this week.

Still, let's see if we can get those vote totals back up as we dig into our next batch of frankenset nominees.

1995 Score #541 Alex Arias

Double dipping with the underrated '95 Score design. 

1973 Topps #542 Pat Corrales

Possibly the most painful card ever printed. 

1994 Topps #543 Larry Casian

You'll get 'em next time, kid. 

1995 Topps #544 Jeff Cirillo

Throwing it back to the early days of the Brewers. 

1990 CMC #545 Jeff Carter

Two bats for the price of one. 

1998 Fleer Tradition #546 Carlos Perez

Is that your hat or are you just happy to see me?

1991 Line Drive #547 Mike Wilkins

A rare minor league pitcher at the plate. 

 1994 Topps #548 Dave Nilsson

A look at the pinstriped Brewers faux-backs.

2003 Upper Deck #549 Todd Linden

Some fun with the funny cars in San Francisco closes this week's frankenset page.

The polls are now on the sidebar.

Happy voting!

Friday, April 24, 2015

And the crowd goes wild

I didn't take a very close look at this card when I plucked it from a dime box a couple years ago.

It looked like a halfway interesting shot at first glance, so I threw it into my purchase pile. No oohing and aahing or anything along those lines. I filed it into my binder and that was that.

In the months since then, I've come across this card over and over again. And I've become more and more obsessed with it each time. It's one of those rare stop-what-you're-doing-and-look pieces of cardboard.

It's not so much the sparkling barehanded play by former Oriole Melvin Mora that captivates me, although it is one fine Web Gem. It's the fans behind him that continue to grab my attention.

Where do I begin?

Some fans are standing even though they're in the first row.

Some fans need to button up their polo.

Some need to crane their necks to see around the standing bro duo.

Some fans are left in disbelief by Mora's barehanded play.

Some fans get headaches.

Some fans scream out in agony.

Some fans couldn't be happier.

(Oriole fans, possibly?)

Some fans are bright-eyed youngsters witnessing the beauty of big league baseball, possibly for the first time.

Some fans need to get the popcorn ready.

And some fans missed having their face on a baseball card by a split second.

Instead, all we get is their blue-shirted gut.

Put all that together and you get one heck of a baseball card.

There's been a lot of talk about Topps cropping their photos tighter and tighter in recent years.

This post should tell you where I stand on that issue.

Yes, I'm buying cards for the players, but we need some diversity there. Not every shot has to be an extreme close-up. I don't want to see the same 26 wrinkles on a guy's face over and over again.

What we need are more cards like this one.

Thursday, April 23, 2015


I've said this time and time again, but it really can't be emphasized enough.

I have a ton of respect for people who make customs.

Maybe it's just me, but there seems to have been a bit of a custom revival around the blogosphere lately. I don't remember many such blogs being around a couple years ago.

Some people have even gone the extra mile and printed their customs onto actual card stock. And some have graciously gone the extra extra mile by sending their hand-made creations to me.

One such generous soul is reader Ryan, who emailed me a while back. Between a post on this blog and comments I left on a few others, he'd noticed how much I enjoyed the custom 2008 A&G minis that had been floating around the blogosphere. Chances are you've seen a few by now.

As it turns out, Ryan is actually the guy who makes them.

Ryan offered to send me a fresh new batch of his customs, free of charge.

What I do to deserve such generosity, I'll never know.

One thing I like about these customs is that they provide a nice mix of baseball and non-baseball subjects. I mean...Santa? J. K. Rowling? Sailor Jack? That's an awesomely eclectic grouping.

And, although I don't usually like to admit this, I'll 'fess up to the fact that I was one of those kids who waited in line (at midnight, way past my bedtime) for the new Harry Potter books.


Of course, Ryan's custom set really hits its stride with the ballplayers.

Like the non-baseball subjects, the mix in here was fantastic. You've got veteran stars like Kemp and Hunter next to bright-eyed youngsters like Springer and Machado. And, between the throwback and the bat barrel shot, you'll even find a few customary mini-collection hits in this batch.

It really covered all the bases.

If I didn't know any better, I'd get these confused with standard A&G minis.

They're that well-designed. Better yet, Ryan even used the template from 2008, my absolute favorite year of A&G.

And, while I've said this before, I should note that, yes, these customs do go into my binders next to all my other "mainstream" cards.

They deserve a nine-pocket home just as much as anything else around these days.

I think my personal favorites of the lot were the legends.

Clemente, Aaron, Berra, won't find much more star power in a single scan.

Ryan actually included two Clementes in this package. At first, I thought it was some sort of mistake. A custom dupe? That didn't seem possible.

Only much later did it dawn on me to check the backs.


Like the standard A&G minis, Ryan's custom set apparently includes Bazooka parallels, numbered to just 25 copies a piece. I don't know if Ryan knew it or not, but Clemente is my all-time favorite player, so specifically scoring his parallel was a joy.

