Monday, December 31, 2018


If you're reading this blog right now, please allow me to apologize to you.

I feel like I was a bad blogger in 2018. Too often I'd let days (sometimes weeks) go by without a peep. And while my R&R time now isn't exactly copious, there were moments I could've blogged and just...didn't. Maybe it was the scanning and cropping and all the other tedious exercises a post requires. But the writing itself is still exciting, and there's no good reason I shouldn't be doing it. I get to talk about baseball cards with other people who love baseball cards -- what could be better?

So let me throw my one concrete New Year's Resolution out there: I plan to blog more in 2019.

And if you've traded with me at all this year, well then let me really apologize to you, because once again I've managed to fall way behind on my trade posts.

I'm talking about people like Adam of "Cardboard Clubhouse," who sent me one of the few trade packages I've ever received with an unopened pack of cards inside. I mentioned that I actually kinda liked this Leaf Babe Ruth set in a post a while ago and Adam returned the favor with a fresh pack of the stuff.

Rarely does trading sate my need for cards and opening wax in the same breath.

These ASA oddballs from Adam are technically cards of Yogi Berra (top) and Johnny Mize (bottom), but wow are there a lot of stellar cameos around them.

After many pack openings and numerous pleas, I finally finished my Sandlot insert set about a month ago -- Adam played a key role by sending me Betram (who got really into the '60s, and no one ever saw him again) and Benny the Jet.

I do have a card-related resolution for 2019, but it's the same resolution I try and fail to keep every year: BUY LESS RETAIL!

I love packs as much as everyone else, but you get to a certain point where 95 percent of what you pull are doubles and/or extras, and then you're left with the reality of spending $20 for the sheer thrill of opening packs. I treat myself to a healthy helping of most of my favorite sets upon their release (Stadium Club, Archives, etc.), but after that initial frenzy it's easy to see that my money is probably better spent elsewhere -- especially when you have people like Adam who just send you Clementes out of the goodness of their heart.

Of course this is what I always tell myself at the beginning of every year, but then sure enough there I am walking out of Target with $40 worth of cards within months.

I also recently completed my first trade with Chris of "The Pedestrian Collector" blog recently after he posted about a Kyle Schwarber X-fractor he had up for grabs.

I still love X-fractors in all their glory (especially the way they scan!), and Chris was nice enough to toss the standard Chrome Schwarbs in, which I also needed.

But apparently Chris couldn't help but send some other Cubs along for the ride.

A handful of insert needs that didn't survive into 2019, thanks to Chris.

And here's a whole page of '83 inserts from this year's Topps, sent to me by Matt of "Summer of '74" fame as part of a Twitter trade extravaganza.

I pounced on the lot, knowing that my want lists were still horribly inflated with these -- most indeed were needs, though the alternate-universe '83 Ryno is easily my favorite.

Next up comes a package from Robert of "$30 A Week Habit," a good dude who I've been trading with since the days I blogged two or sometimes even three times a day way back when (still have no idea how I did that).

Robert recently offered up some spare '78 Burger King oddballs for trade, which I quickly claimed -- because come on, do you really expect me to pass on something
like that?

Here's hoping I can clear out my straggling 2018 A&G base needs before the 2019 edition comes out.

I quite like these "World Talent" inserts, but it'll probably be years (if ever) before I have all the ones I need -- thankfully I have people like Robert to help me chip the list away.

And finally comes not one, not two, but a staggering FOUR Dime Box Dozen needs sent to me by P-Town Tom of "Waiting 'til Next Year."

Next to the sacred '93 Pacific Dale Murphy, I think that Bo Hart was the longest-tenured item from my DBD list -- a thrilling combination of an obscure dude I collect and a throwback uniform all in one baseball card. The Thome was one of those annoying SOBs I'd managed to accumulate a couple parallels of without ever finding the standard base version. And the Sutton and Johnstone were simply two easy base cards I somehow didn't have.

And thus the Dime Box Dozen list called for reinforcements.

Alongside the DBDs came something I never knew existed -- an Oreo-branded baseball card!

Oreos are right up there with Reese's for my favorite candy, and god knows how many packs of 'em I might've bought had I known they came with cardboard featuring dudes like Junior Griffey. But really, that's only a small taste of all the great cards and (often incoherent) thoughts I hope to share with you kind readers in 2019.

Happy New Year, all!

Friday, December 28, 2018

COMC beats the doldrums

This is often the time of year when my collection (and, by nature, my blogging) falls into the doldrums.

