Thursday, January 30, 2020

I dream of baseball cards

I had a real, actual dream about baseball cards the other night.

This, in a strange way, is mildly noteworthy since it's a first for me: I've never dreamt about baseball cards before. I'm curious to know if this is a regular thing among collectors or if I'm some kind of weird anomaly now. The dream itself is kinda vague and hazy -- I'm not often able to vividly recall dreams -- but it involved something about me being away at college and deciding whether or not I wanted to cut class and go to a local card shop. (For what it's worth, I did once cut class to open a box of baseball cards.) I went to the card shop, found a dime box with heaps of exciting stuff inside...

And that's when I woke up, disappointed it was all just a dream.

Honestly, I'm a bit surprised I'd never dreamt of cards before given how long I've been obsessing over these rectangular pieces of cardboard -- I guess they were bound to seep into my subconscious sooner or later.

At least I can take solace in knowing my real-life collection isn't half bad either, made even better by a package I recently received from Bo of "Baseball Cards Come to Life!".

Bo specifically combed through my mini-collection lists and found ones I still needed -- I certainly don't expect everyone I trade with to do this, but it's nice when it happens.

It took a few months to catalog the 8,000+(!) cards in my various themes, and I mainly did it for my own reference. Now I don't have to undertake the minor annoyance of dragging the binders out every time I'm not sure if I have a card or not! It took a whole lot of card-hours, but in the end I'm thrilled to have it all cataloged.

Still, given the scope and time of that project, it makes sense that I'd eventually lose myself in dreams of baseball cards.

I also received a nice package from longtime friend of the blog Joe Shlabotnik, whom you might know from the excellent "Shlabotnik Report" blog.

Like anyone who kinda collects a certain team, I don't feel like I pull enough Cubs from packs of baseball cards. I guess when you're looking for a specific team it'll almost always feel like you come up short. (Conversely, it feels like I pull way too many Diamondbacks and Marlins, since there's very few guys on those teams I care about.)

Mr. Shlabotnik, however, seems to have a hot hand for Cubs -- which I suppose doesn't much help him, but my collection has certainly benefited from it.

Slowly chipping away at the Archives needs.

More needs from Mr. Shlabotnik, including Reason #1,343 to love the blogs: people send you Vlad Jr. cards out of the goodness of their heart.

A surprise package from Jim (aka gcrl) of "cards as i see them" showed up on my doorstep not long ago, probably putting the number of packages I've received from him during my blogging tenure in the two- or three-dozen range by now.

People sending me '88 Donruss seems like something out of a nightmare, but not in this case -- that Garber (a sunset card!) was actually a Dime Box Dozen need that somehow slipped through the cracks all these years.

Every package I get from gcrl seems to include at least one thing I've never seen before, and this oversized oddball set of Cubs issued by Marathon in 1990 was the discovery this time around.

More for the mini-collection catalog!

And finally here's a mini-collection hit that actually looks to be something out of a dream, with all that trippy '90s Dufex technology.

My collection in the conscious world is, in many ways, a lot like a dream, thanks in no small part to all the great people like Bo, Mr. Shlabotnik, and gcrl who've helped add to it over the years. I mean, who in their right mind could've predicted I'd one day own over a thousand cards of dudes wearing throwback jerseys?

Still, I guess there'll always be that subconscious part of me that longs for the unattainable baseball cards, the ones that just now, apparently, decided to begin revealing themselves in my dreams (any therapists reading are free to tell me what all this might mean).

Tuesday, January 28, 2020

The (Second) Dime Box Frankenset Bracket: Cowan Region (Pt. 2)

Our first official bracket results are in!

#1 (Page 68) -- 1972 Topps #611 Rich Reese (26 votes)


#16 (Page 36) -- 1993 Donruss #319 Geno Petralli (10 votes)

#8 (Page 37) -- 1996 Stadium Club #333 Jay Buhner (19 votes)


#9 (Page 18) -- 2017 Stadium Club #156 Lucas Duda (15 votes)

#5 (Page 58) -- 1996 Collector's Choice #522 John Smiley (18 votes + tie-breaking vote)


#12 (Page 52) -- 1972 Topps #464 Jim Roland (18 votes)

#4 (Page 62) -- 1973 Topps #555 Bill Hands (20 votes)


#13 (Page 4) -- 1973 Topps #32 Fred Norman (15 votes)

As you can see, we've already got madness!

The other three matchups went about as expected: but in a twist, our 5 vs. 12 battle ended in a tie. As usual, the standard tie-breaking protocol applies: I ask the first five people who'd like to comment on this post to leave their choices between Smiley and Roland. The first card to receive three of these votes will move on.

