Friday, June 16, 2017

The Collecting Doldrums

After my year started out hot, I've hit a wall - I feel like nothing has hit the shelves that interests me. Part of that is also the absolutely crazy prices that boxes are selling for these days because of names like Judge, Bellinger, and Benintendi. A box of Bowman going for $150-4200? C'mon man.

I'm also a logo snob. This has prevented me from purchasing anything Panini in years past. But when one's desire to rip packs gets strong enough, one will consider logoless cardboard.

I did just that and bought three boxes of 2017 Diamondkings. My LCS owner gave me a really good deal on the boxes so I couldn't pass them up. I'll share the "big" hits now, but don't plan on much commentary.

This Ted Lyons dual relic was the first hit I pulled. Numbered 7 of 10, it offers a solid patch on the right and some kind of weird fabric on the left. I couldn't figure out what it was until I read the back:

So I went searching to see if I could find an image of I assumed to be a warm-up jacket, thinking I would have very little luck. But, thanks to Goldin Auctions, I was in luck. I found this jacket that once belonged to Lyons:

It seems that the swatch in the left window of the card came from the wrist of the jacket. Very cool!

The next "big" hit was this Trey Mancini auto relic, numbered to 49. The swatch in the bottom is pretty awesome, but the auto is a sticker. I gather than most, if not all, autos in this product are stickers.

The other auto I puled (worth noting) is this Yasmany Tomas Bat Kings auto relic, numbered 2 of 5. Low-numbered auto, that's pretty awesome. The relic could have been larger, though. I guess I shouldn't complain, though.

There wasn't much else worth mentioning. I pulled a couple Cubs relics that went to P-Town Tom. He made a few kind words directed towards me and I appreciate it. I forgot one card in the package I sent, Tom, so I will show it to you here:

A Rizzo Artist's Proof parallel numbered to 25. Nothing special, but I know it will find a good home with you. I'm on my way to Omaha for some CWS action and then on to South Dakota for some time with college friends, but I will drop it in the mail when I return home.

I hope everyone is well!

Tuesday, May 30, 2017

A Post Before The Month Ends

First, a request: if I owe you cards, please send me an email or leave a comment. I have unintentionally lost my sheet that I use to keep up with trades and I don't want to leave anyone hanging. Please forgive me.

Second, this post has little (if anything) to do with baseball cards. If you have no interest in a post about my personal life, you may want to close this page now. You won't hurt my feelings one bit.

Still here? Thank you. It means a lot to me that you care about what I have to say beyond little pieces of cardboard!

I haven't posted a new update on this blog in almost a month. I studied all semester for my qualifying exams. I took the exams in early April. I had my oral defense in late April. I then had to watch, critique, and grade final projects for the class I taught. By the second week of May, I was mentally shot. I literally felt as if I were on the verge of a mental collapse. I needed a break, so I went "off grid," deciding that my cell phone, email, and social media could wait.

In the States, May is Mental Health Awareness month. I didn't know that until about two months ago, when I began doing some research with a faculty member here at Tech. For me, mental health and mental health awareness are very important. I (probably against my better judgment) have decided that I want to share my story in hopes that it can help someone. So bear with me.

In my youth, I never really experienced what I would consider a "mental health issue." Though I was (and am) an only child, I never felt alone. I played just about every sport I could. Furthermore, I never got into trouble, as my parents did a terrific job in instilling discipline in me. Sometimes this meant a paddle or belt, sometimes it even meant digging cactus (a form of manual labor punishment meant to rid our farm of the plant, but in reality, only making it spread quicker). This was also true of my academics - I was expected to earn all "A" grades, and with the exception of one class, I did. Everything seemed great, but I never experienced failure, which meant that I never learned how to use it in a positive manner.

My freshman year of college, a perfect storm of bad luck descended upon me. I found my "first true love," and was promptly dumped, leaving me with heartbreak for the first time. Two days later, my grandfather (who has always been a father figure to me) had a massive heart attack and spent the better part of a month in the hospital, seemingly always teetering between life and death. The stress of these events lead me to not study properly (or enough, for that matter) and I received my first "C" in microeconomics. When I saw my grade in early December, I mentally broke - I locked myself in my room and didn't come out for about two weeks. I rarely ate and slept even less than I ate. During those two weeks, I lost close to 25 pounds. Finally, my roommate got in touch with my mom to let her know he was afraid for me.

My mom came to visit and convinced me to get out and get a breath of fresh air. I left my room and convinced her that I was okay. I put on a happy face and told everyone I was fine. In reality, I was still battling all kinds of emotions.

