Thursday, October 27, 2022

Three up, three down (with Archives)

Of all the major brands out there these days, you could argue that Archives has the least reason to exist.

It doesn't pay a yearly homage to a single Topps set like Heritage. It doesn't quite fill a niche like A&G. It doesn't offer premium photography like Stadium Club. Archives is a halfhearted tribute to a handful of Topps designs that have (mostly) been reprinted many times over by now. As I sit here thinking now, I honestly can't come up with a single unique thing this set brings to the table.

But while there's not much of a reason Topps needs to keep the Archives brand alive, I do admittedly look forward to it every year for reasons I can't quite put my finger on - which I suppose mirrors a lot of what I enjoy about baseball cards. And since I've already pretty much given up hope of finding any on the shelves, I took the smarter (see: cheaper) route and ordered a hearty chunk of the 2022 Archives singles I wanted for about the cost of a blaster.

Like most sets out there, Archives has some good points and some not-so-good ones - and I've three ups and three downs from my initial scramble through this year's checklist.

+1 - Guys on new(ish) teams!

Topps's massive backloading of sets into the fall and winter months means there haven't been a ton of cards featuring dudes in their new 2022 duds - which seems odd, considering the year's just about over by now.

Archives is among the first major brands to show the bigger names in their fresh uniforms - there's already a good chance Carlos Correa goes down as a prime Short Term Stop for the Twins.

+2 - 1978!!!!!

Like a lot of you, I've been begging Topps to revive the '78s somehow - it's even more of an oversight when you consider Archives has already repeated quite a few designs.

In a prime case of "better late than never," 2022 Archives finally gave us the '78 tribute we've all been clamoring for - the names and colors still look a little off to me but I don't care because WE FINALLY GOT TO SEE 1978 IN ARCHIVES!!!

+3 - Oddball love!

Topps did a nice job in choosing some off-the-wall designs for the SP portion of this year's checklist - these '50s Scoops ones in particular are fantastic - and they have me wondering how much better Archives would be if the whole set was oddball designs.

-1 - Fake backgrounds

I've seen this mentioned on a couple blogs already, but fake backgrounds run rampant in this year's Archives.

I can live with a handful of altered backdrops, but I'd say a good half of the cards I ordered had been tinkered with - it made me feel like I was flipping through someone's 11th grade PowerPoint presentation after a while.

-2 - Too much of nothing

Even from my small sample size, it just doesn't seem like there's a whole lot of memorable stuff in this year's Archives.

I didn't see a single action shot in the '78s I ordered - there were action shots that year, Topps - but I did find a whole lot of grim-faced ballplayers.

-3 - '87 Topps...again

I don't have the data to prove it, but I'd lay good money on '87 Topps being the most reprinted set in recent memory...and hey, here it is again in 2022 Archives!

Fact is, I like '87 Topps. I really do. But I see absolutely no reason it needs to be anywhere near Archives for the next couple decades or so - especially considering it's already an insert set in Flagship this year. The worst part is that I worry all this overkill is actually making me dread seeing '87 Topps in any way, shape, or form - because like I said, it's a great design in my book. Just not one I need to see 742 times a year.

Safe to say 2022 Archives has some good, some bad, and some ugly - which I suppose is a compliment for a set that really doesn't need to exist in the first place.

Thursday, October 20, 2022

All my new cards come from COMC

I like to believe I'm not the kind of collector who needs a constant influx of new cards to stay interested in their collection.

Yet the simple fact is I haven't spent as much time with my cards here in 2022, and I'm left to wonder if that correlates with the fact that I haven't had as much incoming cardboard. I haven't been to a card show since late spring, and despite constant reminders to myself that I need to be sending more cards out to people, my blog trading has sharply fallen off too. 

The vast majority of cards I've been getting this year have come from COMC, as the sharp increase in posts documenting my orders might indicate - they're getting to be darn near monthly occurrences by now.

There's always a fine line between the enjoyment I get out of adding to my collection versus appreciating the cards that are already there.

COMC tests that line with the cards I constantly see that scream YOU DON'T HAVE THIS, NICK!!!! BUY IT!!! And so often, I fall for the temptation. If nothing else, COMC serves as a good reminder that there's still "firsts" to be had in my collection - these are the first A&G rip cards I own (I even added a third one with a Felix Hernandez that's not pictured).

