Wednesday, May 31, 2017

Came for Archives, left with Stadium Club

I've heard rumblings of 2017 Topps Archives being on the shelves, so I naturally took a walk to Target this afternoon.

Sadly, there was no Archives to be seen, a disappointing development since I'm looking forward to it more than perhaps any other set this year. There was, however, a nice consolation prize: a discounted, $12.99 blaster of 2016 Stadium Club in the Extreme Value bin. (EXTREME!!!!)

This was a shocking development because a) my Target rarely has discounted blasters, and b) when they do, they're usually something along the lines of NASCAR or college football. Because of the sheer shock value of it all, I decided to grab the eight-pack blaster of Stadium Club despite the fact that there aren't a ton of cards left from the set that I need.

Nevertheless, I figured the chance to open some packs and maybe acquire a handful of new cards for the binders (and perhaps some frankenset nominees) was worth the trimmed price tag. In other words, yes, I fell for the typical retail discount scheme.

So let's see how I fared, shall we?

Pack #1

#287 Blake Snell

Right off the bat, we have a fun, frankenset-worthy card in the form of a Blake Snell-Chris Archer pregame handshake.

#249 Yasmany Tomas
#7 Edwin Encarnacion
#117 Charlie Blackmon, gold parallel

#237 Richie Shaffer

Another frankenset-eligible Rays rookie bookends the first pack of the blaster.

This image features Shaffer doling out invisible handshakes and hugs after his teammates gave him the silent treatment following his first MLB homer, a joyous moment I remember watching live.

Pack #2

#96 Adam Eaton

No needed cards in this pack, though Adam Eaton's bubble deserves some praise.

#114 David Ortiz
#151 Stephen Piscotty
#46 Greg Bird
#95 Francisco Cervelli

Pack #3

#47 Brandon Crawford
#169 Kevin Pillar
#224 David Wright

#145 Carl Edwards Jr.

Edwards isn't a binder guy for me (yet), but this glove-on-the-head autograph shot is sure to warrant strong consideration for the frankenset.

#171 Randy Johnson

Pack #4

#250 Bartolo Colon
#241 Rick Porcello
#27 Anthony Gose

#95 Francisco Cervelli, gold parallel

Not much to say about this yawner of a pack other than the fact that, thanks to my bilingual mom, I learned that Cervelli means "brains" in Italian.

#73 Chris Tillman

Pack #5

#124 Felix Hernandez
#44 Mark Melancon
#78 James Shields

#177 Monte Irvin

I already had this one, but it's a great example of a black-and-white photo done right in Stadium Club.

#19 Marco Estrada

Estrada knows he's in line for a run at the frankenset.

Pack #6

#87 Lou Gehrig

That's more like it.

After a largely disappointing start to the blaster, out comes this heroic shot of the Iron Horse, a card I've tried and failed to capture since this set hit the shelves nearly a year ago.

#230 Jayson Werth
#161 Alex Rodriguez

#104 Cole Hamels, gold parallel

My third and final gold parallel of the blaster, and the only one of the trio I needed for my binders.

#135 Phil Niekro

Pack #7

#63 Orlando Cepeda

I didn't need/already had any/all of the cards in this pack, but here's one of my favorites from the set that just missed making an appearance in my annual Top Ten Stadium Club post from 2016.

#52 Yangervis Solarte
#184 Byron Buxton
#205 Christian Yelich
#22 Matt Reynolds

Pack #8

#130 Jason Heyward
#77 Tyler White

#LDC-8 Tom Seaver, Legends die-cut insert

My one and only insert of the blaster.

This beauty is the 202nd(!) different card I own of Tom Seaver as a Met, a number I didn't quite believe was accurate until I went back and counted again.

#289 Anthony DeSclafani

#51 Ken Griffey Jr.

Though this blaster was filled with doubles and spares, I needed the last card of the lot, a gem of Junior taking a mighty hack in the Home Run Derby.

And that just about does it for this tale of discounted retail. Stadium Club may not have provided the joy and fun of Archives, but it did the trick.

Still, I'll leave it up to you to decide whether or not this blaster lived up to its promise of EXTREME VALUE.

Tuesday, May 30, 2017

Out of bed, back to the flea market

The local outdoor flea market has been up and running for nearly two months now, and I finally got a chance to make the rounds this past Sunday.

