Sunday, September 22, 2013

As Suddenly As It Started

For about three years, I returned to collecting cards, primarily focused on finishing my T-206 set, which I managed to do back in January.  I used to really enjoy the hunt, searching out every card I needed, winning auctions on eBay or being the first to Net54 to find a card I needed.  Every day or couple of days, new packages would arrive, usually brimming with vintage cardboard, but sometimes with something more modern, like wrestling cards or the newest Topps cards or even a group break when things turned out right.  And then, it just stopped.

I think three things stopped my purchasing. 

One, I actually completed what I set out to accomplish, which is a rare thing for me to do. I excel at starting projects and am even really good at the middle ground in a lot of cases, but show me the end and I just seize up and move away. 

Two, the primary source of cards I collect are baseball cards.  To be honest, I can't tell you the last time I've watched a baseball game.  It might be 2011, but it might be even earlier. I still watch sports and always find time for Premier League Football and now watch American football for its fantasy league implications, but never sit down and watch baseball, even as background noise.  Given the dearth of Premier League cards released in the US (soon to be rectified by Topps.), it was hard for me to get excited by the newest card releases.  I remember buying a box 2012 Topps Update last year.  It was very exciting to drive over the state of New Jersey and find a box, but after opening the whole thing, I was struck by how horrible my hit was (Carlos Ruiz relic) and how few of the players in the set I had known or in some cases, even heard of. 

Three, I started traveling.  Going away every week for work is a real impediment for purchasing cards.  You don't get a chance to spend time with your cards and end up leaving them in a box.  This made it harder to buy cards and to write about what I did purchase, since everything would arrive for me to open on Thursday nights and then I would need to scan a whole bunch of cards in advance to take pictures for me to write about next week.  It was no longer fresh and felt like I was bending time to make things more topical. 

So, it stopped.  Actually, a few weeks ago, I learned about ITG Decades 90s, which led me to make my first real purchase of cards in seven months (save a Mike Scott autograph).  Looking around, I even thought I might get back on the horse and finish up a set of Diamond Stars, with their crazy Art Deco look and lack of overpriced Yankees to drive up the total price of the set.  Who knows. 

Sunday, January 27, 2013

2012 Topps Repack Box Fit for a Fashionable Lady

On Friday, I found that 2012 Topps Series 2 packs were on sale for a dollar each and seeing a good sale, I couldn't pass on such a deal and have ten in my possession.  Of course, since they are unopened, there is not much to say so far.

Of course, a few weeks ago, I purchased one of those delightful 2012 Topps repack boxes, where they promise you $35 dollars worth of value for only $20.  Inside were the standard 11 packs, 2 Topps Chrome, 3 Bowman Platinum and 6 Topps Allen and Ginter packs.  On the whole, this was much better than the last repack box, as there were no creased cards, no 1988 Score and cards worth scanning.  OK, I only scanned cards from the first set of packs that I opened, but seriously, they were worth scanning.  I might just reveal the whole box below, as which point you will know what case hit I pulled.  Yes, there was a case hit in one of these re-pack boxes.  

Without further ado:

Pack 1  - 2012 Topps Chrome

33 - Tommy Hanson
39 - Jacob Turner
51 - Torii Hunter
103 - Cliff Lee

Topps Chrome was the disappointment of the box, though I was not surprised, since Topps Chrome always disappoints as the cards always bend and never take into account they are replacing the white on the card with some type of silver.

Pack 2 - 2012 Topps Allen and Ginter

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58 - Ryan Braun
164 - Ike Davis
233 - Shawn Marcum
WIN 43 - Justin Verlander
Deputy Danny Young
Mini 3 - Miguel Cabrera (A&G Back)

The cards don't come out of the pack in this order, but I have a strong need to organize and sort things.  Knowing nothing about Allen and Ginter, I scanned the back of the card, failing to realize this was the standard back.  I suspected there were statistic backs or backs that matched the original, but I have since been disabused of this notion.  And honestly, the back of the card is equally exciting in this case.