I've always held out a distant hope that I'd pull one of these someday - and you better believe I'd rip it (why would you not?).

Perhaps more importantly, COMC allows me to bask in the comfort of the cards I already enjoy - like oddballs that came in everything from Coke cans to kids' magazines.

(I drink enough pop as it is, and it's scary to think how much more I'd buy if they were packaged with cards...)

In hindsight, 2022 might go down as The Year I Became Obsessed With Stadium Giveaways - seriously, my COMC searches for Mother's Cookies and the like have gotten to be almost daily at this point.

I like to think my collection is already one of the weirdest ones out there, but I'm always game for making it even weirder.

Love the Julio Urias photo variation - could well go down as the last contemporary "pitcher at the plate" - but "Wayne the Wizard" probably wins this scan & might be my new favorite mascot card.

I can always rely on COMC for new cards of perennial collection favorites.

I had no idea 2022 Topps Pristine was a thing until I saw that Ron Santo - and in an even bigger plot twist, I actually kinda like 'em.

Because you can never have too many Tony Gwynn cards.

Minis of all shapes, sizes, players, and teams - including a rare Phil Garner Dodgers sighting & Big Klu at his most muscular.

I'm on a mission to get all of Jeff Bagwell's Red Sox minor league cards, and it seems like one has snuck into each of my COMC orders lately.

I also can't help but dig those Topps "Diamond Dig" inserts from a while back - I can't click "BUY" fast enough whenever I see a cheap one pop up.

The amount of online-exclusives I buy on COMC is a clue that Topps is putting out a lot of stuff I like these days - just not anything that's readily accessible to me (which is itself immensely frustrating).

Luckily, COMC sellers keep marking them down to prices that fit snugly within my price range.

More online-only suspects - that Concepcion comes from some kind of artist reproduction set Topps put out last year, and I thought I might like it a little more once I had the card in-hand.


More Topps stuff I wish was available in packs rather than whatever might be sitting on the retail shelves right now.

Pujols pitching makes me happy, Kris Bryant in a Rockies uniform does not.

A few random horizontal greats here, including a Dave Parker that sold me on the excellent warm-up jacket alone.

Hoyt might well be the face of my collection, but if I ever made a banner for this blog (a one-time hope that I've long given up on) I'd be tempted to sneak a Marvelous Marv Throneberry card in there as well.

Older oddballs are always a thrill, including that sweet TCMA Babe I got for a song because someone apparently decided to try and glue it to something at one point.

Vintage oddballs of HOFers that didn't break the bank - the Kaat is an OPC, and the $4 I paid for the Joe Morgan is a good price for any '70 Kellogg's card...much less a huge name!

You can trace tangible lines through a lot of my COMC orders (stadium giveaways, online exclusives, etc.), but here's a couple treasured buys you won't see every day.

The '36 Goudey Zeke Bonura was actually the most expensive card in this order (a hair over $8) and my first card from Goudey's later '30s offerings - Pesky was shockingly cheap at about $4 and comes from a late '40s Homogenized Bread set that I'd never seen before now.

I'm also happy to report that this COMC order marked a watershed moment for my collection - with the addition of this weathered '64 Yastrzemski, I now own the complete run of Yaz's Topps cards from his '60 rookie to his '83 farewell!

That's certainly an indicator of how far my collection has come - just a few years ago, the prospect of having every Yaz probably seemed about on par with flying to Mars. But against all odds, here we are, and the complete Yaz is safely paged in my binders as we speak.

Which reminds me, I should probably go look at that binder now - new cards are always exciting, but admiring what's already there is just as exciting.

Friday, October 14, 2022

Let the cataloging begin

Perhaps the biggest problem that's been facing my collection over the past few years is how to properly catalog it.

I like to believe I have a fairly good memory about what I have and don't have, but as my binders have grown fatter, my margin of error has gotten bigger. And while I don't necessarily feel that cataloging has ever been a dire need or anything, I've always thought it'd be useful to have a list to check everything against rather than having to pull out a binder every time I'm not 100 percent sure about something. Perhaps most importantly, cataloging seems like a lot of fun - if I could ever find a sensible way to do it.