At this point, attending the flea market is a tricky proposition since I work Sundays, but if I wake up and get into gear early enough, I'm good for at least a couple hours of roaming the aisles since my shift doesn't start until noon. Trouble there is that I'm not a morning person.

But against all odds, I did it on Sunday. I got my lazy behind out of bed and spent a wonderful morning at the flea market looking for one thing and one thing only: cards, of course! The search didn't take long, since there's a guy in the first couple aisles who usually has a small box of 7/$5 ho-hum singles on display.

I dug without much conviction until I found this GQ Roger Maris here, a card I needed and one that forced me to pick out six more cards from the stacks.

Nothing too spectacular here, just a few miscellaneous recent inserts I needed for various player collections.

It may not have been the flashiest of buys, but there was no doubt about it: the 2017 flea market season was officially underway.

Sadly, it looks as though my regular vendors from seasons past have retired from the flea market, as tables with power tools and diabetic socks lined the usual "card aisle."

There is, however, one other card guy who set up with regularity during the handful of trips I was able to make it to the flea market last year, and it looks like he's back for 2017. He remembered me from the past purchases I've made at his table, and he said something along the lines of You should've been here earlier, I had a bunch of vintage but a guy came up and cleaned me out!

Like a knife through the heart.

But it wasn't a total loss: the singles that remained in the guy's box were priced at 5/$1.

Along with the odd Ruth-Mattingly-Gehrig mashup above, I landed these two pre-fame rookies of future superstars (though I'm not sure if I can still call Matt Harvey a "superstar" at this point).

A couple 20-cent oddballs for the binders with The Bull and The Kid.

I thought I was done with the 1992 Upper Deck FanFest checklist before Sunday.

Not so fast. Turns out that specially-made sets were printed with gold foil instead of the standard silver, a variation which had flown completely under my radar until this weekend.

I scooped up each and every single one of the dozen-ish gold FanFests I found in that 5/$1 box without a second thought.

This vendor also has a glass case with a few higher-priced singles off to the side.

I didn't see anything Earth-shattering in there, but at a buck a pop, I did grab these two 1975 TCMA singles of Red Rolfe/Ruffing. It's the latest chapter in my addiction to TCMA oddballs.

These are also slightly taller than your standard baseball cards: think '89 Bowman, but, you know...a lot better.

Here's a glass-case card I've actually wanted for a while.

This is the earliest Topps photo I know of to feature a pitcher taking a cut. Pitchers are shown on the basepaths on a few select '56 Topps images, but I have yet to see a shot that features one actually at the plate.

A no-brainer buy at 50 cents.

Sometimes my baseball card memory isn't as good as I think it is.

While priced at $4, the vendor let me have this '69 Lou Brock for two bucks. It looked vaguely familiar to me, but I bought it with a fair amount of certainty that I didn't already have it. Guess what? I already had it.

If nothing else, however, the copy I purchased on Sunday (left) serves as a solid condition upgrade over the one that'd previously been sitting in my Cardinals binder (right).

The real story of the morning came from a vendor I'm pretty sure I've seen before, but one that sometimes had little baseball knick-knacks on display and nothing of supreme interest in the past.

On Sunday, however, the guy had it all. I'm talking at least a dozen large boxes of cards, most in penny sleeves and toploaders, featuring all sports from baseball to hockey to wrestling. I can't say for certain, but I'm betting he bought out a few other people's collections over the winter months.

The problem was -- and this is a common sight at the flea market -- nothing was priced. I decided to start with the twenty-or-so cards I'd picked out from the extremely small stack of non-penny-sleeved-and-toploadered cards he had on display.

He quoted me two bucks on the lot, which meant that gems like the Soriano throwback and an impossibly tough Pacific parallel for my Darryl Kile collection became mine for mere dimes.

I assumed that the singles in sleeves and holders wouldn't be quite so cheap, and I was right.

I picked out any and all cards that were halfway interesting to me during my dig and brought them up to the vendor to see what kind of price he'd give me on the lot. He returned with a quote of $70, and he told me most of them were a buck a piece, which made sense since I had about 70 cards in my stack. (Though it would've been much easier if he'd just labeled the boxes.)

From there, I whittled my stack down to a number I felt more comfortable with. It was a long and sometimes grueling process, but my wallet only allows for so many dollar cards. These aren't dime boxes we're talking about here.

In the end, I cut it down to twenty cards, though this shiny Ty Cobb insert was never in much danger of getting axed.

