Friday, June 28, 2019

The year the trading died

I got a package in the mail yesterday. 

This isn't normally a rare occurrence, but, for whatever reason, it's kinda felt like that this year. The package came from Bob, a reader and a recent friend of the blog who's generously decided to shovel large quantities of fantastic cards on me -- and it was the first cardsphere mailer I'd received in over three weeks.

The last thing I want is for this to come off as a whiny Why isn't anyone sending ME cards? kind of thing, because I certainly don't mean it that way -- it's more of an observation that, yes, trading seems to be a shadow of what it once was around here. 

It could well be all in my imagination, but the days of seeing nothing but junk mail and bills in my mailbox seem to be multiplying as of late.

I suppose I'm as guilty as anyone else of scaling back a bit with trading. I'm not sure if it's a conscious decision. I never said to myself I'm gonna trade less this year, but facts are facts: mailing packages isn't cheap (pushing $5 for a basic-sized mailer) and my card funds are a bit lower now than they've been in the past.

The expense of trading is no secret: so in times like these, it helps to not only remember the selfish joy of seeing a bright yellow package waiting for me, but also the thrill I get out of putting a mailer together for someone else, mixing and matching that stack of cardboard you hope hits home.

Bob's been so prolific with his package crafting that I feel bad: the sheer amount and quality of stuff he's sent me woefully outweighs what I've offered in return.

He even did the impossible by actually finding a 1988 Donruss card I needed(?!?!?!?!?!) with that Ken Williams, a broken bat card I've either never seen or never noticed -- probably the latter since, like all other collectors, I have about 8,452 singles from '88 Donruss strewn around my house.

Part of the reason I'm so excited for the card show I'm planning on attending next week is that it'll (hopefully) give me a chance to knock out some of the reams of 2019 singles I still need.

In the past, I'd make quite a few trades for whatever I needed from the newest stuff (and find a good home for my extras from said sets) -- not so much anymore. My 2019 want lists remain bloated and in need of some quality dime box time.

Big League is gonna be a prime suspect at the show (there's a whole lot of excellent base cards I still woefully need), but Bob supplied a couple inserts for the cause here including a rare dual mini-collection hit with that Yelich.

Ironically, the cards I'm showing in this post about the demise of trading came from about a half-dozen different packages I've received from Bob over the past couple months.

I mainly cataloged my mini-collections for my own reference, but I'm pretty sure Bob checks my lists too because almost all the themed cardboard he sent was gloriously new -- for that, I'm eternally grateful.

But Bob's not all about the mini-collection stuff: here's a fine smattering of randoms, all fantastic in their own individual way.

Mini-collection hits are always welcome, but it's this kind of odd hodgepodge that really makes me miss the glory days of trading.

Obscure oddballs, hooray!

Ted Williams cards (especially the inserts) are always sure to win my heart, as is anything for my nascent Eloy Jimenez collection.

One of the packages Bob sent contained an absolute obliteration of 2017-18 Topps insert needs -- a welcome sight because I get a weird thrill out of seeing my want lists shrink with the deletion of each passing number.

More mini-collection hits, including another piece from Kirt Manwaring's infinite catalog of plays at the plate.

Mini-collections, horizontal edition.

Unthemed, but still excellent: I'm not sure how I'd never seen the Seanez before, one of the few cards I know of that features visible fowl in the background.

Here's another famous card I'm not sure how I didn't already have: note the rookie-year Ryne Sandberg cameo.

In a weird twist of fate, that Miguel Batista -- the silver parallel of a card that'd been on my Dime Box Dozen list for almost a year -- arrived from Bob the same day I got the base version of it from Tom.

Also, I've never heard of Micah Bowie (a Cub for all of 11 games in 1999), but that's one of the better Wrigley Field cards I've seen.

Two more Dime Box Dozens from Bob, both of which were of the annoying "Have Parallel, Need Base Card" variety.

Let's keep the mini-collection train going.

And going.

And going!


Another insert-themed assault -- that Koufax is particularly nice because unlike his '55 rookie, it's not one you see reprinted to death.

