Thursday, July 31, 2014

It's The Most Wonderful Time Of The Year!!!!

Outside of the beginning of the free agency period, the MLB trade deadline is probably the most exciting time of the year for me. Usually, I get excited about the players the Rangers could potentially receive. This year, however, is a bit different since the Rangers are, for all intents and purposes, out of contention.

The Rangers are trying to send off outfielder Alex Rios and relief pitcher Neal Cotts, both of whom are being sought after heavily. Clearly, they will be going to clubs that are in contention, so Ranger fans can expect to receive prospects in return rather than major league-ready talent. So get ready to say goodbye to probably at least two more current Rangers before day's end.

However, what interests me the most so far today is the acquisition of Jon Lester by the Oakland A's. The reason this trade was so shocking is because it is so far outside what many consider to be Billy Beane's "comfort zone," which is to restock his team from within. By acquiring players who will be free agents at the end of this season or next, he is clearly abandoning that model of operation. Lester, 30, will be a free agent at the end of this season. He recently said that he would not be opposed to re-signing with Boston if he were traded, though he turned down a 4-year, $70 million contract with the Sox. This tells us that Lester understands the business of baseball (he isn't closing any doors) and he intends on signing where the money is the greatest. There may be some other considerations, but like Cliff Lee after the 2010 season, cash is king is Lester's eyes.

This deal goes beyond the here and now, however. Sure, language in Cespedes's contract stipulated that he not be extended a qualifying offer after the 2015 season (meaning he is only under complete club control through the 2015 season). But at least Boston will have him for that season. With Lester, the A's get him for a month and a half (essentially) and if he signs elsewhere during the offseason, they get absolutely no compensation for losing him. He is the very definition of "rental player."

But the A's problem goes beyond Jon Lester. Earlier this month, the team acquired Cubs ace Jeff Samardzija and Jason Hammel for top prospect Addison Russell (and a few other prospects). With the addition of Lester, it seems that Hammel may be traded (he was under-performing with the A's, so the loss won't really be felt). But Samardzija is an interesting piece to look at (get your mind out of the gutter). He is under club control through the 2015 season, though he can request arbitration after this season. Samardzija is on record as saying he wants the biggest contract possible as a means to help other players. This means that he will likely be looking for a top dollar arbitration figure and, once free agency begins, a $100 million+ contract. Will he get it? I would say probably not, but there always seems to be one GM out there that goes off the deep end. So here again is the problem: what did Oakland sacrifice in order to get Samardzija for a relatively short term and what will they have to show for it? Well, it's simple: they gave up one of the league's top prospects, and the will likely have nothing to show for it after the 2015 season.

Again, all of this is dependent on the idea that Billy Beane will fall back into that comfort zone and refrain from doling out huge contracts to free agent players. Perhaps this is a new Beane we are seeing, one in which winning at any cost is an acceptable mentality. If so, then it isn't hard to believe that one of these pitchers (my money would be on Samardzija) ends up staying in Oakland.

Regardless of the future implications, one thing is very clear: Billy Beane believes that his squad has a very distinct opportunity to win the World Series this year, and he is going all-in to make sure he gives them every opportunity to do so. Whether or not this will push the team back a step or two in the immediate future is, well.....yet to be seen.

Wednesday, July 30, 2014

A New Gallo And Other Happenings

I've been trying to build my Joey Gallo PC with more vigor recently. I was slacking, but then I noticed that prices on his cards are starting to rise, so I figured I better get with the program before I can't afford any of his cards.

I'm a big fan of the Topps USA set. Something about a player (of any sport) wearing a USA Jersey gets my patriotic blood pumping. So I jumped on this when I saw the bidding was still reasonable:

I consider myself pretty knowledgeable when it comes to prospects, but I have no idea who Carson Kelly is. I'm sure that one of you can fill me in.

But I am fully aware of the second signer of this card: one Mr. Joey Gallo. The USA unis are awesome and the red, white and blue color scheme of the card is great. This card is definitely going in to Beckett to get slabbed!
Speaking of slabbing, I am going to try to start sending in a couple cards a month for grading. I'll create a spot on the sidebar soon. If you are interested in submitting something, just let me know.
Monday night, I was fortunate enough to receive a few tickets to see the first game of the Rangers-Yankees series. It marks the last time Derek Jeter will play in Texas. I recorded his first at-bat (all of one pitch, a single through the left side into left field). I'm working on getting the video uploaded, but I'm having technical difficulties. Hopefully that will be up soon!