I'll update this post (and the bracket) once we have a winner.

EDIT: Smiley wins!


In the meantime, the Cowan Region moves forward with its second set of matchups to close out the round -- here they are.

#6 (Page 6) -- 1999 Fleer SI Greats of the Game #53 Joe Rudi


#11 (Page 25) -- 1993 Upper Deck #224 Jay Buhner

#3 (Page 9) -- 2011 Topps Update #US74 Henry Blanco


#14 (Page 32) -- 1998 Stadium Club #284 Sean Berry

#7 (Page 29) -- 1977 Topps #255 George Scott


#10 (Page 46) -- 1970 Topps #413 Sonny Jackson

#2 (Page 10) -- 1992 Studio #86 Jose Lind


#15 (Page 7) -- 2008 Bowman Prospects #BP58 Scott Van Slyke

The polls are now on the sidebar, and don't forget to help break last week's tie!

Happy voting!

Thursday, January 23, 2020

Supplies, defunct blogs, Dime Box Dozens, and other musings

I don't know if I'm in the minority, in that I've never once bought shipping supplies in my life.

I have several large plastic bags full of penny sleeves and toploaders sitting in my closet right now, mostly accumulated from card shows, trades, etc. It's probably enough to last an infinitude of lifetimes considering I almost never use them for my own cards. Bubble mailers are a similar story -- I reuse the bubble mailers I receive since a) it seems like the sane thing to do, and b) have you ever seen how much new mailers cost? It's crazy.

So when Adam of the dormant (but hopefully not defunct!) "Cardboard Clubhouse" blog contacted me to see if I'd be interested in partaking in the Well-Traveled Envelope Challenge, I gleefully accepted -- but in reality, the "challenge" isn't anything out of the ordinary of my own trading habits.

The concept here is that the same supplies (bubble mailer, toploaders, team bags, etc.) get reused over and over again as the Well-Traveled Envelope takes its journeys across a universe of bloggers.

I'm glad Adam thought of me -- despite the fact that it took a long time to post the contents of his package, and that it took way longer than it should have for me to send the Envelope to its next destination (I've been a bad blogger lately).

Coins, for me, are in that weird middle ground of collecting: I don't have much interest in them, but I also have a hard time letting them go when it comes to putting packages together...I'm not sure why.

I don't know if it's just my imagination, but a lot of blogs I once read (Adam's included) seem to be on hiatus -- I hope it's a short-lived trend.

And while Adam may be on blogging sabbatical, it doesn't take anything away from his longtime ability to find mini-collection hits and just generally fun cards I need.

Not sure if I've ever mentioned this before, but I really like oddballs.

Some of my player collections are sloppier than others: case in point, I somehow still needed this obscenely common base card from '87 Topps for my Roger McDowell collection.

The shock of it led to the '87 McDowell (insert Seinfeld reference here) being placed on my Dime Box Dozen list, and luckily it didn't stay there long -- a reader named Jeff contacted me a while ago saying he had a copy for me.

That's not to say my more long-term player collections are anything resembling complete, though.

I've been collecting Kenny Lofton for as long as I can remember, but there's still a whole galaxy full of his cards I still need out there, including this Loftonesque page from Jeff (the Collector's Choice single at the center was also another Dime Box Dozen need).

More fairly obvious needs for some of my bigger player collections.

A good portion of my Dime Box Dozen needs are the result of me deciding to collect a new player and realizing I'm missing painfully easy cards of said player.

I recently decided to start collecting Fred Lynn with (not sure what took me so long), and soon found I didn't have this common '83 Topps single you've probably seen a hundred times -- thankfully Jeff put that DBD need to bed, too.

More mini-collection hits!

A couple hometown heroes here from Jeff, including a Jose Quintana gold refractor rookie I never once dreamed of adding to my throwback mini-collection.

And here it is: count 'em, a fourth Dime Box Dozen need from Jeff.

This '83 Donruss Dale Murphy was on my DBD list for many of the same reasons as the McDowell and Lynn (newer player collection, common base card, etc.) with the added caveat that I actually owned a reprint of it without the base version. On the list of Collecting Pet Peeves, that's gotta be near the top, especially when you consider the card itself isn't anything that uncommon.

With a scatterbrained post comes a scatterbrained aftermath: right now I'm off to repair my Dime Box Dozen list and straighten the bag of penny sleeves toppling over in my closet right now.

Tuesday, January 21, 2020

The (Second) Dime Box Frankenset Bracket: Cowan Region (Pt. 1)

The last round of play-ins are done, and our bracket is finally set!