This was the beginning for me. It opened me up to what has been a lifetime of of battling depression. This is usually brought on by a failure of some sort. I've gotten much better - I generally cope with failure pretty successfully now, but every once in a while, I have a relapse and it takes me some time to move forward.

This happened earlier this month. Though not a typical failure - I passed my comps - my feedback was pretty brutal (but fair). I had a hard time coping with it. This is why I disappeared, this is why I went silent. I needed to get myself centered again.

What I have left out of this story is the instrumental role my family has played in helping me cope with my depression. I also have a professional that I speak with when times get really tough. All of this help is vital for me to stay healthy.

I don't share this to gather your condolences. I share this with you in hopes that it will inspire you to seek help, should you need it. I often feel alone in my fight, but this couldn't be further from the truth. I am never alone in my fight, and neither are you. All you need to do is ask for help, and you will certainly find it.

Thanks for your time.

Tuesday, May 2, 2017

Only FIVE More!!!!!

We only need five more spots to be filled for the group break to happen! Take a look here and leave a comment picking your team if you are interested!

Sunday, April 30, 2017

Maybe a Group Break???

Nate of Big 44 Sports Cards sent me an email last week inquiring about the Glasnow I pulled in one of my 2017 GQ Boxes. He also asked if I had done any group breaks recently, and that made me want to do one. It has been a really long time since I did, so now seems as good a time as any. I put some feelers out on Twitter, but it seems that I should do the same here. So here's what I'm thinking:

The two are identical except for the Bowman, with Option 1 breaking a single-auto hobby box and Option 2 breaking a three-auto jumbo box. The price shown includes shipping, and all cards will ship.

Is anyone interested? I've listed a few people who have agreed to participate below, so if your team is unclaimed and you want to join, leave a note in the comments and say which option you prefer.

PS - My posting has been especially sparse lately. I have been taking my qualifying exams (my oral defense is Wednesday and it will hopefully be over!) and moving to a new apartment, so I've been a bit preoccupied. I hope to get back to a somewhat-consistent posting schedule soon!

1. DBacks
2. Braves - Chris Mays
3. O's
4. Red Sox
5.Cubs - Judson
6. White Sox
7. Reds
8. Indians
9. Rockies - C. Seidle
10. Tigers
11. Astros - Bru
12. Royals -  Laurie D.
13. Angels
14. Dodgers
15. Marlins
16. Brewers
17. Twins
18. Mets
19. Yankees - The Lost Collector
20. A's
21. Phillies - John C.
22. Pirates - Nate Bell
23. Padres
24. Giants
25. Mariners
26. Cardinals - Brady
27. Rays
28. Rangers - Judson
29. Blue Jays
30. Nats - Capt. Kirk

Monday, April 24, 2017

A Change of Address

A quick post today. During the past few weeks, I have been finishing papers to submit for conference, studying for my qualifying exams, taking my qualifying exams, moving to a new apartment, and studying for the oral defense of my qualifying exams.

So...I've had quite a bit on my plate.

I managed to send out a few PWEs and packages a couple weeks ago and again last week. I did so with no expectation of anything in return. However, should anyone feel inclined to send something my way, shoot me an email (judsonmeeks AT gmail DOT com) and I will be happy to send you my new address. 

I hope to get a new post of substance up soon!

Wednesday, April 5, 2017

Gypsy Queen Box #2

Following up on my post from yesterday, I have a second box of Gypsy Queen to share. I did pretty well in Heritage earlier this year, but this box may have topped it. 

For the past three weeks, I have been toiling away at finishing a couple research papers. The big academic conference in my field, AEJMC, has an April 1 deadline for paper submissions, so I was trying to get my papers in. I finished around 3 p.m. and decided to stop by my LCS to grab a box to "reward" myself for, essentially, doing my job.

I was beat, so I took my box back to my apartment to open rather than opening it in the shop. I got home and sat down at my desk to dig in.

Right of the top, I pulled a purple GlassWorks boxtopper of Nomar Mazara! These are numbered to 125 and they are absolutely stunning. Good start! More after the jump!

Tuesday, April 4, 2017

A Questioned Answered

Last month, I wondered aloud why Aroldis Chapman was featured as a Yankee on his 2017 Heritage base card, but as a Cub on his Chrome and mini parallels. 

Well, fear not: the blogosphere's most loved Sooz came to the rescue and gave a reason. 