Pack 3 - 2012 Bowman Platinum

2 - Joe Mauer
3 - Liam Hendriks
18 - Tommy Hanson
BPP-9 - Travis D'Arnaud

Let's just say we will see versions of at least two of these cards again in the box.  Even in a repack box, Topps manages to get the collation wrong.

Pack 4 - 2012 Topps Allen and Ginter

27 - Ricky Nolasco
37 - James McDonald
114 - Johan Santana
BH-20 - Jose Bautista
WIN 73 - Ryan Zimmerman
Mini 274 - Derek Jeter

Nothing says difficult to complete set like getting three base cards in a pack of six cards.  Nothing.  I probably should have scanned the Batista or the Jeter, but I didn't, so you can use your imagination.

Pack 5 - 2012 Topps Allen and Ginter

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8 - Mitch Moreland
85 - Curly Neal
148 - Carlos Gonzalez
252 - Tsuyoshi Wada
306 - Ryan Howard
Mini ML18 - William Wallace

I thought the Wallace card was interesting and there was still room on the scanner.  There was a shortprint in the pack as well, making it feel more special than it is.  It also contains the first card I would definitely keep, which is the Curly Neal, since anytime you can get a sportscard of someone on the New Scooby-Doo Movies, you have to keep it.  

Pack 6 - 2012 Topps Chrome  

16 - Jose Valverde
29 - Carl Crawford
61 - Eric Hosmer
138 - Ryan Vogelsong

This pack made me long for the first pack of Topps Chrome and is really the worst of the box.

Pack 7 - 2012 Topps Allen and Ginter

25 Shin Soo Choo
183 Jackie Joyner Kearse
203 Ian Kinsler
HTP 9 - Discovery of the New World
WIN 66 - Sparky Anderson
MINI 77 - Chris Young

Three base cards, a card that is factually dubious as best, a mini and a What's in a Name card.  I really hate the What's in a Name cards.  They exist only to force you to buy more cards to try and complete a set.

Pack 8 - 2012 Bowman Platinum

16 - Mike Trout
91 - Cliff Lee
BPP 44 - Noah Syndergaard
TP-TS - Tyler Skaggs

I really should've scanned the Trout or the Skaggs.  And if you are interested in players traded for R.A. Dickey on Bowman Platinum prospect cards, this was the repack for you.

Pack 9 - 2012 Topps Allen and Ginter

52 - Cameron Maybin
76 - Michael Bourn
181 - Joe DiMaggio
217 - Brian Wilson
320 - Jonathan Papelbon
Mini MM14 - Igor Stravinsky

Four cards for the set, five with a shortprint.  Topps was falling down on the QC job in this pack.  Plus an interesting mini.  Thinking about this, with all of the minis, they must be very limited even with a regular back and a pain to put a set together of.  Saying this, I realize that I started a 2010 Topps T206 Mini set, but at least there weren't additional cards stealing slots.

Pack 10 - 2012 Bowman Platinum

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3 - Liam Hendriks
9 - Yu Darvish
48 - Kirk Nieuwehhuis
BPP 9 - Travis D'Arnaud X-Fractor

Two scans!  And this isn't the best pack in the box.  Though it was nice to pull a Yu Darvish and D'Arnuad is a X-Fractor.  Of course, I had to research on the internet what I pulled to find out it was some kind of box hit.  So, I have the regular and the X-Fractor, along with the Syndergaard, which means I too can trade for R.A. Dickey to pitch for my softball team next year, except for the lack of a softball team and the money to pay his contract issues.

Plus, there is a second Liam Hendriks for good measure.  Of course, since this was the first time I heard of him, I found it hard to understand why he had a card in this set, but you let those things go after a while.  