Monday, July 28, 2014

Memorabilia Monday: Perhaps The Most Important Ball In My Collection

After missing last week, Memorabilia Monday is back for your reading pleasure!

This week's piece is very special to me. It is probably the single most important ball I have in my collection.

Every kid grows up and dreams of hitting a game-winning homerun. It's even more special if the knock wins a series or a championship. How many of us have dreamed about hitting a walk-off homerun in the bottom of the ninth in game 7 of the Series to win it all? Sadly, the overwhelming majority of us will never have the opportunity to play professionally, much less get the Series-winning homer.

However, most of us baseball lovers play organized baseball at some point in our lives. I played t-ball all the way through high school baseball, until having career-ending knee reconstructive surgery when I was 16. I'm thankful for the at-bats I did get. I'm even more thankful that I was a pretty good player, playing on the All-Star teams almost every year that I played. But there is one year, and one at-bat, that always stands apart from the rest of my time on the diamond.

I was 12 years old. My team, the Orioles, trailed the Marlins in the city-league standings by one game. We had already defeated them once, earlier in the season. Six-and-a-half innings played out, and we came to bat in the bottom of the seventh (of a seven-inning game) tied at 10. I had already homered once in the game.

My teammate Michael stepped in the box and grounded a single through the middle. The Marlins decided to change pitchers, bringing in a kid by the name of Angel (a starter any other day, but this was an important spot). He stood 6 foot tall and had a 65-70 mile-per-hour fastball. When you're 12, that might as well be 105.

I took a deep breath and walked to the box, staring at Angel the entire way. I batted third in our lineup; I wasn't afraid of any pitcher, though that fastball was intimidating. I knew it was my job to, if nothing else, get Michael into scoring position. But that's not what my primary goal was. I was looking fastball, and I intended to end the game.

I step in the box, dig out my hole, bend my knees, and take one last deep breath.

The pitch comes in, low and outside. Ball one.

The next pitch comes in, he's grooved a fastball. I take my swing, a very healthy cut, and watch as the ball takes flight. It carries...and carries...and carries...

Until it hits about half-way up the flagpole in dead center field. I've just hit a walk-off, two-run homerun to put my team into a tie for first place!

I don't remember rounding the bases. The next thing I do remember is trying to claw my way from the bottom of the dogpile at home plate. I remember being so happy that I cried. I'll admit it.

Then a kid brings the ball to me. My coach gives me a Sharpie and tells me that I need to sign the ball so I remember what it's from:

Looking back...I should have worked on my penmanship. As soon as I'm done, Michael grabs the ball and Sharpie and leaves his mark:

His writing isn't any better than mine. But perhaps the most important mark is this one:

The mark my bright-blue Easton left on the ball. It even left paint on the laces. That was probably my favorite moment from my entire baseball career. I hit plenty of homeruns and made some pretty great catches in the outfield, but nothing ever topped this moment from when I was 12 years old.

I know this is a lot of detail, but you remember those things in moments like that. And I know this isn't a post about a piece of memorabilia from a professional player. But this is literally a moment in time that grew my heart even more for the sport we all love. It gave me a moment in time that I will never forget, a moment that I will share with my children (if I ever have any). It will be the memory that reminds me why I'm driving my son or daughter to practice after a long day at work, hoping that they will get a moment like that.

After all, isn't that why we love baseball?

It's hard not to be romantic about baseball.

Friday, July 25, 2014

I Don't Understand BGS Logic

I sent in a couple cards for grading a couple weeks ago and picked them up yesterday. I don't understand some of the logic behind the grades. Let's take a look.

First up, my gold Luke Jackson auto:

Okay, not bad. I agree with all of those. I was even a little worried that the surface subgrade would come back at a 9 or worse, so all of these are a pleasant surprise. But let's flip it over and have a look at the auto grade:

What? A 9??? How is that a 9?!?!?!