According to her,
"It's the timing of when the cards are due to the printer. The chrome and parallels have to be there much sooner than the base cards. There is essentially a late form that goes out for the base to get free agent signings and offseason trades. So Topps tries to capture it when they can."
Sooz is definitely an authority on the subject, so this answer is good as gold for me.

Thank you, ma'am, for your insight!

2017 Gypsy Queen: Box 1

I said I wasn't going to do it. I swore to myself I wouldn't. I made a promise to myself that I had enough self-control not to do it.

But I did it.

I broke down and bought a box of 2017 Gypsy Queen.

After seeing the cards, I couldn't resist. They just look so great. I'm attached to GQ - it's the first set I built when I got back into collecting - so this set pulled on my heart strings.

Back to the story. I bought the first box - that's right, I bought more than one - last week, a couple days after release. Let's take a look and see how it was.

Right off the top - see what I did there? - was this GlassWorks boxtopper of Stephen Piscotty. By far and away, these are the best boxtoppers of any product I have opened since I got back into collecting. This scan just doesn't do it justice. 

My first box had plenty of parallels. Here are the missing backplate parallels I pulled:

These are...interesting. They are easy to find, as they stand out like a sore thumb. They're unique, I give them that. But I still don't know how I really feel about them.

I also pulled a couple purple parallels numbered to 250:

Not bad players! You've got a guy who rakes and then there's Giancarlo incredible was Mad Bum's two dingers on Opening day?!?!?! 

I also pulled a green back variation:

These aren't numbered, but I think they are numbered to 50 (or so I believe - I could be completely wrong). 

The final numbered parallel I pulled was this black and white parallel of Kevin Gausman numbered to 50:

Beyond parallels, I pulled two variations. First up, this Marcus Stroman no nameplate parallel:

Mr. Stroman will appear again in a later post in a much more impressive fashion.

I also pulled this capless variation of Francisco Lindor:

Not too shabby.

As promised, my box had two on-card autos:

I guess my autos could have been worse. One knock - the machine that loads these into packs seems to have put a crease in them. They don't look like they have been folded over, but it does look as if they went through rollers that had too much pressure. You can't see them in the scans, but trust me - they're there.

The set got rid of the minis this year. I know there are some people who have a problem with this, but I'm not one of them. Those things were nearly impossible to store in any way. However, there is a "mini" insert set called "Fortune Tellers." I put "mini" in quotes because they are closer to tall boys than minis. Anyway, I really dig this set. I was stoked to see that there are three Rangers in it. I happened to pull the Cole Hamels in this box:

So freakin' cool, man!

Anyway, everything you see here is for trade. well, everything except the Hamels. That's for me.

Keep your eyes open for a post about a potential second box of GQ.

Okay, there's definitely a second box. Post coming soon.

Tuesday, March 21, 2017

It's In The Details...I Think...I Hope...

Just a warning: quite a few of my upcoming posts are centered on 2017 Topps Heritage. It will be one of the few (maybe the only) sets I put together this year, and I am chasing the parallels for Rangers players. So it will be featured...frequently.

One of the first parallels I was able to snag for a decent price was this Sam Dyson bright yellow back parallel:

One of my biggest criticisms of '17 Heritage is the parallel selection. The bright yellow is pretty hard to spot, as there is a slight variation in the base print cards. It is easy to confuse the lighter printed base cards with the short printed bright yellow backs, which are reportedly limited to a print run of 25. 

Just so you can see what the base back looks like, here's one for comparison:

So...yeah. Not a lot of difference there.

I just hope I didn't get duped with a lighter-printed base card.

(For the record, here's the front of the card)

Hope everyone is well!

Saturday, March 11, 2017

Trade Time!!!

This week has kicked my butt. I was doing the math yesterday and I realized that I had only gotten roughly 11 hours of sleep since Tuesday. It's the time of year where most of the mass communication academic conferences have their conference paper deadlines, and I have been trying to finish up a few papers for these conferences. All of this boiled to a head yesterday when I was at a bar with a group of classmates who were celebrating their recent employment. I flat out fell asleep. And not the "dozing" type of sleep - the kind of sleep that promotes a healthy snore.

Once my friends woke me, I headed home. I walked in the door with the intent of going straight to bed, but then I remembered that I had a few bubble mailers I haven't opened that I received earlier in the week. So let's take a look at one!

Recently, I noticed that Chris, a.k.a. The (Pedestrian) Collector was busting a few boxes of 2017 Heritage. I left a comment asking if we could work something out if he happened to pull any Rangers. Lo and behold, he pulled a Cole Hamels Clubhouse Collection relic:

I admit it: I'm a sucker for relics, especially when they aren't just plan white swatches. Even better, this year's relic cards are of the vertical orientation, rather than horizontal. I really dig it.