This guy had a lot of scarce inserts/parallels from the late '90s and early 2000s that are darn near impossible to find nowadays, among them this pair of numbered Donruss inserts of two of the greatest backstops to ever play the game.

The Schmidt is a rare Diamond Anniversary legend short-print from 2011 Topps, a card I'd coincidentally just placed in my COMC cart a week ago.

While it lists him as a Brave, Hank Aaron is clearly shown in his unfamiliar Brewers duds on that Upper Deck insert, a Short Term Stop which deemed it easily worth the dollar price tag.

A couple rare adds for my Ichiro collection, including a chrome parallel from the early years of Heritage and an All-Star insert which was apparently issued with factory sets back in 2011.


These are both fantastic buys at a buck a piece, but the card on the left -- a Topps Pristine refractor limited to just 149 copies -- was one of the steals of the day.

It's so fancy, in fact, that it came inside a sealed case...which I soon busted since that's no way for a baseball card to live.

These cards are not what they seem.

I bought the Gywnn thinking I'd gotten an unbelievable steal. A Donruss rookie of Mr. Padre for a buck? It seemed to good to be true, and sadly, it was. Turns out it's a Donruss reprint from the early 2000s, something I would've realized had I looked at the back and/or taken it out of its sleeve and toploader before purchasing it. Still a cool card, however, and well worth a buck.

The Mark Grace is a seemingly ordinary single from 1993 Fleer until you notice the branding logo in the bottom-left corner. Fruit of the Loom? Since when did underwear come with baseball cards?

The '90s were weird, man.

These two, on the other hand, are the real deal.

Hard to beat a buck a piece for vintage Yaz and Fisk.

There's Carlton Fisk again, paired with his semi-namesake in Steve Carlton.

The Fisk is a beauty from Kellogg's death rattle in 1983, and while I own a handful from the '81 series, the Carlton is my first single from the credit-card-esque 1982 Permagraphics checklist.

These, however, were the unquestioned finds of my foray through the dollar box.

George Brett seems to have some of the most desired Hostess cards around, and I couldn't believe my luck at finding them for a buck per. I'd never seen the '77 before (my big Beckett book informs me it's actually a short-print), and I was quoted a five-dollar price tag the last time I saw the '79 Brett at a card show.

And thus the dollar dig came to an end, but what a high note to end on.

That is, until I found myself with a few extra minutes and a few extra bucks remaining in my wallet later on in the day.

The remaining aisles of the flea market resulted in little excitement cardboard-wise, so I did what any sane collector would do: I returned to the dollar boxes to see if I'd left behind any scraps. And did I ever. I carefully selected four cards to close out my morning, a few of which actually set me back more than a buck since I paid $10 for the quartet.

However, this Ichiro -- a second Heritage Chrome parallel I'd somehow missed the first time around -- cost the standard buck.

Ryan Howard here was three dollars, but I initially balked at the price: Howard is more of a second-tier player collection of mine (at best) and looks to be on the outs in baseball.

Still, since I knew these would be my final purchases of the day, I decided what the heck and pulled the trigger since it's not every day you have a chance to buy an eTopps card.

Unlike the rare, scarcely-seen inserts and parallels I found on Sunday, this one has actually been on my want list for years.

That's Air Jordan himself (back when fans knew him as #45) showing off his jump shot form on this 1994 Collector's Choice rookie card, a quirky baseball-basketball crossover that left a gaping hole in my binders.

Two bucks later, MJ was mine.

The final three dollars of the day went towards securing a hallowed Don Mattingly rookie for the archives, the last of the many surprises the flea market had in store for me on Sunday.

Donnie Baseball has risen in my collecting hierarchy ever since I found his '84 Topps rookie at a card show last year. Then, against all odds, I stumble upon this '84 Fleer at the flea market. I guess I can't fight it any longer: I'm officially a full-on Don Mattingly collector now.

So that's how I spent my Sunday, walking through the aisles of the local flea market at a time which I normally would've been under the covers and drooling on my pillow, out like a light.

I'd say that was worth getting out of bed, wouldn't you?

Saturday, May 27, 2017

Frankenset Redux, Page 1: Numbers 1-9 (new format!)

Judging by the general silence I received upon reviving the frankenset polls last week, I think the idea of voting on each individual page has run its course.

