Friday, August 31, 2018

The (Second) Dime Box Frankenset, Page 45: Numbers 397-405

Frankenset Page #6 WINNER -- 1999 Fleer SI Greats of the Game #52 Joe Rudi (13 votes)

Last week was a fun time for the frankenset: lots of votes, a close race, and what I thought was a major upset.

Joe Rudi's fabulous catch stirred up some excitement around the blogs, ending up taking 13 of the 40 total tallies for the victory (none of the past pages drew more than 30 combined votes). I thought Sombrero Bip Redux would be a runaway winner for this page -- the original made it deep into the original frankenset tournament -- but he had to settle for a close second (10 votes).

And that's why I'd been hoping for a low-numbered page to pop out of the random number generator.

But no such luck this week: the randomizer spit out #45, so we'll be taking a look at another page of semi-high numbers (397-405) this time around.

It may not have all the guts and glory of a low-numbered page, but this week's nine still features a whole lot of fun.

2011 Topps #397 Sean Rodriguez

Not one of my favorite players in the game, but double dips don't discriminate.

1973 Topps #398 Rich Hand

Aloha, Mr. Hand (and a Campy cameo!). 

1985 Fleer #399 Bill Gullickson

The classic hitting pitcher pose.

1993 Upper Deck #400 Dave Martinez

This hero number made the frankenset for the so-close-yet-so-far photo on the back, but my cardboard OCD doesn't allow me to feature a card flipside-first in a binder page. 

2015 Topps #401 Chris Coghlan

Chris Coghlan, on the other hand, appears to have had much better luck in his pursuit of this fly ball. 

1995 Upper Deck #402 John Smiley

Pitchers don't always have to bunt. 

1996 Score #403 Tom Pagnozzi

Dirt clouds, dudes falling over each other, limbs everywhere: a textbook play at the plate.

1993 Pinnacle #404 Bob Zupcic

Chin music! 

1994 Pinnacle #405 Chris Turner

Some prime dugout action happening here.

That does it for this week's page. The polls are now on the sidebar.

Happy voting!

Wednesday, August 29, 2018

What I love about collecting

Greg of the immortal "Night Owl Cards" recently wrote a post about some cards I sent him and how they pertained to the idea of him being difficult collector to buy for (though I assure you, Greg: you're most definitely among the easiest collectors to buy for!).

It sounds paradoxical, but I sometimes worry about being hard to trade with for the sheer fact that my collection is so easy-going. I chase after a lot of different things, which I fear gives people the impression of not knowing where to start and/or worrying I'll already have everything they send me. And let me say that this is most definitely not the case.

Take this brilliant Starlin Castro mini I recently received from Greg: I own over a hundred cards of the ex-Cub, yet this one was a new add to the binders.

I have no insecurities over the largeness of my collection (other than the question of how I'm going to move it all once I get my own place).

One of the biggest reasons I love collecting the way I do is that I own enough cards to be proud of what I've accumulated thus far, but yet I know that there's still piles and piles of stuff I need floating around out there. My collection will never be complete. There will always be cards to chase. This may seem daunting to some, but for me it's what's kept me in this hobby all these years.

Hundreds and hundreds of new cards I need are being produced every year -- like these two from Greg -- and really all I can hope to do is secure a small percentage of them and be okay with that.

Collecting is not an art form: there are an infinite number of ways to collect baseball cards and none of them are the wrong way (with the possible exception of pure profit-seeking, which to me isn't really collecting in the first place).

Me, I don't really have a definitive theme to my collection, which I've come to think has become a theme in and of itself.

And there's always new things to collect!

While I've never specifically tried to hoard cards with Wrigley Field photos -- probably the most photographed ballpark in baseball history -- Greg has me thinking of doing so with these two (young Tito!).

Better yet, I'm always learning in this hobby, even about things I thought I'd long since covered.

For a long time I was under the impression that I had all I needed from early Fleer, but lately I've come to realize that there's a whole lot of great cards from the era I've somehow never seen before.

And if you love oddballs as much as I do, well you can really forget about ever discovering all this hobby has to offer, because there will always be some tiny regional food- or chain-issued set you'll never see.

I own a few of these excellent '70s discs (this one comes courtesy of some company called Isaly's), but this dupe Penguin from Greg's collection was most definitely new to me, as are about 99 percent of the oddballs ever printed. That's exciting to me. That makes the possibilities infinite.

As a collector, sometimes it helps to take a step back and realize just how beautiful and thrilling being a collector can be.

Friday, August 24, 2018

The (Second) Dime Box Frankenset, Page 6: Numbers 46-54

Frankenset Page #49 WINNER -- 1996 Upper Deck #434 Al Martin (9 votes)

No real competition last week: Al Martin & Friend jumped out to an early lead and never looked back, taking nine of the 25 total votes en route to victory.

I've long had an affinity for just plain goofy cards, and this one definitely fits the bill -- I'm excited to forever showcase it in the Gallery of Frankenset Champions.

The random number generator spit out #6, so we'll be taking a look at that page (#s 46-54) of the frankenset this week.