Custom guys like Ryan keep this hobby fresh. If I had any artistic ability whatsoever, I'd probably be trying my hand at it. Creations like these are pure works of art.

As long as people keep cranking out customs, I'll keep salivating over them.

Wednesday, April 22, 2015

I actually found a decent LCS

It wasn't long ago that I went on a rant about my local card shop.

Now, in all honesty, I wrote that post knowing that there was another LCS in town. But, as all neighborhoods seem to have, it's the kind of store that seems to be closed every time I pass by it. I went in there once years ago, and I don't recall finding anything that special.

That closed the book on that shop, or so I thought. A fellow reader named Brian who I traded with recently encouraged me to give that LCS another shot. He frequents the place quite a bit and offered to meet there in-person. Since the store isn't far from where I go to school, I decided to stop in and check in with him last week.

Brian (and his son) were already there when I arrived. The two of us exchanged some cards, his being a gem-filled batch which I'll show in a future post.

Being an LCS skeptic and all, I wasn't expecting to come away with much from what the shop had on display that afternoon.

One of the first things that caught my eye was a couple bulky quarter binders of Cubs and White Sox.

I figured I'd give them a look, even though I expected it to be nothing but overproduction-era cardboard. Again, that's the skeptic in me talking.

Were there a decent chunk of late '80s/early '90s cards in there? Yup. But there were quite a few pleasant surprises to be found as well, the first being that '82 Fleer Lee Smith rookie at the top of this post.

I'd been searching for a Smith rookie for years, and, with the card show from a couple weeks ago, I found two in the span of four days, paying a grand total of 35 cents for the pair. These two Cubs, on the other hand, are fairly easy-to-find base cards that I somehow didn't already own.

Discount binders can be good for that sort of thing, too.

All things considered, the Sox binder was the bigger and better of the two.

A decent amount of the Cubs stock were cards that you couldn't pay me a quarter to take. Yes, the Sox binder had its fair share of 1991 Donruss and 1992 Fleer, but there was a lot more diversity.

I'll hand over a shiny Washington for A&G minis all day long.

The Ziploc Nellie Fox was a nice little oddball surprise.

The Thome comes from the Ultimate Collection checklist, a relatively forgotten high-end brand from a years back.

So high-end, in fact, that even the base cards were numbered.

The quarter binders were even good for a couple mini-collection hits.

Dig Paulie in the throwback duds.

Now we're coming to the biggest finds from this binder.

Though there were a few inserts and such mixed in, most of the quarter cards the guy had were commons. I didn't expect to go through a bout of parallel-mania.

But imagine my surprise when I found not one, not two...

...but three Chris Sale parallels within a few pages of one another.

This isn't some random schlub we're talking about here. This is the current and future ace of the White Sox rotation. A perennial Cy Young contender. Chris Sale.

So why is this stuff winding up in the same binder as piles of 1992 Score?

Your guess is as good as mine. Maybe the LCS owner has some kind of personal vendetta against Mr. Sale. Maybe he didn't recognize they were parallels.

I can't explain it, but I'll certainly take them for a quarter a pop.

The guy also had a few dollar binders on display.

With the exception of vintage bins, I don't much dabble into dollar cards. There frankly aren't a lot of modern cards I'd pay a dollar for. But, as I was standing there, I figured what the heck and picked out a few. It's the least I could do to support what might become my new regular LCS.

This was well worth a wrinkled Washington. My Vlad collection doesn't have a ton of oddballs, so it's one of a select class. What you see there is actually a little CD that slides out of the laminated sleeve. I'm not sure what's actually on the disc, though.

And that's the first time I've thought about CDs in a long, long while.

These aren't necessarily worth a dollar each, but I knew I couldn't let them go once I made eye contact.

For whatever reason, I virtually ignored the "Unique Unis" insert set from 2009 Topps Unique when they originally hit the shelves. Sure, the brand itself wasn't spectacular (see: it sucked), but these are fantastic.

They're a bit difficult to find, however, which is why I didn't mind forking over a dollar for each of these two.

Because I always love me some throwbacks.

Shiny Tribute Ty Cobb for a dollar.

I'll take that deal every time.

This beautiful insert of the Splendid Splinter closed out my dollar dig.

There were a few other dollar cards I was considering buying, but I didn't have a ton of cash to spend. I left them behind for the next time I hit this place.

What left the biggest impression with me was the fact that the LCS owner said Ah, just give me ten bucks for what was supposed to be around twelve or thirteen dollars' worth of cardboard. Most of the other shops I've frequented calculate that final purchase price down to the penny.

All in all, it was a fine afternoon's work. I got to peruse some cardboard and put a name with the face of a fellow reader of this blog. Brian, if you're reading this, it was great to meet you and I hope we can do it again soon.

I'm not sure this shop will become a regular stop for me or anything like that, but it's good to know that it's there just in case I get the itch to dig through some cards one afternoon.

At the very least, it does my heart good to know that there's a decent LCS around here.