If you thought that was bad, let's take a look at the card that really left me flabbergasted. Let me preface this by saying that I knew the card would be knocked for its centering:

10 on the auto, but an 8 on the card grade...let's take a closer look:

Two 9.5's, a 9 and a 7.5 on the centering...and that leads to a total grade of 8? I can understand an 8.5, but a freakin' 8??? This is ridiculous.

Not a lot of words here, but my blood pressure is through the roof. I have to stop before I explode!

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Do I Still Have The S2 Hanger Box Magic Touch???

In short: yes.

And no.

I decided to press my luck and see if I could buy another "hot" hanger box. In case you missed my previous post, I pulled a Castro relic and Bundy auto from the first two hanger boxes I purchased. So I bought a third hanger box last Friday to see if I could get anything.

And I'll be damned...

A Shelby Miller trajectory relic. This is crazy. Three hanger boxes, three hits.

BUT WAIT - this hanger box isn't done giving gifts yet!

A Christian Bethancourt camo parallel numbered 97 of 99! Now, I realize a parallel isn't technically a hit, but I count it as one. Helluva hanger box!

With this kind of luck, I pretty much had to buy another one. This time, I went to Target to try my luck there.


Well, nothing. Not hits, no parallels.

I did pull this:

A Nolan Arenado Futures Game Image Variation, but these seem to be so common that 'm not counting it as a hit.

Well, that was fun while it lasted. For the record, I have since bought another hanger box and a few hanger packs, but to no avail. No more hits.

All of the cards featured in this post are available for trade. Just let me know what you want. Oh, and if you are using the "The Show" codes, feel free to use these. I only ask that you comment below once you use them so that others know they are gone.

Code cards not pictured:

Friday, July 18, 2014

MCH's Midseason Report Card

I've seen a few people posting "mid-season report cards," if you will, and I thought that I would take a moment to revisit my collecting goals that I posted back in January.

To review, here's what I wanted to do:

The Big 5 (definite things I want to accomplish)
- Complete the 2013 Topps Chrome Anthony Rendon auto rainbow.Complete the 2013 run of Nelson Cruz cards.
- Add a certified Bryce Harper auto to my collection.
- Make significant contributions to my 2013 Heritage Manager's Project.
- Add 50 followers to my blog.

Other Important Things That Need To Happen
- First and foremost, I need to become more efficient at sending out cards. I started out great - then life got in my way and it started taking me too long to send out promised cards. I'm working on that.
- I also want to become a better host for group breaks. I did an Allen & Ginter break in 2013, and it wasn't bad. But I want to stream my breaks in the future, so I plan to create my own UStream channel to accompany my YouTube channel (that I rarely use). I would like to host at least 3 breaks this year, beginning with Gypsy Queen.
- I would like to find at least five (5) new trading partners. I want to expand my "sphere of influence!"
- Lastly, I would like to make my blog more attractive. This includes a custom logo, "prettier" background and unique .com address.

Well, at first glance, it appears as if my collecting goals are going in much the same way that the Rangers season is going. Clearly, I don't even have any of the Rendon autos anymore. Shortly after posting my goals, I talked about my waning interest in some of my collections, including Rendon. I haven't added a Harper auto, though I have had an opportunity. I've added ZERO TTM autos for my Manager's Project. As a matter of fact, the only thing I have made significant progress on is adding 50 new followers to my blog. I have added 31 followers since that post in January, which leaves me 19 short of reaching my goal.

However, maybe things aren't as bad as they seem. Let's take a look.

Okay, so the 2013 Topps Chrome Rendon auto rainbow is gone. I truly lost interest, primarily because he isn't a player for the Rangers. However, I did take an interest in Luke Jackson, who has certified autos in 2014 Bowman. I believe this could serve as a viable replacement to Rendon.  So how am I doing with that? Well, of the 14 different certified autos, I am only missing 5: purple (numbered to 10), red (numbered to 5), superfractor (numbered to 1), printing plates (numbered to 1), and the orange wave refractor (numbered to 5). When you take the print run of those cards into consideration, I think I am doing pretty damn well. So well, in fact, that I am considering the autograph portion of the rainbow "complete." Grade on this goal: A.

The next goal was to add a certified Bryce Harper auto to my collection. As I mentioned above, I had an opportunity to grab one but I passed. It was a sticker auto from Topps Series 1. When I finally add a Harper Auto to my collection, it will be on-card. And most likely Bowman, since that's where my collecting joy seems to come from. So I have no problem waiting until the time is right to get the right card for my collection. Grade for this goal: In Progress.