I was a religious user of Zistle back in the day (remember that place?) - I thought it was incredibly user-friendly and was devastated when they had to shutter their doors. I have spreadsheets for my mini-collections and a few of my larger player collections, but plugging text into a box feels more utilitarian than fun sometimes. The monster that's loomed in the distance for a while now has been the almighty Trading Card Database.

I've mentioned a few times before how I've tried to use TCDB in the past and just couldn't get the hang of it - I love the idea of having photos & detailed descriptions of my cards available on the web, but found the process of navigating the site damn near impossible.

Over the last week or so, I decided to give TCDB one more go - and I'm happy to report that, while I still find the site a little clunky, I think I'm starting to get the hang of the place.

It definitely seems more catered to the set collector than the player collector (of which, of course, I am the latter), but I've started to realize how fun TCDB can be. I love the statistical component of it - it's scary to realize that what I consider to be a fairly formidable 125-card collection of Shohei Ohtani amounts to a hair over ONE PERCENT of his total catalog.

Scary, yes - but that's not the type of cataloging fun you're gonna get out of a spreadsheet.

I suppose now's a good time to mention that the cards in this post came from a healthy number of PWEs I've received from longtime friend-of-the-blog Jim (aka gcrl) of "cards as i see them" over the past few months.

Jim threw a couple Dime Box Dozen suspects my way with this pair of longtime needs. The function's been down for maintenance since I've started putting my cards up, but I'm also interested to see how some of my collections stack up against other TCDB users.

I'm probably way down on the list with bigger names like Carlton Fisk, but I can't imagine many people have more Paul Quantrill than I do - just another perk of collecting obscure guys, I guess.

One bonus of using TCDB that I hadn't considered is that it'll help me set up an accessible want list.

I have a tab on the blog of more recent stuff I need, but without stumbling upon the gap in my binders a while ago, how else was I gonna know I didn't have this painfully common '92 Stadium Club George Brett?

Not surprisingly, it became a Dime Box Dozen need - and also not surprisingly, Jim once again took it down pretty quickly.

Cataloging my player collections is going to be the main focus for me in the near future, but I hope to get my mini-collections going at some point too.

(I can always trust Jim to send me some weird regional oddball like that Lombardozzi I'd never seen before, and probably never would have without him.)

TCDB has also made me question other people's sanity - do some collectors really chase eight different copyright back variations from '91 Fleer?!

I'm all for collecting who and what you wanna collect - look no further than the 837 different player collections I have, including each and every one of these four dudes - but you have to draw the line somewhere.

Corey Kluber and Scooter Gennett were kinda big deals at one point, which is why I started collecting them - Kluber's still hanging on with the Rays, and I'm honestly not sure what cliff Gennett fell off of.

A couple more Dime Box Dozens from Jim, these of the Flagship variety - the 1% of Ohtanis I own is probably gonna look like a lot next to the colossal amount of Jeters I don't have.

More player collection randomness that'll find its way into the catalog at some point - that Turner reminds me that I've still never opened a pack of Topps Finest.

Closing things out is (what else?) another Dime Box Dozen need from Jim, this time of a particularly stern-looking Eddie Murray from '85 Donruss.

I fully and completely understand that cataloging my collection is gonna be a massive undertaking, and one that I'm not going into with any hopes of truly completing (which mirrors how I collect as a whole). I'm also not quite sure what I'm going to do about incoming cards - what comes first, the bindering or the cataloging? These are questions I'm sure I'll figure out down the line, but for now it's a joy to finally be able say to those four elusive words...

Let the cataloging begin!

Thursday, October 6, 2022

Into the Sunset: The AL East Team

I was poking around through some of the blog archives the other day and discovered that I never did complete these "Into the Sunset" posts - so better late than never, I figured I'd polish it off this evening with the last and final squad, the AL East Team.

A refresher for those who (understandably) may not recall the scope of these posts: I'm picking a roster of the most notable farewells from each division in baseball, with each team (like the All-Star Game) represented at least once. In what arguably might be a case of "saving the best for last," the AL East might be the most storied collection of teams in baseball, with three of the five franchises having been in the game for well north of a century.