No harm, no foul there, but since I do still want to do weekly frankenset posts, I've been throwing around various ideas to keep the series going. What I've ultimately decided on is a bundle of nine categories (to keep the theme of "nines" alive) designed to get both myself and my readers more anointed with my frankenset pages. I'll be starting over from the beginning of the second frankenset in accordance with this new format.

The categories may change over time, but today you'll see the nine I've chosen for now. You may notice that I'll be keeping running counts of a few things as I post each week's page, an accumulation of stats I'm interested in gathering for my own curiosity.

Comments on these pages are, of course, more than welcome (as are suggestions for possible categories moving forward), and I hope my readers enjoy the new format!

Page #1 (Numbers 1-9):

Completion Status: 9/9

Numbers Needed: None

The Players

1991 Line Drive #1 Billy Bean

Card #1 is a minor-league issue of Billy Bean, the only openly gay man to have played in the big leagues and MLB's current Ambassador of Inclusion.

2015 Bowman Chrome #2 Michael Brantley 

A throwback to the days of the Negro Leagues' Cleveland Buckeyes.

1998 Team Best #3 Hiram Bocachica 

A rare minor league throwback.

2016 Stadium Club #4 Kevin Kiermaier

He's a Gold Glover for a reason, people.

1993 Stadium Club #5 Tony Phillips

The late Tony Phillips doing double duty for my turning two and throwback mini-collections.

1994 Topps #6 Derrick May

A masterpiece by the bat rack.

1992 Upper Deck #7 Roberto Hernandez

An interview for Channel 19.

2017 Topps #8 Jose Berrios

The newest addition to this page, and a fantastic shot under the lights.

2000 Ultra #9 Mickey Morandini

Double dipping at Wrigley.


Cards by Decade:

1990's -- 5 (Running total: 5)
2000's -- 1 (Running total: 1)
2010's -- 3 (Running total: 3)

Mini-Collection Hits: 

Throwbacks -- 3 (Running total: 3)
Double Dips -- 2 (Running total: 2)
At the Wall -- 1 (Running total: 1)
Interviews -- 1 (Running total: 1)

Cameos of Note

That's former Rockies slugger Dante Bichette sliding into second on this Wrigley double dip...

This Magic Moment

...and it's because of Bichette that I can trace this card with relative confidence to the top of the 3rd inning of a Rockies-Cubs matchup at Wrigley on May 5, 1999, when the Cubs turned two on a grounder off the bat of Vinny Castilla with Bichette on first base.

The double dip ended the inning, but the Cubs would still get trounced that afternoon by the Blake Street Bombers, 13-6.

Funniest Card

Because Hiram Bocachica is still one of the best baseball names ever.

Lessons in Card Backs

This week I learned that Roberto Hernandez -- who would go on to play in 17 big-league seasons -- nearly lost his right arm to a blood clot before his career ever got started.

Best of the Rest

1976 Topps #6 Rennie Stennett

Here, I'll be featuring the best card that wasn't able to crack the week's frankenset page.

It was tough to leave Rennie Stennett's unthinkable seven-hit performance out of the frankenset (even if it did come at the expense of a 22-0 demolition of the Cubs), but I just love that Derrick May bat rack card too darn much.

Toughest Draw

1960 Topps #5 Wally Moon 

I keep both of my frankensets in the same binder, so it's only natural that I would try to draw comparisons between the two.

Here's where I sigh at the misfortune of great cards in the second frankenset who I had to leave out of the inaugural edition due to stiff -- and often insurmountable -- competition.

Tony Phillips may feature two mini-collection hits rolled into one, but ain't no way he's taking down Wally Moon's Mighty Unibrow (dibs on the band name).

Second Guessing

2016 Topps Update #US-8 Pedro Alvarez

Here's something you should know about me: I, admittedly, have a tendency to waffle, and this is where I come to do that with my collection by choosing a card from the second frankenset who was perhaps wrongly omitted from the first.

Pedro Alvarez currently inhabits the #8 slot in my Inaugural Frankenset, and while I'm a fan of the claustrophobic celebration shot, part of me wonders if Jose Berrios got the short end of the stick here.

Favorite Card

This is one of those pages where my favorite card of the bunch seems to change every time I look at it, but as of this writing, I give the nod to Kevin Kiermaier's highlight-reel robbery from last year's Stadium Club.

That just about does it for Page #1 of the Second Dime Box Frankenset. I hope you enjoyed the new format, and as I said before, all comments/suggestions are more than welcome.

Thanks for reading!