Friday, September 28, 2018

The (Second) Dime Box Frankenset, Page 34: Numbers 298-306

Frankenset Page #62 WINNER -- 1973 Topps #555 Bill Hands (15 votes)

Last week turned out to be another blowout in what I thought might be a competitive page.

No one was a match for the mighty Bill Hands, an all-around fantastic card (even with the tape residue on my copy) that took 15 of the 38 total votes to cruise to an easy victory.

My allegiances personally skew a bit toward the Davey Johnson double dips, but you really can't go wrong either way with '73 Topps.

No vintage this week, but we've still got a nice potpourri with the Random Generator's Choice of Page 34 (#s 298-306).

Let's meet the nominees.

1993 Upper Deck #298 Scott Radinsky

That's one way to get an autograph. 

1995 Collector's Choice #299 Chuck Carr

I'll let you caption this one. 

1993 Upper Deck #300 Kyle Abbott

Ball bucket hero number! 

1996 Collector's Choice #301 Mark Leiter

This should be the silhouette on the pitchers' Silver Slugger award.  

2013 Topps Update #US302 Yan Gomes

Hero for a day. 

1996 Upper Deck #303 Darren Lewis

I don't care much about the anthem itself, but the cards are still a fun theme to trace.

1998 Collector's Choice #304 Walt Weiss

Walt Weiss, a man who I'm convinced was put on this earth to receive great baseball cards. 

 1988 Score #305 Hubie Brooks

Nighttime double dip!

2000 Topps #306 Mike Lansing

A rare ray of sunshine in the dumpster fire that is 2000 Topps.

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

Happy voting!

Thursday, September 27, 2018

Why buy retail?

Often times I ask myself why I ever buy my baseball cards retail, mostly because I have yet to come up with a good answer.

Case in point: I recently bought a $20 blaster of 2018 Topps Fire. There is no reason I should be buying a $20 blaster of 2018 Topps Fire. You only get 48 cards per blaster (over 40 cents per card), I'm not wild about the design, and most of these will be available for dimes the next time I'm able to hit a show.

This is what the sane part of me tries to tell myself -- and yet, more often than not, it's the compulsive side of me that ends up winning out and exiting the store with a blaster box nestled in my hands.

Topps Fire is what I call an accumulation set: my only real hope is to accumulate cards of guys I collect, which Fire and its star-studded checklist did indeed provide.

But is the promise of sheer accumulation a good enough reason to open a product? I don't know: if you're lucky you might hit a decent rookie whose cards you have little interest in paying more than a buck or two for on the secondary market (e.g. Acuna), but that's really the only cost-efficient excuse I can think of for buying retail, and it doesn't even matter to me that much because it's not like I'm a big rookie hoarder.

So yes, here's something like my 153rd different Cespedes and 126th different Trout, and while I'm happy to have them, standard run-of-the-mill cards like these are little more than accumulation fodder right now.

Unlike some other sets, Topps Fire doesn't even have specific stuff for me to covet because all the cards kinda blend together after a while (though I was surprisingly pleased by last year's Fire, I really wish this had been a one-off set).

I was fortunate enough to pull perhaps the only thing I actually pinpointed from the checklist with that Goose Gossage, because you just don't see too many cards of him with the Padres these days.

Fire's inserts fail to get me fired up -- instead I'm left to wonder what's with all the nuclear-waste-yellow tint this year.

Perhaps the possibility of an autograph is enough to get some people to buy retail, but not me: while pulling an auto was certainly a surprise, I can't say I got too worked up over one of some dude on the Phillies I'd never heard of.

Fire's eye-catching parallels are really the only distinct thing(s) about it, but again, the question: are they enough to justify the purchase of an entire blaster?

Probably not: but in the meantime, I should mention that I pulled this shiny Shohei (something called a Flame parallel), which in a small way made this blaster at least semi-worthwhile to me.

Really the main satisfactions I get out of opening retail exist in the abstract. The thrill of opening a pack wrapper, busting wax, scratching the itch, etc., etc. I guess sometimes it's more about the feeling of it than the cards themselves. In the end, it seems as though buying retail mirrors a lot of our habits as collectors: there's not much reason behind it, but yet we still do it.

Because nobody ever said collecting baseball cards was a sane person's business.

Monday, September 24, 2018

Hi, I'm Nick, and I'm addicted to dime boxes

At what point does a hobby become an addiction?

Is it when your hobby starts to impede on your physical and mental space? Is it when you find yourself thinking about your hobby in times where there is absolutely nothing to remind you of it (work, car rides, etc.)? Is it when you start trying to quiet the little voice in your head telling you to spend time and/or money on your hobby, time and/or money you'd rather save for something else? Is it when that little voice starts winning?

Or is it merely when you become conscious of the fact that you're doing all these things?

I don't know.

I do know that I've often had to ask myself all those questions I just listed in relation to my baseball card hobby -- specifically my love for dime boxes -- and I know that I've answered YES to each and every one of them at one point or another.

If there was one holdout on the idea that what I had wasn't an addiction, it was the fact that it was the sheer physical experience of dime boxes was what I craved as much as the cards themselves: the sight of the big white box, the feel of the cards in my hands, the anything-can-happen mystery of it all.

But now I don't even have that anymore.