#6 (Page 26) -- 1973 Topps #231 Bill Parsons (25 votes)


#15 (Page 73) -- 2013 Topps #649 Ryan Hanigan (14 votes)

#7 (Page 36) -- 1993 Donruss #319 Geno Petralli (21 votes)


#14 (Page 70) -- 1993 Topps #623 Al Martin (16 votes)

#8 (Page 49) -- 1996 Upper Deck #434 Al Martin (22 votes)


#13 (Page 65) -- 1993 Upper Deck #582 Brian Hunter (15 votes)

#12 (Page 56) -- 2017 Topps #499 Danny Valencia (27 votes)


#9 (Page 20) -- 1996 Collector's Choice #173 Gary Gaetti (11 votes)

#10 (Page 27) -- 1974 Topps #238 Fran Healy (26 votes)


#11 (Page 48) -- 1992 Stadium Club #430 Howard Johnson (12 votes)

Only one upset in the bunch (Valencia over Gaetti), and none of the matchups were all that close -- so without further ado, it gives me great pleasure to announce that THE FRANKENSET BRACKET IS OFFICIALLY UNDERWAY!


I've named the four regions of this bracket after the four top finishers in the first frankenset bracket: starting with the Frankenset King himself, of course, Billy Cowan.

Each region features eight first-round matchups -- since I think it might be a little much to ask my readers to decipher and vote between eight different pairs of cards at the same time, I'm dividing each of these first round pairings into two groups of four, to be voted on over two separate weeks.

Here, my friends, are the first four matchups from the Cowan Region.

#1 (Page 68) -- 1972 Topps #611 Rich Reese


#16 (Page 36) -- 1993 Donruss #319 Geno Petralli

#8 (Page 37) -- 1996 Stadium Club #333 Jay Buhner


#9 (Page 18) -- 2017 Stadium Club #156 Lucas Duda

#5 (Page 58) -- 1996 Collector's Choice #522 John Smiley


#12 (Page 52) -- 1972 Topps #464 Jim Roland

#4 (Page 62) -- 1973 Topps #555 Bill Hands


#13 (Page 4) -- 1973 Topps #32 Fred Norman

The polls are now on the sidebar -- happy voting!

Monday, January 20, 2020

COMC and my collecting universe

As a collector, I'm forced to live with the knowledge that there's a whole universe of baseball cards I need floating out there, most of which I'll never own in this lifetime.

Barring some greatly unforeseen circumstance, I'll never own a Goudey Ruth. I'll never own a T206 Cobb. That's saying nothing of the seemingly infinite number of cards I need that I don't even know about yet. This is part of what you sign up for as a collector: in order to collect, there have to be cards you need. As a collector for life I've submitted to this lifelong chase.

I don't give much mind to T206 Cobbs and the like, because have you seen my bank account? Pipe dreams are fun, but in reality they're the most distant bodies in my universe. They're so far out there, so tiny through the telescope, that they're almost impossible to fathom. No, I think the most frustrating examples are those cards that I know exist, perhaps have even seen a few times: those cards that are always just out of my reach, just a bit more expensive than I can realistically swallow. The Pete Gray you see above was one of those.

Coming from the scarce final year (1984) of the brilliant Renata Galasso series, I'd seen a decent number of copies floating around the internet over the years, all priced at around $15-20, which (since I'm a cheapskate) is just a bit more than I can convince myself to pay...and thus just a bit more annoying.

Enter COMC.

I've been using COMC for a few years now (to appropriate a not-so-hyperbolic drug term), and even amidst all the randomness, I'm forever thankful for its help in reeling some of those nearby members of my collecting universe. But honestly I didn't think that Pete Gray card would be one of them until a copy inexplicably popped up not long ago for a hair over five dollars. Still a decent chunk of change for me to spend, sure, but given past experience I didn't wait. BUY NOW. The feeling of finally tracking down such an admired card from the universe is tough to describe: something like joy and vindication rolled into one.

But it was far from the only star captured by this most recent COMC order -- in addition to a rare Oriole Reggie sighting I've long wanted, this order somehow managed to secure a second Pete Gray from my collecting universe with that Fritsch One Year Wonders oddball, which some almighty dealer marked down to two bucks for some reason (the next cheapest one on COMC is currently priced at $15).

But I don't mean to imply that having this universe orbiting around me every day is really all that aggravating or detrimental to collecting in the first place: I would've given up collecting a long time ago if I thought so.

There's a certain relief in resigning to the knowledge that there will always be Stuff I Want out there -- it keeps my collecting universe a happy place, and adds all the more joy to those precious moments when I actually find something I need.

One reason I love COMC is that it brings together cards I knew I needed and cards I didn't know I needed.