Pack 11 - 2012 Topps Allen and Ginter

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7 - Mickey Mantle
109 - Tim Lincecum
136 - Jacoby Ellsbury
181 - Freddie Freeman
334 - Adrian Beltre
Mini FL9 - Fashionable Ladies The Ingenue

Look, it's Mantle as number 7.  And five base cards with a short print.  And then I looked at the mini.  And I looked at the package and I looked at the mini again and couldn't find it on the list of inserts with pull rates.  I ran a quick search on eBay from my mobile phone and only found three for sale, which indicated they might be quite rare.

Further research led me to believe that I pulled a case hit, as they were distributed one per case.  Quite impressive for a bunch of packs likely pawed over and sorted through prior to repackaging.  On the whole, this was a much better experience than the last repack box and if I was more interested in 2012 Topps products, I would heartily recommend this to other purchasers, since I don't, I would not purchase any more, since aside from the Curly Neal, there is nothing else that I am wedded to keeping.  

Saturday, January 26, 2013

Penguins Gold, My Hockey White Whale

In The Game makes some of the best hockey cards I've ever seen.  I think Decades 80s is probably my favorite set, as the players are those I grew up with, though if they ever make a Decades 90s product, I will probably be the moron thinking, "Should I pre-order a case?" Though, I think I would only do that if In The Game ever makes a Premier League product.  I would probably just pre-order a box and set up a number of ridiculous searches on eBay to find everything I want, like ITG Decades Zubov or ITG Decades Murphy.

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Going back to ITG Decades 80s, about five months ago, I purchased a box, highlighted by the Rod Langaway Number card, limited to six.  Until about 10 minutes ago, I was unaware that Langaway was a two-time Norris Trophy winner.  The card is quite cool, but I'm fairly certain, were I to pick a number card from someone in the set, I doubt Langaway would've made my top 40.

The best cards in my mind are the quad patch cards organized by year or team.  Some of the year cards were interesting, especially those with Paul Coffey, but the Penguins fan in me gravitated toward the Penguins quad.  If I could own a card with Mario Lemieux, Paul Coffey, Tom Barrasso and Ron Francis memorabilia on the same card, that would be the greatest card ever made.  (If they substituted Larry Murphy on the card, I wouldn't protest either.)  ITG came awfully close, making a Lemieux, Coffey, Barrasso and Randy Carlyle card.

The real question for me was, "Who is Randy Carlyle?", as I had never heard of him before.  A little research on the internet shows he spent most of the 1980s with the Winnipeg Jets, but in 1981 was the only Penguin to ever win the Norris Trophy with an 83 point season.  He was also indirectly traded for Tom Barrasso, as he was sent to Winnipeg for a draft choice that became Doug Bodger, who was the main piece used to land Tom Barrasso. 

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Plus, he is the guy who has the small piece of stick on the above card.  It is the gold version and one of only two that I've ever seen for sale.  This one was at auction, so the price ended up being right on the card, since my tolerance for what I would spend on a hockey card is significantly less than what I would spend on a baseball card, though I would spend more on a modern hockey card than a modern baseball card.  All sorts of crazy priorities.  I also like the different sweater colors found on the card as it provides a nice contrast. 

With this card in hand, I can safely avoid searching for hockey cards for quite some time, since it is very unlikely that I would find a card which

Gold Bordered Cobb or How I Decided to Start a T205 Set

After finishing up my T206 set, I was adrift in what I wanted to collect.  I picked up a 1973 Topps Schmidt to force me to finish that set, but I haven't even looked for another 1973 Topps card since then.  I picked up a few hockey cards, but after winning my white whale a few weeks ago, I haven't seen anything else that I really want to add to my collection either. 

However, I was on a message board last week, when someone was unfortunately asking for opinions about which of the few cards he had left should he sell.  On one side was an Old Judge Buck Ewing, while on the other side was a 1938 Joe DiMaggio card and a T205 Ty Cobb.  In opposition to my usual temperament, I shot of a quick E-Mail indicating that if he decided to sell the Cobb, let me know as I would be interested. 