Not surprisingly, they've amassed quite a sunset roster along the way.


1984 Donruss #576 Jim Palmer

Jim Palmer (Years Active: 1965-1984) -- 1984 Orioles, 5 games, 0-3, 9.17 ERA (sunset season)

As this post will eventually show, the history of the AL East has been packed with one-team legends, staring off with career Oriole Jim Palmer.

Palmer's tale is a cautionary but common one - an obvious HOFer whose final season was absolutely dreadful - and best I can tell, he didn't get any true sunset cards in 1985, so his '84 (including this excellent Donruss one) go down as his cardboard finales.

2014 Topps #321 Mariano Rivera

Mariano Rivera (1995-2013) -- 2013 Yankees, 64 games, 6-2, 2.11 ERA (44 saves)

There's no question that Mo is the best closer in baseball history - and, both on the field and on his cards, he went out with a burst of glory.

2016 Topps Heritage #94 Mark Buehrle

Mark Buehrle (2000-2015) -- 2015 Blue Jays, 32 games, 15-8, 3.81 ERA

It's fair to say that Mark Buehrle has gone down as perhaps the most underrated pitcher of my baseball-watching lifetime.

While he seems painfully weak next to the two other HOF pitchers on this roster - the Blue Jays haven't had a ton of notable ballplayers finish up with them - Buehrle's notable career wound up with three strong years in Toronto (even though he looks wrong in anything other than a White Sox uniform).


1979 Topps #310 Thurman Munson

Thurman Munson (1969-1979) -- 1979 Yankees, 97 games, .288 AVG, 3 HR, 39 RBI

The Yankees, for all their glories, have also had a few too-soon sunsets spread throughout their star-studded history.

Thurman Munson died in a plane crash on August 2, 1979, cutting what appeared to be a surefire HOF career far short of its natural end - and leaving collectors no way of knowing his '79 Topps card would be the last one he'd ever get.

First Base

2007 UD Masterpieces #8 Lou Gehrig

Lou Gehrig (1923-1939) -- 1939 Yankees, 8 games, .143 AVG, 0 HR, 1 RBI

Lou Gehrig stands as the other major Yankee great whose career (and life) came to an end far too soon.

Gehrig didn't play much in what would turn out to be his final season in 1939 - his long-standing consecutive-games streak was abruptly broken earlier that season - but it brought us what would turn out to be one of baseball's most enduring images with his tearful farewell on July 4 in front of thousands of Yankee faithful.

Second Base

2020 Topps #388 Dustin Pedroia

Dustin Pedroia (2006-2019) -- 2019 Red Sox, 6 games, .100 AVG, 0 HR, 1 RBI

Being a one-team guy in any era is a massive accomplishment, but to do it in today's game is even more of a feat.

Dustin Pedroia's one of the few legendary one-team dudes of the last couple decades I can think of off the top of my head, and although he played a total of just 9 games in his final two seasons, he's long been (and always will) be a favorite here in Dime Boxedonia.


2001 Fleer Ripken Highlights #38 Cal Ripken Jr.

Cal Ripken Jr. (1981-2001) -- 2001 Orioles, 128 games, .239 AVG, 14 HR, 68 RBI

With all due respect to Derek Jeter, Ripken is the rightful shortstop on this star-studded squad - and I'd have to imagine the only sunset nominee to also earn an All-Star Game MVP in his final season.

Third Base

2000 Upper Deck #240 Wade Boggs

Wade Boggs (1982-1999) -- 1999 Devil Rays, 90 games, .301 AVG, 2 HR, 29 RBI

Looking back, it's hard to fault the Devil Rays for taking huge names like Boggs, Canseco, and McGriff in the expansion draft in an effort to put butts in the seats.

In hindsight, of course, it wasn't the best choice - they had a hard time building anything near a decent farm system and wouldn't be a winner for a decade. It did reward collectors like myself the odd sight of seeing a star like Wade Boggs end his career with the Devil Rays, a combination I still don't quite believe no matter how many cards point to the contrary.

Boggs did notch his 3,000th hit in Tampa (a home run!), but other than that, it was a fairly dubious ride into the sunset.