The Gamble and Sutton belong to the former -- the Gamble is the only card I've ever seen that depicts his brief half-season with the Rangers (though it's not the only short term stop I'm chasing from that set), and the Sutton box bottom is the only time Topps (and/or OPC) featured his brief and forgettable return to the Dodgers at the tail end of his HOF career.

But on the other end of the spectrum, I had no idea Bill Lee played minor league ball in Alaska, nor did I know there was a card of Dock Ellis (in curlers!) that discusses the time he singlehandedly tried to maim the entire Cincinnati Reds ballclub.

Not all the members of my universe are large celestial bodies: some are minis (apparently that Reggie set was issued in both full-size and mini form).

Also, Circus Clown Dude!

Sometimes my collecting universe collides with others -- as was the case with the minor league rabbit hole I got sucked into after reading a recent NOC post.

I'd somehow never thought to look for minor league cards on COMC before, and while there's a good amount of searching and sifting involved, it turned out to be very rewarding in the end (a dude playing guitar! ERIK THE PEANUT GUY!).

Minor league mini-collection hits -- including a double dip of Mike Fontenot, perhaps my favorite Obscure Cub ever (seriously, I have a Fontenot jersey hanging in my closet right now).

I've sometimes wonder if Heritage short-prints are actually that short-printed at all, and for better or worse this order furthered that suspicion.

Even supposedly scarce action SPs (like the Bumgarner and Darvish) were only 75 cents to a buck, and some regular SPs went as low as 40-50 cents a piece, cheaper than a lot of the base cards listed -- so can you blame me for wondering if this whole short-printing thing is all a scam?

There are alternate universes within my collecting universe.

Literally: I've recently started targeting "alternate universe" cards -- that is, cards using a standard Topps design that feature a different photo than the one used on that year's Topps issue. Often times it's due to a guy changing teams (like the OPC Madlock and Coca-Cola Staub). Other times, like the Konerko, it's when Topps is nice enough to change things up between the regular Flagship photo and the one used for team sets.

But as for the Ellis (also an OPC), I have no idea why it exists as an "alternate universe" card: Dock didn't change teams that year, but for whatever reason Topps decided to feature two different Yankee photos of him between their Topps and OPC sets.

I have somewhat of a begrudging respect for photo-variations -- they don't really need to exist but they're cool as head-turning, needle-on-a-record moments that make you stop and stare.

More terrific photo SPs, though that Bench easily steals the show, I think.

Liquorfractors, bubble refractors, and other generally shiny stuff that threaten to make my scanner blow up.

A good chunk of the time I spend on COMC goes toward getting online exclusives on the cheap -- somehow that Topps Now Judge was only a buck, and holy hell is that Rizzo fantastic.

I'm thankful for COMC because it allows me to sample things from my collecting universe that I'd otherwise never be able to see -- these Throwback Thursdays are a prime example.

Pulled the trigger on a few online-only (I think) Sapphire Cromes with this order, though I'm mighty disappointed Topps didn't continue the blue theme in the 2019 edition.

Neither my dad nor myself were able to make it to a card shop on the day those Vlad Jr.'s were being passed out, but thanks to overproduction (yay!) I landed a copy on COMC for a whopping 75 cents.

High-end old-timey dudes (HOYT!).

And now for something completely different: Bob Feller and his tractors.

Vintage oddballs manage to sneak their way into every COMC order -- I can't believe I didn't think to search for those '77 cloth stickers until now.

It's hard to outdo a SSPC Bill Lee (from the '78 set), but I think that Eckersley rookie may have done it -- it was on my "Keep Dreaming" list, after all...until now.

More excellent vintage, including another "Keep Dreaming" want with the Kluszewski -- it's his only true sunset card and a rare shot of him with the (expansion) Angels.

Kellogg's are the shooting stars of my collecting universe -- they just make you stop and go wow.

A couple basic Topps vintage cards I somehow didn't already own -- I love early Joe Morgan stuff, and that '57 Vernon is my first one of him on the Red Sox.

While the Galasso Gray was the most expensive card of this trip around COMC, I consider this weathered '59 Drysdale the real "splurge" of the order since, unlike the long-desired Gray, it was more of an impulse buy than anything.

When buying vintage on COMC, I mainly look out for off-condition suspects that are way cheaper than the next cheapest copy of that card -- the $3 and change I paid for this decimated Drysdale (now my oldest card of his) was about half the cost of the next cheapest one. Not a bad mega-vintage way to cap off this latest order, I think.

They say our universe is always expanding, and given the effect COMC has had on my own personal collecting universe over the years, I certainly know the feeling.