So, a few days and about 20 PMs pass back and forth and my singular offer on the card is best in class.  So, I make payment for the card and begin the waiting process.  Yesterday, when I came home, there were two T205s, keys to the set, waiting for me.

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Despite the technical grade of the card, the card displays very well for the grade.  Most of the damage is off in the corner and some small paper loss on the back, leaving the image of Ty Cobb untouched after 100 years.  Someone also made an attempt to recolor the left hand border if you look very closely, leading me to believe that Authentic would be a more correct technical grade. 

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The back of the card and really all T205s are more interesting than those of their T206 counterparts.  Like a modern card, they have text and in many cases, a small number of statistics.  Here, we have Games Played, Batting Average and Fielding Percentage, which is not out of line with the stats of the day.  Collecting T205s is a bit more difficult for this reason, as there are less obvious places to hide damage on the cards while giving them good presentation and remaining affordable.  

So, a new journey begins, five cards out of the 220 cards safely in my possession. 

Friday, January 25, 2013


Last week, my group break results arrived from Nachos Grande's January group break.  For some strange reason, the Atlanta Braves went unclaimed for a few hours and I was able to snatch them up, since nominally I am an Atlanta Braves fan.  As my "second" team, I landed the Arizona Diamondbacks, a team I end up with on a fairly regular basis.  The downside of the Diamondbacks is their lack of history, which can lead to a paucity of cards in some products, like legends or pre-1998 product.

Out of the six boxes, the highlights for my teams were the below cards.

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The Brandon Webb is a box hit from Flair Showcase, while the blue bordered Warren Spahn is a shorter print with a different picture from the base card.  I believe there was actually a pack of Play Ball cards which contained a Greg Maddux and an Eddie Mathews card.  Amazingly, the Maddux was a Cubs card and the Mathews was an insert from the Houston Astros from the half season he played for them in 1967.  To be honest, I never knew he played in Houston until I saw that card.  But that's how group breaks go.

At the end of the break, there were ten packs of 2009 Donruss Americana.  If there were any hits contained within those packs they would be randomed amongst the teams which performed poorly in the break, like the beleaguered Braves.  As I was opening my package (which confused me until I started opening the packs containing cards, I found the below card mixed in.

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While most will think of the Candyman when they see the above card, my thought was Kurn, son of Mog, brother of Worf from Star Trek.  Anytime you can get a numbered card of a Klingon, it is a big win.  As far as group break consolation prizes go, you can't get much better than this.

Tomorrow, we will look at a gold bordered Hall of Famer at the heart of my new set building. 

Monday, January 21, 2013

Pin Me!

Not every tobacco premium was a baseball card.  In addition to cards, they sometimes inserted discs with pictures of baseball players on the front and domino pieces on the back.  Or if not a card, they would insert a pin into a package of cigarettes as the premium.

I happen to own a Domino Disc, which I bought at a local show a few years ago from a dealer who always has the strangest items and cards available, though I never did pick up a pin.  One, I was afraid of purchasing sharp, hundred year old piece of metal, since many of the pins I saw were rusty and I prefer my hobbies to be tetanus-free.  Two, I never knew how to store a pin of this nature safely.  Three, the only Orval Overall pin I saw for sale was greatly inflated in price. 

So, one morning a few weeks ago, I was checking my Orval Overall saved search results and I saw the pin with a respectable price.  So, I raced over to the computer, turned it on and saw the pin was still there, awaiting a purchase.  Which I finished prior to eating breakfast.

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The pin has very few flaws on the face of the pin, but the back, which you cannot see is super clean and rust free.  Rust-free is everything on a pin, so when I stick myself, I limit the diseases I can contract from the most dangerous item in my collection.  And owning one pin is enough, as I do not need other faces on round pieces of metal affixed to a stick pin, just waiting to pierce my delicate skin, leaving me with a new hole in my hand and a trip to the doctor. 

10 Packs, 12 Dollars, What Could Go Wrong?!?!? (Part 5)

We've hit the home stretch here.  Only two packs from the box are left to list, as review might be too strong of a word. 