I'm happy that a lower number finally came out, as those pages tend to be a bit better on the aggregate since they generally have more options. It's tough to fill the higher numbers sometimes since relatively few sets have checklists of more than four- or five hundred cards (especially considering this is the second of two frankensets). 

So let's take a closer look at our first lower-numbered page, shall we?

1993 SP #46 Pat Borders

The one and only card I own of a dude with his skull sliced open. 

2012 Bowman Chrome #47 Andrelton Simmons

Double dipping over Bryce Harper. 

1987 Topps #48 Wally Backman

A classic play at the plate from '87 Topps. 

1994 Score Rookie/Traded #RT49 Jody Reed

Another notable double play cameo, this time in the form of none other than The Kid.

1981 Fleer #50 Jamie Quirk

Batting cage hubbub.

2017 Stadium Club #51 Travis Jankowski

A rare dual mini-collection hit here (throwback and at the wall!). 

1999 Fleer SI Greats of the Game #52 Joe Rudi 

Joe Rudi's famous web gem from the '72 Fall Classic.

1998 Collector's Choice #53 Kevin Orie

Turn of the century throwback! 

2015 Stadium Club #54 Bip Roberts

Sombrero Bip, revisited.

That does it for this week's page. The polls are now on the sidebar.

Happy voting!

Wednesday, August 22, 2018

Why, yes, I had a good National Baseball Card Day

National Baseball Card Day took place a couple weeks ago and this particular year it went down as one of the single greatest Card Days I've ever had as a collector.

Not so much because of the above Aaron Judge, which was this year's "freebie" with a $10 purchase from any LCS (I think officially it's supposed to come with a $10 purchase of Topps products but my shops weren't strict about that). I stopped at two shops and spent over $10 at both, which means I got two copies of said Judge.

A great card, but again, it's not the reason I'll forever remember this National Baseball Card Day.

Nor was it memorable for the four NBCD packs I received (both shop owners were nice enough to give my dad a free pack just for walking in the door).

I'll always take free cards -- especially ones you can't get anywhere else -- but these ended up playing a background role this year.

Maybe it's a little self-aggrandizing, but I feel good knowing that I've done a small part to contribute to a local card shop on National Baseball Card Day.

The first of the two stores I stopped at had this odd Javier Baez tobacco in its dollar bin, and though I'm not a huge dollar-box aficionado, I grabbed it since a) I knew I'd probably never see it again, and b) I had absolutely no idea what it was (any info on the latter would be helpful).

I saw about a dozen people walk in and out of my first LCS during my trip there last weekend, which is both comforting and impressive since I'm usually the only one there on non-NBCDs.

Thankfully none of those other customers snagged these two from the dollar bins, though.

More from the dollar bins.

The two Cubs for a buck per is high but by no means excessive (you wouldn't believe what a lot of shops around here charge for Cubs stuff), while the other two are fairly good deals.

This particular shop owner has a few Cubs/Sox quarter binders on display, and while I've picked through them many times before, I seem to find a few new things with each visit.

Nothing mind-boggling here, though I am ecstatic to finally own a copy of that strange head-to-toe airbrush job on the '77 Solderholm.

Now these two definitely were surprises from the quarter binders -- you'd be hard pressed to find stuff like this at all at a card show, much less for a quarter.

The second card shop also provided something a show couldn't -- a cheap copy of this tough Ichiro Heritage SP from a few years back.

I saw a copy of this very card at the show I attended earlier this month, in fact: the dealer wanted $5 for it -- meanwhile the LCS price ended up being 75 cents(!).

The one downside about this second shop is that almost everything is behind a glass case -- that tactile cardboard enjoyment just isn't there.

One of the owner's glass-case displays advertised large stacks of cards for $1.50 each, but he was offering them at half price as a special NBCD deal. Honestly, most of them weren't steals at 75 cents either (Ichiro aside), but I'm still happy to float a few bucks the owner's way since he's a good dude. (Plus you just can't expect shops to match card show prices very often: it's the exception to the rule.)

No steals of the century or anything, but I certainly didn't mind plunking down a few quarters a pop for these.

But 75 cents per definitely ain't a bad deal for these two -- especially considering the Benintendi is one of the SPs from last year's Update.

And then we have a '58 Topps Yogi Berra.

Wait...what? One minute I was browsing through 75 cent cards and the next minute I was in the process of buying a vintage HOFer. How...? Apparently the shop owner remembered I collected vintage from my prior visits and mentioned he'd just bought a nice lot off a guy. He showed me the stack, and I kid you not, it was big card after big card. Star after star. HOFer after HOFer.

It was nice to see, but never in a million years did I think I'd be buying any of them -- especially not after the LCS owner pulled out his Beckett when I asked him how much they were (his glass-case vintage is horrendously overpriced).

Turns out he wanted 10% of the book value for each card -- standard fare for well-loved vintage cardboard -- which means that I got both the '58 Berra and this beautiful '56 Spahn for just $12 a piece.

Definitely a fair price considering neither are in what I would call "poor" shape, and I certainly didn't expect to come home with anything close to a pair of '50s HOFers. Wow! What a National Baseball Card Day, right? I paid for my purchases and was almost out the door when the shop owner mentioned to let him know if there were any specific guys I was looking for: he could reach out if anything came in.