And finally, to close this long post about how no one trades anymore, comes a Dime Box Dozen card I didn't actually think anyone was gonna send me, because Pacific singles fell off the face of the earth at some point in my childhood.

But lo and behold, along comes Bob with this coveted Harold Baines, only the second card I've seen of the new HOFer during his blink-and-you'll-miss-it 28 games a Cleveland Indian and one I didn't even know about until very recently. At its pinnacle, trading makes the impossible seem possible. I don't know if there's any better way to illustrate that than the fact that people like Bob are around to send me obscure Pacific singles of obscure, forgotten stints, out of the blue, just like that, in the magic that is mail. I miss that feeling.

So...anyone wanna trade?

Tuesday, June 25, 2019

The (Second) Dime Box Frankenset, Page 29: Numbers 253-261

Frankenset Page #22 WINNER -- 2017 Stadium Club #197 Tyler Skaggs (14 votes)

With 2019 Stadium Club hitting shelves as we speak, I suppose it's appropriate that a fellow Stadium Clubber (if that's the proper term) won our most recent frankenset page.

There wasn't much drama last week: Tyler Skaggs took 14 of the 32 total tallies en route to the easy victory. He led big right from the start, and no other card ended up collecting more than seven votes. It's definitely worthy of a spot in the champions gallery: a fine example of the eye-popping panoramic beauty that's pretty much exclusive to Stadium Club these days.

One can only wonder how many future frankensetters this year's Stadium Club will end up producing.

With another Tuesday comes another batch of nine: as per the Random Number Generator, we'll be taking a look at Page 29 (#s 253-261) this week.

Let's meet the nominees.

1994 Fleer #253 Marcos Armas

Apologies, but I have no family-friendly captions for this card.

2017 Stadium Club #254 Maikel Franco

2017 Stadium Club looking for the repeat.

1977 Topps #255 George Scott

There's cool, and then there's Sharktooth Necklace cool. 

1984 Fleer #256 Larry McWilliams

Baseball cards within baseball cards will never cease to blow my mind. 

1995 Collector's Choice #257 Kirt Manwaring

Another museum piece from Frankenset MVP Kirt Manwaring. 

1991 Upper Deck #258 Jose Lind

Mini-collection hit on the front, pure awesomeness on the back. 

1993 Upper Deck #259 Brett Butler

My frankenset is forever indebted to 1993 Upper Deck. 

1992 Topps #260 Devon White

Hats off to Devon. 

2012 Topps #261 Kyle Blanks

I remember this card being quite popular when 2012 Topps came out, and now, seven years later, it's retained every bit of its beauty to me.

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

Happy voting!

Tuesday, June 18, 2019

The (Second) Dime Box Frankenset, Page 22: Numbers 190-198

Frankenset Page #11 WINNER -- 2016 Stadium Club #93 CJ Wilson (14 votes)

Last week was one of those pages where I had absolutely no idea who was gonna win.

Turns out the rest of you weren't as divided as I was: CJ Wilson took the crown without much of a challenge, taking 14 of the 41 total votes for a cruise-control win. The next closest competitor (Travis D'Arnaud) managed all of seven tallies, cementing Wilson's easy road into the Gallery of Frankenset Champions.

Also, I'm pretty sure this was the first time I've cracked 40 total votes for the week, so much thanks to all who played along!

It took a few tries for the Random Number Generator to land on a new page (we're nearly two-thirds of the way through the frankenset now), but alas, one finally arrived: this week's nine is supplied by Page 22 (#s 190-198) of the binder.

Let's meet them.

1997 Topps #190 Andy Benes

Signing for the Redbird faithful. 

2018 Stadium Club #191 Raisel Iglesias

For the win. 

2016 Stadium Club #192 Delino DeShields

In an odd coincidence, here's Delino DeShields Jr. getting soaked...just a week after a different card from 2016 Stadium Club won a page in which Delino Sr. was featured!

1996 Donruss #193 Eddie Taubensee

Even the worst sets have their high points. 