I also wanting to make "significant" progress on my 2013 Heritage Managers Project. I defined "significant" as adding six of the remaining eight manager autos that I needed. Okay, there's no way to sugar coat this one. I haven't made any progress toward this goal. I have Joe Maddon's card sitting in my desk waiting to go out, but haven't sent it. I sent a few a while back, but never received the card back. Some of the managers just don't sign TTM. So if any of you Dodger fans can get Mattingly to sign a 2013 Heritage card for me, I would appreciate it! Others are no longer managers - i.e. Charlie Manuel. How am I supposed to get him to sign??? Grade for this goal: Incomplete - More Effort Needed.

The last "main" goal I set for myself was to add 50 new followers to my blog. I was at 55 followers then. I'm at 86 now. I only need 19 more to reach this goal. I've seen some guys do contests or advertise for a fellow blogger in order to gain more followers. I'm sure I will do something similar soon. But adding 31 followers "organically" - letting them come to me - has been pretty nice. Grade for this goal: A+.

I also had a few secondary goals when I made that post back in January. I'll just briefly touch on those. I've been pretty good about sending out cards after agreeing to a trade. On occasion, it will take me four or five days to get a card in the mail, but mostly, I'm able to send everything within a day or two. In terms of breaking, I've created my own UStream channel and hosted a pretty successful 2014 Gypsy Queen break. I have a 2014 Bowman Chrome Break scheduled (which you can still sign up for!), but it is slow to fill as I'm sure most people are waiting on the checklist before they sign up. I will also be hosting one more break later in the year, but more on that later. I wanted to find at least 5 new trading partners, and I am pretty sure that will be accomplished. I can think of three new partners off the top of my head ($30 A Week Habit, The Lost Collector and Dodger Penguin) and I'm sure there are more than that (my sincerest apologies if I forgot you!). I still need to "pretty up" the blog, and I do still have plans to create my own unique logo, as soon as I find someone with graphic design knowledge to help me!

So there you have it. My own midseason report card. I'm not leading my division, but I'm damn sure still in the hunt. Keep posted to see if I can make it through to the end of the season!

Thursday, July 17, 2014

Hey, Look! New Cards!

I feel like it has been a while since I posted any new cardboard. Part of that is because I really haven't bought anything (other than my hit-laden hanger boxes) lately, which means that I really haven't had anything to share.

But I have a few cards to share now.

Matt Harrison has been one of my favorite players since he cracked the rotation for good back in 2011. I'm hoping that the injury that ended his year isn't career threatening, but some say it looks that way.

I've noticed that I've been picking up his cards more frequently (but still not terribly often) recently, and I picked up two of them last week.

Here's his 2013 silver slate parallel, numbered 7 of 10. I love it. Rather than having a standard border that is colored silver, it is framed in silver (the silver part is taller than the image). Got this one for a steal.
Nest up:

This pink parallel is from the 2014 Series 2, numbered 19 of 50. Pretty.

If you have any Harrison cards, feel free to send them my way!\

I couldn't have a post without mentioning my 2014 Bowman Luke Jackson project, right? I have a couple cards for it, too.

Here's a refractor of the green variety, numbered 9 of 75. I wonder what the green auto looks like?

There it is! Brian, from PATP, got this in a group break and was kind enough to trade it to me. Such a stand-up type of guy he is!

That's it for now. Thanks for looking!

Monday, July 14, 2014

Crazy Stats That Can't Possibly Be Real

I mentioned in a (brief) post last month that my PC guy, Joey Gallo, had as many homers as he did singles at that point in his professional career (89 of each). I thought that was nuts.

But then I went back earlier to look at the box score of the Rangers 30-3 drubbing of the Orioles int he first game of a double header back in 2007. Something really shocked me.

Wes Littleton recorded his second career save in that game.

Let me repeat that in a different way: there was a save in a game in which the margin of victory was 27 runs.

Talk about adding insult to injury. That just hurts.

Thanks to the back-loaded scoring and time of Littleton's entry into the game (he came in in a save situation), a save was registered in a game where the winners scored 27 more runs than their opponents.

What is your favorite crazy stat?