I said okay and mumbled something about a certain dude I collected...

...and minutes later I was walking out with a FREAKING '56 TOPPS ROBERTO CLEMENTE.

Even I'm not quite sure how this happened. First I couldn't even fathom that I was holding a '56 Clemente. And then somehow I was taking it home. The shop owner wanted $40 for it and eventually accepted the $35 offer I made. The borders are lopped off, as you can see, and there's a huge crease running down the middle, but who cares: THAT'S A '56 ROBERTO CLEMENTE (also a mini-collection hit, no less)! Also known as a card I never thought I'd own, not in a million years.

So, yeah, I had a good National Baseball Card Day, thanks for asking.

Monday, August 20, 2018

Lukewarm about Archives

This was the first card I pulled out of my first pack of 2018 Topps Archives.

It's significant because Hoyt Wilhelm is otherwise known as the guy behind my #1 player collection. This kind of thing never happens. Usually my first card is some dude on the Royals or Rays I don't know. Not HOYT! (It's even enough to quiet my OCD about the fact that Hoyt was actually an Oriole in 1959.)

With Hoyt in the bag, it was time to bust open the rest of the five rack packs I purchased -- and while perhaps it was somewhat due to the euphoria that Hoyt created in that very first pack, I have to admit the rest of this year's Archives left me wanting.

Let's start with the most obvious duds of 2018 Archives: the '59 design.

Topps did almost nothing right here. Firstly -- and this is a fault of the entire set, not just the '59s -- the card stock is back to some kind of thin cheapo brand. The older designs in the last few years of Archives were blessed with Heritage-like stock, which I loved. And now the rug gets ripped right back out from under me with this standard glossy stock stuff. What the hell?

That aside, the '59s -- probably one of my top-ten Topps designs -- are flat-out badly done. The obvious misstep is the player names, which are aligned too far to the right for some reason (it's much more obvious on the guys with longer last names).

I'm no techie, but this seems like something that could've easily been fixed, and thus comes off as being the result of general apathy on the part of Topps.

The '77s are a little better, although others who know the specific fonts of the design better than myself have been quick to point out its flaws (I can confirm the team text is much skinnier than the actual '77s).

That Lindor is definitely a beaut, but overall there's not much to get excited about with these.

But here's the real draw of 2018 Archives for me: 1981!

I've been looking forward to this all year for the simply fact that '81 is among the least-honored/reprinted of all the Topps designs. It's also one of my favorite Topps sets (which many others seem to disagree with me about). And I'm happy to say that the gloriousness of these '81s didn't disappoint -- which I give Topps many points for.

Like the other designs in this year's Archives, these aren't perfectly executed (the team name alignment is a bit off once again), but the flaws are nowhere near as egregious as the '59s and I can't wait to add more of these to my collection.

Let's check out some card backs, shall we?

These look pretty spot-on to me, and it's nice to see backs that have good old cartoons and text in place of Instagram and Twitter handles.

Legends feel more at home in Archives than other sets for the sheer fact that it's a set designed to honor players of their generation (it's still a bit jarring to see someone Cal Ripken or other legends pop up in a turn-of-the-century tobacco set like A&G).

I like that Topps always seems to include a few older dudes like Bert Blyleven and Catfish Hunter who don't pop up in many modern sets. It's genuinely exciting to pull cards of guys like that as opposed to the Well here's my 148th Miguel Cabrera feeling I get with others. But one other flaw I noticed in this year's Archives is that the checklist has almost no action shots. Seriously: the Hunter was the only base action photo I pulled out of five rack packs. Of course, '59s are all posed, so the photo-shoot images make sense there.

But while '77 and '81 mostly featured posed shots, there was still quite a bit of action mixed into those sets -- so it's odd that Topps seems to have made 2018 Archives about 99 percent posed, which makes it feel more like a Heritage offshoot rather than an independent brand of baseball cards.

Most of Archives's inserts aren't really inserts: this nifty pull definitely has the look of an insert, but it's actually a shorter-printed high number.

The brilliant Turn Back the Clocks are also high-number SPs, while I believe the Coming Attractions inserts are retail-only (a real treat considering that's one of my all-time favorite rookie-themed designs).

And if I'm only gonna pull one parallel out of five rack packs, I suppose Rhys Hoskins isn't a bad one to get.

But here's the unquestioned Insert Set of the Year: THE SANDLOT!

I've said it many times before, but The Sandlot is my favorite movie in the history of movies. I've probably seen it north of 30 times and can quote most of the script by heart. Topps nailed the design since the film is supposed to take place in 1962 and while I would've preferred to pull a Smalls or Hambino, I'll certainly take Timmy Timmons here. (Needless to say, I'll be building this insert set and will gladly take any extras anyone comes across.)

But even with the saving grace of The Sandlot, I'm a bit lukewarm about 2018 Archives -- to me, the obvious design flaws and errors make it feels like a significant step back from the last couple years when the brand was giving Stadium Club a run for its money.