2001 UD Legends of New York #183 Joe DiMaggio

Joe DiMaggio (1936-1942, 1946-1951) -- 1951 Yankees, 116 games, .263 AVG, 12 HR, 71 RBI

Joe DiMaggio will probably always be a household name in America, so it's hard to believe he only played 13 seasons of big-league ball (losing a few prime years to WWII, of course). 

Until now, I didn't know DiMaggio was an All-Star in each and every one of those 13 seasons(!), including his modest '51 finale that saw him replaced by a young whippersnapper named Mickey Mantle.

1969 Topps #500 Mickey Mantle

Mickey Mantle (1951-1968) -- 1968 Yankees, 144 games, .237 AVG, 18 HR, 54 RBI

Speaking of which, of course the Mick himself earned an easy spot on this roster - if for no other reason that it gives me a reason to show off one of the more monumental sunset cards in my collection.

Legends may look older and show different positions on their cardboard farewells (1st Base?!), but for my money, few things match the sheer power of a true sunset card like this Mantle, flush with a flurry of career stats on the back.

1984 Fleer #412 Carl Yastrzemski

Carl Yastrzemski (1961-1983) -- 1983 Red Sox, 119 games, .266 AVG, 10 HR, 56 RBI

It's hard to say for certain who the most iconic one-team guy in history is, but the stats show that no player appeared in more games with a single team than Yaz - his 3,308 games with Red Sox over 23 seasons is the record by a good margin.

While Yaz did appear on a few multi-player sunset cards with Topps and Donruss in '84, Fleer granted him the only true solo sunset card that year, and it's long held a special place in my collection because of that.

Designated Hitter

2017 Topps Archives #243 David Ortiz

David Ortiz (1997-2016) -- 2016 Red Sox, 151 games, .315 AVG, 38 HR, 127 RBI

With the exception of Sandy Koufax, David Ortiz probably had the greatest sunset season in baseball history, and I'm proud to say I remember it well.

It's hard to imagine a guy receiving a good amount of MVP votes and leading the league in RBI during his last year when a lot of other legends hit around .100 with a few RBI during their farewells. But that's exactly what David Ortiz did, putting an extravagant bow on an equally extravagant career.

And, after more than a year in the making, I'm proud to say that puts a long-awaited bow on these sunset posts around here - hope you enjoyed 'em!

Tuesday, October 4, 2022

Curtains (A guest post from Dad!)

I apologize in advance if this is not of interest, but Nick as allowed me to do a guest post on a relatively new card collection of mine...

I've always been a fan of Broadway musicals and Broadway in general, and during the pandemic I discovered a company making these Lights Of Broadway cards, and a community of collectors to chat and trade with. I already collect Playbills, programs, and theatre ephemera, so why not? as I'm sure you collectors can understand! 

I'm going to NYC on Sunday for a visit to the Schubert Alley Broadway Cares Flea Market, too. It's equivalent to The National for Baseball cards! I'm sure some of these cards will be purchased! 

I'm also paying homage to a theme Nick has used...the Top 5!

#5 - Michael Bennett

Michael Bennett created, choreographed, and directed "A Chorus Line," and later Dreamgirls, among his many other credits...

#4 - Jerry Orbach

It does often bug me when I mention Jerry Orbach and I ear "you mean the old guy from that cop show?"...well yes, but SO much more! 

if I listed my 10 favorite songs from musicals, he sang 4 of them, and in 42nd St. and Chicago, he starred in 2 of my all time favorites...

#3 - George & Ira Gershwin

These card sets cover everything from shows currently running to the early days, and among the coolest cards are these "Golden Age" cards...

Hard to get in rarer air than the Gershwins!

#2 - Stephen Sondheim

..and speaking of rare air...Stephen Sondheim, the man was an industry unto himself! His death at 91 this year brought out tribute after tribute.

It's always hard to settle on a "greatest" but as far as strictly writing for theatre...he's the greatest!

#1 - Bob Fosse

Still the only person to win a Tony, an Oscar, and an Emmy IN THE SAME YEAR... Bob Fosse could do it all...Choreographer, Director, Actor, Writer...

Definitely a troubled guy, but no one lived for showbiz more than him, a truly amazing dude...