If you're on Twitter, you may have noticed the recent influx of virtual dime box sales, specifically the gigantic ones held by blogger-turned-tweeter Brian (formerly of "Play at the Plate" fame, a blog I remember well from my early days around here). And if you partook, perhaps you may have also noticed another common customer purchasing heaps of stuff from a lot of those posts: me.

Whether it's devotion or addiction, the sheer magnitude of this somewhat scan-heavy post should speak to the quality and quantity of Brian's sales, and my enthusiasm for them.

Virtual dime boxing comes with its own series of emotions: the joy of seeing something you need and scanning the comments with glee to see that no one has yet claimed it, the agony of seeing someone beat you to the punch on something else (the latter often accompanied by muttering and self-loathing).

Thankfully no one snatched these two mini-collection hits from my grasp.

But virtual dime boxing shares one facet of the standard dime box experience that's starting to convince me I'm sucked into an addiction more than a simple hobby: the fact that I sometimes buy cards I already have.

The Vlad was indeed a new addition to my ever-growing player collection of his, and I was ecstatic to receive the Ichiro...until I checked my binders and woefully discovered that it was a double all along.

Addiction or not, it's just plain fun finding good deals on stuff I want, and I thank Brian wholeheartedly for letting these rookies go for a dime a pop.

I'll always pounce on mascots for dimes, and I'm shocked to discover that that's actually my first card of the Racing Sausages (not pictured: Randall Simon).

Like any good dime box vendor, Brian also has a few higher-priced items on the side to help generate some extra cash, because rarely do you see a seller with dime cards and nothing else.

This Judge was a "high-end" pickup at a whole dollar, but well worth it to put a much needed card of a big name to rest.

These two shiny beauties were 50 cents a pop, and the fact that I still collect Kosuke Fukudome might be another indication that I have an addiction.

At a certain point, I had to watch my wallet in relation to Brian's sales.

I do what I can to stick to a budget in this hobby/addiction, and I try not to let that budget get too far out of hand -- but most of that went out the window when I saw that Brian was having a second sale after that first one.

Because you can't really expect me to pass on more dime cards, can you?

Especially when I have the chance to pick up some latest and greatest cardboard for dimes without having to buy a single overpriced pack of the stuff, like Bowman Platinum.

Everything here was a dime aside from the Gleyber Torres (50 cents), a card I wanted because it doesn't actually feature Gleyber Torres at all.

More mini-collection hits, though the Jackie Robinson is my favorite of this bunch by a wide margin.

I never thought I'd say this, but we really need more vintage football and basketball designs on our baseball cards.

Legends, including a new Mets Nolan Ryan card that I'm astounded I'd never seen before.

Okay Nick, I told myself, you've had your fun, but seriously, you're trying to save money right now, so let's just try and sit out this third dime sale, yes?


Of course, I ended up succumbing to the perils of Brian's third dime sale, because how the heck am I gonna resist picking up parallels of top-tier dudes I collect for pocket change?

Mini-collection hits abound in Brian's sales, and I added a new quartet to the binders with this group here.

With addiction comes irrational thought, such as my odd passion for shiny objects.

Still, despite what it may seem like on the surface, never once did I buy a card I didn't need (or at least thought I needed) from Brian's sales simply because it was cheap: that's kinda been the dividing line for me in the eternal battle between hobby and addiction.

Everything from Racing Sausages to dudes disguising themselves as Gleyber Torres to Mike Piazza in a cloud of dust are cards I know made my baseball card collection better, bit by little bit. But fun as it may be, collecting isn't always prone to rational thought when it comes to time and money. With a hobby comes the need to curb it at times. And I firmly believe I can do that, if needed. So, you see, it's really not an addiction at all.

Oh, by the way, guess what came in the mail today?

Yup: that's a fourth virtual dime box haul from Brian.

Hi, I'm Nick, and I'm new to this whole rehab thing.

Friday, September 21, 2018

The (Second) Dime Box Frankenset, Page 62: Numbers 550-558

Frankenset Page #9 WINNER: 2011 Topps Update #US74 Henry Blanco (15 votes)

Another page, another blowout: Henry Blanco's bird's-eye play at the plate hammered the competition last week, taking 15 of the 34 total votes en route to an easy victory.

I like seeing close races with my frankenset pages, but it's easy to see why this one turned into a laugher -- I mean, just look at this card.

This week's page, courtesy of the Random Number Generator, is the highest we've seen yet (Page 62, #s 550-558).

In my humble opinion, however, we've got the quality of a low-numbered page with this group, so let's meet the nominees.

1973 Topps #550 Dave Johnson

Going for the jugular with the very first card: a coveted vintage double dip! 

1994 Collector's Choice #551 Todd Benzinger

Throwing it back to the PCL's San Francisco Seals. 

2013 Topps #552 Francisco Cervelli


1993 Score #553 David Nied

A Rockie in the Rockies. 

1994 Stadium Club #554 Melido Perez

Only now am I realizing that pickoff shots are actually kinda rare.

1973 Topps #555 Bill Hands

An excellent ivy card, coupled with an ambitious (though still fairly garish) airbrush job -- the Twins obviously never played at Wrigley before interleague play. 

1982 Donruss #556 Shooty Babbitt

When Shooty Babbitt ruled the world. 

1978 Topps #557 Tony Solaita

A man and his lumber. 

2013 Topps #558 David Murphy

Hard to imagine a better scoreboard card than this one.

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

Happy voting!