That wasn't the only card that Chris sent me, however. Also included was this:

I'm generally not a fan of the buybacks that Topps seems to be regularly inserting now. It was a big deal last year - why is it necessary to do it two years in a row? That being said, I have always loved Mitch Williams. The guy is just downright funny. So this buyback is actually a welcome addition!

But wait - there's more!

Chris also sent this along:

This Yu Darvish Career High relic hails from 2015 Topps Series 1. I mentioned above that I like relics, but this particular design was and is one of my favorites. Don't ask me to explain why - I can't. But I have always really liked these.

Chris - thanks again for the trade! I really appreciate it, and I hope it is just the first of many!

Friday, March 10, 2017

Something I Just Noticed

In all the excitement around my hot hand with 2017 Heritage, I missed something. I make no bones about my distaste for most things Topps - I'm no fan of the exclusive licensing with MLB because I think it makes Topps lazy. I've pointed out easily correctable problems in the past to support this. However, in my excitement, I gave Topps too much slack. I found something that makes no sense.

Below is the base card (a short print) of Aroldis Chapman:

In the card, Chapman is featured in a Yankees uniform, very clearly from 2016. No problem there. But let's take a look at the Chapman Chrome card:

What? Why the heck is he in a Cubs uniform? I spent some time thinking and came to the conclusion that the Chrome cards most likely require more time to manufacture. This could have meant that the card design had to be submitted before Chapman re-signed with the Yanks (December 6th, if I'm not mistaken). That still seems like more than enough time to get him in the proper uniform, but I'm willing to give Topps the benefit of the doubt.

Until I saw this:

This is the mini parallel for Chapman, printing on normal stock, just smaller. Again, Chapman is sporting a Cubs uni, rather than the pinstripes of New York. So what in the actual hell gives?

My guess: Topps is trying to milk the Cubs' World Series championship for all it's worth. They want to feature him Cubbies blue to sell more cards. I mean, there is no other explanation, is there?

I guess my last question is this: why didn't Topps just feature him in a Cubs uniform on the base card also and wait until High Number came out to put him in pinstripes? That's their normal procedure, so what gives?

Tuesday, March 7, 2017

The Gift That Keeps On Giving

Last week, I purchased a couple boxes of 2017 Topps Heritage. I love Heritage and plan on building the set, but these boxes were really good to me. So good, in fact, I decided to buy a couple more boxes with the money I made on eBay selling the hits from my previous two boxes. 

I was hoping that I would pull an auto this time around, especially an Andrew Benintendi player sample auto (it seems that a few of the "Player Sample" cards that are given to the player to distribute to family and friends worked their way into the pack-out machine - I have theories about this, but that's for another post). Here is an example that I pulled from eBay:

You can see the words "Player Sample" where "Topps Certified Issue" should appear. The same thing happened in 2014 with Ernie Banks Heritage autos:

I've wanted one of those since I first saw them, but have yet to find one when I had the money. Anyway, this conversation is pointless, because the odds of me actually pulling a specific card are slim to none. I'm no statistician (ahem, P-Town Tom), but I believe those odds to be accurate. 

So I walked into my LCS. The owner knew I was coming and had set aside a box for me. When he handed it to me, I noticed that he had one on the shelf. In the past, I've had some pretty crappy boxes that he has selected for me (no fault of his, of course), so I immediately had some doubts. I asked him if I could have the one on the shelf, and after a good chuckle, he handed it to me. 

I pulled up a chair and ripped the cellophane off the box. Underneath the box lid was a box topper, a three-card ad panel. No big deal, so I ripped the first pack on the right. In it was this guy:

A '68 mint insert featuring Miggy Cabrera!

These are certainly gimmicky cards, as they are rare (notice the serial number 06/15), but they don't feature a true relic or an autograph. It's still a cool card, especially when I saw that a few have already sold in the $80-$90 range! I'm not in this hobby to make money, but when I can pay for my box with one card that doesn't fit my collection, I'm all over it!

I continued ripping packs until I stumbled across my hit:

Clearly not an auto. However, it is at least numbered and Cespedes isn't exactly a slouch. I'm sure that someone will eventually have interest in it.

I returned to opening the other packs and had determined that was all the box had to offer, not that I was complaining! The Cabrera card is definitely cool and made up for the box! But then, in the next to last pack, I found this:

The Mike Trout action photo variation! Awesome! Of all the photo variations, I think I have pulled the best two (Kris Bryant last week, Trout this week). That made for one heckuva box!