I haven't had a ton of time to spend with my cards lately, and since we're in the winter months, there haven't been any new releases here to get me running out to Target. I'm not all about the latest-and-greatest stuff, but new packs on the shelves do lend a nice flow to the collecting season. I feel a bit untethered without them.

Thankfully, over the last couple years, I've stumbled upon an antidote to the winter doldrums: COMC!

I became a heartless consumer and actually took advantage of COMC's Black Friday free-shipping promotion to finally acquire a cart of cards that'd been building for months (the fact that I'm just posting them now should tell you how behind I am on my blogging).

One reason I love COMC is that it's like a card show, if that card show lasted for half-hours here and there over long stretches of time and had stuff you've never seen at an actual card show. Stuff like BBM Masanori Murakamis (the first-ever Japanese player to play in the US of A), SI for Kids singles that just missed your youth, and...bubble refractors!

Those are a million times better than anything I'd ever find on the shelves of my local Target, I know.

There aren't any dime boxes on COMC, but that doesn't mean I can't still go mini-collection hunting.

A couple things I acquired during some of the many rabbit holes I fell through on COMC: Jim Abbott signing autographs and a Chrome photo-variation of Thor riding the Phillie Phanatic's ATV, for some reason.

In terms of quantity, my latest COMC order revolved around all the online-only sets Topps has put out in recent years, like this quartet of Topps On Demands.

I'd never fork over the money to actually buy them from Topps, and most of 'em aren't even all that good-looking (save that fantastic B&W Rizzo), but they're hard to refuse at pennies on the dollar.

Now these, on the other hand, are just fantastic -- an On Demand take on the '78 design without borders.

The other main online-only brand out there these days is Topps Throwback Thursday, and I went a little nuts with those this time around.

These are eons better than the On Demands because all of them riff on past Topps designs (and not just baseball ones!). The sets are a tad rich for my blood, but who needs them when you can just wait for the singles to pop up on COMC? With the exception of the Ichiro in the center (which I think was like $1.15 or something), none of these cost more than a dollar.

A lot of them were as low as 50-60 cents a piece during the Black Friday markdowns, which sure beats getting trampled at your local big box store like most Black Fridays.

Oddballs are king on COMC -- where else am I gonna find a Smokey the Bear card of Hughie Jennings? or a Shakey's Pizza-issued Three Finger Brown?

Here's a few more modern names of the oddball variety, including my first Granny Goose single (Norris) and an always-welcome sight of Goose Gossage as an Oakland A -- though it's too bad Goose didn't get a Granny Goose card.

Ah, it feels so good to finally have these two long-desired needs in my collection -- a pair of zero-year rookies of dudes I collect!

Turner was dealt to Baltimore in a package for Ramon Hernandez before ever playing for the Reds, and Hendricks came to the hometown Cubs in the Ryan Dempster deal without having played for the Rangers.

COMC's pricing can be weird sometimes -- a lot of photo-variations are cheaper than the standard base cards, which was the case with these four (not that I'm complaining about it).

A couple more Flagship variations, this time of the legend variety -- the Robinson is especially sweet since you don't see many cards of him with the Angels.

I didn't specifically try to buy only Bert Blyleven and Jimmie Foxx diamonds/liquorfractors, but it just so happened to work out that these were the cheapest of their kind at any given time during four of my many prowls through the COMC inventory.

Vintage played a bigger role in this COMC order, mostly because a lot of the ones I saw were heavily marked down as per Black Friday.

I mean, you can't seriously expect me to pass up a Post Rocky Colavito for less than a pack of Topps Flagship, can you?

I always check for cheap Nu-Scoops whenever I find myself on COMC, and I'm convinced that my subconscious is building this set without my actual self knowing about it.

A couple SSPCs, including a wonderful shot of Lou Piniella blowing a bubble from the scarcer '75 SSPC set.

I've noticed that the Kellogg's inventory on COMC doesn't turn over very often -- I've sifted through the same ones dozens of times over by now.

But every once in a while, you might just stumble upon a 3-D deal that makes those hours of searching through same card after same card worth it, as was the case with this glorious lot.

I don't often buy a ton of standard Topps vintage on COMC because it's hard finding ones I need at prices I like.

But again, persistence does pay off -- these two combined cost less than a pack of Gypsy Queen, and the well-loved Bench put a longtime "Keep Dreaming" need to bed.

And finally, here's the biggie -- a '63 Topps Sandy Koufax!