A New Bobble Addition

Eric Nadel has been the radio voice of the Texas Rangers for 35 years. He called Nolan Ryan's 5,000th career strikeout, the Ranger's record 30-run game in Baltimore in 2007, and, most importantly, the strikeout of Alex Rodriguez to send the Rangers to their first World Series in 2010. In December of 2013, Nadel was honored by the Baseball Hall of Fame as the 2013 Ford C. Frick Award winner.

How do you honor a man who is already in the Ranger Hall of Fame and the Baseball Hall of Fame?

You make a bobblehead in his likeness, of course!

How do you make an already-awesome bobblehead even more awesome?

You add audio of the aforementioned strikeout to the bobblehead! Simply push the baseball back toward Nadel and you will hear the first 15 seconds of this video:

This is the third of five bobbleheads the Rangers will be giving out this year. I missed the first giveaway (an Yu Darvish bobble), but grabbed the second (Prince Fielder) back in June and this one this past Saturday.

The Rangers lost (shocker), but I won. Not only did I get the Nadel bobble, I also bet my cousin he couldn't eat the two-foot long, two-pound-plus chilidog that is the Boomstick.

That's him, before taking a single bite. Little did he realize, this was a no-win situation for him. Even if he had been able to eat the dog in the allotted hour (he didn't), he would be absolutely miserable that night (he was). Double win for me!

A New Feature: Memorabilia Monday!

All credit goes to Brian over at PATP for this new feature. He suggested that I start sharing some of my memorabilia on the blog, and considering that "Memorabilia Monday" is catchy, I decided to go with it.

The first item up in this new series has absolutely nothing to do with baseball!

Autographed Nike Doug McDermott Jersey

I earned my second BA from Creighton in 2009. Before then, I had zero interest in college basketball. I mean, I grew up in Texas! Baseball and football ruled my life. But Creighton is a basketball school, and I grew to love going to games.

McDermott came along after I left, but is by far the most popular player in school history. And that's saying something - Kyle Korver pretty much walked on water before McDermott came along. 

Dougie Fresh was a three-time All American, winning the 2014 John R. Wooden Award as the NCAA's best player. He led the nation in scoring his senior year, averaging 26.7 points per game. He was drafted 11th overall by the Denver Thuggets, err, I mean Nuggets, and promptly traded to Da Bulls. In his second summer league game, he dropped 31 points on the team that drafted him, earning "Player of the Day" from

I bought this jersey on Draft Day (purely coincidental - I've been watching his bobblehead on eBay but haven't been able to afford one, when this guy popped up for less than half-the price of a bobblehead). Currently, I have it folded away, but once I can get a little extra money, it's going to be framed and displayed proudly in my home.

Friday, July 11, 2014

To Reverse An Image Or Not...That Is The Question

So, while reading DefGav's Flip The Bip contest (that never showed up in my feed...thanks, Blogger!), I noticed that the winner made the comment:

One last thing - I noticed something strange about the printing plate. Shouldn't everything on the card face the other way, since when it is pressed down, it would print the backwards image to that? Sorry, I didn't explain that well, but I hope you know what I mean.
We know what you mean, my friend! I've been trying to figure this out for years now. Okay, maybe not years, but it has certainly been something I've thought about more than a few times.

Well, I did some digging. And by digging, I mean I googled it. Cardboard Junkie offered up a solution back in 2009 that clears almost everything up.

Essentially, new printing processes created for mass production of high quality images requires a standard image plate, like such:

Behold, the cyan plate for the 2014 Bowman (paper) Luke Jackson. Hat tip to eBay for the image (and all images to follow).

The plate is loaded onto a cylinder, where it is coated in ink. The plate is then placed against a rubber cylinder, leaving behind a reverse image. This rubber cylinder is then placed on the cardstock, leaving a high quality (and normal placed) image.

Problem solved!

Well, almost.

If that's the case, then why do some plates come in the reverse image, like this one?

This is the cyan plate from 2014 Bowman Chrome. I italicize "Chrome" because I think the answer might lie in the type of card being produced.

If we accept the description of the process above, then the conclusion we must draw here is that the image is printed directly on the card for Chrome cards. I'm not 100% on this one, but I have a "phone a friend" option. My aunt's boyfriend actually works for one of Panini's Dallas-based printers. They, at one time, printed for Topps, too. So he should be able to explain it all to me.