I sat and chatted with the owner and his employee for about 15 minutes, but all I could think about was the final box. It haunted me. I was certain that if I didn't buy it, it would have the biggest pull of my life - but in someone else's hands. Finally, I broke down and bought it.

I'm opening packs and finding nothing. Fortunately, I noticed this guy:

Another action variation, another superstar. I don't think I am biased when I say this, but I think I pulled the three most desirable photo variations in the set! Crazy!

I'm getting down to my last few packs and I haven't found anything else. The thought that I just purchased a box that failed to have the promised hit began to enter my mind. Then I rip a pack and notice a fat card. I instantly think to myself, "I've pulled another '68 mint!" I slowly remove the cards in front of it until I reveal the card. In a near shout, I let out two words:

"Holy f*ck!"

Now, I used to cuss like a sailor, but I have made an active effort to cut back recently. In fact, it has been quite some time since I've used that four-letter word. So what prompted it, you ask?


By far, the biggest card I have ever pulled!

The relic isn't anything special - just a plain grey swatch - but the auto is on-card AND it's numbered to only 25! Oh, and did I mention that it is Mike freaking Trout? I've never pulled anything close to this!!!!

I was shaking uncontrollably. Fortunately, I had a bro date with my best friend to go see my number six-ranked Texas Tech Red Raiders baseball team take on the number four-ranked Arizona Wildcats. I put the card in a one-touch magnetic holder and packed it away carefully and went to the game. Tech DESTROYED the Wildcats 13-1, by the way. However, I now sit in front of my computer sharing the story of my greatest pull with you. 

I stare at the card now and mumble, "my precious...", as I try to determine what to do with it. I've always wanted a Trout auto. With what these cards have been going for, I can sell it, buy a Trout auto and still have a good chunk of change left. The flip side is that the card I will get wasn't pulled by me. I won't have the same emotional connection with it. But come on...that's good money for a piece of cardboard

What a wonderful twist to find myself in.

Saturday, March 4, 2017

A New Addition From '16 Heritage

I've always been fascinated by the coincidences in life. There are so many that, when you really think about them, life becomes really interesting. Naturally, since I'm talking about it, I can't think of any general examples. 

One coincidence that I can think of occurred yesterday. I purchased my two boxes of 2017 Heritage and had a pretty decent haul. Once I got back to my apartment, I found a package in my mailbox. When I opened it up, I found this:

This is a gold parallel Clubhouse Collection relic of Cole Hamels from '16 Heritage High Number. What makes this a coincidence is that I thought this card was lost in the mail and had essentially given up on ever receiving it. However, I got it today.

Okay, so maybe that isn't a huge coincidence. But I needed something to say other than "Hey, look at my card!" Regardless, I appreciate you sitting through all of this and bearing with me. I hope all is well!

Friday, March 3, 2017

My First 2017 Heritage Fix

Though Heritage came out Wednesday, my LCS didn't get any in until today. It's only two days, but it felt like forever. Heritage is one of, if not my favorite release every year. I was initially a little hesitant because the '68 set is one of my least favorites, but Heritage turned out okay. Anyway, let's get to what was in my two boxes.

First, let's take a look at the guaranteed hits. Every box promises a relic or an auto. Both of my boxes had relics. And they were boring at that:

Joe Mauer and Rick Porcello. Could be worse, but could be better. Had that been all I pulled, I would have been pretty upset.

But they weren't. I pulled better cards!

The first box offered up some good cardboard. First up:

This Odubel Herrera blue border parallel. These are limited to 50 copies each, or at least that's what I've read. Not a bad start!

Next up:

The Clayton Kershaw action image variation!

But the best card of the box was this guy:

The Andrew Benintendi rookie photo variation! These are short printed, as the base card features Benintedi and another player.

Heckuva a box! There's no way the second box could be better, right?

Boom. Right off the bat (no pun intended) was the Buster Posey '68 3D box loader! These fall about one per case.

From there, I pulled this:

The Bryce Harper color swap variation! But it doesn't stop there!

Though it looks gold, this is the base refractor of Wilson Contreras! Such a great box. How could it get any better?

Well, I think adding in a Kris Bryant action photo variation would certainly make the box better!

Though the "hits" were duds, these were by far the best two boxes of Heritage I've opened in a while! The relics are up for trade, but everything else has been listed on eBay to help me recoup some of my money. I'm going to sort everything this evening, so I should have a wantlist and trade list listed soon!