My target card at last month's show was the very card you see here: Koufax's best Topps single, in my opinion. Trouble was, almost all the copies I saw were in the $50-60 range, which was a bit more than I wanted to pay. My dad saw one for $30 that was gone by the time I decided I wanted to buy it -- thus I walked away from the card show without that treasured '63 Koufax in my pocket.

Guess you can call it a blessing in disguise, because this battered copy on COMC set me back all of $13 just days after the show. I couldn't click BUY NOW fast enough. It's the most expensive card I've bought on COMC to date, but still a small price to pay for such greatness -- now my oldest and very favorite Sandy Koufax.

Consider the doldrums properly thwacked.

Wednesday, December 26, 2018

The (Second) Dime Box Frankenset, Page 53: Numbers 469-477

Frankenset Page #8 WINNER -- 2016 BBM Fusion #66 Norihiro Nakamura (13 votes)

Watching the results of last week's frankenset page provided a nice respite from my week of holiday retail hell, so additional thanks to all who participated.

In the end, though, it wasn't much of a race -- our bat-flipping friend from across the Pacific won without much of a contest. Norihiro Nakamura collected 13 of the 34 total votes en route to the easy win, pretty much pacing the field from start to finish.

Also, I'm just now learning that Nakamura had a brief cup of coffee with the 2005 Dodgers, so last week's page proved to be educational as well as just plain fun.

This week's group is a day late due to Christmas (hope everyone out there had a great holiday!) and earns the distinction of being our last page of 2018.

As per the Random Number Generator, we'll be looking at Page 53 (#s 469-477) here today, so let's meet the contestants.

1991 Upper Deck #469 Sil Campusano

A fine interview shot, courtesy of the CBS Hispanic Radio Network. 

1993 Stadium Club #470 Mike Macfarlane

On the aggregate, I think catchers receive the best baseball cards. 

1995 Score #471 John Smiley

Pitcher at the plate! 

1994 Donruss #472 Craig Lefferts

Fauxback alert. 

1998 Fleer Tradition #473 AJ Hinch

Remember what I was saying about catchers getting the best cards?  

2011 Topps #474 Jeff Mathis

Looks like we've inadvertently gotten a catcher-themed page going here.

1991 Score #475 Andy Van Slyke

1991 Score is the cure for what ails ye. 

1994 Topps #476 Dave Hollins

A tangle of media. 

1994 Score #477 Kevin Reimer

Fauxbacks, revisited.

That just about does it for The Last Frankenset Page of 2018. The polls are now on the sidebar.

Happy voting!

Thursday, December 20, 2018

And I can give you lots of reasons why (guest post from Dad!)

Nick's dad here...I'm fascinated in the differences in modern-day card collecting compared to my collecting years (basically mid-70s to early 80s)...all those inserts and variations!..all those "hitz"!

With that in mind,I was recently gifted a full box of the Panini Beach Boys cards..These were issued to tie in to their ill-fated "reunion" a few years back..and now i have a little first-hand window into modern day collecting...

I LOVE the Beach Boys,and really enjoy this set. Nice shots of the group from all their eras.

All the core members are well represented,with again,pics throughout the many years...Brian,Carl,Dennis,Al,Mike..also Bruce (who joined mid 60s)....and....

David Marks!?...He was an original Beach Boy,but was replaced by Al Jardine within 18 months of them signing a contract...since Carl and Dennis are no longer with us,he was roped into the reunion,despite not having anything to do with them for almost 50 years!

Aside from the base cards having "variations" of a little gold surfer dude in the corner (not shown) there's LOADS of inserts...from "etchings",both gold & silver..

To both "gold record" and plain ol' "on the record"...

And,like so many baseball sets Nick has shown me,some superfluous inserts..I mean,"Sounds Of Summer"?...doesn't that cover almost ALL their hit singles!?

Of seems every baseball set nowadays waves the carrot of "look for autos!" and "look for relics!"...and this set is no different! I didn't nab any autographs (from what i saw on Ebay,a Brian Wilson auto card is going for 2-300 bucks!) ,and since the other Wilson brothers Carl & Dennis aren't represented in autographs or relics, i did as good as can be on the "Concert Gear" relic cards - Brian & Al! friend who gave me this box was pissed..his box contained a Bruce Johnston autograph and a Mike Love relic,haha!!

I have to admit,though i can do without all the minor variations of the same basic cards,the inserts and such make opening each pack exciting...and a far cry from the pack after pack of "got it,got it,got it,got it" from my collecting what i'm trying to say was (yeah,ya knew it was coming) Fun,Fun,Fun!