Pack 9 - 1991 Fleer Ultra (Pack 2)

12 - John Smoltz
63 - Les Lancaster
94 - Mariano Duncan (With an uncorrected error of Billy Hatcher as the third picture on the back of the card.  I think Billy Hatcher, being a former Astro, improves the card.)
121- Cecil Fielder
144 - George Brett
194 - Junior Ortiz
200 - Delino DeShields
214 - Ron Darling
235 - Roberto Kelly
269 - Terry Mulholland
277 - Doug Drabek
290 - Ray Lankford
Fleer Ultra Team 1 - Barry Bonds (This is the closest I came to scanning a card.)

This pack was far superior to the other pack of Fleer Ultra due to the more recognizable names, the crazy error, which is one of many and the inclusion of an insert, which I believe falls one every five packs.

Pack 10 - 2007 Upper Deck Rack Pack

You realize this set has over 1,000 cards in it.  I looked on eBay to see if there were any for sale and I found 2 complete sets.  I also found that Upper Deck also released an 850 card set the same year in SweetSpot.  I don't understand why.  There is no need for one set this large, let alone two.  Seeing this, it does not make me think, "Boy, wouldn't it be great if Upper Deck ever made licensed baseball cards again?" I would, however, accept a license from Panini, since they seem to make quality cards in reasonably sized sets.

11 - Ryan Sweeney
135 - Howie Kendrick
145 - Joe Saunders
162 - Juan Rincon
173 - Mariano Rivera (I tend to pull Rivera in every set.)
180 - Dan Johnson
226 - Mark DeRosa
274 - Chad Paronto
286 - Sean Marshall
346 - Rafael Furcal
369 - Chris Capuano
449 - Chris Duncan
457 - Ryan Zimmerman
470 - Pedro Astacio (8 teams, 15 seasons, 129 wins, all surprising numbers.  Plus the fact he started his career in 1992.  I would've guessed around 1996.)
484 - Vernon Wells Blue Jays Checklist
529 - Chris Young
568 - Jay Payton
586 - J.D. Drew
653 - David Delucci
668 - Brian Lawrence
696 - Logan Kensing
723 - Mike Lamb
735 - Octavio Dotel (He was only up to seven teams by this point in time, six he played for and the Royals, whose uniform he is wearing on the front of the card.)
784 - Wilson Valdez
790 - Matt Wise
850 - Roger Clemens
859 - Jason Kendall
940 - Jose Vidro
982 - Robinson Tejada
1011 - John Patterson (I've never owned a card which required four digits as a unique identifier.  I was a better man when I had not owned one.)
Triple Play - Albert Pujols
Triple Play - Miguel Tejada

The best news I can provide about this pack is the lack of inserts.  It's quite the opposite of the O-Pee-Chee pack which contained 6 cards, 4 base, one parallel and one basketball insert.  I mean, if it only takes 150 packs or almost five box of perfect collation to complete a set, sign me up!

On the whole, I would not call this an enjoyable product to open.  It's pretty close as to whether there was $20 worth of retail value in packs in the box. 

2009 Goodwin Champions Rack Pack - $5
2007 Upper Deck Rack Pack - $5
2009 O-Pee-Chee - $2 (That was the price tag on the pack)
2012 Topps Series 2 - $2
1991 Fleer Ultra - $2? ($4)
2007 Topps Cello Pack - $1.50
2012 Topps Opening Day - $1 ($2)
1988 Score - $.50

That gets us to $22, though I suspect I may be underestimating the Fleer Ultra and possibly overestimating the 2007 Upper Deck.  It does pass the "Not violating false advertising laws" test.  However, the box totally fails the fun test.  The best cards were damaged, as the lower half of the 2009 Goodwin Champions rack pack was creased and the selection of packs left a lot to be desired.  I suspect I would not purchase one of these boxes in the future and would encourage you to do the same.