I'll get back to you as soon as I learn something!

Thursday, July 10, 2014

I'm A Common Criminal

Well, not really. I told myself that I wasn't going to buy any Series 2 this year. However, the overwhelming urge to rip wax, coupled with the lack of Allen & Ginter at my local Walmart, drove me to break my own rule and purchase the last two hanger boxes on the shelf. Was it worth the $20? I'll let you decide.

The first box was filled with base, and assortment of colored parallels, and a hit! I was shocked. I've never pulled a hit from one of these boxes. Without further ado:

A Starlin Castro Trajectory relic! Okay, so maybe not the greatest hit ever, but it's nice to see something in a hangar box. That's got to be it, right? I couldn't possibly have another hit in the second box, right?


I pulled this Dylan Bundy Future Is Now auto, numbered 4 of 25! Nice! Now, if he could get and stay healthy, perhaps this card would have some value like his cards did earlier last year.

To top everything off, I got this in the mail today:

It's hard to tell from the scan but this is a gold paper "refractor" of sorts, numbered to 75. I entered one of my "Power Player" codes from Series 1 and won this. Naturally, Topps sent it in a flimsy toploader and paper envelope, so the card is a little warped at the moment. I have some books stacked on top of it trying to get the bends out.

All of these are up for trade, with the exception of the Bundy. I'm going to list it on eBay.

Tuesday, July 8, 2014

No, As A Matter Of Fact, I'm NOT Dead

Contrary to popular belief, my blog is still alive and kickin'. As with many people during this time of the year, my life has just become quite busy. Add in that I haven't really been buying any cards lately and, well....I've just had nothing to say. But that is about to change, as I have a series of updates for you!!!
First and foremost, good ol' Alex over at Chavez Ravining is having his very first box break. He's going to bust few boxes of Topps Chrome. $25 gets you a team of your choosing and a randomly assigned team. Head over and sign up! And Brian, if you're reading, I finally beat you to the punch to get the Rangers in a break! How 'bout them apples?!?!
Speaking of breaks, I still plan on hosting my 2014 Bowman Chrome break! I have eight spots still open. Cost is $80 and that gets you two teams (a team of your choice and a randomly assigned team) from an entire case (read: 40 total autos!) and shipping! It's a steal! Sign up now!
2014 Allen & Ginter drops this week. Obviously, I plan on winning Gint-A-Cuffs VI. But, in the event that I don't pull it myself, keep an eye out for this card:

It's the Doug McDermott auto card. I NEED this card!
I know there are some pretty intense Cubs fans out there, so hopefully this will help them out a bit. I found this listing over at Freedom Cardboard while perusing the marketplace forum. Bobbleheads and other memorabilia from the Cubs Centennial Celebration of Wrigley Field. Maybe someone will be interested!
My TTM contest has yet to begin, as I've been waiting for a few more entrants into the game. As it stands now, five people have expressed interest in playing. I would like to have at least five more, but I will go with whoever is signed up by Friday and start the game. So sign up and stay tuned!
A couple of weeks ago, I posted a plea for help and requested that you send me duplicates from your 2014 S2 set building to save me from having to purchase any packs. Well, thanks to Robert of $30 A Week Habit fame and Raz from The Raz Card Blog, I am almost done with the set! I have sorted everything, all I need to do is update my Needs List for the set and I'll be ready to pick up those last cards! Thanks again gentlemen!

Now that I finally broke down and bought a shelving unit for my cards, I'm making it my personal goal for the second half of the year to finish off the 2013 sets listed in my sidebar. Please take a look at my needs lists that you see over there on the right and send me any cards you may have. I would greatly appreciate it!

Tuesday, July 1, 2014

Inception Break At JR's Sportscard Addiction

Before Jimmy passed, he would sell some of his cards on eBay. He had a customer and friend, John, work eBay for him (Jimmy didn't care for computers).

Now John is working on creating his own break business. First up is 2014 Bowman Inception. Click here to visit the break post and get the details.

If you don't have anything going on at the moment (in terms of collecting), try one of John's breaks. I know he will appreciate it, and he's a good guy.

We just need to help him "develop" his blog a bit.  ;-)