2000 Stadium Club #194 Todd Jones


2013 Topps Update #US195 Chris Johnson

Negro League throwback! 

2019 Topps #196 Adam Engel

A spectacular dual mini-collection hit from one of the frankenset's newest tenants.

2017 Stadium Club #197 Tyler Skaggs

Stadium Club panorama. 

2016 Topps Opening Day #198 Avisail Garcia

Still another coincidence: here's the second White Sox '83 throwback/at the wall combo in the same page!

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

Happy voting!

Monday, June 17, 2019

This better be good, Series 2

My wild goose chase for this year's Series 2 is a good example of why collecting baseball cards is sometimes more of an addiction than anything.

Here's a few reasons why I say that. 1) Series 2 isn't even that exciting. 2) I told myself I wanted a quiet day around the house today. 3) I can probably get most of what I need from these extremely cheap at the card show I'm hoping to attend in a few weeks. The symptoms of addiction are all there. And yet since Series 2 was released last Wednesday, I've been to no less than four Targets and two Walmarts (some multiple times) in search of them.

The fruits of my insane labor finally paid off this afternoon when I found a fresh stock at a semi-local Walmart I didn't even know existed -- a place I've never been to before and don't plan on ever seeing again.

In the eye of the storm, it's a bit difficult to objectively discuss what my mind's been like since Wednesday, why I chose to nearly get into multiple car accidents driving through the parking lots of places like Target and Walmart, or nearly getting slammed by multiple shopping carts once inside their aisles.

I chalk it up to emotional buildup. The Target across the street from my house is usually good about putting new card stock out, but when I kept coming up empty there all week, and also struck out at another Target and a Walmart and another Target (and on and on...), I guess some kind of fire caught beneath me in frustration. It was about more than just the cards. My retail tour came more out of determination than joy.

Hence, addiction.

In the aftermath, all that matters is that I have some Series 2 now, and I won't be needing to wade through so many empty card displays at the local (and evidently backlogged) retail outlets.

Don't read too much into my search: Series 2 isn't the greatest set ever or anything. But I also don't wanna make it seem like it was all for naught, or that I'm disappointed. On the contrary: Series 2 was a fun break -- I bought a blaster and a hanger box -- and actually seems a bit more cozy than past (and often dull) Series 2s. (Though that may just be an after-effect of my goose chase.)

Series 2 has the usual dudes in new (albeit photoshopped) duds, but there's also a few notables who haven't switched jerseys -- like Max Muncy, who was mysteriously absent from almost every Topps release until recently, and Jung Ho Kang, who's back in the bigs after visa issues the past couple years.

Like every Flagship release, it's always a treat to witness the new crop of photographic prizes, the ones that make sifting through the reams of boring pitching/hitting shots worth it.

These ballpark cards remain a hit, some even managing to spruce up stadiums I normally consider to be eyesores (see: pretty much any Florida sporting venue).

Most people seem to be opening Series 2 for the rookies -- from most of the pub you'd think there were three guys in this set and no one else.

Me, I'm probably most excited for Series 2 for all the new high-numbered frankenset contenders -- which have a tendency to be quite scarce since most sets don't go past 300-400 cards.

Some inserts I'm mostly indifferent about (thank christ I didn't get a Gary Vee card).

Buying these cards at Walmart meant I got a handful of exclusive Mookie Betts inserts -- I suppose they're nice enough, but do we really need more Mookie Betts cards at this point?

Let's change the channel to some inserts I actually like -- I'm still woefully behind on accumulating the 150 Years inserts I need from Series 1, but it's nice to get a head start on Series 2 here.

Also, dig the '84 Ichiro!

And hey, at the end of it all, I even pulled a photo SP of a guy I collect -- thankfully it wasn't one of the two photo SPs I already purchased on the secondary market in my Series 2 anxiety.

Starting tomorrow, I'll probably look back at my Series 2 experience (the four Targets! the two Walmarts!) and wonder what the hell was wrong with me -- although I'm betting some of you are probably thinking that already.